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on the ground

sicklygarden in ghostsugar_rp

The Face in the Window [closed]

In the nights since Yadoru had put the ward around his dorm room, Chiaki had not slept better.

He couldn't remember feeling so secure at night in ages. Ordinarily, the sickly first-year slept little more than four or five hours a night, and rarely all at once -- but the last few nights, he'd slept the whole night through, and he actually felt rested the next day. It had so drastically increased his mood that even the second year who lived in the room next to his was starting to give him weird looks. No one had ever seen Aoki Chiaki smile this much, even if it was that quiet, kept-to-himself sort of smile.

Of course, good things never last forever. In Chiaki's case, it was only a week or so.

The wind was strong that night. It rattled the windows of his room unsettlingly -- he hadn't realized just how old these buildings were until now. He sat by the dim light of his desk lamp, quietly practicing calligraphy. The dark of the room bled into the shapes and colors around him, threatening to swallow the comforting glow.

The windows clanged loudly, and suddenly the wind howled so shrilly Chiaki could have sworn it was a woman shrieking. It sounded uncannily familiar. Sucking in a sharp breath he nearly choked on, he started and rocked back in his chair, upsetting the calligraphy supplies on his desk. His brush veered off in a jerky parody of a stroke, ruining the sheet he'd been working on. Giving his hands a chance to stop shaking, he drew in a slow, shallow breath and set the brush down. Luckily, his ink hadn't spilled -- the only thing that had been ruined was this piece of paper. He picked up the piece of paper and crumpled it in his small hand. That was okay, he thought. He had plenty of washi paper, and the rest of the night to kill. His chair scraped quietly across the floor, the sound hushed by the drowning wind outside, and he crossed the small room to toss the paper, glancing at the window in passing.

It was then that he let out a startled yelp, stumbling backwards. He lost his footing and crashed to the floor, knocking his chair over and shaking his desk enough to upset the bottle of ink. It tipped over, dripping sumi ink onto the floor.

Chiaki coughed violently for a few moments before he regained his breath. Eyes still wide and skittish, he fixed his glasses and looked to the window. The face he'd sworn he'd just seen was gone. He swallowed, unwilling to draw nearer to the window to take another look.

It had been his mother's face. It wasn't that he hadn't seen her enough as a ghost -- he had indeed -- but...the wards, they were supposed to -- well, no, she hadn't entered the room, he reasoned with a quiet sigh.

But the expression on her face...

It had been something different altogether. His mother had always been a little batty (even his father had admitted that much), but that look...that twisted look. He'd never seen it on his mother's face before.

But maybe it hadn't been his mom after all. He'd only gotten a moment's glimpse, and...he was an awfully long way from Akita. Could ghosts even travel that far? Come to think of it, he had no idea. He'd never really thought about it, but it seemed strange for a ghost to be able to travel. His mother haunted his house, so would she even be able to go far from it? No, it couldn't have been his mother.

Chiaki didn't feel like double-checking the window to confirm this.

Getting to his feet, he set the bottle of ink upright and went about cleaning it with his sleeves pushed up to his elbows. He wondered idly if his mother missed him. Then he realized that he didn't miss his mother -- not in the sense that he missed his father, anyway. There was that quiet void in his chest, but that had always been there. Just because he had his mother around as a ghost didn't mean he had a real mother, anyhow. His mother had always flickered in and out of being, and sometimes when she spoke to him she didn't make any sense, or she didn't seem to know it was her son. And sometimes she was just plain naggy. It was all kind of weird, in Chiaki's opinion.

He dropped the inkstained paper towels into the trash and squinted at the floor. It was hard to tell if there were any stains on the floor in the dim light. He hoped not. Glancing at the calligraphy brush, he suddenly felt drained and unmotivated. He gently placed the brush in a glass of water to soak (he'd wash it in the sinks in the morning -- he didn't want to get scolded for being out in the halls too late) and took his glasses off to rub the bridge of his nose. Maybe he just ought to go to bed. It was already late, and he had class in the morning, and...

Yeah. Sleep sounded like an excellent idea right then.

Chiaki shivered as he stripped down to his boxers, leaving his clothes in a neatly folded pile on his chair. He hurriedly jumped into a set of pajamas, placing his glasses on his night table. The wind was dying down a little now, a little quieter all around. Chiaki exhaled slowly and managed a small, tired smile to himself.

As he switched off the light, the wind suddenly picked up again and his window clattered and clanged and burst open, sending a harsh torrent of cold wind into the room. Chiaki put a hand up to shield his face, shutting his eyes, and shook for a moment. As the wind raged, it regained that shrieking quality that sounded so uncannily like a woman's voice. Chiaki stood for a moment, temporarily paralyzed, and then, gritting his teeth, he leapt across the room and slammed the windows shut. He bolted them and drew the curtains with uncharacteristic speed, and then turned and dove headfirst into his bed, nearly slamming into the wall. Ducked under the covers, he shut his eyes and pulled the pillow over his head.

Deep breaths. Deep breaths... If you shut your mind, you can't hear it. The wind died down again, more slowly this time, and Chiaki's breathing slowed. He had a ward on his room, and yet -- the windows, they'd --

Sometimes, he wished he were still in Akita.
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