The Beginning – Himawari's Story
The girl pressed her hand against the warmed metal of the vehicle's bumper. The heat against her skin from the summer sunshine bit into her skin, so sharp and bright she thought for a moment she could have been touching ice instead of hot metal. She turned back to her mother and smiled indulgently. It was her first day at her new school and her mother had wanted to drop her off personally and wish her daughter good luck.
Himawari waved goodbye to her parent and made her way into Private Cross High School. She was rather excited to start. It was a new place, filled with new faces and opportunities. Himawari's father had been reassigned for work to Kyoto, so the company had paid for the Kunogi family to move to a modestly small but lavishly decorated home that was only a few blocks away from her school. While Himawari would miss all of her friends in Tokyo she was ecstatic to live in Kyoto. The beautiful city, being placed in a valley that was surrounded by mountains and rich in cultural history, was like a dream come true.
All of the students were wearing their summer uniforms. Himawari adjusted her shirt slightly as the strap of her her bag pulled at her sleeve while she walked up the stairs to the front door. Few of the students paid her much mind as she made her way through. She was starting roughly a month into the school year so she expected a few curious glances as she checked her schedule but she had not received any yet. A sea of black uniforms swept passed her while she looked at her new schedule sheet. She wondered when she would start getting questions about being new.
Her first class was English. Himawari hoped that her studies were up to the level that her new classes would be at. Private Cross High was a well renowned school in Kyoto and she very much wanted to do the best she could. She looked up and followed the room numbers until she reached room 11-7b.
She walked into the doorway and headed up to the instructor's desk. She handed her sheet over for review. Before she could say anything the woman snatched the paper away and looked up to her. "Oh!" The small woman exclaimed. "Kunogi-chan!" She exclaimed. "You're the new student. I am Tsuyuri-sensei. Please take a seat over there," she pointed a long, thin hand towards a currently empty desk near the back of the room. "I'll have you introduce yourself as soon as class starts."
Himawari bowed slightly. "Thank you, sensei." She took her schedule back and trotted over to her desk and sat down. She settled herself in her seat and shoved her extra supplies under her desk. She had yet to be assigned a locker yet so she was stuck carrying everything with her.
Students trickled into the room in the few minutes that remained before class started. Himawari swept her gaze over her new peers and wondered who they were and which ones she would be friends with soon.
Two students walked in with each other a minute before the bell rang. At first Himawari thought they had caught her attention because one of the boys was so very tall. She wouldn't doubt that he was the tallest person on campus – he easily towered above everyone at six and a half feet at least. The boy next to him was a few inches shorter and wore glasses. Himawari's eyes then took in the differences in their posture and stature and she was starting to think that perhaps this was why they had suddenly caught her interest - they looked like they should have been at opposite ends of the social spectrum.
The taller boy was certainly very handsome, but the expression on his face could not have looked more bored if he tried. His shoulders were broad and his back was ramrod straight. His skin was lightly tanned and his hair was short and black.
The other boy, the slightly shorter one, was as tall and gangly as his companion was muscular and composed. His hair looked thin and wispy and it tickled a little at his dark blue eyes. For a moment Himawari had to tilt her head to the side and stare at the eyes again to confirm if it was a trick of the light that made his right eye look a little yellow instead of blue.
To give him a label that was apt was, maddeningly, nothing more than 'nerd', even though the boy really was prettier than what nerds were supposed to look like. His arms clutched his books to his chest and his posture was a little hunched, like he was huddling into himself without realizing it. He looked grumpy.
Himawari was then even more curious as she noticed that the taller boy was resting one of his hands on the small of his companion's back as he led them towards their desks in the middle of the room. It seemed like a very intimate gesture. She averted her gaze quickly when one of them looked towards her and took their seats.
The bell rang and Tsuyuri-sensei happily greeted everyone with the new day.
. . . . . . . . . .
Himawari looked behind her as the sound of a girl's voice drifted her way through the crowd of students. She did not recognize the person that was walking up to her.
The girl's black hair was tied up in a pony tail that bounced and swayed as she jogged. "Kunogi-chan! You're new, right? I'm in your chemistry class. Oosako Itsuko." The girl bowed politely.
Himawari smiled. "It's nice to meet you! Please, call me by my given name, Himawari."
The girl, Itsuko, smiled. "All right, Himawari-chan. Would you like to eat lunch with us today?"
Himawari smiled and felt her chest swell with elation. A lunch invitation on her first day! She wouldn't have to sit alone. "I'd love to!" She tightened her hold on her wrapped lunch box and looked around in question. "Where do you normally eat?"
"Follow me!" Itsuko exclaimed. She turned and started to walk towards one of the exit doors to outside. "We usually like to eat at the lunch tables that are outside when the weather is nice. On cold or rainy days we eat in the study hall room."
As soon as they exited the building there was a sizable group of people that started waving at Itsuko. The girl's face brightened with a smile. She waved back. "That's where we're going!" She turned back to Himawari. "There's so many people to introduce you to!"
Himawari looked around at the rest of the students outside as she followed her peer to the table filled with new faces. People in identical black uniforms milled about with little aim at any particular destination.
Her eyes moved again and widened slightly as she caught sight of the two male students from that morning. They were sitting underneath of a tree and eating their lunches. They were a bit far from her and she couldn't see very much, like what might be packed in their lunch boxes or hear what they might be saying to each other. They probably weren't talking at all as the taller boy looked too busy chewing his food to open his mouth.
"What are you looking at, Himawari-chan?" Itsuko asked.
"Who are those two, Oosako-chan?" Himawari nodded her head in the direction of the unknown students.
"Oh, so you've noticed them," Itsuko replied, her voice flat. "Don't pay any attention to them, Himawari-chan. Rumor has it that they're dating. They're very weird."
"Dating?" Kunogi asked with surprise. She'd never met anyone before that was actually homosexual, though she wasn't opposed to the idea. "What's wrong with that?"
"It's not just that," Itsuko stressed. "It's Watanuki, mostly. Everyone calls him a bit of a freak, and once you're here long enough you'll see exactly what they mean. He spazzes out at the strangest times, like in the middle of class or getting a drink of water from the fountain. Also, he's always hanging around Doumeki-kun! Like he can't live without him. You never see one without the other!"
Perhaps that was a bit strange, if it was an unhealthy attachment, but Himawari kept any reservations she may have had to herself. She didn't want to judge those two before speaking with them herself. She did wonder what Itsuko meant when she said that Watanuki would 'spaz out.'
"Which is which?" Himawari asked.
"Doumeki-kun is the taller one. He's the star performer on the archery team. They haven't lost at the nationals since he joined. The shorter one is Watanuki. But stop thinking about that!" Itsuko grabbed her hand and led her up to the table where her friends were at. "You have to meet everyone here!" Each person was introduced with smiles and nods but the names glazed over Himawari's memory without actually sticking. She did not know why she was so curious about those two boys, but she felt already that perhaps they were being harshly judged. She wanted to know more.
She bowed to the expectant faces before her. "It's lovely to meet all of you. Thank you for inviting me to lunch!" In the meantime, she'd make as many friends as she could before ostracizing herself.
. . . . . . . . .
The Beginning – Doumeki's Story
Doumeki stopped to stare in confusion at the spectacle before him. A young man was wriggling around on the sidewalk a few paces ahead of him like a worm. He wondered what would cause a person to act in such a way. Were there ants in his pants? A seizure, maybe?
Hmm... he squinted his eyes and turned his head to the side a little as he scrutinized the scene. No, it didn't look like a seizure. The boy was clearly yelling obscenities. He didn't think anyone seizing could speak quite that coherently. Or that loudly either. This had to be the noisiest person he'd ever seen.
The boy's body contorted in ways Doumeki didn't realize bones and muscles could. Really, it was quite a feet. The boy could join a circus with moves like that.
The boy started coughing and wheezing loudly. Doumeki walked a little closer as the choking and gurgling noises continued and the boy kept writhing. Really, what was wrong with him? Perhaps he'd had an allergic reaction to something? Was his throat closing up from a bee sting? Or a previously unknown peanut allergy?
A little closer still and Doumeki still couldn't make heads or tails of what was happening to the kid. The coughing was sounding worse, but it was happening less often. The boy's face was starting to turn a little blue. A closer inspection still, and Doumeki had to check again to make sure he'd seen it right.
Yes, indeed he had. There were wisps and shadows flickering over this boy's form. Doumeki looked up at the sky overhead and saw no clouds to block the sun. It wasn't even windy that day. He looked down again and still those dark, shadowing thing were there. Doumeki felt his confusion grow when suddenly one of the boy's arms jerked around as though it were being tugged by an invisible force.
When his body was suddenly lifted up entirely and there was a good six inches between the bottom of the young man's feet and the concrete sidewalk, Doumeki knew. It was the first time he'd felt fear in quite a while. Doumeki knew of spirits. He knew of his grandfather's work as an exorcist, he knew about holy things and hungry spirits and the paper wards his grandfather created and sold at the shrine. Doumeki, however, didn't know if he had the same powers his grandfather did, and he didn't know if he'd be able to exorcise this seemingly powerful spirit.
He forced his feet to rush to the boy that was dangling in the air, his lips blue and his face ashen in color. "Oi!" Doumeki yelled to him. He reached out and went to grab the arm that was dangling by the dying boy's side. The moment his hand made contact with him the shadows vanished instantly and the boy fell to the ground in a heap, coughing and wheezing and chest heaving with breath.
Doumeki was a little surprised that a touch was all that was needed. He looked down at the young man as he recovered. He felt like he knew this person. He had heard his name somewhere and knew, just from the uniform alone, that they went to the same school. Why couldn't he remember his name? Doumeki merely shrugged to himself and settled with a generic: "Oi."
The dark blue eyes of the boy snapped up to look at him. His eyes were bloodshot and his neck was red and bruised. A look of annoyance crossed his face, as though his personal space had just been violated by Doumeki and not a hungry spirit out to eat him. "What?" The boy snapped.
"You okay?" Doumeki asked, his voice neutral.
The boy's shoulders shuddered and he hugged his arms to his chest. "What do you care? Don't stick your nose in other peoples' business."
Doumeki sighed. "Idiot."
"Don't call me an idiot!" He bounced up to his feet and glared. "The name's Watanuki. Watanuki. See? Easy, even for a cave-man like you!" The boy – Watanuki – snatched up his school briefcase swiftly and started to stomp his way angrily down the street. It was interesting to see how quickly he had recovered.
Doumeki started walking down the same path behind him. After a couple of blocks Watanuki looked behind himself with a scowl. "Don't stalk me! I can find my own way home!"
Doumeki stuck a finger in his ear as the decibel levels of Watanuki's yell increased with each word. "I'm not stalking you. I'm going this way, too."
"Yeah, right! I take this way home every day and I never see you! Where the hell do you live, anyway?"
Doumeki pointed in the general direction of his home. "I live at the local temple. I'm normally at archery practice, but the coach was sick today. I don't normally go home until much later."
Watanuki sniffed and lifted his nose a little, but seemed to accept the story. "Right, yeah, big archery guy. Whatever. Don't follow me home next time, jerk." He turned around again and kept walking. Doumeki watched him until he lost sight of the boy as he walked around a corner and down another street.
Whatever was hunting that boy was going to come back. Doumeki wondered if Watanuki was going to live through 'next time.'