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There was something wrong with this picture, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. At least not in the mental state I was in when I woke up. Actually, the fact I was waking up didn't even make any sense. When had I gone to sleep? The haziness lifted slightly and the memory of the very last thing I saw floated into my head. Something with someone's head popping out of nowhere upside-down, which was kinda freaky, especially since I hadn't been expecting it. Wait, if I was just waking up, did that mean that the whole thing was a dream? It had been an interesting dream, even though there were times when I feared for my life.
For another few minutes, I kept my eyes closed and just lied there in the warm and comfortable bed, trying to return to that strange dream. But I wasn't sleepy anymore. It didn't work. I sat up and opened my eyes and the face of a cat-eared girl filled my vision.
"Woah!" I exclaimed as I scrambled my way away from her and to the other edge of the bed. This wasn't my room - I was still trapped in this dream that was anything but a dream. But where was I now? Of course, the answer was obvious. If this cat-girl, who was now giggling at my extreme reaction, was here, I could only be in two places: Mayohiga, or Yukari's residence. And since Ran was taking me to her master, it could only be the latter. The door opened and in walked the fox-eared girl. Speak of the devil. Or think of him. Whatever.
"I thought that such a commotion could only mean that you were awake," she greeted me.
"How did I end up here?" I asked.
"Straight to the point, huh? Well, it seems that Yukari-sama believed it was easiest to abduct you while you were unconscious so she manipulated a border to induce unconsciousness on you before transporting you to this very room."
"Wait, wait, wait. Then why didn't she just wake me up again after she was done?"
"She... went back to sleep after retrieving you without doing anything else. She said she'd be ready to talk in about two days or so."
I sighed. Two days? What was I going to do for two days? I wondered what was going on at home right now and if two additional days was really going to make a difference now that I'd been gone for what felt like a month now. Chen, the cat-girl, had stopped giggling and was listening to the conversation with a somewhat bored expression. I had a strange urge to pet her but resisted it, thinking it would most likely piss her off. Instead I continued questioning Ran.
"So what am I supposed to do for two days?"
"Actually, you only need to wait for half a day. You've been out for almost a day and a half. You must be really hungry now."
As if on cue, my stomach growled and hunger pangs wrenched my empty stomach around.
"Now that you mention it..."
I got up out of the bed and was starting to follow Ran out of the room with Chen right behind me when I stopped. Chen ran into my backside, going "Hey! Don't stop so suddenly like that!" but I sort of just ignored her.
"Actually, before I go eat, there's something else I need to take care of. Where's the bathroom?"
A few minutes later, I wobbled my way down to the dining room where, thankfully, food had already been prepared. A lot of the dishes were meat of some sort, which made sense considering what my hostesses were. Chen was shoveling down an alarming amount of fish while Ran ate a little of everything. She seemed to be the only one who touched the vegetable dishes. One dish was especially tasty, but I couldn't quite identify what it was. So I asked.
"Hey, what kind of meat is this?"
Chen replied with, "Human meat!"
I choked on the piece I was about to swallow and coughed it up before realizing that both Chen and Ran were laughing. I couldn't believe they would do that! They definitely knew humans didn't eat other humans so why would they feed me-
"It's not human meat. Chen was just joking," said Ran before I finished my thought.
I was relieved but a little annoyed as well. I never did touch that dish again for the remainder of the meal.
It was really dark outside now and I was starting to feel pretty tired when Ran told me that Yukari was ready to speak with me. It was rather unnerving, having to go talk to this powerful youkai so suddenly, but I wasn't about to pass up this chance to get home. All my other attempts had been thwarted by little technicalities, but the youkai of boundaries could get me home no matter what right? Guided by the fox, I reached Yukari's bedroom where, just outside, she wished me luck. I took a deep breath, slid open the door, and walked into the room.
Yukari greeted me from a seat at a table with a yawn. A really long and stupidly loud yawn. Did she just wake up or something? Surely she would have wanted to wait before meeting with me. Everything about her looked like she had just flopped out of her futon and decided to strike a conversation with a random stranger out of nowhere. Her blonde hair was extremely disheveled as if she had tossed and turned far above the normal amount and her clothes... did she sleep in her dress or something? I could see from the door that the purple material was creased, wrinkled, and quite probably dirty.
It suddenly struck me that my clothing was probably in far worse shape, considering how long I had been here without a change of clothes. Not to mention way too many random encounters with people about a thousand times stronger than me that invariably ended with me eating dirt. I self-consciously glanced at my jeans and jacket. The jeans were now so faded that it was more a dirty grey rather than blue now with rips and tears at the knees, but my black jacket was less noticeably worn down. Sure it was dirty but it was hard to see. I wished I had taken a bath before meetng Yukari too...
Yukari gestured at me to come join her the table. After shutting the door, I obeyed, taking a seat across the table from her and probably looking extremely nervous while doing so. She smiled enigmatically at me, which unsettled me even more, before pulling a teapot and two cups from out of nowhere. Literally. Describing Yukari's gaps in words would not be adequate, but it should give a general idea. It was very much like a two-dimensional hole that led to a completely different area. From the side, it was invisible. Even more peculiar, when I tried to see the back of it, it didn't even seem to exist. Yukari's hands just disappeared into thin air and reappeared with the pot and teacups.
As we sat there sipping the tea she had poured, not a single word passed between us. I didn't know what to say but Yukari remained silent. That is until...
I looked up from the dregs of the tea leaves that were left at the bottom of my cup.
"Uhh.. so what?"
"So, why are you here?"
"Why am I...?" I repeated disbelievingly, "Wait, aren't you the one that's supposed to be telling me that? What am I doing in Gensokyo? Why did you bring me here?"
"My, my. Jumping to conclusions are we?" she asked.
"What, are you denying it?" I countered, "It's the only logical conclusion to jump to,"
"Oh... did I sound like I was denying something? I just said you were jumping to conclusions."
I had to pause a moment to collect my thoughts. Okay... so she's not denying it. She's just being... hard to follow. It took another moment for me to realize that she still hadn't answered my question.
"So you did bring me to Gensokyo? Why?"
Yukari actually seemed to think about the question this time.
"Hmm, I wonder why..." she wondered aloud. Finally, she replied with, "Well, if I had to give a reason, it's because I was bored."
She smiled at me as she answered, and her mood at that the time was definitely the perfect opposite of mine. If there were a way to hurt Yukari, even if it meant my death, I would have done it, but what was I going to do? Punching a youkai was about as fruitless as trying to eat a boulder and this was talking about a youkai with normal power levels, not a youkai that could snap her fingers and make the whole world suddenly explode. However, the very next thing that happened drove the thought of getting back at Yukari out of my mind.
The door to the room slid open again and in stepped the red-white shrine maiden.
"We need to-"
She stopped short and looked at me with a bewildered expression on her face.
"How did you get here before I did?"
I sighed and replied, "It's a long story."
"So did you really think that I'd be able to last this long at the Scarlet Devil Mansion? It's been what? A month now? Do you realize it's actually almost spring?"
Getting chased out because of Marisa, sleeping on the floor at Marisa's, getting pranked on by random fairies, somehow getting caught up between the Mokou/Kaguya rivalry, slaving away at Mystia's restaurant. It was enough to make anyone go crazy. Reimu sipped her tea as she listened to me complaining about my misadventures. There were now three of us at the table, a youkai, a miko, and me, the normal guy. Which actually made me the weird one in this place. Reimu cut me off mid-complaint by banging her cup more loudly than usual against the table.
"I realize now that it was a bad idea to leave you at Remilia's place, but hindsight is always perfect. At the time, it seemed best because I hadn't expected to take so long to find this place."
Yukari had a bemused smile on her face as she asked, "What did take so long, Reimu? I had been expecting you at least a few weeks ago."
Reimu shot her a glare. "You were expecting me? How suspicious."
"Oh yes. You see, I've been watching this human here the whole time, including when he was talking with you and I must say it has been very entertaining. Usually I lose interest with these sort of things in a few days when it's obvious that the person I spirited away is going to die, but he--"
"I've heard enough, thank you!" Reimu interrupted. "So you've done this on purpose more than once."
"Now, now. It's not like I leave them to die. Let's just say that the human villages have more outsiders living there than there would be if I weren't around."
"Ugh..." Reimu groaned as the meaning of those words sunk in. "I don't even know what to say to that..."
I remained silent, feeling completely out of place from the conversation even though I knew what every word meant.
"Well then allow me to continue," Yukari said. "As I was saying, this case has been very interesting due to one abnormal trait. If I remember correctly, his first encounter was with Youmu and Yuyuko where he somehow knew that they were from the Netherworld. Next, he knew who you were, Reimu, and that he was in Gensokyo. And as far as I can tell, the only reason why he is still alive right now is because he was able to predict, very accurately, how the important people he met would act. Interesting, isn't it?"
Reimu looked at me. "Yes... very interesting."
Well this is it, I thought to myself as both girls regarded me with curiosity and suspicion, The answer to their question is so ludicrous, I wonder if they'll even believe it.
"So," Reimu started. Here it comes. Time to make myself look like a nutjob. "Your special ability is foreknowledge of important information?"
"From a comp-- I mean, what?" I switched sentences midway.
"You know. Yukari's special ability is manipulation of borders. Remilia's is manipulation of fate. Yours is something like foreknowledge of information, right?"
I thought about it for a second, deciding which excuse for knowledge would make me seem less insane. In a normal world, I would have claimed that I learned information about an imaginary place from a computer game, but this was Gensokyo. This was not a normal world.
"Yeah, something like that I guess," I said, confirming the nonexistent power that I had. It wouldn't be too hard to keep up that facade would it? I mean I was awfully geeky about this sort of stuff.
"Anyway, it seems like we're forgetting why we're here," I said, "Yukari, are you going to send me back or not?"
"Mmmm, I'll sleep on it," she replied, starting to yawn again. She got up and headed back towards her futon. No way... didn't she just wake up from a two day nap?
"Reimu, you're not going to let her get away with this that easily are you?"
"Well, judging from your complaints earlier, you don't wanna end up in the middle of 'yet another danmaku fight', do you?" she asked, smirking a little as she did. "Besides, she said she'll think about it which is more than I can say for my requests."
"So you're basically saying you're too lazy to fight her if there's even a slight possibility of her agreeing to send me back," I shot at her, aiming for an angry retort.
Instead, Reimu said, "Yeah, that's basically it," and she got up and left, leaving me at a table with three empty teacups and an empty teapot in a room with a youkai that was already snoring in her futon. Sighing at my strange luck, I too stood up and left the room through the door that Reimu had left open. When I asked Ran, she said that the miko had already left.
It was pitch black outside and I was tired. There was nothing to do but hope for Yukari's cooperation in the morning (or whenever she would wake up) and go to sleep.
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