AN: For anyone who cares, I have not stopped working on Taken Day by Day. I just really wanted to write this.
Takes place a little before Eishun picks up Setsuna.
It was like following breadcrumbs, Tsukuyomi thought, hopping into the tiny footprints in the snow. Little red breadcrumbs leading to… something. Something special, she was sure; red was her favorite color, and that much of it had to lead to something good.
And a person would be there too.
She didn't know how she was supposed to feel about that. She didn't like people. People bothered her.
But somehow, she thought the person leaving the tiny footprints would be the kind of friendly she liked. No one too bothersome could leave such dark red tracks in something as blank as snow.
Tsukuyomi had to jump a little further to reach the next footprint. Really, for something so small, the person she was following took very long steps sometimes.
Her foot almost collided with a rock, and she hopped a little to make sure she didn't make any new prints. She liked the tiny person's too much to ruin them.
And she didn't want to make the patterns of red and feathers change either. With snow, things could start slipping everywhere if someone made even one mistake, and the wonderful breadcrumbs that weren't breadcrumbs would fall all over the place. Then the tiny person's hard work would be completely ruined.
So Tsukuyomi skipped carefully through the snow, looking up from time to time to make sure that she wasn't missing some greater part of the trail. She couldn't imagine something so wonderful as the red streaks, but this day was special enough that the idea of even better good things was stuck in her head.
Eventually (long after the black feathers disappeared from the path the tiny person had left for her) she looked up and saw the end of the red.
The path ended at a tree.
A very red tree with a large hole in its trunk.
With a delighted smile, Tsukuyomi bounded forward, nearly disrupting the tiny footprints in her hurry to reach the hole. The person kind enough to show her this trail had to be hiding in there, and she was sure that something able to paint the snow red would be something she liked.
Jumping out of the final set of footprints, she landed on the tree's root and ducked her head down to look into the hole.
For a moment, she could only see a ball of red taking up the entire space. Then, looking closer, she saw that the ball of red was moving. Breathing. And—she moved close enough to feel the puffs of air on her skin—it had a face. And hair. It blended into the snow so well that she almost couldn't tell—the white and the red were mixed together somehow—but if she concentrated, she could see a head.
The tiny person!
Tsukuyomi nearly toppled into the hole in excitement.
This was the thing that left the breadcrumbs!
She peered closer at the person, trying to get a better picture of what it looked like besides color. It was white and red all over, even on its hair and skin. Tsukuyomi had never seen a person who looked like that.
And she could see wings. Feathers.
That was special, wasn't it? Tsukuyomi leaned in even closer, staring at the beautiful feathers. They looked like they belonged in the snow. They were so pretty and clean except for the red (which fit in much better than it did on the black ones).
Tsukuyomi was so busy taking in the colors that she completely forgot that she was looking at a person. So when its eyes opened to see someone invading its personal space, she didn't notice what was happening until she was slammed onto her back in the cold snow, the tiny person's red and white arm pressing down on her throat and a knife above her head.
After several moments of blinking up at the tiny person, Tsukuyomi realized that the eyes looking at her were the prettiest shade of red she had ever seen. She didn't know eyes came in that color.
A drop of red fell on her cheek. The tiny person—demon, maybe, or an angel—stared at it for a second before its pretty eyes widened and it jumped off of Tsukuyomi, clinging to its knife with shaking hands.
"You're human," it said. Its feathers shrunk.
"I think so," Tsukuyomi said back.
They watched each other for several more seconds before Tsukuyomi stood up and wiped the snow off of her and stuck out her hand.
The tiny demon didn't move for what felt like hours. It just looked very, very confused. And maybe a little scared. Then it reached out and grabbed Tsukuyomi's hand.
Setsuna. That was a nice name. A good name for the tiny demon. Setsuna dropped her hand and took a step backwards. Its pretty red eyes moved up and down very quickly, looking around the woods they were standing in.
It didn't seem very interested in talking.
"Were you hiding?" Tsukuyomi asked. That was the only reason she could think of for something to curl up in a hole in a tree.
Setsuna nodded once.
"What were you hiding from?"
Setsuna stayed quiet for a long time. It was still holding the knife very tightly.
"Demons," it said at last.
"You're a demon."
Setsuna's perfectly colored eyes darkened and the hands around the knife stopped shaking. "I'm half human."
"Oh. Is that why you're so tiny?"
It frowned. "I'm not tiny."
Tsukuyomi pointed down at the footprints in the snow. "Your footprints are. And…" She stepped forward a little and brought her hand down on the very still half-human's head. She moved her hand across to her forehead. "You're short. So you're tiny."
Then, because Setsuna wasn't moving anymore, she moved her hand back to pet Setsuna's very soft hair. Except for the few red spots, it was the softest anything Tsukuyomi had ever felt.
"How did the red get in your hair?"
Setsuna ducked away from Tsukuyomi's fingers and almost fell backwards into its hole. Its eyes were back to their normal color and it was looking scared again.
That was no good.
"I don't mind—I like it. It's pretty. I just wondered how it got there."
"It's blood," Setsuna whispered.
Remembering the start of the trail, Tsukuyomi put the pieces together.
"So that was you?"
Setsuna backed into the hole, looking more than just a little scared. Its feathers were growing again, and the knife was shaking and drops of red were falling all over the snow. "I didn't mean to. It just—they—I didn't mean to."
Sensing that Setsuna wouldn't talk again, Tsukuyomi let out a puff of air that misted between them and looked back at the trail. After meeting Setsuna, she sort of wanted to go back and look at the clearing it started in. That something so tiny could do that…
"I'll come back tomorrow."
Tsukuyomi turned around and hopped back into Setsuna's footprints, frowning a little at the black feathers. She liked Setsuna's a lot better.
Bouncing carefully so she didn't ruin the tiny half-human's prints, she slowly made her way back to the start of the trail. She looked back at Setsuna a few times, but it had gone back to hiding. She hoped it didn't freeze to death before they saw each other again.
It didn't take very long to get back to the clearing. When she got there, she jumped into the disturbed snow that wasn't part of Setsuna's trail and peered at the still, feathery bodies that were covered in red blood. It didn't stand out as much as it did on the snow because their feathers were black, but she could still see it everywhere.
Tsukuyomi looked around at the other bodies. They were the same way.
Not as much as Setsuna, but still pretty.
The wind started to pick up a little, making Tsukuyomi shiver. It was starting to get too cold to stay in the woods.
She stood up and started walking home, taking a moment or two to look back at Setsuna's path.
Maybe one day Setsuna would make her another trail of breadcrumbs to follow.