Fetching White Snow

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Chapter 1 - Old Memory

A breeze welcomed itself in from the barely opened window. The curtains thrust unto the wall and against the chair. My eyes made out 3:31 a.m. but my head hadn´t strike 12 yet. I stretched my arms wide beyond the frame of the bed hoping to find even the slightest proof that a person had been lying beside me. Obviously the bed was empty.

´Shit…´ I needed to get back asleep. But I could not. I was glancing around my apartment hoping that the scent of just made coffee would ruffle my nose. But coffee cannot be made by itself. It would be an idiocy to just lay back now, with eyes as wide as a mug bottom, so I traced the side of the bed above the calves just to rise up. It feels good to walk around a cold room just woken up from beneath warm sheets. I walked to the living room. The clothes thrown messily on the chair, the pile of files and the scattered papers are what I think of tidying up while walking to the kitchen. ´I´ll do it tomorrow.´ I never do.

Coffee takes a few minutes to be made, so I simply went over my agenda for that day. I had to meet a big author I´ll be watching over. With a smirk, I climbed on the couch to take out of my bag a fresh book. I hadn´t read any of the writer´s books, but out of etiquette I had bought that one. ´Green Marble´ is not the most charming title I have heard, but its charm flapped out through each turned page.

In front of the counter, on a rolling chair, I had my glasses on and crawled over those enticing words. ´Memories… Those mingling scenes troubled her sleep each night. She would walk up to the window at night calling desperately with transparent voice produced by gazing at the moon beyond what turmoils her heart. Her call sought a question. Was all of it worth him?´

My sight stood from the pages to the moving curtains. I could not see the moon but beams of light bathed the floor in pale radiance, spreading out the fact that the moon was there.

The woman from the book was suffering from the many happy memories she cherished with a man who could not love a single woman at a time. This author was good. Memories were made to be cherished.

I have this dream about a very long time ago every once in awhile. I could relate with the part of memories of him. While now I have memories, back when I was only a sixteen year old teenage girl, it was merely a dream. When I was a child, it was my most vivid memory.

As childish as this may sound, I ran away from home once. We all have run or have thought of running away, be it out of pure desire to see the world or from our homes being all messed up. With a backpack thrown over our shoulder, money enough to buy a train ticket and food for two or three days, a lousy smirk on our face and we are ready to part at any time of the day without getting noticed. When I was eight, in order to escape my nameless daily life, I went to the beach. I really bought that train ticket and stayed out all night in the middle of summer.

There I saw an emotive scenery felt by only my eyes. I was breaking every law I, as a child, knew, but it applied for them too. I kept my distance not being able to move for some reason. They seemed a normal couple of male friends as no one noticed what lied behind their stares towards the sea. Silently by their simple movements, sheer smiles and eloquent looks, just like mom and dad, the kid me knew what she stared at. It was simply a secret couple. I was the only one allowed to peep on their love that nameless day.

The reason why I ran away was the second one from the above mentioned: a messy home. Mom and dad, their warmth was being slowly sucked out of their bodies leaving me alone in a very cold place. Those two men made me realize that there was still hope for my family, that the leek can be fixed. I behaved, gulped it down like a good child and went back home to my punishment.

After that summer I became the person I was when I entered my sixteenth year of life. To put it shortly first dad left mom, afterwards mom died, then the other woman didn't want me to live with her upcoming twins sending me to my grandparents and last I entered high school being allowed to live on my own. There was not much hope for my family to begin with and I did not rebel against it or fight or whatever I could do. I took it coolly like a counterfeit gladiator in paper armor protecting the one I held dearest, my mother. Practically I went on with my life served on a plate by my adults until I entered high school. And this memory back then can be solely called a dream dreamt one day... that day I met him.

My name is Nakano Shiori and that year I was a first year student at Chiryoku high. In the spring before school I had let my red hairs grow to become more feminine and so it could match with the raven color of my eyes. I, too, remember doing some smiling practices in order to put through with a normal school life, but frankly my cold personality never changed. Even now it's the same.

At that age I was a middle height and weight girl with a deep aura around me, with well proportioned body parts, cute but not a beauty and a weird approach to things. I would have never known how special it was unless my best friend at the time hadn't pointed it out. Her name was Minori Meiko and she was the upcoming star of the karate club though being a first year. It was a bit kinky how this friendship started. I should actually thank my bizarre hair color for that.

"Is that your natural hair color?" She had asked.

Not letting my surprise show, I answered simply with a nod saying that I had inherited the color from my mother. After that we hit off right away and the fact of us being in the same class brought us even closer. I do remember clearly her image reflected on my darkened eyes. The young brunette with short hair and big doll-like eyes who didn't know anything about life was the person I had decided to let get closer. Her innocence and strength, very different from mine, was what attracted me more.

The city we lived in was surrounded by the sea and the greenery of nature, so to speak a cozy place. Our town was similarly divided like Budapest, the capital of Hungary, meaning a river divides the town in two and then flows into the sea. That part of the town I lived in was well-organized, without many tall buildings, neat and especially friendly where people would salute each other with a smile in the middle of the street. Yet, places where youngsters could have their desires for fun, entertainment, alcohol, lust and passion realized weren't hard to find either. The only reason I was allowed to live in this town alone was the fact there was Chiryoku high, my father's old high school. I'm grateful to it as I couldn't bear living with my grandparents any longer, nor seeing dad. Each of them reminded me of mom.

Chiryoku high was well positioned up a low hill surrounded by greenery of different trees, especially by the treasured cherry-blossom trees which were in full bloom on the school's opening ceremony, like in every respectable honor school. Something to be mentioned is the fact of being far more male students than female ones.

A few years before I was accepted, the prestigious Chiryoku high was an all-boys school but it changed into a co-ed one for reasons unknown to me. Anyway who cared why, only being there was important.

It was a clean edifice with large numbers of students filling big classrooms. Although one thing was a little different from your ordinary school. The school had a peculiar tradition which held really tight the bond between first and third years, so much that down the same hall were labeled first years' and third years' classrooms. At first I did not pay much attention to neither of these fact but later on it became more eye-catching it having been an all-boys school than the old tradition.

That day started with a plain morning. I remember it being a warm May day accompanied by bicycles clings, fiery sun rays and flapping skirts. Compared to a month ago, everyone seemed to had gotten subtle and in the nude. Even we. Inside too did I feel uncovered. Meiko and I had done nothing but talk about her club activities and how I should enter one too. But no club attracted me. I was too lazy for them or for the reason of being irritated in the middle of crowds.

The lessons went on as usual and I kept myself busy taking detailed notes of each subject. They were all in order, underlined and drawn colorful with small emoticons by each page. It was amusing to create a new face each time, although those things were always messily drawn. Lunch break passed timing Meiko as she sprinted back and forth from the canteen to fetch something to eat. Her stomach was twice as big as a normal person so she always came back after having bought at least half the food there. It was hilarious to see each time before the bell rings.

As almost every afternoon after finishing the lessons, I went to see the karate club practicing. Inevitably there was the captain of the club; a third year senpai called Igarashi Jun. Igarashi-senpai was one very tall man to whom belonged also a childish face. Brown shining eyes, lips curved in a smile and curly raven hairs always on bed-style mode was how I can describe the good-looking him. For some strange reason, after catching me staring at his perpetually cheery face, he came up with this idea of me becoming their club manager although knowing very well how much of an introverted person I was. I declined so ever since then he kept asking me very persistently to join each our meeting at the clubroom.

Igarashi became a friend in a blink of an eye, and his outgoing personality made him incredibly popular between the female and male students. While to me, he was only a third year senpai, childhood friend of Meiko and someone who could make me smile effortlessly. That was his best point.

"Come on Shio-chan! Be our manager. You'll be a great help since you come by the club almost every day." He would say something similar to this every time with a pleading face and the tone of voice of a child as I would sign hopelessly.

"No way! It's enough a promise with Meiko that I'd wait here." I said nonchalantly looking straight in his eyes glaring. "And don't call me Shio-chan."

"Why not? Meiko-chan calls you that too!" His sulking was rather cute for an older karate man and, if in different circumstances, I wouldn't have disliked it.

"Jun-kun, leave Shio-chan alone." Meiko helped although a faint smirk lingered there on the corner of her lips just to annoy me.

"I'll leave it for today, but I will ask again the next time Shio-chan!" He looked determined while I didn't understand why.

"And I'll decline your offer again next time 'till it gets through that thick skull of yours, senpai." I replied sarcastically.

Like that, time would pass, I talking some more or staying on a corner of the dojo. Silenced, I watched. To be honest I kind of did get jealous looking at all those guys doing their best to reach their goals. Apart from the smelly sweats, it felt cozy lying there.

Normally it got noisy with these loud comedic duo as we used to walk back home together. Then silent once again as time came to part ways from Meiko and Igarashi-senpai. The one and only reason to why I would stay behind at a club I wasn't even interested in and which could probably grow an inferiority complex within me was disliking being alone all the time. I felt like that, suffocating into my own tranquility. My ears needed talked words, as well as my mouth needed spoken speech, even if it was for a short refusal. The way to and from school was plainly quiet alone.

Afterwards, during evenings, I would either be alone again, studying or eating dinner at my landlady's small apartment.

Hisoka Fumiko-san, the landlady, was your typical 46-year-old short housewife widow with dark eyes and hair managing all alone the two floor edifice with boarding apartments. That woman had three sons who, surprisingly to me, resembled her almost in every aspect. Maybe it was because Fumiko-san was their only parental figure, but that was just a hunch of mine. I had seen her husband before in a family photograph hanged on their salon. They looked more than happy. Yet he had died, just like my mom, so it was a kind of pain I understood.

As for me, the image Hisoka Fumiko had engraved in my head was that of a strong woman surrounded by a heartwarming frame with lovely flowers as decorations. In fact Fumiko-san was very close to nature if anything else. Every apartment’s balcony had at least two pottery vases, probably handmade by her, with different kinds of colorful plants in each of them. I don't think they were only for decoration. Flowers were that housewife's tranquility.

Her house was fully colored too and this passion of hers had been transmitted perfectly to the youngest of the three sons, Haruo, a middle school kid who helped his mother lots whenever he could and also a pretty smart young man. I had had the pleasure to be his tutor a few times and knew how much Haruo could achieve. The other two were just the same, an intelligent and handsome twin duo. At that time, the older twin, Ryouji had left to the capital to study in a medicine faculty, while the younger twin, Yasuo had opened a liquor bar with the help of a so-called friend.

That evening I was asked to deliver something to Yasuo-kun from his mother. As she had taken care so well of me, I had never turned any of her requests down, be it going to her son's bar on an evening. His bar was located into a dark side of the city as he himself was that kind of dark person. Long eyelashes and raven bangs falling on the whitened sides of his skinny face made him look incredibly handsome. He gave off a mysterious feeling. I was just a bit interested to know what lied behind that handsome face with that childish curiosity of mine.

Once I had seen him with bruises all over while being on a delivery. Behind the big desk, sitting on the floor, with his hand above his forehead, he looked about to cry, or so it seemed to me. The moment he noticed my presence there, a sour expression took over. No matter how much that raven man tried to cover it up with a smile, the bruises of not only his body were perfectly mirroring.

In a forced whisper, Yasuo-kun said; "Keep this a secret!" and I agreed immediately.

Somehow even before this secret, how Yasuo preferred to call it, I had been the only one from the household to go visit him at the bar, and before me, the little Haruo. Ryouji, too, never went there when he occasionally would come back home. To me, every time I went there, would seem like he had established a new habit. Yasuo-kun did have lots of them.

The door was heavy to open and like usual, I tried to be as discreet as possible heading right at him. The atmosphere was the same each time. A lot of female customers would be in the bar to have a taste of the pretty him and men were half-drunk even though it wasn't a late hour. "Yasuo-kun, I have something from Fumiko-san to deliver to you."

"Nakano-chan, I thought you wouldn´t be coming for a while. What is it?"

He asked me trying to keep up a smile, a tiring habit of his and again I saw a new bruise, this time on the left edge of his lower lip. I never commented on nor asked about his bruises, which would make him feel comfortable around me.

"Homemade food and some dessert I guess. She just said 'deliver this to my good-for-nothing son'. You should come by and visit sometimes." I tried to imitate the sound of his mother.

"Yes, I'll do that some other time."

"You always say so Yasuo-kun."

He chuckled slightly putting some bangs behind his ear and pouring tea.

There it was that sour expression. I had always thought that he was being played by some bad girl or something similar but never known for sure. ´Maybe Yasuo-kun has a masochistic side to him.´ I would joke in my mind.

I eyed him and, what had made him comfortable till then, I had ruined with my unyielding stare. I never did it on purpose. It was just my curiosity taking precedence and my mind imagining something it shouldn't, whereas in reality I was as silent as a tomb minding my own business no matter what and rarely asking questions. Thinking about it, I have changed a lot. Then I didn't know the reason behind all that thinking which even now doesn't make much sense knowing the past me. But the reason was very simple. It was so I could keep myself busy with something.

Raising the cup to drink some tea after blowing, I talked about the newest gossip of the household. Although I'm not the talkative nor gossip type, I felt pushed on doing such a gloss from his emotionless expression, but it never felt displeasing. Whenever I spoke so dearly of his family, Yasuo-kun listened carefully, sometimes even allowing me to see his genuine smile. After I had finished all the talking, he would smile for an unclear reason catching me off guard staring again at his now radiant face. From that alone I knew unconditionally he loved his family very much.

"Do you want another cup?" This was another of his habits on every my delivery.

He felt like he owned me for keeping up a conversation, especially on that topic. This man didn´t know how to treat me except from spoiling me. I would always turn him down, that time was no exception, not bearing to stay there any longer. People was filling the place.

It was past eleven o'clock when I left Yasuo's bar and headed towards my small apartment. Down the street could be seen different kinds of people. Damn some were even talking to themselves. Yet their feet were rushing, each step of theirs twice as fast as mine. I had lost a place to call home, but I didn´t feel dejected about it.

Surprisingly, while walking, I remember the dream, feeling unexpected warmth brought by experiencing a peek to the secret couple's love. I was so immersed in my thoughts that I took the wrong turn. Orientation failed me while my own eyes conspired against me moving towards warmth and had them forever captivated by his light down a dark alley.

And there he was, belittled under an older man's hold who seemingly was aiming for a love hotel´s entrance. Somehow he noticed that I set my eyes on his light. He felt all of it.

His name was Yukina Seiji, a senpai from my school in the same year and class as Igarashi-senpai. He had a pretty face and a warm personality but few friends. Quietly standing like a porcelain doll, he looked like a young maiden but his deep voice, masculine lines and manly muscles ruined the picture, nevertheless to say he was in the flower-beauty class. Igarashi-senpai gave me his name and his comely figure eased searching for him. He had this particular light scent around himself as his eyes reflected solitude. I was intrigued.

At that moment I stood petrified from the other side of the alley, exchanging a few stares between us. Deep inside me a rush to stop them grew uncontrollable. Yet I did not take a single step, be it towards or away from him.
Unexpectedly Yukina stopped the man, talked a few words to him and coming my way, he made the man wait. It was a night in May the day we first spoke to one another. I crossed my arms feeling a cold breeze fly by as my eyes directed their stare somewhere completely different.

Truthfully my mind was not set on getting involved in something which seemed troublesome. His lips, curved up in a warm smile, getting on the same pavement as me, down dropped my thoughts.

"You are Nakano Shiori, right? Igarashi's friend." It was not a mistake. That husky and bold voice completely contradicted his clean-cut feminine facial features.
"And you are...?" I made so it seemed I did not know him, tho' it was stupid since if I did not stop cuz' I recognized him, what other reasons could I have?
"I'm Yukina Seiji, a senior." He answered, surprised. I could feel his stare focused on a point in me, although mine traveled unfocused wherever it was possible.
"What do you want, Yukina-senpai?" I asked more than rudely.The moonlight made it easier for me to make out that man's face right beside the big sign of the love hotel. Seriously, just why did he even introduce himself? I was in a tight spot.
"What are you doing here?" His voiced reached my ears in a low tone.
"Ah!!" I cried. "What are you implying? Did you submit to a brain blackout, senpai?" It was insulting the way he had asked that question and I was in a panic. It felt almost like my actions had led to such a scene. In my head the swearing over that wrong turn had no end.
"You-..." He managed to say but stopped half way, what pissed me off more. Then out of the blue he blabbered something I didn't quite get. "I'm sorry."
"What the heck are you apologizing for?" I leashed at him brutally. "It seems I should apologize instead for interrupting. Please, I don't care about what I saw. Just be well, okay senpai?"

A dumb founded look swayed his way as I finally forced my eyes on his. To my surprise he was bolder then he made others think, a quiet aura which helped me lower my panic and nerves, and smile at him.

"Wait here!" Yukina said suddenly running back to that man. That person got all flustered by something this young ikemen guy told him and they started arguing. In a moment the man signed and let Yukina come my way once more. I looked like an idiot.

A nerve popped on my forehead. The heck was I waiting him?! Shoving what was happening apart, I started walking the moment that sign was produced and Yukina turned.

"Hey, wait!" I heard him calling but I'd be a utter fool to stop. I did not know Yukina apart from what Igarashi had told me. Yet for some curios reason, I got even angrier as I glimpsed. Right when I turned, with the corner of my eye, I saw his bag. As if in a thriller, that bag held within the murder weapon.

Yeah, I laugh now myself at that weird thought. But needless to say humans are weird and complicated. I cannot explain how he came to me or what passed through his mind to even introduce. I mean if I was him, I'd simply pass it like nothing happened. I was never there and you saw wrong.

The only thing I can say without fail is that his warm light radiating from that darkened alley resembled so much with that one memory on a beach a nameless day.


"For you is Nakano. And stop following me."

"No, wait, please! There is a park nearby. Can you at least listen to me?" What was there to listen?

"What is there to listen?" Yep, I say the first thing which comes to mind.

"Out of etiquette?! Just stop, okay? I promise I don't bite."

I halted. "Very funny!" A light scoff was heard. "I repeat. What do you want?"

"You saw such an embarrassing scene. I'm sorry!" Hearing what he had to say, I had an 'are-you-serious' look on my face which soon changed with the mood. His voice was trembling while saying those words, apart from the gasping, which got me to stare. My intuition was right. Not only his voice, his hands and lips were trembling too. It looked like a kid was about to cry. God, how does this man contrast each and every thing about him?

Have you ever met such a confusing gal???

"You were right about a thing. Let's go to that park." I said.

Yukina grabbed me by the wrist and pulled towards himself to walk away not adding a single word more as I, too, followed without any protest. Until we arrived in a park full of plump trees, I didn't shove off his hold. We were gasping harshly since he had walked in quite quick steps. Time came for him to let go of my hand and so face him, but it came too brutally from my side. I was always a person who didn't care whether or not my words would hurt people and also I wasn't the type to talk back or meddle into others' matters. But it had come a time of changes so I had to change my ways too.

Turning vigorously unto him, scolding (if they can be called so) words poured out of my mouth unconsciously.

"What was all that about, huh? Senpai, do you realize in what an awkward spot did you put me in?"

Nonetheless they stopped as I saw only the ground reflected into his eyes, his blonde hairs shining silvery under the moonlight.

"I had to do what I did. Seeing you there, it was a sign." He replied confidently yet his eyes were still down. "I know you won't spread a word of what you saw."

"You know?"

"Yeah, Igarashi talks fondly of you." He replied glancing only once at me.

"I was there on a delivery from my landlady." All that really did tire me up, so the plan of saying whatever comes to mind was a pretty good one. A sign escaped my lips. I took a sit on one of the benches but he didn't. He stayed still frozen on his feet like a northern iceberg without taking his sea-like eyes from the floor to at least look at me once all that time.

Meanwhile my gaze was all over him like his prisoner. I only had one question to add points to my bluntness. "I want to ask... Are you…by any chance...gay?"

That was the first time he had looked in my eyes since we had arrived at that park. I remember this part well since his eyes were full of sorrow and his body still trembling. I felt fear in him. He feared me. A nod came after a while diverting those eyes and gazed up to the half-moon.

"I thought you would not ask. Actually I didn't think anyone could ask so..."

"So straight forwardly? Ah, yeah, that is one of my most charming traits." That comment was enough to steal a chuckle from us. "Sit. Or else you'll make me want to ask more questions." I was oblivious to a lot of things so questions came out pretty easily this time. "How did it happen? You can't get it up with girls or what?"

"Apapa, I'll sit so don't go further. Geez, how can a girl ask that?" From the flushed cheeks, Yukina seemed pretty much embarrassed.

"With ease." Shaking my head, showing my teeth it seemed I was now rather calm in his presence, differently from a minute ago where I seemed like a furious cat in heat.

We stayed at that park a long time as he had finally decided to sit beside me. An awkward silence fell. I got a shiver up my spine from the night's cold breeze. This made me release my red pony-tail and rub it against my neck so I wouldn't feel so cold. I threw a look at him but he glanced over only when I was not looking. Regret had gotten over as I shouldn't have said such blunt words.

"Since we got used to apologizes, let me, too, for...well...being me and mean."

"You shouldn't. It was I who stopped you, as you said." From the tone of his voice, he seemed calmer now and a bit humorous too. "Seriously tho', you ask the most unexpected questions."

"You liked them? Should I ask more?" Playing him was easy.

"No, no, no, thanks. Those were more than enough for a day." His arms waved right in front of him like flags.

"Let me just add I have no problems, you know. Nor disgust." In a moment he moved his irises at my direction, looking in disbelief whilst I tried explaining myself.

"What are you talking about?"

"Long story short, a friend of Igarashi-senpai by a crazy logic is just as hard headed as him. I've read LGBT face a lot of difficulties and are called disgusting. So don't get any crazy ideas from me. I am Switzerland."

I was expecting to see any reaction but those interested irises gazing right at me with excitement. "Go on! You are one of those rare people who say 'I don't care', but still bothered enough to ask."

"Couldn't it be just curiosity?" This guy was weirder than me.

"By some crazy logic, you are different." He used my words against me. "Go on!"

"Anyway I don't have any problem with gays neither with the fact you are one. But I do have a problem with you doing it with someone you don't love. You'd have regretted it." Sign.

"See, you are a nice person, Shio-...Nakano-sa..."

"Just Nakano." I tried smiling at him. I shouldn't have smiled, I really shouldn't have. His face became overwhelmed with joy and I don't know why. Was it the fact that I understood him or was it my accepting smile? But who cared?! Yukina seemed happy (just to add extremely cute). "If you say so. Anyway, I'm freezing so I gotta go. See you..."

I rose up ready to leave without further adds but a hand, grabbing for a second time my wrist, prevented me from leaving.

"Um..." He murmured. His face clearly showed it was far worse than what I had stated.

"Do you have a place to spend the night at?" I asked making him not so happy anymore.

"I told my parents that I'd be staying at a friend's place..." More than his dejected face, the sudden realization hurt me. The dark eyes locked onto his school bag making my face go pale. He already knew that night one thing or another would have happened. My past self had really found the crime weapon.

Now I had to take responsibility for my actions. One cannot simply pick up a stray cat if one won´t take care of it. Meaning him sole in the middle of the night with 'drunk wolves' ready to devour him didn't sound like the greatest of the ideas. He was one, Yukina Seiji, so it wouldn't hurt to help him.

"And so it will be." I had made up my mind pulling that guy up. "Come to my place. I live alone and since you're gay, it shouldn't be a problem, I guess."

His face was enlightened with joy once again as I smiled walking ahead.

The strange thing about our first meeting to me now is that all the way to my 'home', in silence I thought of only the secret couple I had seen on my childhood's last summer. If I could exchange myself, I would have held to his hand and made that moment my most vivid memory.

´Oh, coffee is ready.´ A star shaped biscuit with lots of choco suits best a sleepless night.

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