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[X] Fuck. Just relax with Koishi for the rest of the day. Fuck, man.
[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=Blx474SY36s ]
[No Laughing Matter - Transition (Modulogeek)]
Koishi and I decided to meet up in front of this one little, weak-flow fountain in a few hours after we went searching by ourselves. It’s in the heart of the city... or more like just outside of that. I check my clothes for damage and check my breath for cigarette smoke. Nothing. I feel a little jumpy, a little on edge, and kinda pissed off all around. Like I’m anxious. Like, I’m ready. Sis has gotta be out there. It’s frustrating. Hell, ffffuckin’ frustrating.
So even though I could delay it, even though I could just touch base with her and go do something else: because my fingers are shaking and my head feels nuts and even after the golden flame seared me clean I can feel blood and heat on my knuckles... I want to relax with her.
I step down a street of red flagstones, hearing people whisper after me while I pass. My shoulders are hunched—I can’t lower them, it’s involuntary. They’re talking about a golden fire taking a building in one of the forgotten districts—about the god with golden fire who stirred up trouble only a day ago. I need to keep that momentum up—
I hear her voice at my ear and feel her resting against my back, her arms light around my neck and sleeves bunching up like scarves. She holds me, and I see her third eye out the corner of my right.
“Wanna go home? What happened?” she asks.
“Well... yeah, I don’t wanna talk about it here but,” I stop talking for a second and I grab hold of her forearm, turning my head left a bit, “don’t worry about it. Let’s hang out for the rest of the day, huh?”
Koishi floats around me until I can see her frowning face. What’s she miffed about? “I think I know where your sister is,” she says.
I open my mouth and she puts her finger tall against it.
“Let’s do what you want for a little while first. It’s not all good news I’ve got.”
She puts her nose-tip to mine and I shut my eyes against the tingling feeling. Then, there’s a tingling on my cheek and I look to see her touching her lips there.
I don’t deserve someone this good to me.
Koishi vanishes for a second and in the next she’s to the right of me, locking her arm with mine. She gives me a worried look.
... Frig, screw feeling down for a bit.
I smirk at her and say, “Come on.”
The only thing I love more than making money is spending it. There’s a release when I do it, like this weird and permanent sense that I made a call, and now my life’s just that small bit different, officially. It’s more than the idea of getting something new, it’s the idea that it took me however long getting however much, and I threw it away in an instant, in an impulse.
I don’t know how Koishi feels about that. She was a little worried when I got that ring for her, but I think that was mostly ‘cause we’d just met. While I walk with her past shops, stopping often to look at pretty things—modeling them only a bit before putting down cash—she doesn’t criticize. Honestly, it’s spending like this that makes me closer to Sis than I like to admit. The reason Sis doesn’t hold onto her money is since she’s so clouded with misfortune she literally can’t keep any of it. One way or another—debt, accident, mugging, or anything—she’s gonna lose that money. Me on the other hand... sitting on cash doesn’t sit right with me. Hell, I will burn money if I feel like I’ve got too much of it. Now there’s a goddamn release: setting fire to cash and knowing that money’s destroyed forever, the economy’s just a little more damaged. Like the biggest “fuck it” you can commit.
All these acts are displays of me being alive, and on my own. My own person.
I love it, but hate it a little lately.
Even though I started out being smug and fun while we went from store to store, Koishi notices fast that my heart’s really not in it. It’s a lotta things. It’s not just Sis being out of my reach. I want to keep being selfish—I love being that obnoxious, I love being that “myself”—but—
It’s like Koishi said last night. It’s there: “a want to be good”. Right now my mind feels split in half. On one side, I want to run away. I wanna leave Hell—take my money and live without a care. Not even bringing Koishi. No religion, no responsibility, no prospect of rescue. Just me, myself, and money. But on the other side, I want something any god wants...
Helping, fostering. I’ve got the power to do that much.
I put down an earring I’d had against my earlobe, the shopkeeper looks surprised I’m not bringing it to the register. Yeah... I won’t buy it.
“Koishi,” I say, and my girlfriend looks up at me past a display of sparkling brooches, “let’s get the fuck outta here. I want you to level with me for a bit.”
“‘Course, Joon; no problem,” she says smiling kinda weakly.
Way outside the market, carrying ten shopping bags.
The bridge to the Common District.
It’s still early enough that the atmosphere doesn’t suit the gravity I feel right now. Like, I’m gonna talk serious, can’t the city die down and the lights go up? That’d be nicer than just feeling... ordinary.
I put my bags down on the bridge. Normal, red bridge like the one that princess lives on. Koishi stands behind me with her hands held over the back of her skirt.
“Koishi...” I start, looking out over the mess of dark caves and spikes that make the Underground, “you were being honest with me last night, right?”
“About how I love you?”
“N-No! Not that. Love you too, though,” I mumble, blushing deep. “You think I’m really strong? Like... in my heart?”
“Yeah,” she says flat. “I can see it.”
“You can...” I mutter. “... I can’t. I honestly can’t stand myself. Like, I’m looking at what I need to do and this... this knowing that defeat is what I’m coming up against is tearing me the fuck apart.”
“I wanna leave,” I admit to her. “I’ve always been more of a talker than anything else. I even talked big when I made a vow to you and now I just wanna leave it behind.”
I bring up my shoulders again.
“You should’ve found someone better than me, Koishi. I’m really just... I’m not trying to beat myself up here: the truth is I’m a garbage person... and honestly, that’s the sort of person that I’ll always be. I can’t picture it!”
I’m yelling now.
“I can’t picture this fuckin’ Yorigami Joon doin’ any fuckin’ thing ‘right’! It’s all gonna fuckin’ crash and fall! What the fuck!”
I turn and look at her.
“Why the fuck did I come here!? Did I think I could talk slavers into giving my sister freedom!? Talk oni out of it!?
“And the fucking fact is, I can barely fight! I don’t have time to get that much better, either! If I’ve got to, and the oni I’m fighting is for real I’ll get fuckin’ torn apart! I’ll lose!
“Koishi, if I try... if I really try, and I don’t win...”
I pull my sunglasses down, feeling gross warmth in my eyes again, turning my gaze out over the railing again.
“Nothing will matter. I don’t...
“This whole thing... I’m shaking thinking about it; look.” I hold my quaking hand up. “How do real strong people do what they do?
“How’d you cut your mind out of yourself just for a chance at happiness?
“How did Hoshiguma Yuugi stay around when all her pals left her behind?
“How’s anyone do anything that isn’t easy, knowing it can go wrong as hell and ruin everything? That’s what happened to you. You didn’t make it out alright at all... All my goals, even in at my lowest points, have felt just in my reach but this shit...”
A bunch of slaves—faithless gods under the Underground.
A goddess who can’t have anything good happen to her.
And me, a god who spreads ruin, thinking to save others. And I don’t even think past now with 98% of the shit that I do. Even my plans so far’ve been these all over the place random... “figure out how to figure it out, so when you’re ‘ready’, you can just burn everything down. Something will work out—something always does”.
Koishi shows up in front of me, flying in the air beyond the bridge. She reaches out and puts her hand over my heart. My frown deepens, and my brow lowers further.
“Thanks for telling me,” she says. “I guess you can’t give yourself hope, huh?” she follows with a bit of a smile. Well no, I can’t... do that, or smile either. She feels my chest and moves her palm to kind of grab my front and side, her gaze getting distant. “... You just want someone to know that you’re not sure. It’s what I didn’t do.”
“Hmm? Huh?” Not sure... I get what she means.
Still holding me, she goes on, “Something I remember as a full satori is how even oni were dishonest. Not in that they’d lie with their words, but without. Omission, y’know? And I was guilty of that too. Like if I’d told my sister Satori about how I was feeling... wouldn’t she have just stopped me? I didn’t want someone to tell me to try harder—I wanted to give up. I didn’t want to look sad to her... Oni never want to look weak to anyone. You hate that too, Joon: showing weakness,” she tells me. She then lifts my glasses, showing my tearful eyes, and puts that free hand of hers on my cheek and a bit under my chin. “Even though you hate it, you showed me... thanks...”
Well, I’ve already showed you all of me and I’ve seen all of you so...
I smirk. “Don’t be a pervert,” she lightly chastises me with a smirk of her own, her purple eye waving beside her. “I think that... what’s really strong is to be able to show what makes you weak, and wanting to hide it in a better way than just ignoring it. Wanting to fix it if you can. You don’t just want to run away, Dear: you want to stay here and try.”
At her “Dear” my heart thumps. Aw man, that makes me happy as hell...
“You already saved one person. Don’t lose hope.”
“I already said I haven’t saved you,” I tell her, self-loathing building up in me again already.
She shakes her head. “I’m me, Joon. I can think for myself, and when I say you saved me, I’m saying it because you gave me the strength to be able to say it. I... before I met you, I would’t’ve even had the chance to think whether or not someone had saved me. I wouldn’t’ve thought anything was wrong in the first place. I didn’t.”
Koishi looks stern for a second. Then, she looks at me with the kind of determination I had when I swore myself to her. “You also can’t forget that you’re not alone down here...”
She brings the hand on my chest to my face, cupping me now. “You’re a real bitch of a girl, Joon, and I love you for that, but you don’t need to take this Underworld on your shoulders. You’re worried that you might fail, and you’re right. You might. But I’m here.”
She brings me close and kisses my lips. “I’m here for you,” she says, “like you’re always here for me.” She looks for a moment at the pink jewel set on her finger. “If you want to help me from the bottom of your heart, then you’d better not dare stop me from helping you right back.”
I guess that’s true... something like pride, that’s the real problem. I keep imagining busting doors down and rescuing Shion, and when I do I’m by myself. Like, I really... really want that.
Not just ‘cause it’d be cool. I want Shion to see how much I care about her without me having to say it. I want her to see me walking through flames and taking her hand and I want her to know just like that that I’d do anything... anything to know she’s okay. No matter... whatever else I’ve said...
And giving that up... isn’t easy.
But Koishi is right. And more than anything, what I want to do is finish this, right.
That’s... in the end, that’s what I really, really want.
“Will you... really help me?”
I ask her that, and I realize my heart’s in a mess again. Koishi leans forward, and kisses a tear from my cheek.
“This never had to be just you,” she answers, and... something in me feels incredibly relieved.
I’m okay with that. Yeah.
Even a god needs support...
... After Koishi comforts me out of a sobbing state, she tells me that she’s heard of blue divine flames showing up in the Ibaraki Quarter. Specifically, that an enslaved god has them. The problem is the slave-runners... whoever they are, they don’t sound weak.
Now Shion didn’t have fire last I saw, but hey neither did I when we met last. So, she’s somewhere in there for sure... Probably for sure.
... I know I said I need to keep momentum up, but I think if I hit another wall again I’ll end up taking a ticket to fuckin’ Hokkaido and getting the hell out of here because my poor, pathetic, easy money heart can’t take much hard opposition. Thrills and seat-of-your-pants chills are fun and all, but I gotta accept the reality that this isn’t just fun and games. I need to stay away from causing trouble for a little bit...
 ... and work on training until then.
 ... and work on gathering information until then.
 ... and just stick with R&R. Get my head sorted out.
Should I let Koishi handle money for me while I, well, don’t?