Well, no Bleach picture this week and I feel a little guilty. I had a huge portfolio due, a funeral to attend, and a wedding to bridesmaid for, and it sorta burnt me out. So, I bring appeasement! Been trawling through my old writing projects, thought this one deserved a second chance. Some of you may have found the old version on ff.net. Been giving it a bit of polish and think it's loads better. (Mostly because I've got it finished now) Perhaps to ease the strain of my ridiculous 17.5 credit load this fall I'll alternate weeks of drawing and writing...
Fic Title: Grisaille
Rating: T Blood, violence, thematic elements
"A Byakuya fangirl learns the hard way that you should be careful what you wish for."
Chapter 1: An End to All Things
What an idiot I am!
-Kuchiki Rukia, Memories in the Rain
Before our story really starts, I'd like you to study the opening scene for a moment.
Night, tables lit by lanterns, waterfall in the background—see how that one girl is ever so slightly out of place in the picturesque setting? Her crazy blonde curls, turned feral by the humidity, stand out like a turd in a punch bowl among the other dark haired tourists. The mess is piled into a bun, stabbed in place by an assortment of pencils. Nice people call her curvy but the magazines consider her fat since her clothes are a size or two above single digits. A plate of curry is in her left hand, a water bottle in her right, shopping bag draped over one arm, umbrella hooked to the other, and a red backpack bulging with books tops off her accessory ensemble. A set of chopsticks are clenched in her teeth. She chatters around them into the phone clamped with one shoulder to her ear. A pair of dark framed glasses (held together by scotch-tape, wishes, and the power of clichè) resolutely slide down the arch of her nose . The slightly hooked nose makes her look slightly older then her nineteen years of age.
Go a little closer! She doesn't seem to be paying attention, too busy brushing rain and refuse off a rock next to the koi pond. The only light near her is a fancy lantern, but it's enough to show the problem spots which betray her battle with acne. She wears mascara and eyeliner slightly too black for her complexion, and is wiping off her shiny lipgloss with a napkin (she had to set down the curry first and spiked the chopsticks into the rice). A purple t-shirt with clashing blue canvas shorts clashes even more with her long socks and worn tennis shoes. She pays that less heed then she gives us. She's just gotten off of a nine hour shift and is trying to pretend she doesn't need a shower. Pull in. Let's hear what she's saying.
"Shiro-chaaaaaan! I wish you were here too!"
"No, I don't wish I was there. You, my friend are in France, while I dear Captain, am enjoying my day here in Japan!"
Though her friend has no way to see, the subject of our focus waves an arm about her head, encompassing shops, a few restaurants, beautiful gardens, and a large red Torii gate just offshore.
"Oh Sarah," she continues, "the curry here is fantastic! AND I bought a box of Pocky speaking Japanese with the clerk!"
Across the lake, you can see the Mexican pyramid neighboring China. America is next door, and Morocco just around the corner.
"What was that? Um...no. It was a girl. I don't have the guts to talk Japanese with the hot native boys yet, so no progress on the bet with Mehlanie...I mean, Don Kanonji. But hey, there's a store across the street that sells Bleach merchandise! I'll get you a Hitsugaya shirt or something, okay?"
A giggle follows here.
Another pause as she looks sideways at her merchandise bag.
If your eyes are sharp, you would catch the whitnening knuckles as she grips the bag tighter.
"Um...a squad six pin. And a chibi Byakuya pin...and a hot Byakuya poster. No plushie though!" She neglects to mention that she purchased that a few months ago off of Amazon. More laughter, a quick farewell, and the phone goes back into her cheap backpack now boasting the two new Bleach pins. With a glance around, she cheerfully whispers "Itadakimas!", and digs into her dinner.
"Ladies and Gentlemen!" The voice boomed out over the lake. "In just five minutes, you will be experience Epcot's night-time spectacular Illuminations:Reflections of Earth!"
Alright, enough staring. First impressions made? Good. My name is Megan Grey. Sorry, was Megan Grey. It was the summer of 2009 and all of my dreams were coming true. Taking two semesters off of school, I'd scored the coveted job of being an intern for Walt Disney World's entertainment industry and had just finished my second week of grueling work rehearsing for shows and parades. No, I was not really in Japan—just enjoying the evening in Epcot's World Showcase Lagoon. I've got just one more detail to add to the scene—then this picture of me will be complete.
There really was no one on the other end of the phone. Do you know how expensive it would be to REALLY call Sarah/Shiro-chan on her study abroad in France? I hadn't spoken to her in months, except for breif chats over MSN and facebook and I missed her like crazy. I shovled the curry into my mouth. It was uncommonly good. I'd purchased it 3 times already, and at 7 bucks a plate it was almost worth it. There were nights like this a lot. Rehearsals rounded up around 8, and I'd head off to one of the parks to watch fireworks and parades. One of the BEST perks of this new job? Free admission to all the Disney Parks. Second best perk? 20% off of all merchandise...including the wall of Bleach stuff in Epcot Japan.
My bag buzzed. A text! (When talking to myself, I'd turn the ring off. Nothing gives away a fake conversation like a "bingledingding*tinkle*bing YOU'VE GOT MAIL!") Pulling the Byakuya keychain attached to my zipper, I retrieved my bright green phone, which I affectionately called Kermit.
megan! here for fireworks with cami where you at? -kita
That's right...aw, man! I was tired, sore, and stinky, but I'd made a promise. Both girls were college program like me. I'd met Nikita the first day here, waiting for the bus from the check in point to our apartment. Cami was a friend from auditions back in April. Now here we were, the first week of June. Niki was working main entrance at Magic Kingdom. Cami didn't get past the auditions but ended up at the Disney Quest building in Down Town Disney. (I'd tried my hardest to hook either of them onto Bleach, but...can't win them all) The three of us had such different schedules it was a rare chance indeed to get the same night off. I'm pretty sure they'd already spent the day together, and I'd promised to meet them for the show that night. Sliding open my phone, my thumbs started flying. (I'd come late onto the whole texting scene. Didn't get a phone until Christmas my first year of college. Good thing there was a full keybord, otherwise my speed would be woefully inadequate)
I'm eating curry in Japan! Where are your spots? I'll find you!
There was hardly a wait before Kermit buzzed again.
by gateway -kita
I bit my lip. My sore muscles begged me to stay put, but I sighed and got to my feet. The International Gateway was across the lake near Future World, about the farthest you could get from where I was. It was a summery Tuesday evening, the park was crowded, and I glanced up to see if the rain was still a problem. The sky was pretty clear. A few stars peeked through the clouds. On reflex, I made the same silly wish on them as always ...but that's not really important right now. Shoving things in my bag, I darted back into the Yakitori House restaurant, home to amazing curry. I asked once of the cashiers if I could have an empty plate to place over the top of my full one. My food now protected from the unpredictable Florida weather, I headed out into the surge of people packing around the lake.
"Aunt Megan! Hi!" The voice called out from above the Moroccan Pavilion. Most people would panic if they saw a four year old boy hanging by his knees from a palm tree. I smiled and waved back enthusiastically, delighted to have the chance to see him tonight. Peter really did enjoy the fireworks.
He must have, to watch them every night for the past fifteen years.
Peter died from heatstroke when his family was on vacation here in 1995. I met him my first night in Epcot after the show and made the mistake of trying to take him to the office for Lost Children. Boy, did THAT earn me some crazy looks. Took me almost five minutes of "polite disputation" with the cast member on call to realize that I was holding hands with "The Incredible Invisible Boy!".
Your mind is probably running along the lines of "so...she talks to herself...and sees dead people..." Here are a couple surprises. Yes, there are about half a dozen ghosts in Walt Disney World, which is an astoundingly low number for an area the size of Manhattan. No, I hadn't always had ESP, or whatever it was. I'd always jumped at noises no one else heard, or noticed flashes at the edge of my vision no one else caught, but always chalked it up to an overactive imagination. After a week here, the noises were voices, the flashes people. Was the sudden increase in ability thanks to the time I'd been spending all alone...?
Bah, but more time for theories later. You people are here for a story! I smiled as Peter faded. I could never see them for more then a few minutes at a time but I wistully kept my eyes on the spot where he'd been waiting.
WHAM! I walked into a French lamppost and dropped my curry. (Note to self: watch where walking) There were a few laughs around. For half a moment, I was humiliated. But, life is hard. Grinning as wide as I could, I took a deep bow, then dropped a fake curtsey or two. A few people laughed and clapped. We were all happy here. While bent over, I was scanning the ground for the remains of my seven dollar dinner. It wasn't there. I stood up far too fast...
WHAM! At first I thought I'd hit my head so hard the lights went out—then the enthusiastic announcer told me the show was about to start. In that moment, I looked up and into the eyes of an undoubtedly, fantastically attractive Asian man. At least, as far as I could tell. He had a hand over his nose where my head has smashed into his, and a baseball cap shadowed the bits of his face I could see. (He was lucky he didn't lose an eye to one of my pencils) He recovered first.
"Gomena...I mean, I'm sorry." He must have been smiling, because his eyes crinkled up as he spoke. At this point, my brain basically shut down. I had just smashed into, and been SPOKEN to by a REAL JAPANESE BOY! (and this is also the point where Fangirl!Megan gets dragged away from the keyboard.) "Are you arright?" he asked. The accent made me want to swoon. Instead, I breathlessly replied,
"Oh, yes, I'm fine thank you and I'm so sorry that I hit you I'm such a klutz can't believe I wasn't watching where you was, sorry, meant where I was..." I took a deep breath, clenched my hand into a fist, and finished off the thought with deliberate pacing. "Going."
"Ah, well, I believe this is yours." He handed me the two paper plates still sandwiching my curry. He must have snatched it out of the air! Charming, Megan! My brain was screaming at me. BE CHARMING! I grabbed the slightly soggy offering with as much grace as I could manage, trying to remember just how many teeth it was polite to show in a smile as I struggled to find what to say next.
"I'm meeting some friends for the fireworks." I managed. "Would you like to join us? We've got seats saved." I pointed.
"Even if I don't watch, it seems someone should walk you there. Guard you from sinister lamp-posts." He drew his hand away and I caught the full force of his smile for the first time. Wow. Wow. I was suddenly painfully away of my frizz, t-shirt, dorky socks, everything I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter...the guy was gorgeous.
I must have said yes.
He grabbed my hand as the first firework burst out above the lake in a brilliant red explosion.
It was the most perfect moment of my life.
Too bad that's where I'm pretty sure everything started going wrong.
"Megan!" Cami called out. I came back down to earth, and was startled to realize how fast we'd made it to the gateway. My two friends were waving me down.
"Alright then." My mysterious friend smiled and I felt my impressionable young heart skip another beat. He had dimples. As he turned away, I knew I had one chance to yell after him, one moment that could make or break my future, so I called out--
"Ohaioo gozaimasu!" Oh, it was Japanese alright. FOR GOOD MORNING! Ah! Dangit! "um...I...Oyasumi."
His smile grew wider, squinching up the corner of his eyes in the most adorable way as he pulled up the bill of his hat. The pyrotechnics from the lake let me see his hair—bleached light. Couldn't tell what color.
"Bye bye." He smiled, waving. He turned back into the crowd, disappearing almost instantly. One final THUMP and I thought my heart might have exploded. I drifted over to Cami and Niki, both already "ooh and aaah"ing over the fireworks. I looked up to the sky, feeling my heart pound in time with every BOOM. My face was hot and NOT from the flames spreading across the lake. All in all, today had been a great success. 50 dollars worth of Byakuya merchandise was in my bag, my dinner had been saved, and I'd just had a magical moment with someone who seemed to have walked right out of my dreams.
That's when the first fat raindrop hit. More followed with rapid ferocity—I fumbled for my umbrella, bracing myself against the crowds that would surely run for shelter. Storms like this in Florida happened all the time.
"Megan? What are you doing?" Cami asked.
"It's raining, silly." I laughed, trying to get my cheap purple umbrella to open.
"Nooo...it's not." Niki said, just as a raindrop hit her in the face.
See? I was right! Now...just..." I trailed off, staring. She didn't flinch as the dark colored drop slowly trickled past her nose. I touched a hand to my own face, wiping away the wetness I'd felt. After a few seconds of darkness, another explosion lit my hand up with gut-clenching clarity. It was red. The sky was raining blood. My neck, already sore from rehearsals, threatened to file a lawsuit as I looked upward.
There, above the lake, above the fireworks was a shimmering smear, dim as the Milky Way. It shifted in color along with the Illuminations show, diving and twisting in a complex dance I could hardly follow. Even as I stared, the smear seemed to sharpen, glinting like metal. The shimmer became countless points of light, fireflies or campfire sparks (or vampires, *snort*). Another spray of blood hissed into the lake just in front of us. My friends were focused on the fireworks, but I couldn't pull my eyes away from what I saw in the sky.
Another huge burst of light—the cool LED globe started floating around the lake. As the swirl of sparkling points swelled to one side, I saw two figures standing on opposite ends of the sky, flashing in and out of sight, crossing from one horizon to the other. It was too far to make out what they were, but a few minutes after each of them passed over, another splatter of the gruesome rain would hit the ground. I stared, mouth open, completely entranced by the spectacle hundreds of feet above the lake. Lightning, then a crack of thunder that drowned out the boom of fireworks announced the arrival of a real storm. Hissing cold rain poured from the sky as both figures began to tumble towards the lake. Squeals and laughter from the guests around me almost overwhelmed the bone shaking scream that made me drop everything I'd been struggling to hold for the past ten minutes.
They crashed down just a few dozen feet offshore as the world went white.
Afterthought: Here's a link to the fireworks show! www.youtube.com/watch