Maikiko pushed all thoughts of Ryugii to the back of her mind as she walked down the stairs and through the temple, the sound of the party growing steadily louder as she approached. She opened the door confidently and stepped into the main hall. Oh dear. It seemed she had greatly underestimated the effect that her, at a party, in a pretty dress would have on these people.
"Maikiko come and dance with me!"
"Wow you look pretty!"
"Maikiko! Have you tried this punch?"
It was as though the whole room had turned into a vortex of people, sucking her inside against her will! She danced and drank and listened and joked and was shown off and there was nothing she could do about it.
"Excuse me I have to use the bathroom. Alone."
She struggled her way out of the room and ran to the seperate bathroom outside the temple. She had never seen the main hall like that before! There were as many people in there tonight as there had been in town earlier, but they were more condensed. Instead of being decorated with the usual couple of prayer rugs thrown about amidst a few randomly placed scented candles it was just a small table for snacks and Yuki's famous punch, the rest of the room was literally, stuffed, with people. It was so full she couldn't even see if there was any decoration on the walls. She heard the sound of people talking, a whole mass of them, drawing closer to the bathroom. Maikiko, who had been perched on the sink, saw no option than to climb out of the small window.
After landing neatly on theground on the other side of the small room she headed back to the party. Everyone else was having fun! She should too! She straightened her dress and headed back to the main hall, bracing herself for impact.
As she entered through the back door she was once again hit by the crowd.
"Come and dance with me!"
"Are you ok?!"
"Have you tried the punch?!"
As she made her way through the crowd (unsure as to what she was meant to be doing) she felt a ball of sweaty cloth brush up against her leg.
"Ah Mai! Here you are! Wow that young man was right you really do look beautiful in that dress!" Yuki had to yell over the crowd to be heard.
"Thank you sister! Tell me what exactly do people do here?!" (Mai also had to yell to be heard.)
Maikiko didn't feel this answer was quite precise enough, but soon she discovered the meaning of it all. She turned around to discover a very long line of men, women and children. She was going to have to dance. Lots. She breathed in through her teeth and once again put on her 'people voice'.
"Well who's first?!" (She instantly regretted the words)
It was times like this that reminded her why she hated the people voice. Maikiko felt herself being ripped back into the vortex of people with such force that it was evening before she was able to escape the (thoroughly depressing) dance.
She dragged her weary body away from the hall and up the stairs to her room, Maikiko was so exhausted she just toppled onto her mat. She laid there for what felt like hours. Today had been a complete rollar coaster yet, as she laid on her mat, all her anger, sadness and frustration seemed to ebb away. She was overcome by a chilling feeling of calm. What's the point? Those peaky tears kept trying to escape her but, as always, she blocked them out.
Maikiko walked out to her balcony. If the cool night air didn't make her feel better at least it was a long way down... She sighed deeply and leant on the rail.
"Bad night?" Ryugii jumped down from the roof of the temple and onto the floor of her balcony.
"What do you think?" She flinched at the harsh tone in her voice. How could her villagers believe she was ok? She was so twisted up inside! And she felt sorry for Ryugii. Why was it he was the only person she released her frustrations on?
"I think you were the only person not enjoying themself but I'm sure it's just because of the company. You must get bored of all these idiots." He too turned to lean on the balcony, watching the people leave the hall. His voice was sympathetic, almost as if he understood.
They stood there together in silence for a moment.
"So you didn't have fun then?"
"Yes it was the best night of my life and thats why I'm standing on a balcony with one of my favorite people, not even noticing the long freefall beneath me."
"Your sarcasm cuts deep."
"Thats what it's meant to do. At least you identified it."
Ryugii turned to face her. Both of them suddenly became very aware of the others prescence.
"Are you lonely?"
"Yes." She admitted for the first time.
He looked into her sad eyes. She was so pretty, it hurt to see her like that. Ryugii knew that this wasn't truly Maikiko, she wasn't naturally this sad. He knew that, in the right surroundings, she could be so brilliant...
"Maikiko?" Her name sounded nicer when Ryugii said it. It didn't sound like it was a command or as though she was about to be punished. Mai lifted her bored, tired eyes to look at him.
"Maikiko Tokuten, I don't think you belong here. I think you should come with me."