(Finished) Below the Bridge

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Re: (Ask First) Below the Bridge

Postby Yuugi Hoshiguma » 31 Dec 2011 08:30

The entire time Parsee spent cooking in silence, Yuugi also spent unusually quiet, though not unhappily so; she seemed content to watch the flames dance, to look up at how the light played off the ceiling. She'd already discarded the blanket, seeming not to mind the cold at all; privately, it was actually kind of nostalgic, reminding the Deva of her younger days. That was the chief source of the absent grin on her face, and probably the reason she hadn't taken a drink in a while, having settled to simply swirling that sake dish slow and steady.

Parsee's voice tugged her out of her meandering nostalgia, and the oni's eyes shifted to the side, glancing at the smaller youkai with one raised eyebrow. She listened to the question in silence, her smile fading a fair bit, though it never quite disappeared and it certainly didn't give way to any sort of anger. If anything, the softer, more distant smile that took its place on Yuugi's face made her almost look contemplative, and the effect was even moreso as she returned to looking off into the distance of the cave again.

"Well now. Why is it, I wonder," she murmured, her voice a fair bit softer than usual, carrying notes of both playful whimsy and honest thought.

The deva took a sip of her sake, then lowered it, still contemplating her answer, and for just a short while, Parsee might see a rare thing: Yuugi, letting the weight of her years show in her eyes.

"...y'know what an oni is?" She lowered her sake a little, and didn't particularly wait for an answer before starting. "An oni is strength. Power. Y'grab any oni off the streets, she puts her back into it she can rip a tree right outta the ground. And because o' that, we don't get along with a lotta weaker folks. We're th'big brutes, or th'most dangerous youkai, or th'lumberin' oafs. Kappa saw us as big strong bosses, an' we saw them as hard workin' little underlings.

"An oni is pride. Honor. We never lie, we always take the direct approach. Take what we want, when we want it. We ain't strong enough t'get it? Oh well. Weren't meant to have it. And because o' that, we don't get along with less straightforward folks. Th'tengu were sly, they did what we said 'cause they knew it'd keep them in good with us, and they were pretty useful, and good drinkin' buddies besides. But we couldn't treat them as equals, dishonest as they are.

"So th'oni always stood apart.

"And above all, an oni is always testin' herself. Against the world, against herself, and against other oni. How much more can I drink? How much longer can I stay up? Can I beat that guy over there in a wrestlin' match? There's always somethin'. Oni can't afford to show weakness. We even wanted to spend time with a human we thought was funny or interestin', we had to kidnap 'em and act like it was a prize. Oni love to have fun. But there ain't a whole lot of oni that get close enough t'be more than casual drinkin' buddies and friendly rivals. And when you're up near the top... y'got a great big target on your back."

The oni took a sip of her sake.

"...Suika's up on the surface most times. Don't know where the other two got off to." She leaned back, resting her weight on her free hand. "Just leaves me. I have a lotta fun, I love all the challenges, I enjoy all the parties, but... ain't a whole lot of folks I can just sit and talk to. So I ain't all that unfamiliar with bein' alone."

She took another sip of her sake, and turned to look over her shoulder at the bridge princess again. "But don't get me wrong here. It ain't just pity or loneliness. You're interestin'. I don't think you realize just how strong you are. Livin' alone like that... even if y'are a little messed up by it, it's made ya tough. Not here," she corrected, flexing the arm holding her sake to demonstrate her muscle. "But here." She used the rim of her sake dish to tap her chest. "You're tough. A survivor. And that's interestin'.

"And besides that... you're stubborn." Yuugi grinned a bit more broadly. "Might be almost as stubborn as me. And even if y'can't pick up boulders or rip out trees, that's one place where we're a match. So y'ain't gonna get rid of me that easy, I'll just take that as a challenge.

"But alla that..." The oni finally shrugged. "It's all a lotta words, but ultimately, I guess it was just an impulse. Y'looked like y'needed a friend. Y'been picked on, and if there's one thing oni can't stand, it's pickin' on weak folks just 'cause. I guess I just kinda felt like steppin' in. Everyone needs someone. And after that, y'just kept bein' interesting and fun and funny enough to keep hangin' around.

"So I guess if I gotta boil it down to a real simple answer..." Yuugi sipped her sake, then sat up and turned to face Parsee, lifting it slightly in a gesture almost like a toast. "You say 'why'? I say 'What the hell, why not'."
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Re: (Ask First) Below the Bridge

Postby Parsee Mizuhashi » 31 Dec 2011 19:00

Hearing Yuugi speak was the strangest sort of revelation - neither the one she had asked for, nor one she had ever expected. And yet, in a way, it was welcome. In all the years that she had known Yuugi, Parsee thought the oni to be the image she projected and little else. Affable, strong, ever-cheerful, and most of all, utterly carefree. Unbreakable, unchanging, without the slightest vulnerability. Weakness was, in the bridge princess's mind, her purview, and hers alone; the deva had no time for such things.

In all the time that she had spent with Yuugi, she considered the oni a good friend, certainly, but never, even for a moment, one that she had the slightest thing in common with. It was almost too easy to realize, in the span of a few minutes, that one knew next to nothing of an old friend, behind the mask. But somehow, in spite of all this, the knowledge was comforting. She was not as alone as she had thought, after all.

A survivor. True enough, in a way - not without some... damages, and odds are Yuugi thought she fared a good deal better than was actually the case. Still, there was something to it. It was not, she decided, a skill she would ever try to impart to Yuugi; no, her work was to see to it that the oni never needed anything of the sort. The world had changed several times over for her, lately, and now, it was time to attempt the very same act for her old friend.

For all that she had learned, the deva's explanation had left her with a question or two. But then, this was hardly the time for such things, that much was clear even to her. She could learn who she was speaking with some other time. After all, they had all the time in the world here, so far below the earth.

"Why not?" She repeats, and this time, the question is a little more genuine. "I'm quite sure I've been giving you a new answer to that question every day, Yuugi. But then, like you said, you're too stubborn for that. For all I've done, you don't seem to be going anywhere. Stubborn, persistent, bull-headed... call it what you want."

The green-eyed youkai reaches over slightly, placing a hand on Yuugi's shoulder and looking up, watching the oni for a moment before speaking again. "And I, for one, wouldn't have it any way. Now, I'll be the first to tell you that I'm every bit as dishonest as the tengu, if not more, and even I'm not about to pretend that I'm enjoying being trapped down here."

In the end, Yuugi was the only one; it really was as simple as that. The only one that broke the long days of solitude, the only one who could silence her thoughts, however briefly. The only one who cared for the bridge princess, and the only one who was willing to come to the bridge, to brave the green-eyed monster. The only one to speak to Parsee: Abandoned, harmless, but, without a doubt, the most unpleasant and unapproachable youkai in the underworld - in her own mind, at any rate. And for that, she was more grateful than she would ever dare admit.

"...But it's been better than I expected. Much better." She chuckles slightly, shaking her head dismissively. "Just a lengthy mess of words, of course. You didn't need me to tell you any of that, did you? I feel like you see right through me, half the time; read me like a book." Parsee shrugs, staring into the light of the fire, now. "But then, that's probably for the best. You wouldn't catch me saying half of this, otherwise. Seems like I only bother with honesty once there's no real point left to it."
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Re: (Ask First) Below the Bridge

Postby Yuugi Hoshiguma » 04 Jan 2012 10:15

"Honesty doesn't need a point," came Yuugi's reply. She set her sake aside, crossed her arms, and grinned, quite shamelessly taking advantage of the transition in topic to sidestep the question of how attentive she was. "Bein' honest is its own reward for an oni!" She thumped her chest proudly. "I mean, folks who do it now'n'then ain't automatically bad, but for an oni, lyin's like admittin' y'ain't strong enough to handle the consequences. Not to mention, it's somethin' we can be proud of."

She picked up her sake again, and took another sip before setting it aside. "Anyway, don't worry, don't worry! It might be kinda drab down here, but there's lotsa fun stuff, and I'm sure once y'get used to bein' around other folks more you'll have lots more fun. And if they give ya any trouble-"

Here, she clenched her fist, and her look took on a much harder, almost fierce look, without ever losing that broad grin and the exuberance that accompanied it. "I'll put 'em a meter through solid rock."

She blew out a breath. "But man, I sure did get it kinda drab in here with all that oni philosophy. How's dinner lookin'?" And just like that, as far as she was concerned, the topic was set aside, and it was time to move on to less depressing matters. There was no sense navel-gazing; energy spent enjoying oneself was much better-spent than that used to contemplate somber topics.
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Re: (Ask First) Below the Bridge

Postby Parsee Mizuhashi » 06 Jan 2012 15:56

"I suppose there's something to look forward to down here as well, yes. It just takes... well, more than a little while to adjust to all this, after living on the surface." She shrugs slightly, then shakes her head. "Enough about that, though."

At Yuugi's offer of protection, Parsee only raised an eyebrow, not skeptical, but certainly questioning the need for any such measures. She could take care of herself, in her own way - she survived fighting the miko and witch, after all, even if she had lost, and that was quite enough. In some regards, the bridge princess was certainly not one for high standards.

"Dinner," she announces when questioned, "is... Ah. Well, it's seen better days, but it seems edible enough. And as for moody introspection, well, I'm afraid that's what happens when you spend too much time around me. Now, I'm hardly saying you should stop, you understand, but don't tell me I didn't warn you."

She removes both fish from the fire, holding one cautiously while she passes the other to the oni opposite her. "Here," she adds jokingly. "Give this a try, and if you survive, I'll think about eating mine too." Parsee moves herself a little closer to the fire, warming herself by what remains of it. Warm. Safe.

For once, it was going to be a good day.
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Re: (Ask First) Below the Bridge

Postby Yuugi Hoshiguma » 13 Jan 2012 01:06

Yuugi sat forward, then shifted onto her knees and scooted forward, reaching out to take the offered fish. Parsee's comment got a grin from her; without hesitating, the oni opened wide (wide, wide, oh my she could open wide when she wanted to) and took a great big chomp right through the fish - bone, stick and all, doing in a good third of it with one bite. Crunch crunch crunch. "Hmh..." Crunch crunch. Gulp. "...now hey, this ain't half bad!" She sat down properly again and commenced eating a bit more normally, deciding to take her time with the meal.

Parsee did get another look out of the corner of Yuugi's eye, though, this time accompanied by one of her trademark grins. "Don't fret too much over me. Ain't a thing in Hell can keep me down too long. I'll get you laughin' hard one o' these days, too. That's a promise."

She didn't have much else to say on top of that; the food was good, the companionship was fine by her, and they were staying put for a little bit so there was no need for deciding what to do next just yet. So she was content to eat, and after a while she even began to hum a fairly chipper tune quietly.
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Re: (Ask First) Below the Bridge

Postby Parsee Mizuhashi » 14 Jan 2012 02:40

Brushing aside Yuugi's reassurances, Parsee picks up her part of the meal, turning the fish in the air for a few moments without really seeming to notice it. A few moments later, she puts it down again, raising an eyebrow with no small amount of skepticism at the oni's promise.

"Now now," she says chidingly, her voice a good deal quieter than it was a few moments ago, "let's keep it to one miracle a day for now, shall we?" The deva's prediction hardly seemed likely in any case, to her.

She moves along the sputtering fire's side briefly, coming a little closer to Yuugi in her attempt to find a more comfortable spot on the packed ground. Today's events were only the most recent point in what had been a very, very long week. Days upon sleepless days, carving the boat, preparing for the trip, working constantly to preserve what little silence she could have.

And now it was over. It was all too easy to realize now, by firelight, that it had been over a week since she had last slept. Survivable for any youkai, certainly, but hardly wise. Here she was, at the end of it all - a perfect moment, when everything in the world was as close to being right as it would ever be. Relief finds a place in her thoughts, pushing away what little energy she has left in her to make space for itself.

She places a hand on her friend's shoulder, partly to catch the oni's attention, and partly to simply have something to lean against. "Yuugi?" She murmurs, barely above a whisper now. What she might have said next is anyone's guess; in the next moment, she slumps forward, head drooping slightly, as any words are replaced with slow, even breathing.

Calm enough for exhaustion at last, Parsee sits by Yuugi's side with a perfectly peaceful expression for once, fast asleep.
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Re: (Ask First) Below the Bridge

Postby Yuugi Hoshiguma » 16 Jan 2012 09:19

The 'one miracle a day' comment got nothing but a cheeky grin from the oni. She kept eating and humming alike, and after a while, washed it down with a good long sip of sake. She wasn't given to it terribly often, but the Deva had no problem with the idea of companionable silence. It helped that the cave was a pretty interesting place to watch, especially with the firelight glimmering off everything in sight.

She didn't much notice the passage of time, at least until the moment when Parsee tapped her on the shoulder and spoke her name. It was quiet, but not too quiet for her to catch. She turned her head, responding with an equally quiet, "Mm?" But by the time she looked, the bridge princess was out. It took only a second or two to confirm with a glance that something hadn't happened, and then the oni let out a quiet sigh, chuckling. "Pushed yourself too hard, eh?" she murmured, as much to herself as anyone else. "Poor thing..." Setting aside what was left of her meal, which wasn't much, Yuugi shifted where she sat.

For being so strong, one thing she rarely showed was the fact that she did have control; it was with perhaps surprising gingerness that Yuugi picked Parsee up, and set her in her boat. She was fairly sure the smaller youkai would be out like a light for a while, if her guess about how hard she'd been working was near the mark, but she still had no intention of waking the poor girl. She even went so far as to float above the water and push with her own flight power, rather than sitting and rowing, so as to keep the trip as smooth as possible.

"...next time I oughta bring fishin' poles. Nice lazy evenin' like that's perfect for fishin'. Hafta ask if she's tried it before..."
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