Inspired by another quest elsewhere, and considering Valentine's Day is only a few days gone, I feel like I can still safely try for something romantic without being too late. I don't promise swift updates – I write other things here that also deserve my time and effort, and frankly starting this story is a terrible, terrible idea on my part, but the idea was sticking with me and I want to see where it goes.
Now, let's get on with the show, shall we? Apologies ahead of time for this first update being on the exceptionally short end – an unfortunate consequence of character creation.
You have to admit, your days don't usually involve you being kidnapped, tied to a (exceptionally comfortable, you have to admit) chair, and stuck in a room black as pitch and only slightly less suffocating.
What makes this even more unusual is that, just a moment ago, you were doing something else entirely, and then WHAM, said the universe, YOU ARE NOW KIDNAPPED.
Right now, you're currently feeling–
[ ] Clueless: One moment you were dozing off on your flight back home to the States, and the next you were here. It's times like now you curse airport security; traveling unarmed always bites you in the ass whenever something like this happens. (Outsiders are hardly knowledgeable about Gensokyo and the dangers therein, but you have experience dealing with strange lands and stranger troubles, and possess an exotic air some natives will be fascinated by.)
[ ] Tense: You keep a sanctified knife in your boot just in case some youkai jumps you out in the field, but whatever whisked you away seems to have stolen it. Still, you possess a decent amount of magical talent; spellcard rules ought to protect you once you actually come face to face with your kidnapper, provided they don't just eat you. (Villagers are well-versed in how Gensokyo works on a day-to-day basis. While you may not be exceptional in any one way, you've got a breadth of knowledge and skills that should serve you well.)
[ ] Exasperated: You've work to handle back on Youkai Mountain, and this meddler has just delayed you. (Tengu are skilled individuals one and all, with social expectations and connections that can prove either helpful or crippling.) -[ ] Guard patrols may be more for show than anything, but disappearing from your route while on duty is simply disgraceful, not only to you, but for the rest of the wolves. (Wolf Tengu are lower in status and skill compared to the Crows, and as such are not as closely scrutinized. Less benefits of being a tengu, but less downsides as well. Also, you've got a fluffy tail. Everyone loves the fluffy tail.) -[ ] Falling behind on your message deliveries reflects poorly on you as one of the crows, and while you may not be one of the higher-ups, the sting to your pride is nevertheless ill-welcome. (Crows are generally uptight and stuffy, and your involvement in this scheme is certain to raise unpleasant questions. On the other hand, you are swift, intelligent, elegant, and cultured; you find it easy to keep someone's attention, and if a situation goes wrong you've a better chance than most to figure out how to salvage it.)
[ ] Fascinated: You're a bit miffed that you were jerked away from your work, but however you got sent here... Well, all you know for sure is that the mechanics behind it could be massively useful if you managed to figure out how they work. (Kappa are clever tinkerers with unfortunately short attention spans, and you don't break the mold. You're a quick thinker and good with your hands, but you've always found dealing with people to be awkward and embarrassing. Still, some girls find that cute, apparently?)
[ ] Hungover: Boozing with the rest of the oni is always fun, but it tends to land you in situations like this, and they'll never let you hear the end of it if word gets out. (Oni, not unfairly, have a reputation as outgoing, exuberant partyers and brawlers, but are also honest, hard-working souls. Your species' reputation may excite some types, or it may prove a stumbling block for others.)
[ ] Excited: When was the last time one of the other fairies could say they got kidnapped and tied up and were in for something this interesting and also kind of terrifying? (Fairies are small pranksters with an unfortunate lack of brainpower, generally speaking. You're childish, not the brightest, and don't get much respect, but you're earnest and adorable and have a way of breaking down barriers other people put up.)
[x] Excited: When was the last time one of the other fairies could say they got kidnapped and tied up and were in for something this interesting and also kind of terrifying? (Fairies are small pranksters with an unfortunate lack of brainpower, generally speaking. You're childish, not the brightest, and don't get much respect, but you're earnest and adorable and have a way of breaking down barriers other people put up.)
I just love the idea of someone being excited about being kidnapped and what might happen to them. Just, the idea of someone earnestly smiling and looking around excitedly while tied up is cracking me up.
[X] Fascinated: You're a bit miffed that you were jerked away from your work, but however you got sent here... Well, all you know for sure is that the mechanics behind it could be massively useful if you managed to figure out how they work. (Kappa are clever tinkerers with unfortunately short attention spans, and you don't break the mold. You're a quick thinker and good with your hands, but you've always found dealing with people to be awkward and embarrassing. Still, some girls find that cute, apparently?)
[X] Exasperated: You've work to handle back on Youkai Mountain, and this meddler has just delayed you. (Tengu are skilled individuals one and all, with social expectations and connections that can prove either helpful or crippling.) -[X] Guard patrols may be more for show than anything, but disappearing from your route while on duty is simply disgraceful, not only to you, but for the rest of the wolves. (Wolf Tengu are lower in status and skill compared to the Crows, and as such are not as closely scrutinized. Less benefits of being a tengu, but less downsides as well. Also, you've got a fluffy tail. Everyone loves the fluffy tail.)
[x] Excited: When was the last time one of the other fairies could say they got kidnapped and tied up and were in for something this interesting and also kind of terrifying? (Fairies are small pranksters with an unfortunate lack of brainpower, generally speaking. You're childish, not the brightest, and don't get much respect, but you're earnest and adorable and have a way of breaking down barriers other people put up.)
Actually, changing my vote to this, because of what >>187389 said. (Deleted my first post.)
[X] Excited: When was the last time one of the other fairies could say they got kidnapped and tied up and were in for something this interesting and also kind of terrifying? (Fairies are small pranksters with an unfortunate lack of brainpower, generally speaking. You're childish, not the brightest, and don't get much respect, but you're earnest and adorable and have a way of breaking down barriers other people put up.)
[X] Clueless: One moment you were dozing off on your flight back home to the States, and the next you were here. It's times like now you curse airport security; traveling unarmed always bites you in the ass whenever something like this happens. (Outsiders are hardly knowledgeable about Gensokyo and the dangers therein, but you have experience dealing with strange lands and stranger troubles, and possess an exotic air some natives will be fascinated by.)
It seems that the FAIRY takes this vote, readers! Expect an update... relatively soon, I should hope. And then we will get this story properly moving!
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Well, I'd qualify three hours later as relatively soon, given the wordcount on this one.
Yeah, excited, that's it! This is a once-in-a-really-long-time situation you're in, and- okay to be perfectly honest you're kind of freaking out too but you figure the worst that can happen is you go pop and wake up at home, so you try to look on the bright side! Then you realize there is no bright side because everything is very dark- OKAY THERE WE GO LIGHT JUST CAME ON AND IT IS BLINDING.
Once you blink through that sudden ocular assault, you find yourself behind a pretty dang big desk (the wood looks nice though; oak, maybe). The only reason you can see over the top is because your chair is also pretty dang big. The light, meanwhile, is coming from above you in like a concentrated beam of VISION DESTRUCTION, pooling around you and your desk aaaaand you just looked down to see that these aren't ropes tying you down, but more like purple bands? They feel magical, at any rate, from the way you strain against them – like some sort of elastic goo that refuses to stretch out too far.
“Now, now, dearie,” says a lady in front of you, her voice soft and amused, and you stop fiddling with your bindings to squint through the light at the source – you don't meet much luck, of course, 'cuzza the whole 'oh hi light beam, i'm eyes, nice to be blinded by you' issue.
“Oi!” you say, trying to project outrage, but too much excitement leaks into your voice and it comes out in a high-pitched squeak. “What's all this then, eh? I'll hook you in the mouth, I will!”
There's silence for a moment, before the unmistakable noise of snickering fills the air. You scowl, reintensifying your efforts to escape and make good on the threat, when she speaks again. “No, no, this isn't anything bad, I promise! Let me just explain, please?”
You're still feeling a bit annoyed, but you stop, since that was pretty polite of her. “Okay, okay, I'm waiting, what's going on?”
“First, let me do this.” A moment later, all your bindings simply vanish, and you spring forward to plant your hands on the desktop.
“Aha!” you say, free at last. “What's next in your fiendish plan? Are you going to open a door and let me go home!?” You say that as though it's the most terrible thing that could ever happen to you.
“Eventually, eventually!” says the lady, still permanantly invisible until she decides to step forward, which you're really starting to hope she does since talking to your blind spot is getting a liiiiiiiiiil' bit on your nerves. “But first, I want you to guess why you're here.”
[ ] “You're gonna steal my MANLY MUSCLES!”
[ ] “You're gonna steal my GIRLY CUTENESS!”
Okay, now she's just giggling uncontrollably and it's making you feel very cross, and the way she keeps going and going is making your face burn up in embarrassment (entirely figuratively, because you'd be doing a lot more screaming if it was literal).
“No,” she manages, breathless and probably in tears. “No, no, nothing like that, you precious thing, oh, goodness, I need a moment.”
You glower at Miss Giggles, but that only seems to set her off more. After a good minute of this, she finally calms herself. “Are you done?” you ask, your fierce and mighty scowl hopefully intimidating her.
“Yes,” she says, still short of breath. “Yes, I think so. And, no, that isn't why I called you here at all, I promise.”
“Well then!” you say, plopping back into your seat (aaaah, leather). “What is your nefarious scheme!?”
She takes another moment to collect herself, then says, “Dating.”
“...This feels statutory, you sexual predator woman,” you say very slowly, holding extremely still so as not to give her a reason to pounce.
There's a long, drawn-out huff of deep amusement. “You do remember you've been alive for at least a few decades, don't you? I don't think it works like that anymore. Besides, I'm not the one who's interested in you.”
You purse your lips, thinking very hard about her words and implied implications.
“...So, you want me”-you lay your hands on your chest-“to go out on dates. Do I understand these terms as you have laid them out to me?”
You open your mouth. Close it. Open it again. “...Why?”
“Because it amuses me?” she says, without any shame.
Okay, this is clearly someone who is off the deep end, so maybe you shouldn't keep asking about the why behind her reasoning. Time for a segue! “So, uh, so, who's it you want me to go out with?”
“Oh, just”-her voice dips into a low, throaty purr-“seven sensual sirens, that's all.”
You cock an eyebrow. “Did you rehearse that line?”
“Yep,” she says, sounding pleased with herself.
“Figured,” you grumble. “So. Seven ladies, huh?”
“You know it! I've got ears all over Gensokyo; it's not hard to find out who's pining for someone special to spend a romantic evening with. And they've all been agreeable to the idea after I extended the offer... even if they don't know they're getting you.” She titters, amused as you make an unpleasant face; people don't take well to fairy surprises at the best of times, after all. “Of course, I wouldn't have selected you if I didn't have full confidence in your abilities to woo these fine women!”
“...What happens if I can't do it?” you ask, both curious and kinda dreading the answer.
Her tone abruptly shifts to something much darker. “Besides wasting your time and theirs if you fail, I will be very disappointed in you.”
You suppress the urge to twitch, scream, run away, or do any combination thereof.
“If you're successful, however?” she says, back to her pleasant voice. “Well, that'll be its own reward.”
You swallow deeply, uncomfortably aware of the stakes now. Once you get to thinking about that, though, something else hits you. “Okay, so, okay, problem! I'm a fairy, right?”
“Yes, and?” she says, dryly amused.
“I do not really have any money.” You pause for effect. “Because I am extremely poor and sleep in trees. Also have I mentioned the no money? Because I don't have any.”
There's a tsk from the lady. “You don't think I'd just send you out there without a coin to your name, did you?” The moment she's done talking, a small coin purse thunks onto the desk. You cautiously lean forward, undo the tie binding it, and look inside to see whoakay you are good to go.
“Try not to spend it all in one place, dear?” she asks, as you hastily retie the hefty purse and hold it close to your chest. Your frantic little nods are good enough an answer for her. “And now let's get on to the actual job, shall we?”
Seven tan folders drop onto the desk, photographs spilling out from them entirely too conveniently to be accidental, and (after setting your precious little bag on the chair) you lean in again, eyes drifting over the pictures on display.
Okay, first up is this blue-eyed lady with matching shoulder-length blue hair spilling onto her blue-white robe's shoulders. She's helping this giant pink cloud man (what) lift large wooden posts into place for some sort of construction project, and there's a content smile on her face even through the sheen of sweat pouring down it.
“Kumoi Ichirin, yes,” says your new boss (she hasn't actually said she's your boss but it's not like she really needs to after giving you all that money). “She's a pleasant sort, I'd wager, but from the way we've talked, she feels like she might be missing out on something in life. She doesn't leave Myouren Temple much, either; rather sheltered, the poor girl.”
You hum noncommittally, moving on to the next picture – the girl in that one sports waist-long lavender hair, really long bunny ears, red eyes, and a sort of weird schoolgirl style with her blue jacket, red tie, and a purple skirt that (scandalously!) only goes halfway to her knees. Her hands are clasped at her waist, her smile is sparkling white, and her legs, you can't help but notice, look very, very toned.
“Reisen Udongein Inaba,” comes the lady's voice. “Former moon rabbit turned earth rabbit. An exceptional nurse, and she knows several hundred ways to kill someone; with how hard she works, I wouldn't push her. Still a very nice girl, however. I'm sure you'd get along famously.”
You gulp, moving on – this next girl, dressed all in very fashionable white Outsider wear (and how her jacket doesn't fly off from the way her chest is straining against it is a mystery for the ages) is a redhead with a taiko drum, and she's very enthusiastically pummeling it with her drumsticks – you briefly wonder how it'd feel if she hit you with those, then wince, and look up expectantly at she who has decided to play the role of walking exposition.
“Horikawa Raiko,” she says, obliging you. “Tsukumogami.”
“That's her drum she's playing, then?” you ask.
“You know it.” She almost sounds impressed, in a condescending kind of way. “She's a very laid-back sort when she isn't performing, it turns out. Very friendly, likes taking things slow, and loves music, although I would hope you could figure that last part out on your own.”
You nod, continuing your journey through this army of women. This shorty's got a pair of branchlike horns sprouting from a head of ginger hair, is clad in a tattered pink blouse, a (much nicer) long purple and pink skirt, and has chains hanging off her belt. She's also successfully upending a purple gourd almost as big as she is. She's kind of cute, if it weren't for the fact you also knew she was an oni who could snap you in half with two fingers.
“Suika Ibuki?” you say, looking askance at your host (and not feeling any terror at all nosiree). “Why her?”
“She wanted some fun, what else? I hope you can hold your drink when you go out with her, though – she'll drag you along for a good time whether you want it or not.”
“Ahuh,” you say, hoping the next one isn't likely to kill you through alcohol poisoning. Speaking of, right after Suika is - “Ooh, Kokoro!”
“You know her?” asks the lady, sounding intrigued.
“Her shows are fun!” you say, not taking your eyes off the picture. This shot of the lavender-haired girl must have been taken midway through a performance – all her masks are floating around her on a stage, although this picture caught a rare moment mid-show where one wasn't in front of her face. Her eyes, also lavender, stare blankly ahead, and that kinda creeps you out. The clothes are pretty cute, though; that blue shirt really suits her, and so does her big, orange, puffed-out skirt, even if it's kind of goofy looking with those happy and sad faces cut out of it. You can just catch glimpses of her bare legs through those holes, and-
“Oh, gosh,” you say, your face heating up. The picture was taken at a low angle, which means that, through one of her skirt's faces, you can see a bare thigh. “Oh, gosh.”
“Just think, another step to the left and you'd be seeing something else entirely!” says the lady, none too smugly, and you hurriedly move on to another photograph before your face melts off your skull. You end up staring at an honest-to-goodness mermaid waving up at the camera as she swims under the waters of the Misty Lake, but her smile doesn't quite reach her eyes, dark blue ones that match her hair. She's got fins in place of ears, and a dark green kimono whose sleeves are puffing out from all the water that must be trapped in them.
“Wakasagihime,” comes your anticipated explanation. “Mermaid, though you can tell for yourself. Fairly shy, fairly withdrawn, doesn't like being a burden on others. At the same time, though, she does want to see what's going on outside the lake.”
“Can't she fly?” you ask, your brows knitting together. “Because, uh, I can't breathe underwater. Drowning doesn't sound like a fun first date.”
“Unfortunately, flying is beyond her.” The boss lady almost sounds sad about it, but then she perks right up. “Don't worry, though, I'll take care of things when you decide to meet her!”
“Right.” You move to the last picture on the list, that of a (Tengu, judging by her pointy ears) pigtailed brunette, a cocky grin on her lips as she holds both her hands out making V signs. While she's got very pretty brown eyes and her shirt is a nice shade of pink, you cannot wrench your eyes away from that skirt, the black-and-purple checkers making it look like- like- like the universe had an error and couldn't figure out what color was even supposed to be there and just puked up that pattern instead.
Your eyes are bugging out as you try to puzzle out the why behind her fashion sense (SHE EVEN DID IT WITH HER SOCKS) when the lady clears her throat. “Himekaidou Hatate,” she says when you look up, and a few blinks clear the encroaching madness from your mind. “Tengu reporter, trying to compete with the Bunbunmaru. Have you ever read the Kakashi Spirit News? That's her baby – too bad her thoughtography means all she can do is plagiarize from Miss Shameimaru. Might be you'll run into some inferiority issues, but in the end, I think she'll try to meet you halfway so long as you give her a good time.”
“Well, okay,” you say, falling back against your chair as you think over all these people you're expected to... to...
Right. You gotta, uh, date every one of them.
“Hoooo, boy,” you groan, holding a hand against your cheek. “Guess I better choose, huh?”
Now, I've got a reasoning for Kokoro (the boy one is just because it is my preference). See, this isn't going to be the ONLY person he dates, just the first one. Now, he 'knows' Kokoro in that he's been to her performances and is obviously a fan of them. That means he'll have more of a potential connection there off to make up for the whole 'being a fairy' thing, at least in my opinion. So Kokoro is a sort of 'soft ball' start in a way that I think is important, namely him learning all about how this dating shenanigans is gonna go down.
>>187416 WHAT SICK YOUKAI SEND FAIRIES TO DATE ME?
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“...Kokoro,” you decide, after a few seconds of thinking. “Yep, definitely Kokoro.”
The lady makes an interested little hum. “Dare I ask why?”
“Well, I like her shows and she's cute and”-BARE THIGHS-“also there's other stuff.”
Her voice gains an amused lilt. “Oh, do tell! Believe me, I can keep a secret.”
“Nope.” You refuse to elaborate, and can almost feel the pout leveled at you when she sighs. “But! I do need to know where she's at if I'm gonna be doing anything!”
“That I'll take care of.”
“Whaddaya-” You fall through your chair and plunge into a place filled with far too much purple. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-”
“-AAAAAAA” and then you land on your face. You've got a mouthful of dirt, which you spit out as you hop to your feet, and it takes wiping your tongue off on a hand before you get the rest of that crud out.
“'Lil heads up next time,” you grumble, dusting off your clothes – you want to make a good impression on Kokoro, and you don't think showing up with your shirt (short-sleeved and a nice shade of green) and trousers (ditto on the color, if a darker shade) all covered in dirt would really help with that.
Now that you've gotten all that out of the way, you look around – it's still the same cloudless sunshiney summer day that you were in before you got datenapped, except now you're in an alleyway near some wooden buildings. Human Village, looks like, which makes sense; Kokoro first showed up here with that one incident, and she loves to perform here as well.
At least you weren't dumped out in a main street; this alleyway is kinda dingy, but it's secluded too, so no one knows of your embarrassing landing save yourself. You peek out of the alley, scanning for your target – date, she's your date, target is for people you're about to smack with a blast of danmaku – and (thanks be to the Overlady for dumping you here in particular) spot Kokoro leaning back against a store's front wall, just far enough out of the way that the constant stream of humans don't pay her much attention. What you think is a fox mask hovers near her head as she slowly looks back and forth, but she's far enough away that you can't tell for sure.
The sight of her, however, heralds a fluttering in your gut that definitely wasn't there before, because wow, there's Kokoro, and wow, you're actually gonna go do things with her.
“Steady,” you mutter, clenching your fists. “Steaaady.”
It takes a few moments to steel your nerves, and then you take flight, wings lifting you high enough that you don't pose any risk of colliding with passers-by. You decide against beelining directly for Kokoro, instead lazily drifting forward until you're on her side of the street before you touch down. You catch a few curious glances from the humans, but nothing more than that; fairies generally aren't known for causing trouble when there's a crowd of people about, since that usually results in a pummeling for the pranksters involved.
Kokoro doesn't pay you much attention, either, as you sidle up to her, but you freeze a few meters out as the butterflies hit you again. You're still far enough away that she doesn't suspect anything, so you take this chance to follow her example and rest against a wall.
Gah, you've never had this trouble with other fairy girls! Then again, you've also never gone out with anyone other than fairies, so – aaaaaah, just try to focus, that's the best you can do. That thought in mind, you close your eyes, relax muscles you didn't realize were tense, and sigh deeply.
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in.
Your eyes snap open, the worst of the flutters gone, and before they can return you march towards Kokoro, stopping right beside her – on foot, you find yourself staring directly at her chest (you're on the real high end of height for a fairy, and if it weren't for the wings you could probably pass for a human boy), before you hurriedly redirect your eyes upwards, because getting slapped for leering isn't a great way to start things off.
“Hi!” you say, and Kokoro freezes in her scan before fixing her blank eyes on you.
“Hello,” she says, in that same flat, soft tone she uses in all her performances, utterly expressionless as her fox mask stares you down. “I am waiting for someone. Do you mind?”
You thump a fist against your chest, smiling wide. “That'd be me!”
She blinks, the fox mask fidgeting before it just vanishes, replaced with a tan mask that's sporting an expression of open-mouthed surprise. “You.”
You nod. “Yep.”
Surprised Face (that's what you'll call it) shudders, then swaps out with a very confused-looking monkey. “This is a prank?”
“Hm.” She looks skyward, the fox returning to its rightful place beside her head. “I believe Yukari has swindled me.”
“Hey!” You plant your hands on your hips, scowling as you launch up and hover at eye-level. Her empty stare falls on you one more, but you are undeterred thanks to all this righteous, burning passion swelling in your chest. “Yukari – and thanks for giving me her name by the way 'cuz you would not believe how annoying it was not to know it – said she believed in me being able to give you a good time!” The fire goes out, and you droop. “She also said she would be very disappointed if I messed up, which I think is some kind of code for putting me through horrible pain.”
Her mask twitches again, then changes places with one of a sad-looking old woman. “I am sorry about this, but you are not what I expected or wanted. I am going to go and think deeply about how to exact vengeance on her. Have a good day.”
Just like that, she pushes off the wall and starts walking, leaving you both flustered and indignant. You're wracking your brain for something that'll get her to stop when the obvious solution hits you, and you barely resist the urge to smack yourself.
“I go to all your shows!” you call after her, and the very next step she takes is the one where she pivots a full one-eighty degrees and marches back to you, not missing a beat.
“Which ones?” she asks, the fox shuddering in place.
“All of them!”
The fox is instantly replaced by a white-faced smiling girl. “Really?”
“This is what I keep saying, yes!”
Kokoro grabs one of your hands and clasps it between both of her own – they feel soft and cool to the touch, despite the summer's warmth. “You are a fan?”
“That was implied?” you say, staring at her hands – wow, that feels nice. You wonder what they'd feel like on your face.
To your great disappointment, she releases you, folding her hands together at her waist as her mask shifts again, this time to one of a googly-eyed man with skewed, puckered lips and a white, blue-dotted scarf. “Do you have a favorite play of mine?”
...To be perfectly honest, you don't really understand most of her stuff; you're mainly there to see her dance, and that's got universal appeal. Still, that latest show of hers, the one about the shrine maiden and those Taoists and Buddhists beating each other up, that one's actually pretty good! Mostly because everyone acts like a giant idiot, but at least they're not talking like they're a thousand years old. “Uuuuh, Shinkirou?” you say. “I think that's what it's called.”
Back to the smiling mask! “That seems to be the most popular of my shows, from everyone I have asked.” Aaaand the fox makes its triumphant return. “It seems I need to update my material for modern audiences.”
“I liked-” No, you can't finish that, that'd be a lie. “...Well, okay, yeah, your other stuff was hard to understand. The dancing was nice, though!”
Sir Googly comes back out, and you're really starting to wish she'd slow down with all the mask changes. “I am glad that aspect of my performance still holds value.”
“Well, you're really good at it,” you say, renewing your smile as you rub the back of your neck. “I'm pretty sure you could do any kinda dance and make it look nice.”
“Thank you- Oh.” Her head tilts sideways, and the monkey comes back once more. “I did not even ask your name. I am ashamed and apologize.” She claps her hands together and bows her head, her monkey mask looking as awkward about this as you feel.
“Uh, no, no, it's fine!” you say, waving your arms in slashing X's. “I don't mind at all, really!”
She straightens up, the fox retaking its rightful place near her head. “Still, I have made a mistake. Please allow me to introduce myself properly.” She bows again, this time at the waist, and pauses only when she's staring at your feet. “My name is Hata no Kokoro. It is good to meet you. I hope we will have an enjoyable time together.”
Geez, she's being... really, uncomfortably formal. And you know she can be more casual just from her performances, so you're not sure why she's being – waiiiiiit a second, maybe she's nervous too? You don't know why she would be, but then again you don't know why you were before you started talking, either, so it's not like you're one to talk.
Still, you do need to introduce yourself; it's only fair after she's done it.
[ ] This is supposed to be a fun time, right? Lighten the mood a bit and introduce yourself in a theatrical manner!
[ ] If she can introduce herself all formal and polite-like, then so can you! Let none say you're not a fairy of class!
[ ] This is supposed to be a fun time, right? Lighten the mood a bit and introduce yourself in a theatrical manner!
I think it's gonna be important to establish a comfortable tone with her, and help her relax and have a fun time. Also, let us be completely fair here. We're fairies. Being super formal will probably be really bumbly and possibly not in the endearing way. Being cheerful, friendly, playful and silly seems to fit our protagonist better.
Well, this is embarrassing. It seems we have a TIE, and I can hardly get to writing with one of these in place. If someone who hasn't voted yet could, I'll take that as the clinching vote and call it there.
To be honest, Kokoro's kinda weirding you out. Still, for a long moment, you consider matching her bow and trying to be polite as well... but you're here to show her a fun time, not to be stiff and awkward. So! The first thing you do is clench a fist, hold it in front of your face, and deeply intone “Yes, I see clearly now!”
Kokoro straightens up, staring askance at you.
In response, you shoot back and get just enough room to thrust your finger at her nose. “Hata no Kokoro! It's time you learned who you're dealing with!”
She blinks very slowly, then cocks her head just so, fox mask shuddering but still holding in place.
You sweep your pointing hand back through your messy golden hair with a flourish. “Fair as sun-kissed grass!”
You rocket up until you're level with the village rooftops, then fall flat on your back and plummet, twisting as you drop – for a brief, exciting moment, your head is on a course to do battle with the ground, before you flip right side up again, stopping at eye level with Kokoro.
“Swift as dust in the wind!” you declare, delighting in how her mouth is hanging open in a little 'o', before you pirouette once, twice, three times in place, your last spin leaving you facing her with a hand held in front of your face, palm out, fingers splayed open to expose your eyes. “My name! Is! Cilantro!”
Kokoro stares at you, the fox now vibrating so hard it could probably bore through wood, but you hold fast, your grin clenched in place, because to show weakness now would mean you weren't committing a hundred percent!
Still, as the seconds drag on, it grows harder and harder to remain still under her unblinking eyes; maybe you should have been serious-
“...I can't keep a straight face,” Kokoro says, the fox abruptly tagging out with a laughing, mustachioed man. “Ha. Ha ha ha. Haaaaaaah.”
“Um,” you say, dropping the pose as Kokoro continues her quiet, toneless giggling. It just looks weird that the rest of her face doesn't go along with it: eyebrows flat, eyes blank, lips not so much as twitching up. If you didn't know better, you'd think she was making fun of you. She stops after a few seconds, and it's with a start you realize you've just been staring at her the whole time.
“...Am I making you uncomfortable?” She looks down, pressing her forefingers against each other as the sad lady shoos off the old mask. “I'm sorry. I will stop.”
“No, it's just-” You bite your lip nervously, but figure honesty's the best course here. “Well, I've never heard you laugh before, that's all.”
“I cannot help my tone,” she says, eyes firmly on the dirt. “Everyone I have asked thinks it's strange when I do it. So I try not to unless I'm alone.”
That's terrible! Anyone should feel free to laugh whenever they're happy, or what's the point? You touch down, the better to smile up at Kokoro from where she can actually see it. “It is strange,” you admit, and she droops further. “But I think it's cute!”
Kokoro blinks, mask twitching. “You do?”
“Would I say it if I didn't?” you say, and the moment those words leave your mouth is the moment Googly Eyes smacks Sad Lady out of the way.
“I see,” she says with a nod, clasping her hands together and pressing them against her chest. “Thank you very much.”
You give her a thumbs up. “No problem! Now, uh, you wanna actually go do something, or should we just stand around and keep talking?”
Kokoro takes a look around, and you follow her gaze to see a decent number of humans watching you – your earlier performance wasn't exactly subtle, you realize. “Maybe doing something elsewhere would be smart,” she says, looking back to you. “Do you have any ideas?”
[ ] You know what's a good time? Pranking people. You know what's even better? Pranking people with a wingmate. If her shows are anything to go off of, Kokoro can appreciate pulling one over on someone just as much as you do!
[ ] You might not need to eat, but that doesn't mean you don't enjoy a good meal as much as the next fella. And this time they can't even throw you out, because you've got money!
[ ] You've never had the luxury of being able to shop with this much cash in pocket, which also means Kokoro can buy pretty much anything she wants! Everyone wins!
[x] You might not need to eat, but that doesn't mean you don't enjoy a good meal as much as the next fella. And this time they can't even throw you out, because you've got money!
When you're out on a date, I find having a nice meal is always a good way to do it. It gives you plenty of time between waiting for your order to be taken and your order being delivered to chat and get to really know each other on your first time out. Ergo, I vote this option.
Plus, we have to remember that our pack of money is all we're probably getting for seven dates, so spending too much in one go is PROBABLY a bad idea.
The pranking thing I'm not really for because, as funny as it would be, it could negatively affect Kokoro's image as a performer. Plus I am just getting a gut feeling that she's not the pranking type.
[X] You might not need to eat, but that doesn't mean you don't enjoy a good meal as much as the next fella. And this time they can't even throw you out, because you've got money!
No. 187511 File 14561959476.jpg - (486.28KB, 700x1100, the face of seriousness.jpg) [iqdb]
Going out for a bite to eat is a classic date idea for a reason, right? You haven't really done it much, but since you have so much money now oh goodness, you figure this is the best time to give it a go.
“I miiiight know a place to eat, if you wanna do that,” you drawl.
Kokoro nods, letting her arms fall to her sides. “That is fine. Lead on.”
“No problem!” You grab her hand and start walking, and she immediately falls in step with you, arms swinging as she takes exaggerated steps that, somehow, still leave her right at your side. She ends up teetering on one leg more than a few times as you go, and it's kinda odd compared to how reserved her speech is, but it's not like she can help how she talks; if she wants to express herself this way instead, that's great!
“So,” you say, and she glances down at you. “Do you have anything you really like?”
“No.” She holds up her free hand, finger raised. “Or, rather, I do not have any preferences.”
You nod, happy with that answer. “Good! Good. I was thinking, well, something kinda simple?”
“Cool.” You're leaving unsaid the fact that you don't really know any places to eat around here besides the one you got thrown out of, and, well, you got thrown out of that one. Still, you've got money; if they won't take it just because you ate for free one time, that's their problem.
Kokoro seems perfectly happy with staying quiet as you walk, and you're happy to stay that way too, because wow, a girl is letting you hold her hand, and this isn't something you get to do too often! Even the occasional odd glance from other people isn't a bother; you know you make for a strange pair, but Kokoro apparently doesn't mind the looks, so it's all fine.
You reach your destination restaurant after a few minutes, a wooden building with a square roof, the front home to several windows allowing light to stream in. There's a sign outside the door with colorful, sweeping brush strokes announcing the place's name; you don't really pay attention after that part, though, because you realize that maybe having Kokoro be here when the owner yells at you about your last visit wouldn't do you any favors in her eyes.
“Um,” you say, looking up at her. “Maybe stay out here while I settle things? I might've, uh, made the boss of this place angry last time I was here.”
She looks back at you, fox staring you down, and gives your hand a squeeze. “No.”
You blink, not entirely sure how to feel about this. “Huh?”
“You are my date. If there's a problem, I will be here to defend you.” She lays her other hand on the hovering fox. “This is the face of seriousness.”
That's – actually really reassuring! “Okay, sure!” you say, and lead the not-quite-charge into the building.
It's one big open room in here, with a long wooden bar separating the kitchen from the rest of the room. Behind it is a man in a white hat and matching apron over his robes who's grilling meat, the scent of which hits you like a brick to the nose. In the eatery proper, there's square tables and wooden chairs scattered about, a good number of villagers seated around, and your eyes drift across the other people who've decided to grab a meal here: all regular humans, like the pair of large, muscled men cracking jokes at each other, the group of bookish-looking young men chatting animatedly over noodles, a couple in the corner whispering in hushed tones, and so on. Some look at the (honestly pretty odd) sight you and Kokoro provide, but they return to their own business quick enough.
You take one more step in, which is when a dark-haired teenage girl skids in front of you, face set in a frown as she plants her hands on her hips. “Hey! We already told you you ain't allowed-”
“I'm really sorry about earlier,” you interrupt, brandishing your loads of money, and the girl's jaw clicks shut, even though the suspicion doesn't leave her eyes.
“Open it,” she demands, more quietly than before. You glance at Kokoro and let go of her hand, and her mask shakes just slightly when you do. A quick untying of the string lets you open the purse up, and your greeter's eyes shoot wide open when she peeks inside. Suspicion returns not even half a second later as her scowl deepens. “Where did you get this?”
“It was a gift,” Kokoro says before you can even open your mouth, and the other girl flinches under her unblinking stare. “Are there any other problems you have?”
“No, no, it's fine,” she says, a strained smile crossing her lips. “Table for two?”
“Table for two,” you confirm, and she spins on a heel.
“Right this way!” she says, bustling off, and both you and Kokoro see no reason not to follow her. You hardly manage a few steps when the chef looks up, spots you, and grows a magnificent grimace.
“Oi!” he calls out. “What's he doing here?”
“He brought money, Dad!” says your guide, and the way the man's expression flips is pretty spectacular.
“Get him a table!” he says, then returns his attention to cooking.
“Yup!” Sure enough, you're guided to a little corner spot, seated, and are witness to Kokoro pushing her skirt down when she sits; the thing is naturally puffy, but after a bit of work she gets it to stay close to her legs.
“So!” says your waitress, after you and Kokoro are settled in. “What would you like?”
“I smell chicken,” Kokoro says, stare still firmly on the other girl, who refuses to look her in the eye for any appreciable length of time. “I want it.”
“Chicken sounds good!” you agree, and not just because Kokoro suggested it; properly grilled meat is a rare treat!
“Aaaaall right,” says the girl, easing up a bit more when she looks your way. “You want it sauced up?”
“Sure!” you say, bobbing your head excitedly.
“I second that,” Kokoro adds.
“ 'Kay!” Your server gives you your total, which you can't help but feel is a bit disproportionate right up to the point she mentions your last visit here, whereupon you suddenly find it in you to pay extra. “Thanks a bunch! I'll be with you again shortly.”
She hustles away, leaving you alone with Kokoro, who's now staring at you pretty intently, fox and all.
“You didn't pay last time.” Her statement does a great job of making you wince.
“I was flat broke?” you protest, already knowing that's not gonna get you anywhere.
“Fairies don't need food.” You know she doesn't inflect or change her tone at all, but darn if you don't hear an accusation in her voice anyway.
“I wanted some.” You pout, looking away, because there's no way you can stand up to her stare head-on.
“Please do not do that again,” she says, and you can feel the disapproval even from her flat gaze.
“...Okay,” you sigh, because what other answer are you gonna give her?
“And you're up!” says the waitress, back again with a little plate of grilled chicken in each hand. She sets it down and leaves you with a half-sincere “Enjoy!”
You study your own dish intently; the chicken's coated in dripping red sauce, but this dissuades you not at all as you grab the skewer, take a bite, and immediately regret this decision, because oh gods above it burns.
Kokoro pauses with her own held near her lips. “How is it?”
You clench your fists, squeeze your eyes shut (don't cry don't cry oh no you're crying it's that hot), and go “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa- oh wait it's actually pretty good now that my tongue isn't melting.”
Kokoro blinks as you swallow, then wipe the tears out of your eyes. She gives her own food a suspicious (you're guessing here) look, and nibbles at it. Her mask immediately shoots off, replaced by the surprised face from when you first met. You could almost swear her eyebrows rise just the tiniest bit as she chews.
After a few moments, she swallows, then takes another bite. “Mm.”
She nods slowly, the fox coming back into place. “You were right about this.”
Aha! Dating success! “Glad you like it!”
“I didn't say that.” The fox trembles slightly when she speaks.
“Oh,” you say. Crap.
“...I didn't say I didn't like it either.” Kokoro cocks her head, half-lidded stare boring into your eyes. The fox's trembling grows stronger.
Just like that, Googly Eyes butts the Fox out of the way. “I am playing a joke on you.”
“Oh!” A grin breaks out on your face. “Okay, you got me good with that one. Ten outta ten.”
“I am quite good.” And that's the fox once again! “We should talk now, I think. By which I mean you should talk and then I will respond.”
“Isn't it supposed to go both ways?” you ask through another mouthful of chicken, because table-manners are for chumps.
Kokoro stares. “What do you like to do?”
Riiiight, you don't think there's any winning that one.
[PICK FOUR THINGS]
[ ] Fairy music isn't known for being elegant, but darn if you can't manage a lively flute solo! Your singing voice ain't too bad, either.
[ ] The other fairies call you Iron Gut because of your special ability to not get immediately plastered whenever drinks are passed around, unlike pretty much everyone else. As a weird side-effect, it doesn't hurt at all if someone hits you in said gut, which is really handy even if you don't know the why behind it.
[ ] You lift. You lift a lot of things. Logs! Fairies! Youkai! You've even heard that if you lift enough, there's a mystical prize waiting for you; a hernia!
[ ] You're decent at danmaku! Sure, you still got stomped by Cirno when you got cocky and had a go at her, but you lasted several minutes before you got wrecked.
[ ] You've always had fun with interpretive dance, actually. Sure, people laugh at you, but they just don't understand you're making art. (The art is in making people laugh.)
[ ] You are (NOT) an illiterate! Sure, you may not be able to read anything real complicated, but you're still better off than a large chunk of the fairy population.
[ ] You are made out of 'goes fast,' or at least can make a claim as such! You also got the skill to not smash headfirst into a tree when you're flying that fast through a forest, which is handy!
[ ] You can hold your breath for twenty minutes! Maybe more! It shouldn't be possible, but somehow you manage?
[x] Fairy music isn't known for being elegant, but darn if you can't manage a lively flute solo! Your singing voice ain't too bad, either.
[x] You lift. You lift a lot of things. Logs! Fairies! Youkai! You've even heard that if you lift enough, there's a mystical prize waiting for you; a hernia!
[x] You've always had fun with interpretive dance, actually. Sure, people laugh at you, but they just don't understand you're making art. (The art is in making people laugh.)
[x] You are (NOT) an illiterate! Sure, you may not be able to read anything real complicated, but you're still better off than a large chunk of the fairy population.
You see, we should be a real, genuine, modern Renaissance Fairy. We know art, music, practical skills and are well read. Kokoro, being literally an embodiment of an art. But more importantly than that, this is a vote that's going to come back for the rest of the thread I imagine. The skills mentioned here will come up in other dates, and I think it makes the most sense for someone who literally has nothing but time on their hands.
I could, however, see a point being made for changing out lifting for Danmaku. Still, the idea of a /fit/ fairy amuses me far too much to be willing to pass it up.
Plus I imagine being /fit/ would entertain a few of our future friends.
[X] Fairy music isn't known for being elegant, but darn if you can't manage a lively flute solo! Your singing voice ain't too bad, either. [X] You're decent at danmaku! Sure, you still got stomped by Cirno when you got cocky and had a go at her, but you lasted several minutes before you got wrecked. [X] You've always had fun with interpretive dance, actually. Sure, people laugh at you, but they just don't understand you're making art. (The art is in making people laugh.) [X] You are (NOT) an illiterate! Sure, you may not be able to read anything real complicated, but you're still better off than a large chunk of the fairy population.
[X] You're decent at danmaku! Sure, you still got stomped by Cirno when you got cocky and had a go at her, but you lasted several minutes before you got wrecked. [X] You are (NOT) an illiterate! Sure, you may not be able to read anything real complicated, but you're still better off than a large chunk of the fairy population. [X] You are made out of 'goes fast,' or at least can make a claim as such! You also got the skill to not smash headfirst into a tree when you're flying that fast through a forest, which is handy!
[X] Write in! -[X] You watch people. People are interesting! They talk, they speak, and sometimes people prank people! You can learn a lot just by watching.
[x] Fairy music isn't known for being elegant, but darn if you can't manage a lively flute solo! Your singing voice ain't too bad, either. [x] The other fairies call you Iron Gut because of your special ability to not get immediately plastered whenever drinks are passed around, unlike pretty much everyone else. As a weird side-effect, it doesn't hurt at all if someone hits you in said gut, which is really handy even if you don't know the why behind it. [x] You lift. You lift a lot of things. Logs! Fairies! Youkai! You've even heard that if you lift enough, there's a mystical prize waiting for you; a hernia! [x] You've always had fun with interpretive dance, actually. Sure, people laugh at you, but they just don't understand you're making art. (The art is in making people laugh.)
We are tough and manly, but also artistic! The perfect combination!
[X] The other fairies call you Iron Gut because of your special ability to not get immediately plastered whenever drinks are passed around, unlike pretty much everyone else. As a weird side-effect, it doesn't hurt at all if someone hits you in said gut, which is really handy even if you don't know the why behind it.
[X] You lift. You lift a lot of things. Logs! Fairies! Youkai! You've even heard that if you lift enough, there's a mystical prize waiting for you; a hernia!
[X] You've always had fun with interpretive dance, actually. Sure, people laugh at you, but they just don't understand you're making art. (The art is in making people laugh.)
[X] You are made out of 'goes fast,' or at least can make a claim as such! You also got the skill to not smash headfirst into a tree when you're flying that fast through a forest, which is handy!
[X] You can hold your breath for twenty minutes! Maybe more! It shouldn't be possible, but somehow you manage?
[X] You're decent at danmaku! Sure, you still got stomped by Cirno when you got cocky and had a go at her, but you lasted several minutes before you got wrecked.
[X] You are (NOT) an illiterate! Sure, you may not be able to read anything real complicated, but you're still better off than a large chunk of the fairy population.
[X] You are made out of 'goes fast,' or at least can make a claim as such! You also got the skill to not smash headfirst into a tree when you're flying that fast through a forest, which is handy! [x] The other fairies call you Iron Gut because of your special ability to not get immediately plastered whenever drinks are passed around, unlike pretty much everyone else. As a weird side-effect, it doesn't hurt at all if someone hits you in said gut, which is really handy even if you don't know the why behind it.
You take a moment to finish your current mouthful of spicy doom before you answer, which also gives you time to think of how you're totally gonna impress her! “Weeeeell,” you say, drumming your fingers on the table. “I'm fast!”
Kokoro does not seem impressed, but then again it's hard to tell when she's feeling anything with the Fox out. “Define fast.”
You lean back in your chair, grinning wide. “I can clear the Forest of Magic so quickly I can't hear anything over the wind in my ears!”
Kokoro doesn't shift an iota. “Hm.”
“I'm also good at shooting!”
...You're not sure she's entirely impressed by your fighty credentials, but then, it's hard to tell anything with her, so you're just gonna assume that maybe trying a different tack would be good.
“Er, I like reading, too?” you say. “Reading's fun?”
Kokoro very slightly tilts her head, Fox swapping out with Golden Spooked Man (you're giving them proper names now for convenience's sake). “A fairy who enjoys reading?”
“It's not that rare!” you huff.
“I'm sorry.” Golden Spooked Man switches out with Sad Lady.
“No, no, it's fine, it's just-” You sigh, waving it off with both hands. “Aah, don't worry about it, it is that rare.”
She nods, Fox back on. “Right. What do you like?”
“Books!” You realize that may not be very helpful. “Uh, that is- I mean- well, mostly fictional stuff, you know? Adventure things and so on. I'm not the best with the bigger words, but still!”
“I see. Is there anything else?”
“I've... tried to read up on Noh plays, but that stuff's a lot harder to get through my thick skull.”
Googly Eyes shows his face once more. “Still, I am happy you tried.”
“Thanks! Anyway, 'sides that, I'm handy with a flute, and I can sing! Now, aheh, if only my feet could keep up with me when I dance.”
She straightens up in her seat a tad. “Oh?”
“Yeah, I just kinda trip all over myself whenever I try for anything fancy.” You scratch your cheek, sheepishly glancing away. “Or simple. Or, uh, anything at all, really.”
“But you try?” Kokoro presses, Fox in place.
“Oh, yup!” you say, nodding enthusiastically when you lock eyes with her. “I've got plenty of try in me, I'm just working on the doing part.”
“Ah, I see,” she says, but you can't quite help but feel that, were she inflecting, it'd be in that polite tone of someone who really doesn't understand.
“Yeah, I don't compare to you at all,” you admit. “I've seen the way you dance – a lot of your stuff is pretty slow and... restrained, that's the word. But then you get into something a lot more wild like your latest thing and you're just so fast and spinny and really graceful, and then I look at myself and go 'Wow, I am kind of absolute garbage' and that's why I stick to singing.”
“You aren't garbage.” Kokoro's immediate reply leaves you with flushing cheeks. “Even if you do make questionable decisions.”
“Ah, well, that's...” you say, dipping your head so she can't see you blush, and take another bite of chicken to buy yourself a few moments to think.
Kokoro waits until you build up the courage to look her in the eye before she speaks. “It may not be much consolation, but I do not think it is fair to compare yourself to me – I wouldn't exist if I could not perform well.”
“That-” You swallow your latest bite to talk properly. “Seems kinda extreme?”
She gently shakes her head. “Did you know I am a tsukumogami?”
“...Oh,” you exhale. “Oooooh.”
Kokoro nods, quite softly. “So you understand why I am as good at the art as I am.”
“Yeah. I didn't think too hard about it, but it makes sense.” You don't think too hard about a lot of things, honestly, but you're not sure that'd endear you to her if you said it. “So, uh, your thing is-”
“My masks. All of them, coalescing together, make me what I am.”
“Is that why you're so flat?” Wow, you think as those words leave your mouth, that was bad phrasing!
“Excuse me?” Kokoro says, Fox trembling.
“Your voice and expressions, I mean!” you hastily correct, and her mask returns to stillness.
“That is what I thought. And, yes, that is why it is... very difficult for me to express myself in the same ways everyone else does.” She lays a hand flat against her heart, eyes drifting shut. “But, no matter how empty of emotion I may seem, I”-her eyebrows twitch-“still feel everything.”
Just like that, she sags down, heaving a deep sigh as her hand thunks against the table.
“...Are you okay?” you ask, maybe a bit worried after that little display.
“I'm sorry,” she says, opening her eyes once again, her cheeks reddening by just the faintest bit (they can actually do that?) even as her unblinking stare remains on you, Fox trembling once again. “It takes a lot of effort to show any feeling without the help of my masks. Like – bending a metal rod, except it returns to being perfectly straight the moment I let go of it. Does that metaphor make sense?”
“I think I getcha,” you reply, kicking back in your seat as you think over what she's told you so far.
[ ] “...So, what'd happen if you lost a mask, anyway?”
[ ] “If it's that hard to show how you feel, wouldn't it be easier to let the masks do all the heavy lifting for you?”
[ ] “I dunno how much it's worth coming from me, but I know you can pull off the whole 'emotions' thing, no matter how hard it is!”
[x] “I dunno how much it's worth coming from me, but I know you can pull off the whole 'emotions' thing, no matter how hard it is!”
Well, two of the things I was hoping we'd have got in, so that's not bad. Now, as for this one...
Well, the first option will probably bring up bad memories of losing her mask of hope and while I don't think she'd hold it against us it would change the mood of situation so far and I think we've hit a good rhythm so far so I'm against that.
The second one is just flatout insulting. It puts down something she's put a lot of effort into and something that's obviously very important to her just because it looks like it is hard for her, and NO ONE appreciates that.
The last one is a good, encouraging option that is as sincere as we are transparent so I think it's a good choice, but I'd be open to a good write in.
>>187648 Hey author! I'll post the colored version if you post an update.
No. 188960 File 146479803366.jpg - (1.02MB, 900x1440, expressions are hard but gestures aren't.jpg) [iqdb]
This is the problem about irresponsibly starting a story when you have others to work on; people will like it and give you fanart and then you'll feel like a total tool for not writing more of it. I cannot guarantee timely updates on this, but I am not going to leave it for dead, either. __________
“I dunno how much it's worth coming from me,” you say, tilting back even further in your chair, “but I know you can pull off the whole 'emotions' thing, no matter how hard it is!” Her expression shifts not at all, but you grin anyway. “Besides, I can already tell you're a bit embarrassed. That's a good step right there!”
Kokoro blinks. “Pardon?”
“You know, the whole blushing thing?”
Kokoro pauses, then slowly touches a hand to a (still faintly pink) cheek – and blinks again. “I... didn't need to force it?
“See?” You claps your hands together in triumph, unbothered by the jolt of surprise a fella suffers a table over. “You're already making it happen!”
“I didn't need to force it,” she repeats, pulling her hand free and holding it in front of her face, turning it this way and that as she stares at it. Fox trembles again, then vanishes for All Smiles. “I didn't need to force it.”
“Uh,” you say, because all of a sudden you're feeling a bit out of your depth at her reaction. It seems like she's feeling good about this, so you settle on a tentative “Hoorah?”
Kokoro clenches her fist and gives it a good pump, turning her eyes on you, mask quivering. “This is the face of victory.”
“Well!” You clap your hands together; the resulting noise gets a few heads turned your way, but you do your best to ignore them. “I'm happy for you?”
“As well you should be,” Kokoro says, nodding gravely.
She picks now to go at her food again, and since you're kinda lacking in any other thing to say here, you follow her lead. So it goes, the both of you companionably silent until, in short order, you're both finishing up the last little scraps of chicken. For once, you're happy you tried to be a bit restrained when eating – you don't think having to wipe your mouth off on your sleeves would be all that endearing, going off how Kokoro's acted so far.
“So,” you say, running a hand over your mouth to make absolutely sure you don't have anything sticking to you. “What happens now? Because this place has some totally killer soup, and-”
“I think,” Kokoro interrupts, rapping her knuckles against the table, “I am done. Thank you for paying.”
“Sure, sure,” you say, smoothly taking this in stride. “Then I guess we just gotta bail aaaaaand I just realized have no idea what we could do next.”
You start tapping your toes against the floorboard on nervous reflex, because you're still going by the seat of your shorts here and, okay, Kokoro seems to be having a good time, but you can still mess it up at the end, maybe, and then Yukari is probably going to do something incredibly unpleasant to you and it's just aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaugh-
“Cilantro,” Kokoro says, and your attention snaps back to her and the Fox staring at you; she's resting her chin on interlaced fingers. “Please relax. If you cannot think of anything, I will find something else to do.” She cocks her head, just slightly. “Perhaps it will be you.”
...Did she really just-
Her lips twitch up minutely as Fox vibrates. “I see from your expression that my teasing was a success.”
You hide your face in your hands, eyes tightly shut, and shake your head as you mutter a weak, despairing “So this is the power of a cute girl...”
“Indeed, I am.” And doesn't she sound smug about it? ...Well, okay, she doesn't at all. But you bet she would if she could.
“Right. Okay. Right.” Breathe in, breathe out, simmer down, don't explode even if it feels like your face is gonna melt off. You slide out of your seat, stuff your hands into your pockets, and fix Kokoro with a (only mildly embarrassed, you hope) grin. “So, I mean, you wanna head out? I'm cool to head out.”
Kokoro nods, pushing her chair back, standing, and tidily shoving the seat back into place. “I, too, am 'cool' to head out. Even if I do not understand the... 'lingo,' is it called?”
Kokoro glances away, holding a fist to her chin. “...I have, technically speaking, spent a long time enacting very old plays.”
You have to think on that for a moment before it clicks. “Oh. Right, that wouldn't exactly keep you all up to date, would it?”
“That's correct.” She sighs heavily, arms falling limp as she looks you in the eye again. “I've been listening to others and studying how they talk, but sometimes I am still... off, about things. It's very vexing.”
“I'd bet,” you say, shifting from foot to foot – you don't know what else you could say, really, so instead you pull a hand from its pocket and hold it out to her. “So, uh... Shall we?”
Kokoro hesitates for just a moment, and then she firmly grasps your hand in her own. “We shall.” She thrusts her free hand towards the exit, pointer finger heroically extended. “Let us be off.”
...People are staring, but you can't find it in you to care, because that is just too cute, oh, gosh. And that's how the both of you stroll out the doors, hand in hand, your passage marked by the bemused gazes of all the humans behind you – but this feels good, and that's what matters. __________
[ ] The temptation to prank people is strong. And you're betting, with all her teasing, that Kokoro isn't entirely opposed to it herself.
[ ] You have a flute. Kokoro can dance. Suddenly, inspiration has struck.
[ ] Kokoro! Now's your chance to come up with something!
[ ] Write-in some other activity that would be a good time?
[x] You have a flute. Kokoro can dance. Suddenly, inspiration has struck
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Have I written other things in the time I have spent not writing this? Yes. Does that mean I should leave this to rot? Absolutely not.
The both of you have made it a fair distance before it twigs in your head that maybe you should probably ask Kokoro something. So you will! Because dadgum it, you got a job to do, and girls to make happy, and you're gonna make it happen!
“...So, remember what I said about my flute?” you ask, side-eyeing Kokoro.
She keeps her eyes straight ahead. “Yes.”
“Would you wanna try, or-”
Oh, now she's glancing your way. “Try what?”
“Dancing or singing or whatever while I play?”
Her eye widens, just a tad. “...In public?”
You shrug. “Well. Yes?”
Kokoro stops dead, turning her eyes to the sky. “Hm.”
Oh-kay, maybe this was a bad idea. “I mean, if you wanna try something else-”
You're cut off by Kokoro spinning wildly on a heel to face you, grasping your hand in hers. “I live for my art.” She heroically clenches her other fist over her chest. “Let us show all who would view us why I am the best.”
“Oh, well, okay then!” you say, before she all but drags you off your feet as she walks on, a new bounce in her step. “But I dunno maybe we could do with some practice first before or-”
“No,” Kokoro says, full of monotone conviction.
“I have utmost confidence you will pull through.”
“I'm not sure that's-”
“Shh.” The two of you reach a decently busy intersection, which is when Kokoro jerks to a stop. “Perform now, complain later.”
You take your chance to pull free from Kokoro's mighty grasp, then put on your best serious face as you raise a finger in objection. “I think I've got some very reasonable issues here!”
“Yes,” says Kokoro.
Oh. People don't usually agree with you on that. “...So are you going to hear me out or-”
“Negative. You volunteered, remember?” Kokoro points to a spot in the shade of a taller building. “This spot will work. You have your flute, correct? It is not wherever you make your home?”
Uh. This could be bad. “Nnnnnnnno?”
“Ow.” Rubbing your head, you look up to see nothing, then down to see your flute. On the ground. When you didn't have it before. “...I bet Yukari did this.”
“I do believe I saw a gap open up above you, yes,” Kokoro says.
Well, she did ya a favor, so you put the convenience out of mind and pick the instrument up – you carved it out of a big ol' stick; while you were never spectacular at whittling things down, the flute's a pleasant dark brown and it fits in your hands nice enough, so really, you've got no complaints. “Yep, this one's mine.”
“Excellent.” Kokoro claps her hands together. “Then we shall begin.”
You look this way and that, sizing up the modest crowd rambling through the streets, and find yourself nervous, which is totally understandable because you don't really perform for humans. At all. So maybe suggesting this in the first place was not your finest idea. “Are you totally sure you don't want us to start somewhere quiet, first?”
Kokoro levels her flat gaze at you, and you can't help but feel a little embarrassed even though you did nothing wrong. “I know I will perform well, and I have confidence in you to succeed as well.”
“...How much confidence are we talking here?” you ask.
Waaaaait a minute. “I thought you had utmost confidence in me?”
Kokoro tilts her head in the tiniest of motions. “I realize now that I have lied, retroactively.”
“Oh.” You need a moment to consider this. “That's kinda harsh?”
“Sorry. I did not think things through when I said it.” She lays both her hands over her heart, and bows her head. “Now I am being absolutely honest in saying I have eighty percent confidence in you.”
You squint suspiciously at her. “Are you going to just keep dropping it until-”
“Yes.” She grasps your flute-bearing hand and pushes the instrument up to your lips. “That will motivate you. Now play.”
“All right, fine, let go,” you grumble, and thankfully she does. First you get your fingers in place, let your eyes drift shut, take a deep breath through your nose... and pause. “Uh... You got anything you'd like me to play?”
“I do not have a preference, and I believe the phrase for letting you pick your own is 'go wild'? So do that.”
[ ] Go wild, she says. Oh, you'll give her wild, all right. Put your lungs into it, little man!
[ ] You always figured the slower stuff suited her dances better. Now's your chance to see if you're right.
[ ] This is a time for merriment! And merriment you shall bring! Something jaunty and cheerful and fun, that's your style!
[ ] You've got something... else in mind. [Write-in?] __________