Lost in the streets

Hours of bubbly crowds and pleasant chats flew by like the current wind blowing across Sei-An City. It brought nothing but a damper on many panicking shoppers as occasional rain droplets caught in its flow dampened the streets, giving a reflective sheen to stony cobbles. Clouds smoothly swept in above, but bitter cold refused to cease even though it logically should keep the heat in. Sunlight ever obscured beneath the blanket of clouds slightly dulled. Some passerby's peered up to the darkened sky with obvious signs of wishing for home. Some decided that whatever remained to be bought was unimportant, not worth it, and retreated for the beckoning warmth of their homes.

Not one to be particularly fond of the rain, or water in general for that matter, Kurow found his mood also dampened—just as he felt the rain gently dripping upon his head, soaking down, down, into the depths of golden strands, bringing shivers of an irksome chill down his spine. He would never like the rain, nor would he try.

Much to Kurow's interest, glimpsing Kagu in the perceptive corner of his eye revealed that she had become more chipper rather than the reversal he had undertaken. Contemplating eyes turned back to the street ahead: most city citizens had fled at the prospect of rain, leaving the shopping streets slightly more bearable. Did that play any major part in the change of acting in Kagura at present? Shaking his head, wet golden fringe swaying before his eyes, he tiredly sighed; he wondered why her suspicious nature attracted his attention so much.

Yet shining, blue eyes sharpened at how the narrow streets still remained majorly busy. Indeed, it some had fled, but most stubbornly stayed to embrace the oncoming downpour.

"Man, I'm beat," Kurow sighed, looking down and getting agitated at finding himself carrying all the bags.

Silence mysteriously replied with weightiness.

"Hey, Annoying Babe?"

Nothing replied. Kagu continued walking, heels clinking on stony streets, lost in her own head a couple of steps ahead of him.

Suspicion echoed in his snort as Kurow decided to float to catch up. He realised then that the entire time he had been shopping with Kagu—apart from the measurement incident—he had refrained in hovering. He had walked like any ordinary person beside his female companion. Why? Is it not obvious...?

Gruff men sneered from shop doors even though they would never understand. 'Mate, do you see that?' 'Are his feet not touching the ground?!' 'He looks strange, definitely not from around here,' or a woman would gasp and hoarsely whisper in alarm, 'stay beside me children, he could be dangerous.'

A sense of frightfully familiar loneliness gripped Kurow's heart in that moment. Almost as if succumbing to it, pale, little fingers lifted to grip pink material above his little heart. Clouds brought further shadows not only to the city streets...but also to the depths of his heart. Those narrow twists and turns of city passageways not unlike the narrowed corridors of his heart that seemed too fragile after enduring such a past as he. He glanced around with an expression of sadness. Snarls, frowns, glares, sneers. He darted his gaze behind him. Whispers, mutters, gossip, a sense of anxiousness he did not deserve…and did not wish to see.

Kurow felt more secluded than ever before, more different…more out of place. Swiftly, as if he had never let the soles of feet drift off realities path, he shakily sighed as the tall stilts of his sandals clinked upon stone. Clack, clack, clack…

"Don't you have work soon, Kurow?" Kagu suddenly piped up through her bout of silence, utterly unaware of his inner turmoil. Equal, terrifying silence answered. Onyx eyes widened as she spun around. "Kurow...?"

Kurow...had vanished.

XXXX

Scarlet stilts agonisingly slowly came to a halt. Deep within, Kurow felt something unusually stir. Felt...that recognizable tingle of someone calling his name.

"Dudette, are you calling..." Kurow trailed off, eyes wide. That presence, her presence...he no longer sensed it. He spun around, scarf fluttering around him—attempting to spot her. Not even a glimpse passed him. The bags in his fingers were gripped tighter. Am unheard curse hissed under his breath. Kagu was nowhere to be found. "Dude...I lost her!"

XXXX

"Kurow?!"Kagu yelled, alarmed.

Her breath caught. Bodies, too many bodies. Laughing crowds, so many voices, merging, merging. Blurs of colour as unaware people passed her. She bit her lip as she barged through, ignoring the 'watch it kid' or 'ever hear of excuse me?' She stood on tip-toe—desperate to see. Anything! She needed anything: a blur of blonde, a piece of pink, a slither of an all too familiar scarf, or even the colourful bags she had loaded him with. Nothing. She saw nothing...and her mind began to freeze.

The tiny Miko within an enormous crowd screamed for his name. The bells in her hair rang, blocking out the crowd. Or was that just the alarm bells in his mind ferociously banging? Thud, thud, thud, her feet thundered on stone, bolting down the street. Thud, thud, thud, her heart hammered against her ribs—relentless. Something felt wrong.

Kurow, where was Kurow. Alone, she was all alone.

"Please answer me, Kurow!" Kagu cried. Forcibly yanking someone out of the way. Desperation shone in her eyes. Her hair was a black flash as she searched. Feet stumbled as the ground seemed to tilt. The crowds seemed to spin...spin...

Beautiful orbs visibly glazed over. Once annoyed shoppers called to her in concern. Something was wrong, so terribly wrong.

XXXX

Shopping bags became a nuisance as Kurow fled down the street. They painfully stabbed into his side with every worried footfall. He could feel it, could feel it warning him, could sense some sort of wrongness somewhere. Inside his head he berated himself. If he had just paid more attention, just kept his attention on her.

"Annoying Babe!" Kurow yelled. The crowds—they blocked his measly voice out. His heart lodged harshly into his throat, all the while attempting to think positively. But he knew, if anything would grab her attention the most, it would be the nickname rather than her usual one. Only he would call her such a thing.

Temptation to just abandon the bags and search screamed at him. But he couldn't, shouldn't. A smouldering concern choked his very soul. Although, he knew it was not for himself. No, it was Kagu, concern grew for Kagu. Pupils shrunk. Miko or not, her strange behaviour today did nothing to ease him.

Most people gave him weird looks as he ran. Some only watched his back, unhelpful, watching that wildly flying scarf in his wake. Nobody even bothered to ask if something terrible had happened. Nobody dared to approach that strange blonde male. Nobody considered assisting him.

Above, skies blackened. The gale blew stronger. Rain fell heavier. And throughout weathers sorrow, Kurow's expression grew more openly distressed the longer Kagu remained unfound. He ignored the heartless rain that soaked him to the core, that drenched his hair that clung to his face. He did not care what people thought anymore as he skidded around a corner, puddles splashing beneath his feet.

"Where the hell did you go?! You couldn't have gone far!" Kurow growled, angry more at himself than anything else as he barged through yet another group of people.

All of sudden, Kurow's eyes widened in what he would never admit—fear. Heart jolted. Muscles tensed. Drenched locks of gold flew in his face. He unwillingly let out a cry as his eyes screwed shut.

Something had just grabbed his scarf!

"Dude, get off me!" He cried out.

He could feel it, his scarf, tightening, hurting. Yanking only made the squeezing worse. Growling in fury, he spun around to his inconsiderate captive. Sapphires burst into furious, icy flames—volatile. Utter anger was not a common mask for Kurow's normally cocky expression...and it showed.

What he abruptly came face-to-face with made him almost hesitate, almost. For there, with the end of his scarf clutched in a slender hand, a stranger in a mysterious black cloak stood. Kurow felt cautious anxiety build and frowned at how the stranger's face was concealed by a hood. However, he also calmed his struggling with a suspicious glare, which caused the stranger to smile warmly. Kurow could not ignore something that seemed familiar about that smile, it seemed...almost tender, affectionate.

Kurow decidedly dropped the bags in order to also grab his scarf, eyes ablaze. His pale fingers identically matched the stranger's own in colour, only centimetres away from each other. He stared at where the hood concealed hidden eyes.

Kurow's voice that spoke sounded almost desperate, "Seriously dude, could you let go? I'm trying to find someone!"

The stranger appeared to sense the little blonde's insecurity, for that smile unexplainably deepened. Unexpectedly, a content hum rumbled from the man's throat, and he carefully raised his spare hand. The movement was slow and cautious, obviously not wanting to frighten the young one. Kurow forced himself to take a step back despite his strangling scarf.

The man's smile became reassuring at witnessing Kurow's reaction. Yet gently, ever so gently, those slender fingers uncanny to Kurow's own brushed a pale cheek.

Instantly, Kurow turned rigid. He could feel them; feel those gentle fingers, feel their coldness brush against his skin. His eyes screwed tightly shut on impulse and he flinched harshly, and the man released a crooning sound. No, no he did not feel comfortable at all. He flinched away from the touch, edginess growing.

"Play your flute...mon ami."

Kurow sharply inhaled, shock evidently coursing through him like a gnawing poison taking him over. Frozen, he was frozen, as if ice laced every ligament, muscle, organ...emotion. Shock, shock was the only thing he felt, and it gradually crushed his chest. It felt as if a weight of reality had come crashing down. A peculiar coldness seeped into his spine. Wide eyes suddenly glistened, uncertain. Why, why did this man's voice...sound eerily comparable to someone else?

Flee: the only action that yelled in his mind. Flee. And that's exactly what Kurow did after frantically prying the man's fingers loose and bolting for it, hastily grabbing the shopping bags in the process. All the while shivers wracked his spine at feeling the man staring at his retreat: feeling the sent sympathy, apology, and care.

It did not take long for the Moon Tribe boy to be consumed in the jaws that were the crowd.

A sigh escaped the man as he watched Kurow vanish, voice sounding low, silky, and worn. The streets faded away into nothing in his senses, for all he could visualize through his mind's eye was the boy. So lost he was in his head that he did not notice unknown people start whispering about his suspicious air behind his back. Why would he acknowledge such a degrading thing when he had seen Kurow after so long? For the briefest of moments, he appeared reluctant to remove himself from the middle of the street, the wind flowing down the narrow passage lifting his cloak to epically billow around his tall frame. Slowly, ever so slowly, he partly raised his hood rim with delicate fingers.

To reveal those beautiful, blue eyes beneath—despondent.

Oui, you look like you are doing just fine.

XXXX

Mon ami.

Kurow kept glancing back over his shoulder, paranoid that the cloaked figure was following. He blinked at discovering that the other had not taken chase like he had expected. Never had such busy commotion in Sei An City's streets been more than welcomed. A sneer marred his face, Yeah, but it's Him. Hell knows what he's doing here...for all I know he's stalking me from afar.

"No...Dude it can't be," Kurow croaked while he fled, stuck in his own realm of denial. "I thought I would be rid of him. I accepted my fate damn it! Amaterastsu gave me a second chance. Why, why is he still haunting me? I did what he wanted—what he made me for!"

A sudden thought struck him true. His eyes widened in a greater concern than before. Kagu, what if the cloaked one had gone for Kagu! Why, why would he?

He had to find Kagu—fast.

XXXX

The Miko knew Sei An City like the back of her hand, but when the streets were this crowded it was like travelling into the unknown. Never had such chaos in the streets, all in the name of Halloween, been more unwanted. And the longer and longer she could not find Kurow, the worse and worse she felt, and it displayed as clear as day on her face.

It did not help how her heart raced relentlessly in her chest. It did not help matters when her breathing became irregular, desperate. It also did not help…when a black cloaked stranger headed in her direction, tricking on her nerves.

Watery eyes widened as she hesitated halfway down the street. She quickly got a hold of herself, scowled at the tall stranger who made her look left and right, ponytail swaying, for any alternative route. But she found nothing…this way a one way street. So, when he drew nearer to her, it brought nothing but anxiousness, setting her on edge. Fingers attentively hovered over her prayer slips strapped in her right pocket. Onyx eyes narrowed at noticing the stranger smile; her pupils glinted dangerously in warning. Her expression steeled into a glare—this person was suspicious. Although she visibly did not appear she would strike, there were hints of threat in her posture to those who had the eye for it. And it seemed the stranger did, for it unnervingly smiled to her.

But it all happened too fast. Before she could even register it, the cloaked stranger passed her, black cloak gracefully fluttering. She let out a yelp at the sudden brush against her shoulder as his body barged into her slightly. Clink! The sound of something clinking against the stone resounded, followed by a rattle as something rolled away. Signature scowl grew furious and she spun around to let verbal hell loose…

She froze with an eyebrow raised; blinking at the swallowing crowds…he just disappeared.

"Odd," Kagu whispered, at the same time glancing down to the floor in curiosity.

An interested hum escaped her as she spotted what had fallen from the stranger: a thin object that had rolled under one of the outside fruit stalls that…sparkled? Biting her lip, she glanced around to see if she could catch a glimpse of the stranger anymore. Maybe they would come back? Interest glittered in her eyes, plagued her mind. Regardless of her curiosity, she waited—staring.

After about a minute of standing there, apologetically moving out of people's way yet having eyes solely for the object beneath the table—and nervously sweating at people looking at her oddly—it appeared the stranger had not turned back. Perhaps she should just leave it be? But she frowned and kept looking to it in the corner of her eye as if the object was beckoning her to take it. She face-palmed at her own stubborn interest before eventually groaning in surrender.

Kagu sharply looked around in case anyone was watching before darting over to the stall. Carefully, she kneeled down in a way that her robes did not drape in the puddles. Gently, and easily, wrapping her fingers around the object, she picked it up with a cock of her head. The saying curiosity killed the cat replayed over and over in her mind.

First, she rested it in her palm, testing its weight. She found it to be expectedly light considering its size. Feminine fingers traced the smooth surface in interest, liking how the cylinder comfortably felt on her skin. Fingertips dipped into small holes in the wood and finally finished by just holding it as if it was a fragile china doll in her palms.

A sceptical eyebrow rose. "This reminds me of Kurow's flute, just larger."

Some sort of God must have heard her prayers at the mention of such a trivial thing.

A gasp escaped her as she unconsciously clenched the flute harder at hearing something. She sharply stood up to listen to an unmistakable sound: music. Kagu swelled in joy and ran towards it, slipping the found flute into her pocket. For in the air, sounding not too far away, was a familiar melody on the breezes of a flute that only Kurow played.

Little did she know, that the stranger had managed to take away the panic that had been building in her with his distraction. Or had that been the stranger's plan in the first place?

XXXX

Breathe, and then exhale. Down left index, up left middle. Up right fourth and right index. Exhale. Down all right. Down all left. Lift here, down there, all the while on the soft soothing breath of skilful lips. Sway, dream in your own music. Twist, allow yourself to play without a care, allow your own melody to sweep you off your feet. Soothe, soothe the currently tepid soul, soothe those worries away on the wind of your breath as notes carry on the aura of your own music. Open you heart, your flute is your heart. Close your eyes…your music is your eyes. Let yourself dream. You are you, nothing can change that. A graceful step, a body swivel, your scarf gracefully follows you like a partner in a one man dance.

XXXX

Kagu allowed herself to be entirely taken by the sheer sweetness of it all as she listened. Her fearful concerns and distress seemed to melt away from her face. Once frantic steps slowed to a pleasant walk through the crowds, a smile she would never admit she wanted to express trying to softly tug at her perfect lips. But she would not allow it.

Onyx eyes fluttered closed against her will. She was almost tempted to sway, to dance, to gracefully lose herself to that music…

XXXX

And all the while…you feel those curious stares. You distinctly hear the crowds slow to catch a slither of the emotional miracle you play. Those shining eyes in awe, or those eyes closing in bliss only the soothing piece you blow can extract from the prisons of their hearts. Once boisterous crowds silence in a sensation most would never be able to understand. And those who did had experienced such mysteries first hand. For this is music…

And it's the beautifully elegant music Kurow plays upon his beloved flute…and it can be felt on so many levels.

XXXX

Crowds that once put her heart on edge faded from her, literally turning a blinding white in her eyes. For all she knew was that flute's melody that cast her ghosts away.

Kagu breathed in deeply. Her body does a small spin, a smile she can't restrain. The tune is recognisable to her and she hums it in unison, feeling it touch her deeper that way. To be one with music is to offer a part yourself…

XXXX

Golden hair gracefully flutters, sparkles magically gather, closed eyelids relaxed, and those stilts that had previously been grounded by conscious fear mesmerizingly dance that slow waltz inches from stones below. To be one with music is to succumb to it—hold no hesitance—seize it! Heaven knows he had done it so many times it had become a pleasure he could not ignore.

Play your flute...mon ami.

XXXX

She can't contain it as she elegantly twirls around a street corner. She spins faster, ponytail a flowing ribbon of elegance around her. Some watch dumbstruck at her talent, at her beauty, at her grace. Autumn leaves swirl to her whim about her feet. Falling leaves of orange and red descend to be caught in her dance. Heels clink. Leaves flurry. Tingles take her breath away. Her smile, so dazzling, so infused.

Faster, faster she spins, eyelids slipping closed. All the while allowing herself to be carried on the flute's luring music—closer and closer.

Laughter she can't explain builds. Another twist, another spin, another leap only she could pull off. Crowds whistle in applause. She laughs louder. Building, something is building.

XXXX

An elegant leap. A crowd of awe gasps. A burst of magnificent sparkles that drift on the wind. A flutter of a red scarf as Kurow reaches the climax of his piece. Thoroughly lost, he is lost not in the streets but in his own world. Fingers move swifter upon his instrument.

Play your flute.

XXXX

People who once sneered willingly moved from Kagu's path, all grinning in amazement. She felt as if she had entirely melted and her liquid flowing, flowing, flowing down a current to lead to the source. A flourish of her wrist. A perfect wave in her hips. She feels it overflow, grace multiplying. Powerful, the music is so powerful. Power, power—closer, closer. Beauty: surreal. Building—stronger.

She spun into a cheering crowd.

XXXX

Climaxing notes unfold. Louder and louder, reaching an end. Such shivers it provokes in the applauding crowd. And as Kurow smiles uncontrollably, lips still giving his instrument life, he cherishes this moment.

A small circular space is what he performs in as he secretly draws Kagu in like a piper drawing in his prey. Just a little more—end drawing nearer.

XXXX

Kagu suddenly slips through the crowd into the performing ring. Onyx eyes are closed, not noticing the music playing straight into her ears. She is nowhere if not in the haze of her own mind. Another sharp turn, her Miko dress flutters. Another beaming smile that could take any man's breath away. Another heart stopping spin—straight around Kurow.

Kurow floats a slow spin—slipping passed Kagu. His eyes screw tighter at the musical climax upon his heart.

Both performers' eyes remain closed, unaware. Rain is unfelt, forgotten. Tension no longer exists, vanished. Both talented actress and skilful musician merge into one ballad of holiness. And as Kurow poises for the final note, Kagu feels tears stinging her eyes.

He strikes it perfectly! High note long and clear, strong and true. The Miko spins so fast she is a blur as she spins to finish, on par with Kurow's last note, beside him.

Surrounding crowds cry in sheer emotion. Such a climax, it hits their very soul, the music and dancing something worthy of the gods themselves.

The note breaks off and Kurow's eyes shoot open, signature smirk in place as he winked to the crowd. Kagu does a smaller spin and absorbs the praising cheers as if she had been onstage. Only then, in that final moment—side by side—did both flourish their bows in unison. It all seemed so planned, so unreal. Both wave at their audience as some even throw yen their way for such a spectacular show.

Kurow sensed Kagu's presence and turned his smirk to solely rest on her. "Dudette, took you a while. I wasn't worried about you one bit."

"Again, Kurow, I didn't ask," Kagu snorted, rolling her eyes. Fortunately, the crowd clapped and cheered so loudly they could not hear them. "And no, before you ask…I wasn't worried about you at all."

"Wasn't gonna ask, Annoying Babe," Kurow laughed, and Kagu made sure no smile lit her face even though it desired to. "Anyway, wanna head over to Ruby Ráe? My shift's starting soon…but don't tell Kuni and co alright? You know I don't allow anyone to see me at work and they'd pester me if they found out you did. Grab the bags Dudette, and yen."

Little does Kurow know…that a black cloaked stranger is smiling in upmost affection to him and clapping as one of the crowd.

"Merci for such a performance, Little Doll. Could not have done it better myself."

xXEnd of chapterXx

READ SERIOUSLY: In order for the full effect of the 'flute section' as I call it, listen to this on a separate tab whilst you start reading from the line "For in the air, sounding not too far away, was a familiar melody on the breezes of a flute that only Kurow played" all the way to the end—you won't regret it: it is on Youtube under the exact name 'Beautiful Chinese Music—Bamboo Flute' and is the one with the pic of the girl on the right holding an umbrella, made by Youtuber 'TaiGekTou.'

It does not match the words perfectly, but the emotion I found it hit in me as I was writing…I thought I would share it with you. ^^ Hope you get the same effect. Earphones advised as it goes through you more. ;)