tengu-onii is looking at you
Rin took a hasty step back as the group of Exorcists rushed past him. They didn’t pay him any attention, but that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, Rin was used to it now. It was better than being insulted, in any case. However, this time around, he couldn’t help but stare after them for a moment, if only because they weren’t wearing the standard uniform that the ones from the Tokyo branch wore. He didn’t need to think for a long time to recognize where he’d last seen it; they were from the Myouou Dharani sect. What were they doing here, Rin couldn’t possibly imagine, but apparently, they’d just been at some sort of meeting, because one of the conference rooms’ door was still open, and right when the half-demon looked in that direction, three people stepped out from inside: one of them was one of the Arc Knights, Lightning, talking to the head of the sect (who, if Rin remembered correctly, was Shima’s dad), and behind them came a young man who — according to Rin’s memory — had to be Shima’s eldest brother. The two older men passed him just like everyone else, but as the third one took a look, he seemed to momentarily halt in his steps. Rin used the opportunity to give him a smile, and he raised a hand.
“Hey there—… Yer Juuzou, right?” Or was it Kinzou? … No, Kinzou had been the second brother… the blond one… With all of their names ending the same way, Rin could only hope to have made a lucky guess. Then again, perhaps the other had no clue about who he even was — after all, that mission in Kyoto had been quite some time ago, and since then, Rin hadn’t been there too many times —, and then it was all for naught. “‘S been a while…”
littlepinkcanary slipped away between the shelves
Rin’s eyes followed the girl as she browsed between the discs. There was a strange sort of grace about her that he couldn’t quite explain, and the only reason why his eyes were stuck to her back was because, in an odd sort of way, she seemed familiar. He had to think for minutes and minutes, standing idly (most likely with a rather strange expression on his face, too), before he finally realized that she reminded him of Rin-chan, somehow, even though she looked completely different.
Rin glanced down at the CD he was holding in his hand, realized he didn’t want it after all, and put it back on the shelf. He moved to a different one, right next to where she was standing, and he began browsing absent-mindedly — it took him a good half minute to realize he didn’t even like mainstream pop music at all. What was he even doing here? Yet, the girl was intriguing, with that hair colour that reminded him of Shima, and an aura around her that he couldn’t define.
She was so startled when he stole her notebook from her that she couldn’t do anything, just staring at it as it flew through the air. His words practically echoed through the air, and she listened with wide eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks. She whimpered a bit, then shook her head and shook it hard. ”I’m scared,” she blubbered, utterly pathetic and paralysed by her fears. ”I’m scared. I’m scared and I don’t have much time… It’s this year,” she explained, whimpering pathetically. ”I don’t have time to fix it. I’m scared…” She’d become so accustomed to the idea of her impending death that she’d started looking forward to it, that she’d started seeing it as a sort of relief, a convenient release from having to keep struggling. A coward’s way out, but then, Becca was a coward.
“There’s only one thing ya need to focus on doin’,” came the quiet reply, and Rin reached out, his palm beginning to wipe away the girl’s tears, no matter how many came in their place. “And that is not givin’ up.” Because that’s when life is really over, he added in thought. If she gave up, then it didn’t matter when that time came for her — even before it, she was dead. “You have all the time in the world to fix it,” he continued softly. “Sometimes, single moments can be as long as decades.” When he’d been waiting for the final decision. When he’d told Shiemi he loved her. When he’d been waiting for Yukio to text him back. All the important moments. “I used to be under a death sentence,” he told her. “I was given six months to do somethin’ that ordinary people have three or four years to do. Nobody thought I could make it, not even my mentor, not even my own twin brother, even though they hoped… But I fuckin’ showed them all. And the thing that brought the death sentence on me was for the things that my father committed, ‘n me simply having been born to him — so I would know what it’s like to be damned.” He smiled at her. “‘N just for the record, I was scared shitless all the while, too.”
“Licking wouldn’t be very sanitary, Anki,” Yukio replied with a small sniff. If his brother looked towards him, he would see a slightly wrinkled nose as he thought over the idea.
Yukio frowned some more when he went over the process Nii-san had taught him that didn’t involve using cello wrap to form the rice balls. Shaking then forming the rice would be horribly messy, even with water to help keep the grains of rice from sticking to his hands.
“Uhm, Nii-san showed me how to use cellophane to help the rice stick rather than shaking the rice in the bowls. He said he thought it would be easier for me to handle. Of course this was after I had wasted half a batch of rice by shaking it hard enough to end up all over the counter.”
He fidgeted a minute, blush covering his cheeks and the tips of his ears. Finally he continued.
“So if you had any plastic wrap that might be safer, and a lot less messy.”
“Sanitary?” Rin repeated, a little dumbfounded for a moment. “What, this isn’t a hospital, y’know! Don’t ya lick yer hands if food gets on them while eatin’?” He stuck his tongue out at the other, obviously teasing at this point. “Didn’t the old geezer teach you to wash your hands before touching food?”
Still sniggering, he turned back to the rice cooker, tapping the tips of his nails against the countertop rhythmically as he waited for it to get ready. He decided not to address the second half of Yukio’s explanation, not wanting to make him feel bad — but inwardly, he had to admit it to himself that he hadn’t the slightest clue how someone could get rice all over when it was being shaked in between two bowls that closed on each other…
“There’s gotta be a roll of cellophane in one of the drawers… ‘M not sure, though, I think I was almost outta it… But if there isn’t any, I’ll just do the shakin’ part for ya.”
Those two words seem to take the wind right out of the young woman’s sails— her form slumping visibly in response. So much so, that there is little protest at his helping her with the remainder of her shirt, though she can’t help the cringe that surfaces meanwhile. Still, not a word is uttered as he finishes, and then moves to pull her close. Truthfully, she should have expected such a response, but…. no garden? What would she possibly do for an entire day by herself? “I know, but..” The tamer’s protests this time around are a little hesitant, hushed, but surely… wouldn’t he understand? However, the remainder of her words seem to die right upon her tongue, overshadowed by what Rin happens to say next. And, now Shiemi is rendered speechless. With her head tucked neatly underneath his chin, it is a little difficult for her to crane her head up and away enough to look at him directly, but she tries anyway— lacking the strength to sit up properly. Even like this, she can barely manage to peer over the bridge of his nose, before finally finding her voice again.
“R..really..? Will they actually let you do that?” The question escapes before she can even give a proper thought to her words, but she quiets a second later. After all, she had heard the sincerity of his words reflecting clearly in the tone of his voice, and now, feel it in how he holds her against himself without any sort of additional tension, or uncertainty. So, before he can even utter a response.. she begins to visibly relax on her own, slumping back against him, followed by the release of a held breath. One day. And, that one day would be spent entirely with him. Although shielded from view, her initial look of disappointment and surprise seems to fade rapidly, accompanied by her best attempt at a one-armed hug around his torso—a wordless show of her thanks. Now, there would be no waking up to an empty bed, unexpected missions to worry about, or a late night spent waiting for him to return to her, this time. With that in mind, there is a smile that surfaces next. Even with the earlier disappointment over her garden, this news has already seemed to more than make up for it.
Content; it is now, and only now that she bothers to take a glance around at their surroundings, yet another sight she hadn’t seen in over a week. The overall cleanliness of the apartment hadn’t seemed terrible upon her arrival, (Rin had gotten much better about that, after all) but— their bedroom looked to be a different matter altogether. There was no mistaking the sight of the half-demon’s uniform, and other pieces of clothing haphazardly stuffed into the top of the overflowing laundry basket. Apparently, the tamer’s presence had been sorely missed in more ways than one. And, it is the sudden thought of the half-demon struggling with the laundry, (and other assorted tasks she was sure she would be barred from,) that elicits a soft chuckle, eclipsed by yet another yawn. “Does that mean I still won’t be able to do anything, hm..? Not even while you’re here with me..?” She murmurs, eyelids finally beginning to droop. The laundry once more comes to mind, but she refrains from specifying, keeping her small hint of teasing as general as she can. She knows now, he’d probably been much too worried to even think about dealing with something like that. “Will you be able to manage chores without my help…?”
“I’d like to see them try not to let me!” is the huffy response coming from Rin. Of course, both of them know that he’s not entirely serious about that, so, after a momentary pause, he adds, just to reassure her, “They will, don’t worry.” After all, even if he is certainly viewed differently than any other Exorcist, and is treated accordingly in person, thankfully, bureaucracy hasn’t risen to a level where they could do it blatantly. On paper, he has the same rights as any other Middle First Class Knight, and he can ask for another sick day, even if they opt to only give it to him unpaid. (Still worth it, to stay home and take care of Shiemi instead of going hunting again. Not to mention he can use a good night’s sleep, too, without worry, without nightmares about what state he would see her in when he next saw her — not now, that she is here, safely in between his arms.)
A couple of moments of silence follows, and Rin relishes in the feel of Shiemi relaxing against him, tension evaporating from her muscles. He is sure she’s about to fall asleep, but for those few seconds remaining while he can still look into her beautiful green eyes, he does so, as if trying to memorize the way they sparkle — not that he hasn’t done so a long, long time ago. There is a soft smile on his lips as he traces his fingers through her slightly knotted hair, then his palm settles against her cheek, his thumb gently caressing her skin, and of course, it’s only a fragment of a moment before it is followed by the action that could be easily anticipated: him leaning down, and pressing a gentle little kiss against her lips. His tail tightens around her leg meanwhile; that, too, is another thing he missed sorely — albeit it’s an action that’s meant to symbolize him protecting his loved one, it would be a lie to say it doesn’t make him feel more secure as well, to have her so firmly within his grasp once again.
Her next words, though, make him give a little start, and he leans away from her a little, his face quickly flushing. Chores… Obviously, that’s something he’s properly and completely forgotten about while she’d been missing. It’s not that he’s completely incapable of housework — after all, it wasn’t only the cooking he needed to do back then, when they were living in the dorm with Yukio, and even before that, their father had always made them help out with certain things — but with how many other things were on his mind, it’s a wonder he even managed to complete most of his paperwork.
“O-Of course I will! ‘M not a half-wit, y’know!” Admittedly, the state in which their bedroom is currently in definitely speaks of his incapability, or at least that’s what it looks like. And, on second thought… he also has to (begrudgingly) admit it to himself that he’s not all that great with laundry; so many types of clothes that all need to be washed differently, he just can’t wrap his mind around it (which is a little laughable, seeing that he easily remembers a wide list of ingredients and complex recipes involving them). Then again, he’ll be able to do it if Shiemi just tells him what to do, then she won’t need to actually strain herself! There, problem solved.
Oh, and of course, there is one more thing,
the one he will never stop dreading… not that he’ll admit to it either. “All right, all right… I’ll let ya water the flowers yerself…” He wishes his expression at this moment could reflect how wonderfully compliant he is being with her — but, of course, he’s never been good at lying, so all she can see is the sheepishness that comes with the fact that he didn’t even dare touch her flowers in her absence, regardless of worry.
“Eh … ?”
For a while, Rin’s expression didn’t really change - there wasn’t a sign of reaction to the elder’s news, actually. She mostly stared at his back blankly and listened, not doing much other than that.
“… not sure … ?” The idea of that, though - it sucked. Big time. It took her fifteen long years to get any friends at all; now, in the future, she’s supposed to accept the fact that she might not even have them anymore? “… oh. Well … m’glad that they’re at least doin’ well, right … ?”
Maybe she should just lay off the questions for … a while.
Rin can feel that his words aren’t quite what the girl has been expecting — of course they aren’t, she was probably hoping for a more positive response. “It’s not like we aren’t friends anymore!” he adds hastily, as a last ditch attempt to make it sound a little better. “I mean, they were the first to really trust me… ‘s the same with ya, right? That hasn’t changed! We just can’t meet as much as we wanna, ‘cause Shima ‘n Suguro ‘n Konekomaru are in Kyoto, ‘n Izumo is God knows where, though I do meet her sometimes…” He still vividly remembers the rock festival they went to together, and it brings a light grin onto his face. She was so drunk…
“… An’ hey, this ain’t ‘bout what’s gonna happen to ya for sure!” he reassures her. “I mean, anythin’ could happen to ya still… After all, jus’ look at the fact that I’m ‘bout to marry Shiemi, ‘n that’s not very likely to happen to you, right?” He laughs at her slightly stunned expression, then adds, his grin turning impish, “Unless, ‘course, if the Shiemi ya know is a guy…”
“I mean I can see the future,” she said firmly, turning to a scene of a horrific car accident. Demons hopping all over the motorway, there were many cars and even a semi all twisted together in an accident that had no doubt caused a number of deaths. Touching her other shoulder brought another wince from her, and she pushed his hand away again. ”Everyone dies…but I know long before anyone should! It’s terrible…I see it all coming and I can’t do anything. I’m too weak, too little, too useless, too something,” she insisted, tears welling in her eyes as she stared up at him. ”I’ve tried…I used to try…but I couldn’t change the future when it counted most,” she whimpered, reaching up to take her glasses off and rub at her eyes. ”I’m not going to be able to change it now, if I couldn’t change it then. And even if I could…why should I get to change my future when I’m going to die soon, when I left my best friend to die cause I couldn’t change it then?” she demanded, shoulders shaking a bit as she cried. ”I’m not ‘everyone’. I’m damned, there’s a difference!”
For a few moments, Rin was rendered speechless — but the more she talked, the more angry he could feel himself becoming. Maybe, he wondered somewhere at the back of his mind, maybe he was so pissed because he could relate; he remembered having the same thoughts back when he’d been a small child — but then, they’d always been countered by the father he loved, the one who kept telling him that there was always a reason behind the things God did, and even if he couldn’t have faith in anything else, that was one thing he was never to let go.
Before he could have stopped himself, he was reaching out, lips tightening, and the notebook was pulled out of the girl’s hand — and then it was thrown far away, out of reach, to finally fall somewhere out of sight into the tall grass. “Don’t bullshit me about being damned,” Rin hissed at her. Of course, she didn’t know who she was, but for anyone to talk about being damned in front of the son of Satan, who had been carrying his birthright like a stigma ever since he’d been born… He wanted to slap her across the face. “He has a reason for showing you these visions, but all you keep doing is running away! You tried, you say? Well then, if you didn’t succeed, what do you think that means? That you have to fuckin’ try again!”
He exhaled noisily, allowing his tense shoulders to relax, the tension beginning to evaporate. Yelling at her wasn’t going to solve things, especially not when she was already crying. Now he felt bad for having been so rough on her. “Look…” he murmured, his palm falling gently on top of her head, and messing her hair up a little bit. “If anyone, I’d know what it means to be damned, and trust me, yer not. And even if ya feel like yer weak, or not very brave… those things, ya can change them ‘bout yerself. Ya can change anything as long as you try hard enough.”
Yukio smiled at the idea of being able to fill the onigiri. He wasn’t usually tasked with such a project, but he had watched people do it enough that he shouldn’t have a problem. The only thing he needed was some cellophane wrap, because he’d found rice easily got caught up in his claws.
He was so excited to get started that he quickly got over the loss of contact. In fact as he started to mix the ingredients, his own tail began to sway back and forth.
“I learned to start using gloves when cleaning in the kitchen fairly quickly after the merge. Stuff likes to get under my claws,” his nose wrinkled slightly. “Although this works just a well,” he nodded to the plastic wrap he was using. “I have no idea why I can perform finicky tasks to prep medicines for work without issue, but if I come even close to a grain of rice it wants to get stuck to the bottom side of my claws. It’s annoying.”
It was idle chatter, but for now he was content to dwell on trivial matters rather than worry about the reason he had originally visited. After all, the whole point of helping with dinner was to distract himself. So far it was working.
“Did you want me to put nori on the outside of the onigiri, Aniki?”
“Why don’tcha just lick it out?” was all the elder half-demon responded with, his voice a little absent as he hovered above the rice cooker. He knew he didn’t have to warn Yukio not to burn himself with the hot rice — out of every sort of injury, that really wasn’t a concern to the likes of the two of them.
“Ya’ll find bowls for the shaking in one of the bottom cabinets behind yer back,” he added, glancing backwards over his shoulder. “Second from the left.” The smile on his lips widened a little as he watched Yukio fiddle around with the rice and the ingredients. He couldn’t help but think of how his own twin brother had never been even remotely interested in kitchen things; when they’d been living together, Yukio had just been glad that Rin knew how to cook well, and left it entirely to him — and now, ever since they’d moved apart, as far as Rin knew, aside from the occasions he went out of his way to bring some bento for the younger twin, Yukio was content with cup ramen and the like. He really needs a woman… Rin thought idly — then a moment later, he remembered Shura, and the slight smile on his lips developed into a snorting laughter that the younger one probably didn’t understand. Yeah, she sure’d be an improvement… Instead of cup ramen, it’ll be cup ramen and beer!
Chiyo had also been frowned upon ever since she passed her exams and became an Exorcist — because she was very young, people didn’t trust her enough or underestimated her — it happened a lot. Her first year on the job was terrible, she could remember — she would always be cheerful and friendly, albeit still childish, around her colleagues, but they would mostly leave her behind out of pity or pure annoyance. After a while, she had come to agree with the one who trained her — emotions weren’t something people appreciated — and it was saddening to think like that, taking how she always argued with her master that being honest, passionate and true to yourself was the real way to learn to control yourself, not only your weapon; but, growing up, she learned that not everyone thought that way, and rather than getting burnt, she would much prefer to watch the fire from afar.
Observing Rin, she noticed that he was the exact opposite; he stayed true; he tried to get to them even if he probably knew it was futile: just the same way as he tried to get to her. He was something else, that man. He didn’t need to seal himself off in order to succeed, even if his circumstances would have probably required that more from him rather than they did from her. She thought he wasn’t afraid of anything — she could see that he was strong.
During the whole time they walked, the female Exorcist watched him from the corner of her eye, listening to the dull conversations — his interactions were so unwelcome it was unsettling even for her. The older Okumura brother eventually dropped the socialisation, which made her look up, her eyes following him back to the end of the group. She herself saw no reason to try and approach the other team members; they meant nothing to her, and as long as they had received instructions, she saw no other reason to waste her breath. It’d end up just the same it had been with Rin, and she had decided that she had had enough of that quite a while ago.
Instead, remaining in her spot ahead of the group, she spoke loudly enough for her voice to reach Rin. “It would have been quite a hindrance if there only was one mission leader for today, I believe.” Her voice remained unwavering and professionally unemotional, but the corners of her lips curved into a small smile. The half-demon could come and talk to her… Even if she was forced ( by herself rather than anyone else ) to remain rigid and cold, she had no reasons to reject him.
Why did she feel that way, though? Was she feeling bad for Rin? Was it pity…? No, it most certainly was not. But she could relate. What a funny thought. Truthfully, Rin was to her what she would have wanted to be herself. Perhaps when people who were judged as different came along they wouldn’t feel as lonely… or at least, she wouldn’t; because, behind all the walls and masks, she really was.
Rin, who had been mostly just looking at the road in front of his feet as he walked, careful not to trip, but otherwise just keeping his head low, fingers curled around the strap of his sword, and his lips pressed into a tight line of disappointment, looked up in surprise when Chiyo’s clear voice rang through the air. He blinked surprisedly, not quite sure he understood what she meant to convey with such a thing. Hadn’t she been annoyed with him and his matter-of-course attitude back then, before they began on the journey? Well, she seemed to have changed her mind, somewhat — an interesting development, but Rin couldn’t have honestly said he minded. To the contrary; he found himself with a small smile on his face now, reaching up to rub at the back of his head when he noticed the rest of the Exorcists begin to mutter among themselves. Rin stifled a sigh. He was completely aware of how strong and capable he was, and he was sure Chiyo was no less up to the task, but looking at them from the outside… well, let’s put it this way: it was no surprise they were treated in this manner. The son of Satan, and a child, what Exorcist would take them seriously, or trust them with their life? Even if not on his own skin, Rin knew from Yukio that to be skilled when young was a burden on its own; his twin had had his fair share of what Chiyo was probably feeling, too.
Part of him knew this was some sort of invitation, but he stayed where he was. He appreciated the gesture from her, but his instructions for now kept him at the back of the group; while she was leading towards the destination, he was rear protection, looking out for any and all sort of unexpected danger. They didn’t need to be ambushed, of all things, when there would be enough trouble once they reached where they were going.
However, he couldn’t deny the fact that her words somehow made him feel a little warmer in his chest; then and there, he decided that after all this was over and done with, he would definitely take her up on that offer to talk a little.
For now, though, they had a mission to complete.
Influenced by this
It is strange, to have roles reversed like this.
The tamer can’t help but to pause a moment, such a thought lingering as she crosses the threshold of her shared apartment, flanked by the cover of darkness. Her surroundings are silent, still. However, it is the continuous flashing of the microwave’s clock that disrupts that stillness; reminding her that it is a none too early two thirty-five in the morning, well past her typical bedtime. However, the mission Shiemi is finally returning from has been far from typical, as evidenced by her late arrival. But, even exhausted, and covered in grime— it is not the comfort of her bed, that she is searching for.