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embarrassed laugh

supermikotan in ghostsugar_rp

How to Waylay Your Neighborhood Onmyouji

[day after Supply and Demand]

With determination in her shoulders and a firm grip on her bookbag, Nao was lying in wait. Not exactly lying, really, more like standing beside the pathway from the school to the dormitories. Sports Day practice had ended and the last bell had chimed, signaling the end of school. Nao had hurried out to find a good spot to wait for her target, namely, Chiba Yadoru from 1-C. He was sure to was sure to walk by on his way back to the dorms. All she had to do when he walked by was speak to him. She was sure she could do it right!

Her hands were starting to get sweaty as she scanned the students walking by, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.

Ugh... Sports Day was getting ever more obnoxious for Yadoru. He'd decided to go with the 100-meter dash, as that was the shortest event and therefore he wouldn't have to deal with much more, but at the moment, he wasn't sure what else to sign up for. It was like having to choose between an onryo or an oni... both incredibly dangerous and no fun at all to deal with. That was why his shoulders sagged as he trudged along, bone-tired and weary to the depths of his spirit. His 'after school work' was wearing him out, and combined with physical exhaustion, he was just plain not getting enough sleep and using all of the energy he had.

He had to do it, but that didn't mean it was at a sustainable pace. If things kept going the way they were, well... he'd have to think of that later. For now, he was just another face in the crowd as he trudged toward the dormitories, wishing that he had just one good, solid day off. If he could just get on top of things, that'd be all he needed...!

Ah, there he was! "Chiba-san," Nao said aloud. Her soft soprano didn't carry worth ten yen. She grimaced, mustered some guts and tried again, with a little more volume. "Chiba-san!" she said, and waved a hand at him to get him to notice and come this way.

It wasn't Nao's voice, but rather the snickering of his classmates, that got his attention. "Chiba-san, Chiba-saaaan~!" a group of them mocked, snickering as they moved along. After all, this was still the rough age where those sorts of relationships could be mocked, especially since Yadoru wasn't exactly the most-liked individual in the class.

All of which conspired together to make him flush and come over to Nao like a whipped yet defensive puppy, his eyes cutting away so that he didn't look her in the eyes. It was that girl from before, that he'd saved from the monster in the closet... and who had promptly clung to Chiaki as a result. He was already doubly-upset at the start, but he still forced politeness into his voice. Stiff and formal politeness, not at all like his more friendly tones back in the shrine, but still. "Good afternoon, er..." And it was at that point he realized he didn't even remember that girl's name. Well... perhaps that was for the best, anyway.

"Kasuga Nao, from 1-B," she finished for him with a smart bow of her head, polite customer-service voice taking over. Her eyes crinkled self-consciously when she smiled at him. She adjusted her hands on the handle of her bookbag. "May I have a word with you? It won't take long." The fact that many people were around and able to overhear was very much on her mind. She looked pointedly at the passersby, then at him, hoping he'd understand her meaning.

For Yadoru, it really did feel like every single eye in the Academy was on him now. It was amazingly uncomfortable, knowing this, but even still, he got the impression that this was something important. Or at the very least, it was important enough that he shouldn't just blow it off with some flippant comment. "...very well," he nodded slightly, "I don't have anywhere I have to be, so..."

Nao took a deep breath to keep herself calm and walked with him a bit in search of a good place to talk that was neither improper nor within earshot. There was a nice little clearing in the trees near the Rose Garden up ahead. To anyone looking, they were just classmates talking, but it was far away enough from the path that they'd not be heard.

She stopped and turned to face him. "I apologize for bothering you," she said, using respectful speech for him. She quite obviously was showing him deference a high school girl wouldn't use for a normal boy her age. "I found out your name from Aoki-kun."

Yadoru followed behind, keeping his eyes open and looking away, so that anyone who looked wouldn't think that he was going into this willingly. It was just some necessary discussion with a girl, nothing more than that! And no one was going to think otherwise!

Still, he stood up straight when she turned to him, blinking a little at the polite tone before shrugging. She was using a more deferential tone, so naturally, Yadoru started acting a little more higher-class as a result. It didn't hurt that there was a brief flash of annoyance at Chiaki's name. "It's nothing. Glad to see you're well."

Nao could tell one thing about Chiba Yadoru. He was not easy to talk to. She concentrated hard on what to say before speaking, sticking with deferential language. Her fingers gripped her bag tightly in front of her. "You saved me," she said quietly, pinning him with her eyes. "You were the white light."

That brought Yadoru up short, blinking a little as he took in what Nao said. It came out of nowhere, and yet... yet he turned a soft pink as he turned to the side, trying to fight down a sense of elation. That was exactly how it was, he was the one who'd saved her, but... it was the height of impropriety to admit it. Or to posture more than strictly necessary. Besides, he wasn't supposed to admit who he was, anyway! "A white light? Don't be silly, that couldn't be the case. I'm just glad that you got out safely." And it was then that he offered a smile that was softer and far more genuine than before. Despite everything else, Yadoru was a good kid... just having that recognition took away his anger, and that let his natural gentleness to come through a little more.

At this Nao shook her head, one hand fisted at her side. "I'm not being silly, I saw it," she told him, her voice staunch. She put a finger to her lower lip and looked up, thinking hard. "Or... maybe it was more like, I felt it. I-it's hard to say...."

"I could tell that you wanted me to try and open the door. You saved my life, Chiba-san," she emphasized. Her brown eyes were intent as she looked up at him. "Inside the closet, there was an evil spirit. It's killed many. It spoke to me."

The more that Nao spoke, the more torn Yadoru was. If she was a normal person, then he should have just told her something flippant and made her go away. However, the fact of the matter seemed to be that she wasn't normal at all. Normal people couldn't usually tell what he was doing with his spells, yet she clearly seemed to have seen something. Or felt it, either way.

But when she spoke about the spirit, he walked over to one of the bushes, as though planning just to look at the flowers. However, it also let him hide his face- the serious expression he got when he was talking about his business. It wouldn't do to have someone like Nao see him like that, not when he didn't have to. "This spirit... what did it say to you?"

Nao's expression turned grave as she regarded him with caution. She sensed somehow that Yadoru knew a lot about this sort of thing. She had thought the entity in the closet was an ayakashi-- but Yadoru had told Chiaki that it was an onryo, and when she'd spoken with her grandfather about it later, they had concluded that he was right. Then there was the the fact that he'd been able to do something to help her get out. It was plainly not usual.

So could she tell him, this Chiba Yadoru? She pondered this, narrowing her eyes slightly as she thought. His back was turned to her, after all, which made her think she should hesitate. Was he hiding dishonesty? And yet even so, his white light had felt pure and cool when she'd sensed it. Holy but human. Nao couldn't often get such a strong read on people, but on the few occasions she had, she trusted her feelings implicitly. She could be wrong, of course, but the whiteness hadn't given her the sensation that it was to be avoided. She had wanted to ask her grandfather more about it, but he had been much more concerned about the onryo and people's safety. She would ask Grandfather tonight if she had a good chance.

Maybe if she told him, Yadoru could do something helpful with the information. In any case, as far as she could tell, there was nothing bad that he might do that she could think of, knowing what a ghost had said. Or was there? Admittedly, Nao was no authority on the subject.

It didn't hurt to ask. "What will you do, if I tell you?" she asked Yadoru, her voice soft. "Can I trust you?" Posture straight as a ramrod, she waited quietly for his response, feeling the air carefully.

"That depends on what the spirit said," Yadoru quietly admitted. If it was something that hinted at the possibility of redemption, then it was his obligation as an onmyouji to try to find some way to get the ghost back to the proper moral course. However, if the spirit was nothing more than the vengeful onryo that Yadoru thought it was, then he would be obligated to find some way to stop it, before it did more damage to the student body.

The question was whether she could trust him or not, though. That was a far more difficult question to answer, and Yadoru was silent for a long time before he finally decided on how to answer. He turned to her, and his expression was one of complete seriousness, utterly devoted to his job and protecting those who had no means of protecting themselves. "You can trust me. I promise that the information you give me will be used carefully and for the good of the students here."

Nao nodded, her eyes clear. "It said, 'Many have died, where you stand. You will join them,'" she informed him. She hesitated before continuing, clearly uncomfortable with the next bit. "Then it said, 'Give yourself to me.' It said that it wanted to devour my 'power.'" She frowned, glancing up at the sky above.

"It was very evil," she stated, doing her very best not to shudder in front of him. "The smell, everything. I've never had such a thing happen."

Yadoru looked at Nao directly, clearly having caught something in what she said. In truth, that took him aback; he hadn't detected anything particularly odd about her, but ghosts were often far more sensitive to spiritual matters than even an onmyouji... not that he wanted to admit that out loud. "Your power... what power is it referring to?"

Still, at that latter statement, Yadoru tried to smile a little. Nao was clearly upset, as well she should be- onryo were no laughing matter, not even to an onmyouji. That meant that he'd have to be just as careful as always, when he went forward to deal with that creature. "...it's not the first time I've dealt with such a thing. You won't have to worry, Kasuga-san."

"I'm not sure," Nao replied, looking away quickly. Was that a tinge rising to her cheeks? She frowned to herself, concentrating her gaze on a nearby rosebush. "I'm a dedicated shrine maiden, but I'm nothing special. I don't have super powers. I can't fight. I can see things, and feel things. But that's about all there is."

She glanced back at him when he spoke so confidently. Her eyebrows disappeared under her bangs with her surprise. Wow. Having someone around who could say it so coolly like that made everything feel a lot less frightening.

Nao swallowed and nodded to him. "Really? Thank you. Thank you very much," she said, making sure to use humble speech when referring to him, since he was clearly above her as far as strength and usefulness. Well that, and it was always polite to undercut yourself for people who didn't know you. "I'll depend on your strength, then," she said, and gave him a bow of her head.

When she straightened back up, she exhaled happily and scratched her cheek. "Ahh... I feel a lot better," she announced, brightening.

Hm, that sounded odd. Was there just something about spiritual senses that the ghost wanted? Just anyone that had any kind of spiritual awareness? ...in that case, it was a very good thing that Chiaki had happened upon the scene instead of being trapped inside. Perhaps he would have to take care of it before someone like Chiaki got hurt...

And then Nao started talking like that, humble and deferential to him, and he swelled with pride. Pardonable, perhaps, but he'd been a deflated balloon ever since their previous encounter. Now he was getting back to where he should have been, and ironically enough, that was part of what made him such an odd member of the family. No one else would react to such praise; he alone was the one who let it get to his head. "As well you should," he brightly affirmed, nodding definitively, then indicated himself with his thumb. "After Sports Day, I'll exorcise the spirit and make sure it can't hurt anyone. I'll try to demarcate its boundary, too, so no one else gets caught in it. How does that sound?"

Nao nodded, relieved as anything to have the subject off of her and back onto him. "I'm very happy," she said. "I really, really don't want anyone to get hurt. There were a lot of... oh, never mind, I don't want to... a-anyway!" she she said, shaking her head awkwardly. "I trust that you can handle it well!"

She held up a finger, adding quickly, "Oh, and, and I am sure you probably don't need it but, if there's anything I can do to help you, please let me know. Even something little. Like band-aids! Or more ofuda."

Hah, she said that she was 'very happy'! Even his brother only managed to get that 80% of the time, so this meant that he was closer to evening their gap! While the subsequent awkwardness was a little baffling, Yadoru ascribed it to her still being a little shaken up by her close brush with an onryo... besides, she was allowed to have some secrets. She was a girl, after all, and that made things a little different.

The offer was received with a polite inclination of his head, though, and a grateful smile to Nao as well. "Thank you very much. I probably will need more ofuda later on, but... I wouldn't want to impose on you and your family." So he'd purchase it at a fair price; that was only right, after all!

Nao shook her head. "Oh, no, that's not a problem. Not at all. But. What... what are you?" she asked. "Are you a priest or an acolyte or something?"

A priest? An acolyte? Hmph! Yadoru sharply shook his head at the question, even though his shoulders slumped slightly. He really did look like a kid, an onmyouji-in-training, didn't he? Why couldn't he be more mature and capable-looking? Why was he cursed to look like this!? "N-no, that's not it! I'm an onmyouji!"

Now her jaw dropped nearly off of her face. "A-a-amazing!" she gasped, covering her mouth with one head and staring at him the same way she might if he'd said, I breed and train unicorns! "But you're so young! I thought onmyouji were all very old men-- at least, that's the only sort I've ever met, friends of my grandfather. I've never heard of a boy onmyouji."

"Well, it is quite difficult to gain that kind of knowledge and power in a few years," Yadoru admitted, "but it isn't impossible. And my family has been onmyouji for time out of mind, so it's in my blood as well as something that I've been trained in." Long story short, he was an awesome onmyouji from an awesome family of onmyouji, so it was to be expected that he was different from what Nao expected!

"I see," Nao breathed, "So you're kind of like me in a way. My family has been producing miko and priests for just as long." Since people were worshipping mirrors and rocks in Kyushu, actually. And boy could she school him on the subject, should he stop by to see their family's storehouse. But he probably didn't care to know about that, he didn't even know her family. And he might not even like history (a shame if it were so!). "Of course, you can exorcise such a strong entity, though," she added quickly, lest she sound as if she were bragging. "That's not something I'm able to do."

"In that case," she said, changing the subject decisively. "I should tell you. There are ofuda that my grandfather makes that are not sold in the public shop. And if you wanted some, he would make them for you, free of charge."

"No, but the purpose of a miko is different from that of an onmyouji." There was a hierarchy there, clear delineations of duty that were never to be crossed- or at least, not without permission and a very good reason. A priest's or shrine maiden's duties were far different from an exorcist's, even though they both worked together to make sure the common people were safe. So he felt fine with saying something like that, as he was confident in the... well, perhaps not 'superiority,' but with the specialization that an onmyouji had that no miko would.

But then she said something like that, and it put Yadoru in a horrible predicament. He needed the best weapons that he could possibly get, and if it was made by someone who knew what they were doing, that would be a tremendous boon. But... "...if they're specialized ofuda, then it would take a lot of energy to properly imbue them... it wouldn't be right for me to accept them without giving something back in return."

Nao blinked at Yadoru as if he were crazy. "Chiba-san. You saved my life yesterday. Don't you think you already have?"

"My grandfather would want to help you," she told him, gentle. "He's very concerned about what happened to me. He's trying to get a contact to come help, but the nearest onmyouji he has a connection with lives in Chichibu-- and he's a little feeble these past years." Nao was grandpa's girl, and the old man doted on her in every way he could. He'd do anything to help Yadoru if it meant that Nao would be safe at school.

"You don't owe me anything for saving your life, honestly. That's what I do." It was easy enough for Yadoru; saving lives and stopping the forces of darkness was what an onmyouji did, it would be roughly equivalent to... well... paying a traffic signal when it gave a green light. He understood what Nao said, but he had to stress that it wasn't something she had to do. Besides, it was polite to deny official gifts like that.

But, when she said that latter, more gentle part, Yadoru found his resolve crumbling. He knew what parents were like when it came to their children, and when she put it that way, it was practically impossible for him to turn it down. Especially since the onmyouji they knew was feeble and unable to help. "But... if he really is willing, then I would be grateful for the help."

"Of course!" Nao emphasized, fighting the urge to grab Yadoru's hand like they were buddies and he needn't worry about such things. "And if you really wanted to do something in return, I'm sure someone can think of something. We can always use a little help with the barrier around the shrine. Or with hanging the laundry. Or fixing the roof or-- well, with anything!"

She smiled brightly at Yadoru and shouldered her bookbag. "I should be going, or they'll worry about me. Thank you again, and thank you for talking to me," Nao added, and she bowed respectfully to him.

"I'm sure we can come up with something," he answered with a small smile, but... there was something about her bright smile and the way she talked that still made him feel good inside, energized and ready to go out and smite some evil spirits! So, he bowed politely in return, his grin brightening after a moment as he affirmed, "You're more than welcome. ...ah! Before you go, should we exchange phone numbers? If there's any danger or anything, I might not be nearby, so..."

"You... you would do that for me?" Nao gaped. "O-oh. Wow, that's very kind of you." She took out her cell phone. It was one of those cheap ones that are the models from two years ago that no one wants anymore, so the phone company gives them to you for free when you make a family plan. It was red with a Snoopy charm hanging on it. And a panda bear, and a rabbit, but who was counting.

She told him her phone number and input his into her phone book, checking with him to get the kanji of his name correct. "Save," she said to herself aloud once it was input the right way, and she pressed the button with satisfaction. "I can't stand not having people's names written in the proper kanji. It just doesn't feel right. There's a lovely meaning in people's names, after all."

"Be sure to call me if you need anything, as well," she said, with a rather clueless smile.

While Yadoru's phone was a sleek and modern thing, he didn't have the same kind of charms with it that Nao did; he hadn't had the chance to go shopping for things like that, which made him feel a little bad. But a phone was a phone, it was there to get information and facilitate information, that was all! Still, he nodded definitively as he put her name down, doing the same thing. It was only polite, and...

...well, he'd never had anyone ask him something like that before. So he smiled, a smile that only widened a fraction as she told him to call if he needed anything. It was very, very unlikely, but the thought behind it was rather nice. "Of course I would! And I will; stay safe on the path home, all right?"

Nao nodded. "I will! See you tomorrow, then!" she said, waving cheerfully. Then she dashed off towards the shrine, showing speed that was a little surprising coming from a girl with such short legs.

If she wasn't home in like, THREE MINUTES her grandfather would probably come looking for her, and he really shouldn't be walking too far from home these days. Incidentally, she hadn't told her mother or her grandmother about the ghost and the supply closet. They would just be worried about her. Anyway, Nao was confident that Yadoru could take care of it as he had promised. She patted her cell phone in her pocket, feeling a little peace.
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