kono basho wo dete aruku michi no koto wo kangaeru
sora wa mada hayai yuugata, kumo ni iro wo nokoshite
tonari no kodomo wa onaji uta mou san do mo utatteru
owaru kotoba omoi dasezu saigo dake zutto kurikaeshite

I walk away from here, pondering which way to go.
The sun is setting early, painting the clouds with its glow as it disappears.
The children next to me are singing the same song for the third time.
Unable to remember the words to end it, they repeat the last verse over and over.

Stepping out from my third floor studio apartment, I locked the door behind me. The air is heavy with the scent of an on-coming rain. The sun is still out, though hidden behind the clouds with which it plays tag. Walking down the concrete hall, I can hear the echo of the children's voices from below. They are playing games and singing. Descending the stairs, their voices became louder, the song becoming clear. They don't know the meaning, but they sing the song anyway. Three little girls, all in white gowns, were holding each other's hands and spinning about.

"Ring around the roses, pocket full of posies, ashes to ashes," their song is sung in unison, though out of tune. "We all fall down!" They release each other's hands and fall to the ground, giggling. The eldest girl looks up to me.

"Fujio-san," she giggled happily. "You want to play?"

Seeing the children smiling and giggling happily caused me to smile slightly. However, I had to decline. "Sorry, Akane, I can't. I have to be at work shortly." This was the reason I left early-- the girls were on their feet, grabbing my arms.

"Fujio-san, pleeease!" They pleaded, tugging on my sleeves. With a small laugh, I shook my head.

"I really can't. How about tomorrow?"

"Pinky promise?" Akane giggled, holding out her pinky. I 'hmph'ed before nodding, allowing the girl to squeeze my pinky with her own. After being released, I continued on my way. At least I didn't live too far from the office, and for this I was thoroughly grateful when the clouds decided to split. They spilled rain in ropes, soaking everyone about.

Because of this, I arrived at work like a rag dropped into a sink full of water. The secretary covered her mouth slightly, trying to be polite and not laugh. I sighed, regretting my random urge to grow out my hair, for now it was plastered to my face. Heaving a sigh, went to the elevator-- and with my luck, got into it to find Asako Saito standing there.

"Oh! Reki, you're soaked," she teased. Even outside of the game, she called me by my character's name. "Misjudged the weather?"

"I judged the weather just fine," I replied, ringing out my jacket.

"Then you forgot an umbrella?" Saito inquired with a giggle. "Aw, poor Reki!"

I didn't say anything-- She had me there, and I wasn't too keen on admitting it. We took the elevator up in silence. She attempted to start a conversation a few times, though my mind was elsewhere and I didn't reply.

"Reki, are you okay?" She asked this for the fifth time.

"I'm fine, Magi," I replied, irritated by the repetition of both question and answer. She seemed to finally let it go.

I got off on 'my' floor and walked to my office quickly, not wanting to be caught by my boss and teased more for being soaked. I pushed open the door and slipped inside, closing it behind me. I reached over to turn on the lights, but a hand caught mine. I froze a second as another hand was put to the door, pinning me there.