Return to Mokuren
Reimu felt it.
Of course, being Reimu and all, she couldn't care less, she had every single right, and then some, to refuse giving a damn about that extremely familiar feeling, and she intended to.
But then she changed her mind. Something made her, it was that tingling sensation she worked out from repeated experiences with weird stuff and weird people and even weirder circumstances. Of course, being Reimu and all, she could lightheartedly ignore this as well.
But she wasn't in the mood to ignore this kind of stuff, so she turned around and headed back to the shrine, hoping it wasn't too late.
Throwing parties: serious business.
A standard Gensokyo party involves at least one drunken oni, at least two freeloader, and no formal invitations. Basically, everyone just crashed in and from there on everything was to be made on the spot, especially the food.
Not the drinks thought, these were never lacking.
So, basically, Mokuren and Ran were stuck inside the kitchen, cooking all sorts of stuff trying their best to do it faster than all the others could eat. It was no easy task, but Ran was way better than the half-decent cook without recipe books that Mokuren was, so they managed to somehow hold the front lines, even thought they were mostly making snacks after a bit.
“Moku-oneesama!”, Rumia rushed in for what must have been the twentieth time, “Is there any more meat?”.
“Ran is making some, I'll have a batch of fish snacks ready in a minute”, they were all in a hurry, thought their fake sisterhood bond kept them satisfied about their work and cooperation.
“Yay!”, and Rumia rushed back into the swirling chaos of sounds, songs and laughter that came from just about anywhere else.
“Moku nee-san”, Ran suddenly said as she pulled a bunch of meat pies out of the oven, “It's okay if you want to take a break”.
“Haha, thanks, Ran onee-sama, but I'm not really much of a party man”, he started collecting the ingredients to make some vegetable stew, just in case. Well, actually, he just wanted to eat some himself. “Also, I'm throwing this party as a thanksgiving for what everyone else did, it's not like I'm the guest star”.
“Quite the contrary, Moku nee-san”, she had that foxy expression only a nine-tailed fox could have as she talked, “You threw the party, this makes you the star. Even thought you made this for everyone else, the whole celebration is about you”.
He blinked, realizing he totally forgot about Ran's wisdom score, and then he chuckled, “Okay, okay, I surrender. I'm going to the other room to say hi”.
“Have fun, moku nee-san”.
And so she went to the “other room”, which was supposed to be the living room, but given the size of the party being thrown all of the sliding paper doors in the shrine were wide open and the party was mostly being held in the courtyard, under lanternlight.
As soon as he came out, Mokuren tried to count the participants. Several moments later he gave up, nobody was holding still anyways, so he simply approached the first familiar faces that came across him.
“Yo, Rumia!”, he called, “Wriggle, hey! Oi, Mokou!”. At different moments and circumstances, he received answers to his greetings, and several people joined his ranks, allowing him to get a better grip of the situation.
First thing he noticed, the ⑨ team was there as a whole; it was beginning to get suspiciously easy to gather all of it with just a thought. Then, he saw that Mokou was there, and she seemed to be in a good mood too.
Then everyone else noticed the situation.
“Aaaaah! It's the firey person!” shouted Cirno, pointing at Mokou as if she hadn't been there all along. The rest of the ⑨ team looked shocked, but only now.
“Uh?”, Mokou blinked, looking at the gang, and then made a face as if thought she remembered something important right about now. “Oh! Yeah, the dumbass gang”.
“Wait, wait”, Mokuren intervened before the situation got more confusing than he could stand, Man, I've been out, what? One minute? And this happens?, “What exactly happened between you guys?”.
“We were ganking her but she TPK'd us”, Mystia explained calmly, at which point Mokuren eyed Mokou for confirmation.
“Yeah, sorta”, she shrugged, “I don't even know why”.
“Weren't you a bit harsh on them? I mean, from what Ruukoto told me, they were Higurashi'd or something”.
“Heh”, Mokou's face was deliciously delinquentious, “They're youkai, they don't die easily”.
He sighed. Well, couldn't argue with that. “Please be more gentle with them next time, ganking or not”.
“Ok”, and Mokou left. The rest of the ⑨ team was, almost surprisingly, fine with that.
“Moku-oneesama, is there any more fish?”.
“I think I have some spare lamprey if you're short on snacks”.
“Girls, girls, please”, Mokuren waved his arms to attract the attention of his fellow partymates, “Before you drag me again into a vortex of nonsense and other youkai stuff, please listen to me for a second”.
He paused. They were listening. There's a couple things I want to confirm, he thought while watching them waiting, I think I'm starting to see a pattern here. “Ok girls, I want you to stop picking fights, especially against people you can't deal with. If we get into battle, please wait for my command before attacking, okay?”.
“Is that so?”
Wait, that was fucking easy, he blinked in disbelief, Either they're teasing me or I'm way behind easy mode. Something like menu screen difficulty. “Well...”, he scratched his head, “Then, have fu-”.
He staggered, almost losing balance. For a moment he couldn't even see clearly; various forms of verbal agreement reached his ears in response to his latest reccommendation. A moment later it all returned to normal, leaving him pretty dumbfound.
“... Wha?”, but the other girls were already returning to the party itself, except for Wriggle who looked at him weird.
“Are you ok?”, she asked. Her face betrayed a granted answer, but she wanted to make sure Mokuren could say it.
“I... Think so”, he wasn't so sure of it. It was... Sudden, and he wasn't sure about what exactly happened, but tried to shake the feeling off. “Oh, Wriggle, one more thing...”
She was still looking at him weird, and somehow her broken and bandaged arm made her look even more confused, “... What?”.
He paused, how to explain this? Oh, hell, better try the most direct way, it seems to work best, “Why are you all so obedient?”.
Her expression returned normal, and then she crossed her arms as best as she could, giving Mokuren the suspect that her arm was probably fine already, “Eh... Why, you say?”. After much thinking and some weird faces, she sighed, “I guess you're charismatic”.
He pondered the word, weighing it in his own head, “Charismatic”.
“Of course, it's not that I like you or anything, not personally I mean”, unfortunately she wasn't being tsundere at all while saying it, which made the whole topic a lot less interesting, “I'm just saying you're a faith-inspiring fellow, it feels as if your advice is always good to follow”.
“Charismatic”, he repeated while his bolstered ego pulled out the type of scales usually reserved for blatant cheating. He nodded at himself.
“... Something weird got you in the head, didn't it?”.
“I don't think so. Or rather: yes, but I guess I'm starting to figure it out”, he then pat Wriggle on the head, with surprisingly little protests from her part, “Thanks”.
“Just be careful, a human like you can mean nothing but trouble”.
He was about to say something, but then that feeling came again, a pulse from inside him that vibrated through his whole body. His vision faltered for a little, but then it came back to normal. Wriggle was already gone when he came back in control, even thought it was just a moment.
This is weird, he thought, I mean, it's weirder than the norm. All in all, thought, he felt good, so he decided not to bother.
As he strolled around the courtyard, taking note of the participants and looking for the obligatory festival yuri, he noticed that there wasn't really anyone he didn't know already. Pity, he wanted to expand his relationship chart, but at that point he was better trying to develop what he already started.
Did we mention he felt really good? And hadn't drank anything yet?
Meanwhile, Ran heard something very vague and unconfirmed about Chen getting into trouble, so she immediately fled the kitchen, leaving Ruukoto, Meira and Haedonggum doing the dirty work. Hae was, of course, the one slacking on the chair watching the others work and tasting their results.
“There is a question I would like to pose”, said Meira while preparing some rudimentary survival sushi, “Is the young mistress a strong fencer?”.
“No, just a hopeless amateur”, Hae rocked her own chair at dangerous angles, staring at the ceiling, “That's why I want you to keep an eye on him. Unfortunately, we don't have time to teach him anything useful”.
“Time?”, Meira wondered. Even Ruukoto was looking at the two while her skillful hands were cutting vegetables without need for visual feedback.
“Time”, Hae confirmed, “Unfortunately, I know only as much as he does about this, since his is the only mind that's open like a book to me. Even thought I am not aware of the details, I'm sure we're in a race against time”.
Meira and Ruukoto looked at each other for a bit, then they both stopped and turned to Hae. “Race against time?”, the robot maid blinked, “Why? What's happening to mistress?”.
“Damned if I know”, the sword shrugged, “Unless you mean what's happening to her right now, in this case it's going to be pretty funny”.
She started laughing at herself, which left the other two with no choice but to ignore her and return to preparing snacks. Those youkai sure ate.
They were talking about how Patchouili needed to get outside more often, and were having a lot of fun teasing her, and then teasing Alice too while they were at it, until Mokuren started staring at the moon and didn't stop.
“Aren't you one of them?”, Marisa was saying while poking Alice on the cheeks, “One of those youkai folk”.
“T-that's not what I said”, she tried to say to defend her position, which was by now completely compromised.
He felt it now, the pulse was there and continuous, it resonated somewhere within his own body, as if it came from his very blood. It was strong, terribly strong, leaving him abashed but incapable of reacting.
“Uhm”, Patchouili said, “Meimu's kind of weird”. Of course it failed to catch anyone's attention.
“And today you were all flustered because of that”, Marisa kept poking Alice, this time at the hips, “Something about you feeling jealous of Reimu's armpits”.
“S-stop, I-I couldn't possibly have s-said that...”, she was backpedaling in total defeat, hoping this would make her somehow disappear.
The pulse was getting stronger, escalating like a time bomb, the countdown rapidly approaching zero. The rest of the conversation went largely unnoticed, he couldn't hear them anymore, their voices too far.
All he could think of, was that the full mon was really beautiful tonight.
Reimu Hakurei, who was Hakurei Shrine's shrine maiden, was flying fast like the speed of light so she could help her assistant where she was, but time was running out so she went really fast.
Until a hungry ghost blocked her path.
“Reeeeeeimuuuu!”, she called in that terribly sweet and innocent voice, “Why didn't you invite me at the paaartyyyy?”.
Truth was, she wasn't even thinking about it, and it was better to not have her involved at all whenever possible, but she had no time for this.
“Not now Yuyuko, there's trouble at the shrine”, she said dismissively, “I have to get there faster than fast”.
“I wanna come!”, she was pouting like a kid, barrel rolling all along in the night sky, “I wanna come! Reimu, you're mean! Not inviting me at your parties!”
“It's not my party! And stop moving like that!”.
Lady Yuyuko's assistant and gardener was just about to catch up when the two went even faster, leaving her well behind.
Youmu looked at the two go, slowed down, then stopped to admire the beautiful full moon, sighing. “It is a good night for me to do what has to be done to help my mistress where she is and defeat the hunger”.
Little did they know, it was already too late.
The shockwave trampled the whole party as the shout reached the sky, crashing against the stars. Reeled from the event's sheer plot event, Patchu and Alice were hiding and trembling behind Marisa, who looked completely unfazed.
“Wow!”, she even said, “You could do that, ze?”.
Mokuren took a deep breath and pointed at the magicians, “You. You three, we've been in a party for three hours by now, where the hell is all the yuri? Where is my fucking yuri already?”.
He felt real good, in case it wasn't clear before, except now it was even better. It was like a “feel good level up” or something.
“Au”, Patchu said, “Auu-uu”, Alice added, all while hiding behind Marisa, who wasn't exactly the most XBOX being in Gensokyo.
“Don't mind that! You're the star of the party, ze!”, and Marisa proceeded to shove him around the courtyard and back in the clearer visibility of the shrine foyer.
“Oh? Keine?”, Mokou turned around with a kind of surprised expression.
The face she made when she saw Mokuren was priceless. Camera flashes ensued.
“What?”, Mokuren said, charged with feel good drug in every cell of his, “It's that time of the month”.
A mug fell on the ground, evading Mokou's fingers and slipping out, reaching its ultimate freedom by rolling aimlessly on the floor. She stared widely into Mokuren's eyes for a long moment, incapable of any sort of reaction.
Then she rotfl'd.
“... What?”, he was beginning to say that word a lot, wagging his tail, “What are you all laughing at? Shouldn't you be having hot, lesbian sex with each other? Shouldn't YOU be involved in nocturnal hateyuri with Kaguya? What the hell are you laughing at?”.
“I'm not laughing”.
The voice that came from behind him could have frozen his spine solid, but it only gave a shiver thanks to his newly acquired feel good genes. Reimu was, of course, right behind him, and looked a bit pissed, like always.
Forcing himself not to say What? again, he blinked and instead stated: “If you're going to blame this on me again, you're way off”.
“Every single thing that has happened since you came could be blamed upon you, and it will”, she said in her attorney voice and eyes that could shoot like 1200mm navy cannons. Meanwhile, the rest of the participants, at least those who weren't drunken into semi-unconsciousness by Suika, like the whole ⑨ team, were staring at the scene. “Well, it looks like I'm too late anyways. Of course it's your fault for not noticing”.
“Noticing what?”, he caressed the horns that sprouted from his head, “It's not like I'm familiar with the primal pulse that rested inside my very body that only waited for the full moon to break out, it's kind of harsh for you to expect this from me”.
“You could have noticed the human-type bite mark on your neck”, she said while producing a small mirror that showed Mokuren the human-type bite mark on his neck, clear enough that he could count the teeth and discern that yes, it was caused by a human mouth, and was about a day old or two.
“It's not like I watch my neck all day”, he said while trying to cover it with his dress, and miserably failing, “It slipped past me, ok?”.
Then he felt a chomp on exactly the other side of the neck. He turned to stare at a terribly cute face with wavy pink hair encasing its form, who looked back at him with puppy eyes.
“Om nom nom nom”, she said.
“MUKYAAAAAAAAAA!”, in a fit of panic, he threw her away like a sack of mutant potatoes, “What the hell are you doing? I'm not food!”.
“Awwww...”, the cute girl in fabulous blue kimono that wore a Dreamcast spiral on her forehead made such a moé pout that Mokuren's Moe Antibodies immediately made a system shock check. “But I'm so hungry... And you're so... Tasty...”.
Part of the voice after Tasty, and part of her expression, were betraying her sheer determination in eating him until he was fresh. It took him surprisingly little to realize the many ways in which she could eat him.
“Wait”, he took a step back, realizing he was, once again, in great peril, except this time it was potentially a Bible Black type of danger, “Wait, you can't eat me!”.
“Why not?”, asked the hungry ghost with an inclination for wild rape of werecreatures.
“Because I am italian cook!”, and he shot her a bowl of rice and meat Aya was eating while waiting for more embarassing situations to come.
Yuyuko ate it. Bowl included.
“That bowl was mine”, pointed Reimu, “Your debt is tripled”.
In the end, the rest of the evening passed with the ⑨ team totally knocked out, the three magician girls falling asleep on the floor dangerously close to each other, Aya lodged into a wall after she tried to take pictures of Reimu undressing for a bath, Mokou that went back home after laughing her ass off at Mokuren and, of course, everyone else in the kitchen.
“I humbly apologize for the troubles caused by my mistress”, Youmu said while bowing down with her forehead to the floor. Said mistress was eating the Hakurei Shrine's food reserves for the rest of the month, which left Reimu about as broke as she could ever be.
Well, she still has the shrine, Mokuren was starting to think, but quickly erased these thoughts, fearing somebody might read into them and have something happen to the shrine proper.
“Anyways!”, he said, making a quick spin after laying a dish of Carbonara in front of Yuyuko, “Am I not cute?”.
Ruukoto and Meira stared at him, Ran was busy patting the Chen sleeping on her lap.
“Eh?”, Mokuren blinked.
“You're kind of gross...”, Ruukoto repeated, albeit a bit out of embarass.
“What? What's gross about me?”, he looked at his own silver and red tail, his now red hair with silver streaks and his straight horns, “I'm cute! I'm totally cute!”.
“Althought it pains me saying so, you are a little gross, young mistress”, Meira added, a bit embarassed herself.
“I'm not gross!”, Mokuren wagged his hakutaku tail around, “I'm cute! I feel good! It's really great!”.
A heartful laugh came from Hae, who patted him hard on the shoulder, “Yeah, I think you're cute too. It suits you”.
“Thanks, Hae”, he sighed, especially because she looked more amused at the situation than struck at his ultimate cuteness. Until Yuyuko started tugging his tail. Again.
“Meimu”, she said, “I'm hungry”.
He turned around, unable to believe that her stomach could be that troublesome. “You... You... Just... Ate!”.
“I'm hungry”, she insisted, and Mokuren quickly took out what little was left from the pantry before Yuyuko's hunger could reach the Bible Black level. Again.
“It seems you are pretty good at getting used to weird situations after all, Moku-nee”, Ran had that foxy eyes of hers. Again, yes, but this time it was a good thing to notice.
“Yeah”, he sighed as he poured the little udon left. One last dish and then he only had to hope he could reason with her, “Not like I have much of a choice”.
“The ability to survive is given by choices”, she pointed out, “It looks like yours weren't that bad if you're still alive”.
He chuckled, good ol' Ransister, “Maybe, but I'm still uneasy about everything”.
“Why is that?”, Chen was quietly purring in her lap.
“Just look at me: I learned danmaku and flight in four days, I have a bunch of youkais that, for how lowly, do just about everything I say and never ask anything back, I've been saved from death and turned into a were-hakutaku. I'm too lucky for this to be not suspicious. Something fishy's going on”.
Ran simply smiled, “Are you sure?”.
“Yes”, he nodded, “For one thing, Remilia put her hands on my destiny, and your mistress is certainly planning something with me”.
Youmu made the about eight meters that separated her mistress' table from the kitchen proper, looking up at Mokuren with a tired face, “Lady Yuyuko is saying she's hungry”.
He stared at the udon. It was, of course, nowhere near ready yet. “... Can you buy me some more time? Her stomach grinds faster than I can cook”.
She grabbed his sleeve, looking at him straight in the eye.
“... I perfectly understand how you feel”.
Yeah, figured that, he smiled and pat her hand, “Thank you Youmu. Just try to help me convince her there's no more food here. And that I'm not food, of course”.
“I'll try”, she promised.
Well, that's the best I can get from her, I guess. He just had to hope it was enough.
The morning's light, filtering from the paper doors left widely and randomly open, was enough to make the rooms warm enough to sleep in even with the somewhat cold wind blowing through the shrine.
It is time, although a bit late, to point out that Mokuren is not really a morning person, especially if he spent the whole night doing something else. He was so tired when he fell asleep that he couldn't even remember when that happened.
He wasn't in the kitchen, he was in another room he didn't really remember well. Oh, yes, the room with the washing machine, here's what was towering near his head. He didn't see anyone else around, but he clearly felt different. This made him curious, and he tried to get up, also because he wanted to see where everyone else had gone.
That's when he realized two increasingly dangerous things.
The first, he only had his drawers (Gensokyo customary) and sarashi. This was bad news, he thought he remembered managing to convince Yuyuko to not rape him until the end of time so there was definitely something fishy in his state. Like, his drawers were even half off.
The second, Keine was sleeping with him under the improvised blankets of a futon, with an arm over his chest.
The third, she wasn't wearing anything.
As soon as he stopped wondering why she wasn't in her hakutaku form since there was a full moon, he figured that, most likely, she only transformed when the moon was actually visible at night. At least considering the fact he was back into human form himself.
As soon as he was satisfied with this discovery, he realized that Keine wasn't supposed to be at that party.
As soon as he realized there were huge pieces of the puzzle that went amiss in a corner of his memory he probably lost, he wondered what was supposed to happen should somebody find them in this situation.
As soon as he finished realizing the kind of terrible situation he was in, and after the camera stopped flashing, he saw Reimu, standing in front of their bed with her hair undone and just in her underwear.
She did not look happy.
Oh shit I'm done for
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