The First Mate didn't even know he had been dozing until the Captain suddenly shouted. "This is so boring!" The younger man's head snapped up right, which was unfortunate as he had been leaning back against a metal bulkhead. After stumbling around for a few moments his vision finally stopped seeing double and he said "I-I'm sorry you feel that way sir."
"Well, what else am I supposed to feel?" The captain growled. "Four bloody months without an update?! No wonder Satire has this thing marked as complete! He doesn't want people to remember that he's a lazy bastard who never finishes what he starts!"
"That's not true." The First Mate protested. "He's still working on… well most of what he's made. Besides which it takes him about two weeks these days to finish a decent chapter. So combine that with all the stuff he's working on-"
"Bah!" The Captain said dismissively as he paced around the bridge. "That's my point! He should actually be focusing on one thing at a time rather than bouncin' around like this! You got any fancy explanations for that?!"
"Well…" The other man said sheepishly. "Writer's prerogative?"
"Screw that! I've got my own prerogative!" The grizzled man shouted as he stomped over to a very specific level that had a 'Warning: Never Use' sign hung over it. As the Captain tore it off, the First Mate realized it had been fooling hoping that a mere sign would stop him. The Captain continued "I'm jumping to the inevitable kinky five-way we were all promised!"
In panic, the First Mate said "Sir, there are many reason you shouldn't do that, and besides which I don't even know it that scene exists-"
"Too bad! Lemon ho!" The Captain yelled before pulling the lever-
But nothing happened. There was a moment of confusion before a small slot below the lever printed out something on a piece of paper. The Captain snatched it and began reading it. "Dear user of the Chronological Narrative Jaunt Level, the scene you have just tried to view has been deemed censored by the legal department for illicit content that would get Satire Swift kicked off the website?!" He let out a scream of frustration and started kicking the console. "Damn it all to hell, why must you take everything I love away from me?! Why?!"
The First Mate breathed out a sigh of relief at this. Still… So that scene actually does exist? He thought to himself. He spent a few moments thinking about how it must have played out before blood started dripping from his nose. "I'll, uh, I'll be in my bunk." He said before leaving the Captain to his own violent devices.
As Uzume walked through the doors of the inn from her little shopping trip, a sound reached her ears. It wasn't one of the normal sounds that usually filled the inn, like the excited back and forth of some of Minato's girls, or the lecturing tone of Miya's voice. No, this was more like... music? It was not complicated, just a few notes one after the other keeping with a basic rhythm. It sounded like it was coming from a Japanese lute (or maybe it was a Chinese lute, she couldn't really tell the difference). More than that, there was also a voice singing along with it.
It was Chiho's voice.
Usume blinked in surprise at this. She never knew that Chiho sang. Then again by the sound of her occasionally missing a note it was likely that she didn't. Even when Uzume had first met her, the girl's voice has a breathy quality to it, like she was always slightly winded. It looked like now that she was better she decided that she would try her hand at it.
Curious, Uzume crept forward down the hallway towards the source of the sound. She found herself peering into the living room from around the corner of the door, and saw Chiho sitting next to Shirou. Once again, the Sekirei felt some surprise at this, as Shirou was not particularly inclined to the arts. The man was holding the lute and plucking at the strings one after another, with about as much skill as singing of the woman next to him. The two were amateur, but earnest in their efforts. Uzume felt no need to reveal herself just yet and instead stood where she was to watch the performance.
"~A beauty from the North
Stands unique in the world.
One look of her sacks the city,
One more look of her sacks the country.
You'd rather not know that
After ransacking the city and ransacking the country,
You cannot find another beauty like her."
Uzume hummed softly to herself along with the tune. Huh, didn't know she knew Chinese either, she thought to herself. Chinese lute then.
When the song had finished, Chiho turned to Shirou and asked "So, what did you think?"
He gave her a smile in return. "I think you did great. Then again, like I said, I'm not much of a musician. Are you sure you don't want someone else to-"
"No, no I want you to do it!" She said quickly, a light blush crossing her face. "I mean, I don't think anyone else in the inn is musically inclined either. And…" she trailed off, her blush increasing.
"And what?" Shirou asked as he leaned towards her, still kind of oblivious.
"…I want to get to know the man who made Uzume happy." Chiho said, looking away from Shirou. "And I don't want you to feel so alone."
Shirou was taken aback by this statement a merely looked at her in surprised. There were a few moments of awkward silence before Chiho lost her nerve and said in a rush "A-anyway, let's do this again soon!" She then sprung to her feet at scurried out of the room. Shirou was left looking after her, a confused expression on his face.
"Ya know, in the movies this is the part where you go running after her." Uzume said glibly as she walked into the room.
Shirou gave a start at this. "U-Uzume! What are you taking about?"
She just sighed and shook her head. "Man, you really aren't too bright at this sorta thing, huh?" His confused silence only confirmed this, and so she shrugged. "I'll tell you when you're older." Uzume then presented the bag of things she just acquired. "Anyway, let's go to your room. I got something interesting for us to do."
In Shirou's room, Uzume narrowed her eyes in concentration as she made her brush strokes, trying to make the lines as accurate as possible. It was slow going as she had to keep checking the picture she had as reference material, but she was getting there. It also didn't help that her canvas kept moving around. "Stop squirming," she chastised. "I would have thought that a man like you would have the patience to sit still."
"Patience isn't the problem," Shirou said with a small chuckle. He was currently sitting on a stool in front of her, his bare back presented to her. She was lucky that the space of his upper back was devoid of scars, as that was the spot she was currently working on. Shirou twitched slightly and continued. "The brush keeps tickling me."
"I'm sure that you can manage." Uzume replied with a smirk of her own.
The man gave a small sigh and said "So, remind me why I agreed to this again?"
"It's simple," Uzume replied as she finished the bird portion of the Sekirei Symbol on his back. "You can't have people knowing you've got magic powers, so you keep on letting everyone think you're a Sekirei when you're in that get up of yours. This is just taking that one step further. If your clothes ever get shredded this should add an extra lay of authenticity."
"Alright, but what happens if someone like Minato or his girls see me with this when they think I'm supposed to be a normal human."
She shrugged. "In that case, just tell them I painted it on you for fun. And if after that they happen to see you doing your superhero thing, just say that you lied to them earlier in order to protect your identity. Deceit within deceit!" She cried with a fist pump.
The man turned his head to give her a wiry look. "Fair enough, but I have reservations about taking advice from House Harkonnen."
Uzume was mildly surprised at this before she responded. "Firstly, their plan was sound save for the fact that they didn't instantly off Paul as soon as they captured him. Secondly, it is so cool that you actually got that reference."
"Yeah, well, several years in England meant I had some time to get acquainted with western literature." A slight frown creased his face and he looked off to the side, his eyes focused on something distant.
Uzume felt a small bit of worry at this. No doubt he was thinking of the girls he left behind there. She had no desire to see him become morose for what he had lost, so she decide to distracted him with something more from the present. "So, are you and Chiho going to start a band?"
He gave a small start (once again ruining her steady hand) and looked back at her. "W-what? Why would you say that?"
She rolled her eyes. "Oh come on, what else you being doing? How'd she rope you into that anyway?"
Shirou looked mildly uncomfortable as he responded. "Well, Chiho had mentioned that she had always wanted to try singing, and I suggested that she should get someone to practice with. She then jumped to the conclusion that I was offering to do it. I tried to correct her but…" he trailed off.
"But what?" Uzume asked.
"She just gave me this look." He said vaguely.
"A… look." She said flatly.
"Yeah, it was just this…" he gestured uselessly. "I don't know, her eyes were really wide and staring into mine, and for some reason I found myself thinking of accompanying musical instruments".
Uzume paused for a few moments before a thought came to her. "Oh! Was it a look that conveyed limitless love, patience, and understanding, and was filled with unbridled hope?"
"… Now that you mention it, yeah."
"Yeah, that's her default expression." Uzume waved her hand. "It's terrible. I can never say no to her."
Both were silent for a moment before they both started to laugh. Between chuckles, Uzume flashed the man a smile. "I'm glad that you're spending time with her. She deserves all the friends she can get." And so do you, she thought to herself.
Shirou returned her smile. "She's a nice girl. And if I had to admit it, I had more fun today than I thought I would." He gave a small sigh and looked into his lap. "I just hope that I- we can keep her out of all of our other nonsense."
Uzume grunted in agreement as she followed his gaze. In his lap was a piece of cloth she had created for him to fiddle with while she worked on the fake crest. He had taken an interest in her abilities and how they worked, and to be honest she was curious herself. It wasn't the first piece she had given to him though, as they disappeared after being separated from her for a while. "Didja find out anything interesting?"
"I did." Shirou said as he picked up the piece. "I far as I can tell, your cloth is formed out of Ether. It's actually the same stuff that my swords are made off."
Uzume titled her head to the side. "Ether?"
"Its form of raw magic which all spells are based on. Think of it like a transmission medium." He gave her a meaningful glance. "You're actually doing the same thing I do, only with cloth instead of swords."
"Cool." She said appreciatively. "Does that make me magic too?"
"Technically, all you Sekirei are. You're just inherently specialized to do one thing. There's something special in your case though." He made some drawing motions with his hands, and little runes appeared on the cloth in a circle. They were the same ones that he had showed her on that roof top to prove magic, and a moment later the small twister formed. "Because of its structure, it can work a medium for formula or runecraft as well. It can sustain and maybe even empower them."
The two watched the twister dance, but unlike the first time it didn't disappear after a few moments. It lasted for a whole half minute before it, along with the cloth, dissipated into the air. Shirou turned to look back at her. "Of course, without you actively powering it the spell will eat up the Ether quickly."
"Whoa…" She said as she thought about this. The next words came out her without thinking. "Do you think… I could learn how to do that?"
Shirou put on an expression of surprise before he put on a thoughtful look. "Well… I don't know? I mean, I have no idea if you have anything like magic circuits. I guess I could show you some rune combinations and see what happens-"
Uzume stopped listening at that point. "I'm gonna be a wizard!" she shouted before wrapping Shirou in a hug. Well, she wrapped his head in a hug so as to not mess up her work, which of course ended up with her breasts nearly enveloping the whole thing. He was stuttering and probably blushing at this but she didn't care. This was going to be awesome!