AN: Thank you for all your reviews, animegirl545! I write as much as I can everyday and post them immediately when I'm done. I know how it feels to wait for weeks, even months, for a new chapter... so I take that in mind as an author. c:
The sound of splashing water echoed throughout the bath; I sat on a stool beside the tub, soaked from sponge bathing. I let out a satisfied sigh and stretched my spine out and lifted my arms up high above my head. One good thing about visiting my grandfather's house was his large traditional Japanese washroom – the bathtub was made out of solid teak, as was everything else in the room. To be honest, it wasn't that big. But, then again, anything was bigger than the tiny washroom we had back home.
I climbed into the tub and sank into the hot water. My legs finally relaxed and let their sore muscles' pain thaw away. The bath was heavenly. I let out a hearty yawn and rubbed the remaining sleep from my eyes. Then I heard a light rapping at the door. The water swished audibly when I turned to ask, "Yes?"
There was a long pause. Oh well, they must have left. I moved back to my previous position and began to ease back into the water until I heard a voice.
"Hotaru?" Gin's voice, that is.
Cue crazy splashing noises; I fumbled out of the tub and yanked the nearest towel all the while somehow avoiding falling on my face as I scrambled to the door. With the towel completely secured around my chest I cracked the door open to meet with a pair of pale gold eyes. My eyes darted to the floor.
"Shouldn't you, you know, be resting?" I laughed nervously. When I mustered the courage to look back up at Gin I saw him just staring at me. With a sheepish smile I waved my hand in front of his face and said, "Gin?"
"Sorry." He blinked out of his daze and looked away respectfully. Gin was wearing the forest green yukata that my grandfather had lent him; it looked nice.
An awkward silence hung in the air for a few minutes until he glanced back at me.
Gin was blushing.
"Your hair," He breathed slowly, "It's different."
Of all the things to say...
I giggled softly, "Of course, it's wet!"
Gin glanced back at me again, "No, not that. Is it longer?"
I could barely see his face, and before I could even try to guess what he was thinking he turned his back completely.
"Gin?" My voice was full of concern; I placed a hand on his shoulder.
He shook his head and placed a hand over mine.
"Your aunt told me to check up on you; apparently, you've been in the bath for four hours."
My eyes widened in shock. Now that he mentioned it my fingers were awfully wrinkled and raisin-like.
"Here..." Gin lifted his free hand over his shoulder; my travel bag hung limply on is index and middle finger.
. . .
"Hotaru, come here for a minute." My aunt's index finger beckoned me to her side from the kitchen. I had just finished changing into a fresh set of clothes and my hair was still wrapped up tight in a towel. I mumbled an 'eh?' and walked over to her. She was preparing left-over chicken bones for broth.
"Your friend, what's his name?" She asked, not even looking away from her task at hand; from what I could see of her face, she was concentrating hard on something.
"Gin," I stated, heat rising to my cheeks, "His name is Gin."
"Gin?" She echoed, and then repeated with exaggerated enunciation, "Gi-n, hmn?"
My aunt patted her hands dry with a nearby dishtowel then went and popped the lid on the electric rice maker, frowned, and then slapped the lid back down mumbling something like 'five more minutes.'
"Why?" I asked.
With mild surprise she turned to me and adjusted her glasses, "Oh, Haruko dear, I thought you already walked away!"
I shook my head but didn't say anything in response.
"It's nothing," my aunt playfully 'shooed' me to leave with a smile, "Don't worry about it."
I half-smiled and walked down the hall to the guest bedroom where Gin was resting peacefully on a futon on the floor. As quietly as I could, I tip-toed over to him on the tatami mat floor and knelt beside him. Silently, I watched his sleeping face.
He looked a lot healthier, which made me smile. I pushed back his bangs and to check his temperature, but he stirred in his sleep and caused me to pause. But he didn't wake up. I exhaled a breath of relief and raised my free hand to my forehead to compare our temperatures.
I frowned and drew back my hands. He still had a fever, even if it was a low-grade one; sweat was even starting to drip down his temple.
Gin was really here, sleeping, in front of my very eyes.
I eased the damp towel off my head and cleaned the sweat from his face. My wet hair fell in dark clumps of tendrils around my face; wind blew my now-free hair around playfully. Wait, wind? I recoiled from Gin's sleeping form and looked around the room.
"Kafuu?" I whispered to the empty room. With bubbling laughter the wind spirit materialized before me in a whisp of wind.
Gin stirred in his sleep. I turned to Kafuu with a stern look, my index finger pressed against my lips.
The little boy opened his eyes in realization and nodded. Then, he loudly whispered, "Since you didn't come today I decided to come to you!"
"Shh!" I hissed with a small smile playing on my lips. The little spirit gasped and breathed an 'oh, right!' before looking down at sleeping Gin.
"Is that Gin?" He whispered, still loudly, but a little more quiet this time around. I nodded happily and turned to look at him.
"Why is he here?"
"I don't know."
"How is he alive?"
"I don't know that, either."
Kafuu came to sit on my lap and the two of us quietly gazed at Gin.