Warning/Disclaimer:It's just a Mushi-Shi fanfiction. A bit of Yaoi here and there... Actually, quite a bit more in upcoming chapters. The entire fanfiction is inspired by the poem "A Host of Golden Daffodils. For optimized reading, play a bit of Unwed Sailor, maybe some songs on the cello, any soft/indie music... Owl City is good too... Maybe just Chick Flick Tears by Go Periscope... And other stuff. I don't own Mushi-Shi. I assure you, I wish I did.
I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills
, When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils, Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
5 Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
The sun flared in through the windows, illuminating stray specks of dust and debris. The apartment in itself was neither too dirty nor too clean. However, it remained a host to a miscellany of objects floating in various concoctions stocked on shelves. A man lay on the couch, tired from the various encounters of the previous night. His silvery-white hair brushed against the dark brown of the couch, offering a stark contrast. His single green eye was covered mostly by his eyelids. He was tired, and made no intention of hiding it. His partner lay asleep on the bed, gently coated by two generously downy blankets. He shuffled across the floor in a half-tired motion, and switched an old TV set on. "Good Morning— Today, we have a set of aerobics—Very beautiful items of –" . He turned the set off for lack of substantial programming, and basked in the remnants of afterglow. A little bit of the feeling from the previous night had been left on his skin, not completely engulfed by the fatigue. He gazed out of the window, cringing a little from the bright glow of the sun, combined with twenty-four hour neon signs. Things had changed in the past few centuries. The sights were still seemingly unfamiliar, surreal, he thought. The man who had once been accustomed to dealing with the paranormal… "Ginko-sa… I mean Sensei… Sorry, that still sounds a little weird to me." A voice broke his train of thought.
Ginko, as the white haired man was called, scanned the room for signs of the voice. "Hey, Adashino-sensei," he said, teasingly. "Nah. Don't call me –sensei. I do only have one book out, and it isn't very good." He paused, only to pick a cigarette out of his pocket. "It took you forever to get up," he looked at the other man. A black-haired, brown-eyed "beauty." He had thick plastic glasses on, instead of his old, worn monocle. A little more modern, but, Ginko himself preferred the monocle.
"Ah. Sorry. I'm just tired. And my legs hurt. I have to go to the clinic today too…" Adashino diverted his gaze from Ginko to a fat cat laying by the foot of the couch. "Hey, is it just me… Or did Io get a lot fatter?" He bent over and picked the cat up. "Oof. What have you been eating?"
Ginko chuckled. "Ah, maybe. You're usually better with these things than I am." He stretched, and let out a yawn. The afterglow was almost gone in its entirety, perhaps better for his meeting with his editor. "Hey, just because you didn't do any work last night…" The white-haired man was about to make a joke, but, he decided that he had already teased his partner too much. "I'm working today too. Editor is coming over here. You should probably be out of the house… She thinks you're a bit annoying."
Adashino pouted. "You always say that." He set the tabby down, with a sigh. "I just wanted to know what your next novel was going to be about… I just happened to cause a catastrophic loss of data on your personal laptop."
"You know, you could take it upon yourself to learn these new things."
"Yes, because you're doing a fantastic job with the microwave." Adashino jeered. He remembered the explosion well, all too well, really.
"Okay, maybe I was asking for that one."
"Damn straight." Adashino made a little fist-pump motion in the air. His minor triumph would soon be all but forgotten. In the grand scheme of things, three-hundred-some years, none of that really mattered. They simply were. Existences anchored down only by each other.
"Did you get any more requests?"
"For surgery?" The doctor was puzzled.
"No, of that nature." Ginko was talking about the service they had advertised. A paranormal detection crew of sorts. To keep the cogs of the city running smoothly, anyway. The method of advertisement had been spread by word-of-mouth, or daily postings on a "secret, password locked site." It wasn't a grandiose scheme like "Ghostbusters," or anything like that. Just a simple, almost over-simplified detective agency. No immediate payment was required, and requests were to be filled by either of the two. Usually Ginko. Adashino was completely useless when it came to the requests. He was too fascinated by the idea of the paranormal, to aid in the cause of finding them. Sometimes, though rarely, the client would ask to come along, which always led to extra excitement.
"Oh. No, I don't think so… I mean… I haven't exactly checked the email."
"We'll just check it later then." Ginko reclined on the couch. "You do look rather starved."
"Mmmm… I was just going to make some breakfa—" Adashino stopped when he got drift of Ginko's implications. "Yeah right. As if last night wasn't enough," he joked. He knew though, mostly from experience, that Ginko wouldn't take no for an answer. Did he ever, though? Adashino thought. The doctor sighed. He was just subject to the other man's whims. He was probably in one of his "down moods." Ginko usually felt constrained, and the need to wander. It was in his nature. He used to be a vagrant Mushi-Shi, going in the direction the wind took him. It was the same constitution that founded a nation, in pursuit of horizon-less tracts, wall-less worlds, and ceiling-less skies. But, had been dimmed, all the same, with the dawn of the 20th century. The unexplored world had become explored, and there was no second, secret "invisible world," according to the modern scientist. Something Ginko had yet to grasp. The Mushi-Shi might have become accustomed to some things in the world, but, there were still other things that he could not yet grasp.
Adashino thought that the man was over-exerting himself. Especially for a tired guy. Although, there seemed to be no helping it. He did worry about Ginko's health often times, when he got into his moods. It wasn't as though he didn't particularly like it, it was that he was afraid that Ginko might do something stupid and reckless an—He stopped himself. It was best to just enjoy his "snack."
He cautiously approached the couch that his partner lay on. "Aren't you tired, though?"
"I was thinking about going out of town for a while."
So, that was it. It was a sort of goodbye? "How long?"
"Not very. I actually wanted to take you along… But... There is a client."
"Not using the email?"
"Yeah. Just have to bring them back down here for a few days, until I can make something of it."
"But, you still asked me if there was anything on the email…"
Adashino decided to drop it. The Mushi-Shi worked in mysterious ways. It was kind of futile to probe. He learned that early on. Probably the first night, he thought. "Since it's a 'snack,' I assume…"
The doctor lay on the couch for a while, on top of the other man, until he realized it was more of a hindrance than a comforting thing. He listened to the familiar unzipping, and the soft, almost muffled noise of the fabric, as it cleanly folded against itself, while it slid downward. Not as much as usual. He was probably in a rush. Editor, Adashino reminded himself.
He let the white noise wash over him, at least for a few minutes. It was pleasing, to say the least. He let the unspoken words fill the apartment, scraping at the layers of their relationship. I love you. As the excitement peaked, Adashino couldn't contain himself. He started his usual submissive moaning, but was cut short by a door creaking open. A face popped through. A somewhat thin, pale girl looked through the space she had cleared for herself. After some incomprehensible mumbling, she shut the door.
This time, it was the Mushi-Shi's turn to blush out of embarrassment. "…S..Sorry," he mumbled, quickly zipping up his pants. He got up, and dusted himself off. Not that Adashino's mouth hadn't cleaned him off well enough. He answered the door, knowing full well, who was behind it. "Editor-san. Ah. Sorry about earlier… It was just…"
"Prior engagement," she finished off. She was clearly not in the mood for such things. Or, if she was, she didn't show it. She hurried over to the worn coffee table, and set down her large bag. It was made out of a canvas material, and was rather plain. "I didn't actually come here today for your story."
"Great." Ginko paused a bit. If she wasn't here for the story… "ADASHINO" He called out. If she wasn't here to work, he could finish off. And then take a shower.
"I didn't come here for nothing, though."
Another awkward silence.
"Do you want tea?"
"Yes," the petite editor firmly said. She didn't come twelve miles for nothing. Although it wasn't official business, she still did have a job for Ginko, and only Ginko.
"While the kettle is boiling, I want you to look at something."
"Ditch my current project?"
"No. Look at something in addition. It's an extra job… And, it will be paid for as such."
"Not at all. Something different. If you look at these pictures, maybe you'll be able to understand"
"Just look." With that, the editor pulled out a manila envelope from her bag, and thrust it into the Mushi-Shi's hands.
Ginko was puzzled. There was a certain element which did not belong. Something emphasized by modern childrens' shows. One of these things is not like the others… The editor? The Mushi-Shi? No… Neither of those… The envelope.
The roles were usually reversed. He'd hand her a packet of material. She'd go through the material. She'd yell at him for missing a comma, or a period, or something. He'd correct it, she'd ask him what was going to happen next, he'd say "Wait." She'd get mad, and step outside, he'd get her, she'd step on his feet, and leave. Women, he thought.
"This envelope is… ?"
"I told you to look."
He sighed. He offered her a seat on the table. She declined, as usual, taking a seat on the opposite side of the room. The envelope was stuffed to the brim. Cutouts of American newspapers, a USB stick, pictures, highlighted articles in the familiar Japanese newspapers, printouts of blog posts, and conversations. "Look at just the pictures?"
"I said that."
Ginko carefully examined the three pictures. All of them were printed on glossy photo paper, and the pictures all seemed to portray the same setting. A place in the United States known as "Gettysburg" He looked at the dates. All of them were surprisingly old. Other than that… There seemed to be nothing special.
"You wanted to show me… ?"
The editor let out an apparent sign of annoyance.
"This is supposed to be a supernatural location. I want you to investigate it. You have a website for these sort of things. I assumed you were an expert."
"Kotone-sa- Editor-san… I'm a Mushi-Shi. I'm by no means an expert. Just somewhat of a researcher. I can research this location. But, most likely, there will be no definitive evidence."
"But, your website…"
"It's somewhat of a misunderstanding. There was another man who wanted the same thing. A thorough investigation. A Mushi-Shi is just a researcher. A researcher with a fancy name."
"…Whatever you offer, I'm inclined to take it. This is gold for the novel. Your sales last month dropped by 3%, and your series needs a second book. This could be it."
"So, it is work, after all."
"You were the one who wanted to do a series like that. If you had simply done a romance with panty-shots, we could have just sold it to Jump."
"This is something of a romance too… Just different from your definition. Romances don't necessarily need to be between two people. A harmony between nature and the inhabitants is also some sort of romance. It's just not the exalted romance between people. Just think of it that way."
"If you put more stress on the romantic aspect, you could get more sales… You are experienced. Or… Sorry. That was probing a bit."
"Nah. It's fine. We are a couple. I'm not embarrassed to admit that much. He'd probably be."
"Is he part of this too?"
"No… The entire 'Ghostbusters' setup."
Ginko sighed. He had just gotten through explaining the relationship between himself and his work. By investigate, he meant research, and by research, he meant to collect data. And, if he could, find a peaceful way for coexistence. By no means a 'Ghostbuster' setup.
"… It isn't anything like that… But, yes, he is part of my work. We are both partners. In work, as well as other things…"
"Okay. So, three tickets… Gettysburg… Overnight…."
"I didn't say I was going to take the case," Ginko mused.
"It's in your nature…" Kotone grumbled.
"I suppose. It looks interesting enough," Ginko said, rearranging the information on the table, First, the photographs in chronological order, then the corresponding articles underneath. "This article here is interesting. "
"The old English one?"
"Yeah. And the picture it goes with." He examined the photo carefully, looking for exactly what it was that she wanted him to see. The article itself contained a reprint of the Gettysburg address, along with a "special memorial tribute." Underneath the article, it listed something odd. Occurrences of a strange sort. Ghostly apparitions, and strange things. Perhaps it was one of 'those' places, a land where the line between the living and dead grew thin. A second Ragged Road.
"The picture isn't all that special."
"No… It's not," Ginko agreed, "but, the 'spirit photography' isn't my main focus. It's the film's slight change in gradient. "
"A slight change in the film's quality, resulting from too much exposure."
"Too much exposure… What was the film exposed to?"
"That's what I want to find out."
"So… I'm buying tickets… To half-way across the world… Just so you can find out why the film is not a dark sepia color, but instead, a slightly lighter sepia color?" Kotone's voice was oozing with sarcasm.
"I'm still fulfilling the request. You can't complain, can you?"
"No. Guess not."
"But, you never made your request specific enough. Am I to simply probe the area, or is there something else you need to find…"
"A thorough examination is fine. But, there is one place in particular… "
"In that case, I'd perhaps like a three to four-day stay in the area." Ginko yawned. It was still before noon, Adashino had presumably left for work, and Io's whereabouts were unknown. "I don't think I'll run the risk of staying too long, in case my suspicions are confirmed. Moreover, you are planning to come to Gettysburg, right?"
"Yeah. Is that too much of a problem, though?"
"No. It's fine. It was just a question. I'd just need to make some preparations beforehand. " He knew that Kotone was going to come along, no matter what he said. It was in her nature, just like wandering was in his nature.
"When is your 'wife' coming back home?"
"He's usually back at five. Shorter hours on Saturdays, since he works at a private clinic."
"You've been together for…."
"A long time, the exact amount of years escapes me, at the moment. I thought that you didn't want anything to do with our love life, though."
"That's not it. I was just curious. You two seem happy enough. That, and, I was planning to hightail it, in case you wanted to finish the task I interrupted."
"No. It's always a little awkward to be caught in an embrace. We usually don't… Today was different. I was planning to wander for a bit, and wasn't sure when I was going to come back."
"Has anybody else ever walked in?"
"Quite a few people. I think, the first time was Adashino's mother."
"Ouch. That's gotta be awkward," Kotone said, biting her lip.
"Yeah. A little bit. Especially since we were in a weird position too."
"I actually kind of want to hear this story…"
"It's probably best for another day. But, Adashino tells it better than I do. It's cute, the way he blushes while telling it… I don't think I'm at any liability to talk about him, when he's not here. "
Kotone frowned. Relationships always were tricky. She decided a change of topic was needed. "Ginko-sensei… When exactly did you become a… Ghostbuster?"
"A long time ago." An ambiguous answer—better left unfinished. And, better left uncorrected. It was a time, like the downbeats of a cello, quietly wavering in his memory. It was better unspoken—uncreated sound, reverberating for all time. He didn't think Kotone would understand.
"Because, you're obviously twenty-something?"
Ginko sighed. That sealed his answer. That time was something that only Adashino and himself could understand. Nothing more than that. It wasn't her fault.
Just as Ginko began to explain the concept of 'relativity,' and 'a long time,' the door creaked open. It had hardly been two hours since his altogether unnoticed departure. Adashino had returned.
Ginko turned around. The doctor stood in the middle of the doorway, with an unseemly gash running down the torso of his shirt. However, the most provocative measure lay in the doctor's right hand. A plastic shopping bag, presumably filled with leftover noodles from the clinic.
"You have lunch?"
The editor stared dumbfounded. She was apparently unable to comprehend the situation. "Shouldn't you be more worried about the fact, that your spouse seems to have had a run-in with a large blade of some sort?"
"No, that's… He's… Let's just say that there's been worse."
Kotone nodded, she still wasn't able to understand the seemingly idiotic relationship.
"Oh, by the way, Adashino, we're going to Gettysburg. And we're leaving tonight."
"Who's going where?"