Author's note: Yes yes, I know I've already rereleased this fic once, but bear with me. I'm only adding a prologue this time. I would put it in its own chapter but, then I would have to replace chapter one with it and then replace chapter two with chapter one and so forth. That would not only take forever, but it would utterly mess up the reivews that everyone was good enough to leave.
So, I've just tacked it onto the begining of chapter one.
The prologue wasn't there orginally mostly because until I wrote Looking Back, I was still considering taking the easy way out and ending the story there. Basicly the prologue wasn't writen in case the fic utterly sucked and thus I wouldn't have to torture anyone with 5 or 6 more chapters. I decided to add it after a reviewer suggested it and I agree that it did in fact need it. So, here you go.
Unless you haven't guessed this story contains Shounen Ai (two guys in love). If you find that icky or otherwise have problems with that, that's between you and your sexual identity issues. Don't bother me with it, you've been aptly warned.
Oh and of course I own none of these characters. If I did, I wouldn't be posting here now would I?
The gray permeated everything. An oppressive force that laid over him like a wet quilt, weighing him down as it blinded and deafened him. Of all the things he'd ever considered, even in his wildest nightmares, this gray was slowly becoming worse than them all. Numbed to the point that he could barely feel it when he struck his hands together, the sensory loss was far from the worst of it.
Gliding in with deadly silence, the gray had begun to seep into his memories, washing them out with the neutral emptiness. Sitting in the vast nothingness, his knees drawn to his chest, Touya recited his memories one after the other, desperate not to forget but knowing it was inevitable.
Moving his lips though not sure whether he was actually making noise, he went over everything he... couldn't forget... Absolutely... couldn't...
The rain was coming down rather hard. The puddles were deep now and the rivers along the road had reached a dangerous velocity, tearing away any hapless debris that wandered into the maelstrom. People hurried this way and that, huddled under umbrellas or newspapers. A few businessmen coming home either from a late night of work or an early night at the bars were shielding themselves from the sheets of water with their briefcases. A small group of elementary school girls were huddled under one big umbrella, waiting for the light to change at the corner. The tires of his bike threw up as much water as the clouds dropped down on him as Touya made his way back from his job at a nearby restaurant. Not nearby enough, though, as he was completely drenched. He was as wet as he could possibly get, so he wasn't really in any hurry. Rushing would only splash other people and get him home just as wet. Also, the rain itself felt odd.
He couldn't explain it, so he never tried. His mother had understood when he'd said something felt wrong, or dangerous, or when he saw people that no else could. Unfortunately she was gone, and no one else could even begin to comprehend what he was trying to say. He had long since gotten tired of trying to explain. Touya didn't talk much; he didn't honestly see the point in it.
He craned his head up, hoping to maybe see what was wrong with the rain that night, but saw nothing but streaks of water reflecting the light of the headlights and streetlights. Wrong wasn't the right word; it didn't feel wrong per se, just odd. Like it was charged. He felt like he was sitting at the top of the first hill on a roller coaster at the very moment before the cars go flying down, in the perfect silence that exists when the chains are no longer propelling the cars, but gravity has yet to pick up the job, either. That moment that just hangs there…, frozen.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood up; whatever it was, it had him on edge. He was so busy looking above himself and thinking, that he'd effectively gotten himself completely turned around. He wasn't sure how but as he finally looked around, he realized he was near the train station. He'd managed to daydream himself to the opposite side of town. This was just great, he huffed to himself dejectedly; he'd been riding in the wrong direction for what had to be ten, fifteen minutes. He didn't think he'd ever felt as stupid in his whole life.
With a rather virulent snarl on his lips, he pulled his bike over so he could turn around. This was a new level of brainlessness that he was not pleased to reach. How could he have gotten so turned around and not have noticed? Depressing the brakes, the shower of water from his tires lessened and he eventually lowered his feet to the concrete. He shoved some disobedient strands of hair from his face and began to turn the bike around. As he did, he looked up to glance at the crowd before him.
Late commuters, people traveling to see family, and few kids that looked a bit out of place in the bustling sidewalk made their way from the terminal, briefcases, bags and such clutched to their chests in a futile attempt to protect them form the rain. Most darted to waiting cabs, cars of friends or family, leaving a few to look confused and uncertain. Perhaps they were looking for the ride that should have come to pick them up, or the landmark they were supposed to navigate by. Everyone was rushing to somewhere, and all and all the crowd wasn't that remarkable, they were everything you'd expect at this hour at a train station. Everyone but one. One "person" caught his eye, because it wasn't a person at all, or rather it wasn't a human person, and truth to tell, the more Touya watched it, he wasn't sure it had ever been human. The being looked like a human boy, about his age. "He" was tiny and pale as a sheet, with white hair. He stood in the middle of the crowd looking extremely lost and had no baggage that Touya could see.
Touya at first thought that a ghost had ended up at the train station (maybe he died from a mugging there, or on the train to there), but then someone bumped into him, nearly knocking the boy to the ground. The hurried man made no attempt to apologize, but the boy did, even though he'd done nothing wrong; the man hadn't even looked back.
The boy looked somewhat hurt and jumped as someone else pushed past him. He was frightened and very confused, being pushed along with the crowd, though it was obvious that he had no clue where to go. His eyes darted back and forth, looking for something, anything it seemed. His large, round glasses were covered with water, no doubt adding his confusion. Touya sighed heavily and leaned his bike against the lamppost. Whatever it was, it needed some help.
He began to make his way through the crowd towards the lost creature, watching him get pushed this way and that. He was not only small, but delicate and thin. His pale hands reached up to straighten his glasses and Touya thought he looked like spun glass, like any strong hit could just shatter him. While the masses could toss him back and forth, Touya was another matter, he was large by most standards and no one could really push him anywhere. He wasn't far from the boy, maybe a few feet really, when someone shoved past and sent him falling straight into the busy street.
Jumping forward, Touya caught the boy's hand and pulled him back, just in time to see a car zip past inches from his face. His large hand easily encircled the tinier one and in his fear, Touya had pulled back on the boy a bit too hard. He spun around and was pitched forward onto Touya's chest, gasping from the shock of the near miss. The boy quickly remembered himself and stepped back from him, looking up to see who had saved him from becoming road kill.
Beautiful, was the only thought that interrupted Touya's mind at that moment; everything else just wasn't there. Time slowed to a crawl, making the pelting raindrops take on the appearance of impossibly smooth snowflakes, and the sounds of the crowd and cars just kind of faded back. The lights of the cars sliding past looked like stars reflected in the droplets on his glasses. His amber eyes were huge and threatened to swallow him whole if he let them… and at that moment, Touya saw no reason not to. The trance was only broken when a rushed passerby knocked the boy from behind, jostling his glasses further so that they attempted an escape down the bridge of his nose. He thwarted their plans and shoved them back up to their rightful place and stepped back, seeming a bit embarrassed. "Thank you for saving me."
Saving…? Oh yes! Touya's mind had just now managed to catch up with him. That's why I'm holding his hand, he finally put together, releasing the boy quickly. He fought to keep a deep blush from his face.
"I'm Tsukishiro Yukito," he said with a slight bow, while holding his traitorous glasses in place with his hand.
"Ah..." Touya cleared his throat in an attempt to regain his senses. "I'm Kinomoto Touya," he returned the bow. "You seem a little lost," he began tentatively. "Do you need any help?" He'd helped a lot of lost ghosts, and it was always delicate work, but what he could do for this creature he didn't have a clue.
"Oh no, I've bothered you too much," Tsukishiro began, waving him off with his small hand. "I'll be fine, I'm just not used to all this. Thank you again for your help." He bowed again and began to step away.
Touya didn't like the idea of leaving the little thing out in the rain, in all this traffic. Also, he felt uncomfortable leaving him in general. Touya wasn't quite sure what Tsukishiro was, or what was going on, but he always followed his instincts, they'd never failed him before.
At that thought he jumped back to a memory he'd thought he'd buried long ago. They had been wrong once, totally wrong,… but he pushed that thought aside with a decided shove. This wasn't her, and he couldn't let this (whatever it was) go wandering into the city at night to get lost, hit, or freeze to death (though he didn't look very cold). "It's-!" He caught the boy's arm again but simply stopped him this time, releasing quickly. "It's not any trouble, really. I'm no hurry to go anywhere." The boy looked unsure, not out of lack of trust, but rather because he seemed not to want to inconvenience anyone, so Touya pressed on. "Are you waiting for someone? Is somebody supposed to pick you up?"
Tsukishiro finally began talking, not wanting to be rude. "No. My grandparents…" he hesitated a moment, barely noticeable, but Touya caught it. "Are out of town right now. I'm coming to live with them, but they couldn't be in town for another few days. I have their address; I just have to get my bearings. I'm sure I'll be fine."
Touya shook his head, "Don't be ridiculous, you're new here. I can find the house easily, I'm sure. What's their address?"
The boy looked hesitant, but also very in need to help, so in the end he gave up the address. "They said it's at 639 maple leaf road, but I really don't want to bother you…"
Touya smiled and half turned towards his bike. The rain had begun to slow, leaving a chill breeze in its stead. "I know that street. It's not too far. Lemme give you a ride on my bike and we'll be there in no time." The boy hesitated yet again, but Touya extended his hand. "I insist. It's too cold and damp to be wandering the streets alone."
The boy looked at the outstretched hand and then smiled up at him. It was the truest smile Touya thought he'd ever seen. It touched every part of him and Touya found himself entranced anew. The dream-state was interrupted as the boy took his hand. Touya held his grip and guided the boy towards his bike, cutting through the crowd. As they went, he was quick to notice the coolness of Tsukishiro's skin. His mind told him that it was due to the cold rain and that he was foolish to think it odd, but another part of him said it was normal for the boy. It was the other part that Touya trusted most.
He released his hand when they reached his bike and climbed on. Touya was glad he'd left the posts on his back wheel when Sakura had grown past riding there. "Stand on the back posts, and hold on to my shoulders." Obediently, Tsukishiro did this and once he seemed secure, Touya started off. "We'll be there in no time."
As he worked his way through the streets, he let his mind wander on what exactly might be waiting at 639 Maple Leaf. A house maybe, but who knew. And even if there was a house, would it be the one he thought should be there. Touya's mind was throwing up all sorts of warnings; this boy may be looking for a house that was torn down years ago, decades ago, or maybe there wasn't a 639 at all. What then? He'd helped confused spirits before, but this boy was a new one on him. Another part of him reassured him that it would be fine, and as ever he trusted in that part.
"So," he began, but was cut off as they hit a bump that he hadn't seen. Unsteadied, the jump of the bike made Tsukishiro exchange his grip on Touya's shoulders, for wrapping his arms around them. Touya felt a deep blush take hold, but thankfully, the rider behind him couldn't see it. Why this "boy" was affecting him like this was another thing that was bothering him. He wasn't someone that went along stammering and walking into walls at any pretty face that happened by. Not only that, but this boy was, well, a boy. No matter what else he might be, he was still a he. It wasn't his normal reaction no matter how he looked at it.
Touya cleared his throat again and started over. "So, are you going to be staying at your grandparents long?"
The boy kept his arms around Touya and answered, "Yes, I think I'll be staying here for good."
"Really? Your grandparents must be nice to take you in like this." Touya chose his words carefully, asking no questions that might upset the tiny creature holding on to him; like why he was staying with his grandparents. Touya also carefully avoided asking why the boy had no luggage. He was frightened and confused enough without Touya poking holes in his reality. Most "people" he met like this, lived in their own, homemade illusion and it was disastrous to break that illusion with anything but the most extreme care.
"Oh yes, though I haven't seen them in a while. They're always overseas, traveling. They love to travel."
"Ah. That sounds nice. It's good that they have something to do in their retirement."
"Yes," he said honestly. "Their always off somewhere, doing something."
Touya listened carefully but could hear no sound of lies or deceit. The boy believed what he was saying, and that was both a good sign and a bad one. At least Touya knew the, whatever he was, was honest and wasn't trying to lie. He also made mental note of the generalness of the way he spoke of his grandparents; somewhere, traveling, haven't seen them a while, ect. General terms made easy illusions, but Touya figured he could destroy that facade by asking just a few well-chosen questions. He wouldn't, but instead avoided those questions like the black plague. Such a brutal attack could shatter him; he made that mistake with a ghost once when he'd been too young to know differently. It had ended badly.
He watched a signpost announcing the street as Maple Leaf whiz past them. "Well, here's the street, now we just have to find the house." Tsukishiro relinquished his tight hold to place his hands back on Touya's shoulders, as he looked about at the house numbers. He watched them scroll up from the mid five hundreds to the six hundreds and began to watch the tens go up slowly. Eventually he reached a house that said 639 and stopped, still unsure what was going to happen.
Tsukishiro climbed off and Touya followed, resting his bike on the kickstand. "Do you have a key?" he asked following him up to the door.
"My grandparents had a neighbor leave the door unlocked for me tonight," he said and reached out for the knob. The house itself felt odd to Touya but there was still a nagging fear that they were walking into someone's home. Still, the door opened with a soft click and Tsukishiro walked inside, turning on a light. "Would you like to come in and have a cup of tea before you head home? You look cold." The boy smiled softy, and somehow that smile found it's way onto Touya's own face. He never smiled this much, but the boy seemed to draw it out of him.
Making himself think logically, Touya looked past the boy into the house, gauging it and trying to pin point what felt so odd. It looked dusty, as if it hadn't been lived in for a while, and no one yet had taken note of his turning on lights. Touya assumed that the house was as empty as he claimed though how was a curious point. "I… I'd love to, but I'm sure my dad is worried about me. I got off work a bit ago and with the weather…" he was really concerned about his dad worrying, no matter how curious he was about this boy. He should have been home hours ago and the boy was safe now at least.
Tsukishiro bowed his head deeply, "Ah, of course. I've kept you from home. I hope you helping me won't get you in trouble…"
He seemed truly sorry, and almost near tears, Touya thought. "No, no. It's fine. I was already late when I met you. I get side tracked easily." He lied, but at least the late part was true. "You say you'll be staying here for a good while?"
The boy immediately brightened, "Yes," he said dipping his head and smiling.
"Then I'll see you around probably. I don't live very far."
The smile broadened and Touya found himself smiling back, again. "Oh good. Yes, I'm sure I'll see you later then."
Touya inclined his head as he backed up to his bicycle. "Good night then."
"Good night." Tsukishiro waved and closed the door.
As Touya mounted his bike, he looked up at the house, following the trail of lighted windows to what must be his room. That light stayed on for a bit and Touya pushed off towards home. He'd have to make certain to come back and see if the boy was still here, and maybe make sense of what was going on. He was worried about the boy, deeply. He disliked the idea of him alone in an empty house. Whatever he was, he was too warm and friendly to be alone.
Touya brushed off his protective thoughts as he began to pedal faster. He cared too much about people, that's all it was, he told himself, bluntly. He'd worry himself sick about anyone that wandered by. He barely knew this guy and he was already worrying. He'd go back and check in a few days, after school. He had class tomorrow, so he really should be in bed already. He huffed to himself as he rode. Who was he kidding? He'd go check on the kid tomorrow, no doubt on his way home from school. He sighed loudly to himself and continued home.