It had been a day reminiscent of the sharp feel of tangerine and the sweet taste of lanthanum. Even the great oak had dared only drop a single leaf, which dropped straight down to settle on the edge of the old brother bench in the absence of wind. It wasn't until late in the day that the wind had picked up enough to politely take the hands of that leaf, and lead her in a gentle waltz through the courtyard, to twirl around a wall and out into the street. But then the finicky date let his partner's hands fall, and she dropped sadly into a pile of her fellows, to commiserate their loss together until scattered apart by the heavy-booted foot of a passerby.
The University as a whole was vain enough to believe that it needed no other name of identification. Even the buildings reeked of put-upon elegance, and they blinked slowly down onto the winding paths and small gardens that surrounded them. They had the grace not to loom, but that was more out of a desire to maintain reputation than it was out of any sort of consideration for the little things that passed below. The roofs were much more friendly. They were content to stay still, soak up the brightness of the day and share it with whomever came along. That was why he spent most of his time on the roofs. They welcomed his presence with silent warmth, and they so rarely got to spend time with company. The wind was also friendly with the roofs, and couldn't help but bring up the voices from below to share with its friend. That friendliness was unknowingly extended to those who came to offer companionship. Now, as the sun reached down ribbons to the tops of the mountains, the wind nipped at his hair and clothes, playing at being a puppy begging for the attention of a dear friend. He stood to oblige it, and for a moment it chased its tail excitedly, lifting his light cotton shirt away from his chest, and pulling a hem of his cloak towards the edge of the roof. He tucked a strand of strawberry blonde hair back along the crown of his head, patting it down devotedly even as the wind grabbed several more and threw them across his face. He devotedly tucked back three more strands, but when he made it back to the strand he had originally tucked away his face broke into a wide grin. He shook his head back and forth wildly, flinging his hair out, where it came to rest in a wild halo around his head.
From the street, the University campus could seem confusing. Buildings seemed to have popped up from nowhere, causing the path to have to veer sharply off to the right to avoid a collision. But everything still contained that elegance, and nothing could truly be called out of place. It was, after all, there. He had watched many a student become turned around in its passageways, and had followed them on their course until they wound up right back where they had started, bewildered. But from the roofs, the University made a form of perfect sense that was normally only reserved for the wildest places. It was walking along the top of the mountains, and coming across a couloir. For a moment there was only frustration at finding yourself trapped, but it was so beautiful that your anger had to bleed away. It didn't take long to tempt these couloir into friendship, and then they would be willing to come together for a moment and carry a friend across without disturbing those who passed below, and relied upon the space for safe and timely passage.
And so he chased the wind across the rooftops, unconcerned as to where his footsteps led him, and it took him a while to realize that he was not truly chasing the wind, but rather that they were partners and cavorted together in perfect harmony. However, soon he came once more to stillness, and the wind raced onwards, leaving its partner behind. There was a familiar sound coming from below his feet, and he could not help but pause and listen to it. He had danced his way all around the campus and back to its center, where the great oak grew next to an intricate old stone tower. The roof here was the tallest in the campus, and from here it was possible to see to everywhere. Of all the buildings, this one reeked the most, and those who looked at it for too long would find themselves staring into the very face of time. It had been here since the University had begun, and it would sit in its solidness for the rest of the University's existence, and maybe much beyond them. It was stubborn enough that it would do its best to last, even after it was no longer needed. Just below his feet a giant brass bell echoed with the sweet, harsh reverberations of the passage of time. It defined the lives of the people who lived here, and already the countless students would be leaving their prison to hurry on to the next one. They raced through the empty spaces of reality, filling them with laughter and chatter, and an undefined eagerness that nothing else in the world could match. He moved his way slowly to the edge of the rooftop and dropped down, flipping into the open cavity in the tower that built up the sound before sending it racing all the way around on the breath of the wind. The deep vibration of the bell shook his body, and he leaned forwards into it, clapping his hands over his ears, and adding the shiver of his own body to the echoes inside him.
It is so beautiful, my dear friend. And I hope it is worth it.
It was less than a memory, more than a fantasy, and it left him with an impalpable echo of sadness, that almost seemed to overwhelm the clammer of the bell. He uncovered his ears, and the last strike of the bell washed over him like a wave. He let it carry the sadness away, but it only partially succeeded. They gayness that had brought him to dance with the wind was carried away as well, and now he was left with a simple, quiet nothing. It was almost like surfacing, and the depth of the world seemed to fade away. He no longer knew how he was going to get down from here, but he was sure that if he sat here for long enough it would come back to him.
He hadn't expected the hatch to open. A head popped through, covered in a mop of brown hair. The man blinked around the space, missed the figure standing next to the window, and hopped the rest of the way through the hatch. His fingers slid along the bell with a fond reverence, before carefully rewinding the mechanism that had caused the bell to ring. If he forgot, the rope would rewind itself, but the flavor of his joy was more than enough of a reason to do it by hand. He touched the bell again, sparking the tiniest reflection of its deep gong, and the bell touched a smile to his lips. It was then that his eyes locked onto the figure, and he let out a gasp, recoiling away from the bell, and quickly moving back to the hatch.
It was time to go now, and now that it was time, time came back to him. He slipped out of the space the same way he had slipped into it, and moments later he was racing back across the rooftops. He paused once he was a few rooftops away, and glanced back at the tower. For a moment he saw a figure, wreathed in shadow, with a sad look on his face. Perhaps it was an echo of himself, carried along with the ebb and flow of his emotions. Perhaps it was someone else, who had missed a chance by only a moment. Perhaps it was both.
The day may have belonged to the rooftops, but the night belonged to a much darker sort of friend. The tunnels also connected everything in the University, but they did it in a skulking manner, and were not something that welcomed any form of brightness. But they had their warmth too, the steadiness of the earth that did not welcome change, even of something as simple as temperature. And, most importantly, they had the silence of noise, where it was possible for him to loose himself, and, for a mere moment, become someone else.
And that someone else looked around for a moment, and a small smile flickered across his face. He walked with the timeless elegance that the buildings strove towards but never quite reached. And then he sat, ran his fingers lightly though the ground, and settled back to sleep.