Chapter 2


All of us paused, and looked at each other, partially shocked by such a grim opening. Emiko was the first one to give an actual reaction.
"Sounds like a pretty fun adventure story, eh?" she joked. Hanako blinked and then laughed it off as well. But I didn't pass it off as a simple legend as quickly as they did. To me, it sounded too serious to be a story.

"Well, I'd like to read it now but it looks like there's going to be another storm. The weather's been really weird lately," Hanako said, looking up at the now grey, cloudy sky.

"We'll just have to read it tomorrow. Hopefully it'll be nicer out," Emiko said. She stood up and stretched her arms then looked at Hanako. "Is Saiyeru staying with you or me?"
"I think it's my turn this week."

"Alright, did you want me to make dinner at your place then?"

"It's up to you. Your house is closer, though," he responded, standing up and brushing the grass and dirt from his pants. I stood up as well, still staring curiously at the old book in my hand.

'I wonder why Onii-san had this and never showed us. Was he hiding it?' I thought, somewhat worried. Yatsura never hid anything from me.

"Hey! Don't space out like that, Saiyeru!" Emiko called, waving her hand. She and Hanako were already part-way down the path before they noticed I was still standing at the tree. I blinked and looked up.

"Oh, sorry!" I called back, snatching up the other books and jogging to their side. I hand them to Emiko and turned to Hanako, smirking and reaching my arms up to him like a toddler. I often made Hanako give me rides on his back, mostly when I had to go to his house. It's funny how he always complained but never said no.

He sighed and kneeled so I could climb on. "How do we only have a year and a half age difference and you're still short enough for me to carry you on my back?" he whined, adjusting my legs.

"Less talk, more walk," Emiko directed, grinning teasingly. "That storm's gonna be here soon," she said, starting to move again.

It was a fairly quick trip, but that's probably because we got caught in the rain about halfway there and had to run. Emiko unlocked the door as quickly as she could and we burst inside. I grunted as I hopped off of Hanako and landed roughly on the floor.

"Well that could've gone better," I mumbled, wringing the water from my hair.

"You're telling me," Hanako grumbled, tugging his soaked shirt away from his body. "All of my clothes are completely wet except for my back. That just feels weird." He rolled his eyes when I laughed at him, then looked at Emiko. "Did I leave a shirt here by any chance?"

"Not sure. Check the guest room," she told him, kicking off her shoes at the door.

"Alright." Hanako turned and started towards the stairs, pulling his shirt off as he went. Emiko growled and crumbled a piece of paper, then threw it at his head.

"What was that for?" he exclaimed, looking back at us.

"You can't wait untilyou're upstairs to start changing?" she huffed. Hanako smirked at her.

"Why? Are you embarrassed?" he asked slyly.

Emiko huffed again. "Of course I'm not!" she claimed, folding her arms.

"Then stop complaining," he said, flicking the paper back at her and continuing up the staircase. Emiko rolled her eyes and stalked off into the kitchen. I just sat there quietly, and when they finished, I sighed, shaking my head. Those two were almost always bickering and arguing over some petty little thing. Sometimes, I felt like I should be the one taking care of them. I stood up and followed Emiko into the kitchen so I could help.

A short while after we had finished eating, the storm finally passed. We said goodbye to Emiko, I made Hanako let me ride on his back again, and we left. A few minutes had gone by in silence since neither of us really had anything to say. I stared down blankly at the three books he was holding, still wondering about the foreboding passage.

"Hey, Hanako?" I said quietly.


"Do you really think that book is just a fable?"

"You mean you don't?" he asked, turning his head a little to look at me. I didn't answer, so he chuckled and looked forward again. "Saiyeru, you sound like you're becoming just as superstitious as those villagers. There's no way it can be real."

"But we believe that gods like Izanagi and Haniyasu-Hime are real. So why can't that story be real?" I argued.

Hanako hesitated, trying to think of a way for me to understand. "We believe in gods because they explain why things happened and how they came to be. That element story doesn't explain anything, so it's just a story."

"But you haven't even read it yet!" I complained, starting to whine. Hanako sighed and rubbed his forehead.

"Fine, how about this; we wait until we read it, then decide on whether it's true or not."

I smiled, happy with this option. "Okay, that sounds fair," I said. By the time we got done talking, we had already reached his house. I always like going to Hanako's because it was so quiet and serene. His house was almost in the middle of an enormous, grassy field that always flowed in waves from the wind, and he had a koi pond with four bekko, two doitsu, two kohaku, and three tancho. Also, at night, hundreds of fireflies floated through the air, lighting the dark field. Sometimes, Hanako would catch fireflies, crickets, and frogs with me. I grinned as I hopped off of his back again, so he could open the door.

"Go ahead and change into your nightclothes and toss those wet ones into the laundry room. I'll get to them later," he told me, feeling that his back was now damp. I nodded and went up the steps to the guest room, where I normally slept. I grabbed my dark green pajama pants and my light green shirt, changed, left the wet ones in the hamper, and ran back down the stairs to the window.

"Hanako! Can we catch fireflies tonight? There almost more than last time," I called to him. He walked into the room and glanced out the window.

"I can't believe you still have energy for this. Aren't you sleepy?" I smirked at him.

"When have I ever been too sleepy to catch fireflies?"

He sighed tiredly and then smiled. "Alright, let's go then." I beamed at him then ran into the kitchen to grab two jars to hold the fireflies. There's never been a time where I haven't enjoyed doing this with Hanako because it was one of the few times where he genuinely smiled and laughed. It's no wonder why he refused to move closer to Makurai.

We spent nearly two hours leaping and pouncing on insects until we had 7 crickets and over 30 fireflies. Hanako laughed when I ran up to him, holding a muddy frog. It made a loud 'ribbit' and jumped onto my head then disappeared into the trees. I laughed and wiped my hands on my pants.

"I guess there was no point in having you change clothes," he started, sweeping a lady bug from his arm. "Now instead of being covered in rain, you're covered in mud. So you have to take your bath and change again."

"Aw! But I don't wanna stop yet," I pouted.

"You have to. Besides, it's getting late." I didn't respond, debating on whether I was going to listen or not. But Hanako didn't plan on giving me time to decide. He wrapped his arms around my legs and waist and hoisted me onto his shoulder.

"H-hey! Hanako, put me down!" I ordered, trying to wiggle free from his grip.

"Nope," he said simply as he walked back into the house. He pulled out another pair of my pajamas and tossed me into the bathroom.

"Hanako! I'm so going to get you!" I said loudly.

"Make sure you scrub all the dirt from your hair," he said with a laugh as he closed the door. I rolled my eyes and walked over to the tub to begin running the water. "Hanako can be so rough sometimes," I muttered, once again shrugging off my clothes.

A short while later, I walked out of the bathroom, now in my lime green pajama pants, with green apple slices, and a white shirt with a chibi green apple. I hope that by now, it's obvious my favorite color is green.

I looked down the hall and saw that Hanako was already clean and asleep in his bed. Normally, I would go in and wake him up, just to bug him. This time, I figured I'd just let him rest. I walked into the guest room, climbed into my bed, and fell asleep, mumbling the lullaby my brother used to sing to me;

Nighttime has come,
Gone is the sun,
Dream sky is spun,
Stars, one by one... Oyasumi, hush my love,
Oyasumi, hush my love,
Oyasumi, hush my love,
Hush, hush, hush.

Oyasumi, close your eyes,
Oyasumi, close your eyes,
Oyasumi, close your eyes,
Sleep, sleep, sleep.

Oyasumi, dream of me,
Oyasumi, dream of me,
Oyasumi, dream of me,
Dream, dream, dream.

Oyasumi, hush my love,
Oyasumi, hush my love,
Oyasumi, hush my love,
Hush, hush, hush.

Oyasumi, hush my love,
Oyasumi, hush my love,
Oyasumi, hush my love,
Hush, hush, hush,
Hush, hush, hush,
Hush, hush, hushhhhhhh.