Right, so here's the second half. Pleeease give me some feedback, I'd love to know what you think! It's not my best, so I'd love any constructive criticism you might have!
All I Need (part 2)
Firuka had not yet overcome her anger with the seishi for treating Takiko so cruelly; she had been giving all of them the cold shoulder for days, and it was not until she began running low on her store of herbs that she deemed it fit to speak with one of them.
The youngest seishi of the group looked up at the stiff-jawed Firuka with wide eyes, tearing his eyes away from Namame’s stone statures. “Y-yes, Firuka-san?”
“You and Namame should come with me to help gather some herbs,” she said, and it was obvious she was trying (but failing) to forgive the boy for his agreeing to Rimudo’s plan to drive Takiko back to her own world. She knew that Hatsui had cried for nights afterwards, but he had still gone along with it despite his reluctance.
Hatsui nodded, not even daring to blink. “O-of c-c-course, Firuka-san.” He rose swiftly to his feet, Namame grasped in one hand. Firuka turned and stalked from the room, the boy scrambling to keep up behind her.
Once they were out in the woods, Firuka heaved a huge sigh and turned to face the child. “I’m sorry,” she said sincerely. “I should not take my anger out on you. But I relate to Takiko very well, and I had thought that she was going to be my first real friend in years.” Sadness lingered in her eyes. “So when I heard what you and the others had done… what Uruki had done…” She spat the name as though it was a curse.
Hatsui put a trembling hand on Firuka’s arm, trying to give her a reassuring smile. “It’s all right, Fi-Firuka-san,” he said, voice sincere.
“I know you meant no harm,” she said with another sigh and turned to begin her search for medicinal herbs.
But Hatsui’s eyes suddenly grew as large as dinner plates as he turned to look at the rock seishi seated on his shoulder. Namame could not speak with the child, but he nodded his head once just as a bright silver light surrounded the clearing. Firuka whirled, a gasp issuing from her lips. “What is--”
But she did not finish her sentence, covering her eyes as the light grew even brighter. Hatsui was on the ground, arms flung over his face, but Namame-- who was unaffected by the brightness-- had jumped from the boy’s shoulder and was tottering towards the source, his stubby arms extended.
Firuka looked up as the light suddenly dimmed, squinting as her pupils slowly returned to their normal diameter. Hatsui followed suit a second behind.
Firuka took a moment of shock, and then she smiled as though she’d been expecting it all along, humor dancing in her eyes. “It took you long enough.”
Three pairs of accusing eyes stared at her across the room as Takiko’s own eyes flashed in defiance. She sat proudly, her back straight despite the disappointment that was radiating from every corner of the room.
“You must understand my decision,” she said firmly. “So many people have died for my sake, and now it’s my turn.”
Hikitsu and Inami exchanged a glance, but Tomite scowled; his hands were balled into fists that shook from the force with which he was holding them. “Takiko-- do you seriously-- you’re going to die!” he howled.
Takiko smiled at him. “I’ve already explained this part, Tomite,” she said as Hikitsu reached out to place a restraining hand on his brother’s shoulder.
Tomite groaned, frustrated. “You would choose to go out in a blaze of glory,” he muttered. “You could die at home with your family--”
Takiko’s smile grew. “You are my family,” she said gently, and Tomite was stunned into silence. “Especially you, Tomite. You’ve been there for me from the beginning-- even though we got off on the wrong foot--”
Tomite turned bright red and muttered something under his breath that sounded like “perfectly logical to think that.”
Takiko laughed. “Thank you,” she said warmly, now addressing all her seishi. “I really do appreciate everything you’ve done for me.”
Inami raised one skeptical eyebrow. “Even our saying you weren’t of any use for us and that we‘d rather you were gone?” she queried dryly.
Takiko nodded solemnly. “Even that,” she said. “I know you did it to try to keep me safe, and it gave me a chance to smooth things over with my father.”
“Hm.” Inami surveyed Takiko, an unreadable expression in the older woman’s black eyes. “Well, then, why are you still here?”
Takiko’s jaw dropped at that, and Tomite turned to stare at Inami sharply. “Wh-what do you mean?” she stammered.
Inami turned her eyes to the ceiling as though she was looking for patience. “I mean,” she said, disgruntled, “why are you wasting your time with us? Isn’t there someone you’d rather be seeing right now?”
Takiko turned a delicate shade of pink and locked her hands together in her lap, staring at them. Tomite’s scowl merely grew.
Inami’s other eyebrow rose. “This was all his idea, after all,” she said mildly. “Shouldn’t you set things straight with him?”
“Not-- all of you can help explain,” Takiko mumbled. “He doesn’t want to be-- with me.”
“Good gods, girl,” Inami said loudly, and Takiko jumped, raising her eyes to meet the other woman’s gaze. “Are you stupid? The whole reason he wanted to send you home in the first place--”
“Is because we’re from different worlds,” Takiko finished in a barely audible voice. “I understand now that he didn’t mean it when he said that the miko wasn’t needed… but when I asked him about needing me as me and not as--”
Inami threw her hands up in surrender. “You are stupid,” she proclaimed, and Hatsui, Tomite, and Hikitsu began edging their way out the door. “Idiot, you wouldn’t have gone if he hadn’t--”
“He had no reason to deny it unless it was the truth!” Takiko argued, though her voice was much weaker than Inami’s. Inami groaned and placed her head in her hands.
“There is no hope for you,” Inami muttered. “You are absolutely hopeless. Go away and do whatever it is you miko do.”
Takiko stared at her for a long moment before she snapped out of her reverie and followed her male seishi out of the room. Tomite caught up with her then, placing a hand on her shoulder as he stared deeply into Takiko’s eyes.
“Takiko, I promise you.” Tomite said quietly, “everything will be all right. Just go speak to him.”
“But I--” Takiko began to protest. Tomite cut her off.
“Just trust me, all right?” he said, smiling crookedly.
Takiko took a deep breath and attempted to return the favor. “I do,” she told him in a soft voice.
In a desperate effort to hide his quickly-spreading blush, Tomite spun Takiko around and pushed her down the hall. “Then go, stupid,” he said, voice gruff. Hiding a grin, Takiko flew down the hall and around the corner.
She slowed when she rounded the corner, stopping to take the time to gather her nerves and halt her trembling hands. Takiko tilted her head up, taking a deep, shuddering breath as she blinked back the tears burning at the corners of her eyes. Composing herself, she bit her lip and looked straight in front of her; it would do no good to cry now. She forced herself to take one step, and then another, and before she knew it she was standing in front of the door to his room. She was no longer worried about Firuka; she had assured Takiko that she held no romantic interest for any of the seishi, and even if she did, she was furious at the lot of them. Now Takiko was worried about herself.
“Here goes nothing,” she said under her breath, and without even bothering to knock she pushed open the door.
He was sitting on his bed, his back against the wall and one leg extended in front of him with the other bent, one arm draped over the knee of the bent leg. He was staring away from her, into space, his beautiful hazel eyes unfocused and just a little sad, and when she opened the door he jumped, turning to see who had intruded.
The scowl on his face instantly changed as he flicked from emotion to emotion before settling on anger. “Why are you here?” he demanded, and she winced at the harshness of his voice.
Takiko steeled herself before speaking to make sure her voice didn’t break. “I owe the people of this country,” she said quietly, shutting the door behind her.
He scrambled to his feet, and she could see that he was trembling. “No,” he said, and his voice was laced with pain. “Don’t you know? You’re-- you’re going to--”
“Die?” she finished for him. He froze, staring at her. “Whether I stay or I go, I’m going to die,” Takiko said, and she wondered how she managed to stay so calm while discussing her own swiftly-approaching death. “If not from the beast-god, then from the disease that took my mother.”
He still did not move.
Takiko smiled. “Uruki,” she said quietly, “whether or not you feel the same way, you should know that I will always love you.” With that she turned around and grasped the doorknob.
There was a cool breath of wind and suddenly warm breath was on the back of her neck, a hand grasping hers. “Did you honestly,” he whispered, “believe me?”
She shuddered, her heart pounding in her chest. “I don’t… understand.”
“Oh, Takiko,” Rimudo whispered, and her turned her around to face him. She backed up against the door, her eyes wide. “I thought I’d have to convince you for hours before you believed me. You have no idea how hard it was for me to say those things to you… and you have even less of an idea how sorry I am.” His hazel eyes smoldered. “I’m a demon, Takiko, and I’ve never deserved your love. I’ve just hurt you time and again--”
“Stop,” she said, and he looked away from her, unable to meet her gaze. Takiko reached up to place a palm lightly on his face. “Uruki, I--”
“It’s Rimudo,” he muttered, looking at her now.
Takiko’s breath hitched in her throat. “Like-- like last time?” she said, referring to their confession at Tomite’s village. A smile flickered across his lips.
“Yes. Like last time.” Rimudo swept Takiko close to him and their lips crashed together in a desperate and urgent kiss.
Finally they pulled apart, gasping for air, but Rimudo still did not let her go. Her own arms were tight around his body. “I will stay with you until the end,” he promised. “Don’t let me push you away again, even if I think it’s for your own good.”
She laughed despite herself. “I’ll do my best,” she murmured. “For now, this is all I need.”
And Takiko knew that when she died, she would die happy, knowing she’d done what was right.