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Snippet #2652044

located in Edo Japan, a part of The Nascent Shinsengumi, one of the many universes on RPG.

Edo Japan

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Character Portrait: Hisashi Matsuo Character Portrait: Kou-san
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Quiet. Yes, that was Edo. For a village of its size, one would expect a certain level of sound, the normal bustle of activity as people went about their day, the slight buzz of conversation behind thin walls, not loud enough to be made out, but just audible enough for the noise to drift into the streets. The abnormal silence was almost palpable, no doubt brought upon by the villages ‘protectors’, the Yakuza. Of course, it was not completely silent; such a thing was beyond the scope of human ability as there was always the soft scuffling of feet as people moved about, shoulders hunched in the desperate hope to avoid attention, children being shushed and ushered inside to the relative safety of their small homes, and the soft murmuring wafting from the dark corners from the alleys and homes. The village reminded him of some he had been through on his journeys, those preyed upon by bandits or over-indulgent lords. If the Yakuza was not present, Matsuo would almost feel comfortable. Such a village would, normally, hold numerous business opportunities for one such as him, but he had no real desire to be tangled up in the Yakuza, the only thing worse than the spoiled brat was the hypocritical idealist.

Matsuo tilted back his worn conical hat, dark bangs slipping down to hang above his grey eye as it roamed the street and the few people walking along it. If things had turned out differently, he would have been more apprehensive upon entering the small community, but his quarry had perished on the way to Edo. Matsuo’s jaw clenched in annoyance at the memory, his teeth biting into the soft, worn wood tucked between them as the pipe produced a soft clack. A common horse thief, but a foolish one having stolen a favored stud, the boy had not made it far before his poor horsemanship had caused the beast’s hoofs to misjudge the depth of the snow, maiming the horse and flinging him from its back. Matsuo had tracked them to the spot a few days later, the horse was still clinging on to its pained existence while the boy had passed away the night before, huddled for warmth in a small outcropping. He wasn’t sure if infection from his broken arm or the cold had gotten him first, didn't truly matter. The job had been for the return of the horse thief and the stud, alive. It hadn’t taken an expert tracker to figure out where the boy was going, Edo, most likely to sell the horse, and perhaps his services using the horse as a sponsor, to the Yakuza. The job was a failure, he wouldn’t be paid for a dead horse thief, and the stable master would have put down the stud the second he saw him. Matsuo had shown mercy and ended the horse’s pain rather than force it to limp the three day journey just to be put down there. With no reason to return, Matsuo finished the journey the boy had started, to Edo.

Leaning his head up, Matsuo took in the blue sky. The air still cold and crisp enough to make him prefer short, shallower breathes, but with the changing of the seasons and the warming sun, it looked like the afternoon would border on pleasant, well, it would have if it affected the citizens of Edo as well. It was odd to think that, with the snow melting away, if the boy had stolen the horse just a few days later, he would likely have made it and lived, more to the point; Matsuo would still have a paying job even if achieving it would have become a tad bit more difficult. His sharp grey eyes fell to the right arm of his kimono, to the long tear that slid from the shoulder to the hem, his teeth gnawing on the shaft of the pipe hanging from his lips in annoyance. It had snagged and torn when he fished out the boy’s body, this job had cost him money. He would have to mend it with what fabrics he had on hand as he had no desire to pay the, likely, exuberant fees of Edo as traders sought extra coin to feed their families and satisfy the demands of their protectors.

Matsuo was hardly going to mend the cloth in the middle of the village, on the side of the street. He had no desire to remove his haori and suffer the crisp air worming its way in, not when warmer alternatives existed such as… a teahouse. His eye ran over it once, it was small, but that was to be expected, it was simply a village, after all, but it looked maintained enough. Striding towards the door, Matsuo halted at the sounds of combat. Grunts of pain and exertion, of a table slamming against a wood floor telling anyone nearby exactly what was going on within its walls. If he wasn’t near the door, he had no doubt some of the ‘neighbors’ would have flocked nearby to peak at what was going on, but one look at his large bulk and scarred face was enough to dissuade even the bravest of Edo citizens from venturing too close to the teahouse, and in turn, to him.

Pushing his conical hat off to dangle by its thin thread across his thick throat, Matsuo pushed the door curtain aside and stepped into the teahouse. Well, no, he had to bend down and then step in as his height and yari made walking through doors a challenge unless one angled their bodies. Righting himself up, he took in the scene of the teahouse, his grey eye darting around the room: four unconscious men, the knocked over table he had heard outside, liquid staining the floor and some of the robes of the sleeping men and the thin man holding the rest of the jar, that no doubt once held the fallen liquid, sake, if he were to hazard a wager, in his hands before his eye slide up to his face, Kou. Matsuo’s teeth bit down like a vice on the pipe in his mouth, producing a small crack, but if it was from his teeth or the wood, he did not know.

His large hand reflexively went to his sash to wrap around the hilt of his Yoroidōshi, “Another one of your pauper jobs for the misery?” Matsuo bit off from around the pipe.

This guy again, "Nah, I just didn't like their faces, I mean look at this one his nose is all fucked up." Kou bent down and picked up the unconscious man's head, his nose a bloody wreck, to show Matsuo what was clearly her fault anyway. "Why are you here anyway? Miss me?" Kou almost laughed at her own joke. Matsuo and Kou always ended up running across each other at the strangest of times, though the times could be counted on one hand. None the less each time was memorable and peculiar, as Matsuo was a peculiar person.

Matsuo didn’t miss that he, just so happened to pick the man whose nose had broken very recently if the blood running down his unconscious face was any indication, or that he had an issue with his ‘fucked up nose’ and said so to him, a man whose nose no longer quite sat right thanks to numerous breakings and resetting, the scar running across the bride certainly didn’t help. Normally, such talk wouldn’t phase him, but coming from the scrawny Kou, it became something else entirely. His eyes narrowed at the thinly veiled, perceived insult, but he let it go with a roll of the... eye.

Miss him? If possible, his teeth clenched harder on the pipe, “I find I often miss many things,” Matsuo said from around the pipe, “Disease, poverty, sleet and you are fairly low on that list. In that order, if I think about it.”

Oh ho ho ho ho ho, he was saucey as ever, but not nearly as cute as Kaede-chan to warrant getting away with it. Kou shut her trap though, she didn't want to start yet another fight within the poor teahouse, causing Kaede more trouble than she already had. And maybe just maybe Kou was inclined to not respond too much to Matsuo's mouthiness. Her mouth formed a blank line as she stopped herself from speaking. This guy.

Matsuo waited for the inevitable retort… but it did not come. His eye narrowed at Kou, what was he up to? He never thought the scrawny do-gooder was incredibly devious, but he always had a mouth that was three sizes too big for his body. He had to be up to something. There was no other explanation for his sudden fondness for silence.

She knew it annoyed him, and she knew he didn't know why. Though it wasn't because of any deviousness he percieved.

Kou set the head down and straighted up, moving to clear the table out of the way, she had to get these guys outside. "Well are you just gonna stand there staring at me? There are much more pleasant things to stare at Matsu-kun." Kou picked up Momoshi and slung him over her back, an odd sight for someone of her lack of stature.

Matsuo wasn’t sure if he should be happy the mystery was solved, as it seemed the silence was Kou thinking of a retort, and, possibly or, working out how to clean up the mess he had made with his self-righteousness or annoyed that Kou had, indeed, found his oversized mouth again.

“I considered it,” Matsuo said, pulling the pipe from between his teeth before he ended up chomping straight through it, “But I was trying to name all the things that were more pleasant then you to stare at, and I am afraid I got lost in the sheer, staggering, amount there was. I could have been standing here for days if you had not stopped me.”

Matsuo's massive ass was blocking the doorway, as usual, god who gave birth to this oversized man? "Move move." Kou waved her hand at him, as though she were a parent shooing a child out of the way.

Stepping to the side, Matsuo made a motion towards the door with his free hand. He wasn’t as surprised as others would be at the sight of the scrawny man lifting the unconscious body, he knew from experience that Kou was stronger than he looked, although, that wasn’t a hard achievement.

Kou plopped Momoshi down on the frosty ground without much ceremony or concern to his well being, hanyo were tougher than humans anyway, and Kou never claimed to be the gentle sort despite her friendliness.

"You never did answer me by the way, why in the world are you here of all places." She passed him again in the doorway, having to crane her neck to look him in the single eye. The comments to Kou's appearance were rather usual and didn't phase her at all, it was more or less Matsuo's way of saying 'hello' so to speak. And much more pressingly his presence in this town would be... troublesome. Kou's intentions were to cause ruckus that Matsuo had been in before. Long ago. It'd be better if he wasn't here.

“When the reasoning behind my presence ever becomes your business, I will be sure to let you know,” Matsuo replied, having to heavily incline his head forward to meet his eyes. It was odd that he was so curious. He assumed the initial question had been meant as an offhand comment, was there a reason he wasn’t supposed to be here? If there wasn’t, it seemed all the more pertinent he remained.

Moving to a table tucked in the corner, he untied the string around his throat, letting his conical hat fall to the floor, his bag following suit before finally laying his spear down, but not before losing the draw strings around the cloth around the blade should he need to use it for whatever reason, although its use in the small teahouse would be dubious at best. He lowered, or tried to, himself to the ground, having to angle his legs oddly to get them under the low table.

She picked up another man, considering her next words carefully, if she sounded like she was teasing or goading him he'd definitly stay, out of sheer competitive nature damn him. Was there any way to phrase this without telling him outright what she was doing while not intriguing him at the same time? Her brows furrowed in worry. Ah, her extended silence would be seen as odd right about now shit she better say something.

Kou stopped at the doorway and turned slightly, not able to see Matsuo except out of peripheral vision, "The jobs around here will cause you more trouble than it's worth." She rubbed her fingers together and extended her arm, made slightly awkward because of the weight she was carrying. He'd better get the damn point anyway, if anything would deter this man it was money, more specifically the lack of it to be made. She shifted the man on her back around and carried him outside, plopping him on top of Momoshi with about as much grace as she plopped the former down.

Matsuo shrugged off his haori, bringing the large cloth around to sit in his lap as he dug in his kit for his mending supplies. It wouldn’t take long as this was far from his first time. His attention on the dirty, patched cloth in his lap, he didn’t get to see Kou fidgeting in his thoughts. The talk of work did draw his attention back up to him and away from the pitiful cloth, “I have no doubt that you are correct,” Matsuo said evenly, “But we don’t always have the luxury of choice.”

He had never planned on taking a job in Edo. The Yakuza made such a thing… touchy and that was putting it mildly. They would likely have issues with someone like him moving in on their ‘turf’, and while he did not fear having to smash aside a few, he did fear for mended clothing. That didn’t answer what Kou was here then. Unless the scrawny boy intended to join the Yakuza? But that seemed unlikely. He didn’t have it in him to do what they did. He was too kind. Perhaps he was passing through as Matsuo was?

Ha! Kou thought it was funny how Matsuo pretended like he was some sort of poor vagabond struggling to scrape by, that rat bastard only looked the part because he was stingy. In truth if it came down to it and one compared Kou and Matsuo side by side in terms of their synonymous jobs, Matsuo was considerably more notorious and successful. He had to be swimming in it at this point in life. Enough that he could actualy buy land and settle down probably. Though that wouldn't suit him at all, he was as restless as Kou herself, and unfortunately she was fully aware of why. Kou finished in silence, the unconscious men piled up one on top of the other outside, a rude and sore awakening they'd have.

Kaede came out with another bottle of sake once the bodies were cleared, she'd been watching the two odd sellswords from behind a wall.

"Ahhhh Kaede-chan, sorry about the mess." Kou plopped down. At. Matsuo's. Table. Which was actually her table, that he had so happened to choose to sit at. "Oi why are you so big Matsu-kun move." Kou bumped knees with him, trying to get comfortable again. He was even sitting in the same place she had before, she had to be outcast to the other side of the damn table. Honestly he really did go out of his way to be troublesome this guy.

“It is called eating,” Matsuo said, giving Kou’s scrawny body a once over, “You should consider trying it.”

His lips pursued into a line when Kou's knobby knee prodded into his considerably larger one under the table. Why did he want to sit with him? There was barely room under the table for him, much less Kou as well, and he had no intention of buying Kou a drink much less share his table with him.

"Kou-san..." Kaede seemed at a loss for words, but also weirded out by the characters in front of her, she couldn't tell if they were friends or not.

"Bastard I'm not rich like you, I can barely afford sake." Kou quipped back, annoyed.

The corner of Matsou’s lip lifted slightly, the barest hint of a smile, “It is called working,” he said copying the tone he just used moments ago, “You should consider trying it.”

"Why did you have to sit at my table geez, first you stalk me here and now you want to sit with me Matsu-KUN." Kou's use of Matsuo's first name with the additive of the suffix -kun never seemed to have the desired effect on Matsuo but Kou enjoyed the joke and kept it going. It also gave people the wrong impression, which served only to better tease him with.

“This is my table. I was here, you were not, so it is mine. I don’t feed paupers, so you may go and beg for work from whatever poor girl bats her eyes at you.” Matsuo said with a dismissive wave. While this could have been Kou’s table, he wasn’t sure, he refused to move now. It was a matter of…. Well, he wasn’t sure what, but it was simply a matter that he could not abide to lose in.

"I was here first wasn't I Kaede-chan?" Kou turned to the silently staring and dumbfounded Kaede, who regained herself quickly.

"Kou-san had use of the table before he caused an uncalled for ruckus in our honorable establishment indeed. However we have many tables..." Kaede said as diplomatically as she could.

Ouch, "Well there you have it Mastu-kun, but don't worry I don't mind sharing, or treating you to some of my sake because I'm just that nice of a person." Kou insisted, saving face from Kaede's acusations.

Matsuo turned his attention to the slip of a girl standing nearby with a jug, his dead white eye trained on her. He stared for a few moments, just long enough until he assumed she would become decidedly uncomfortable, “And he left the table taking his drink,” he motioned to the jug she held in her hands, “With him therefor, he vacated the table and no longer had claim to it. I claimed it, it is now mine.”

Kaede was indeed already quite uncomfortable, but she sure put on a brave face. "It's my father's actually ronin-san. Why don't you two work this out between yourselves... since you both seem to be grown-ups after all." Kaede turned and left towards the kitchen.

"No wait! The sakeeeee." Kou reached out after Kaede but didn't get up. Like hell she would be getting up. She was not moving, she already had to give up her seat she wasn't about to give up her table.

“They say sake stunts one’s growth,” Matsuo said easily, as if the girl hadn’t said his title, false as it was, with a hint of disdain, “I didn’t think it true until now. Perhaps you would grow larger with more food and less sake?”

"For the last time, everyone around you is not small, you're just huge." Kou whipped and around and patted the table in emphasis. "... I do eat geez what are you my mother? I just need to save enough for sake. Something you'd do well to enjoy rather than just walk around Nippon miserable all the time." Kou sneered smuggly, it was always her opinion that this man desperately needed sake, wasn't it tiring being so intense all the damn time?

As if to emphasize Matsuo's point however, Kou's stomach growled rather loudly, embarrassing Kou. "Whose side are you on." She pat her stomach.

Matsuo's hands had a certain rhythm of practiced ease as he mended the cloth on his lap, each pull and tug slowly closing the tear in the sleeve. The corner of his lips twitched at her reaction, lifting even higher when his stomach grumbled. He was well aware he was far larger than average, but it amused him to no end on how animated it made Kou, “Apparently, you don’t eat enough. Scrawny as you are. I fully expect that, one day, I shall walk along the road just in time to see a thin skeleton with a large mouth be swept up in the wind.”

Was he miserable? He wasn’t sure. He wasn’t happy, but was he miserable? His hands paused in their rhythmic motion. An odd thought and one he had no time for as he turned his attention back to mending the cloth, “I thank all the kami and spirits that listen that I am not your father.”

Kaede and three other women filed in, two of them moving to better clean up the area with spilled sake around it and the other with Kaede, carrying two generous bowls of steaming rice and cups. "Consider this on the house, however once your meal is complete it'd be best if you made yourself scarce. Thank you." Kaede bowed and left them abruptly.

Kou was a little stunned, she wasn't expecting free food, and she definitely wasn't expecting for it to be served in the... manner it was. What was this? Ah, it looked like Kaede wanted the both of them out of the teahouse. Well, Kou couldn't blame her in retrospect. Kou had made a mess and Matsuo would probably intimidate other customers, not that he didn't look almost cute mending his gi himself just now.

Matsuo eyed the rice before him critically, his mind turning it over in his head. It was far from the first time a shopkeeper had attempted to usher him out the door. He tended to drive out other customers even if he did not say anything and kept to himself and, more than a few times, he has overheard people talking about how his appearance had made them lose their appetite. Not that it was his problem, but this was far from unusual. That she was so forthcoming was surprising. He doubted she would have been such if Kou were not there, but in his experience, they tended to constantly pester him about ‘needing anything else?’ in an attempt to get him to leave of his own will.

But free food? He never trusted anything that was free. Nothing was free. Everyone wanted something, for this, it was her making an offer for him leaving. If he did not take it, he would be rejecting her request, she could not force him to leave even if she desired to. The mere idea that she could try and control his actions only made him bristle. He gently pushed the bowl aside towards Kou who had caused the disturbance.

"Well..." Kou didn't have time to thank Kaede nor did she really know what to say about it or Matsuo's decision to give her his portion. Was he going soft!? She decided not to question it but to ignore the exchange in favor of a more jovial comment. "You know if I didn't know any better Matsu-kun I'd think you were a housewife." Kou picked up her pair of chopsticks and pointed at his handywork with them, wasting no time in digging in. She really was hungry.

His hands continuing in their work, Matsuo paused, his face lifting as she called him a housewife. Him. He couldn’t imagine any man brave enough to wed a woman that looked like him. Was there any woman with such ill-fate as to be born with his physique? He rather hoped not, for her sake. Many women liked men his size, they loved the savagery and barbarity of it. But he could not imagine a man who would love that in a woman.

“It is a good thing you know better as, between the two of us, you would be the lazy housewife while, I, the dominate husband wishing he had chosen better,” he said mildly, his hand reaching out to bring back the rice he had pushed towards Kou earlier. He had not ‘given’ it to him to be kind, but he knew well enough that taking it back would be better than any insult or barbed word he could possibly say.

Kou watched in prickly despair as the bowl was retracted, cheeks full of rice she was chewing, eyes indignantly wide. Her chewing sped up so she could retort, how dare???

She swallowed painfully, not entirely done chewing, "First of all! You found me asleep two times tops. Second and most importantly, I refuse your offer of marriage Matsuo-kun I'm sorry. I just don't think things would work out between us." Kou grinned evilly while staring Matsuo down, well tried to, as she shoved more rice in her mouth. As if to say, ha ha, now you look like a homo. Not that Kou had anything against men who liked other men, but everyone else sure as hell seemed to, well, unless you were a samurai anyway. Then it took the special name shudo and you got poetry written about you. Those bastards could get away with anything meanwhile the rest of us...

Matsuo would have been lying to say he didn’t enjoy watching Kou swallow and chew as fast as he was able to in order to get the retort that was on the tip of his tongue out. Perhaps that was part of the reason Matsuo had no desire to eat in his presence?
Two times? Out of five? That wasn’t noteworthy? He mused as he enjoyed his rant on how he would be a very good housewife. His left eyebrow quirked up as he rejected his apparent offer to marriage, not that he was aware he had made one, with gusto.

“Just as well,” Matsuo said, setting the finished cloth aside, “A husband of my size? Far too big for a housewife of,” He glanced over him dismissively, “Your size.”

Lifting the bowl of rice and his chopsticks with his now free hand, he started to eat, but paused as the rice was inches from his lips. Did… Did he just say he was too ‘well-equipped’ to fit inside Kou?... He did. But it didn’t seem to be wrong, and that confused and irritated him more than anything. Deciding silence was best and using the rice to distract his incredibly befuddled thoughts, he ate.

"Matsuo if I am too small then all the women of Nippon are too small for you! WHY ARE YOU SO BIG." Kou burst out, covering her mouth and whipping around, well, the teahouse was empty so there was no one to disturb with her yelling. She whipped back around and glared at Matsuo, deciding her rice was much more interesting to look at. Wait. Didn't Matsuo just kind of imply? An understanding clicked in her head, oh, was Matsuo of that inclination? Oh my how embarassing she had better not tease him about that from now on. How hard his life must be. She silently assured him in her head that she'd keep his secret for him while she ate more calmly.

Matsuo stopped eating, not sure how to process what Kou just said, or rather, screamed at him. As if he was angry at him being too large to likely comfortably fit in him which was an entirely uncomfortable topic. Once again his mouth moved faster than his mind, “There are women out there willing to give it a go,” He said, his face not revealing his befuddled thoughts, “Perhaps you will understand when you start to eat more.”

His chopsticks went back down to the rice, this… conversation had taken a decidedly odd turn. A natural disaster that he could do nothing else but watch as it approached the coastline.

"Women huh..." Kami didn't Kou just decide she wouldn't tease him? She immediately regretted what she said as she chewed more deliberated, nearly done with her bowl. The atmosphere was growing more awkward by the second.

Matsuo saw a chance to make Kou understand that this would never… be whatever it was. “Yes, women,” he said sternly, “So do not bother waiting for that marriage proposal.”

"Whatever you say Matsuo-kun I agree." Kou looked to the side, so uncomfortable and refusing to make eye contact. The only way to save the situation was to just agree and nod.

That didn’t sound as comforting or reassuring as he had hoped, but the faster the matter was dropped, the quicker he could return to the, relatively, sane world.