It was particularly awful that afternoon when he struggled his way home. The air was nothing but sharp icicles hitting him repeatedly in the face as he fought his way forward, his body bent over double to protect himself from the freezing wind and the snow that came with it –whisking horizontally through the city. He was soaked before he was even halfway home, and had to hold on to his hat to make sure it didn’t get snatched up by a strong gust of wind.
Grumbling, he crossed the street from the shopping center, noting that even the most hardcore of the salesmen at the parking lot outside were packing up for the day. The ghastly weather made everything seem like a white blur, obscuring his vision – even making it difficult to see that the sky was already a deep midnight blue, and the moon was rising.
Had Mizuki looked up and past the flurry of snowflakes that were swishing past him he would have noticed that there was something special about that moon – it’s cold, pale light was warmer than it should be on such a vile December evening; it gave off a pleasant, yellow sheen behind the dark clouds.
But Mizuki didn’t notice. He was too busy hurrying through the slush, down the road towards his own street – in the far distance he could see the Millers’ house; already completely covered with colorful lights – the multicolored bulbs lighting up as hazy blurs of yellow, red and purple between the thick flecks of snow.
He used the specks of lights as guiding stars, leading through the storm, until he found himself back on his own street, making a dash towards his own house, and the dangerously icy stairs leading up to his apartment.
His hands were freezing, and the key seemed to burn his icy skin as he reached for it and inserted it into the lock. Whoever had told him that winters here weren’t so bad, had clearly been lying.
“Mild weather and rain…” he scoffed, forcing open the door and stumbling inside.
He was soaked through to the bone, and groaned under his breath. It was probably time to invest in a better winter coat….
Wait a moment.
He froze in his tracks – a puddle of muddy, ice water full of gravel and road salt beginning to form around his feet. The lights were on.
Had he left them on before leaving? In that case he would be in for a nasty surprise when he got the electricity bill later this month….
A frustrated sigh escaped his sore, cracked lips. He flung his coat into a corner – not bothering to hang it up to dry.
He pulled his sweater over his head, as he made his way through the doorway from the small hallway into the one-room. Emerging from the blackness from within the darkness of the wet sweater, he flinched and jumped several steps backwards.
Someone was in the room!
“What the he-“ he burst out, staring ahead at the man who was sitting on his bed.
The naked man on his bed.