Reimu's morning routine came to an abrupt halt when she realized she had completely run out of tea.

Bathed and dressed for the day, Reimu couldn't check the shrine grounds for any danger without a good cup of tea to wake her up. The only energy she ran on was a half-eaten breakfast and the fear of knowing a youkai could be out there right at that moment. That week, there were already six youkai encounters and six quick exterminations, so it was only inevitable something was going to show up eventually, and she had to be ready for it.

She checked the storage house for any spare tea, but the only thing inside were hundreds of copies of Aya's newspaper and a few invites to an upcoming event at the Scarlet Devil Mansion. The alter only held bottles of wine and other assorted booze. After what felt like an hour, Reimu gave up her search.

"I'll just patrol the shrine grounds without any tea," she thought, "What harm could it do?"

It wasn't until halfway around the shrine did Reimu decide to take a quick rest under a tree. She hadn't planned on taking a nap, but that's how it worked out.

When Reimu came to, she heard a familiar tomboyish voice shouting, "Wakey wakey, Reimu!"

Reimu opened her eyes to find Marisa hovering above her; her broom was resting against the side of the shrine and her witch hat was sitting on the porch. Marisa said, "You're not supposed to pass out until the afternoon."

Reimu struggled to her feet, feeling like she had a keystone tied to her back, saying, "I'm really tired this morning, so I thought I'd just take a nap."

As they walked back inside, Marisa said, "I'll say. You made breakfast and you barely ate half of it."

"I'm sure I ate all of it." When they were in view of Reimu's table, she said, "Look: there's nothing left."

"That's because I ate the rest of it," said Marisa. Reimu backed away an inch, knowing she took a bite out of everything and that Marisa must have indirectly kissed her by finishing off her meal. Marisa continued, "Such a shame you don't have any tea left."

Reimu asked, "How did you know about the-" Then it hit her: the only way Marisa would have known was if she stole the tea herself. Reimu stepped forward into Marisa's face and yelled, "Why you little- You stole the rest of my tea!"

"Me? I didn't steal anything, and this time, I'm bein' honest!" Marisa emptied out every pocket she had, only to reveal other gadgets and gizmos she stole elsewhere and no tea.

"Then perhaps some youkai took it all," Reimu said, looking out the shrine into the dense forest, "Or maybe it was those three fairies."

"But yesterday," Marisa said, "you told me we only had enough tea for one more cup, and you used the last of it yourself."

Reimu's tense posture dropped into a closed humiliation. "Oh," she said, "So I did... Huh..."

Marisa said, "Maybe that's why you look like you're in no condition to cover the shrine today."

"That's not true," she said, leaning against the entrance, "I can defend this shrine with my eyes closed."

"Then how come you passed out in the middle of patrolling the shrine grounds?... Reimu?... Reimu?" Reimu's blank eyes stared into nothing, then her head and shoulders dropped until she was no longer leaning against the entrance, but sliding down the wall until she hit the ground, keeling over.

After Marisa slapped her around a bit, Reimu jumped back up and said, "Where was I? Oh right: I can defend this shrine with my eyes closed!"

Marisa couldn't help but notice Reimu stumbling as she stood up. She said, "You're lucky Mima never knew your weakness was a lack of tea, or she would've had those Yin Yang Orbs ages ago."

"That's also a lie," said Reimu, "I was more of a cake person than a tea person back in those days, and I still beat you two."

"Probably also explains why you weighed a lot more, too."

Reimu yelled, "Hey!"

Marisa said, "I was thinking of dropping by the Scarlet Devil Mansion today, but I guess I can run off to the human village and swipe some tea for you."

"No thanks," said Reimu with her hands in hips and her head held high, "As the Hakurei Shrine Maiden, it wouldn't be right to depend on outside help. If I can hunt all those youkai alone, getting tea alone will be no problem at all."

"You have a point, except for the fact you just passed out two seconds again, and the fact I've helped you on more than half of your youkai hunts, and you took all the credit."

Reimu looked down at her and groaned, "Shut up, Marisa. The Hakurei Shrine Maiden needs no help!"

"Fine then," Marisa said, walking outside. As she picked up her broom and put on her hat, she said, "In the meantime, I'm gonna go 'check out' a couple of books from the Scarlet Devil Mansion's library. I'll be back in a few hours to check on you."

Reimu watched Marisa jump on her broom and fly off, thinking, "The nerve of her. Everyone knows I'm the one responsible for resolving those incidents. I'll show her! Come sundown, I'll be sitting on a throne of tea!"

Reimu picked up her wand and amulets from under the tree, grabbed four Hakurei Yin Yang Orbs and set them into orbit around her, and ran down the path to the shrine, ready to take off. She leaped into the air, and within moments, she found herself falling flat on her face. She felt two orbs slipping out of their orbits before hearing them tumble down the stairs.


Flying required as much energy as running, and maintaining more than two Hakurei Yin Yang Orbs, both sapping Reimu's energy to work, was like carrying two one-kilogram weights for each orb.

Reimu stumbled to her feet, dusted herself off, and groaned, "Fine. I'll walk."

She climbed down the long stairway from the shrine courtyard, walked the dirt path through the dense forest, and snuck her way past roving fairies looking for a human to prank. Had she been more awake, she would have realized this is why nobody ever visited her shrine; because not only was it far from the human village, but you already have to be a skilled hunter to get there. She also would have realized it was terrible idea to take a quick break in the forest while drowsy.

When Reimu opened her eyes, she found herself tucked into bed on the Hakurei Shrine floor.

"It must've been a dream," she thought, "There's no way a lack of tea would have that much of an effect on me."

"Good mornin'," yelled a surly voice across the room. She opened her eyes to find the little pandemonium Suika on the other side of the room, taking sips from her sakè gourd.

Reimu carefully got up, nursing her sore back, and asked, "What are you doing here?"

"I found ya' passed out in the forest," she said, "so I carried ya' back here."

"So that wasn't a dream?"

"'fraid not."

"What were you doing in the Forest of Magic?"

She sighed and said, "It's a looong story. Let's just say a certain doctor and certain princess came stumblin' over to Youkai Mountain drunk as all Hell, ramblin' about they got a wine worm from a certain three fairies who stole it from a certain shrine maiden after it was given to her by a certain oni."

"Are you saying the Mischevious Three Fairies replaced your jar of sakè with an identical one, stole the original for themselves, and it somehow ended up in the hands of the Lunarians? Because that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard... Either way, I hope you find them. It's about time somebody pranked them."

When Suika began speaking, nothing came out of her mouth: her mouth moved, but she did not make a sound. Reimu wondered if she was having an insomnia-related hallucination until she looked outside to see a fairy wing poking out of a bush. Suika asked something inaudible as Reimu picked up a homing amulet and threw it outside. The three fairies jumped out of the bush and flew into the forest as the amulet chased them. With their powers no longer in effect, Reimu smiled as she heard one of them scream, "Retreat!"

Reimu asked, "See what I mean?"

Suika nodded. She said, "Now, what were you doin' passed out in the middle of the forest?"

"I was on my way to the human village to get tea until you carried me back here."

Suika gave a nervous laugh and said, "Oops. Oh well... You know, I could carry you to the human village."

"I don't think that's a good idea," Reimu said, lying back in her bed, "If the human village sees you, they'll probably get that history eater to hide it again."

"I'm sure someone'll just come by with tea," she said, "It's not like you never get any donations. It's like you said that one time: 'The value of faith is economic strength!'" Which is probably true, given that nobody's really seen the god of the Hakurei Shrine before. Reimu knew this, meaning nobody was going to come by with tea, so she'd have to simply push her way to the human village.

Reimu got up and made herself a cup of water, which did very little to help: it was tasteless, empty, and did nothing to wake her up.

She tried a little exercise: putting as many Yin Yang Orbs around her as possible, but she could barely keep more than three in place; each orb after the second reeked havoc on her stiff muscles. It not only made her more tired, but it made her more thirsty.

She asked Suika for a brief duel to get her blood pumping, but before Reimu could react, she found herself wrapped in Suika's burning chains and a fist flying into her soft face. While this plan did not work at all, Suika's energetic demeanor gave Reimu a new idea: guzzling Suika's sakè would not wake her up, but she did become too drunk to care about being tired.

A few blood alcohol points later, Reimu slurred, "I think that did that trick! I'mma head off the human village now. Good luck huntin' those fairies."

"Okay," Suika said, "But if you need me, just yell. Now, time for some fairy huntin'!"

After Suika disappeared into the forest, Reimu galloped down the stone path of the shrine, ready to take off. Once again, Reimu leaped into the air, and once again, she fell flat on her face. Not only was she still groggy, but she was drunk, so of course it felt like a good idea to fall asleep in the middle of the shrine courtyard.

When Reimu woke up, she felt a pounding headache and every bone ached from lying on the floor for so long.

"It feels like those first days all over again," she thought, "I can't fly, I can barely use the Yin Yang Orbs, and I can barely travel anywhere without falling asleep. All I need is Mima showing up, trying to capture me and the orbs while I'm like this, and this will officially be the worst day ever."

"Are you alright?," asked a poised young lady. The only one with that level of vocal polish in Gensokyo had to be Sakuya.

She opened her eyes to find the white-haired maid holding a parasol over her vampire mistress, both hovering over her.

Remilia said, "I thought you didn't pass out until noon."

Reimu used every last bit of energy to get up. She asked, "What are you two doing here?"

Remilia asked, "Didn't you get my invites? We must've sent four or five of them."

Looking in the warehouse that morning, she did come across the invites, but she paid absolutely no mind to the event it was for, tossing it in there the moment she got it from the Mansion's fairy maids. Reimu said, "I never got an invite."

"Those stupid fairies," grumbled Remilia, "I knew we should have sent the invitations to our Third Annual Tea Fest personally."

The words "Tea Fest" entered Reimu's head and struck every right chord, and before she knew it, she blurted out, "Tea Fest?!"

Sakuya said, "We are holding a very large tea party at the mansion, and we have invited residents from all over Gensokyo. We are going to be tasting a wide variety of teas from both Gensokyo and the outside world, and we were wondering if you would like to prepare some of your matcha to end the expo."

Remilia added, "If it's good enough for me to risk goin' outside for, it's good enough for the party! We came down here last minute to see if you were interested."

"Yes," yelled Reimu with a wide smile, "Take me with you!"

"Great," said Remilia, "Just grab your tea and we'll be on our way."

Any sense of hope dropped from Reimu's face and posture, asking, "W-What?"

Noticing the sudden change in Reimu's tone, Remilia said, "Oh, don't tell me you've run out of tea."

Reimu's sulking made it pretty clear that she did.

"No need to worry," said Sakuya, "We have more than enough fresh tea leaves at the mansion if you wish to prepare it from scratch. In addition, you can drink any other tea you want, free of charge."

Remilia sighed, "It's not the same, but I guess it's the preparation that counts, right Sakuya?"

"Alright," said Reimu, still a bit tipsy, "But could you carry me there?"

"Carry you?," asked Remilia, stunned that Reimu would dare ask such a thing, "What do you think I am? Your personal pony ride? I should be the one riding you!"

"Miss Sakuya," Reimu asked, "could you-"

"I only give pony rides to my lady." she said.

"But I wasn't going to ask you to give me a pony ri-"

"And even if she said I could, I doubt you're light enough to carry."

Reimu yelled, "Hey!"

Remilia shook her head in disappointment, saying, "Then I guess if you're not going to cooperate, we'll take our leave. Come, Sakuya."

As Sakuya got on her hands and knees and Remilia climbed onto her back while taking the parasol, Reimu yelled, "Wait! Could you at least bring some tea back?"

"No way," Sakuya said, still on all-fours, "We have to reserve it all for the guests. We already ran out of tea the first two years in a matter of hours."

"Please," cried Reimu, "I'm in dire need of some tea!"

Holding onto Sakuya's braids like reins, Remilia turned to Reimu and said, "If you want tea so badly, why don't you just ask that witch to steal some for you? Otherwise, you're going to have to leave this shrine." She whipped Sakuya's braids and yelled, "YAH!" Sakuya took off and flew towards the mansion, neighing.

As they disappeared into the early afternoon sky, Reimu realized she had just crossed the threshold of begging for help; from a youkai, no less. She could have simply waited for Marisa, but after announcing that the Hakurei Shrine Maiden needed no help, she didn't want to turn out to be as big of a hypocrite as she was.

"Just as long as Marisa doesn't catch me being helpless," thought Reimu, "I guess it wouldn't hurt to ask someone for help."

Reimu yelled for Suika, and she dashed her way back to the shrine. Reimu asked her for a ride to the Scarlet Devil Mansion, but there was one problem once they got over Misty Lake: it was perpetually foggy and Suika was perpetually drunk. This vignette ended with Suika carrying Reimu back to the shrine in damp clothes.

After changing, their next trek had Suika carrying Reimu to the Kourindou Antique Shop, only to find a sign on the door reading, "Closed. Currently selling all of my teas at the Scarlet Devil Mansion's Third Annual Tea Fest. Come back tommorow. ~Rinnosuke Morichika." Instead of going back, Reimu asked Suika to resort to the Marisa method of finding pick-me-ups: breaking down the door and raiding the store. The most they could find were a case of thin silver-and-blue cans with big, red, blocky roman letters reading "Red Bull Energy Drink" before Suika dropped Reimu off at the shrine and ran back into the forest.

One sip of the fizzy, excessively sweet, rotten-banana-and-medicine-tasting concoction, Reimu thought, "If oblivion had a taste, this is it... Better finish it to see if it works."

When she finished the "energy drink", she was simultaneously wide awake and groggy: unable to move much and kicked around by pulsing headache, but unable to really fall back asleep. Indeed, she just drank the equivalent of oblivion, sending her into a state that is neither awake or asleep. Despite having a nutrition table like the rest of the foods in his shop, she wondered if she accidentally drank fuel for a magic reactor. After all, why else would it say "Energy Drink" on the front?

Reimu spent the next half hour resting her head on her table, trying to nurse her headache, until she heard that all-to-familiar ripping sound: a gap was opening somewhere in the Hakurei shrine.

"Yukari," she shouted, "I'm in no mood to fight you right now."

"I'm not here to fight," echoed Yukari through the shrine.

Reimu looked to the entrance to find Yukari in her casual purple dress, holding a saucer with a very large cup with steam coming off the top; from a distance, it smelt like potent, strong tea.

Reimu struggled to her feet, asking, "I-Is that-?"

"I heard about your predicament from the others at the Scarlet Devil Mansion's tea party," she said, handing Reimu the saucer and the cup, "So I brought you the blend I made for the party. We were even going to have a slideshow showcasing its effects."

Reimu thought, "How kind of her." Still tired, a bit drunk, and sick from the "Red Bull", Reimu took a huge gulp of the warm and fruity tea without asking what it was; its flavor was an odd mix of fruits, vegetables, a hint of nuts and beans, pork, and who-knows-what-else.

"Strange flavor," Reimu said, examining the empty cup, "but it's good. What is this?"

With a menacing grin, Yukari asked, "Have you ever heard of 'Sleepytime Tea'?"

Reimu nearly felt her pupils shrink as the cup dropped from her hands, shattering on the table. She screamed, "You gave me 'Sleepytime Tea' when I'm in dire need of a morning pick-me-up?" It was a little past noon by this point.

"Of course not," Yukari said, "I know better than to give you something like 'Sleepytime Tea'; it's far too weak. So, I gave you something I call 'Coma Time Tea'." Reimu would have gasped, flinched, or yelled, "Damnit, Yukari," if every muscle in her body hadn't gone numb that instant. The last thing she heard before blacking out was the gap youkai telling her, "Good night, Reimu."

When Reimu came to, her body was hunched over the donation box; the metal grates felt cold against her bare, naked skin. She heard the sounds of squeaking gears and Yukari whispering to someone, "She's waking up. Run for it!" Reimu opened her eyes to find Yukari slipping into a gap and Aya scurrying to take down flashbulbs and lighting mattes.

Reimu sprang up and rushed inside to grab her amulets and her wand, regardless of clothing. From the lack of tea, the booze, the "energy drink", and now the coma tea, every step felt like wading through drying cement. She was nowhere fast enough to get her weapons in time, and when she ran out front, Aya was but a dot in the sky.

Reimu stood there like an idiot, blank-faced, naked, and still sleepy.

Reimu barely redressed herself: she put on her bloomers, her skirt, and her sleeveless shirt top and didn't bother with the chest wrap or the sleeves. All she could do was lie on the stoop of the shrine and wait for Marisa.

In addition to eventually drinking tea, she'd have to eat her words, "The Hakurei Shrine Maiden needs no help."

It was nearly evening when Marisa came flying back to the shrine. In place of her normal witch hat, she was wearing a foam saucer with a foam tea-cup on it, and on her hand was a foam finger with the pinky extended; the letters on the hand read "SDM's 3rd Annual Tea Fest". Around her neck was a necklace of plastic tea leaves. "You are not going to believe this," she said with a big grin, "The Scarlet Devil Mansion was having a tea party in the library, and it was completely open to the public!"

Reimu crawled her way to her across the warm stones of the shrine walkway as Marisa continued, "They had every kind of tea in existance: black tea, white tea, green tea, blueberry tea, lemon tea, ginger tea, ginseng tea, orange tea- They even had combinations, like blueberry green tea. I would have brought some back, but they completely ran out. Oh, and how come you never told me about that slideshow that you posed in? The 'This is what happens when you drink Yukari's Coma Tea' slideshow? I'll tell you, it was hilarious! And quite sexy if I do say so myself."

Reimu gripped Marisa's ankles as tight as she could with the little energy she had left, looked up at her with bloodshot eyes, and strained to say, "Go to the human village and get me some tea."

Marisa stared down at Reimu, who was looking up at her as if she was about to cry, and all she could do was laugh, laugh, and laugh until she was running out of air, cradling her busted gut. Barely stifling her laughter, she said, "I'm sorry, I thought 'the Hakurei Shrine Maiden needs no help' and all that-"

Reimu gripped tighter, digging her fingernails into Marisa's legs. Like a dying woman, she strained out, "Just... get... it..."

Marisa's smile ceased instantly, dropping her lips and eyebrows into a squished confusion. Of all the people she knew, Reimu was pleading for help: pleading for tea. Even with all of the youkai they have battled, this sight scared Marisa more than anything: the nearly-undefeatable Reimu Hakurei was brought down not by some demon or some monster from another realm, but a simple lack of brewed plant leaves.

When Marisa backed away, Reimu had no more energy to keep herself up, lying limp in the shrine courtyard.

"O-Okay," Marisa said, inching away from her as if Reimu was about to explode, "I-I'll be right back. I'll try and get the usual. In fact, I'll get a few extras just in case the usual doesn't work... Yipe!" She jumped on her broom and took off at a speed that made her teacup hat fall off.

Although a blast of barrage fire can be painful, it was the long, permeating sting of defeat that hurt the most. Today, Reimu remembered how much it hurt.

"It's official," she thought, lying on her side in the fetal position in the shrine courtyard, waiting for her tea, "I've humiliated myself in front of Marisa. This day can't possibly get any worse."

"Oh, how the mighty have fallen," said a familiar old voice: a green-haired spirit in blue robes who Reimu has not seen for a very, very long time; a month, to be exact. Reimu's pounding heart was the only thing that moved.

"Of all the random encounters," thought Reimu, "Why her?!"

"I have waited a long time for this," said Mima, looming over the blank-eyed Reimu, "and now I finally know your weakness. Just as long as you don't have any tea, you're completely helpless, and the Hakurei Yin Yang orbs will be mine!"

Using her staff, she rolled two orbs from the shrine over to Reimu until they were close enough to sync up with her, and then she picked up Reimu and began flying over the shrine towards the caves to Makai. When things just couldn't get any more degrading, Reimu used every last bit of strength to scream, "HEEEEEEELP!"

"Scream all you like," she said, "Nobody's gonna come to such a dilapidated old shrine to help you. You're coming with m-" POW! A fist slammed into Mima's face, sending her flying into the treeline and Reimu plummeting onto the shrine roof. When Mima reoriented herself, she saw a small girl with horns on her head and chains on her arms standing over her in a fighting stance (or fighting stumble to be more accurate).

"Nice to meetcha," said the horned girl, "I'm Suika, and I take out the trash around here, and you look like you're cluttering the shrine!"

"An oni?," Mima asked, staring at the rare creature before her, "I really ought to visit this place more often." Mima withdrew her staff and said, "No matter: I'll make short work of you and take the shrine maiden with me."

Unfortunately, Reimu was on an angle of the where she could only hear the fight, and she had no strength to climb up and watch. She heard Suika yell, "Get over here!," followed by the jangling of Suika's chains reeling in Mima and her fists flying in Mima's helpless body. She heard an explosion, bullets whizzing by, and Suika screaming, "Ow!" With another spell card, Reimu heard thunderous stomping and Mima yelling, "How did you become so big?! AH!" BAM! A powerful punch sent Mima flying so fast over the shrine roof that Reimu felt her whizzing by into the shrine courtyard. She tried opening her eyes to watch, but all she could see was Suika's bloomers as she jumped over the shrine, still in her giant form. Hearing the bullets fly and the punches being thrown, Reimu thought, "The strongest youkai in Gensokyo is fighting the most powerful spirit, and I'm missing it!"

On the ground, Mima's shots endlessly pelted Suika, feeling like hundreds of tiny static shocks, forcing her to reduce herself back to normal size so she could dodge each shot with ease.

"Not bad," said Mima, "but what happens when you run out of those cards you've been using?"

"I don't think that's any of ya' business," Suika said, pulling out one last card, "cause you'll be done-for by then. Now, how's about a little PANDEMONIUM?!"

The card flashed and then crumbled into a black hole, spitting bullets in every possible direction while sucking in everything from stray leaves to Mima's shots. Suika was able to hold back (it was her card, after all), and Mima struggled to keep her distance, but she managed. Reimu, however, found herself getting dragged closer and closer to the edge of the roof and towards both the giant black hole and the endless, random barrage of bullets.

Just as Reimu was slipping off the roof, she felt something tug at her leg and drag her away into the sky. Dangling upside-down with her skirt over her head, she couldn't look up to see who was dragging her off, whether it was a friend or foe. She could only think, "I'm doomed."

"What did I miss?," asked Marisa, flying her from the battle to the opposite side of the shrine.

Shocked awake by nearly falling off the roof, she said, "I thought I was a goner," just as Marisa flew her inside.

"Not yet," she said, handing Reimu a steaming cup of tea. She said, "I brewed this on the way over with my reactor. No need to thank me."

As Reimu began guzzling that sweet, warm nectar of the gods, Marisa opened her bag and pulled out a kettle, a bottle of steaming hot water, and a box of instant tea packets. She said, "Let's start with the fastest, then we'll work our way up to the best."

Meanwhile, on the shrine grounds, Suika's spell card began running out of power, feeling less like a black hole hurling out a barrage of bullets and more like a stiff breeze spitting out a bullet when it felt like it, just before fizzling out.

"Aw crap," said Suika.

Mima smiled and said, "Didn't have any backup plans, did you?"

"Well, pummelin' seems to have worked in the past, so I think I'll try that now. Chaaaarge!" Suika made a mad dash straight towards Mima, who charged up her staff in the meantime. If only Suika had known Mima survived as long as she did without spell cards, she might've rethought charging her in a straight line.

With one wave of her staff, Mima sent a barrage of bullets hurtling into Suika just as she was ready to headbutt her; the point-blank blast of magic sent Suika hurtling down the courtyard and into the shrine tori, where she then lied motionless.

"Now," shouted Mima, turning to the shrine, "It's just you and me."

She winced at the sight of Reimu on her feet, wand-in-hand, with Marisa was by her side adding, "And me."

"Marisa," yelled Mima, "you traitorous little-"

Marisa held up her reactor at Mima and screamed, "MASTER SPAAAAARK!" Mima flinched away, but Marisa's reactor did nothing but puff out a cloud of smoke. "Whoops," said Marisa, "I forgot I used up all my sparks to boil the tea on the way over here." Reimu stared at Marisa, and Marisa asked, "What? It did its job, right?"

Mima chuckled for a bit at the exchange, but then Marisa said, "Oh well. Reimu, do what you do best."

Reimu nodded and pulled out one of her spell cards, saying, "I will."

Mima's chuckling ceased immediately.

Before Mima could float away, Reimu dashed down the shrine walkway, leaped into the air, and she stayed airborn as she chased her over the forest. In a last-ditch effort, Mima hurled shot after shot at her, only for Reimu to dodge and weave gracefully around each volley. Then, Reimu held her spell card high and screamed, "DUPLEX BARRIER!" The card dissolved and created two inescapable cubes of glowing blue energy around them: one surrounding Reimu, and a larger one trapping in Mima. Mima watched in terror as Reimu chucked amulet after amulet into her side of the blue cube of energy, moments before they all came spitting out on Mima's side in an endless, growing loop until she could no longer find a place to dodge.

The amulets cut their way through Mima, splintering her into thousands of pieces, which then fell into the woods.

Reimu Hakurei had returned.

After a brief sealing ritual, Reimu stuffed Mima's temporary fragments into a sakè jar. After confirming with Marisa that nobody was listening, Reimu told Suika, "If you ever run into those three fairies, give them this." She gave Suika the jar, and Suika couldn't help but giggle at the idea of what would happen if those fairies released such an obtrusive spirit.

When Suika set out for the forest, Reimu told Marisa, "As for us, I think we need to make up for lost time."

Marisa asked, "Lost time?"

Reimu said, "It's a good thing we have two tea kettles between the both of us."

Marisa grinned at the idea.

Even though that day had been a waste, there was still tomorrow, and with everything Marisa had bought (or at least stole from who-knows-where), they knew tomorrow wasn't going to be a repeat.

Yet, as the evening drew to a close, Marisa couldn't help but feel there was something wrong with Reimu: at her table, surrounded by every tea known to humanity, drinking cup after cup, Reimu didn't really smile or look up at her.

"Today's been interesting," said Marisa, pouring a mix of green and ginger.

Reimu sighed and said, "Yeah."

Marisa asked, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," said Reimu, staring down at all of the tea around her.

"Is it because Yukari put you in a coma and had Aya take lewd pictures of you? Or because Mima knows you're not a morning person without your tea? Or because you missed the biggest tea party of the year?"

Knowing nothing could top what just happened, Reimu looked up at Marisa and asked, "You don't think I'm helpless, do you?"

Marisa chuckled for a bit, and then she said, "Nah! A helpless person could never take down youkai like you do."

"But I couldn't have won that battle today without your help," she said, "Maybe you were right. Maybe I do depend on you for help."

"So what?," said Marisa, leaning back, smiling, "What's askin' for help than just another way of helpin' yourself?" Reimu said nothing. Marisa continued, "Not to sound sentimental or nothin', but I think we'd both be dead by now if we didn't have someone to count on." Reimu gave Marisa a perplexed look, wondering if she had heard her correctly. Marisa sighed and leaned in again, and she said, "So, no, I don't think ya' helpless. If ya' made it through that hell today, I ought to at least tell ya'."

Reimu must've known she was blushing. She averted her eyes down to her reflection in the teacup, smiled, and said, "Thanks."

Marisa said, "I just think you're stubborn."

She looked up and shouted, "Hey!"

"I'm just bein' honest," she said. Reimu sighed and continued drinking her delicious variety of teas; a rainbow arrangement of sweet, sour, spicy, and tangy flavors next to a mountain of sugar and a river of honey, putting her in tea paradise. Marisa said, "If you would've just asked me to help from the start, you could've avoided all of this."

As soon as Reimu finished off her cup, she began pouring another, saying, "But that's not how things in Gensokyo work, now do they?"

***The End***