Of Nights


The night is still.

The town is dusty, run down, and yet life still goes on. Outside the stars still shine brightly and the moon lingers in the sky. A certain teahouse is busy tonight, crammed packed with the regulars and wandering men alike.

There is a certain waitress in the teahouse. She is new, short-statured, but already the men know not to hit on her because she can rip off heads with her tongue. She isn't graceful and is prone to dropping things on patrons but the proprietor puts up with her because she is caring and young and alone. He shrugs. He knows he has too soft a heart.

She works hard and often works late, like tonight, like yesterday. She is said to be beautiful. She is beautiful, but not because of her body or even her face. The men aren't sure why she is what she is. It might have to do with the way her eyes sparkle like broken glass or the way her head tilts back when she laughs. It might be because she is Fuu and caring and young and alone.

Outside, there is a man. He is tall, wiry, and desperate. He is also young and alone. Outside, this man spits on the ground and looks up at the still night sky and wonders about things he doesn't understand. He gives the moon one last scowl, spits one more time, and turns to enter the building. His eyes search for Fuu.

In the midst of all those people, all that noise and chatter and filthy bodies and life, she hears him come in. She turns from a businessman who, seconds ago, was giving her his order, she turns and gazes at this man who has come inside, a man whom she has not seen in a month. Maybe two.

Deja vu. She has lived this moment before she thinks. She has seen the way this man walks into teahouses. She walks up to him and feels her heart breaking. Irrationally, she wonders how she will ever clean up all the shattered pieces from off the floor.

He watches this waitress, the object that has appeared unbidden in his mind's eye whenever he his eyes close, walk towards him. He is not thinking of anything in particular now. He is not even exactly sure why he is here, why he had left the sake and the brawling and the women of the red light district in a faraway city to come to this small and nameless town. But he did. He's here.

When she is an arm's distance away from him, Fuu stops and looks up at this man's face, a face she had thought she had left behind. Fuu is silent. He looks back at her.

"Water," he says and she smiles.

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