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 Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L

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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:16 pm

"No, just one is fine. I'd ask for a list, but since I travel so much I might lose it." He shook his head, and he motioned towards the front of the store where the registers were, "You're welcome to relax with me for the rest of the day, if you wish, and tell me about your favorites. If I'm in a store again sometime, I'll remember the titles because you speak so enthusiastically about them."
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:23 pm

"Sounds lovely." Mai beamed, holding herself back from grabbing him into a hug, or doing something equally embarrassing. Instead she took his cue and headed for the cashier's. "I know a place that's a little ways from the festival so you don't have to be bothered by people /and/ be relaxed too. I can't wait for you to read that book too. So I'm a little anxious to see your reactions and such."
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:26 pm

"It could take me some time to read it all, but that sounds fine." He wanted to ask her more questions, but figured if they continued to stay together, he might get a chance to ask them later.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:47 pm

Ran observed the bar. She'd been in so many that they all looked the same. Yet, in the crowd full of bright people full of life and laughter, it all seemed dull to her. She might as well have lost her sight if Riko gained hers. Though, this loss of vibrancy to her world had started a long, long time ago. She made her way over to the bar, feeling eyes on her as people took in her form, long and lanky, her unruly brown hair down to her waist, fly-aways everywhere and it was unbound. Her eyes were also wild and some would even say showed just how crazy she was. A dark blue navy yukata was wrapped around her, one leg showing as she walked, pale and long. She had a red jacket that kept her warm, as she was always cold in spite of her fire powers. Sitting at the bar, she ordered the same sake she got every time, and watched the people closely and carefully to make sure nothing was tampered with before it reached her hands.
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:55 pm

Gojyou didn't know what made him pick this bar. It was livily as it could be with tables jammed pack with friends and family that were toasting to each other and drinking to converse and catch up. There were a few card games playing, but even he knew they were private affairs. So far, he had only been able to play at gambling halls, so it wasn't too big of a deal. He couldn't wait till the celebrations and ceremonies finally halted so the bars could get back to where they used to be.

But, not everything was lost. Despite that the town was lively and he knew that there was no way the alcohol would dry up, it was the same scene in different clothes. Besides this bar. This bar had a girl at the counter, her hair unkept and messy. Her yukata was beautiful, but even he could tell that it wasn't properly taken care of. He sauntered over towards her and slid into the chair next to her. "Whatever the lady next to me is having." He said smoothly, taking out a packet of cigarettes and shaking one out. He used his mouth to take it out and twirled his lighter out, lit the cigarette, and placed it back into his pocket, along with the pack.

"So beautiful, did you just get out of a cat fight or is there some jealous lover after you?"
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:08 am

Ran didn't react right away, having closed her eyes to breath in the scent of the smoke, but when she looked towards him she had to lean back and her eyes widened before she blinked rapidly and grimaced. The fuck was that? He was /blinding/. "Do you have a light switch?" she muttered under her breath. Had anyone ever been that bright? She continued to blink at the counter for a moment before looking at him a bit more slowly. He was giving her an odd look, but...yeah. His hair was so, so red, his skin a healthy dark tan, his jacket a rich brown, jeans a solid blue with a few rips here and there. "You're so colorful."
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:15 am

He looked at her confused before he chuckled and brought his cigarette to his mouth. He inhaled to give himself some time to think and exhaled, making sure to do it away from her so she didn't have to breathe it in. "Well, considering we're in a middle of a festival where everyone is wearing nothing /but/ colors. I suppose I do stand out a bit, not wearing a yukata or anything of the sort." Indeed he was just wearing his normal attire, jeans, a shirt and a nice looking jacket. "Though I gotta say I'll take that as a compliment. What's your name?"
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:33 am

"No you're...everything's..." Ran fumbled and looked back at the bar. Things looked different than before, but nothing stood out as much as he did. His clothing was supposed to be more muted than the rest, but it wasn't that way to her. "Taishou Ran." His voice...the low rumble and the way he actually regarded her with interest...it sent her way back. Nataku had told them all that their loves were safe to interact with, but she had declared herself too far gone and that it was far too little too late. Mai had been sad, and honestly she and Riko were why she was even sitting here when she didn't want to be. "My lover died a very, very long time ago. I'm a merc. A wanderer." Also now, Earthbound and a Demon, as the mark on her hand proved, but he didn't need to know that.

"Sha Gojyou." Gojyou replied, taking another inhale of his cigarette. She had a very lost look on her face. The crazy in her eyes might be like that to some people, but he knew desperation when he saw it. "I won't sit here and judge you for that decision. But I gotta say, it's a pretty dull life you're leading."

Her next expression was both horrified and shocked, her eyes huge. This couldn't be happening. She needed that drink, like /right now/ and when it arrived she didn't bother with the cup, popping the cork, satisfied by the wet sound that it hadn't been messed with. She poured him the cup instead and pushed it over, sipping straight from the bottle like she'd taken to doing, "He told me that, too. I stopped, found other ways to occupy my time. After he passed, my friends were the only thing keeping me alive. I slipped back into it. It kept me busy, is all."

"Sounds like that he was a good tie." Gojyou was impressed by how fast she took that bottle and uncorked it. It was clear to him that she had practice at that. Again, where did he have to judge her? He knew what it was like, to live a lukewarm life. Gambling and waiting for something that just appeared right on his doorstep. More like bleeding himself in the middle of the road, but Gojyou wasn't going to say that. Hakkai would probably hear it and feel insulted, or feel like he needed to mother hen more. "I'm sorry for your loss."

"Even if it was a long time ago, it still hurts. Thank you for that." Ran nodded and swallowed thickly. If this was real, then she would have to straighten up. She gave him a sidelong glance, and felt her fingers twitch on the bottle. His hair fell around his face so gracefully, and she wanted to push it away to see his amazing red eyes more. Red and red. That was rare, wasn't it? "What made you sit down to talk to me? I'm sure there's plenty of women with a good rack on their chest you could be paying attention to instead. For all you know I could walk out of here and you'd never see me again."

"You could." Gojyou agreed, "It wouldn't be the first time I'd seen a pretty lady leave after knowing my name. I don't know why. Perhaps it's because you stood out to me the most. Just like you think I'm bright, I thought you looked interesting. I also thought you were in a bit of a tight spot too."

Pretty. Even as unruly as she was he called her pretty. "Comfort sex isn't usually a good idea. I hope you don't have that in mind." She had become much more callous over the centuries. She wouldn't have slapped him in the face that like before. He didn't seem too phased, his jaw just ticked a little, "You're not a local, but then again, neither am I. Just passing through. You could leave just as easily, too. So, were you also talking from experience about the boredom?"

"Something like that, though if you had wanted comfort sex I wasn't going to object." Gojyou took the cup and took a sip of the alcohol. It was a little stronger than he was used to, but he didn't think that one cup was going to knock him on his ass. He been through too many drinking contests for that to work. "Though I did get out of that kind of life. It took a bit of practice, but...in the end it worked out alright."

"I'm sorry for being so rude. Mai or Riko would have slapped me just now." Ran tipped the bottle back, "Which direction is home?" She shouldn't ask. It was a foolish question, considering none of them had a direction. Nataku had brought them here, and told them to just wait and see. She was bitter, and she didn't /want/ to walk away, or watch his back as he left. After making that deal, she became way too attached too quickly and too hard only to be reminded why she shouldn't. Yet, unlike before, instead of going numb, it hurt worse every time.

"East." Gojyou nodded his head over towards the direction. "It won't take us too long to get there by now, though who knows. Kai's the one with the map. We're taking a little more detours than we had when we first started, though it's a more direct route." He tapped his cigarette. "Why? You thinking about wandering over in that direction? If you do, I wouldn't mind seeing your face again. You could brighten up the town Kai and I live in."

"It's a possibility. I will have to talk to my friends, see if they'll come with." They no doubt already were going to, after re-meeting everyone. "You'd like them. Riko is a half blind sassy woman, and Mai likes books and is a bit of a mother hen as well. Our youngest, Kaede, is a riot." She reached into her pocket and put money on the counter. "Leave with me, instead of without me." Along with the colors came more sounds. It was too loud. It was going to drive her up the wall if she didn't get out, and she didn't want to scream at him 'don't leave me'. Clingy wasn't good. Not when he had come here looking for a lay.

Gojyou thought about it before standing up. He took out his own money and set it down on the counter. "Why not?" It might be a bad idea, it might be a good idea, he didn't know which yet. What he did know was that he might regret it if he said no.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:46 pm

Riko had left the town square and was wandering up and down the stalls. While experiencing the festival with sight for the first time was exciting, it was also taxing. Her right side was completely dark to her, meaning that she was vulnerable on that side. She kept her ears open and while she tried to stay mindful of her right side, she found that it was hard to keep track of what was happening. So many colors were blending together, and so many actions were always catching her attention. The vendors shouting, the sounds they were making....

It was so much easier being blind, she didn't understand how sighted people could do this. Then again, they usually had both eyes. She duck herself away from the stalls and into an alleyway, leaning back against the wall. Too much, too fast, too soon. She should have just stayed in the square, but still.

She heard a flick of a lighter and an inhale of smoke coming from next to her on her right side. The scent caught her off guard, but she recognized it from the many different types and kinds Tenpou and Kenren smoked. "Marlboro reds?"
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sun Jul 02, 2017 1:16 pm

"Mm?" Sanzo looked up from lighting his cigarette and puffed it to make sure it stayed lit as he observed her. "You can smell the difference?" he asked after a moment. Half-blind? She looked like she was exhausted and the day was still young. "By the way you ducked in here, you must be trying to escape."
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sun Jul 02, 2017 1:24 pm

"Too much." Riko laughed sheepishly as she tilted her head in his direction on habit. "What about you? You sound like you're hiding too." She glanced over at him and she had to make sure that she wasn't accidentally staring. He was blonde. He wore white with a sutra hanging over his shoulders. He was exactly how people described him to her, but...it was so different to see him. She really hoped that her face wasn't doing anything weird, or that she wasn't doing anything stupid. Having and learning how to have sight was still new.
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sun Jul 02, 2017 3:31 pm

"People see me and they want to praise me. I could take my robe off, but I feel more comfortable in it." Sanzo shrugged, "I don't exactly have a reason to be out here. I should go back to the Inn, but I am staying out in case my teammates decide to do something stupid."

That made a lot of sense. Riko didn't doubt that while everyone else had their own groups, Sanzo would be the one that was most recognizable. Being a man of faith was an immediate reason for praise and credit to go to him rather than everyone else. He wasn't wrong to wait out where he might be needed. She recalled the /last/ festival that she had went. She and her girls got bored. /They/ got kicked out. "Let's...not jinx anything. They might've heard you and are now taking that as a challenge." She looked out of the mouth of the alleyway. She could see people walking by, the sounds were muted though still loud, but the colors were definitely not as overwhelming as they were before. "I'm pretty thankful I only have to worry about two. Three if they found their friend and managed to get him to play. I already can sense the headache coming on just thinking about it though."

"I have two trouble makers that have the energy of four." Sanzo rolled his eyes and took a drag of his cigarette, leaning against the wall a bit more heavily, propping his foot up behind him, "I'm not jinxing anything. They just /are/ menaces to society."

Riko laughed, but she didn't doubt that. She could imagine the troubles that he had to get them out of. She leaned back against the wall again, closing her eyes and basking in the familiar sensation of darkness. She listened to him breathe, the smoke heavy on the exhale, yet easy and faint on the inhale. "Makes life a little more fun, I'd suppose. Exhausting as hell, but at least you're not ever bored."

"No, boredom isn't something I ever do well with." It was odd, to have lulls of silence between the conversation, but it didn't feel like it was a forced thing. "The breaks in the mayhem are a welcome reprieve, regardless."

Sanzo's nasty aura could come in handy here, "It's fine. We can still leave. I'll just glare at anyone who comes near."

Riko snickered and pulled her bandana down both of her eyes. She adjusted the hold and sighed in relief now that the colors weren't blinding her and she didn't have to feel constantly alert. "Alright, let's get out of here."

()
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sun Jul 02, 2017 7:39 pm

"So are you and your other companions staying here, too?" Sanzo asked as he sat with Riko at one of the living area couches. He brought out another cigarette from his pack and brought his lighter from his robe, flicking it open.

"Yes." Riko agreed, her fingers skimming the couch mostly to see where she was at. She recognized the feel and if the sounds were right, the dining room was just over to the left of her, and the stairs were in front, right next to the innkeeper's desk. Though what /side/ the stairs were on, she didn't know yet. She couldn't recall. What she remembered about the inn was that it was a warm, friendly place with more accent colors than a main one. "I'm on the third floor. We're traveling east."

Sanzo paused at that, but quickly resumed lighting his cigarette, "You're going the same way we are. I wonder if that's a happy coincidence."

"More like a messing with fate." Riko said, her voice light with teasing. "Though I do hang with a romantic, so maybe your explanation is better. It'd be interesting if we're trying to get to the same place as well."

"Just where would that be?" Sanzo narrowed his eyes at her. While the walk around the outside of town had been pleasant, they hadn't talked. It had been strange to enjoy another's company, and she had held onto his arm for guidance the whole time. It hadn't felt wrong, and she gave him no reason to find her suspicious. Now, however, he didn't like the idea of them being followed.

"That's a good question." Riko said after a moment of thought. She tightened the bandana around her head, keeping the light from the inn from sneaking through the fabric. "I wasn't really given the particulars. I was just told, go east. So, I'm heading east. I didn't mean to make you stiff. I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable. Mai would know more, she's the one with the better head for directions."

"The darkness is comforting to you, isn't it?" Sanzo said in way of diversion. So she didn't know. That was fine. He wouldn't make her out to be a bad guy if she didn't deserve it. "Would it be insensitive to ask if you were born that way or if it was an injury?"

"Hmm? No it's not insensitive. You could call it a battle scar." Riko tapped her right eye. "I can't see anything out of this eye. But sometimes it affects this eye." She tapped her left. "It's like...think of it like...coming out of a dark room after a long imprisonment. The lights are bright, the colors are suddenly more vibrant than you remember. You start to wonder if it was better /being/ in the dark than out in the light. Of course, you adjust, but...sometimes I have to take a step back and say the closet's better."

"That's a good way to put it. That makes sense. I was just wondering why you kept it on. The festival must be really overwhelming to you." He let out a puff of smoke, "Maybe next time you cross one, you could at least try some food, as I doubt my monkey charge will bring back any."

"Monkey huh?" Riko was amused. They both had the same term of endearment. That was something that was in common. "Is he one of the trouble makers that has double the energy?"

"He is. At least he has someone who can keep up with him, because I sure can't. Goku is a good kid, just tiresome." Sanzo agreed.

"-wasn't kidding about that twist." Mai was saying as she came through the door. Riko tilted her head in the direction, listening as the door shut and the bell rang through the inn. Mai's footsteps were dancing practically,  walking on the balls of her feet so she could easily maneuver to look at him or look in front of her depending on her whimsy. The other man had a silent type of walk. He didn't have smoke lingering around him...which was strange in its own right, but then again she hadn't expected Sanzo have smoke on him.

"It really is a fascinating plotline so far, and the characters are so dynamic. The woman isn't a damsil in distress, but she has her breaking points. That's refreshing. The humor reminds me a lot of what I deal with on a daily basis." Hakkai agreed as he walked further into the Inn with her, but as he looked up to see where he was going he spotted Sanzo and a woman who appeared to be blind. He blinked and diverted their path towards them, "Sanzo! So you found someone to keep you company, too?"

"I did, and you seem to have found a new book." Sanzo arched a brow at him as Hakkai stood between the two couches, and he watched him look between the two of them. "Hakkai, this woman is Riko."

"Pleasure." Hakkai reached down since she was blind, and tapped her hand and then took it so he could shake it, "Were you having issues around the festival?"

Riko shook his hand a smile on her face. Tenpou all the way through though... "A lot of people tends to make it hard to figure out how to get back." She said smoothly. "I also found Sanzo in an alleyway. You're a healer aren't you? But you're also a fighter. You smell like earth so I'm thinking....plants? No...you have a strong aura...so...chi? Chi and plants?"

Hakkai was only mildly surprised, "That was a fast assessment. Yes, Chi and Plants. I can also do martial arts. I kind of have to be the healer with how much trouble the lot of us get into. Gojyou's good when we're in a tight spot, his stitching is phenomenal, but I chalk that up to too many bar fights." He put his hand to his mouth, "Don't tell him I said that."

"You're enthusiastic, Hakkai. You've been enjoying yourself?" Sanzo was secretly pleased his comrade had a rather genuine smile on his face. He was usually always smiling, but after a while it was easier to tell what was just plastered on and what was real.

"I have been, actually." Hakkai took a seat next to Sanzo and looked up at Mai, "I'm so sorry, Sanzo this is Mai! She showed me this book and she's been discussing it with me as I read it. We basically found a quiet place to just sit for a while. We grabbed some festival food when we got hungry, and now here we are."

"Hello!" Mai grinned though she wondered if she was also supposed to greet Riko. Like a stranger or a friend? They didn't talk about that! "It's nice to meet you." It was so strange. Seeing him with shorter blonde hair. For some reason, she thought it'd be longer than it was. Then again, Mai had to admit that no one was really their incarnate. Personalities aside. The habits had changed drastically. She sat down on the arm of the couch, not bothered at all with the lack of sitting arrangements. "The festival was getting to us too though. I was really shocked that we have the same hotel as you." We. Damn it. What if she was supposed to be a stranger?!

"Riko told me she had her own set of friends. You must be one of them. How many are we expecting?" Sanzo arched a brow.

"Well...that depends." Mai tapped her finger to her chin. "We have me. Ri-chan. We have Ran. She might look like a hot mess and is a hot mess, but she's a good person. And then we have two trouble makers."

"Sound like us." Sanzo nodded and drew on his cigarette, "I'm sure they'll all show up eventually. We might as well just sit and wait. Riko told me you're all heading East, and that you might know more, Mai."

Put her on the damn spot. Mai bit her lip. "Well, we're trying to get to Shangri-la. At least, I think that's where we're headed." She scratched her cheek as Sanzo gave her a deadpanned look. "So this isn't looking good at all."

"Why not?" Gojyou asked as he breezed through the door, the bell barely ringing behind him. Riko could smell Hi-Lites in the air, and it mingled with the Marlboro Reds in a way she wasn't sure was good or not. "That just means we're all heading to the same place. Makes it easier on us all really."

"Trouble maker number two with the double energy I take it?" Riko questioned, titling her head.

"That would be him." Sanzo drawled easily. "Is that the woman who's a hot mess, Mai?"

"What a lovely compliment, Mai. Thanks." Ran came over to the couch and she threw her arms around Riko. "I understand why you got a headache." When you were made human, Ran left unsaid, but knew Riko would know.

Riko reached up and patted Ran's head sympathetically. "You didn't run into two weird children on your way here did you?"

"Define weird, because there was a bunch of them." Gojyou answered, exhaling the smoke. "So, I met Mai...whose looking really cozy next to Kai, whose the woman on your arm, Sanzo? Finally breaking those vows of yours?"

Sanzo pulled a face, "Obviously, if I'm smoking and I drink, my vows don't really hold water."

"Trust you to rhyme, Gojyou. That wasn't a bad one, though." Hakkai laughed a little, "Are you alright? Ran, is it?" He asked the girl who had grabbed Riko.

"Your fiend of a friend Gojyou is too damn bright and colorful for his own good." Ran quipped. Which caused Hakkai to really laugh.

Riko lifted her bandana up a bit and peeked out with her left eye. She could see where Ran would say he was colorful and bright. He wasn't wearing anything outlandish, but his personality was so loud and even if she closed her eyes his aura was practically a beacon. "....He certainly stands out from a crowd." She tugged the bandana up all the way and fixed it so it remained on her right eye.

"You're not fully blind?!" Hakkai gaped at her. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to assume!"

Riko blinked and she laughed shaking her head. "I'm not at all offended." She assured him with a smile. "I got overwhelmed with everyone's colors and the festival, I had to turn myself off for a bit. Though it's nice to actually see your face."

Mai watched in high amusement as Riko's cheeks burned. "Thank you." Riko said, her cheeks still staining red. "That's the first time someone's complimented on them."

"Then someone's missing out." Gojyou pointed at her with the cigarette. "Though I gotta say, do we need to worry about the monkey meeting a woman?"

"Just a girl and a guy." Mai assured. "No biggie."

"No biggie she says." Ran hummed and grunted when she got elbowed in the side. She looked up at Gojyou, and just as she was about to wish for Nataku to arrive, the door rang for a forth time, accompanied by peels of laughter.

"Wow, Sanzo. Someone way more blond than you, and he has a head marking as well." Hakkai stared at the three young people as they stumbled their way in, Goku trying to give the blond one a noogie, a sweet looking girl with black hair bent in half holding her sides as well as a few bags. "Goku looks stylish."

"Gokuuuu~! Get off me!" Nataku cried, trying to swap at the monkey on his back, literally, "I completed your dare! This isn't fair!
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:39 pm

Everyone had to stare when Riko nearly toppled herself over to turn around and face the direction that they were at. Her eyes widened at the sight. Goku. His hair was scruffy and the golden diadem on his head couldn't be mistaken. Especially his laugh, still innocent and carefree as ever, even after such a hard journey and a harder battle. She whispered his name, and gripped the back of the couch tightly.

Goku didn't know why the woman suddenly shot up like she had. Maybe she had been worried about Nataku and Kaede? He didn't know, but what he did know was that she was...so familiar it felt like another wave of deja vu. He couldn't remember a name, but he remembered...cherry trees and a song being hummed in the daylight. Berries sweeter than anything that could be found on this earth. "Hello." Goku said slowly.

"Ka-san, Ran, Mai! You found them!" Nataku's eyes brightened when Goku finally stopped, allowing him to focus on his surroundings. He looked back at Kaede and she smiled sweetly at him, and he hurried over to the group. Ran stood up first, and he accepted her hug when she came to him. "Don't apologize, Ran. It's okay." He held her back before she could say anything. Of all of them, she had dug her heels in the worst. Hopefully now she could heal.

"We'll stay together this time, right?" Ran asked instead.

"Yeah...if they don't object, of course." Nataku stepped back when she pulled away, and he bowed to them, "It would be best if we moved somewhere more private. That probably gave you some questions."

"Sanzo always gets the bigger room." Hakkai offered, "Plenty of space for nine people." He was concerned for Ran now. She looked a bit more skittish than she had before. A wrong move, a wrong word, and she might run away. A 'hot mess' was clearly an understatement. "Shall we?"

Gojyou looked over at Ran, who clearly wasn't too happy about what was going on. Nataku might have the right idea, those comments and Riko's expression on her face was clearly a sign that something was going on, he also knew that Ran was probably half-way changing her mind to leaving. "Come on, Ran." He coaxed. "Can't be too big of a deal."

"You say that now." Ran gritted her teeth, but she watched Sanzo stand up.

"I guess I'll take everyone upstairs. I knew there was more to this." Sanzo put his cigarette in his mouth and headed for the stairs, arms folded inside his robe. Goku had seemed quite happy, and the blond boy...at least none of them seemed out to get them, but of course, that could be wishful thinking. There had been plenty of times before where they had trusted too easily, too quickly.

It was pretty silent on their way up, and when they finally got into Sanzo's room, the girls made sure to stick together. Riko and Mai on either side of Ran in case she decided to bolt. Kaede and Nataku were just looking like they were hoping for the best. Goku was the one that seemed to understand what was going on. Or at the very least, had an idea of where to start. "Does it have something to do with the exile?"

"It does." Nataku smiled at Goku, "Tell me what you know? So I can explain easier?"

"All I know," Goku looked upset at this. "Was that I was in heaven for some time. But something happened. Something really bad happened and that left me in the mountain for five hundred years. I don't...really remember anything beyond that." He turned towards Riko who was watching the scene. "You knew me." He said, but he wasn't trying to accuse. "Do...all of you?"

"Ri-chan knows you a lot better than we do." Mai scratched her cheek. "You would hang out with Kaede and Nataku. So you'd run into Riko a lot. So you'd be more attuned to her, than you would be say...me. Or Ran. Ran we just randomly met in heaven the same time we met you. Ri-chan has a bad habit of adopting people."

"So you guys are from heaven. That explains the good looks." Gojyou said slowly, ashing the cigarette that he was smoking in the tray that Sanzo had in his room.

"We're Earthbound now." Ran shrugged, "Ran is human. Mai and I are demons. Kaede is the only one with her Goddess status."

"Huh? Why?" Goku was confused. "Why couldn't you guys keep your statuses? Did something else happen in heaven that was bad?"

"It's because we were involved." Riko said gently, looking at Goku straight in the eyes. "In the very thing that got you exiled. We were just...held back for a time. If we were let go right after you were imprisoned, you wouldn't have stayed in the mountain for very long, mark my words on that."

"Also, we would've just made things worse with the whole going west." Mai scratched her cheek again. "I mean...okay so I suppose they could have sent me and Ran down. Get sucked by the miasma, have us get killed by you guys. But that's a bit...too swift."

"Kanzeon helped with that. While they lost their status, it wasn't particularly a punishment. So, instead, they did something else. They were left to keep their memories, on top of it. Reincarnation wiped you three except for ghosts of the past," Nataku motioned to Gojyou, Hakkai, and Sanzo, "Then Kanzeon wiped yours, save your name." he pointed at Goku, "She is the Goddess of Mercy, after all. She took care of the man that ruined everything, and watched over me while I sat in a coma until you completed your mission in the West."

"Riko's still angry that she didn't get a chance to murder the bastard herself, but..." Mai looked pleased and worried. "We're not here to say "oh hey we're going to flip your lives upside down" either. I know reincarnation means a second chance. I also know that we're not expecting you to be like the people we knew when you were above heaven. So don't worry, we're holding /nothing/. No grudges, no expectations."

Gojyou watched the girls for the longest moment before he looked over at Sanzo, who seemed to be taking this in. Hakkai had also stayed silent, probably thinking it over himself. He shrugged. "I don't mind. Nor do I care. You ladies don't seem to be all that dangerous to us. At the very least. But I gotta ask." He looked at Nataku. "Where does that leave you and Kaede? Are you two also traveling east, or are you here to tell Goku his exile's up?"

"Kaede and I are...special. As is Goku. Kaede is Bound to me, as I am important in Heaven. They allowed me to have my own adventures down here, with you. Everyone will be allowed back in Heaven when you die, but you will continue to live your lives here as you would. I'm not here to influence anything, or any one. All your decisions are your own. I will simply tell you the facts as you ask for them." Nataku explained firmly.

"Bound. Is that what Ran meant?" Hakkai picked up on the slip of the tongue immediately and watched Nataku whisper something under his breath, probably a curse.

"Staying together. It's what she wants the most. They all have their own private wishes." Nataku rubbed his forehead.

"The stars are cruel, Riko." Kaede murmured, "That's what Ran says all the time."

"Things just get better and better as this conversation goes." Mai winced, as she watched the men. They were back on with their thinking faces on again. Gojyou didn't seem to care, one way or another. He was always the free spirit anyway. Hakkai and Sanzo though...they worried her a bit. More rational thinking and more time to come up with ideas.

She wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.

Sanzo sighed through his nose, "Do we have to decide right this very second? It would be appreciated if we could think on it together." He finally said.

"No! I didn't expect anyone to just say yes right away. We can take a moment to ourselves. Who has the bigger room on your end?" He hadn't really paid any attention when the women booked their rooms.

"Riko and Kaede share a room, so that one." Ran answered easily enough.

"Then we should probably get going." Riko said after a moment and stood up. "I'm sorry for the burden." She bowed before she turned to the women. "Come on, let's go. Ran..." She gently placed a hand on the woman's shoulder. "I need you to be my eyes again please."

Ran's jaw ticked as she paused to take a breath, "Right." She took Riko's hand, and looked at Mai and Kaede who nodded and Nataku followed them out last.

"I would say this could be dangerous, but our whole lives that seems to have been the theme. Ran clearly needs help, but what Nataku said about Binding...that worries me." Hakkai spoke first.

"Something very clearly isn't being said." Sanzo agreed.

"The girls obviously don't want us to think that we're being compared or anything to their former lovers or anything like that. I don't know what the binding is either, but...they're not going to say because they're gonna feel like we're obligated too." Gojyou pointed out.

"Goku? What are your thoughts?" Sanzo looked at their youngest expectantly.

Goku frowned, "I'm not sure." He admitted, shifting a little. "I...I know them. I know I know them because they all felt familiar. But I think...I think that even if we don't...feel the same way or anything. More friends can't hurt anyone. Ran could use more company, she looks awful. Mai looks lonely too."

"Mai seemed quite nervous, I agree. Not like Ran, but noticeable all the same." Hakkai agreed softly, "I think we should let them accompany us. I don't see the harm in it."

"Then, we should at least see what kind of transportation they have. They have to be able to keep up. We've been away from home too long as it is." Sanzo contemplated a third cigarette. Should he really? He wasn't entirely sure if he could buy a new box here in this town.

Gojyou thought about it for a moment before he looked at Hakkai. "If Mai seemed nervous and Ran's a mess. What would you call Riko?"

"Hopeful." Sanzo piped in, "She's going with the flow of things a lot easier than the rest. A bit nervous, maybe, but she has faith. Good intentions and good feelings. While I felt something was of since I met her, I didn't get a /bad/ feeling."

"Well, someone can't be a negative Nancy all the time, so I guess Riko would be." Gojyou mused. "She does seem to take things to water. That's probably our advantage. So, we're going to just go up to the girls' room and tell them that they're coming so long they have transportation or...what?"

"All four of us don't have to. We could separate again for the night, you two go to your rooms. I can go up and let them know. I wouldn't be surprised if any of them come to you." Sanzo sighed and stood up, "Goku, you can come with me if you want to. I'm sure you want to play with Nataku and Kaede some more. You don't look remotely tired."

Goku grinned, "Alright." He followed Sanzo out of the room and Gojyou watched the door shut behind them before turning to Hakkai. "Well. Back to our rooms I guess. Though I might just hang out in the lobby. What about you? You think Mai's gonna show up at your door?"

"I plan on continuing to read the book she suggested to me. So. Yes. She'll want to know what I think." Hakkai stood and headed for the door, "Don't start a riot with Goku." He laughed with a wave, and left his redheaded friend to do whatever it was he did best.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Mon Jul 03, 2017 12:41 am

Mai looked at the darkened ceiling of her room. The lanterns from the festival were glowing right into her room. She could still hear the music and the rambunctious laughter of the drunks that hadn't gone home yet. The festival was still in full swing and would probably continue for one or two more days. It wasn't really the noise that kept her awake, or the laughter or the singing that sometimes broke out. What kept her awake was her thoughts. Her mind was endlessly going around in circles.

She had tried very hard to make sure that she was a stranger that had a chance meeting. She had hoped that it would have been a happy coincidence that they met in the same general area. Of course unexpected things were supposed to be common, especially with this group, but she hadn't wanted him to feel so much pressure about being a Bound. She was quite thankful Nataku decided not to explain further.

But he had to be thinking about her. Thinking about how strange and weird all of this was. Reincarnation? Buddhists did believe in that, but Hakkai was no man of faith even if he was given a new name and a new task. She turned once again to her side, closing her eyes. Tenpou would tell her that she should take the peace for what it is, and go with the flow. That's how a Marshal's wife should act. Be steady. Come up with a plan B.

She turned on her side again, facing the lanterns. What if there wasn't a plan B? How was she supposed to recover this? She turned on her side again. Friendship. Always go with that. She had books on her side, but there was more to her than just hard covers and paperbacks. She seen Hakkai's struggles through his life. She watched him love another, no matter the sin or cost. She turned again before slamming her face into the pillow.

Come up with a plan B. Come up with a plan B. Mai sighed softly and before she knew it, she was out in the hallway in her nightgown, and she was wondering why the hell she even bothered. Ran was going to /laugh/ at her tomorrow morning when she couldn't keep her face out of her food. She could see it happening now. Though, then again, would Ran laugh? Ran hadn't...even smiled since they arrived. Fear. Nothing but. Is that...really how she wanted Hakkai to see her? Nervous and fretful and...unsure? Or did she want him to see her confident? Stride through battles and problems like the cool-headed person that she was?

She smacked herself in the head. "I'm going in literal circles right now. Literal. Fucking. Circles. Can my brain /please/ the get the memo to turn the /fuck/ off?" Wandering the hallways were /not/ supposed to be her thing...

Yet here she was wandering the damn hallways like a ghost bride.

Tenpou must be /laughing his ass off right now/. Kenren was. She was certain of it.

"I hear you out here." The next hall Mai had turned down was the one to Hakkai's room, and he was leaning against the doorway, "In hindsight, I realized unless you went to the desk, you wouldn't know what room was mine. Come in?"

"Huh?" Mai blinked and then blushed. "Sure." She was a little surprised that he was out here, waiting for her. "You couldn't sleep either?" His room was pristine, military clean practically. Even his luggage was well packed and kept. It was clear he was prepared for leaving tomorrow. Or anytime that called for it.

"I was waiting for you, honestly." Hakkai admitted. "I thought for sure you would come by to ask more about the book. Really, it wasn't until you spoke aloud in the hall that I realized I'd been sucked in. I'd been reading basically since you all left Sanzo's room. It had been a quick decision, to let you follow us."

"I'm surprised that it was a fast one." Mai sat down on the bed, looking at the book that he was nearly finished reading. "I'm sorry if I was too noisy. My brain isn't shutting up." She scratched her cheek. "Normally I can get it to quiet, but...today's just been a weird day."

"Indeed it has." Hakkai sat on the bed and patted it, "We're all pretty concerned for you girls. You have been very nervous, afraid of what we might say or think, but Ran was a lot worse. Sanzo also isn't oblivious, he saw how happy he looked with Nataku and Kaede."

"They were quite a trio back up there." Mai offered, a small smile on her face. "Riko's always been the stronger one. She takes things at face value and just goes with it. She could have kept up with the facade a lot longer than we did...we were hoping not to give you the information dump. We were hoping that if things took a natural course then everything would be revealed in time, with no surprises and no burdens. I am sorry though, it has to weigh pretty hard on you guys now."

"We will deal, as we always have. We can't make promises, not until we're safely back home, but I am sure you understand that. We can at least see where the journey continues to take us. We've all learned quite a lot about ourselves and each other along the way. We're certainly more equipped to handle whatever's thrown at us now than we used to be." Hakkai picked the book up and contemplated it, "Just know, secrets don't stay hidden for long. Whatever it is about the Binding that was avoided, I hope you will tell us on your own time."

Mai clicked her tongue, she knew that was going to go and bite her in the ass. Nataku just had to open his mouth. "Do you really want to know?" She pressed carefully. "Because once I tell you, everything you just said goes right out the window and into the a pond where it might just drown a horrible a death and I have /got/ to stop talking."

"You really are a nervous wreck." Hakkai was amused, "Go ahead. If it will put your mind at ease. Keeping the secret is probably what is keeping you so wound up."

Mai tapped her finger to her chin, thinking about how to word this before she sighed. "I'm about to make you run for the hills. Okay. If the person we're bound to dies, we die within twenty four hours of the death. And visa versa."

"Which is why Kaede is bound to Nataku, he's quite strong, even I can tell. Kaede is also important to Goku, isn't she? He said they were special...so is she bound to both of them? Are you...quite possibly, Bound to me?" He thought about just who they had all been drawn to, "Ran to Gojyou, and Riko to Sanzo?"
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:04 am

"Yep." Mai said, though her enthusiasm wasn't as strong as she had hoped. She started picking and smoothing out the covers that were underneath her. "At least Ran and I have our abilities still. It's not as strong as it was back in Heaven, but...we're good at what we do. My lifespan follow yours. So if you live to hundred or so, I live that long as well. If you live shorter, I live shorter. As for Goku, yes. He's bound to both of them. Kaede wasn't to be punished, which is why she's stuck with Nataku. If Goku dies, then they won't die. Mourn, yes. But they'd meet again in Heaven. Like we all will." She rolled her eyes fondly. "Though it'll be another game of hide and seek, but at least we'd all have even playing ground. Or maybe not. I don't know how it'd work honestly."
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:51 pm

"Mai. I'm not upset." Hakkai told her gently, "I am upset, but not at you. I'm upset that none of us, your or my group, get a choice in the matter. I am actually sad, as well, that all of you know, and yet you are so obviously trying not to shove it in our faces. You're /letting/ us have a choice, which I think is very noble of you."
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:07 pm

Mai looked highly relieved, but she was also saddened. "I'll admit, it doesn't feel noble, but...thank you." She watched him a little. "I'd appreciate if you keep this to yourself. I know that, you would want to tell everyone. They do have the right to know. But, it's like you said, we don't want anyone to feel obligated towards us or responsible. I told you because I can't bear to keep a secret from you. You treated me kindly, and I'm not about to throw that kindness in your face by skirting the subject." She smiled softly. "I'm sure Ran's already telling Gojyou. Riko will keep her mouth shut for as long as she possibly can. So don't be surprised if Sanzo's the last to know."
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:35 pm

"We'll see how it goes." Hakkai shifted onto his bed some more and he picked up the book, "Would you perhaps...like me to read to you? Maybe it would help you sleep, to not be alone, and now that you've told me what I wanted to know, your mind might be a bit more at ease."
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:41 pm

"I would like that." Mai smiled warmly as she shifted too. "Thank you."
~+~
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Mon Jul 03, 2017 11:24 pm

Just because Sanzo had told them they could follow didn't mean shit. Everyone acted so damn happy and relieved, and Ran was still the wrench in everyone's mood. So she left Riko's room as Goku and Kaede and Nataku created enough of a distraction to slip away. She'd become a stick in the mud, she knew. Didn't remember what it was like to laugh true, where it wasn't forced or condescending or even in the face of death. To smile soft and tender and happy.

Kenren would have slapped her silly. Riko had, Mai had. Different kinds of lectures at different points in time. She'd heard it all. She didn't care. It was why she left, became a mercenary again. A boring life for a boring person with no path, no reason to keep going except the vague hope he'd be reborn again. That hope had been what stopped her from ending it after she'd lost her mind that night and rampaged until she was subdued. Mai's water quenching her fire, the only person able to come near her even as the military had Mai at the tip of spears and swords. Mai had broken, too, but both she and Riko had twice as much faith as she did in the first damn place.

She'd wandered Mai's district and bathed and screamed in the thunder and lightning and rain of the twins until her sentence was up and she was allowed to go anywhere besides that place. Not like she ever would anyway. So, she grabbed her sword and left. Again, Riko and Mai trusted she'd be back. Which she did, but it took her a fucking good half a century and many bodies later to do so.

The stars were cruel. It was why it didn't take her longer to return to waiting an expectant arms. Her friends, her connections and ties, were still there. It was why she was here now. Still, they were quick to realize she had basically turned into Konzen. No smiles, no laughter. Still a smart mouth on her, but she was sarcastic. She could be cruel herself, and was easy to anger. She left often, unable to handle their concerned looks any longer, but would only take ten to twenty years between each time. She drank but never smoked. Bathed in blood. Her hair grew and grew and when it got in the way of her sword...well, it got lopped off where it intercepted the path between her and her enemy. She learned to fight like Riko, though sounds and smells rather than sight, as her sense of color drained along with her fun and will to live. Mai would also give her haircuts to clean her up a bit from time to time, and it had been something she did before they all came to this blasted town.

The redhead with red eyes was tall, with a well chiseled face and so strong. What with those damn /thighs/ and /shoulders/. The fucker was built like a brick shithouse and yet, the way he moved...sleek and smooth like he knew he was badass, but casual and laid back. How he was able to pull off such a complex posture was beyond her. It was different from /him/, where /he/ had been simply laid back, willing to let the world go by as he drank his sake in peace. There had been a playful spark in the Taishou's eyes, but nothing like the complexity of the redhead. When he had greeted her, he has sounded like he wanted to eat her, smooth as molasses with that purr and it would've made her punch him without looking, but it had just been...too natural. To comfortable and practiced that it had struck her odd.

Those eyes had been like looking in a mirror. Dark around the edges, not enough sleep, too many nightmares, too much blood and darkness and travesties witnessed along with personal demons that created a haunted effect. The spark had been there, but it was like he had said. He had been looking for a fuck. He hadn't been trying to do anything fancy. While situations had made it impossible for them to do anything, she highly doubted that he would do that with her. No, he would size her up. Gauge how she reacted to things now that they were going to be travelling together. Didn't want to make things awkward, not when they had such a long way to go. Bandits, human and demon alike, still were around. Other evils of the world that weren't the miasma's fault and she knew for a fact several had used as a cover-up so save their own hide.

Ran sighed.

She wasn't going to sleep like this. How long had she been laying here, thinking about random shit? Grumping, she hauled herself up and threw on her sandals, not caring she was simply in her thin sleep yukata, and went down stairs where she could get some water. Drinking so much without any hydration would give her a migraine.

Damn it! It still pissed her off and hurt so /much/. She still didn't know what it was like. "Yet here I am, being set up to lose it all again before ever getting that feeling." She mumbled to herself as she finished going down the last flight of stairs and turned the corner. She barely side-stepped and avoided whoever it was making their way to go /up/ the stairs. She didn't know who it was, didn't care. She was just thirsty and angry and so /tired/ of it all.


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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:33 am

"Sounds like a bad night." He spoke, making her pause when she had walked past him. Gojyou could see trouble brewing around her like a rubber-band being pulled too tight. Whether or not she snapped tonight or tomorrow it was hard to tell. Nataku telling them a little about the girls was enough to put Ran on edge. Further than he would have liked. "Want some company?"
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:57 am

"It's late." Ran blinked at him slowly. "You been down here a while? I was just going to get some cold water. You don't need to stick around for that." She paused, "Unless.../you/ need company?" she asked hesitantly. "I mean...I can't sleep anyway. Something tells me that's going to be a common theme among the whole group."
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:34 pm

"I can go either direction. I've been here for a bit. Hakkai and I both figured you and Mai would be the ones that were going to be up and about." Gojyou said, turning direction and going back down the stairs to her side. "If you're not going to sleep might as well hang down here. Otherwise you'd just get frustrated at the walls and they didn't do anything to you yet."
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PostSubject: Re: Homeward Bound - Saiyuki V/L   Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:24 pm

"When I get like this I usually get frustrated and glare at the stars. I was actually also just trying to burn a hole in the ceiling. Mai's more of the one to talk to walls." Ran shook her head, and she felt her world narrow as she had to look up at him. Was he...taller, than Kenren? She was the tallest of her group, but if she were to...get closer, he might be able to put his chin comfortably on her head. The idea made her neck feel warm, and she turned to go to the bar where someone was on duty and she asked for iced water. The boy behind the counter gave Gojyou a 'back again?' arched brow but shrugged and did as he was asked. "Next town we land in...mind showing me your favorite drink? I've been drinking the same thing for quite some time. Something new sounds nice."

"I can do that." Gojyou said, leaning against the counter. He knew the guy was a little curious as to why he was down here, but it was an easy smile and the guy didn't ask questions. "Usually the best drinks are found in back alleyway bars."

"Little more shady, little less fancy. So you like testing your luck with hole-in-the-walls?" Ran took the water glass gratefully and slugged down a good amount before fishing out an ice cube and popping it in her mouth. "What's a risk to you?"

"I like gambling anywhere, but the hole in the walls are where the people are the booze is." Gojyou thought about her question. "When you make a split decision gamble." He said after a moment. "You don't know if it's right or wrong or what the outcome is. Nothing's in your hands anymore, you just have to hope the outcome that comes out is the outcome you were hoping for."

"That's...a way more interesting answer than the last time I asked." Ran looked at him with a furrow to her brow, looking at him sideways, her eyes showing a flicker of amusement, "A risk to me is something that gets your blood pumping. A sort of adrenaline rush, but I'm not an adrenaline junky. Just. If it ends up being dangerous or stupid, then it usually means it's more fun. I also didn't really explain that well last time, either. He told me that a risk to him was doing something you're afraid of."

"See, I don't think that's the entire truth." Gojyou watched her. "I think that's what a risk /used/ to mean for you. I think that right now, you don't even know what it looks like anymore. I think that you're trying to hold on to what you thought worked out for you in the past. People who really think those are risks /are/ adrenaline junkies. They /do/ search out those types of thrills. But since you just told me you're not, means you're lying. I think past me had something going on for him when he told you a risk was doing something you're afraid of. Because to me, it doesn't seem like you're afraid to lose your life."

"Because I'm not." Ran shrugged, "I said I'm not a junky because I don't go causing trouble or looking for something to get my blood pumpin'. I won't say you're wrong, that I don't know what the hell a risk to me is anymore for real. That /is/ what I've been living by so far. I don't do things I'm afraid of, not really. Tried to once, but I chickened out due to something he said right before." She crunched at her ice, and met his eyes again, "You're not him and I'm not going to make you out to be. You're you. I'm trying to lean who you are. I'm comparing, but only because it's fun to learn the differences. He died. That's that. I waited, and here we are."

"So we are." Gojyou agreed, watching her for the longest time before pushing himself off the counter. "Are you going to be heading to Shangri-la with us, or are you thinking of heading your own way?"

"I will come along." Ran pushed from the counter as well, glass still in her hand. She felt panic chill her, but gripped the glass to refrain from reaching out. "I'm going to go outside. Are you going to bed after all?"
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