Natsuno walked along the path home. He could hear insects buzzing about and animals scurrying in the woods on the other side of the road. He was more than shaken up, the events of the day still hanging in his mind. Just when everything seemed to be growing peaceful in his life too, Megumi was no longer spying on him and he was able to get a good nights rest the day before. His first in weeks. After that visit to the mansion however... things seemed more confusing than ever before.

"what happened back there, " Natsuno was deeply lost in thought. Nothing was making any sense to him. Nothing at all. "With all of this stress lately, i must be seeing things... I have to be! But why did i jump to Megumi's side so quickly...and say something like that!? Even if she was in danger, What does it matter to me? I would probably be better off without her why?!" It was true, Natsuno spent many a night worried about her spying activities. The things she must have seen. The things she must have thought!

"Hello again."

"GAH!" Natsuno was ripped back to reality "sorry, you kinda snuck up on me there."

"My apologies for startling you. Fancy seeing you twice in one day, What are you doing out at this late hour?" Seshin was walking the path opposite the direction Natsuno was headed

"Oh...I'm...I'm just walking home," Natsuno was still quite paralyzed from the experiences of the day and found speaking difficult.

"Is something wrong? You seem distressed," Seshin gave Natsuno a concerned look

"Don't worry, its nothing. I've just had a rough time of it over the last couple days," Natsuno faked a smile and nearly walked off when Seshin lightly grabbed his shoulder.

"Ah, i see. Listen, this might not mean much coming from me, but i know moving here must have been very shocking. I can imagine that a sudden switch to a life like this can be quite draining. You have my sympathy."

"I-I don't know what to say...I appreciate the kind words." Natsuno felt a little bit moved by what the monk had to say. It was one of the rare times someone in that village had said something genuinely kind to Natsuno, without any ulterior motives. Generaly the villagers would ask you questions in an attempt to get gossip information. If they said hello to you it was also for the same reason. There were only a few villagers that Natsuno held in a better regard, and this Seshin person had a comforting preasence to him.

"By the way, how did your visit to the mansion fair, I hope you found the people accepting."

A look of dread slipped over Natsuno. His eyes grew wide and his jaw sagged, but he reeled it in quickly "They were very nice, er well the man was. But i didn't see his family for long, they had a medical condition or something and couldn't come out during the day...but something was off about them... I can't quite put my finger on it." Natsuno didn't want to say anything about the fangs, after all, he didnt know if it was real. For all he knew the stress of the last few weeks had caught up with him and he just hallucinated it. Seshin would probably think he was crazy if he said more.

"I'm sure you must have been nervous around them. i don't think all three would be odd."

"Not all three...Just his wife and daughter...Especialy his daughter" Natsuno thought back to the little girl , how she kept getting closer to him, and realized he was saying more than he wanted to. "you know what, never mind. It was nice seeing you again. I will be sure to visit you at the temple sometime, it might be fun."

"Well im glad to hear it. Good night." Seshin started walking back up to the temple and natsuno headed home

Natsuno walked into his home and his father greeted him.

"i was a bit worried son, you should check in if you are planning to be out all day/"

"sorry dad, i just got caught up with stuff."

"yeah i bet you did...considering "stuff" called me a few minutes ago asking for you, She must be a really special girl. To be honest, i didn't think you were into that kind of thing." Natsuno's father had a sly grin cracked across his face, he chuckled for a moment.

"How did shimizu get my number?" Natsuno was nearly floored by that thought.

"Can you call her back?" What could Megumi possibly want with him, they had spent the whole day together...

"Sure, I bet you two lovebirds have a lot to talk about," the grin on his fathers face grew even longer

Natsuno looked at his father with daggers in his eyes. Natsunos father re dialed the number and the phone rang for a few beats.

"hello? Shimizu residence," it was a mans voice, sonding gruff and a bit gargled.

"yes, this is Yuuki, did someone from this number call here earlier asking for me?" Natsuno sounded apprehensive, he had never talked to anyone in Megmi's family. For that matter, he had barely talked to megumi before today.

"Ah, my daughter called asking for a boy named Natsuno or Yuuki or something like that, you him?" a voice could be heard shouting in the background

"DAD! GIVE ME THE PHONE!" That voice rang through Natsunos ears, like it always did.

"What did you want Megumi...?"

"i-i um, just wanted to know if you would go with me somewhere tomorrow! I have a few errands to run and i want you to come with me!" Megumi cold barely choke that out. Natsuno almost felt sorry for her. He realized that that must have been hard to ask...not that it made him any more willing to say yes.

"I don't think...well...i...*shudder* guess...ok..." Natsuno had no desire to spend extended periods of time with Megumi...The very thought of it threw him for a loop and left him on the ground, gasping for air. However, this could be a good chance to probe her mind, she might be able to confirm or dissuade what he saw at the mansion...he could also try to find some way to cover for that lie he told her, Nasuno certainly hoped that she didn't get the wrong idea. Knowing what he knew about Megumi, that would be wishful thinking. She probably would cling to any hope matter how faint it was.

*squeal* Megumi's voice rang in Natsuno's ear again. "The errands i need to run are closer to your side of the village so can I stop by to get you?"

"I don't see why not... *gehhhh* By the way, how did you get my number?"

"Oh, your dad is an artist right? I just called the gallery from a buisseness card my dad had."

"well thats a relief. I'm glad she didn't go through my garbage looking for a piece of paper with the number on it...I might have misjudged her just a bit," Natsuno couln't help but chuckle at that thought. "alright Megumi, I feel tired, so I'm gonna go." *click*

Natsuno hung up the phone pretty fast, he was wary of Megumi trying to talk with him more, the stress of the day was far too much...and he was unable to deal with much more. so he walked the long hallway into his room and threw himself on the bed...his window was open...and he could hear a faint rustling outside. he went to check it

"What the-" Natsuno saw a shadow outside just behind a few trees. It seemed to stare into his soul, eyes glowing red. Sinister intent hung in the air around it. That thing reminded him of the nightmare he had about Megumi a few days before...only this was here. This was standinig a few paces very close. As soon as natsuno saw it, it vanished. "Is Megumi spying on me again?!," Natsuno nearly spat with rage, until he realized...Megumi lived clean on the other side of the town, there was no possible way she could have gotten to his window after hanging up the phone at her house so quickly!

"I-I-I...j-just need to sleep...I'm seeing things again..." This was going to be a rough night.

Sunako had just exited the mansion gates, this night was cool compared to the past few, and she wanted to go enjoy it...or more accurately, experience whatever modicum of joy she was still able. ever since that day...ever since she became like...this, life was fairly empty, having to feed every night...having to hurt so many peple. Time had long since passed since she had grown cold to the world. She wanted to feel more...she was desperate for it. She was willing to do whatever she could to feel some shred of happiness, some ping of belonging. The company she kept at the mansion was more acceptible than lonliness, but she wanted a place to truly be safe, after all, most would sooner hammer a stake into her small frame than give her the time of night...She was willing to do whatever she could to force her ideas to come true...for better or worse.

Her thoughts rang back to the young man she so nearly killed hours earlier. His eyes had that same empty feeling she knew so well. Even if he did not realize it himself, that feeling will leak through. She felt a bit sorry for him...Rarely did she feel this version of sympathy. Generaly it was the sort of feeling you would give to livestok you were slaughtering or an animal you were hunting, a fleeting ping of regret for the life you take so you can recieve sustenance, something you get over quickly. This feeling lingered however, and in truth she was thankful she could know it, perhaps she was not as cold as she believed herself to be.

"I still need to feed..." Sunako continued walking along the path to the village temple. There was a fiction authour who lived in the village that she wanted to meet. The books he wrote were always about lonliness or being forsaken, something of that nature. Dhe felt an almost childlike sense of awe at how those books rang through her feelings. He may as well have stolen the thoughts right out of her mind. She pressed onwards up to the steps. as far as she could before that horrible fear set in. It always happened around sentimental and religious things, it was part of her...affliction.

"hello there, may i help you with something?" A voice spoke softly to sunako from above the steps.

"Yes, thank you. I'm looking for a man named Seshin Muroi, Have you seen him?" Sunako was slightly unnerved by the preasence of a monk but it was nothing she could not shrug off, she even considered feeding on him, were it not for the temple so close behind.

"Yes, I am Seshin, What did you need of me?" Sunako lit up, another rare feeling for her. She regretted the thought of feeding on him, now that she knew who he was.

" I just wanted to say that i liked your books! ive read all 6 and the magazine articles you have written!," Sunako wnted to say more, but she found herself a bit starstruck.

"wow! that's everything I've done! I have never met someone who has read them all, especially not as young. Do you enjoy reading?" Seshin was touched by what the little girl had to say.

"Yes, very much. My father had your books in his library and he loved them so much he decided to move here." Sunako spoke with the same facade she had been keeping up.

"So, your family is the one that lives in the large mansion?" Seshin remembered talking with Natsuno a few hours ago

"Only his wife and daughter were wierd...especialy his daughter" Those words resonated with Seshin for a moment.

"You know, i just spoke with the young man who came to visit you today," Seshin figured the little girl might want to talk a bit more. He had nothing to be done, so what was the harm, he might make her day.

"Really? What did he have to say about me?" Sunako asked that abruptly. She figured that she could glean some information and save tatsumi a bit of trouble.

"I, well...he said you were lovely people," Sehin was a bit startled by how fiercely she asked that question.

"Thats ALL he said?" She was still rather irritated in asking.

Seshin didn't want to tell sunako about natsuno's comment...Why hurt her feelings? "Yes, that was all he said, he seemed quite distant when i spoke with him so i don't think it was on his mind." Seshin thought Natsuno may have a shred of merit when he said this girl was odd, though she didn't seem to be mean spirited.

"Well, that is a relief, I was afraid I made a bad impression on him! haha!" Sunako was really struggling to keep up her act.

"I can understand that. Well, unless you need something else I should get going back to the temple." Seshin was about to walk away when Sunako turned to talk to him one more time

"By the way, no one ever dies from cutting thier wrists like that..." Sunako turned and headed down from the steps, leaving Seshin forlorn and shocked near the top.

"She certainly is strange... sorry i doubted you Natsuno." Seshin walked along the path to the temple and situated himself in its main table, he had a novel to finish.