005: Rin Satsuki
Reimu turned on her heel, startled as behind her a girl cried out,
"Wait up, Hakurei-san!"
Her black ponytail whipping the back of her neck, Reimu about-faced and immediately attempted to appear as though she hadn't heard or seen the girl that was chasing after her. However, even if she actually hadn't, it was no use; Satsuki Rin remained forever perseverant, and forever unable to take a hint.
"Hakurei-san, I told you––"
"Would it kill you to call me Reimu?"
"Reimu-san, I told you––"
"Just. Just Reimu."
"…Reimu, I told you a zillion times before that you shouldn't go walking home from school alone!" she finally managed to get out on her third attempt, making the exact same hand gestures yet again.
Rin's finger in her face, Reimu sighed and tried to tune out her classmate's incessant babbling as they made their way on the (mostly) safe path back to the village from school. Kamishirasawa-sensei had, for some reason, dismissed them early for an emergency. Reimu noted that she looked quite distressed, but it wasn't like that was her problem. Right now, her problem was Rin Satsuki.
"Us humans, we have to stick together! Or else," she began, lowering her voice to a raspy whisper, "The youkai might get us."
With excessive dramatic flair she glanced behind them, as if she were afraid a frightening youkai were following them. On the path that cut directly through the protected area designated to the human village. This earned her only a roll of eyes from her unwilling companion.
"You know, Hakure––Reimu, Kirisame-san from the other class told me her dad, he was, like, attacked by this huuuuge scary youkai. Like, it was a fairy. But it wasn't just a weak one, it was one of the greater fairies, the stronger ones…!"
Honestly, Reimu didn't understand why some people took the threat of youkai attack so seriously; she'd seen a couple of them before, and they basically looked like humans. Add otherworldly head accessories, medieval fashion sense, and a conceited attitude, and you've got yourself a "super scary youkai." Reimu was relatively sure she could take one in a fight.
"Wait, wait, where are you going? Hakure––I mean, Reimu-sa––I mean Reimu, where are you going? The way to the village is this way where––"
"Okay, Satsuki? Rin? Look," Reimu began, stopping in her tracks, which nearly caused Rin to collide with her and trip.
"I always take this way home from school. It's shorter to cut through the forest. If you're whinily worried about how daaaangerous it is, you can take the normal, longer, boringer path. If you're gonna' follow me, I expect you to shut up. Capiche? "
Rin took one long look at the girl in front of her, hands on hips, garbed in a drab red in white outfit that clearly stated, "No, I don't care about the school uniform." And Rin thought for a moment about herself, and how she would never dress like that. How she let her mom cut her hair school regulation, how she took her traditional erhu lessons like a good girl, and how the cute boy in class 2-B looked, even when he wasn't looking at her.
She thought for a moment about how cute he must look, then, facing her, and simply nodded.
Rin Satsuki wanted to be like the outgoing, energetic Kirisame-san, the bouncy, gorgeous Kochiya-san, the composed Izayoi-senpai, or maybe like the ever popular under-classman Konpaku-san, otherwise known as Myon-chan, as all the girls in her grade took to calling the small girl. These girls? They stood out. They were the talk of the school. If Kamishirasawa-sensei or the other teachers were caught bragging about her classes, as she often would be, their names would come out.
But most of all, Rin wanted to be like Reimu Hakurei, her own classmate that even sat directly in front of her. That, "I-don't-give-a-d*mn" attitude that made all the boys fawn over her, despite her destitute economic stance… hair strewn into a hasty ponytail that, while looking like she didn't care a bit about her appearance, still looked so… beautiful. Maybe the not-caring part was what made it so beautiful… No, beautiful wasn't the word.
The word was cool.
Yes, Rin Satsuki wanted to stand out. To be known. To be remembered. To be cool!
A main character! Just like Makoto-chan from her favorite anime. Composed, distant, and basically awesome.
So Rin Satsuki stepped into that forest, in line with Reimu Hakurei in front of her.
She stepped, and she stepped, feeling with each step herself getting closer to that cool.
Right into Reimu's backside.
"Augh! Rin, where were you looking?"
"Um, permission to speak?"
Reimu groaned. "Granted."
"Um, I wasn't looking ahead."
Reimu fought the urge to smack her forehead. "Obviously! You bumped into me!"
Rin stared at her feet until she could stay silent no longer.
"Um, Reimu, why exactly did… Did we stop?"
"Look for yourself."
Satsuki Rin peeked from behind the taller girl and through the break in the trees and was temporarily blinded with shock as she took in the bright orange glow lighting up her burning Human Village.
Sprinting to the end of the path, her face was assaulted by a wave of heat.
Outshining the already setting sun, Rin shielded her eyes and was just able to make out the shape of a bright, fiery bird in the sky. She supposed that the now full moon would be visible in the distance by now, if it were even possible to look directly overhead without blinding herself.
Even Reimu didn't seem able to keep her cool entirely. She inhaled deeply, fighting a cough from the ash that was already beginning to reach them, and said, "Pheonix."
"What?" Rin asked.
"The thing in the sky. It looks like a phoenix."
"Well, it's a big, fiery bird, for one," she said, dripping with sarcasm.
"And what's that in front of it? A girl?"
Indeed, casting a ridiculous shadow was the figure of a girl in a kimono with apparently very long hair. This wasn't the focus of Reimu's mind; instead, she was internally chuckling about how calm they were, despite their hometown and possibly everyone they had ever known being burnt to bits. The forest itself might catch soon enough, too, and she supposed they were risking their lives just standing there.
This, she pointed out to Rin.
"Oh, crap, that's right, oh my gosh! We're going to be burnt up into ashes and then charcoal and die, oh Kami-sama save us now….!" she began, running in circles with panic.
"We did pass a lake, you know. You could go jump in it. Literally. You can't catch fire in there. Or you could just run," Reimu said, refusing to take her eyes off of the spectacle that was the burning village.
"But what about you, Haku––Reimu?"
"I'll stay here."
"But… But why?"
"Because I feel… like I have to. You can stay too, if you'd like."
Would that make her be remembered? Be cool?
What's the use of being cool when you're dead?
Rin Satsuki felt the inevitable tears rush down her cheeks and turned back down on the path.
Maybe she didn't really run because she was scared of the fire.
Maybe she actually ran because she suddenly remembered the boy from class 2-B, and how he was absent from school today. He must have stayed home.
Maybe she ran because she didn't want Reimu the Cool to see her cry.
Maybe that doesn't matter, why she ran away.
Maybe what matters is that she did, and Reimu didn't.
Moments later, a bicycle meant for one, carrying two, came to a shuddering stop in front of Reimu, spraying her clothes with soil. She immediately recognized the girl unconscious behind the driver to be Kirisame Marisa; they were classmates last year and had somehow become good friends, but lost touch when the new school year began with them in different classes.
The driver looked to be her teacher, Kamishirasawa Keine. However, unless timid Kamishirasawa-sensei had taken the time in the inferno to dye her hair green and grow cow horns, then…
"Oh, hi, Hakurei-san, it's me. Your teacher."
"Nice hair," Reimu said, making light of the mood. "What's with her?" she asked, pointing to the unconscious Kirisame-san slumped behind her teacher.
"Marisa was staying after school because she really wanted to know more about the formulas I started describing in class today when the––why am I telling you this? We have no time!"
She was right. Just a couple hundred yards away from them, a tree had caught fire, and the rest of the forest wasn't likely to wait very long before joining it.
"Reimu, you're brave, right? Of course you are. Standing here in a forest staring at your burning village. Good. Great. I'm counting on you, okay? Well, not just you. I'll throw in a few of my other students too; I'm still writing the story in my head, right now, but I'm definitely not carrying all the hard work in it!I mean I managed to deal with the ghost girl and the moody vampire thing myself, but honestly my own best friend can't put a stupid grudge aside for the sake of a–––oh why the hell am I telling you all this!" she screamed. She was hysterical. Kind of like when Inami-san was caught cheating on the history final.
Reimu was freaked, for sure, but Keine seemed to be putting a lot of faith in her, and she seemed to need it. So when her teacher outstretched her hand to her, she took it.
"Alright Reimu, let's save Gensokyo."
"By making it so you guys prevent any of the crappola in its history from happening so badly!"
Reimu shrugged; anything could happen, she presumed, and decided to trust what her teacher said. Even though she had literally just said 'crappola.'
Then, as the image of a talkative little girl who played the erhu flashed in her mind, she paused for a second, and looked behind her, towards where the forest lake was.
"We okay, Reimu? Is something wrong?" her teacher asked, looking at Reimu with concern.
"No, no, nothing. Not that I can really tell you, since I have no clue what f*cking insane thing you're about to do. But if I end up living, that's nifty," she grinned.
Keine smiled back and clutched her student's hand tightly. Having dismounted her bicycle and leaned it, and Kirisame-san, against a tree (rather hazardous considering the fire and all) she reached over and took Marisa's hand as well.
"Alright, girls. Let's change history."