To put it simply, she was a god.
Ever since her creation, Azami had watched, patiently, unthinkingly, as time passed on. She had witnessed the birth and death of civilizations upon civilizations. Witnessed seasons upon seasons: dry, warm, and wet. Watched as she was revered as a God in some places, and a demon in others.
It was as interesting as it was boring, watching all these smaller, dimmer creatures compete for the spotlight they felt they deserved. It was odd, how beings such as humans felt the need to label themselves or establish systems where it gave their lives value. From Kings, castles, dinosaurs, to the first land-bound creatures, she had seen it all. Lived through a few cannon ball blasts, even.
And in the end, it was always the same. Regardless of how hard humans tried, regardless of whatever title they had crafted so hard for themselves, they were almost always forgotten within the next few generations.
It was entertaining, if not a little sad, watching the cycle repeat over and over again with little to no changes. Watching was what helped her figure out so much about the world in the first place. However, what she did learn was that humans were.. For lack of a better word, strange creatures. She knew that and was more often than not prepared for it.
And yet, she, an eternal being, a god in a world full of mortals, in quite literally the quietest spot on the planet, could hardly fathom what was going on in the mind of the young, white-haired boy that stood in front of her.
"Build you a house? I'll do it!" To his credit, the boy seemed a bit perturbed at the concept. Perturbed, as if he hasn't been the one to suggest that he "help" her build a house in the first place. Even if it was on the precept that he had 'wanted to get a closer look at her.' …Whatever that meant. Yet, he smiled anyway, his hands closed in a determined fist as he tried to mask his uncertainty for confidence.
"…Huh?" For a moment, Azami was sure she hadn't heard him right. No way was he intending to actually build a whole house right here, right now, for a complete and utter stranger. It was simply impossible for someone as puny as him. She supposed that's just how humans were: always saying one thing and then doing another.
"You heard me, right? I'll build you the house. For you, that'd be nothing!" He mock saluted, as if she was a general and he was a soldier. But his smile never faltered even as sweat trickled down his brow. It was strange.
"…And once you're done, go away immediately. If you can't, I won't waste my time with you..." Azami spoke those words with a sort of dismissive air, trying to convince him that she, herself, wasn't perturbed in the slightest. He didn't seem to need the convincing, however, because he nodded along rapidly, like a canine who had just been told how to get a treat.
This boy, with bandages adorning his arms and his hair a matted shade of white, was most certainly touched in the head
Humans were always strange creatures. Strange in the way they walked, breathed, and seemed to dedicate their entire beings for stupid reasons. It was a stupid way to live, if Azami had to comment on it. So much time wasted on the most trivial of things.
Yet, His eyes, face, and being screamed 'I'll be there for you. I want to be there for you.' And she just couldn't figure out why. It was infuriating, and there was little she could do about it besides huff.
It was foolish. Utterly foolish. Why would he dedicate himself to her so easily? Was this all just a trick?
"...All right. If you think you can do it, go ahead. I'm gonna have my eye on you until you do, got it?" Her cold words were meant to throw him off, to scare him away and make him feel like he was in danger. To make him run away knowing that he was under the gaze of something dangerous, and that this was not a safe game to play for someone as mortal as him.
"You… you'll watch me...?" To her dismay, The boy looked a bit too elated at her words, and Azami quickly frowned. This was getting a tad too weird for her, and, frankly, trying to understand this strange boy was making her head hurt.
It really did make no sense at all. He made no sense at all. Even if she tried to use 'Stealing' to get a peek inside his head, she was sure she would find some incomprehensible gibberish or potentially something.. weirder that she did not want to deal with at this waking moment.
However, regardless of this white-haired boy's strange attitude, one thing she realized from observing through all of time is you could learn plenty from watching.
...Plus, it would be rather amusing to see how far he could get before he inevitably turned tail and ran. If her words now couldn't get through to him, the hard labor needed to make the house surely would.
""Okay! Um, I'll get to work tomorrow! So, what's your name?" He spoke suddenly, snapping her out of her stupor. He rubbed the back of his head with his right hand again, something she had noticed he did when he was nervous. A strange gesture, that was. It was one that was too open, too easily revealing of what he was thinking.
"My name? I don't have one." She has never particularly cared for a name of her own. A God, a Medusa, a Legend, or a Monster, regardless of what people assigned to her, it never mattered in the end.
After all, names were a concept humans used to assign meaning to their silly little lives. Regardless of what they were named, they would be forgotten when they meet their mortal ends.
Besides, she wasn't human to begin with. She never would be.
"Oh... Okay. Well, I'll give you mine then, okay? I'm Tsukihiko. Good to meet you!" He smiled kindly, and stuck his hand out for her to shake it.
That was another odd custom she noticed humans tended to follow: unnecessary physical contact. Azami stared at his outstretched hand with a raised eyebrow, not intending to actually take his hand and not caring enough to feign ignorance on the custom either.
...She hadn't asked, though she was rather glad he told her. Calling him "The Boy" was getting a bit too redundant.
After a moment of Azami simply staring at his hand, Tsukihiko put it back down at his side. He twitched slightly, undoubtedly feeling awkward under her scorching gaze. Good, that's how Azami wanted it to be.
But, even with his shaky demeanor and his matted, dull soldier uniform, he didn't seem to be actively hiding anything from her or demanding anything from her. In that sense, he was already above quite a few humans from her past.
Perhaps it would be worth understanding whatever lay in his heart, at least for when they would be in close proximity.
"Better not run away from me... human," she stumbled slightly on the last word, unsure of whether or not she should be calling him by his name, or by what he was in the eyes of her world — this planet. Perhaps learning from him now will help her find out the answer.
Tsukihiko stood back up to attention, no longer looking awkward under her stare. Instead, his bold, cloudless eyes seemed to sparkle with an odd sort of charm, and he smiled: "Of course not!"
Azami's words were a challenge, Tsukihiko's words were the truth. He was an utter fool, down to his bones. Whether he gave his name or not, all humans remained on the same level in her eyes. Human. Nothing more, and nothing less. Just hopeless creatures who could barely comprehend what it was like to even live or die.
Azami fully intended for him to run despite how much he intrigued her. No human could complete this task by themself, nor would they want to for a reason as silly as being able to stay with her for this brief anoint of time.
This human — Tsukihiko — would leave her, die, or turn tail and flee. That's just how it always was.
And in the end, she would be alone, watching the world go on without him. But that was fine with her, because ever since the beginning of time, she had been alone. So it was okay, Azami didn't mind it one bit. The whole point of coming to this forest was to find the 'quietest place in the world,' after all.
..But being alone in a fully built house was nicer than being alone and facing the elements.
So for now, regardless of this human's silly ambition, and stupidly bright smile, she would watch him work, and the world would move on as it always had.
Snakes flashed across her vision in a cacophony of blacks, whites, and reds. Azami had once had an affinity for the animal, but now, as they surrounded her vision, blocking out all she had come to love, while their clamorous hisses grew in octave, Azami had little room left in her heart to care for them.
It was almost sick, that she, a god, upon moving to the world she had created for her family, was now stuck in her own eternal hell, watching, waiting, as they moved on.
It was quite an ironic statement, considering she had been watching the world go on even before it had a name. In a way, it was like it always was — like it always had been.
But now it was so unbelievably, unequivocally, painful.
Because now, the world that had been hers, was now solely theirs as she was forced to watch on. It was supposed to be theirs in all meanings of the world. For the three of them. No more, no less.
But there was only two, and she was left behind.
She knew she was to blame for this, for trusting that stupid snake, for letting humans ruin her little family, and for wishing for something so foolish. Because grief was now an overwhelming part of her — a part that wrecked and ruined and dug deep into her very being.
And she couldn't call out to them.
And she couldn't be there for them.
But I want to be there for you! had always been told in each of Tsukihiko's actions, quietly told in each of the tiles he added to the house, in the way he worked without faltering (even as he complained about the heat from the sun and how annoying cutting wood was), and in the brightness of his smile — the one that reminded her of how light danced through the leaves of the forest's foliage.
For her, being there had been in each passing moment she spent together with them, in counting all the clouds that had always floated by, in telling stories to Shion, in looking up at the stars with Tsukihiko, in watching the flowers bloom, and in finding out what it meant to be human.
Because, regardless of how much she had promised herself she wouldn't fall into such a mortal lifestyle, she had, and now her heart would always beat and bleed for her little family.
Tsukihiko had told her once that death wasn't all that scary, because even if it meant that he would one day be gone — even if it meant that the moon would still continue to shine without him — that death made him appreciate the things he had while he was still here.
…The fool, he had always had such a bright outlook on things.
What was she now... Dead? She doubted it. She was hardly capable of such a feat. That was one of the few things she cursed herself for, because Tsukihiko was right. Death made you appreciate the things you have while you still walked this Earth. But now she was here — stuck in this hell — living, dying, watching, and everything in between.
It made her wonder. In the end, was it truly worth it? To be a bit closer to them? To spend their lives together forever as if nothing else mattered? Was all of that — a tiny glimpse of soft, stunning heaven — worth a lifetime in the middle of an illicit hell?
To live? To die? To forget? It was hardly even a question. Of all the things she wished to forget, Tsukihiko was never one of them. He never would be.
Azami knew all too well what it was like to die. The only difference for her was that she could come back from it. Expecting the same from her family was like expecting a tiny, young flower bud to resist the wrath of flickering wildfires, expecting a being that flung itself off of a tall rooftop to defy gravity and escape its death on the cold, hard ground.
Her greatest fear had once been to watch her family age without her. That was still true, but at least the her from then would've been able to spend it at their sides instead of here — above it all — as a transient being who couldn't even communicate with them.
Azami, as someone who had travelled across oceans, knew that you either drowned at sea or were killed once you reached the shore. It was all just a game of seeing how long you could stay afloat.
And now, entangled in a mass of snakes as she looked down, down, down, Azami was drowning.
As she watched the world move on without her.