Color of the Rain
“That’s enough,” Chadwick murmured, closing his hand over Itaric’s. Itaric obediently stilled, turning his pale, sightless eyes towards Chadwick. He blinked a few times, color slowly swirling back into his pupils.
“I could have gone further,” Itaric said mutinously, glancing outside at the rain. Chadwick smiled a little, following his gaze out the tiny, dirty window. To anyone else, the rain would appear nothing more than a light spring shower, washing away some of the dirt and grime of winter.
However, Chadwick could see the pale green hue the rain had and, if he looked more closely, he’d be able to see the rejuvenating effects the rain had on the plants and people it touched.
Itaric could see it too, but he had created it after all.
“What color is it?” Chadwick asked, taking his hand away from Itaric’s. He didn’t look at his erstwhile student.
“Green,” Itaric said quietly after a long moment, and Chadwick smothered an amused smile. This was why Itaric would be a better Rainmaker than he had been; it bothered him that no one else could see the colors of the rain. “I could’ve done more.”
“Someone would’ve noticed,” Chadwick said dismissively, finally turning back towards Itaric. “Well, noticed more than they already have.”
Itaric shrugged, a sullen look flickering over his face. “I could handle it.”
“Not if the current Rainmaker came to challenge you,” Chadwick replied sharply, annoyed because they’d had this discussion just a few days previously. Gods, had he been that impatient when he’d been young?
“No one’s seen him for almost a year!” Itaric burst out, scowling, but he slumped back in his chair in defeat. “I just – there’s so much more I could do.”
“There is, and you will get the chance to do it,” Chadwick said, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. “But first you have to get stronger. A few more months.”
Itaric straightened at that, his eyes widening dramatically. Chadwick ignored his reaction to the proclamation, climbing to his feet. He wanted to go out and celebrate the rain as it should be celebrated – but to do so would give him away. Instead, he stretched slowly, paying no heed when a few of his joints cracked.
“Just a few months, really?” Itaric asked excitedly, because of course he wouldn’t let that lie. “You’re not just putting me on?”
Chadwick shot Itaric a disgusted look, but Itaric just made a face right back at him.
“Yes, just a few months,” Chadwick said, rolling his eyes. He clenched his fingers into a fist, as displeased with having to repeat himself as he was with the assessment. A few months, and Itaric would be the new Rainmaker and he – he would probably be dead. No Rainmaker survived the challenge if they lost, and Chadwick had no doubt that Itaric would not hesitate even after he learned who Chadwick was.
Especially after he learned who Chadwick was.
He deserved it. He deserved to have this bright, powerful young Rainmaker take everything away from him. It didn’t matter that Itaric would hate him for his deception or that Itaric already hated him for being the current Rainmaker.
“Don’t use it again until tomorrow,” Chadwick said, crossing the room with swift steps to collect Itaric’s jacket. “And if you can wait until Thursday to try again, all the better.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Itaric grumbled, before giving him a cheeky grin. Chadwick didn’t react, just held out Itaric’s jacket wordlessly. Itaric took it, slipping into it slowly. He glanced past Chadwick, out the dirty window, and Chadwick tamped down the urge to look again himself.
Instead, he found himself studying Itaric, unable to keep from admiring his student. Itaric was handsome, likely a heartthrob amongst the young ladies. He had neatly trimmed blonde hair, a gorgeous smile that lit up even the dimmest of rooms, and pale blue eyes. In a past life, Chadwick would have required Itaric’s presence every night in his bedchamber as a tribute.
“Out,” Chadwick finally made himself say when Itaric made no move to leave, transfixed by the rain outside the window. It would do Itaric good to be out in the rain he’d made, and it would do Chadwick good to keep Itaric away before he did something completely stupid.
“I’m going, I’m going,” Itaric said, gracing Chadwick with another of his bright, happy smiles. “You should go outside while it’s still raining.”
“Maybe,” Chadwick muttered, though he knew he’d stay inside until the rain stopped. With the strength of the rainstorm Itaric had created, that would be a few hours yet.
“Chadwick,” Itaric said, sounding annoyed. Chadwick managed a smile at that; it always vexed Itaric that Chadwick never went out into the rainstorms he summoned. But the rain was another way of seeing for Itaric – he’d peg Chadwick immediately if he went out into the rain before the colors wore off.
“Out,” Chadwick ordered again, more sharply. Itaric heaved a loud sigh, but finally started towards the door.
“One day you’re going to go out in my rain,” Itaric threatened playfully. “It won’t kill you, and then you’ll feel stupid.”
Chadwick scoffed, moving around the rickety table to where Itaric had sat for the lesson. Though it was really more of a strength-building game at this point; Itaric had all the fine points of Rainmaking down. Pushing in the chair Itaric had sat in, Chadwick glanced across the room at him and tried not to think about what would happen when Itaric was stronger.
“I’ll go out when you’re done learning,” Chadwick promised, because at that point it wouldn’t matter if Itaric knew who he was. “Now go home.”
“Going,” Itaric said cheerfully. “See you.” The door slammed exuberantly behind him, and then Chadwick was alone in his ramshackle pair of rooms. Chadwick flexed his grip on the back of Itaric’s chair and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly before he crossed the kitchen to makes some tea. It was going to be a long afternoon, waiting out the rain.
Itaric forcefully slowed his steps as he made his way down the last hallway to Chadwick’s rooms. Chadwick hated it when he came bursting in like a “crazed windstorm,” as the man said. Itaric personally liked being a crazy windstorm, even if it brought him a lot of grief.
Knocking loudly, Itaric shifted impatiently, filled with pent-up energy just waiting to be released. He wanted to try a thunderstorm today; it had been nearly a week since his last “lesson” with Chadwick and Itaric had been good – so good he hadn’t created a single raindrop in ages.
Itaric knocked again, wondering what Chadwick was doing that it was taking him so long to answer the door. Grinning, Itaric debated for a moment whether or not to leave Chadwick his privacy – but in the end the temptation was too great. Chadwick was always so cool and aloof. Maybe that would change if Itaric caught him doing something improper.
The door opened easily under his hand, and Itaric pushed the door open without a bit of remorse. He didn’t get past the doorway, however, shocked at the absolute mess the place was.
The worn, rickety furniture was smashed, there were bits of dishes and all-in-all the mess could’ve been worse, except that Chadwick hadn’t owned much. Itaric stared into the room in disbelief, wondering what in the world could’ve happened – four days ago the place had been pristine and Chadwick had been fondly ordering him out.
At least, Itaric liked to think it was fondly. Chadwick had thawed some in the six months Itaric had been learning from him – and he really, really did not like thinking about what would’ve happened had it not been Chadwick who’d found him after he’d caused that squall – but he was still… reserved.
Itaric forced himself to move after a moment, glancing through the mess without really seeing it. There was no sign of anyone being hurt, at least – no blood smears, no bodies – and Itaric frowned. Perhaps it had been a robbery? But no, Chadwick had nothing and wanted nothing. More than once he’d refused Itaric’s clumsy attempts to recompense him for his help mastering the Rain.
So that left him. Someone had figured out what Chadwick was doing, that he was teaching an upstart rainmaker, and come to stop him. Itaric bit his lip, guilt crashing through him.
Though, if he was logical – they’d gone after Chadwick, not him. So perhaps they were just tracking him down for abandoning the Rainmaker? Or maybe they suspected him of knowing something about the Rainmaker’s disappearance. They hadn’t come after Itaric, after all, and he was much more important to squash in the scheme of things.
Biting his lip, Itaric glanced around the shattered bedroom – they’d even shredded the mattress – before turning and resolutely leaving the apartment. Calling up a gentle rain as he walked towards the front exit of the building, Itaric tried not to worry about what he was about to do. Chadwick had said he was almost ready; hopefully he was ready enough, because he wasn’t going to wait around and let Chadwick be killed for running from the Rainmaker’s service.
After all, if he was the new Rainmaker, he could decide to keep Chadwick or, more likely, let him go to return to whatever life he’d had before he’d been drafted into the Rainmaker’s service. Even if, wistfully, he wished Chadwick would choose to stay with him.
But Chadwick didn’t want him, not that way. He’d never said, but Itaric could figure it out. Chadwick had helped him so that he could be free to do what he wanted after Itaric took over the Rainmaker’s mantle.
Stepping out into the rain, Itaric smiled a little as it settled on his skin and told him what it knew. It was a pale, pale pink, only the faintest rosy hue misting slowly from the sky and settling on the buildings, people, ground, and anything that was outdoors to be touched.
Itaric let the rain see for him, hoping in vain to catch a glimpse of Chadwick, but to no avail. Itaric hesitated a last moment before finally squaring his shoulders and heading towards the center of town where the Rainmaker’s temples were situated.
It was raining. A soft, pink mist, and Chadwick smiled slowly at the color. The man sitting to his left shifted in annoyance, but Chadwick ignored him. It was early than he’d planned… but Itaric would take it nevertheless. Chadwick didn’t have the strength and he didn’t have the willpower to resist.
“Did you cause that?” Pendifir demanded, squinting out the window. He couldn’t see the rosy hue, of course, but it was obvious that the rain wasn’t natural – the sun was still shining, after all.
Chadwick smiled a little wider, reaching up and removing the singlet someone had placed upon his head while dressing him. Tossing it onto the floor in front of, he laughed.
Pendifir’s eyes widened, but Chadwick didn’t give him a chance to say anything more. He stood up and headed for the nearest exit – one of the wide, tall windows that had been propped open to let the spring breeze into the stagnant temple sanctum.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Pendifir demanded, catching up to him after a few steps.
“Issuing a challenge,” Chadwick said calmly, shaking off Pendifir’s hand. “He’s my way out, Pendifir, and not even you can change that now.”
Pendifir laughed, stopping where he was. “Your way out? Fine, so be it. After he crushes you, it will be easy to take him under my wing and keep him from being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the Rainmaker.”
“He’s smarter than you,” Chadwick said, making a note to warn Itaric about Pendifir. Though perhaps he should do the opposite; anything he said to Itaric now would not be well-received and he didn’t want to aid Pendifir’s attempts to insinuate himself at Itaric’s side.
Pendifir just laughed, apparently unconcerned by that. Chadwick ignored him, not hesitating even as he reached the window. Lifting himself up over the sill, he tumbled down the other side and into Itaric’s rain.
Nothing happened for a heartbeat, two, three, and then the rain pulsed, shifting from a light mist colored a pale, rosy pink to an actual rain shower, pale green but unwavering.
The challenge had been accepted then. Chadwick clenched his hands into fists and wished in vain that there was another way.
Except he deserved this – he’d been a terrible Rainmaker. And some of the blame for that was Pendifir’s, but he’d been spoiled, selfish, and worst of all, viciously mean. Itaric would do so much better. He was Chadwick’s opposite in temperament – warm, caring, too nice for his own good. He was a true Rainmaker.
Challenge issued, Chadwick inelegantly clambered back into the temple’s sanctum. He ignored Pendifir, who was looking smug and unconcerned, like this fit his plans better than simply dragging Chadwick back to the temples had.
He headed for the front temple, ignoring the way people flinched away from him or dropped into low, worshipping bows. The rain wasn’t his, so he couldn’t tell how far away Itaric was. But Itaric would’ve come straight from Chadwick’s rooms, because he wouldn’t have let Chadwick’s abduction go unchallenged, so he’d be here before the hour was out.
The front temple wasn’t empty, but it got that way quickly after Chadwick appeared. A few brave souls lingered, but left after a cold glare from Chadwick. Pendifir wisely lingered a few steps away, out of Chadwick’s easy reach.
It might be best to just strike the venomous man down now, before he had a chance to try and afflict Itaric with his presence. Chadwick had done worse, before he’d run off and before he’d encountered a bright, cheerful boy who made it rain without thinking about it, who healed plants and people and didn’t ask for anything in return.
Who, if Chadwick had said so much as a single word, would have been put to death for having the same powers that made Chadwick the Rainmaker.
Chadwick carefully extended his power – power he hadn’t used in almost a year – and it began to rain inside the temple. A light, powerful shower, it blockaded the doors the temple’s interior and sectioned Pendifir off into his own, hopefully harmless, square of temple.
It was steel gray rain, ugly and functional.
He hoped Itaric killed him with something colorful.
Stepping down from the dais, Chadwick crossed to the center of the room, not willing to hide away in the back of the temple any longer. He reached the room just as the door opened, admitting Itaric, wide-eyed and wet.
Itaric paid no heed to the curtain of rain that Chadwick closed across the doorway. A fine green mist clouded around him as he stalked across the room to where Chadwick stood.
“It certainly took you long enough,” Chadwick observed, ignoring the way Itaric’s mist settled on his bare arms and face. He’d taught Itaric better control than that, but Itaric was nothing if not emotional, so it was little surprise he was misting around him like he’d been when Chadwick first stumbled across him.
“How could you?” Itaric asked, the hurt written plainly across his face. Chadwick’s heart twisted unpleasantly. It was necessary, he told himself fiercely. It was better this way.
“I like to play,” Chadwick said, forcing his lips into a smirk. “You were fun. Did you really think you could challenge me? Even –”
“Stop it,” Itaric snapped, glaring at him ferociously. Chadwick raised his eyebrows, wishing it wasn’t so easy – wishing that Itaric wasn’t so perfect for this task. “Stop it. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you what, beauty? That I was the Rainmaker? That I was just playing with you?” Chadwick asked, making to move forward – he wanted to touch, at least once – but he realized with a start that he couldn’t move.
He had taught Itaric better control. Oh, that was a sneaky move, binding Chadwick when he wasn’t paying any mind.
“That you were the Rainmaker. That you want me to kill you, so you don’t have to be,” Itaric said, his eyes wide and Chadwick wondered if perhaps Itaric had paralyzed his tongue as well, because he suddenly couldn’t speak. “That you – that you wish you could do it differently –”
Itaric shook his head, stepping back. “You should have told me.”
“Hah,” Chadwick said, still reeling a little. He’d never thought, never even suspected, that Itaric was so strong a rainmaker he could read thoughts and feelings from a simple mist. He’d never taught that to Itaric, period – it wasn’t a combative tactic and it took far too much energy to do most of the time.
“I’m not going to. I won’t challenge you,” Itaric said after a long moment as Chadwick struggled to find some way to make his plan still work.
“You have to,” Chadwick said, ignoring the desperate tone to his voice. “I can’t – you’ll be put to death. It’s the law.”
“It’s Rainmaker’s law,” Itaric said, and the mist dissipated, leaving Chadwick free to move again. “You can strike it from the records if you want. You can do a lot of things, if you want.”
“You can strike it from the record,” Chadwick replied, turning Itaric’s trick back on him. The mist – a pale, pale yellow — appeared quickly, but Itaric twisted free of it easily – half because he was stronger than Chadwick and half because Chadwick hadn’t really put much effort into it. “After you become the Rainmaker.”
“I’m not killing you,” Itaric said, glaring at him. And how stupid was it that all Chadwick wanted was another bright smile?
“You’ll make a better Rainmaker,” Chadwick said, a little sadly. A dark red rain poured down from the ceiling, drenching them both but binding Itaric’s powers so that any spell he performed would cause twice the damage to Chadwick it would normally.
“Stop it,” Itaric snapped, pushing his sopping wet hair out of his face. The color swirled out of his eyes, and a soft, inquisitive mist draped over Chadwick, gentle blue in contrast to his angry red. “It’s Rainmaker law, too, isn’t it, how the succession is supposed to go? You could change that.”
“It’s not enough,” Chadwick said, shrugging. It really was better if he died here – fittingly, in the room his victims were murdered in. If Itaric didn’t do it, someone else would out of revenge and Chadwick would suffer more for it.
“Oh, for –” Itaric glowered at him, obviously unimpressed. Chadwick shrugged dismissively, and took off the kid gloves. Itaric would defend himself, as he wasn’t stupid enough not to, and in doing so he’d take care of it.
“Chadwick!” Itaric protested, but Chadwick ignored him – he was good at ignoring things – and summoned forth an offensive rain. It wouldn’t kill Itaric, but if he did nothing it would leave quite a mark.
Itaric didn’t flinch as he unleashed the torrential downpour. He let it fall for a moment, gritting his teeth, until finally he lashed back, kicking out with a small squall that knocked Chadwick to his knees and sent his head spinning.
Smiling grimly, Chadwick blinked a few times to get the black rainwater out of his face – only to be met with an armful of Itaric. Chadwick lost his grip on his spells, completely startled as Itaric forced him backwards. His elbows hit the tile floor with a crack he felt the length of his arms, but he didn’t get more than another blink in before Itaric was sitting back.
“Dammit, Chadwick, stop being so stupid,” Itaric yelled, smacking him across the face. The temple was dry now, so Itaric had obviously lost his rain as well. “I’m not going to kill you. You’re not going to kill me. And we’ll work out this stupid Rainmaker business later!”
“It doesn’t work that way, beautiful,” Chadwick said tiredly, shoving half-heartedly at Itaric, who didn’t move an inch from where he was sitting on top of Chadwick.
“So we’ll make it work that way,” Itaric said, shifting so he could properly sit up. Chadwick grunted as he caught a knee to his ribs, but Itaric settled firmly on top of his stomach and Chadwick just stared up at him, not really sure what to do next.
“Fine, neither of us will be Rainmaker,” Itaric said, shooting a dark look towards the dais, where, Chadwick realized, the sound of approaching footsteps was coming. “But neither of us is going to die, either.”
“Stubborn child,” Chadwick muttered, and Itaric jabbed him in the ribs sharply.
“You’re barely older than me,” Itaric said distractedly, frowning at whoever was approaching – probably Pendifir, as all the other temple occupants had left. Chadwick sighed, closing his eyes and fighting to think – something unsurprisingly difficult with Itaric on top of him.
“Congratulations, Rainmaker,” Pendifir said, his voice sweet and syrupy. Chadwick barely kept from laughing – how in the world did Pendifir think him dead? Itaric had been yelling at him.
“I’m not the Rainmaker,” Itaric said, and Chadwick nearly smiled at the petulant tone in his voice. “And you can’t make me be, and neither can you.” Itaric punctuated that last word with another sharp jab to Chadwick’s ribs, making him jerk in surprise.
Opening his eyes was worth it, just to see the look on Pendifir’s face. “Get lost,” Chadwick ordered. He was still Rainmaker, even if he still hoped to find some way out of that.
“Now,” Itaric said, narrowing his eyes at the man. Pendifir bowed shortly before hastily backing away – probably to contain whatever damage he’d inadvertently done by approaching them.
“I do not like that man,” Chadwick said, staring up at the ceiling past Itaric’s head.
“Okay, so we fire him,” Itaric said reasonably, and Chadwick laughed unhappily.
“I can’t do that,” Chadwick said, shaking his head. “His position – well, only a new Rainmaker can appoint a new set of priests.”
“There are other ways,” Itaric said, so meanly that Chadwick shifted to look at him in surprise. Itaric flushed, jabbing Chadwick in the ribs again. “I’m sure there are other ways. Besides, you’re the Rainmaker, you can make up laws.”
“That’s not really how it works,” Chadwick said, letting his head thump back against the tile of the floor and ignoring the dull shoot of pain the move caused.
“Well, then, you’ll have to teach me,” Itaric said firmly, narrowing his eyes.
“I can’t, Itaric,” Chadwick said, misery crashing through him. This wasn’t working out how it was supposed to. “I – it’s not right for me to be the Rainmaker after everything I did with it.”
“Yeah?” Itaric asked, his voice tight and furious. “So you think dying will make everything better?” Itaric shifted, clambering off his perch on Chadwick and inadvertently driving his knee into Chadwick’s ribs again.
“It’s fair,” Chadwick said slowly. “I was responsible for – I don’t know how many people died here because of me, Itaric.”
“You make nothing better by dying,” Itaric snapped. “You can make it better by living and fixing things. More killing won’t help, I don’t care how awful people think you are. You’re not any longer, if you ever really were, and – and I know it would make my life much worse if you died.”
Chadwick shook his head, sitting up slowly. “It would give many people closure and they wouldn’t have to worry about me.”
“No, you’re going to stay Rainmaker,” Itaric declared, crossing his arms and giving Chadwick his best stubborn look – the look he used when he was trying his damnedest to get Chadwick to agree to allow him to make more rain. “And you’re going to fix things and help people and do it right this time.”
“Itaric –” Chadwick protested, a hint of anger stirring because Itaric just didn’t understand, because Itaric didn’t know just how much people abhorred him.
“I really liked it better when you were calling me awful pet names,” Itaric said quietly, his shoulders slumping a little. “I won’t let you kill yourself, Chadwick. You’re too important to me.”
Chadwick raised his eyebrows. “You want me to call you awful pet names?”
“I don’t want you to die,” Itaric said, back to fierce. “I’d much – I’d much prefer to keep you around, you know. And you can be a good Rainmaker, Chadwick, if you just give yourself half a chance to do it right.”
“But I won’t,” Chadwick said, frowning as Itaric gave up glaring at him and ran his hands through his already disheveled hair. “Who’s to say I won’t make the same bad choices now? That in a few months there won’t be new reason to rightfully disavow me?”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Itaric said, narrowing his eyes and suddenly springing into movement. He crossed the tiled floor to where Chadwick was standing and jabbed him in the chest with his forefinger. “You’ll have to get rid of that law that says to kill me, but I’m staying, Chadwick.”
“Why can’t I stay and you be the Rainmaker?” Chadwick asked, unthinkingly reaching out and grabbing Itaric’s hand as he pulled it away.
“Because,” Itaric said, making no move to extract his hand. “I don’t think you’ll stay, unless I make you have a reason to.”
“I do have a reason,” Chadwick admitted, and really, there was no reason to be shy about it, so why was he blushing?
“Does it have anything to do with you calling me beautiful earlier? Because I’ll have you know, I’m not a girl so the right word is ‘handsome,’” Itaric said, smiling a little. “Also, that would be a really good reason but I’d still make you be Rainmaker.”
“What, why?” Chadwick asked.
“Because you need to do it,” Itaric said firmly. “To fix you. Now agree so I can kiss you already.”
“That’s blackmail,” Chadwick said, ignoring the way his stomach was squirming. “And it’s not me who needs fixing.” Chadwick paused, but there really was no real option, was there? How was he supposed to walk away from Itaric? “I agree, but you’re not allowed to leave for at least three months. I don’t want you changing your mind next week and getting me lynched.”
“I won’t change my mind,” Itaric said. He didn’t let go of Chadwick’s hand as he stepped close and made good on his word, kissing Chadwick gently. “Now –”
“Not good enough,” Chadwick said, twisting his hand free so he could fist both hands in the front of Itaric’s shirt and pull him close. Itaric managed a mildly surprised look but then Chadwick was kissing him – actually kissing, not just a peck on the lips – and Itaric was kissing back just as forcefully, whatever he’d been about to say forgotten.
Chadwick only broke away from Itaric when something wet and cool landed on his cheek. Itaric looked just as surprised as the rain picked up, moving rapidly from a gentle shower to a heavy downpour. It was a clear, colorless rain, uninflected by any magic, and Chadwick smiled as Itaric laughed and pulled him close for a kiss under the rain.