Characters: Watanuki, Ame Warashi, and Yuuko; a bit of Maru, Moro, and Mokona.
Genre: Gen, a bit of angst
Warnings: Watanuki-related spoilers
Summary: The things that Watanuki learns one day as he walks home in the rain aren't all to his benefit.
Disclaimer: Own things? Me? ...No.
A/N: I can't entirely say the fic died; it's more like it was stillborn. Either way, I am Not Amused.
As Watanuki walked home, he was already thinking, thinking of the things he had forgotten, all of the half-remembered faces that lay sleeping in the back of his mind. Maybe it was a function of the rain, the way the little drops flowed into rivers and babbled to one another on the sides of the road: the noise made him think of days he had spent curled up in bed with a book in hand... but now he realized that he no longer knew any of their titles.
How stupid of him– he hadn’t even thought to bring an umbrella. But that was all right. (Later, he thought, I’ll be running my hands through my wet hair and wondering how it got like this. And in that yellow bed in the room without windows in Yuuko’s shop, he would never know, never never know....) And so he walked, looking down at his ghostly, rippling reflection overlaid on the pavement, and he was already thinking–
–And that was when she showed up. (Ame Warashi, and fortunately he could still remember her name at least.) She stood in the center of the sidewalk, all porcelain skin and curled, sky-colored hair. No, he corrected himself, not sky-colored, because she was rain, and this rainy sky was gray (gray like sodden autumn fields, like the fur of a scurrying mouse, like the favorite shirt of some half-remembered somebody–), whereas her hair, her eyes, were the blue of a cold lake. The cold part was definitely correct, anyway; she was giving him a very stern look that seemed to say, You’re only barely worth my time; remember that.
“It’s you,” she commented, stepping closer. She looked so ethereal that for a moment he contemplated reaching out to touch her, but he stopped himself before his hand had moved more than a twitch: she was also a person he was now separate from, even more so than the others.
“Yeah, me,” he said, unsure of what else to say; she was always difficult to deal with.
“You don’t look happy with the weather,” she stated, and this time there was a definite edge to her voice.
“Sorry. It’s just that I forgot my umbrella.”
“Humans. You’re all so petty. You think that the rain is about you getting wet? Like you matter– like humans at all matter?”
“I’ll explain it to you, I guess. Listen and maybe you’ll understand something for once.”
So she talked, and he closed his eyes and saw everything: people, small and unimportant, sitting in their warm houses, listening to the sound of rain in the gutters, and maybe the reason why it held their fascination was because on some level they understood what it meant. They were tiny, their lives were tiny, their hopes and fears and dreams were tiny, because in time, rain wore away everything– especially the collected dust of little lives. Cold water, falling from the sky– it might drench those frail little creatures to the bone, or it might not. Either way, the rain kept going; the rain didn’t care.
In the here and now (if that was what this was after all) Watanuki felt it creeping across the back of his neck and down the collar of his jacket and wondered if he was going to be cold all day. (Or if perhaps he was cold every day now. He remembered something about that: waking up between five layers of blankets and pressing his hand against his brow in search of a fever– only to find it as cold as a frozen cloud.) He shivered a little bit despite himself; maybe he would have once been humiliated by the scathing look she gave him at this show of weakness, but not anymore.
“Do you understand?” she asked, seeming oddly blank.
Watanuki paused, and smiled to himself as best he could, realizing that he would sound more blank than she could ever manage. “Yeah, I feel like that sometimes.”
They parted, because neither was truly talkative, and in time Watanuki found his way back to the shop, where Maru and Moro danced with Yuuko in the yard. Mokona sat on the witch’s shoulder, and it and she turned to glance at him as he stood by the gate.
“You’re back,” she commented. “I’m done with your umbrella, by the way. Here.”
She held one arm out toward him, and he saw that of course she was right; that black umbrella she was holding did belong to him.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t...”
“Hopefully it wasn’t a problem for you, walking home in the rain like that,” she commented; he realized that he couldn’t even determine quite what that tone in her voice was.
“No, no, it wasn’t a problem,” he said as he accepted the umbrella, staring at it the whole time. Now that he thought of it, he did remember lending it to her– about a century ago on the dark side of the moon.
He walked past her, ignoring the chime of Maru and Moro’s voices coming from behind him; he set down the accursed umbrella on a shelf and strode through doors and down hallways into the room Yuuko had lent him.
And he slept for three days as rain pattered outside, and at one point Mokona came and squirmed unhappily next to him; his skin was still cool to the touch.