Peanut Gallery - People who heckle the performer; Source of insignificant criticism

Note: This will be an ensemble of stories from minor characters' points of view. I will try my best to keep them all in character, please excuse any mistakes!

Chapter Torogai

People call me an old bat. Granny. Senile hag. Senior citizen.

But I was a girl once too. Granted, that was a long time ago when people weren't so stupid, but there's nothing I can do about that.

My bones were aching me so I decided to spend a night at my apprentice's hut. Naïve of me to think those two would stop fighting for once in their life. Old hag or not, a lady needs peace and quiet when she's hunkering down to sleep. Of course I didn't know Balsa would be back or I wouldn't have bothered coming. I hate when those two argue. And that's all the time. She's off gallivanting across the country to who knows where, so how was I supposed to know she'd be back today of all days?

I can hear them whisper-fighting across the room. Why were they whispering? This hut is the barely the size of the Mikado's closet.

The village is asleep. The dogs are asleep. Hell, the crickets are asleep.

Except me.

And those two idiots.

"You can't leave, you just got here!"

"I shouldn't be gone for more than a few days." Balsa reassures him. "I'll be caravan guarding. Easy job."

Alright I admit, perhaps I am a bit senile, but my hearing is still intact. Can't my fool of an apprentice see I'm not the least bit sleeping?

"You say that, yet you come dragging yourself onto my doorstep covered in blood every time!"

"Well those weren't easy jobs." Balsa replies effortlessly. I can hear the exasperated sighs of a frustrated Tanda. With my back turned I can't see him but I know his fists are clenched at his sides, mouth twisted in a silent scowl, body rigid and tensed.

"Look," Balsa's voice is softer and much quieter than before. "The route is through the forest east of here. I've traveled that road many times, I know it like the back of my hand. I'll be fine."

Silence. I can hear Tanda's heavy controlled breathing. He's still not satisfied. This is playing out to be goddammed soap opera.

Balsa sighs. "I promise I'll be careful."

And I hate soap operas.

"You're going to leave no matter what I say." Tanda finally says.

Unlike myself, my apprentice is a big fat softie. He'll never win this argument. I should know since I've heard it countless times since those two were old enough to know a pig's head from its ass. Even after Jiguro croaked Balsa was relentless in having things her way. They were both too stubborn for their own good.

"You've got that right." Balsa mumbles.

Silence. Sweet silence. Thank the gods they finally shut the hell up.

"Did you still want to—"

"Oh that's right I forgot! We're doing it together this time right?"

My curiosity piqued. What are they talking about? What were they going to do together?

I can hear something moving around. There is some shuffling and repositioning of bodies.

"Stop!" Tanda suddenly says a bit higher than what would be considered a whisper.

"What? Am I doing it wrong?"

"Yes, I can't stick this in if you move it around so much!" Tanda says his voice agitated.

I growl under my breath. Dammit more fighting. Just when I thought it was over.

"Don't be such a baby, you've done this before haven't you?" Balsa teases him.

Tanda's voice becomes flustered. "Of course I've done this before, but it was always by myself!"

"Whatever. There's a first time for everything." Balsa replies.

What the hell are those two talking about? This conversation is getting more suspicious by the minute. I really want to turn around and see what's going on, but I'm afraid I might witness something I shouldn't.

Wait—They can't be—no they wouldn't—not here—Are they…? No… Not with me in the same room! Oh no I can hear… Questionable noises! Nononono This is so wrong!

"Can't you go faster? My arms are getting tired." Balsa complains.

Tanda grunts a few times, obviously holding something back. "A steady, controlled pace is always best. Plus if I go any faster I'll spill some."

That's it! I can't stand it anymore! I'll be scarred for the rest of my remaining life if this continues!

Balsa yawns. "I need sleep soon. Let's get this over with quick."

"Well we can do this in the morning if you want…"

"No, we're halfway done right? Just finish it."

I jerk out of my covers and whip my head around shouting. "CAN'T YOU TWO GET IT ON SOMEWHERE PRIVATE!"

Both of them freeze what they were doing, staring at me with wide eyes. Balsa is holding a pot while my apprentice has a wooden spoon clenched in his hand, bits of liquid dripping off the end of it and onto the floor.

"What?" Tanda asks. "We're making vegetable stew."

I scowl at him and barge out of the hut. It's not like I'll be going to sleep any time soon.

When I was young people weren't so stupid.