This was definitely interesting. I wanted to experiment with alternating scenes, so this fic was kinda born. This is about a month's worth of work, but I'm a really bad plotwriter, so its pretty on par for me.

If its competent, woohoo. Another good one for the archives.

I tried to properly indent this, but...Yeah. I probably failed miserably at it. But hey, if I did, let me know so I can fix it. Never offended by critics, so blast away.

Let's hope its okay, though.

Grains of Sand

A great flash of light, followed by a tremendous peal of thunder, shook the city streets as all caught outside scrambled for cover from the oncoming storm. Ominous black storm-clouds slowly meandered towards the city, ready to pour its contents upon the hapless people below. Those without umbrellas were seen making a hasty getaway towards their houses; those with them persisted, but a second thunderclap was enough to scatter them. The city streets were empty, the air lifeless, the sidewalks barren. The wildlife had grown completely still; birds seeking shelter in the thick oaken trees dotted amongst the streets. The evening sun still shone, however, a final stand against the tide of darkness brought along by the clouds.

But amongst the barren streets and quiet alleyways, bathed in the final radiance of the sun's golden rays stood a lone girl. To anyone that saw her, she was simply walking amongst the city, her head down, her silver locks covering her face from the then-observers. But her face portrayed an entirely different story. The tears running down her face couldn't be the raindrops from the clouds, nor could her red eyes be sun exposure from the retreating ball of fire. Her erratic walking could pass as a drunken stumble, but the limp in her right leg indicated something more. Something much more.

Against the tide of darkness and downpour, Tomoyo found herself alone for the first time in quite a long while.

Perhaps returning home was a mistake. Perhaps trying to navigate the house amidst the conglomeration of sake bottles, both empty and half full, wasn't the best of ideas. But still, Tomoya needed his school uniform from his former living quarters. His father, Naoyuki, had not reacted to his entrance; he was far beyond the physical realm, the fourth fresh bottle of sake being mindlessly tossed onto the ground beside him. Tomoya made no effort to talk to him; the results would have a positive effect on neither of them. He knew. He tried.

Removing his shoes at the lowered wooden floor at the entrance of the house, Tomoya stepped up to the main landing, careful to avoid the edges of the walls. Occasionally his father would get violent during the hours of solitude, and would vent his anger by using the house walls as his own personal beer-dart board. This left shards of glass from shattered sake glasses everywhere amongst the edges. Sticking to the center of the room, Tomoya quickly leaped and hopped over the massive mess, careful to only land on areas where nothing but the ground inhabited it.

Reaching his room proved to be easier than he thought, and it both elated and insulted him at how good he'd gotten at navigating the mess. Stepping into the mess-free section of the house, he flicked on the light switch, then immediately cursed. The power had been cut some time ago when his father stopped paying the bill. There was no power in the house to support his search. Relying on sense of touch alone, Tomoya found his way to the curtains above his window and forced them open; the moonlight flooded the room, providing a subtle, but welcome glow, allowing easier movement.

Stepping to the old dresser, Tomoya lifted the corner of the massive piece of furniture and quickly fished out a white collared shirt and a pair of blue formal pants- his school uniform. Over the summer he had no reason for keeping it in his closet; there was no reason to. However, in the rush of moving into the Furukawa Bakery, he forgot that it was under the drawer this whole time. Quickly snatching it up, he turned to the door to leave...

Only to be stopped by a figure leaning against the doorway, his arms at his sides, his mouth hung slightly ajar.

"Tomoya-kun...where are you going?"

"Where the hell have you been? I've been expecting you for twenty minutes!"

"Where else? Making money for this damn household!"

"At least have the decency to call!"

"Shut your trap, woman!"

The very house seemed to shake as the two argued, coffee mugs and teacups being slammed on the kitchen table. Beside the table, a lone hourglass stood, recently turned over to begin a new timetable. Slowly the grains fell, obeying nothing but the gravity by them, grain by grain falling from the top glass.

Once again, Takafumi and Tomoyo found themselves in the same position as they had for the past week: Both were sitting on the sofa, their heads down, their hands clasped together. To anyone looking at them, one could think hey were sleeping, their faces concealing any emotion. However, inside was a different story; both were fighting the words they desperately wanted to shout, to scream, to yell at their parents.

But in the end, it would not help. Tomoyo knew from experience that nothing could shut the two up. The last time it worked, it nearly cost her brothers life. Back then, she thought things were finally settled, moving on the right track.

She was wrong.

Glancing to her left, she saw Takafumi's good hand shaking, his other hand reverberating uselessly from the others' actions. Ever since the fall, Takafumi had lost all the nerve endings in his left arm and hand. It normally either hung in a sling or uselessly by his side, unable to do anything. Shakily placing her own hand on top of his, Tomoyo gave him what she hoped was a reassuring smile.

"BITCH!" The sound of shattering glass as the coffee mug slammed into the table jerked them both back to reality. Tomoyo instantly stood up, ready to end the conflict by any means necessary. Just as she was starting for her parents though, she was blocked off by her brother.

His eyes lacked the usual fury aimed at the two, instead replaced by a neutral, almost blank look. Tomoyo expected him to stop at his parent's feet, but continued past them without a word to the back door. As soon as he reached it, Takafumi turned around and looked at Tomoyo, he mouthed "Goodbye."

He held his hand up when Tomoyo tried to run to him, to stop him. Shifting his eyes back to his parents, he attempted to catch their attention, to turn their troubles towards him instead of each other.

They didn't look back.

Turning back to Tomoyo, he gave her one last, sad glance before opening the door. Without a word to his parents, who were still arguing amongst each other, Takafumi stepped into the afternoon sun...

Only to be stopped by two men in business suits.

The setting sun was desperately trying to outrace the oncoming storm, its rays of light shining and reflecting off of the girls silver hair. But in the end, it succumbed to the vapor clouds, shrouded and concealed before it could reach the western mountains.

But it didn't bother her. Nothing mattered now.

Ambling down the streets, Tomoyo's eyes were far from in her head as she recounted the days events. Day after day had been one step forward, closer and closer to her goal. Her goal to become Student Council President was nearly in sight; Her goal to save the Sakura trees, save her brother, save her parents. All were in sight, just out of reach.

Now they were gone.

The first raindrops were beginning to fall as the first teardrops were falling from Tomoyo's eyes. Leaning against a nearby office wall, she forced her hand to her eyes, wiping them away hastily, desperately trying to keep her composure. At the same time, her entire body jolted from an unseen energy, causing her entire form to convulse, forcing more pain, more tears to the surface. Tomoyo desperately tried to stay up, forcing herself upright once again by sheer force of will.

"What have I done...?"

"Tomoya-kun...why don't you answer?"

Scowling slightly, Tomoya looked away from the drunken form of his father. Without making eye contact, he muttered: "Away from here."

"I see..." Naoyuki paused, seeming to choose his next words carefully. "It will be lonely here."

"As if you haven't noticed already? I've been gone for two damn weeks!" Tomoya shouted. "You've been so drunk that you can't remember when your own son left? Left because of you!" Tomoya knew he was overreacting, but loud yelling was about the only way for his father to slightly comprehend him. Sighting, he began to move forward. "Move. You're in my way."

There was no response from Naoyuki, so Tomoya began to move past him, only to be stopped by an arm against the doorway, palm flat, barring his way. Tomoya sighed again. "Move."

Again, no response. Ducking low, he tried to slip underneath the arm, but found his father's entire body now barring the door. Looking up, Tomoya saw a moment of blind drunken rage...

And then he was flying across the room, landing hard in the living area, landing amongst bottles of spilled liquor, the weight of his body crushing the bottles are forcing shards of glass into his arms. For a moment he lay there, trying to comprehend what the hell just happened; looking to his father, the blind rage was gone. His mouth was moving akin to that of a fish, desperately trying to find the words he needed.

Tomoya gave him no time to think. Without a second glance, he picked himself up and, without another word, walked out of his former father's house, the uniform laying forgotten by the door frame.

"NO! You're not going to take him!"

"Ma'am, if you would calm do-"

"I SAID NO! You won't take my brother from me!"

Shielding Takafumi from the two men, Tomoyo quickly got into a fighting stance. Though combat was one of her least favorite things, Tomoyo found she was rather competent at it. She'd protect her brother, no matter what.

The first man, a short, scruffy man in a blue suit shifted his tie and took off his sunglasses. "Ma'am, we've received calls from the neighbors around here. According to the reports, there's nothing in this house but arguing and fighting, and as such we believe that it would be best to place him in a foster home..."

Tomoyo shook her head vigorously, tears flying from her eyes with the force. "That's not it! He's my brother! If you give us one second to ans-"

"Tomoyo, stop."

Anger flared up at the statement, and Tomoyo wheeled on her father. "Shut up! Just shut up! It's your fault this is happening anyways! Just! Shut! Up!"

The second man, a tall, yet worn professional, interrupted her once again, stepping forward."We have authorization to use force if necessary to end this. So please, let's just keep this simple. Takafumi, please come with us." With that, he stepped forward to grasp his wrist...

Only to be stopped by a vicious uppercut from Tomoyo. The lackey was sent sprawling to the ground, grasping at his jaw and neck. Without pausing Tomoyo turned to the shorter man, who was trying to procure his sidearm. Charging forward, Tomoyo grabbed his wrist and forcefully pulled down, dragging both herself and the man to the ground. Without pausing to let him recover, she rolled onto her back and planed her elbow into the base of his stomach, right above the man's kidneys. With a strangled cry, he doubled forward and slammed into the kitchen table, rattling everything but the half-full hourglass upon it. He didn't get back up.

Springing to her feet, Tomoyo was blinded as a bright flash of red light flashed through her eyes, forcing her back to the ground. Through the haze, she saw the first man she took out struggling to his feet. Despite the light, however, Tomoyo was up and rearing, and attempted to charge him again...

Only to have four thousand volts of electricity course through her body.

The stunning effect of the taser forced Tomoyo to the ground, her vision swimming as unconsciousness took over, the electrical current coursing through her body as the shocks did what they did best: sending her to the ground screaming in pain, violent convulsions preventing her from getting back up.

The last thing she saw before finally succumbing to unconsciousness were the two wounded agents limping out the door with her brother in tow.

Her tears were flowing freely now, masked and obscured by the pouring rain. The pain was getting worse and worse as she now hobbled down the streets. Still, she did not stop, desperately moving towards an unseen objective. The lingering effects from the taser coursed through her arms and legs, sending uncontrollable spasms among her figure. The now pouring rain only served to numb her extremities, further reducing the control she had over her body. The cold water seeped through the meager sweatshirt she carried, easily overcoming her undershirt and began drenching her skin directly. Tomoyo's violent shivering failed to cease as her complexion began getting more and more pale.

`The clouds had all but obscured the sun, turning the sky a pitch black as the rain came down in full force. Great peals of lightning were now a common occurrence; one particular bolt struck a little to close to the resident power plant, and in a flash the city was plunged into darkness, the residential power short-circuited by the powerful blast. Now, the only source of light in the city were the very bolts flashing above them.

All of this: the sound of the thunder, the events of the days prior, the great flashes of lightning that dared defy the planet below, all easy to deal with on their own, became too much for Tomoyo to handle all at once.

Collapsing to the ground, she began to scream. All of her anger, her pain, her sorrow, all gathered and let loose in the most primitive way possible. The pounding rain around her, the flashes of lightning above, all of it throbbing and pounding into her skull once, twice, three times over. She screamed until she had no voice, she wailed until her lungs were sore, but the tears simply would not stop. The exertion was taking its toll on her, as Tomoyo could not see anything beyond two feet of her.

A faint scream, one she must have imagined since it was shouting her name, was all she heard before she finally collapsed from exhaustion, unwilling to fight any longer.

The storm was nothing but a mere annoyance to Tomoya as he walked amongst the deserted streets. The pain in his arm was mostly numbed by the cold; the pouring rain serving as both anesthetic and disinfectant as the watery tide washed away the blood. Tomoya had since pulled out the shards embedded in his arm, they weren't deep enough to cause any real damage. The light red stains that once covered his arm were all but gone, and the wounds slowly began their healing process.

Despite having no umbrella, Tomoya rather enjoyed the feeling of the rain against his skin. Washing away even the most vile of sins that he, his father, anyone committed, was something he took a great pleasure in. The city did not receive much rain as it was, so the rare downpour was a godsend for him.

Rounding the bend of the street, Tomoya found himself in the business district, just a block from Nagisa's house. Perhaps there he could find relief from the pouring rai-

A scream pierced the peaceful night, echoing through the streets. It sounded of raw anguish and pain, the purest form of mourning conveyed into a coherent sound. and the voice sounded vaguely familiar..."Tomoyo!"

Putting aside any assumed reasons for now, Tomoya dashed down the street and into the adjoining alley. Slowing down, he slipped into the muddy area, passing by flooded garbage bins and scaring off rats seeking shelter from the torrential downpour. Rounding the second dumpster in, he found her.

There lay Tomoyo, curled into a ball, the rain pounding her with every pattering drop that descended from the clouds. She looked soaked to the bone, and Tomoya could tell she was suffering from the early stages of hypothermia. Tomoya noticed two punctures in her arms as well; he'd have to ask her what they were later. For now, all he could do was gather her in his arms and began running as fast as he could towards the nearest place of shelter.

"Hang on, Tomoyo..."

The first thing Tomoyo realized when she awoke was the pain. Violent spasms wracked her body the moment she tried to move a single muscle. One twitch in her finger sent the entire arm into a shaking fit, which set off her entire body in a violent seizure. When the leftover currents finally stopped, the last of her energy taxed, she finally gave up the struggle and lay still.

It was then she noticed the people around her, with worried looks on their faces. Her parents, still in the same suits and apparel from earlier in the day. They remained perfectly silent, the only show of emotion was in their eyes, reflecting trace amounts of worry. They stared for a while, and Tomoyo stared back, both waiting for the other to make the first move.

Tomoyo, sick of waiting, decided to risk moving more muscles once again, this time deciding on speech. "What are you staring at?"

For a moment, their eyes tore away from her, flicking up to each other in silent communication. Finally, her mother spoke. "We thought you were in a coma, Tomoyo...we thought you weren't going to wake up."

"Well, you were obviously mistaken, Mother." The force behind Tomoyo's last word made her mother cringe, but she continued. "It's not like you cared before. Why the sudden change?"

Both spoke up to answer, but Tomoyo cut them off. "No, not why the change. Why now? Why only after I lost my only brother—no, hell, my only family! Is it only then that you decided to man up and give a shit about us, about our opinions, or our well being? You let them take him away, and did nothing to stop them!"

Tomoyo tried to continue, but received another aftershock from the taser, collapsing into the bed once again. Neither of her parents moved a muscle as she writhed around in agony. After five minutes, the spasms died down, and she weakly sat up once more. Tomoyo spoke up once again, her voice quieter and weaker then the last time. "Leave. You're dead to me."

Weakly swinging her legs out across the bed, she shakily rose to her feet, using the wall to support her weakened body. Without a moment's glance back, Tomoyo moved past her father, through the open bedroom door, passing knocked over lamp tables and spilled drinks to the door of her house. With great effort, she forced it open and stepped into the damp air of the outside, slamming the door behind her. For a moment she was hopeful, optimistic that the sound of their feet scrambling towards the door, towards her, would be heard.

The sounds never came.

As the door slammed behind her, the hourglass on the table deposited the final grains of sand into the basin.

The hospital itself was across town, miles away from their current position. Nagisa's parents had to barricade the bakery from the oncoming rain, some of the glass windows already shattering form the force of the storm. The school was no option either, the iron gate was impregnable to everything but the most hardened of criminals.

Which is why he was here, his father outside in the living room in the same position as before. Dancing across the floor proved slightly more difficult with a shaking girl in his arms, but in the end he prevailed and reached his old room.

Thankfully, Tomoya had no need to remove his old mattress from the room; Nagisa had a spare one he'd been planning on using. Praising his luck, Tomoya laid the trembling girl onto the mattress.

"She's still shivering...I have blankets in here, but they'll be no help with her clothes that soaked..." Grabbing a towel from the nearby closet, he reached beneath Tomoyo's jacket and wrapped it around her, just above her undershirt. Once it was secure, Tomoya quickly removed her soaked sweater, tossing it to the ground on the opposite end of the room. Stretching the towel down so that it reached the base of her knees, he did the same thing to her skirt, carefully, so as not to touch anything that would bring down her wrath.

"She's warmer, but what can she change into...?" Desperately glancing around the room for anything that she could wear, Tomoya cursed himself. "Why did I have to move to Nagisa's so fast...?"

He was about to enter the living area when he spotted the final hope; the discarded uniform that lay forgotten from his previous appearance in the house. Quickly snatching it up, he moved back to Tomoyo's side.

Keeping the towel around her, Tomoya leaned down and caught Tomoyo's now open, fearful eyes. Gently grasping her hand, he whispered softly into her ear. "I need you to change into my uniform. It's not going to fit, but its dry. You need to warm up."

Tomoyo could only nod silently, and, with a little help from Tomoya, was able to get into a sitting position. Carefully working her garments off from underneath the towel, she noticed that Tomoya had turned his head away, a faint blush on his cheeks. Quickly removing the towel, she changed with lightning speed, placing the towel on the floor beside her. Tapping her hand on Tomoya's shoulder, she lay back down on the bed.

With most of her body dry, Tomoya lifted the heavy wool blanket he found in the closet over Tomoyo, finally securing what little of her body heat she had left beneath the covers. Still, he noticed her mild shaking, and placed a hand on her shoulder. He was surprised when Tomoyo immediately leaned into his touch, drawing heat from his hand. It was only then that Tomoya realized how cold her skin actually was. Taking a deep breath, he asked the question that was make or break.

" you want me to hold you?"

There was silence for a moment, and Tomoya thought he had done something to offend her. But slowly, Tomoyo lifted her head and nodded slightly, affirming his question.

With a mild sigh, Tomoya lifted the blanket quickly, draping it over himself while keeping plenty for Tomoyo. Sliding an arm under the base of her neck, the other went around her waist, pulling her tightly to him. She did the same, trying to meld her body with his, desperately seeking whatever warmth she could. The rain continued to pour outside, the tremors of thunder causing Tomoyo to grip the man beside her a little tighter. Tomoya did not ask; he did not need to. All that mattered was she needed him.

It was nearly midnight when Tomoyo finally spoke. Two simple words that affirmed everything that Tomoya had done as the right thing, the words that would help her heal. Giving him a squeeze, she looked into his eyes.

"Thank you."

He could only nod. Pulling her back into his arms, she found herself more relaxed then she could ever remember.

In the end, there was no peaking light. No ray of sunshine to force its way through the rainclouds, to give light to the darkened and depressed world Tomoyo lived in. Nothing but the clouds above could stop the torrents of water falling to her earth. The tiniest problems, the smallest grains of sand, all piled up and culminated into a crushing weight on her very soul had taken its toll on her. She would not heal immediately. She would not find the light so easily, feel the sun on her skin the same ever again.

"But who needs the sun?" Tomoyo clung to Tomoya a little tighter. "I've got a ray of hope right here."

With that final thought, she finally succumbed to true sleep.

Story End.