Thank you for joining me for this little bit of fluff. Started over a moth ago and intended to be posted before Christmas, I wrote this fic with no other reason or purpose then just because. It was inspired by the first real snow fall we had where I am now and the best snow I've gotten in almost Fifteen years.
This fic is dedicated to some of my long time readers and those have been in this section for as long and longer then I. This especially goes out to Rose-chan, Topaz, and Nerf.
So without further adieu...
A Walk in the snow
Warm breathe in the chill air, a silence lulls the countryside as a gentle, velvety blanket of snow cascade across it's hills. A foot or more fallen over the early afternoon, no sign shows for it to consider to slow. Almost warming, despite it's pure white ache of cold. So many souls did the wiser by huddling safely in doors. Having fallen so fast and so thick in contrast to the true brightness of the day, streets and sidewalks a like rest under the unmarred perfect color, leaving the often busy Juuban street in a haunting shell of itself, so clean, so calm, and so dead to the world.
But she's still there. Breathe wisping in the frigged air from with in the fuzzy hood of her white fur coat, only her chin and the tip of her nose peeks out from it's protective folds. The color so in tune with the day, her pale ivory skin reflects against the few strands of raven hair escaping their confines when a stiff breezes urges them loose. Barely feeling it's biting fingers, she shivers once before shoving her thin hands deeper into her coat pockets and continues on her road.
The drifts deepening by the minutes, she wades through the airy snow, hardly impeded by it resistance to her legs, she whispers a slight thanks that the suns not out to turn the powder to ice. Eying the corner in the distant, she grimaces as the snow nearly tops over her matching knee high boots, allowing the cold demon to touch her bare knees.
With no sounds of the city for distraction, she allows herself to wonder once again how she let herself be conned into making this trek across town. This day of all days when everyone's home with their families or out in the country for a long awaited holiday, she's left on her own to answer the pleas of the alone and the lonely. And so the curses begin, mantras and expletives alike, in tune with another groping breeze which doesn't help by ruffling the scarlet red hem of her skirt peeking out from the bottom of her favorite winter coat.
It all began a week ago when all of their friends fled town for the alluring promises of a warm beach house in the south. But they chose to stay behind, questions of their sanity still tumbling around, to keep watch for what they do not know, but that was the impulse that drove them to say "no".
After six nights and now on the seventh day, a call rang her out of a cozy nap at a quarter past twelve begging her to come across town. The lure of the pleading words, encouraged her to throw on her warmest coat and throw open the comforting doors to her loving home, only to be overwhelmed by the fresh deluge of snow.
Shuffling a dozen more tiring steps, she pauses beneath the street lamp, the vibrant lights of it's wreath flickering against the mild back drop, leaving her a moment to glance up the long cross-way, hoping in vain for a sign of a city bus. Deflated just the same in that same breath, she exhales a good puff of air before hurrying across the intersection continuing on her way.
Something unspoken held her here, not just today but for the past how many years, willing her to hold tight to her roots, even when everyone else reached to the star. A nagging feeling, burning deep in the back of her mind but alas the pondering of it has only left her with one simple yet confounding question. "Why?" Why her, why here, and why is it so important? And still her soul grew cold, cooled by the wait and chilled by the wind and the snow and frozen under the unforgiving sky.
Flexing her fingers in her pockets, she buries her nose in the high collar of her coat, watching with a sense of awe at the way each step she takes sinks deeper and deeper in the snow as she continues on half blind. No one else would be as ridiculous as she, wading through the holiday snow instead of staying warm next to her cozy fire with a good book, a soft blanket, and the best coca she could hope to make. But no, only she would be crazy enough to give all that up to a whimpered cry of "please".
Legs and cheeks flushed nearly pink from the sting of the snow, she picks up her pace as she hustles down the long block, passing a dozen or more stores she'd frequent on any good summer day but they currently stand closed for the day, the desire to browse, dashed before it could flicker to life. But there's a memory there, less then half a year ago, she stood in that store, the second one on the right. She found the perfect tea pot to add to her set. Ornate and petite, perfect with shades of purple and red and gold and black, a raven and a butterfly nestled together on it's fine porcelain lid. But her wallet was missing and her friend very easily broke, she was all set to surrender when by chance she dipped a hand in her pocket and found a few neatly folded bills.
To this day, she treasures it like no other, unsure how the money was there, but it was a sign that it was meant to be hers. Like a spirit watching over her, soft and warm, so unlike the day that's found her now. Perhaps a coffee or tea would turn the day on it's heels.
Huffing a hard breath to must herself into a numb induced run, she makes it to the next traffic light as the first bus she sees whizzes by with no sign that it would have stopped for all the gold in the world. Distraught by the snub and the shower of snow sent her way, she spins in her stride to continue on unaided, crossing her feelingless fingers that the next dozen blocks pass faster then the first few.
A numbness so familiar, it's followed her all her life, she pushes it back as she continues on. So quiet, so abandoned, a strange eerie sensation lurks on the desolate streets that on any other day would be more alive then any other place on Earth. Humming that song again, the one she listens to all the time, her unthought desire as it may be to make this voyage joyfully faster.
Knowing each darkened store front with fondness and each quiet cafe akin to a memory, she passes her favorite coffee shop with it's doors barred tight. For nearly a year now, ever other week she's sat I her favorite window and reading her favorite book, only to find her favorite drinking waiting for her with no sign of a gifter in sight. She asked so many times on who her admirer was, hoping for a hint or a clue but all she ever was told was "I'll say you said thank you".
Affronted at first, she warmed to the kind gesture and returned in kind terms many times later. The world, she hates to see, isn't much like that these days. Cold and lifeless, maybe too much like the snow. Everyone lives for themselves but the Shinto way was meant to live for all.
It was maybe a month or so back when she left that same shop on a day as cold as it is today. Wearing her same jacket as now to fight off the weather. The wind was howling fierce. She couldn't keep her hood on her head nor her hair under control as it was whipped around her violently, making it a chore to see. A nasty mix of sleet and snow hounded the sidewalk, hours sooner then the weather insisted it would be.
Walking as fast as the torrent would let her that day, she clutch her book and bags under one arm and dipping her head into the wind. So intent on getting to her destination that day, she rounded the corner into a group of guys, unaware until it was too late. Two of the four were knocked to the ground while third barely kept her up right, it was the fourth's hot and chocolatey drink that got her attention. Steaming in the air and burning against her skin, the worst is when she watches mournfully as it soaks into her precious coat. Lost somewhere between raving and crying, she barely caught the glance in the eyes of the man who did his best to save her, so blue and obviously concerned.
That day had been misery, her destination then the same as it is today. She remembers walking into that house less then twenty minutes later, distraught beyond belief and fuming on the cleaning it would need and how long she would need to work to make up the costs. The jacket had been a gift from a dear friend now long gone. In the emotion of her huff she had buried her hands deep in her pockets, only to happen upon a neatly folded piece of paper. Peculiar as that would be, she unfolded the crisp sheet, only to find a voucher for the best dry cleaning service in town.
A gust of wind catches her hood as she rounds a corner getting closer with every turn and having passed a handful of other souls at best. Most people would have been bothered by these little things but she found herself becoming endeared. A few of dozens of different little things when she just needed a friend or thought all hope was lost. Even the numbing weather could take that feeling away from her.
So many times, it must have happened that she never even noticed but even back a few days ago when she went shopping for a few final gifts but was miffed to find the album her best friend pined for picked clean from the display before her very eyes. At a loss for words and no idea what else to get, she stumbled from store, bumping into a passing shopper without so much as a thought to apologize. It was later that night when she sat alone at home that she found the album and it's receipt buried deep with in her bag.
Nearly losing her footing as a bus passes by, she finds herself sprayed by a wave of wet and sticky snow and less then two blocks from where she needs to be. Frustration setting in and the snow now topping her boots, she pauses to look up to the sky, big and fluffy snowflakes cascade around her like a beautiful shower. For a moment she could almost forget about the cold, the quiet, the emptiness of the frozen world.
"You look like you could use this," Lost in her trance, a sudden gasp escapes her lips when a gentle, masculine voice interrupts her musing. The first voice she's heard in days.
Blinking the snowflakes from her eyelashes, she slowly turns her head to the man standing beside her. Reddened cheeks standing out against the white of the world, she's visibly surprised to find herself outside what must be the only open tea shop in town and the steaming drink being held out to her identical to the one in his other hand.
An air of mystery, his intense blue eyes tell her he's seen more then any one should but still sees the world as it is. A minute smile of gratitude curls her lips as she accepts the drink, taking a long searching look, a familiarity sparks in her mind. "You're the one I passed that day," she says, knowing he'd know the day she meant though so many weeks have past.
Nodding in a way that suits him well, he doesn't allow his eyes to stray from hers. "I am. The cleaner did good getting your jacket clean." He says with a hint of approval, taking a sip from his drink.
Flattered he would notice, she tests the drink to hide the blush joining the red of her cheeks. The first taste surprises her to find the flavors of her favorite drink. "Chai and cinnamon!" She confirms in appreciation, taking a bigger sip before leveling her gaze back on the curious man. "How did you know?"
A small smirk break his lips, a gesture obviously rare, knowing he's been found out. "The barrista always gave me your thanks," he eludes, not seeing the need to explain.
"So I had seen you before..." The realization dawns on her as she remembers all the times she stepped into that shop and didn't even notice the other people enjoying the same cozy space. "You're always in the back booth." She confirms, not needing more then the look in his eyes to know that's a yes.
Standing across from one another for several more moments, enjoying the warm drinks in their hands, the space between them feels far less then bone chilling cold. Though she's sure it doesn't need to be said, she gives her thanks again and tells him her name, "Hino Rei," She says softly.
Smirking again, he sips his drink, having learned her name some months before. " Yuy Hiiro," he confirms, brushing his unruly hair from his eyes and knocking a few rogue snowflakes to the ground. "I hope your friend enjoys the album," he says with sincerity, having eyed the familiarly shaped wrapped gift just peaking out from her pocket. With another quick nod he finally takes a step on a path that leads opposite of the one she was taking, his feet crunch in the snow as he takes another and another, not missing the gasp as it escapes her lips.
"Hiiro-san..." Rei calls lightly, knowing he heard her when he glances back over his shoulder, an obvious new level of blush invading her cheeks. "Would you like to walk with me?" She offers shyly, nodding in the direction she needs to go.
Earning a smile, so tiny yet invaluable, he silently agrees to her offer as they continue side by side. The falling snow that much more perfect and the wind and cold not quite so biting as it had before. For once, happy to be the only ones on the deserted city streets.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this little walk in the snow.
Let me know what you think!