She greets you with a sigh, but her lips move a tiny bit up. “You seem to be a magnet for disaster. The kappa incident, fighting a feral youkai and dragging Aya into it.”
“...That's not making me feel better.”
“...But I see that Aya has been in better terms, emotionally, as of late. Possibly your doing. I don't know what your relationship with her is, but I would have to thank you for that.” Her eyes lightening up, she adds, “No matter how much I need to scold her, she never learns. Really, a subordinate trying to teach a higher-up. It's ridiculous. Be sure to guide her well.” Your heart feels like it's been a little less weighed down. It's good to see that Momiji actually cares for you, Aya! Speaking of her...
“I see...but how's Aya now?” The wolf tengu carefully shifts her eyes towards the door.
“She's been better. Nothing rest and time can't fix.” Her tone level seems even, but the fact that she can't face you seems to betray that she's 'been better.' You look eye-level towards Momiji, waiting for her to look back at you. When she does, you press on the issue.
“How exactly is her condition right now?”
“I need to know, Miss Inubashiri. I feel like it's my responsibility to know what had exactly happened to her. I got her into all of this trouble.” You plead with your eyes, but her eyes stare past you – like looking at something beyond your vision range.
“Aya has lost something. Maybe something she'll never get back. It probably won't ever be the same.” You were never a man of subtlety nor cryptic messages. Damn it, this is making you even more confused about what happened.
...What happened. What exactly happened after?
“...If you're not going to tell me what happened with Aya, could you at least tell me what went on after my 'sleep'?”
“We underwent extensive medical care, as well as tending your wounds. The gash near your chest seems to have been infected, so we took care of that.” Momiji has a look of scrupulous doubt plastered on her face. All you do is manage a disappointed sounding “Oh.”
“...What are you really?” This question caught you off guard. An abrupt topic change isn't healthy for a conversation. You think about it, but not too hard.
“A human lumberjack with great strength.” Simple and to the point, but you're not too sure on how Momiji meant on her question. Philosophical or other?
“I see.” She says it with an unfinished tone, like she's going to say something else. Her mouth opens to say something, but she pauses.
Seeing how an awkward atmosphere is creeping into the room, you urge her to say something. “Miss Inubashiri, is something on your mind?” You sit up slowly.
“I have a question, and a very simple one...What do you want to be?”
“...If I knew the answer to that, I would tell you.” You smirk at Momiji, and she chuckles a little. You make the effort to stand up, but fail as you wince painfully when you do.
“Stop that. You're going to make it worse and start bleeding all over the place again.” Her voice is stern, but she thumps her palm to your head playfully. Even as she jokes, it feels morbid just to hear that.
tap tap tap
Footsteps are heard through the hall. It seems a little unsteady, but at a fast pace. Momiji moves towards the door and-
“W-waugh!” ...Did she just bark? “What are you doing here right now, Aya? Go and rest immediately!”
“But where's the fun in that?” You picture Aya, fake-pouting outside the door. “Stop blocking the door and let me in already.”
Reluctantly, the white wolf tengu moves aside to let a crow tengu in. When she spots you, Aya grins. “Crazy stuff yesterday. Perfect writing material for the next scoop.” She puts the back of her hand on top of her forehead dramatically. “But alas! The tengu chief advised, er, ordered me to not publish it at all. Sad day for this reporter!” Momiji looks a little miffed, but you played along.
“But my apologies! My deepest concern for you, humble newspaper writer. Your deep compassion chose to help me in my darkest time of need! And for that, I am eternally indebted!” You don't know what you got yourself into, but it's fun.
“No worries! It is all in good favor!” Not too sure if this is how Aya really feels, you try to adopt a more serious tone.
“Hey, Aya. I'm really sorry for not being able to help you. If I was stronger, maybe it wouldn't have been necessary.” She looks at you with small disdain.
“Don't be sorry. What I did is what I would've done regardless. So don't go starting on that crap like becoming stronger. You're you and that's what counts.” Her cheery attitude soon replaces her somber state. “I can't have you dead and all. Who else would I talk to?”
“...I wish you could be profound all the time, Aya. It would save me a lot of work.” Oh. For a moment, you forgot Momiji was in the room.
“But I like teasing you, Momiji~”
“Your teasing stresses me out sometimes.” She turns to you. “Please excuse me. I need to check up on somebody.” She leaves through the door, leaving you and Aya alone.
While Aya is turned to say bye to Momiji, you take a good look at her wounds. Most of it is covered by bandages, tightly woven around her wings, but a red-orangish tinged cut (with cut being a large understatement) streaks diagonally across. It pains you to even look at it. It looks too much like...like...like...
Ugh, your head hurts.
“Yo, Makoto, what's wrong?” Your head swirls for a second, but the feeling disappears as soon as it came. You think you should tell her.
“Want to hear a story, Aya?” She nods. “In a village, there was a son. He was raised with the best of intentions. Though he would always squabble with his sister, both of them got along. However, one day, his mother soon turned ill, and quickly sought her way to the dead. As a result, his father stopped working, grieving and wasting money. The son got fed up with it. He spoke back to his father about not caring enough for his sister and him. The father said nothing. The boy wished his father would die.”
You decide to drop the whole story facade. “I...had started worked in my father's place, as a lumberjack. But the hatchet was gone once. Figuring I probably left it near the forest grounds, I searched for it. I found it. With my father's body. He had killed himself with the axe. Shocked, I came back with the bloody thing. People looked at me strangely, and nobody was able to trust me anymore. Not even my little sister.”
“Are you okay now?”
“I am well over it. After looking at it in a different perspective, it's not wrong to think that way. It made sense for the villagers to think that way.”
“...How could you say that if you accepted a lie that you once knew was not true?” You have no answer to that.
“I...don't know. But I feel like I could trust this story to you.”
“You're a bad storyteller.” You smile.
“...Shut up, Aya. And you're bad at following directions. Go back to rest.”
“Nah, I think we'll go drinking right now.” She placed a big emphasis on the we. You don't like the sound of that. But you stand up anyways, not caring about how much it hurt...actually it didn't really hurt. Huh. Tengu healthcare. Good stuff.
“...Should we even be drinking in this condition?”
“No.” She winks at you.
The two of you walk out of the infirmary. She leads you over to a bar of some sort. No sooner than you sit, a large bottle of sake looms over the table. Aya open the bottle and pours the two of you some drinks.
Must be funny. An injured man and tengu walk into a bar....
You take a sip. A shuffling is heard to the left of you – it's Momiji, holding a sleeping kid on her back. Judging by the tint of red on his face, he appears to have been...err, drinking? You look at Momiji questionably, but she just sighs.
“Ah, it's that boy.” Aya states, seeming to know everything.
“Yes. He out-drank all of the tengu – and almost the chief.” Aya smiles widely, but the wolf tengu just shakes her head.
“I just know he's going to be a good one by the way he drinks.”
You want to know what's going on. “...And who is the boy?”
Aya smirks. “Tengu business only. Secret secret!” She takes her sake and drinks the cup fully. You finish yours too, and she pours for the both of you.
“No fair...Miss Inubashiri, tell me!”
“No.” How blunt. She leaves the bar and takes the boy with her.
It is the seventh bottle, and you feel your thought process shutting down. Whatever that means...wait, what were you saying to Aya?
“Nonono. I swear Momiji secretly likes to be scratched behind her ears.” Whaaat. That sounds interesting. You'll have to test it after. If you remember.
“Thaaat's funny. And real cute.”
“Hey. Don't you find me cute too?”
“Nopee. I think I'm cuter than you.” You laugh, because it was reaal funny.
“Because lumberjacks are the epitome of cuteness. Waait. You're strong aren't you? You successfully brought down a youkai. That's so strong! I think you can be a youkai.” She says this with such seriousness, you start to believe she's sobered up. But then again, you can't really tell left from right. “But what do you really want to be? A human, or a youkai?”
You want to be a....oh, the world's going dark. You think about it before you pass out.
[ ] Human
[ ] Youkai
[ ] …
[ ] Too drunk to think straight!
[ ] Write in
Yes, it is a reference to FoM. One time only, I swear.