Rain seems to be a bad omen for so many people, but I’ve always felt it was special. It’s days like today when the sky is wet and the smell of dampness wafts through my home that the world seems so peaceful and serene. It’s days like today when the dull patter of water sounds a rhythm all around that all my worries seem distant from me. It’s days like today when the world is cast in a gentle light neither overpowering or threatening that I take a rare break from my work and go for a walk outside, traveling wherever my feet might carry me. I suppose it’s only in my nature, being a kappa.
In fact, I would already be out there now if my boots had been where I left them. Or at least where I thought I left them. It had been days since I had left my laboratory and longer still since I had left home. Several hurried minutes of searching were proving fruitless, and I thought about just leaving without my boots. But then I thought of all the mud. No, I wasn’t going anywhere without my boots. I did finally find that odd box Sanae brought by last week, though. That was something.
I was just cleaning out the third closet in my continuing search when I heard a knock at the door. Well, alright, I heard the door knocking against the wall as someone came in.
Marisa gave a quick grin and a wave as she let a sack fall from her shoulder to the floor with a loud clunk. Both she and the sack were drenched, pouring gallons of water all over my floor. I had just finished cleaning up the entry, too.
“Hello, Marisa,” I answered, not hiding my dismay well.
“I know you love takin’ things from the outside world apart, so I brought somethin’ over. It’s a com-somethin’-or-other. Kourin says it’s a kinda shikigami used in the outside world, but it doesn’t seem to be working right.”
I looked apprehensively down at the sack on the floor leaking water everywhere. If it really was a machine from the outside world then of course it wasn’t working, not after being carried through a rainstorm and dropped heavily on my floor. Still, I would have loved to take it apart and taken a look at how it worked. On any other day, that is.
“Sorry, Marisa, but I was just about to…”
But Marisa wasn’t paying attention to me. She really doesn’t have much of an attention span, I guess. It doesn’t usually bother me too much, but with my house covered in devices left behind in my search she was picking up whatever caught her eye and just dropping them when she got bored. I cringed with every thunk I heard against the floor. I hurried behind her, taking a telephone receiver out of her hands and setting it gently on the dining table.
“Look Marisa,” I tried again, “I’d love to take a look at whatever you brought, but right now I’m-“
“Oh, don’t worry, there’s no rush. I’m gonna go make some tea.”
I stared after her as she walked into my kitchen, rummaging through my cupboards with the same recklessness she seems to show everything else. Plates, silverware, and various cooking instruments came cascading down and Marisa simply threw anything in her way over her shoulder without so much as a second thought.
“Yeah, Reimu’s comin’ by too. Didn’t I mention?”
“Yeah, said she was interested in the shikigami too or somethin’.”
I felt my jaw drop, blinking in disbelief at my unexpected guest, the first of my unexpected guests even. It wasn’t as if I didn’t expect this sort of thing from Marisa, but today? Why today?
“Marisa, I really appreciate you bringing by the… the shikigami, but-“
“Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s no trouble at all. I make tea at Kourin’s place all the time.”
I could only guess she barged into his house and started making tea unannounced as well. At least I wasn’t the only person suffering from Marisa’s blunt actions. Should I feel consoled about that? I was going to continue trying to protest, but I heard another knock at the door. Well, another knocking of the door against the wall.
“Nitori? Are you here?”
I had expected Reimu, but rather than the maiden of Hakurei Shrine, I saw a completely different shrine maiden standing in front of me. I saw her look down at the mess of mechanical things lying around the floor and watched her happy expression fall into one of confusion and concern.
“H-hi, Sanae. Um, please forgive the mess. I was just doing some quick cleaning and…”
Marisa had leaned her head out the side of the kitchen at the sound of Sanae entering, and I heard the sound of something fall to and roll across the floor. I hoped it hadn’t cracked, whatever it was.
“Hey, Sanae. Perfect timing. I was just making some tea.”
“Oh, I hadn’t realized Marisa was here as well. Are you having company over? I didn’t mean to intrude.”
“Nah,” Marisa gave a nonchalant wave of her hand, “Not at all. Reimu’s comin’ by later. That tengu said she might too. It’ll be like a party.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Not only had she invited over two people without even mentioning it to me, but there was also only one person she could mean by that, and I didn’t like the idea of her in my home.
“Yeah, didn’t I mention?”
“Aya is actually the one who said I should come by,” Sanae said to the kitchen. When there was no response she turned back to me. “She said I should ask about that TV I brought you a while ago. I was wondering if maybe you had some luck in getting it to work.”
“Ah, no not really. I was actually just telling Marisa that-“
“She’s workin’ on a shikigami from the outside world I brought by,” Marisa called from the kitchen. I could hear the sound of fire crackling. I guess she found the tea.
“Oh, I see.”
She didn’t let it show, but there was a tone of disappointment to Sanae’s voice. At least she was a little more tactful than Marisa.
“Well, I suppose it would be rude of me to leave after being offered tea, so I’ll stay a while.”
Sanae brushed past me, sitting in front of the small table in the middle of my living room. I was about to protest, but my small voice was drowned out by a loud slam of the door. I was really becoming worried about the wall it kept hitting. But I was less concerned at the time by that than what I knew it heralded. I turned around, preparing myself for the person I knew I would see standing in the doorway.
Certainly enough, there was Reimu Hakurei, infamous shrine maiden, standing in front of me, her red clothes sagging with water and dripping water and mud onto my once-clean floor. She let the door hang open behind her, inviting the storm inside to cause more damage to the entrance, as if she needed any help. Her eyes were their usual bored half-mast. She looked around the room, her expression never changing, and began walking towards the living room with little regard to what her clothes dripped on or brushed up against as she walked. I didn’t say a word, though. To be honest, Reimu terrified me. She wasn’t the sort of person you argued or disagreed with, and her being here meant I most certainly wasn’t leaving anytime soon.
“Well, at least it’s dry enough in here,” Reimu said as she walked past me, taking a seat at the low table next to Sanae, “I’m not really fond of being all that wet, least of all on days like this.”
“Days like this?” Sanae asked, looking out at the storm raging outside, or at least at me closing the door on the storm.
“Yeah, didn’t Marisa mention? Oh, hi Marisa.”
Sanae shook her head and Reimu pretended not to notice. She knew Marisa hadn’t asked. She had only commented for effect. Rather than answering she casually took an ornate slip of paper from her skirt and held it up in the air. I only had a second of horrified realization in order to brace myself.
The room exploded, not with fire, but with a sudden torrent of wind. Pottery and kitchen-ware crashed to the ground, shattering with a louder clatter than Marisa’s hurried searching before. That painting I was so fond of, the only real decoration in my house, clattered against the wall and then broke off, cleanly snapping in two as it battered itself across the opposite wall. I was gripping the front door tightly, trying desperately to keep from flying away and hurting myself as well. Even the heavy gadgets strewn across my floor from my earlier cleaning began to shake and shift across the floor, leaving deep gashes as they scratched into the wood. The blast of wind lasted only a few seconds, but in that time it had completely demolished nearly everything I kept in the upper rooms. Nearly everything.
The short table sitting in front of Reimu sat untouched by the tornado that had just ravaged everything else around it. Sitting in the middle of it was a boiling pot of tea. Reimu took it in her hand and poured some tea into a cup she had produced from somewhere I hadn’t seen. Her clothes were now as bright as ever, completely dry and a good deal less muddy. Sanae was still where she had sat too, looking no worse for the wear. I guess It makes sense considering she controls wind as well. The room itself hadn’t fared quite so well. It was now soaked up to the ceiling with spatters of mud, dents where metal paraphernalia had flown into it, and oil smudges from some of the gadgets I hadn’t cleaned yet.
“Woah, some warnin’ would be nice, Reimu.”
Marisa crawled out of the kitchen, gripping her hat to her head as she pulled herself back to her feet. It looked like some of the water and mud had flung on to her just as much as the walls and floor. Either that or I had just forgotten how wet she was when she came in. She picked up a pair of mostly in-tact cups from the floor and carried them over to the table, offering one of them to Sanae. She accepted it and the two poured themselves tea. After a few moments Sanae looked over at me, almost as if she had just remembered I was there, and waved at me to join them.
I stared at her, and then looked around with shock and disbelief at the carnage that was once my house. I had intended to go out walking, but it seemed as if I would be spending the next several days just cleaning up the mess that had been made in the past few minutes. Nevertheless, I felt my legs carry me towards that stupid table and sit down, wordlessly in front of the others.
“So you were saying about ‘days like today’?” Sanae asked, looking between Reimu and Marisa. I wondered if she was just trying to break the silence.
“Oh, yeah.” Reimu shrugged, looking at her tea rather than Sanae, “Days we visit Kourin.”
I grimaced at her. Who exactly did she think I was? Or, more, where did she think she was? I have to say, though, her nonchalance even after destroying my house is part of what scares me so much about her.
“Kourin?” Sanae gave voice to my own questions, looking at Reimu with a mixture of surprise and concern, “But this isn’t Kourin’s place at all.”
“Hmm, oh I know.” Reimu continued to sip her tea with disinterest, “It was all Marisa’s idea, actually.”
Of course it was.
“We visit Kourin all the time, and I thought we might today too since the weather was so bad at the shrine.”
Had she thought the weather at Kourindou would be different? The way her thoughts didn’t seem to connect completely with reality is another thing that scared me about her.
“But Marisa mentioned that a kappa’s house is probably the best place to be when it rains so I decided I’d visit here today. It didn’t really live up to my expectations, though.”
I could feel a heat rising in my chest. She had come into my home invited by someone else, dripped water everywhere, destroyed nearly everything I owned and then simply sat there with that bored look insulting my home. I don’t know what she was expecting, but I was having trouble stopping myself from telling her what I expected when guests came to my house. I guess in some ways I was becoming more afraid that I would say something to her than I actually was of her.
“Well she’s only a kappa. It’s not like she would live real extravagantly or anything.”
I was beginning to squirm a bit now. I wasn’t feeling comfortable being talked about like I wasn’t there, especially after being invited to sit at my own table.
“Yeah, but kappa always make their stuff water-proof so I was thinkin’ maybe their houses were completely water-proof too. Guess not, though.”
I tensed my hands, balling them up into fists and then relaxing them again. I could feel heat rising to my face in anger and embarrassment.
“Well, either way I’m going to stick around until the end of this storm.
“You’re going to do what?!”
I was shocked to hear it, and for a second I just stared straight ahead, relieved someone else was standing up for me. Then the realization slowly dawned on me that the words had come from my own mouth and the heat returned to my face as I intensely stared Reimu in the face. She stared at me, her face expressionless for several seconds. I could feel Sanae and Marisa staring at me, their faces probably showing the same shock mine was a few moments ago. After several seconds of silent tension Reimu finally spoke.
“I’m already here, I’m not going back out into the storm now.”
She took another sip of her tea and then turned to Marisa. She was about to say something, but I wasn’t finished speaking my mind yet. I stood up, slamming my hands down onto the table and glaring intensely in Reimu’s face. She glared back with a mixture of anger and surprise.
“I didn’t invite you here, Reimu. Your friend invited you here without even asking me and then you come in here, treat my house like it’s your own and completely destroy everything in sight. You ruined not only my day but my house too. Do you have any idea how long all of this is going to take to fix? Don’t you feel at all sorry for what you’ve done?”
She sat there silently again. I’m still not sure if she was thinking of an answer or deciding if she was going to answer at all, but she finally responded with a single word.
She folded her arms, as if to dare me to press it any further. I blanched, completely at a loss for what to say. I knew the Hakurei shrine maiden had a habit for being selfish, but I never thought she would go so far. Then again it seems there were a lot of things I didn’t know until today. My mouth moved without saying anything. Reimu simply stared me straight in the eyes, her expressionless face somehow more intense than mine had ever been. But then her eyes shifted out of focus and widened.
A bright flash of light filled the room and I heard a brief bit of giggling behind me. However, it stopped almost as soon as it started. I whipped around and standing in my doorway was the tengu Marisa had mentioned before, the reporter Aya Shameimaru. She had been completely silent coming in and, looking back, I have no way of knowing exactly how long she was standing there before Reimu noticed her. At that moment, though, she was looking around my battered living room with confusion. When her gaze finally met up with mine she gave me a concerned smile.
“You might think about cleaning up every once in a while, Nitori.”
Something inside me snapped that moment.
“And that’s what happens today,” I finished, “That’s why I’m here.”
The ‘me’ in front of me stared at me with concern.
“So, what do I do?”
“That’s why I’m here,” I repeated, “After it all quieted down I fired up that time machine I was working on and came back here to warn you.”
She furrowed her eyebrows, thinking for several seconds.
“But wouldn’t coming back to warn yourself in the past cause problems with the time-stream?”
“Who cares,” I shrugged, “Can’t be any worse than my day already was. Here are your boots.”