Topic: Happy Birthday, Reimu  (Read 1724 times)

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Fonzi

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Happy Birthday, Reimu
« on: June 27, 2013, 03:26:45 pm »
It's Reimu's big day, and even though she's not expecting too much, it appears that no guests are coming over. Could it be that such an important person in Gensokyo was fated to spend her special day in solitude? One-shot

Happy Birthday, Reimu

"Nothing… as I expected." the Hakurei shrine maiden let out a sigh, exhaling all delusional thoughts about any potential money resting in her donation box. "I don't even know why I keep my hopes up."

She averted her look from the wooden box resting just in front of her shrine and gazed into the blue vastness of the summer sky. The few clouds that were drifting overhead didn't foretell any storm or rain today. At least this little thing was able to keep the girl's spirits from sinking even lower. Today it was precisely 18 years since Reimu first saw the light of the day, but nobody, not even her best friend, Marisa Kirisame, has come to visit her.

"Has she forgotten…?" wondered the black-haired, brown-eyed girl as she rested on the front porch of her shrine. It wasn't just the ordinary magician, though. Her humble shrine was not visited by anyone since the sunrise. The previous evening, Reimu was still enjoying the cheerful company of the blonde witch, a fellow shrine maiden from a remote shrine and a certain half-ghost. There was no special occasion. The times in Gensokyo were peaceful, and so, it was nothing uncommon for Reimu to have various visitors come over for a cup of tea or just to talk. Yesterday she didn't tell the visiting girls about her birthday, because she hoped they'd remember it. But now, she was starting to blame herself for staying quiet. Not even she remembered all her guests' birthdays, so perhaps she was expecting too much of them to remember hers. But she hoped that at least Marisa, the girl whom she had known the longest, would remember and pay her a visit. Perhaps even bring a small present…

"Ahh, there's no point in sitting here and brooding." Reimu got back on her feet and went to fetch her broom. There were still more than twelve hours until the end of the day, so Marisa and others might as well just be preparing to visit her. She didn't know whether she felt anxious or excited, so she decided to sweep the grounds. Doing some menial tasks was also her way of hiding these feelings of nervousness or excitement, although now, there was nobody around to hide them from. As she kept brushing away the fallen leaves, tiny branches and gravel from the paved shrine yard, she was starting to feel more relaxed. With each sweep of her broom, her worries about spending her birthday all by herself were gradually being replaced by anticipation and hope. A frown on her face gave way to a light smile. She was already making plans ahead of schedule in her mind and she was looking forward to the party, even if it would be a small one.

She let out a hushed giggle as she thought of all the games that she wanted to play with her party guests.

"Huh?" she turned around suddenly, but saw nobody behind her. "Hmph… Guess it was nothing…" she shrugged and resumed sweeping. For a second, she thought that she could hear a faint echo of her own giggle, but she quickly let that thought go as just another product of her imagination. After a couple of minutes, she was done and nobody could now accuse her of neglecting her shrine. Reimu rewarded herself with a refreshing cup of tea, which she enjoyed seated on her favorite spot on the elevated wooden floor.

"Still no guests in sight…" she muttered to herself as minutes kept passing by with no change in scenery. Only the wind was slowly playing with the shapes of the few small white clouds on the horizon. Again, she was starting to grow bored. There wasn't really much for her to do. She had already been in the village yesterday to buy all the food, snacks and drinks that she would offer to the guests. An idea crossed her mind that she could pay a visit to some of her friends and call them over, but she didn't really want to leave the shrine in case someone would come here in the meantime and leave under the impression that Reimu was busy with youkai extermination again. Besides, she didn't want to be viewed as a loner begging for company. And so, she just sat there, waiting… But nobody was coming. Again, a feeling of sadness has overcome her. The afternoon slowly drifted away and evening fell on the land of illusions.

"Unbelievable." she shook her head in disbelief as she was closing the shrine's door. "Absolutely nobody showed up."

It's not that Reimu has never experienced days like this, when not a single living soul has stopped at the shrine, but after hoping that her birthday would not be forgotten by everyone, her mood has dropped to the freezing point.

Only the growling of her hungry stomach drove the disillusioned shrine maiden to stay awake and cook some quick, simple meal to satisfy at least one of her needs.

As she prepared the ingredients and lit a fire inside her stove, her gaze drifted to her shelves, where she put a bottle of expensive sake that she bought yesterday for today's party.

"Might as well open it and have some…" she thought while she waited for the stove to heat up. "

A simple tamagoyaki was today's dinner and it didn't take Reimu longer to eat it than to prepare it. With the sun setting over the hills, darkness slowly crept into the shrine. Reimu didn't know whether she even wanted to light the lamps or to simply call it a day and hit the futon.

That's when she remembered her bottle of the Human Village's finest sake and that she wanted to have at least one cup of it. She has already abandoned belief that anyone would come to see her tonight. If nobody was there to have a toast to her birthday, she had to make do with herself only.

She lit just one candle on the table that provided only modest lighting of the dark interior. With a distinctive popping sound, she removed the cork from the bottle's neck and filled a small cup with its content.

"Happy birthday, Reimu." she raised the cup while her mind skimmed through the memories of her last year's birthday party. There were over 10 guests at her shrine and the party lasted until dawn. It was hard to believe that today, her birthday was not unlike a common day in a life of a hermit. For a moment she even thought that she misread the date in her calendar, but after glancing over at its current page, she only confirmed the cold, sad truth.

Her sake cup was already touching her lips, when a sudden knock on the shrine's door nearly made her drop it.

"H-huh?" she stared at the closed door with a dumbfound expression. Was she imagining it? Just like that echo of her own giggle when she was sweeping the shrine yard?

The knock repeated itself, sounding louder and more urgent this time.

"Reimu~! You're not asleep, are you~?" a female voice so familiar that Reimu couldn't mistake it for anyone else's sounded from behind the door.

She put away the sake cup and hurried to unlock the sliding door. Her heart raced at a tempo like during a Spell Card battle. Her shaky hand took more than just one attempt to find the keyhole. When she finally managed to unlock the door, she slid it open with excessive force and racket.

"Surprise, ze~!" a blonde girl in witch's outfit called out cheerfully and gently blew into her mini Hakkero. An explosion of colorful confetti showered the resident shrine maiden.

"Marisa?" Reimu started at her like she was hallucinating.

"Happy birthday, Reimu-san." another blonde girl, with short hair, dressed in light-blue dress with pink frilly ribbons congratulated her in a bit more formal manner.

"Alice?" the shrine maiden could only manage to utter the girl's name, as she still struggled to process the image perceived by her eyes.

Not just these two girls were standing at her doorstep. Youmu, Yuyuko, Suika, Aya, Remilia, Sakuya and even Sanae were waving at her and wishing her happy birthday. Each of the girls held a small package tied with a decorative ribbon as their present for the 18 year old shrine maiden.

"Ayayaya~! Smile into the camera, Reimu~!" Aya Shameimaru, the photographer and journalist of the Bunbunmaru News blinded her with a flash of her camera.

"Everyone…" Reimu muttered as she looked around to recognize all of her guests. "You haven't forgotten?"

"You already thought we did, eh?" Marisa flicked the front of her hat. "Sorry for the wait, but someone thought it would better if we arrived here all at once."

"Really?" Reimu raised her eyebrow in suspicion. "Whose idea was it?"

"Blame her." Marisa pointed her finger over Reimu's shoulder.

"Huh?" the shrine maiden turned around, only to discover the interior of her shrine brightened up with dozens of colorful lanterns, decorated by shide paper streamers of all colors and a large sign hanging on the wall: "Happy birthday, Reimu!".

A tasty-looking cake with 18 burning candles appeared on her table out of nowhere, just like all that party decoration. And in the middle of the room, standing in an elegant long purple dress and showing Reimu a pleasant, if a bit mischievous smile, was none other than Yukari Yakumo.

"Ufufufu~…" the tall, beautiful blonde youkai with violet eyes giggled at Reimu's flabbergasted expression. "Don't you think you're going to sleep early tonight." she added while hiding her grin behind a paper fan that she always carried around. "Happy birthday."

"Yukari… I should have known." the shrine maiden lightly shook her head as she let out a weak chuckle.

"Well then, Reimu, are you going to just leave all your guests standing impatiently at your doorstep?" Yukari folded her fan and pointed its tip over the miko's shoulder in similar fashion as Marisa pointed at Yukari just a moment ago.

"Oh, right…" Reimu once again turned at the group of girls standing in front of her shrine. "Don't just stand there! Come on in before the mosquitoes find their way here!"

The girls took their shoes off and slowly began to crowd the shrine's living quarters.

"Sorry to intrude~." Alice followed Marisa, having her magical doll Shanghai carry the gift for Reimu in her stead.

"Nice decorations, Yukari-san!" Aya praised the border youkai's work as she entered.

"Why thank you, Aya." Yukari replied with a playful tone.

"That cake looks so small~." Yuyuko stated with a sad face, but it brightened up just as soon as she turned her face to her loyal servant and gardener. "But I don't mind eating some small dessert before the main dish. Ufufufu~!" she giggled in a strikingly similar way as Yukari did, hiding her mischievous smile behind her fan.

"W-what the hell are you talking about, Yuyuko-ssma?" Youmu reacted with fluster. Her blush was now reminiscent of her mistress's hair color.

Once all the girls were inside, Reimu hurried to bring cups and plates for everyone. She was so happy that her friends have visited her today. If she had a tail, she would wag it like a puppy.

"Whoa…!" she exclaimed and just barely managed to catch her lost balance after she tripped over one of her sitting cushions as she was carrying a pile of plates.

"Careful, Reimu." Marisa admonished her. "You don't want to celebrate your birthday in Eientei, do you?"

"You need any help, Reimu-san?" Alice volunteered to assist the shrine maiden, but the brunette insisted on serving everyone herself. She brought the snacks and her opened bottle of sake, but Suika halted her.

"There's not enough for all of us in that tiny little bottle of yours. Let me serve a round for everyone." she reached for her precious gourd and started filling the cups without paying much regard to keeping Reimu's table dry.

"Or maybe we should have a toast to this special occasion with some fine wine from the outside world." Yukari suggested as she took the liberty of ripping through the fabric of reality with her gloved hand. A slim dark rift with red ribbons on both ends opened in the air where the boundary youkai had her hand. She reached inside and pulled out a dusty bottle of an insanely expensive wine. "Really. Just say your favorite brand, and I can get it for you."

She reached in again and recovered another fancy-looking wine bottle. After she placed the fifth bottle that she stole from the outside world on top of the table, she reached in once more and as she made a grab for it, her facial expression changed with surprise. "Oh?"

She pulled out a…

"Awawa~! What's going on?!" a frightened girl with short blonde hair, red eyes, and a red hat decorated by a cluster of blue grapes called out. Only her head was popping out from the gap, but it was obvious to Yukari and everyone else that the girl was not a wine bottle.

"Oh, hi, Minoriko-sama~!" Sanae waved at the surprised girl. "It's been a while. How are you doing today?"

"The harvest goddess?" Reimu curiously tilted her head.

"Where am…?" Minoriko Aki wanted to know which place her upper body was taken to, but Yukari let her go just as she was in the middle of asking her question.

"Whoops~!" the youkai of boundaries released the harvest goddess from her grip and let her fall back through the gap. "Hehe~. People make mistakes, right?"

"Except that you're not a human." Reimu reminded her of this minor detail.

"At least she had something in common with grapes and wine."

"Your fondness for terrible jokes hasn't changed one bit."

Suika pouted, staring at the wine bottles on the table. "Hmm… Fine… You can all drink whatever you like, but at lest start this party with a round of my sake~."

Everyone agreed, just to not make the little oni sad.

"Cheers~!" a mixture of voices sounded in unison as the girls raised their cups.

Suika had her cup only for a symbolic purpose, though. She drank from her gourd after the cheer.

"Let's cut the cake already~!" Yuyuko was probably the most impatient about tasting Reimu's birthday cake.

"Where's the fire, Yuyuko?" Marisa tried to calm her down with her leisure tone.

"Fire? Why on the candles of course~!" the princess of Netherworld replied jokingly. "Reimu, hurry up and blow them all out with a single blow!"

"The way I see it, you should have probably brought your own cake with you, Yuyuko-sama." Alice poked fun at the ghost's hungry expression.

Reimu sighed at the noisy bunch of girls and turned her attention to the cake. "Eighteen years, huh?" she muttered to herself. She could already feel more mature just by looking at the formation of 18 flames dancing atop the candles on the cake.

"That's right." Yukari suddenly appeared close behind the shrine maiden's back, whispering into her ear. "Now you're one year older than me, ufufufu~."

Reimu replied with the most awkward glance that she could muster and a light knock on Yukari's head with her gohei. "Don't make me look like an old ha…"

"Yes?" the blonde youkai drew her face dangerously close to Reimu's. "You wanted to say something?"

"…" Reimu paused herself as a sweaty droplet formed on her forehead. She knew well that Yukari was very, very, VERY old, but also very sensitive about her age. It somehow became her running joke to blatantly lie about it by rounding it down by several digits to something more human-like. Her favorite number for her supposed age was 17, though even if she was a human, nobody would believe she was that young. Still, Reimu realized that insulting her was never a good idea, so she remained quiet and trailed her glance off to the cake. She took a deep breath and blew out the candles.

"Congratulations, Reimu~!" the girls clapped at the miko's successful attempt to blow the candles out with a single breath.

"Youmu, you may slice it up now~." Yuyuko gave a gentle elbow prod to her half-ghost servant.

"Eh? Me? But it's Reimu-san's cake…"

"But you have the sword, don't you?"

An awkward smile appeared on Youmu's face. "Uhh… Yuyuko-sama, Roukanken is not a kitchen utensil."

Yuyuko gently supported her chin with her finger in a serious, thoughtful expression. "Hmm… Then how about the Hakurouken? It's a bit shorter, right? Perfect for cutting cake~." she suggested with a bright smile.

"I don't care what you use to cut it," Remilia joined the conversation, "just make sure to give me a piece with a strawberry on top." she acted as though as the cake was her own.

Sakuya was quick to comfort her. "I think if the cake is cut into ten equal pieces, everyone should have a strawberry on their slice."

"Only that there's eleven of us, not ten." Aya, who was outside for a bit, just returned, so Sakuya forgot to count her.

"Oh… Now how do we cut the cake into eleven equal pieces? And furthermore, there's not enough strawberries." the maid was thinking aloud.

"Oh, what a good idea~." Yukari opened another small portal. "Let's get some extra strawberries."

Before Reimu or anyone else could stop her, she pulled out a basket of freshly picked strawberries out of the gap.

A loud, angry shout could be heard from the other side: "Who the hell stole my strawberries~?!"

"A pleasure doing business with you~." the blonde youkai replied to the voice, waved her hand and closed the rift.

"Robbing people from the outside world… geez…" Reimu scornfully shook her head. "You're worse than Marisa."

"Hm? Oh no~. I took those strawberries from a fruit vendor in Human Village, not the outside world." Yukari put on a satisfied smile and put the basket of strawberries next to the birthday cake.

"As if that was some mitigating circumstance!" the miko reprimanded her.

"Hey, you two…" Marisa stepped into their conversation. "Stop arguing like a young couple. Don't you have a kitchen knife, Reimu? It'll be past midnight before you start cutting the cake."

Not wishing to delay the party any longer, Reimu swiftly took action. "Oi, Sakuya, you've got knives, don't you? Why don't you cut the cake?"

"But Reimu, throwing knives aren't suited for cu…"

"Sakuya~… Hurry and cut it already~!" her mistress interrupted her with a plea.

Unable to disobey the eternally young vampire, her loyal maid drew out a single throwing knife from her thigh strap and kept alternating her glance from the weapon in her hand to the cake on the table. No matter how ridiculous the thought seemed to her, she didn't have a choice. She dug the blade of her throwing knife into the soft texture of the cake and made a straight cut along its diameter. Since cutting a circle into eleven equal shares was a bit difficult even for the perfect maid, Yukari made a quick calculation and assisted her…

A few minutes later, everyone was already enjoying their small piece, eating it in their own way. Suika washed down each tiny bite by an ample dose of sake, Yuyuko didn't use a spoon, Remilia was leaving the strawberry for the last bite, while in Marisa's case the strawberry on her piece fell a victim as first.

"That was delicious~." Yuyuko smiled blissfully after finishing her portion.

"So… who baked it anyway?" wondered the shrine maiden, since she could guess that it probably wasn't Yukari.

"I did." replied the smiling youkai of boundaries. "With Ran's help, of course."

"I wonder who was assisting who in this case…" the black-haired host of the party muttered under her breath. "But I have to say it wasn't half bad."

Reimu's subtle praise made the elder youkai hide her blush behind her fan.

The party went on and each of the girls had different ideas about enjoying this evening. They moved from the interior of the shrine to the back yard to enjoy their drinks and food under the beautiful starry night sky.

Reimu had already opened her presents – clothes, tea, sweets, sake, a pair of new shoes, a decorated paper fan, a new wind chime, a free issue of Bunbunmaru Newspaper and other minor items. She liked them all, but the one that brought her the most joy was a collective gift from all the girls who came to visit her… When Reimu went to hang her new wind chime over the shrine's front door, she instinctively looked into her donation box. She didn't even know why she looked there. Probably just due to force of her habit. But that's when she discovered a decent sum resting at its bottom.

Reimu cupped her hands together and raised them to her chest as a feeling of joy filled her heart.

"Everyone… Thank you."

"My, you look so happy, Reimu." the miko's smile didn't escape Aya's attention once she returned to the back yard. "Have you perhaps found our little present?"

"So it seems." Marisa nodded.

"If only such pleasant surprises were coming more often." Reimu sighed with a wishful thought.

"Let's not be too greedy there, Reimu." said Alice. "Then you'd get used to it and even large donations wouldn't bring you any joy."

"I wonder…" Marisa scratched her chin. "If you were rich, what would you do with all that money anyway?"

"Hmm…" the shrine maiden never really thought about that before, that's why she couldn't answer immediately.

"You don't even know, ze! I'd buy myself a mansion… with a biiiig library, and a laboratory where I could conduct my magical experiments. And then I'd be selling my products all over Gensokyo and…"

"You're not talking about MY mansion, are you?" Reimilia raised her eyebrow at the witch.

"Hehehe… maybe."

"Well, tough luck, because I'm not selling it, no matter what the price! Besides, I doubt anyone in Gensokyo even has enough money to pay even half the price of my mansion."

"I think…" Yukari started musing aloud, "that Reimu actually just wants more visitors to her shrine. The donations are only a symbol that someone is coming to her shrine."

"Ha! What do you know?" Reimu scoffed in denial.

The border youkai cupped her hands together over her heart and left them half open, as if to mimic something. "I'm a satori~. Fufufu!"

"Yeah, right."

"Really." Yukari nodded affirmatively. "You don't need more donations to be happy. You already have everything to live a happy and fulfilling life, Reimu."

"Hmph…" was Reimu's unclear reply to Yukari's statement. It's not that the self-appointed sage of Gensokyo was too far from the truth, but Reimu still thought that more donations would make her life even better than it was thus far. Still, there was something else that Reimu was missing to be truly happy in her life. She did have good friends who often paid her a visit, but her life still lacked something very important. And that something was love.

As an orphan whose parents have passed away when she was just a little child, Reimu never really knew much about it. She couldn't remember the feeling of a loving hand gently stroking her hair, or a kiss on the cheek from a beloved person. All those things were alien to her. Growing up by herself made her pragmatic and effective at her job, but less sympathetic towards others. As such, her attitude towards people and youkai was rather cold at first glance or indifferent at best, but on the inside, this young girl with jet-black hair didn't mean anyone any harm. And no matter how stubbornly she tried to deny it, she only wanted to love and be loved. But to admit something like that… it was way too embarrassing for her to even think about it.

"Reimu?" Yukari waved a fan in front of the shrine maiden's eyes to shake her awake from the absent-minded state.

Quickly shaking her head and turning her face away to hide her flushed cheeks, Reimu uttered tersely: "It's nothing…"

"If there's anything troubling you, you can talk to me. I'm here for you."

"I said it was nothing!" Reimu repeated with a raised voice.

"Ufufufu." Yukari giggled at her reaction. Again, she mimicked a third eye with her hands. "You can't fool a satori~."

Yukari was not a mind-reader by default, but if she wanted to, she could become one on a whim. But in this case, it wasn't even necessary. She was amusedly watching Reimu's reaction, thinking how cute she was and trying to guess what she was spacing out about.

The shrine maiden suddenly stood up and joined a noisy group of Suika, Aya and Marisa. Sitting next to Yukari made her mind drift away to thoughts that she didn't like.

"Can I have some more sake?"

"Oh, but of course you can~!" the short ginger-haired oni generously held out her gourd. "You don't even need to ask! Drink till you drop!"

The miko accepted the gourd and started chugging the alcoholic beverage like ice tea on a hot summer day after hard work.

"Uhh… Reimu," her old friend Marisa watched her with a hint of concern on her face, "you don't have to follow her suggestion to the letter."

"What are you talking about?" Suika didn't see much reason behind Marisa's worries. "Look at her go~. Fight, fight, fight, fight…!" she started cheering and clapping with each gulp the shrine maiden took.

"But it would be a pity if she didn't remember anything from her birthday party once she sobers up." stated the tengu journalist. Even when she was a heavy drinker herself, she knew how bad it was when she went over her limit. "She's just a human. I think she already drank a bit too much."

When Reimu dowsed down her uneasiness with an ample dose of alcohol, she joined Marisa, Alice and Sanae in exchanging gossip from all corners of Gensokyo. It didn't take long before the excessive dose of alcohol that she ingested caught up to her, which became apparent in her articulation and disrupted sense of balance. Reimu didn't even realize when it happened that she blacked out and fell asleep.

When she came to, she realized that she was no longer outside with her friends, but on a futon inside her shrine and alone. The cheerful voices and Suika's drunken singing from outside indicated that the party hasn't ended yet. Her senses were dulled, but at least she wasn't feeling sick. She took some deep breaths as she readied herself to stand up, when she got startled by someone's voice.

"Ah, I see you're awake already. That's good."

"Hm?" the miko turned her head in surprise. "Yukari?"

There she was, the youkai of boundaries, sitting peacefully at the table and looking back at her.

"How… how long have I been sleeping?"

"You napped for only 2 hours. The party is still going on."

Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, Reimu focused her blurry sight on Yukari. "And why are you here and not having fun with everyone else?"

Yukari responded with her typical giggle. "I told you not to expect to go to sleep early tonight."

Before Reimu could react to her suspicious words, the blonde youkai slowly approached her on all fours. "Are you feeling a little better, Reimu?"

"I'm still a bit dizzy and…. Hey! What are you doing? Your face is too close!"

She tried to push the intrusive youkai away form herself, but Yukari had already planted a kiss on her forehead.

"I'm glad that you're fine."

Reimu could feel her arms coiling around her back and neck as Yukari embraced her. She opened her mouth to protest, but… but no words came out. She was already defenseless. What could she do when Yukari held her so gently in her amrs?

"I…" she started shyly, "I'm glad that you remembered my birthday."

The shrine maiden slowly raised her arms and reciprocated the embrace. Closing her eyes and feeling Yukari's warmth, her breath on her hair, her heartbeat, Reimu felt true happiness.

"I would not forget such an important day." Yukari whispered into her ear. She scored another hit against Reimu's sense of reasoning by adding a sweet kiss on the shrine maiden's ear.

"Wait! What are you…? Haaah~." Reimu let out a surprised moan. "Yukari…"

The boundary youkai couldn't help herself but to continue her advancement. It would be such a waste not to use this opportunity to show her affection to her beloved shrine maiden.

"Wa-wait!" Reimu sighed, as she tried to keep her voice low. "What if someone comes here?"

The blonde who always loved to tease replied with a mischievous giggle. "Doesn't that risk make it even more exciting?"

The embarrassment from someone walking in on them would be too great for Reimu to bear, which became apparent by the sweat droplets that appeared on her forehead.

"Look, Yukari, this really isn't a good idea."

"Aww, and I was just having so much fun~." Yukari drawled in a disappointed tone.

"Sheesh… I'd swear that the gods have sent you to me as some kind of punishment for all my sins." the shrine maiden muttered as she pulled herself away from Yukari and began fixing her hair ribbon.

"Oh, you have yet to sin, my pure little shrine maiden~. But of course, if you don't want to, I'm not going to force you."

Even though Yukari almost always did just what she wanted, she let Reimu have her say in the matter. If she acted forcefully against her will, the red-white maiden would come to hate her. Besides, it would be much more fun to make Reimu gradually fall for her willingly. And much more rewarding…

"Do you want to re-join the party?" she changed the topic just as suddenly as she made her advancement a moment earlier.

"Uh… okay, but no more sake for me."

Reimu found it almost suspicious that Yukari let her go so easily. For a second, her mind even considered a thought that she is not attractive enough. But then again, she was glad that her youkai friend considered her point of view for once.

The shrine maiden clumsily shuffled her feet to the sliding door and together with Yukari she stepped outside to continue enjoying her birthday party.

"Oi~! Reimu~!" Suika was the first to notice her. "You nodded off rather quickly, hehe~! And…. What were you two doing in there, hmmm~?"

The miko froze in shock from the sudden and very straightforward question, but she quickly realized that Suika could not have possibly seen her and she was probably just asking that as a joke.

"N-nothing. I don't know what you're talking about."

"Okay~." surprisingly, the little oni was satisfied with just that. "Want some more~?" she held up her sake gourd in front of her.

The mere sight of the gourd made Reimu's stomach wince. "Ugh… keep that thing away from me."

"Reimu must be hungry." the ghostly princess of Netherworld stated matter-of-factly.

"Um… not really that much…"

But of course, Yuyuko didn't take "no" for an answer. "Oh, Youmu~! Would you bring our basket over here?"

"As you wish, Yuyuko-sama." the silver-haired half-ghost girl obediently bowed and went to fetch Yuyuko's large basket filled with her favorite food and snacks.

Reimu was about to protest, but Marisa already diverted her attention. "Hey, Reimu! Wanna play cards with us? Alice is so easy to bluff."

"Reeeeimuuu~!" a drunken voice of Aya Shameimaru called at her from the opposite side. "Hey, hey… Can I take a picture with you?"

Of course, not even waiting for a reply, the bold crow tengu did as she pleased and she blinded the unsuspecting miko with a flash from her camera.

Poor Reimu didn't know where to turn her head. Everyone was asking for her attention. She wondered if it wouldn't be better if she stayed inside the shrine after all.

The party lasted until morning. And it seemed everyone was having a great time. Reimu talked and played with each of the girls, because she knew that they'd probably not visit her again so soon. Oddly enough, she didn't even get to talk to Yukari before the sun rose. The youkai of boundaries was always talking to someone else when Reimu tired to invite her to a conversation. It was little disappointing, but Reimu was glad that Yukari was able to invite all these girls so they could have a wonderful little party under the starry night sky in the shrine yard.

"Well…" Remilia sighed as the first rays of morning light shone down on her. "It was fun with you all, but it's about time we went home. Next time, come to my mansion and see what a true birthday party looks like." the little vampire winked as she finished her sentence.

At this point Reimu was so tired that she was barely able to perceive what Remilia was saying.

"Mmmmhmm…. Wait… when's your birthday anyway?"

"I'll send you an invitation in due time, so make sure your schedule will be free, okay?"

And as Remilia and Sakuya were preparing for departure, the other girls took it as a cue to take their leave as well. Well, those who were still awake anyway…

"We should probably get going too, Marisa." Alice was helping the ordinary magician stand up. Even when it wasn't uncommon for some of them to stay at the shrine overnight, the two magicians wanted to have a good rest that they could only find in the comfort of their beds at home.

"You don't have to pull my hair, ze!" Marisa objected to Alice's method of helping her stand up.

"It looks like we've eaten everything that we brought here, Youmu…" Yuyuko disappointedly stared into the basket's interior that resembled that of Reimu's donation box on a common day.

"Ehm… We?" Youmu pointed out a wrong pronoun use in her mistress's statement.

Completely ignoring her servant's satiric remark, Yuyuko shrugged and closed the basket's lid. "Guess it can't be helped if everyone was so hungry and when your cooking is so delicious…"

"So it's my fault, huh?"

"Fortunately there's still my favorite after-meal dessert…" the ghostly princess turned to her silver-haired gardener and covered her impish smile with her folding fan.

A blush on Youmu's cheeks was more than an obvious sign that she got her hint and her nervous voice didn't help her hide it either.

"W-wa-wait a second, Yuyuko-sama…"

"Ufufu~. Let's go back home."

With some words of protest, but basically no physical resistance, Youmu noticed as Yuyuko took her by the hand and took off with her into the dawning sky, completely forgetting about the empty food basket that was lying on the porch of the Hakurei Shrine.

When Aya noticed that the place was gradually becoming less crowded, she got bored and decided to pack it up for today. She already had enough pictures of Reimu anyway and the other girls were already on the leave.

"I might include a few shots of this party in the next issue. But first I should sober up a bit…" and thus, the black-haired tengu girl started her misguided flight back to Youkai Mountain.

Sanae, who pretty much had the same destination, was a bit worried about Aya's safety so she decided to follow her and make sure she wouldn't accidentally crash into a tree or something. And thus, Reimu was finally left alone in peace.

"So… everyone's gone, huh?"

She yawned widely in an attempt to stay awake at least long enough to clean up the plates and cups after the guests. With her eyelids growing heavy, the young shrine maiden who just turned 18 collected all the dishes and brought them inside. The birthday decorations and lanterns were still adorning her shrine's interior, though the atmosphere now was almost as dull as before the guests have arrived.

Before she started washing up, she figured that she might as well sweep the grounds a little to get her heart pumping faster and fight away the fatigue.

She took her broom and headed off to clean up the back yard. There wasn't much to sweep off, though. She sometimes did it almost subconsciously as her way of active relaxation when she had nothing else to do. In a few minutes, she was done with the back yard, so she moved in front of the main building to finish her job.

The sun was already looming above the foothills in the east, banishing the darkness of night for at least another 17 hours. Having already swept the shrine grounds before the party, Reimu's work was over in a matter of no more than ten minutes. Another instinctive habit of the Hakurei miko was to check the content of her donation box. She did it just as subconsciously as eating or breathing. A habit that she could never get rid of has made her discover something unexpected as she was returning to her shrine.

"Huh? What's this?" she muttered as she took a closer look at the object resting on the bottom. The bars on the upper lid of the box were making it difficult to see what was inside.

Her curiosity could not be shaken off. After removing a simple locking pin from the side of the box, she opened it and reached inside. She noticed something small and white lying on the bottom - something that didn't resemble any form of currency that Reimu had known. She reached in once more and grabbed the curious offering. It wasn't an envelope with money.

This time, the object was soft to the touch and it had a smooth, almost silky texture.

"Huh? Some cloth?" she murmured while she pulled her arm out of her treasure box.

The excitement from finding some money inside was nothing compared to what she felt when she identified the item in her hand.

"S-so-someone's... underwear?!"

Well, maybe "excitement" was not the right word to describe Reimu's current state of mind.

"What kind of sick joke is this?!" she hissed in a mixture of anger and embarrassment. "Leaving their panties as offering… that's not even good as a joke! That's sacrilege!"

If only there was anyone there to hear her lectures about suitable and unsuitable offerings for Shinto shrines. And while she was spewing complaints into the morning wind and angrily clutching the mentioned piece of underwear in her fist, she came to a mind-blowing realization.

"Wait a second… They look a bit familiar…"

To confirm her theory, she slipped her fingertips underneath the top of her skirt and ran across her hip. All she could feel, though, was the smoothness of her own skin.

"It can't be… Those are mine~!"

How did her own undergarment end up inside her donation box was now Reimu's next incident to solve. Her first theory was that one of her guests must have undressed her when she fell asleep after her attempt to imitate Suika. She even had a few suspects on her mind, but she still wasn't sure.

"Was I so drunk that I undressed them myself?" thought the shrine maiden as she tried to recall the last night. "No, no, no!" she immediately shook her head in denial. "Out of the question!"

No matter how drunk she was, she wouldn't do something as silly as put her panties inside the donation box. Whoever the culprit was, their intention was to make a prank. Oddly enough, though, she didn't notice anything suspicious when she was still partying with her guests. Perhaps she was too distracted to notice.

Before Reimu decided to investigate the matter any further, she figured that it would be a good idea to put her underwear back on. Not taking any chances of being spotted by any potential shrine visitor, she opened the door and entered her living quarters. As if she didn't get enough surprises during her birthday party, here she was met with yet another one…

"What the…?!"

All the mess that her guests have left after their departure, including the birthday decoration, was now gone and there, comfortably seated at Reimu's kotatsu, was none other than Yukari Yakumo.

"Yukari!"

"Why, hello again, Reimu~." she greeted her with her usual playful tone as she cooled herself with her fan. "I see you discovered the last hidden present." She giggled as she pointed the tip of the fan at the panties that the shrine maiden still held in her hand.

If Reimu wasn't certain which particular boundary youkai in Gensokyo was behind this indecent prank, at this point there was no question about it. Yukari was the prime suspect, not only because she was there with Reimu when she woke up, but also because she could steal Reimu's panties even if she'd be awake.

"It WAS you after all!" Reimu pointed her extended index finger at the blonde.

"Oh. And I thought you would have no doubts about that."

"You think you're funny?"

"Me? Not really. But you certainly are. Ufufu~."

The miko sighed exasperatedly. Seeing that her anger was only making Yukari smile, she changed the topic.

"Where are all the dirty dishes?"

"Why here…" the blonde youkai slipped her hand into a freshly opened gap and opened Reimu's cupboard to reveal the clean dishes that were now neatly stacked on top of each other. "I made Ran… I mean… I cleaned them all up for you~." she gently bent the truth.

Of course it was very unlikely that the lady of boundaries would exert even a tiny bit of unnecessary effort for such a menial task, when she could simply employ her shikigami. But even so, Reimu silently appreciated the gesture.

Her feelings towards this ancient being were so mixed, she didn't even know whether to drive her out of the shrine or make her a cup of tea. Her smile was so pleasant and yet so annoying. The shrine maiden caught herself as she spaced out, so trying to act naturally, she asked: "Aren't you going home yet?"

As far as Reimu's knowledge was concerned, Yukari was a nocturnal youkai, but seeing her in broad daylight was not unheard of. She didn't bear any signs of tiredness, unlike her human friend.

"If that's what you want, then I'll be off…" she replied and simultaneously opened a gap large enough for her to squeeze into.

"Hey, wait…!" Reimu suddenly halted her, not even sure why.

"Yes?"

For a few seconds the shrine maiden struggled to figure out what she wanted to tell her. Yukari always found those moments when Reimu was uncertain incredibly endearing.

"W-would you… like a cup of tea?" she asked with a blush.

Yukari was slightly surprised, but pleasantly so. Even after all the pranks, unexpected visits and minor thefts that Yukari committed against the resident of the Hakurei Shrine, Reimu didn't hate her.

"A cup of tea would be lovely." she nodded with a smile and took her distinctive mob cap off.

Reimu quietly moved to the stove and put a kettle of water on its top to boil. And while the water was slowly heating up, the shrine maiden kept curiously looking at the floating rift that Yukari intended to use to return home.

"Are you going to keep that thing opened?"

"Well, since you don't mind me staying…" With a simple movement of her fan, the ribbon-tied gap narrowed and disappeared in thin air.

After sealing the gap, Yukari returned her attention to Reimu, who was just starting back in a moment of awkward silence. During the party, Reimu wanted to talk to Yukari, like with the rest of her guests, but one or the other was always in a middle of a conversation with someone else. But now, when they had the privacy and all the time in the world, Reimu suddenly couldn't find any topic to start a conversation with. Even the water in the kettle started boiling before another word was exchanged between the two.

Reimu prepared two teacups, brought them to the kotatsu and sat down opposite to her guest.

"Ah, thank you~." Yukari accepted her cup and started cooling her tea with gentle blowing.

"T-thank you as well…" the miko finally blurted out another sentence, "for coming along with everyone. And helping me clean up."

"Don't mention it~." Yukari chimed as she sipped her tea. After she savored the bitter taste, she put the cup down and asked: "I imagine you're already tired after the party, are you okay with me staying here?"

"Hmph." scoffed the brunette miko. "Since when did you start caring about other people's mood?"

"Hmhm~." the boundary youkai let out an amused chuckle. "There are so many things you don't yet know about me…"

Reimu closed her eyes and tasted the bitterness of her own tea. She took this while to formulate a witty retort, but upon giving it some thought, she realized that Yukari's words were spot on. They only met a few years ago. Surely she couldn't know everything about her.

"Still," Reimu spoke after a pause, "I feel as though as I've known you for a long time. Better than the back of my hand…"

"Funny, because I feel the same way towards you."

The shrine maiden waved her hand. "Don't start with those satori jokes again…"

"I'm not joking this time, Reimu. I really feel like I know you at least as much as Yuyuko."

Reimu frowned at the mention of the ghostly princess, being fully aware that she was one of Yukari's oldest and one of the best friends. But on the other hand, she felt flattered that Yukari compared her to Yuyuko in terms of friendship.

"Sorry that I didn't get to talk to you much during the party." the youkai sage suddenly apologized.

Reimu remained silent and let her talk.

"It's been a while since I've been to a gathering like this, so I wanted to enjoy the evening with everyone to the fullest."

"Strange." the miko scratched her chin. "Isn't your life basically just about sleeping and partying?"

"Huh? Of course not." Yukari still smiled, but the tone of her voice reflected a hint of agitation. One of Reimu's bad habits was making snarky remarks about almost anyone she was currently conversing with, no matter how important, influential or dangerous the person in question was.

"I do enjoy life; I won't deny that." the blonde continued, "But to say that my life is merely about having fun and sleeping is… untrue to say the least."

"Really?" Reimu didn't sound very convinced.

"Only goes to show how little you know about me."

"Hmph… And you're wondering why? You show up completely at random, make something nonsensical or mischievous and disappear just as suddenly… And when we're together, you never talk too much about yourself. I know your likes and dislikes, your habits, your antics, your danmaku… But it is just as you said – I still know very little about you."

"And that's why I'd like to change that…" Yukari interlocked her hands and once again, her smile gained back its sweetness. "Little by little, piece by piece, one step at a time…"

Her words did sound a bit suspicious to the shrine maiden's ears, but she was willing to take that long path together with Yukari at a nice and slow pace.

"Actually, not even Yuyuko, Ran or Suika know everything about me." the boundary manipulator revealed a piece of trivia about herself. Not that it would be anything surprising.

"And… do YOU know everything about yourself?" Reimu asked in jest.

The violet-eyed beauty hummed thoughtfully. "Now that's a good question. Do I?"

Not sure whether to laugh or to call her an idiot, Reimu just blinked a few times with a neutral expression.

"Friends tell me that I didn't change the slightest bit over the centuries, but with some self-reflection I realized that everyone changes. Slightly and slowly…"

"I don't see any wrinkles on your face yet." Reimu reassured her with a crooked smile.

Yukari chuckled at her statement. "I'm not talking about a physical change."

"So you say you were a different person a long time ago?"

"Not entirely, but some of my viewpoints on life have changed over the time. When you grow older, I'm sure you'll know what I'm talking about."

"I highly doubt I'll live that long."

"Humans live short lives, indeed, but they also change and adapt to changes more quickly."

"But I'll probably never know everything about you."

"Oh, but that isn't even my intention, Reimu." Yukari giggled and took another sip from the cup. "Do you know why?"

Reimu shook her head cluelessly. "So I wouldn't know your weaknesses?"

"Wrong. So that you wouldn't get bored of me. Because if you or anyone else who I hold dear knew everything about me, there wouldn't be anything more for them to learn about me. That's why I won't reveal everything about myself. Plus, I have still quite a few enemies, who would certainly want to know how to end my existence. For your safety, it'd be best if I didn't tell you everything."

"If I knew of a way to permanently exterminate all the youkai, I would have done so years ago." Reimu stated coldly.

"And yet here you are, having tea with me, celebrating your birthday with other youkai and having friendly danmaku battles…" Yukari pointed out.

When Reimu couldn't think of a counterargument, she just frowned and remained silent, which Yukari took as a cue to continue.

"Believe me, there are many who would want to exterminate me for good. Even more so than you… Everyone who is associated with me is exposed to a certain level of danger. But know that whatever bad times may come in the future, Reimu, I will always be there for you…" and as she said that, she slowly raised her hand and patted the shrine maiden's head, who didn't put up even a slightest hint of resistance.

"I…" the dark-haired girl spoke up tentatively. "I didn't… really mean it… about exterminating every youkai."

Yukari widened her smile and nodded. "I know you didn't. You may be a bit harsh on the exterior, but on the inside, you're a very nice person."

"You're the first person to tell me that."

"Just stating the truth."

Even despite all the trouble that Yukari caused to Reimu in the past, the young shrine maiden was still glad to have met her. She wasn't even sure why, but for some reason she trusted the wicked border youkai even more than Marisa. Even when Yukari was infamous for manipulating other people into doing various deeds, often by the means of lies and deception, Reimu's intuition told her that she wasn't lying to her now.

"Always there for me…?" the miko repeated as she raised her uncertain brown eyes to look at Yukari again.

"That's right~."

Hardly anything felt as reassuring as Yukari's smiling face when she affirmed Reimu's question.

"Just like I'm here for you now…"

"Yukari."

"Yes, Reimu?"

"I… I…" the shrine maiden stuttered, as if saying those three simple words was an extremely difficult feat.

Seeing that Reimu was struggling with her own embarrassment, Yukari put a finger on her lips. "Shhh~. Let's not say anything without reason. Like I said, we should get to know each other better."

"Then let me know you better, Yukari." Reimu fixed her demanding eyes on the boundary youkai.

"Ufufufu~. As you wish, Re-i-mu…" Yukari's smile turned into a grin as she syllabicated the shrine maiden's name. Reimu didn't even notice when a pair of red ribbons appeared a few centimeters in front of her, and a second later, Yukari was already embracing her through a portal.

"By the way, Reimu…"

"Hm? What is it?"

Yukari pointed the tip of her fan at the panties that were lying on the ground next to Reimu. "Weren't you going to put these on?"

The miko's eyes widened in shock. She had completely forgotten about that. Even when she just pulled them out of her donation box only a couple of minutes ago. She quickly grabbed her panties in panic, as if hiding them from Yukari's eyes would help.

"Eh… ummm…." she struggled to weave the right words into a coherent reply. "You stupid youkai! What were you thinking?!"

"You know what I'm thinking?" Yukari gently pushed down Reimu's hand and made her release her clenched fist. "I think that you're not going to need these for the next few hours~."

The shy and nervous shrine maiden blinked in puzzlement. "Huh?"

"Today, I'll let you in on a few secrets~." the sage of Gensokyo whispered into her ear.

"Such as…?" Reimu's curiosity and nervousness made her voice tremble.

"I'll teach you about some of my weaknesses, ufufufu~." Yukari let out a sly giggle and squeezed the rest of her voluptuous figure through the gap, pushing Reimu down to the floor.

With no way or will to escape, the Hakurei shrine maiden surrendered herself to the gap youkai and her whims.

"P-please… be gentle with me…" Reimu asked as Yukari was slowly unwrapping her sarashi like her very own birthday present.

"You can relax, Reimu-chan." said the blonde while lustfully licking her own lips. "I'm a youkai of boundaries. You won't feel the slightest bit of pain… Unless you would want to. Hehe."

"Umm… well. If it's you… then I guess I wouldn't mind…"

"Just relax and enjoy. I will show you boundless pleasure~."

That day, Reimu was glad that her shrine didn't get any visitors. Her most beautiful and memorable birthday present was handed to her one day after her 18th birthday. As for Yukari, she received a wonderful present as well – Reimu finally found the courage to confess to her.

Captain Vulcan

  • I'm tellin'!
  • Nickname: Troubleman
Re: Happy Birthday, Reimu
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2013, 08:29:44 pm »
I expect more Reimu X Yukari goodness from you, man.
My mind is not a nice place to be.
 

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