What Lightning Is
Manjoume lay on his bed and stared up at the ceiling as though it had offended him. In a sense, it had, because it was currently thrumming away with the sound of pouring rain, reminding him why he was inside and not out doing something more interesting. It was impossible to get anywhere from the Osiris Red dorm in this kind of weather without getting soaked to the skin. He couldn't even enjoy the dubious pleasure of his roommate's company, because Juudai had been kept after class to make up some assignments before the school year ended. Knowing the rate he did classwork if you left them unsupervised, they would probably be done by sometime next week. Manjoume would have enjoyed the peace and quiet if he hadn't been so utterly bored.
His gloomy thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. He wondered fleetingly if it might be Juudai returning, but he never knocked on anyone's door, much less his own, which meant that this knock probably meant something important. With a groan of annoyance, Manjoume rolled off his bed and went to tell whoever was out there to either make it good or get lost.
What he found was Fubuki standing at the door, wet as a fish and grinning as if seeing Manjoume there was the culmination of all his dreams. Manjoume felt his scowl melting away.
"Shishou," he said, "what are you doing here?"
"Came to find you," he said. "I thought you might want to go for a walk with me." He spoke as if going for a walk with him was exactly what anyone would be hoping to do if it happened to be pouring down rain.
"I can't go for a walk in that!" Manjoume objected. "I'll get wet."
"So?" said Fubuki. "You get wet all the time and it doesn't bother you."
"Well, you take showers, and you go swimming, and you hang out in the hot springs, and none of that bothers you, so why would rain bother you?"
"I don't wear clothes when I take a shower..."
"You wear trunks when you go swimming."
Manjoume let it drop. "Fine, I'll go for a walk."
Fubuki looked so delighted that Manjoume almost felt guilty for trying to deny him. The only concession he made to the weather was to remove his precious black jacket. He would probably be warmer with it on, but he knew from experience that when it was soaked with rain, it weighed about a hundred pounds and was a pain to carry around. Fubuki had apparently had the same thought, because he'd left his uniform jacket behind, and was wearing only his slacks and a form-fitting black shirt, made even more form-fitting by the rain. Manjoume felt a momentary stab of envy; a thorough soaking only made Fubuki look better, but when Manjoume got rained on, he just looked wet.
They set out into the storm. They hadn't gone three paces before Manjoume was thoroughly drenched, feeling his hair becoming plastered to his scalp and rivulets of water running down his back. Fubuki didn't seem to mind the rain at all. He frolicked ahead like an eager puppy, sometimes stopping to tip his face back to the sky, flinging his arms out as if he'd never felt rain before. Manjoume watched him and wondered. It was amazing to see someone who took such complete enjoyment from something that most everyone else would have considered a nuisance.
After a while, Manjoume began to realize that they were heading in a general uphill direction, towards a tree that grew on the edge of a cliff. He stopped walking.
"We can't go up there," he protested. "We'll get hit by lightning or something."
"We won't," Fubuki assured him. "I've been up here lots of times and it's never been a problem. Lightning always goes to the highest point, right? There are lots of taller trees nearby - if anything gets hit, it'll be them. Trust me."
"If I get fried, I won't forgive you," said Manjoume, but he started walking again.
The tree was a large one, not particularly tall, but broad and leafy. The ground underneath it was almost dry, and Manjoume was glad to sit underneath it and relax against its trunk. Fubuki flopped down next to him, gazing out over the ocean. From time to time, lightning would flash, and the clouds would rumble a response.
"Hey, did you know?" said Fubuki, apropos of nothing. "Everybody says that lightning comes from the sky, but sometimes it comes up from the ground, too."
"You don't say," said Manjoume.
"Yeah," Fubuki agreed. "I'd say that proves it."
But Fubuki's train of thought had already left that station. He was looking back out at the water again, his elbows propped on his knees and his chin in his hands, looking like someone enjoying a favorite television show.
"You know what lightning really is, don't you?" he said.
Manjoume shrugged. "Electricity and stuff, I guess."
"No, not like that," said Fubuki. "That's just science. I'm talking about what lightning really is. I mean, science says you and I are just a bunch of muscles and bones and nerves and things, but do you really think that's what you really are?"
"I guess not," Manjoume agreed. "Okay, fine, I'll bite. What is lightning really?"
Fubuki smiled. "What it's really about is love."
"Everything's love with you."
"Well, it's true," said Fubuki. He leaned back against a tree, his expression dreamy. "You read the old myths - the Greeks, the Egyptians. They used to believe that the earth and the sky were lovers. The earth looked up at the beautiful sky and fell in love, and the two of them embraced, and everything else was born from that. Even now, they're still in love. That's what lightning is - the fingers of the earth and the sky, reaching out to touch each other. It's true. You know how I know?"
"How do you know?" asked Manjoume.
"Because, we're the same way. Tell me the truth. When someone you really like touches you, don't you feel it?"
Fubuki leaned closer to Manjoume as he spoke, until Manjoume could feel the warmth of his breath against his ear. Then Fubuki reached out to gently trail his fingers over Manjoume's cheek.
He felt the flicker of lightning run through his veins.
"Yeah," he said breathlessly. "Yeah, I do."