ink_stained: (writing: don't give up)
[personal profile] ink_stained
Day #15 -

Title: Spirited Away
Fandom: Natsume Yuujinchou
Characters: Natsume Takashi, Fujiwara Touko and Shigeru, Nishimura, Kitamoto, Tanuma, Natori, Hiiragi
Rating: PG
Words: (+/-) 1276
Summary: Continuation of Youkai Water. Natsume discovers that what it's like to be an ayakashi, and this increases his want to be human again.
Notes: This will definitely be a series - I'm probably going to call it 'There and Back Again' if I can't think of anything better, but any suggestions would be welcome! And after I get to the end, I promise to go back and write individual chapters for each character and how they viewed the events that took place. The first part can be read here.

There were legends, Takashi knew, that depicted youkai turning into humans - and the reverse was also an undeniable truth, humans could turn into youkai. It was a fact that Takashi had learned for himself.

He sat, unseen, at the dinner table as Touko and Shigeru tried to eat. The mood was stifled, the air thick with a foreign sadness that Takashi had never intended to bring them. He cursed loudly, but his voice didn’t reach them. He waved his hands in front of them, one at a time, hoping against hope they would suddenly be able to see him, but it was to no avail.

Finally, in anger - at himself, at his friends - he slammed his clenched fist onto the table. The table shook with the power behind it, and Touko dropped her chopsticks in surprise. Shigeru was just as shocked, but he hid it well and pushed away from the table, checking underneath to make sure none of the bolts were loose. Takashi took his seat again and apologized quietly, going unheard as he knew he would.

The two that had taken care of him made small talk here and there, picking away at their food and dancing around the subject that was really bothering them - where had Takashi gone? To be so sick and then up and disappear, they hadn’t thought it possible. They had checked hospitals, asked around the neighborhood, and even filed a missing person’s report. Takashi felt sick to his stomach every time he saw one of the posters with his face on it.

He was no longer a part of that world. He was something else entirely.


“Where’s Natsume?” Nishimura demanded of Tanuma one day when the tension had reached its peak.

At school, Taki and Tanuma had been the only ones okay with Natsume’s strange disappearance. He wanted to know why. And he wasn’t letting Tanuma get away either; he grabbed the front of his uniform and held it with all his strength. “Tell me what’s going on!” Natsume had been so damn sick and Nishimura had tried his hardest to prepare for the worst and now this? He couldn’t handle this. People didn’t disappear into thin air. There was no such thing as being spirited away.

“Nishimura,” warned Kitamoto, placing a hand on his friend’s shoulder, “this isn’t the place to be making a scene. We have class.” He nodded his head in the direction of the classroom they were in front of - they were just lucky the teacher wasn’t around right now. “We’ll talk about this after school, yeah?” He directed this last question to Tanuma and narrowed his eyes when the other boy froze up, turning an unnatural shade of white. “What’s wrong?” He glanced out the nearest window and saw nothing.

“Natsume,” the whispered name was barely there, but the two boys heard it and anger filled them.

Kitamoto didn’t bother to stop Nishimura when he took a swing at the other boy. For the remainder of the day, Tanuma was holed up in the nurse’s office and Kitamoto was glad for the distance. He wasn’t sure what he would say to the boy that was so obviously keeping secrets. Just like Natsume always did.


Tanuma bit his lip when emotions threatened to spill out into reality. Natsume was here. He had seen Natsume again. It seemed too good to be true. After what had happened, he had been sure that - either way - he would lose Natsume forever. Yet he had seen his friend outside the window, sitting on the willow tree’s most sturdiest branch. He had been swinging one leg idly, while the other was pulled close to his chest as he leaned on it. He had looked so lost, whimsical, detached - and for a moment, Tanuma had been struck with guilt.

Then he had chided himself; the decision had been the correct one, he was sure. If not, would he have been able to catch a glimpse of Natsume at all? Surely, if he had left things as they had been, if Natsume’s sickness had gone untreated, he would have lost his most precious friend and never have been able to help him. He would have remained useless. And rather than lose something important, he had chosen to protect it.

He touched his bruised cheek and winced. It was worth it. All of it. Natsume was alive.

A light tapping on the nurse’s window had Tanuma jumping out of bed and rushing toward it, positive it was Natsume - hoping it was Natsume - wishing more than anything he could see Natsume again.

It was just a thin branch fluttering in the wind. Too thin to support Natsume’s now healthy form. And as much as that made him happy, to know that his friend was well and alive and doing all right, he couldn’t stop the disappointment that settled in the pit of his stomach.


“My, my,” a voice that Takashi knew well drawled, “this isn’t quite what I expected to find when I found out you were missing.” Oddly, Natori sounded greatly amused by the whole ordeal.

Takashi probably would have lashed out if it wasn’t for Hiiragi placing a hand on his chest and shaking her head. His emotions were in disarray and he didn’t want to come to terms with his situation long enough to calm down. That would mean accepting that he was an ayakashi. That he wasn’t human. That he could never go back.

Then Natori flicked him on the forehead and he couldn’t help but growl from deep in his throat, which earned him a few raised eyebrows from human and youkai alike. “This isn’t a typical case, you know. If you really wanted to, you could become human again.” Takashi wasn’t sure that was true, but he had read of legends that said it was possible.

And if humans could turn into youkai, he would have to find out if the reverse would be possible for the same person. That faint hope was enough for him to latch onto - to grasp and hold tightly, like a warm hand extended into darkness. He wasn’t going to let go if he didn’t have to. “How?” Takashi asked, stepping around Hiiragi and closer to Natori. “And just how long will it take?”

“Impatient? Something you left undone, perhaps?” Natori reached out and toyed with a lock of his slightly longer hair, eyes as curious as a child. “Just how long have you been in this form, anyway?”

“I-I’m not sure. Nyanko-sensei said it’s been two months, but has it really been that long? It feels like a day or two since that … happened.”

“Tell me everything,” Natori instructed, letting his hand fall. He was serious, not his usual playful self, and Takashi listened to the command. He told him everything.

They were in a park, seated beside each other on a bench now, and Takashi was the first to break the silence that had fallen between them. “You must look pretty weird,” he commented, as if just realizing, “you’re talking to thin air, aren’t you?”

“Hardly.” Natori’s hand was back on his hair, ruffling it affectionately. “Now what I really want to know is -”

“I’m sorry,” interrupted Takashi. “I’m sorry I didn’t let you know what was going on.”

The hand atop his head slid down and rested on the back of his neck. “Natsume,” Natori’s voice was soft, warm, and the touch was even warmer. He hadn’t realized how much he had missed that warmth until he had it back and he leaned into it. “I’m going to fix this,” promised Natori, “I’ll make things right.”

He wanted badly enough to believe him that he did, unwaveringly.

Part 3
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off on an adventure

August 2012

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