(laughter is) the shortest distance between two people
summary: Nishimura makes Natsume laugh. It’s kind of a really big deal.
is dipped forward, eyes hidden behind a fair curtain of fringe—but
his shoulders are shaking softly and his mouth is muffled in his
hands and he’s laughing.
can’t help but stare, even as something golden and bubbly fills his
chest. Behind him, close enough to fall within his admittedly limited
radius of awareness, Kitamoto is still talking to another
classmate—missing out on this miracle, because
his priorities are obviously completely screwed up.
It bugs me a little that if you only watch the anime for Natsume Yuujincho, you don’t know that Natsume can actually read all the names in the book. In the manga it shows that off first chapter, but it’s a fact that is absent from the anime.
Oh my gosh, your writing is rad! I don't know if you're still willing to take NatsuYuu prompts, but if you are: Natsume goes missing, either by the interference of youkai or by getting lost, on a family vacation and Touko and Shigeru try to find him.
“Oh, dear,” Touko murmurs, for the fifth time in as many minutes. “How could this have happened?”
She scans faces in the crowd, looking for one in particular, a hand folded against her heart. One minute, Takashi was right beside her, pointing out little birds nesting in a low bush and flowers growing through cracks in the sidewalk, and then they turned a corner and he was gone.
“Takashi isn’t a child,” Shigeru reminds her, not unkindly. “He can take care of himself.”
“Of course he can. But he doesn’t know the address of the inn we’re going to, does he? I didn’t think to tell him, did you? Oh, what if he’s lost?”
All by himself in an unfamiliar city, without a map or a cellphone or anything but a fat, lazy cat to guide him safely.
The thought digs burrs into her heart and pricks hotly at her eyes, and she presses her fingers against her mouth before her trembling lips can give her away.
Sweet, gentle Takashi, who tries so hard to be helpful and wants so badly to be wanted. Smiling like a small sun at the breakfast table each and every morning, bright and beautiful and so deserving; so much a part of her life that his name is one of the first thoughts that cross her mind in the morning, one of the last to leave her mind at night.
And as they near the inn, and Touko spots that familiar tawny blond hair from nearly a block away, her heart leaps into her throat and her pace nearly doubles and she barely has time to take in his sheepish smile before she’s holding him close.
“I’m sorry,” he says, so carefully, his silly cat all but crushed between them. “I got turned around. I didn’t mean to worry you.”
“You know how Touko gets,” Shigeru says, but he was barely a step behind her, and his hand settles fondly on the softness of Takashi’s hair with visible, weighted relief. “I’m glad you’re alright. And I’m surprised you beat us here.”
“Oh,” Takashi stammers, hugging Nyankichi a little closer to his chest. “Oh, there was – someone was kind enough to point me in the right direction. And I had Nyanko-sensei with me the whole time, I was okay.”
Shigeru levels Touko with a knowing look, one that says “see? he can take care of himself, after all” without saying anything at all.
But Touko knows that. Takashi has been taking care of himself for a long, long time. And that’s why she doesn’t want him to need to do that anymore, or ever again. Not now that she’s here.
Takashi hesitates only a moment before following Shigeru inside, and raises a hand to wave at someone down the street. Touko follows his gaze, but there’s no one there. She thinks of a white crow, and of whispered rumors and a long string of temporary foster homes, and all the warm evenings Takashi spends talking to himself in his bedroom.
And she lingers a few steps behind her family, and bows deeply to the empty air.
“Thank you. I’m so relieved he wasn’t alone, thank you,” she says, hoping to be heard. Knowing, somehow, through the soft wind that curls through her hair a moment later, that she was.
Takashi isn’t a child, and Touko isn’t a mother.
And yet she pours all of her love and care and worry and pride into him like water into an empty well, and waits up every night he comes home late, and praises his scores in school, and takes extra care in packing his bento on the days he comes downstairs with tired eyes.
If Takashi isn’t that, and Touko isn’t this, then she doesn’t have words at all for what he’s come to mean to her.