WARNING: THIS IS A SHAMELESS SELF-INSERT FEATURING AN ORIGINAL CHARACTER FROM ANOTHER OF THE AUTHOR'S STORIES, AND THUS IS NOT RECOMMENDED TO BE READ WITHOUT SOME PRE-KNOWLEDGE OF TOUHOU PROJECT. (A bit of information will be provided still)
Disclaimer: I do not own Touhou Project, nor do I own Ben-To. The only thing I own is my original character. And he blatantly uses references that he doesn't own either.
"Ikuto, I hear you're looking for some challenge." Yukari surprises me with that greeting, appearing out of one of her gaps to do so.
"How the heck did you find out about that?"
She winks in that aggravating manner that makes me want to slap her. Of course, she probably knows that, and I know that she knows, so there's no point in even trying. Besides, the Youkai (1) of the Boundaries can block or retaliate before I even get anywhere close to hitting her.
So let's recap a little. I came to the Touhou world of Gensokyo about nine months ago thanks to the person floating before me, and went along with her condition of staying with each party for a certain time. Being not too fond of my mundane life, I left it behind me and took the name Ikuto. Currently, I'm staying at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, the residence of a cute but deadly vampire known as the Scarlet Devil, and have been for around two months already.
During that time, I've been training in the art of fighting under her servants, occasionally testing my dodging skills against the mistress herself. And I'm getting pretty good, even if my opponents trash me nearly all the time.
But with strength comes the desire to actually test it out. I know I've whacked a few real enemies before, like that huge bear I ran into when I got abandoned in the wilds, but fighting a wild animal isn't the same as fighting humans. Which is clearly the matter Yukari has come about.
"So... what do you have in mind?" I continue, knowing she won't answer my earlier question. She probably peeked as usual.
"Something simple... but it is still early at this point of time. I'll come again later this evening." Yukari starts to slip back into her gap, but stops. "Oh, and avoid having dinner here, if you would? It'll be my treat."
Confused, I just nod and watch her slip out of existence. Yukari offering to treat me to a meal... how rare. This is suspicious. I get up and head back into the mansion to let the inhabitants know. The maid's cooking is good, but I have to admit, Yukari has stirred my curiosity.
"Dammit, Yukari." I growl at the unmoved youkai from my position on the ground. "Don't open a gap under me like that!"
Just moments ago, I was talking to Remilia Scarlet, the mistress of the mansion. As I rose up to get some tea, the ground suddenly vanished from beneath my feet, and I landed down in...
I look around. "Where is this place?"
It looks like a recreation room, the kind one would find... My eyes widen.
I bolt up and dash over to the window. Whitewashed buildings, telephone poles and lampposts, a skyline broken in many places by Western-style structures. This wasn't Gensokyo. This was the outside world. And I was in a school. A school's clubroom, to be exact. Judging by the color of the sky, it's early evening, which explains why there's no one else besides us.
"Yes, that's right. You're currently outside Gensokyo." Yukari informs me from behind.
"Okayyy... so what exactly is up with this place? Considering the beach you brought me to, I suppose this isn't actually my world, is it?"
White-clad shoulders rise in a mild shrug. "Who knows...?"
Gritting my teeth, I look around at the clubroom. Shoe rack, metal cupboard, a board with a map on it, mini-fridge, microwave on top of mini-fridge, large wooden table in center with a carpet underneath, chairs in the corner, and... I approach the wall across from the board. What I thought was an odd wallpaper design is actually hundreds of red-yellow stickers of various shapes, slightly overlapping, covering nearly the entire stretch. And they all have the same words on them.
"Half-price?" I read. These... are all half-price stickers? The sort that Japanese stores stick on store-sold food after some time?
"That's right." A tapping noise draws my attention.
I turn around to see Yukari tapping at the map board with her closed fan, and approach. It's a typical road map, showing the streets around buildings, the railroad passing through the area of the neighborhood, and the main road. But what catches my attention are the handwritten words in marker on them, listing shop... nicknames and a certain time. A quick glance at the clock in the room tells me that it's still half an hour or so before the earliest of them.
"This is where we are." The tip of her fan rests on a darker area with a few even darker rectangle inside.
"Karasuda High School? So what are we trespassing for?" I'm trying to puzzle out what Yukari is doing here. Times... shops... all those half-price stickers... they're nearly adding up. Just a bit more time.
"This is a map of the west side of this city we're in," Yukari begins, "As you may have guessed, these are the shops that sell bentos (2), and the time written there...," She taps a few of the circled text with her fan, "Indicates the approximate time they go on half-price discount."
"Uh huh." Damn, she explained it first. "But I still don't see what this is all..." I look over my shoulder at the wall. "Wait... you want me to get you the stickers? Why don't you just steal it like you always do?"
"Not just any sticker." She walks over to a nearby cabinet and opens the door. "Look at these." Yukari turns around and hands me the book she had taken out.
I blink at the scrapbook in my hand. Inside is filled with various stickers, shaped and colored differently from the ones on the wall, though the 'Half-Price' text is still present. Beneath each one is a name and a date written in pen.
"Yuu Kaneshiro, Yuu Kaneshiro, Sen Yarizui, Sen Yarizui." I flip through the pages, reading the names. Yukari's translation trick is still working, I see. The family name comes behind instead of in front to me.
"As you can see, those stickers are different. I want those."
I goggle at the gap youkai. "You, collect stickers? What the heck?"
She doesn't look bothered in the least. "Of course, for some things, there's no meaning in just taking them. They have to be earned."
A frown crosses my face. "Between the act of just taking them, and the act of sending me to get them for you... are you even earning them in the first place?"
She thumps me on the head with her fan. "Don't give me your lip. I want you to get me these stickers."
I open my mouth to say something, but my stomach lets out an audible growl. "Can we get some food first?"
"No." Yukari tells me firmly. "There is something about this place that differentiates it from the others."
"Like what? Just spill everything already." I say with some frustration.
"First, put these on." Yukari gaps in some thin black gloves, and hands them to me.
I comply, drawing the smooth and comfortable fabric over my hands. "So... what are these?"
"You're going to be fighting. Those," She indicates the gloves with a pointed finger, "Are so that you won't end up killing anyone by mistake. The people here are much hardier than the norm, but not enough to survive against a heavy blow from you."
"Fighting, and half-priced food? This doesn't make sense, Yukari." I practice a few shadow punches. "And besides, with what Meiling has been teaching me, just covering my hands won't be enough."
I recall the extent of her abilities. "Oh, right. That. But I still don't get how fighting and sticker collecting are related."
"Perhaps you should see for yourself." The Troll of Gensokyo gestures.
The ground vanishes from beneath my feet again. "Dammit, Yukariiiiiiiiiiiiii..."
When I reappear in some alleyway, the sky already dark and telling me that I lost an hour at least, she silences my outrage with a serious expression and a heavy whack to the head with her parasol, before beckoning to me. Rubbing my aching bump, I follow her out of the alleyway, and into a supermarket.
Tokiwa Super. I read the name of the store as I pass through the automatic doors. Oh my God, AIR-CONDITIONING! BLESSED COOLNESS! PRAISE BE TO MODERN TECHNOLOGY! It's been too long since I've experienced something like this; they didn't exist in Gensokyo.
"Tokiwa~ Tokiwa~ Su~per Tokiwa~" I listen to the music playing, appreciating another missed piece of technology.
"By the way," I pick up the supermarket basket as I follow Yukari, who is the recipient of a few stares for her outlandish clothing, "What's with the atmosphere here? Iku wouldn't like this place at all."
The person I brought up is another youkai friend of mine, capable of reading the mood to the extent that she would fit in nearly anywhere. And the thing I'm talking about is the heavy atmosphere around the supermarket; as we go deeper among the shelves, I realize that it's largely focused near the inner portion. The outer area where the cashiers are is innocent enough, but the intensity around me makes me feel like I'm among wild beasts.
"Tell me, Ikuto. What do you notice?" Yukari stops by the canned food section and looks at what's on offer, speaking without looking at me.
I glance around, tiptoeing to look over the shelves. Then I close my eyes and turn on a switch in my mind before repeating the process.
Crowd of various types, mainly males, all lingering around the shelves, but that's not typical. Most men are technically buy and leave, but these... they're waiting for something, I realize, And their attention... they're looking at each other, sizing up... possible opponents? Is this what Yukari meant when she said I had to fight?
My attention turns back to Yukari as she leaves the current aisle and goes over to the next, where a middle-aged man wearing a jacket over his shirt is standing in the opening.
"Excuse me," She asks politely, and the man moves out of the way with a glance of surprise.
I take the chance to peek at his watch and the thing he has in his hand. It's nearly nine- two hours lost-, and I don't think a packet of chips can be that interesting. He's not even looking at it!
"This isn't what I think it's going to be, is it?" I hiss at Yukari, not wanting to be overheard.
"Tell you what," She replies playfully, "Go take a look at the bentos over there, and see if there's anything you like."
I look at her for a moment, my eyes darting around to land on those contributing to the heavy atmosphere before returning to her. "Okay."
The moment I exit the shelter of the shelves, I realize just what she wanted. Having trained under harsh conditions, I've gained something of a sense for attention, and right now, there's a large amount of it focused on me. I prick my ears up, and listen as I approach the counter where five bento sets are laid out with several woven baskets behind them holding side dishes, tuning out the background music to focus on what's spoken.
"Who's that guy?"
"...never seen him before..."
"...weird clothes..." This speaker is commenting on my training clothes, technically old fashioned by the current standard here.
"Is he... take one...?"
I was right. What they want... I look at the bentos in front of me. Are these. But they're waiting for something. The half-price sticker, I'm betting. These don't have them yet. I test the waters further by reaching out, and receive an affirmative response by the increase in intensity as my extended hand is seen. No wonder it felt like being in a den of hungry beasts, because in some way, it is.
"He stopped. Not a..." I miss the term, but there's a definite decrease in tension when my hand pulls back.
"...must be a dog."
Sounds like a title rather than an insult. I think to myself, my eyes looking down at the bentos but not seeing.
"Not... like us." Once again, I miss the term that speaker used.
I turn abruptly at the sound of the staff door opening, and make eye contact with this spectacled old man in a jacket. We stare at each other for a moment, then I incline my head and move away, retreating back among the shelves.
"He... gave way... discounts..."
"That... must ...new."
The attention shifts from me to the old man, who doesn't seem affected in the least. I suppose I can understand why, and Yukari confirms it when I return to her side.
"There are rules." She begins, still not looking at me.
"Don't fight while that guy is around." I guess, matching her soft volume.
Yukari nods. "Though these people call him something different."
I look out of the corner of my eye, watching the old man's back move around as he sticks the half-price stickers on.
"Don't bite the hand that feeds you, I suppose." Then I recall something. "Hey wait, I don't have any money on me. How am I supposed to pay for the food?"
"Check your pockets." She replies airily, and moves further down the aisle to look at something else.
Just as she hinted, there's money in my pocket. One thousand yen. Technically enough to buy without the half-price sticker, but even if I move now, the stickers will be on already. Another glance shows the old employee finishing up, and moving away.
They aren't moving yet? I walk forward, and peek out around the shelves. He's going... going... The swinging doors shut. Gone.
Instantly the whole tension blows up. Shouts and roars fill the air, as all those I identified earlier start sprinting for the bentos. I weave aside, exchanging brief glances with those charging out of the aisle I'm in. Another result of my training in the wilds has given me a brief understanding of intention, and it works now; as long as I'm not going for the bentos, I'm not an enemy.
Punches are thrown, kicks are snapped out, as the hungry crowd battles for a chance to grab the half-priced food. Some opponents pummel away at each other, but form truces almost instantaneously to hinder one who is nearly about to get one, only to break them just as quickly once the threat is taken care of. I raise an eyebrow in surprise when a few of the weaker ones get knocked out; these people really don't hold back where it comes to food.
"Look at those who get one." Yukari's voice speaks into my ear, raised so I can hear over the war cries of the battling beasts.
I frown, and my mouth twists a little. "They only take one. And once they do, the others give up." I put words to what I see for my own benefit rather than hers. Only three left. Two. I watch the three winners walk away, those who failed to stop them immediately turning on each other to get the remainder.
"By the way, if you want to eat tonight, I advise you get in there as well." She pauses for a moment. "I don't believe there are leftovers for you back at the mansion."
"Dammit, Yukari." I groan, just as my stomach echoes her words.
"Have fun now. I'll be waiting for you outside." Her hand takes the basket from me, and leaves me facing the scene of violence.
I smack my palm with a fist, right, then left. Here goes. And I dash in.
Despite the sounds of the battle, it seems like everyone in the scrum has highly attuned senses, as quite a few heads turn in my direction. Some even put themselves in my way, intent on stopping me even if they didn't know my true abilities.
I duck under the first wild punch, coming up with my shoulder into the attacker's chin. Even as his head snaps back, my right foot slides forward, and I ram my back into his body, sending him and several others flying from the force. In the aftermath, I notice the remainder staring at me in shock.
"What was that?"
"He's freaking strong!"
"He's a wolf like us?"
A wolf? I guess that's what these people call themselves. I continue onwards, and two more come at me from the sides, more trailing behind them. Come on then! Let's see how my training holds up against the hungry wolves!
I parry another punch and drive my elbow into the puncher's chest, twist in the other direction and smash the back of my fist into the face of another who had been trying to grab me from behind. That same hand comes back down to clamp on the top of a charging tackler, and I whip my body into a cartwheel, kicking a fourth person in the chin as I flip over my support.
They're slower than Meiling or Sakuya, I name the gate guard and the maid of the mansion where I'm staying, but their numbers make them a risk. I land in a slight crouch, leaning back to slide into the range of someone who was trying to punch me from behind, and smash his face with the back of my head.
"Those movements, and the gloves! Is he the Wizard?"
"No! He's not wearing a coat! The Wizard always wears a coat!"
The Wizard? So some of them get special names too? I capture the flow of the next two attackers, and toss them head over heels, using a combination of parried punches and leg sweeps. Wait, the food!
I grab a quick glance at the table, where three men are fighting, drawing closer with every blow. My stomach growls again at the sight.
HELL IF I'M LETTING THEM TAKE MY FOOD FROM ME! My fists clench tighter, and I make my move.
Unstoppable run. I kick off the floor, a thigh, a hip, a back, a shoulder, finally twisting into a flip in the air, and landing close to the counter.
Flow like water. I sway my body, and weave around two, three, four attackers, passing close to them, but not letting them hit me. I reach the trio, who immediately turn on me.
Follow the wind. My hands flick out, nudging a fist here, an elbow there, and making their blows miss completely. Before they can recover, I'm already gripping the top of two heads.
Meet the earth. With their center of gravity off, all I have to do is draw back slightly, and push down, knocking them out against the tiled floor. A roll forward avoids those who were trying to attack me from behind, and I unfold into a hard kick into the third's stomach from a ground position.
Burn like fire! I jump to my feet, and deal out a furious series of blows, punches, kicks, body slams, palm thrusts, each sending its targeted person flying.
And... done. I spin around the last person, slamming an elbow into his back, and snatch one of the two remaining bentos off the counter with my other hand. Pork fry, huh? That suits me just fine.
As I leave, I hear some of the survivors talking about me.
"Who IS that guy? He can't be a dog!"
"It's like he couldn't even be touched at all!"
"Is he some wolf from the east side?"
"Eastern wolves are scary..."
Looks like a rumor is going to start. But you know, that really did feel like it helped. I see what Yukari meant. I think to myself as I wait for the checkout line to move so I can pay for my food and eat. Looks like this is something that everyone here is used to; I can hear the fighting still going on, but everyone just tunes it out.
Yukari is waiting just outside the automatic doors. "I see you got one. Let's have a look." She beckons, and I take the bento out of the plastic bag and hand it to her. "Hmm, it's a normal one."
I look at the red-yellow sticker on the price tag. "Yeah, I noticed. Where can I get that warmed up?"
"Unfortunately, that clubroom is currently occupied, but there's a convenience store nearby with a microwave you can use." She says brightly, handing the bento back to me.
I put it back in the plastic bag and follow after her, as the gap youkai opens up her parasol and twirls it around in my face. I stare at the spinning circle of pink, then reach into the plastic bag again. It takes a bit of scratching, but I manage to get the sticker off. I then proceed to stick it over the tip of Yukari's parasol, the only part that isn't spinning too much for me to paste it.
As we wait for the bento to warm up, we get to talking. Apparently, what I encountered and joined in was a fierce battle that took place every night. Of course Yukari knew all about it already, but she left me to deduce the setting for myself just because that's how she is. Those who fight for the half-priced bento are wolves, newcomers are known as dogs, and supposedly, the really powerful wolves have nicknames... like the Wizard one of them talked about.
Anymore than that, I have to find out for myself. At least Yukari says she has someone for me to get in touch with in order to learn more.
"Well, dig in." Yukari invites from where she's seated next to me on a public bench.
I normally eat more than this thanks to the amount of calories I burn. I look at the meal steaming in the night air, and stick my chopsticks in.
A hand rests on mine, stopping me. "You should give thanks for the food."
I give Yukari a questioning look. She's not her usual teasing self. Releasing my chopsticks for a moment, I place my hands together. "Itadakimasu." (3)
Surprisingly, the food... tastes good. Quite nice for something that's bought from a supermarket and not a high-class restaurant.
"That's the taste of victory." Yukari remarks, somehow having figured out my thoughts.
"The taste... of victory?" I glance at her, then back to the bento, then back at her. "..."
"Yes. After all, food you work for taste better, does it not?" She starts fanning herself.
"..." My eyes continue to travel back and forth between the food I fought for, and the Troll of Gensokyo.
"Why so silent?"
I finally say one word before turning back to my dinner. "Whatever."
Much later, back in Gensokyo, I'm playing a bit of chess with Remilia as her little sister Flandre sits on my shoulders, my passenger humming as my body shakes with the exertion of trying to stay in a seated position without a chair beneath me. It's nearly half an hour...
"So," Remilia inquires, moving her rook, "What did that gap hag want you to do?"
"Sticker... collection." I grunt. Bear with it!
"Sticker... collection." I repeat, and shift one of my few remaining pawns forward.
"Perhaps I'm better off not knowing." She remarks, studying my move. "But how long will you be at it?"
I count on my fingers to reduce the mental strain. "...twelve stickers. From twelve different... places."
"It sounds like the labors of Hercules."
I blink; the comment has taken me by surprise. "That's true. They're..." My knees start buckling. "Flan... get off..."
"Okay!" The weight on my shoulders lift, and I force myself to stand up.
"They are...?" Her sister prompts, focusing on the chessboard as she takes the other pawn.
"Quite similar, now that you mention it." I reach down and move my bishop. "Check."
Remilia instantly moves hers. "Mate."
"FFFFUUUU-" I raise my clenched fists, realizing too late that I forgot about the other piece. "Haaa!" I exhale. "Looks like I still got a long way to go. I'm off to bed. Good night, Remilia, Flan."
"Come and play again~" The vampire waves mockingly as she picks up the Sudoku book next to her.
I head back to my room, with my thoughts to occupy me. There were ten shops on that map in the clubroom. Not to mention the east side... well, twelve is enough, I guess? Better than her-
A gap suddenly appears in front of me, and Yukari's head pops out. "Pardon the interruption, but I think it's better if I get one from every single store." She tells me seriously, and flashes a winning smile. "See you tomorrow!"
A hand then reaches out and sticks a sticker onto my forehead before I can react. Yukari then vanishes back through her gap.
"FFFFFUUUUUUU-!" I splutter, the half-price sticker on my forehead.
(1) A Japanese term for mythical creature. Youkais come in various types, beastial, humanoid, usually possessing fantastical powers. Yukari Yakumo's ability is to control the boundary of all things physical and non-physical, which makes her pretty much god-like.
(2) Japanese term for a boxed lunch. The food within are usually kept separate from each other.
(3) Japanese way of saying 'Thanks for the meal'.
I believe that I have just wrote the first Ben-To fanfic on ! But it's a shameless self-insert of my OC Ikuto who entered the Touhou Project world of Gensokyo, put in a crossover. Of course, he'll be meeting the characters... and honestly, he's overpowered compared to them. He has training in Chinese martial arts and learnt Ki from Hong Meiling, dodged countless danmaku from a number of Touhou characters, and knows a teensy little bit of magic (which is obviously not going to appear in this). So yeah, overpowered.
Pretty much this is just an omake to my Touhou fanfic, but I'm not going to slack off on either one! In fact, this is more of a writing training for me to see if I can write something that describes the ferocity of the battles as seen in the Ben-To anime.
So please follow this secondary fanfic and give pointers on how I can write something that makes you want to go GAR, beating up those around you to show off your MANLINESS!