EVERLASTING SUMMER

(NATSUME YUUJINCHOU FANFICTION)

CHAPTER 1

Natsume opened his eyes slowly as he felt the blinding light surrounded him. There was nothing. No one.

He was alone.

"Nyanko-sensei?"he called his bodyguard, but there was not any sign of the pig-cat. "Touko-san? Shigeru-san?" he kept calling everyone he knew. Natori-san, Tanuma, Taki, Nishimura, Kitamoto, Hinoe, Misuzu… He tried to suppress the lonely feeling and sadness that started growing inside him.

"Takashi…"

Natsume spun around. A woman with long brown hair was standing close to him. She was wearing a white kimono. He couldn't see her face, but she looked like…

"Reiko-san?"

She shook her head. "Takashi…" She seemed sad, and her voice made Natsume's heart ache. She was not familiar to him, but deep inside he felt that he recognized her.

"Who are you?" he asked. She reached out her hands to cup his face. "I'm sorry, Takashi."she said. Suddenly she disappeared and Natsume was left alone again. He touched his cheeks ― they were warm. Unconsciously his tears fell one by one, leaving burning effects on the place where that woman had touched him. He cried because he knew who she was and he had been longing for her soft caresses.

"Mother…"

Natsume stared blankly at the ceiling. He had been crying in is sleep again.

"Another nightmare?"

He glanced at his left side. Nyanko-sensei was curling up on his futon, looking at him curiously. Natsume would never be able to lie to him, the youkai knew him too well.

"No," he replied. BecauseIdreamaboutmymotherfortheveryfirsttimeinmylife, he wanted to -sensei 'humph'-ed him and went back to sleep. There is no way I'll be able to go back to sleep after having that kind of dream, the boy thought. He got up carefully and walked to his desk. He took an old photograph of his parents. Touko-san had insisted to put it in a frame after he had lost it once.

He took a good look at his mother. Her physical figure resembled Reiko-san so much, although they had different eye color. He brushed his finger to his mother figure. Why did she cry? Why did she apologize to him?

"Natsume-sama…"

He sighed. Well, he would not go back to sleep anyway so why didn't he do his job? He opened the curtain, ready to serve his 'guests'.

"Natsume, are you okay? You look so pale,"

Natsume smiled at Nishimura. "I'm fine," he assured him. Having given back three names last night really drained his strength off.

"Natsume-kun, you should take care of yourself more. You looked more tired lately, you're also barely able to stay awake in class,"Sasada said. She had the point. Natsume felt so strangely tired lately, sometimes he thought that he wouldn't be able to make it to the next class. He even had passed out during the class last week even though he had had enough sleep the night before.

"You're right…" Natsume trailed. His eyes caught a glimpse of a woman outside the window before she vanished in a second.

"What's wrong?" Nishimura asked.

"…Nothing."Natsume said. He flipped the pages of his Japanese Literature book. Was it just his imagination? He thought that he had seen his mother (or maybe his grandmother, he couldn't tell since they're so similar). Was it just a mere youkai? He massaged his forehead. He already got a headache by thinking about this. The letters in his book didn't help either. He was about to throw his book away but he stopped when he noticed the red blots on the white paper.

"Wha…" He felt so dizzy all of sudden, his vision blurred and he vaguely heard Sasada's voice. He tried to stand up while covering his nose with his hand. Nosebleed? That was weird. Ever since he had been a child he never got a nosebleed. He swayed, it seemed like he didn't have any strength left. He let his body fell, but someone had managed to catch him before he hit the floor. His eyes met a pair of beautiful black eyes.

"Natsume!" that person shook his body. "Natsume!"

Natsume closed his eyes slowly, bringing the image of a very worried Tanuma into the darkness.