A/N: So I've finally gotten around to writing a sequel to Worthy of a Name, but things didn't turn out the way I planned (they never do). I had initially intended to create a long one-shot, but then realized that there was far too much I wished to explore, so I have decided to change the format into a drabble. Like the anime and manga, there will be mini-arcs, but most of the time I intend for them to be little slices of life, explorations of how Natsume's life has changed- or stayed the same.
The Marks of Godhood
From the time I was a small, I've been able to see strange things. Since nobody else can see them, they are probably what you would call spirits.
And now I am one of them.
"That's weird. They're not coming off."
He scrubs at the red marks that encircle his wrists in a way that is not quite panicky, too preoccupied to notice the beauty of his surroundings. Midnight has just passed, but the forest is cast in the shadows of floating blue foxfire, illuminating the ferns and stream in a brilliant glow of turquoise.
Natsume continues to scrub, but the brightness never fades despite the fact that he has been at it for at least fifteen minutes. If he looks closer, the marks look like it has become a part of his skin, like tattoo bracelets of bloody crimson. It is not something he wants to think about, so he shoves his hands back into the water, and hopes that this time the wrists will come out clean.
"What in the world are you doing, you idiot?"
Nyanko-sensei appears suddenly, not in his usual cat form, but in his true form as a large white beast. Natsume sighs, feeling as well as seeing the disgust written all over spirit's face. Not wanting to show just how desperate he actually is, he keeps his tone irritated, as if all that is wrong is Nyanko-sensei asking him ridiculous questions.
"Washing my hands. What does it look like I'm doing?"
"It looks like you're doing something stupid is what you're doing."
Some of his desperation must have shown through anyway. Nyanko-sensei gives a snort, and comes closer to where he is. Not close enough to punch, which Natsume finds amusing in spite of everything.
"Idiot, if you want them to disappear you can just will it away."
"Will it away?"
Nyanko-sensei doesn't say anything. The white beast gives him a look that makes it all too clear that he considers Natsume a hopeless idiot. Sighing again, Natsume takes his hands out of the stream, and closes his eyes.
"You don't need to close your eyes."
He ignores this, and concentrates on the image of his face and body as it was before, willing it to be that way once more.
When he opens his eyes again, his wrists are back to normal. Natsume peers into the stream to check his reflection, and is relieved to see a distinct lack of red lines and circles.
"Thank you, sensei," he says, and he means it.
As Nyanko-sensei engages in a series of shivers and over-the-top gagging at the sincerity, Natsume laughs, knowing that both he and sensei are aware that they are only acting out familiar roles, roles that are played to create familiar ground, to pretend that what has happened is only a dream.
But it only heightens the uneasiness he feels, the knowledge that this is only the beginning. There are far more things he'll have to learn—too many of them he won't know he'll need until it happens.
Or until it's too late.