Chapter 38: Drunken Games
"Wassup everyone?!" Suika cried as she burst into the bar.
"Suika!" Her entourage cried, "We've been waiting for ya! What's on the agenda?"
"Hell yeah I'll tell ya what's going to go down tonight!"
"Tell us you scoundrel!" They laughed.
"How's about this: We're going to recreate 99 bottles of beer on the wall!"
Her crowd roared with laughter and approval. The bartender look up, worried at their declaration, "I'm not even sure if we have 99 bottles of beer."
"Then we continue tomorrow night!" Suika smiled.
"Bartender! Our first brewski!"
"Hey hey hey, wait. I got it. Why don't we try out a new type of alcohol each round? Eh? Eh?"
"I like the way you think!" Suika smiled as she smacked the man on the back.
"Yes yes..." The bartender sighed as she took a bottle of beer from the rack behind her.
The human sighed as he sat down.
"Are you actually going to order a drink this time?" The bartender asked.
"Is Iced Tea no longer a drink?"
"You do know what a bar is for right?" She smiled.
"If you insist on something alcoholic, I'll have some red wine."
"Coming up." The bartender said as she searched her cabinet for some red wine, "Any kind in particular?"
"Preferably something that's not that alcoholic."
"You must really now like getting drunk." The bartender said as she poured the drink.
"I don't want to become like them." The human explained, sneaking a side glance at Suika's party.
"Are you saying you're like that when you're drunk?"
"God no." The human sighed as he took a sip of his wine.
"Mmm...You want to know something?" The bartender asked as she began polishing glasses.
"Is it interesting?"
"I can't guarantee that." The bartender laughed, "But you know...this bar belonged to my father."
"Is he dead now?"
"You're not very tactful are you?"
"Do I have to be?"
"Haha. I suppose you have more tact than most of my customers." The bartender smiled, "Yes. My father is dead and I took over his bar. He always said he wanted this bar to be a loud, happy bar. Where people can party as loud as they want and as hard as they want."
"But if you ask me. I like the silent type more."
The human looked up. The bartender continued to smile at him. Suika watched them from afar, her own devious smile hidden behind a glass of wine.
"What are you smiling about, Suika?" One of her friends asked.
"Oh nothing...say...want to see something hilarious?"
"Yo!" Suika cried, hooking her arm around the human's head, "What are you doing over here?"
"Get off me." The human sighed.
"Nope!" Suika laughed, "Whatcha doing sipping something as light as this anyway?"
"No no no no. First, whatcha need to do is get a swimming pool full of liquor and then dive in it."
"I'm only human you know."
"Yeah I forget how fragile you humans are at times."
"You humans?" The bartender asked, confused.
"Ah, bar lady!" Suika smiled, "Let's play a game!"
"Haaaave you met...say what IS your name?"
"I refuse to reveal my name to a temporary guest like you." The human said as he took a sip of his iced tea.
"What?" The bartender cried, "Come on, what's the harm in just telling me your name?"
"I refuse to reveal my name to temporary hosts too." The human said firmly.
"What's your problem?" Suika frowned.
"Well regardless of your problems, you know what'll fix it?"
"Is it liquo-"
"Liquor! Lady, how about a shot for this man right here! On me!"
"You don't have money, you're using my money to afford your drink anyway!"
"And we are all thankful. Right men?!"
"And we've got our beautiful host to thank too!"
The bartender jolted as her patrons began to clap for her.
"Hey, isn't it about time we learn your name too?"
"M-Me?" The bartender said, surprised, "I...I'd rather not."
"Hmm...two people who don't want to reveal their names...you're perfect for each other!"
"So!" Suika said, grabbing a pen from one of her friends, "Why don't you write your number here..."
"What do you think you're doing?" The human frowned.
"What do you think? Playing wingman."
"You're not a wingman, you're just playing matchmaker."
"Ahahaha. Looks like I've been caught."
"What?" The bartender looked around, more confused than before.
"We're leaving." The human said as he picked up Suika and began to walk out.
"Ah! What about the drinks?!"
"Put it on a tab." The human said as he left.
"You never let me have my fun." Suika pouted as they walked home.
"You're a meddlesome little oni aren't you?" The human sighed.
"I get that a lot."
"What were you thinking of doing, getting that girl's number?"
"I was going to give it to you."
"What use would I have for her number?"
"Oh come on, even you can't be that dense."
"I'm sure of what you think you were doing. I just want to hear it from you."
Suika sighed, "You know it wouldn't harm you to call and chat her up. Talk to each other, get each other's names and open up. You know."
"I was thinking a little longer than that."
"...Why do you think I need a girlfriend?"
"Well look at yourself." Suika frowned, staring at the human, "You have 4 rooms; Your room, the bathroom, a semi-intergrated kitchen and living room and a guest room. And what do you do? You live your life alone. Doing boring-ass crossword puzzles...boggle, I don't know. Do something, man! Let someone inside and start living! Even if she doesn't turn out to be the one, you've at least let someone brighten your life!"
"...You think I'm scared?"
"Only reason I can think of." Suika said, "Why else would you lock yourself inside a building and never go out and meet people?"
"...My name is Morichika Kyousuke."
"Eh so now you...wait...what?"
"Morichi...As in that shopkeeper?!"
"Yes. Just like him I have an extended lifespan. No human will live with me forever."
"...So what? You really are scared then."
"Then what is it? Jeez, humans are so roundabout."
Suika paused, "...What?"
"You. Youkais, creature of power and imagination."
"What are you talking about? There are no youkais left in the human realm."
"Have you forgotten what I told you?"
"I'm here to return you to Gensokyou. Until then I'm taking responsibility for you."
"Bang up job."
"It's not just you."
Suika looked up.
"It's everyone. At least everyone has been under my roof at least once. Even if you're not harming anyone, I've had a fair share of malicious youkais. If I open up, if I let anyone into this life of mine, their life is in danger. I can't leave you youkais alone, this world has changed too much for you to survive. And yet being so close to you means that everyone I know is in danger."
"So fight." Suika frowned, "You're half-youkai yourself, you can straddle that line between humans and youkais."
"Alright then let's see. If I do manage to keep the humans close to me alive, they'll age and eventually die before me. So many years spent together to end in heartbreak, each one making me curse my own heritage. The alternative, if I let someone in, they might be able to handle this life. And no matter how much I try to protect them, they eventually can't stand it and leave. What's worse is that I can't even kill you youkais. So at best it ends up as a on-again-off-again relationship."
"...You're really depressing you know that."
"Yes. Yes I know."
"...You can't kill youkais?"
"...My job is to send you back. Not to kill you."
"You seem to favor youkais if you won't kill them."
"It's part of my job."
"Do you really need to do this?"
"No one else can."
"So you're saying you don't have a choice?"
Suika looked down for a moment. She let out a huge sigh and stretched her arms, "Well. I can't let you out of your cage if you don't want to go-"
"It's not all bad."
"This job has allowed me to meet a lot of ridiculous people. Of many different types too. Some I like, some I don't like. Many different ideals and ideas. So much more if I had ever bothered to befriend humans."
"To work as a border guard you have to be human to remain strong enough to remain the same, yet able to understand and balance that with the new thoughts that you're given. That's being a youkai. That's what being a border guard to me anyway."
Suika began to smile, "Well...if you're not suffering then there's no need to break that cage of yours."
"What is your sister still here then?"
"That's a story for another time. If we ever meet again, Little Pandemonic Carnival." Kyousuke said as he looked up, glowing with power.
"You again." Reimu scowled as Suika walked in, "What do you want this time?"
"Stop being so stiff." Suika said as she took a seat next to Reimu, "Dunno why, but I've had enough of that for a while."
"Do you want some tea?"
"Nah I got my own drink."
Reimu watched as Suika pulled out her gourd and pour a drink with her cup.
"Ah! Man this is good. You need to drink more, Reimu."
"I'll stick to tea, thank you." Reimu said, taking a defiant sip of her tea.
"That reminds me. I met him."
"You know. That...half-youkai."
"No, but close."
"He seems to know what he's doing."
"Are you sure he's up to the job though?" Suika asked, "He doesn't seem to have much fun."
"There's more than one way to have fun."
"Ha. Well I've had enough fun on the human side for a while." Suika smiled as she poured another drink.
"What did you do?" Reimu frowned.
"Nothing bad. Although...I did manage to leave a little back-up plan."
Kyousuke stared at the bar from across the street. There seemed to be a fair amount of noise. For a moment he felt sorry for the girl he had met there.
"Well...I do have a tab to pay."
"...Maybe later. Someday."