Rain Page 34

’’So he didn\ do it?’’

More lies, more deception. My life couldn\ be straightforward, not with Tomo. ’’Of course not. You saw us arrive at school this morning. Why would he do something like that?’’

’’I know,’’ Yuki said, a hint of apology in her voice. ’’I just heard the boys\ change room was a mess. They all think he did it, you know.’’

I wanted to care, but it just didn\ seem important anymore. Ink on the chalkboards big deal. It was the kami we had to worry about now.

’’Let me know if you need anything, okay?’’ she said. ’’I\ll bring you my notes tomorrow.’’

’’Thanks,’’ I said, and then I hung up the phone. I had the best friends in the world, I really did. They worried about me, watched out for me. So did Diane.

Who did Tomo have?

Me. His dad, sort of. Ishikawa. And that was about it.

I got to my feet and wandered upstairs into Tomo\s bedroom. His blue-checked comforter was a tangled mess on the bed and he\d left a couple dark T-shirts and jeans littered across the floor. He still had all the creepy sumi-e ink drawings up, and the Renaissance paintings of angels trampling demons.

I sat down at his desk, where he\d left an open notebook and a pile of textbooks meant for the entrance exams. I wondered if he\d ever had time to study for them.

His handwriting was elegant and practiced, and you could see the flair for calligraphy in the kanji. But even then, you could see the careful control he\d written his notes with. Any kanji with the character sword in them were given blunt edges, ones that stopped short instead of trailing off in a slice of a line.

I lifted his pen, twisting it between my fingers. His room smelled faintly of his vanilla hair gel;it was nice being in here, when you avoided looking at the creepy paintings on the walls.

I pressed the pen to the paper and drew a tiny heart in the margin of his notebook. Maybe he\d notice it there later when he was studying.

I lifted the pen and felt ill suddenly, like motion sickness.

The heart flashed once with a golden shimmer, and then the pen ink trailed down the center in a jagged line, breaking the heart in two.

I stared at it, stunned. Downstairs I heard the shower shut off.

My drawing had moved. It had come to life and moved.

The ink in me had awoken when Jun ripped that drawing. I was connected to the paper Katie;like a channel between river and lake, she\d made the connection between Tomo\s ink and mine.

’’Oh my god,’’ I whispered. Maybe it was Tomohiro\s closeness in the house that made it move, like how my doodles had come at me that day in school.

But it felt different. I felt different.

Outside a crow cawed loudly, making me think of the rush of black feathers on Tomo\s back.

I stared at the heart with its jagged break down the center. We could never be happy;we could never be together.

I wished the ink had never woken in me. I wished it would just go back to sleep.

I blinked, considering what I\d just thought.

The ink in Tomo took control sometimes, but it always subsided. Jun said one day it would get so bad that it wouldn\ reverse again. But for now, it did. It went back to sleep.

I looked at the broken heart again. Two halves. Two kami.

Tomo\s door creaked open and he stood there in a pair of track pants and a blue T-shirt, his copper hair dripping wet in odd spikes as he rubbed it with a towel.

He saw my face and his arms lowered. ’’Doushita?’’ He padded across the room to his desk, leaning over my shoulder. His skin radiated warmth from the shower, and he smelled of milky soap. ’’My drawing moved, Tomo.’’

’’Just now?’’

I nodded, pointing at the broken heart with the pen. ’’I drew a heart, and the ink broke it in two.’’

He reached over my shoulder to press his fingers against the heart. He\d left his kendo wristband off and I could see the deep gash where the kanji for sword had cut him all those years ago, the old wound the dragon had bitten open in Toro Iseki.

’’Harsh,’’ he said, tracing the jagged break in the heart. ’’The ink\s cruel.’’

’’That\s what I thought, too. But what if it means something else?’’ I took a deep breath, my whole body buzzing. ’’Before I came to Japan, the ink in me was asleep, even past the age it should\ve awakened. And if I\d gone to Canada to live with Nan and Gramps, that would\ve been a temporary fix because the ink in you would calm down. Like, go to sleep kind of.’’

Tomo\s face darkened. ’’So we have to be apart.’’

’’No,’’ I said. ’’That\s not the answer. We have to make the ink go dormant, Tomo.’’

’’How?’’

I bit my lip. ’’I\m not sure. But look at this heart. Two sides. Two kami. Split them in half. You don\ have to worry about Amaterasu. She has lots of descendants and they\ e living normal lives. It\s Tsukiyomi that\s the problem. You just have to put his blood to sleep.’’

Tomo stared with shining eyes, his mind racing with ideas. ’’Like a disease,’’ he said. ’’We just have to make the Tsukiyomi cells go dormant.’’

’’There has to be a way, since the ink was asleep inside of me. And you always regain control when it tries to take over. It goes both ways.’’

’’Don\ forget Tsukiyomi and Amaterasu used to be in love,’’ Tomo said, hope rising in his voice. ’’If we can\ make it inactive, maybe we can reconcile them somehow. The potential\s there. It\s not fate, Katie. We can change it. We can fight against it, right?’’

I had to believe it. The alternative was too bleak.

’’Right,’’ I said, rising to my feet and grinning at him. It was more potential than we\d had in ages. It was a lead it was a possible cure.

He went to wrap his arms around me, but I stepped back.

’’Dirty and gross, remember?’’ I said, motioning to the ink and mud splattered all over my uniform. He grabbed me anyway, spinning me in a circle as I squealed in surprise. He pulled me close, his chin on my shoulder. His skin was still pink from the shower;the soapy smell was overpowering, but nice.

’’We can do this,’’ he said. ’’There has to be another way.’’

There had to, because I couldn\ imagine life without him.

We clung to each other in his sunlit room with the cheery bedspread and demon paintings.

The crow outside cawed again;the trees in one of the ink paintings swayed in an unseen gust of wind, which plucked the leaves off the branches into the air. The leaves tumbled out of the painting and onto the floor, shriveled blackness collecting around us in a circle on the floor.

You don\ scare me, I thought, looking at the inky pile. Not when Tomo\s at my side.

We will fight you. And we will win.


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