"Byakuroku-san," Ginshu says, keeping her voice soft so as not to alert the other priestesses. Byakuroku-- no, not Byakuroku-- flinches, snarling around the chain in his lip.
"That's not my name." He growls the words out like he's a beast instead of a beautiful bird, and Ginshu wants to reach out, to touch him, but not in this body. Not anymore.
She drops her hand to her side instead. "I know." She moves back, though it hurts to do so, and she can feel the new scales on her skin burn and tighten. "Won't you tell me your name?"
He looks so much older, like this; his hair's grown out, his hands shrinking into human proportion, and Ginshu finds her gaze caught on them, wishing that he'd stayed the same, that she could still see the downy feathers on his skin and the childlike vulnerability in his anger. She sees nothing but hurt as he looks away from her like he can't bear the sight. "Bonten."
Apology is not what Ginshu does. She leans against a tree, instead, feeling tired and dizzy and wishing desperately for that closeness again, to feel comfortable enough with what they are to reach out. "Bonten," she repeats, softly, tasting the word. It tastes more right than Byakuroku ever did, and he doesn't flinch at the name. But it's too elegant for the clumsiness of the boy she remembers, too powerful-- he's not weak anymore. She wonders if that's her fault, and if he weren't better off without her after all.
They stay there, silent, for a long moment until Ginshu turns to go back to the priestesses. She cannot apologize, cannot heal, and she only pauses when a low, rough, "Wait!" gives her reason.
She looks back over her shoulder, a small, bittersweet smile tugging at her lips. He's no closer to her, still not looking, but she thinks maybe she sees the child in him after all in the way his arms are locked around his ribs.
"It's too late," she says, and she doesn't know what she means, but it could be anything. It's too late for everything. Bonten does not disagree.