A/N: Eh heh... a hah ha ha ha... Please don't hurt me. I'm SOOOOOOO sorry for the extremely late (about three months late...) chapter!!!!! I hit a wall with introducing this new character, but now I'm over it, and I should be active again! I'm sorry to say, also, that this chapter... is not long at all. sweatdrop But the next one will make up, I promise. Hopefully you get a laugh or two out of this one. I now present:
Chapter Seven: What There is to See
Dashi quickly peeked around the corner to see if anyone was paying any particular attention, then stepped out into the busy Milan street, Corinne following close behind him. She fell into step beside him, and watched the giant crowd around her uneasily. She shifted in her training robe awkwardly; many couples surrounded them, the men in handsome suits, and the women in designer dresses. And with a crowd this large, she could easily be trampled, without many noticing or caring...
Mind, in check, she mentally scolded herself. She glanced at Dashi, and saw that he was staring intently at her. "...Yes?" What is he looking at?
He slowly spoke, "I was just... asking if you had ever heard of the Castello Sforzesco?" She had a feeling he had been asking her for a while.
"Oh, ah, no," she conceded hastily, blushing, "I haven't. What is it?"
He looked ahead of them, so as to relieve the awkwardness in the air between them, and spoke after a long moment. "It's a castle here in Milan. It's been here since the fourteenth century; they turned it into an art gallery."
"Oh." Corinne mentally slapped herself. Oh. That's a good one; can't I say anything else, for God's sake? "What kind of art? I mean whose art?" She winced.
Dashi didn't pay mind to it. "Well," he sounded eager, "They have Michelangelo's very last sculpture, the Rondanini Pieta, and Da Vinci's Codex Trivulzianus manuscript; that one's not usually open to the public, but I know a man that works there and could let us see. Oh! and they have frescoes painted by him too, and the Trivulzio Madonna, by Mantegna." He sighed wistfully. "It's amazing."
Corinne stopped walking for a moment, and burst into laughter. "What?" Dashi seemed confused, but she continued walking. "You're so, well, into it. You sound like an eight-year-old going to the zoo for the first time!" Corinne shook her head, chuckling softly still.
Dashi grinned. "Sorry—I'm a sucker for the fine arts. Music, paintings, I love them all." He stopped Corinne with a hand briefly on her arm. "And, speaking of, there it is." He pointed, and Corinne's eyes followed his hand. Ahead of them and the crowd rose a grey castle. It was still a long while off but they could see it in the distance, because of its great size.
Corinne whistled appreciatively. "Pretty," she commented. Dashi simply nodded.
They walked, and walked, and Corinne attempted to make sense of the Italian signs around them. A few words she could guess, because of their English roots, others were completely unfamiliar. Dashi seemed to understand, though; he pointed things out to her, and made comments like, "We should go sometime to that restaurant, I've heard it's good," and "I know someone who went to college there; they're supposed to have a great science department."
"So you speak Italian?" she asked, when there was a long silence. "Yes," he immediately responded, "I've lived here for so long I just picked it up; I had to, if I wanted food—I may be over fifteen hundred years old, but I still need to eat. Ha ha!"
Minutes passed as they made their steady way towards the Sforzesco, and Corinne became more aware every second how the crowd pressed in against them. It was clearly a popular tourist attraction; cameras flashed, and rowdy foreigners pushed their way through, natives to the country glaring over their shoulders. It was hot, stifling hot, and Corinne stumbled over her own feet.
"Whoops, there you go," a passing man stood her right and went quickly on her way.
She was now getting dizzy; the man had spun her 'round and she couldn't tell which person around her was Dashi. Bright spots were appearing in front of her eyes, her head pounded, it was so hard to breathe...
Unconsciousness came mercifully.
Dashi turned and began to say something, before realizing that Corinne was no longer at his side. "...Oh. Well, that is not good." He turned around three-hundred-sixty degrees, and saw someone lying limply on the ground, passed out.
He started, and rushed to her, kneeling down. "Corinne-san? Corinne?" Dashi was given no response. Frowning, he scooped her up in his arms bridal style, and turned back towards where they had come from.
Castle another day then, I suppose... He began to shoulder his way through the multitude of people with some difficulty; they all milled against him, towards the castle, and people cursed angrily in his direction. He rolled his eyes, and started yelling:
"Move! I've got a limp body and I'm not afraid to use it! Out of my way! Come on, move, damnit!" People made a small way for him, but the way was still thick, and he was sweaty and panting by the time he had only gotten halfway through the big rush.
Glancing around, he saw no one paying any particular attention to him, and he flicked his wrist, causing a strong gust to make the crowd sway away from him. He began to run out while there was an easier path.
He succeeding in making it out of the large pit of people with Corinne unharmed (besides from being unconscious) in his arms. He could see, distantly, the building Corinne and he lived in—and at that, he laughed out loud, despite Corinne's... unresponsive state. "Where Corinne and I live—imagine what Master Sen would think of that one."
He didn't expect to hear a voice reply.
But suddenly came: "Ha, there's a point. He'd flip, the old man."
Dashi spun around in alarm, because he was surprised to hear a response; because no one in Milan besides Corinne and he should've known who Master Sen was; and because he recognized that voice.
A few feet away from Dashi, a lanky man stood. His rich chestnut hair was tossed over his slanted golden eyes in casual disarray; he wore a dark, sleek business suit, fitting in perfectly with the male majority of the Milan crowd. His face, in contrast to his sharp suit, was rounded and boyish, adding a permanent sort of cheeky grin on his face.
Dashi didn't look much at his appearance though—he was momentarily frozen at catching sight of a face he had not seen in so long; over fifteen hundred years.
"Jie-Shen?" Dashi walked closer to the man, squinting as if he doubted his eyes were telling him the truth. "Jie-Shen, what... are you doing in Milan?" Dashi suddenly stumbled, and quickly regained his balance; he had half forgotten his pupil was in his arms still.
Jie-Shen's grin widened as Dashi said his name. "So you still remember me from the temple days, I see. Makes me think twice about playing all those tricks on you when I was your underclassman, eh?" He laughed, a short sound.
"I'm traveling the world, started late last year. Been to England, been to Australia, been to America, I said, hell, why not Italy next? I just didn't expect to see you here, myself! Tell me, what are you doing here?"
Dashi shook his head, shaking off the lingering shock, and jerked his head as if to gesture around. "You know me, Jie-Shen, the arts. Da Vinci beckoned."
Jie-Shen waited a moment, then, when Dashi was silent, continued. "And, ah..." He looked down at Corinne. "This your girlfriend or something?" A sly smile crossed his mouth.
Dashi's eyes widened comically, and he followed Jie-Shen's gaze, as if wondering if he was really talking about Corinne. "Ah, no, no! My apprentice, of course. She's... a bit, er, unconscious right now, but..." Dashi paused a second. What was he going to propose again? "How about you come back to where I'm staying—to catch up, and such?"
Jie-Shen paused a moment, fidgeting, and Dashi saw him steal a quiet glance over his shoulder. He didn't comment, and Jie-Shen nodded after a second. "Sounds like a plan."
A/N: So, yeah, only a little over 1,300 words. But the next chapter will delve a little bit more into Dashi's past with this mysterious new character... Which, makes me realize that I should probably say this now before SOME fangirls get their hopes up:
THIS. STORY. WILL. CONTAIN. NO. YAOI.
Got it? Got it. Good.