They like to sit at my window in the mornings and evenings, teasing those moments of dusk and dawn. They line up so neatly, so perfectly, as if told to do so. The frogs, they sit at the glass and they wait, they stare at me through it until I open it for them.
And still they sit.
Sometimes they talk to me. Ask me how my day was. Yosuke. My name sounds different when they say it as opposed to my other friends. Yosuke. It sounds like a mantra, a hymn. A prayer that things will be better tomorrow, that the dust that clogs the air and the sludge that clouds the water will vanish. I know their prayer is not meant for my name, and I tell them. You don’t want me, the name of your god is Jiraiya. I am just Yosuke.
But they say my name like his anyway.
It would be wrong if I said that they weren’t entirely correct in worshiping me. Jiraiya is part of me, my other half. Yosuke is Jiraiya, and Jiraiya is Yosuke. But the frogs don’t know that. They don’t understand that Jiraiya is who I am, at least in part. They only know that I can speak to them, and that means that I am their god.
Maybe they sense Jiraiya is here, that the frog god is in the face that stares at them through the glass. It is the voice that talks back, the voice that promises to one day, rid their rivers of sludge and their air of dust. It is the small magic, the minimal amount I can use in this world, the tiny furls of winds that helps clear their lungs of poison. It is the purity in my own breaths, the clean kero kero I whisper back. It is not much, but the frogs thank their god anyway.
They thank me with song. They perch on my windowsill and sing to me in the morning when I wake for class. They sing a song of the sun and its warmth, the rays of light that bring me from my bed to the window, where I open it and sing along. I can’t sing as well as they do. My accent and words are harsher and rougher, my human tongue not used to the smooth kero kero of their language. They match me though, match that roughness of their god so they can sing with me. I let them in, and they clean the flies from my room and its window.
They thank me with song. They hop against the glass and sing to me in the night, when the moon is high over the city. They sing a song of the darkness and the fireflies that blink to life under the equally bright stars, prompting me to open the window and pull my guitar into my arms. I don’t sing with them at night, nor do I try. The night song is something I cannot ever hope to replicate and taint with the human tongue, so I play along with soft plucks to accompany their kero kero . I’ve been told that it helps the others sleep.
When we don’t sing, we talk. I ask them how the streams are, how the flies are running, what’s the water like underneath the lilies. Kero kero I say, mimicking their smooth language. They tell me, the streams are fine for now, the flies are bountiful, and the water is a little foggy under the lilies. Kero kero they say, responding back in the rough language of my own. I tell them how I’m doing, how my bruises and cuts are nothing to worry about, I’ll heal myself when I have the time to rest.
Their language is smooth, so smooth. The songs and words flow from my mouth like a river, the syllables rolling around my teeth and tumble from my tongue. It was sloppy at first, even if I knew each sound by heart, it was poorly spoken. I knew the words, I knew them all, but the accents and tones were so different from my normal Japanese. And still, still the first few times I didn’t know what I was saying. I thought I was still speaking in my native tongue, but when they responded, it was then that I knew that it wasn’t really me who was speaking. It was the god, the frog god that they worshipped so much. It was Jiraiya speaking in my voice, my thoughts, my words. Because I am Jiraiya. Just like the rest of my friends, how they are the gods that are their other half. I talk about them too. It’s only natural.
And I tell them how my partner is doing.
They seem to like him, they like Izanagi too. Of course, they are kissed with the life that the creation god brings, so they worship him beside Jiraiya. They sing to him too, but I know he doesn’t understand their words. He tells me, he says that when he’s sad a song of kero kero strikes up from around him, though he isn’t sure of its source. On the nights where I know he cries alone I make sure my frogs are there for him, singing their song of warmth and love, the song I taught them that means I love you, kero. He may not understand, but knows it is filled with the love I have for him, and the worship the frogs have for Izanagi.
I memorized their songs, and when I walk through the trees I pick them up. The songs of spring are the water bubbling around the rocks and reeds, the smell of the pond lilies and lotus that is what warmth is. The songs of summer are loud and boisterous, songs of the refreshing temptation from the river and the cool it promises. The songs of autumn are crisp like apples and rain-soaked leaves, the cool air bringing snow from far away. The songs of winter are soft and quiet, the muffled footsteps over snowy ice and the warm homes under frozen mud.
I teach them songs too, the songs of love and pain, the agony in my kero kero towards losing people I cared about. The passion that burns bright as any Agidyne, the sharpness of my blades that pierce the monsters of other worlds. The speed of the wind I command, the master of the air and all of its destructive power, the raw energy that Jiraiya is known for. They sing these songs despite their grittiness, despite their anger and fear.
They like to sit at my window and sing.
This morning, they sang to me. They sang a war tune, a song of blood and bones, tears and tears, the sounds sounding too smooth for such an aggressive kero kero. It was a song of praise and worship, a cry for battle, and scream for strength. It was meant for me, not Jiraiya, a song to push me forth into fights, a song to boost my speed. A song they called by a name in my tongue, a name I know all too well.
They sang me a song of Sukukaja.