Author: Serenetwinkle PM
Sequel to WaitRated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Suspense - S. Doumeki & K. Watanuki - Chapters: 3 - Words: 6,926 - Reviews: 77 - Favs: 57 - Follows: 94 - Updated: 07-11-07 - Published: 12-29-06 - id: 3314015
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
(Consider yourself disclaimed.)
His voice was quiet, but the night was still and allowed the hushed noise to carry the short distance between us without difficulty. I glanced to my left and saw Watanuki watching me with an expectant look.
Had I looked troubled? I wondered what kind of face I had been making to garner that soft hint of concern in his question.
"Nothing, just tired." I tried for the obvious bluff.
He regarded me for another few second before looking away. Inwardly, I let out a small sigh of relief, thinking he had taken the bait.
"That's not it. There's something else. You've been acting... different. I thought so yesterday too."
Since when did he become so observant anyway? The annoyance of being seen through might have been greater if I wasn't simultaneously pleased that he had been watching me close enough to notice. I looked at the boy beside me again and he looked back.
He must have been thinking around the same lines as me because he suddenly started sputtering and flapping his free hand around in front of him, the one holding his schoolbag just kind of shook back and forth a bit.
"Not that I was watching you or anything! I mean, you just... even for you, not talking at all... it was strange! You weren't complaining and that scared me. And, and you didn't finish lunch today. That was just plain frightening! I thought the world was ending or something."
"Ah, well sorry to bring about the apocalypse with my eating habits."
Watanuki gave a short 'hmph' and tilted his chin up. "Yes, well I've always wondered if the world would stop spinning if you skipped a meal."
"I have fasted before, you know." The training involved with being a temple brat has obviously not factored in to this particular conversation.
"Probably cheated," he muttered. But I was too happy for the distraction away from the original topic to be properly offended by it. Besides, I always took anything Watanuki said in an argument with a grain of salt. A very large, tolerant grain of salt that doesn't pay attention half the time.
"That doesn't count though, since it was required," he insisted. "I'll bet you've never willingly said no to food. It just doesn't suit your personality."
Well, that was true enough. Though right then I could have mentioned that there was a point where I had very willingly skipped several meals at a time, not very long ago. But that was something I had no intention of bringing up, not even to win an argument.
"You're probably right," I conceded.
And that should have been that. We were nearly to Watanuki's apartment by then and normally we would have simply walked the rest of the way in silence until we reached his door, where he would leave me with a "see you tomorrow." I'd broken him of the "thank you" after the first week.
So when he came round to the subject again, it took me a second to catch up.
"That's why it was strange, though." His voice had gone back to being that quiet and concerned mix that was starting to make me uneasy. He was being persistent. Of all the times to show interest in my wellbeing...
"I had an upset stomach, that's all. I'll eat everything tomorrow if it makes you feel better." I wasn't looking at him when I said it, so I couldn't see if he bought it, but I didn't want to look him in the eyes right then.
There was a space of time when he was quiet enough that I thought he really had dropped it.
I should really stop making assumptions about Watanuki.
"I thought you said it was because you were tired." An accusation like that would normally have sounded suspicious, but I couldn't really pick up on any infliction to his voice at all. Now I had to look at him, if only to try and see what he was thinking.
But his face wasn't giving away anything either.
One of us had stopped walking, but I wasn't sure who. For some reason it seemed important to me that I should have known who had stopped walking first, but then again, maybe I was just trying to distract myself from spilling my worries into those wide blue eyes that were watching me so closely.
I never could lie to him, looking into those eyes. So I said nothing.
He sighed suddenly and closed his eyes. "Doumeki..."
But I took the break in eye contact to turn and begin walking again, taking the cowardly way out.
"It's getting late. Let's go."
I waited to hear the sound of his footsteps behind me, but they didn't come. My pace slowed until it rivaled that of a snail, hoping he would be the one to break first. He knew me well enough by now, though, to know I wouldn't really leave him alone on an empty street in the middle of the night. That gave me mixed feelings again, but this time foreboding was the prominent one.
I stopped. I'd barely turned to face him before he confronted me.
"Is it because he's in your class?"
It was clear who "he" was, though how Watanuki had found out so quickly was what threw me the most. But by this point denying the problem would have been redundant and insulting. I would have given Watanuki a lot of credit for managing to put things together in such a short amount of time, but that would have been insulting too. He was my friend after all, no matter how vehemently he denied it (less as of late), and friends noticed things like this.
"How..." I meant to ask him how he found out, but that might have made me look even guiltier.
Apparently my question was pretty transparent anyway. "I saw him walking out after school yesterday, when I came to meet you." The gap between us closed, as he finally caught up to me. "And I worried that... You'll leave him alone, right?"
I looked into eyes dyed midnight blue by darkness and streetlamps and still couldn't lie. Again, I said nothing.
My silence was taken for what is was. Watanuki lowered his head to stare at his feet. "I've let it go. Can't you do the same?"
For some reason, that statement stirred a ripple of anger in me. It made me more honest than I wanted to be. "No. I can't"
His head snapped up at my words and Watanuki fixed me with a fiery glare. "It's not your problem to be indecisive over, Doumeki. Let it go."
The ripple turned into a current. I grabbed his wrist, the one with the pretty blue bracelet that matched his eyes, and dug my fingers in hard enough to where I knew he could feel every one of those tiny beads pressed against his skin. "Whose problem was it again?"
And of course he remembered. Because that's what it was there for, to make sure he never forgot. I once asked Watanuki if it was really worth it too keep the bracelet and he told me (with a smile sad enough to make me want to kill the demon one more time, just for old times sake) that even though he would remember that night every time he looked at it, the memories would fade eventually, into something fuzzy and distant, but the dreams were always so accurate, just like reliving the same thing over and over, right down to the tiniest detail. He had shivered then, and I didn't bring it up again after that, wanting the memories to become fuzzy as soon as possible.
Why was I deliberately making him remember things now, then? I couldn't even answer it myself. So when the hurt filled his eyes and he tugged his hand away, I let him. Shame washed over me, stronger than I had ever felt before. Only minutes before, hadn't I told myself I wouldn't use such tactics even to win an argument?
I wondered if apologizing would be nearly enough.
There was no chance to do so, however, because as soon as I let go of him, Watanuki was marching around me and setting a pace that was a double of our original.
I was left to trail behind him, feeling like the complete bastard we both knew I was.
When we finally reached his apartment, I still didn't get my chance to apologize, because as soon as I reached him he opened the door and whirled on me.
"What's done is done. Stop thinking about it." My head was still full of blue fire when the door slammed shut in my face.
But after fighting it to the best of my abilities, I finally gave in to the urge to brood and settled myself down for a night of indecisive angsting.
Watanuki was right to be mad at me. I had used a low trick to remind him of my part in this whole thing, and even more so because he was partly right to begin with. If he had forgiven Kazahari, what right did I really have to hold a grudge for him?
But I couldn't ignore the part of me that said I did have that right. That if Watanuki wouldn't get mad at him for what he did, then I sure as hell should. And I wanted that part to win the argument in me. Because I also couldn't ignore my own personal feelings.
This person had hurt Watanuki. I don't forgive that. Period.
Watanuki could call me stubborn or pig headed or idiotic until he was blue in the face. But the truth was the truth. If I was going to let this go, it was going to be after I felt Kazahari had realized just what a big mistake he had made. Realized, and begged for forgiveness from the person he had left to die.
And maybe, maybe, then I could stop thinking about it.
No, not angry, but as the silence stretched out between us on our walk to school, I could tell it was strained. Through several surreptitious inspections (though I probably could have been outright staring and not gotten a response, that's how hard Watanuki was trying to ignore me), I could see the tight pursing of his lips and a single stress line creasing his forehead. Also, the coloring under his eyes, that semi-permanent shadow that had never fully gone away, was slightly darker than I had seen in a while.
Obviously, he was still agitated about what we had spoken about the night before. I didn't like the fact that Watanuki had been upset enough by what had happened that it affected his sleep. It was counterproductive, and it didn't sit well that I was the one causing the regression.
"Watanuki." The name was on my lips before I had even thought another second past that last revelation.
For a few seconds, it looked as though he would keep on ignoring me, but eventually he tilted his cheek in my direction and let his gaze settle on me for a moment or two before returning his attention to the path in front of him. His signal for: "I'm Listening". An old habit that he had developed back when he was still in the hospital and hadn't felt like speaking, but still wanted me to know he was paying attention.
The gesture had been lost for several weeks now, and I felt a quick pang to see him use it again.
"I'm sorry. I was wrong." Again, the words slipped by without any conscious effort on my part, but they were the words I knew he needed to hear, and even if I had thought about it first I probably would have said the same thing anyway.
Watanuki slowed to a stop, but continued to stare at the sidewalk. It was a testament to how serious he was about this that he didn't immediately claim a victory and crow to the world how he had been right. I had to be careful of what I said from here on, if things were to get better.
Finally, he lifted his face and regarded me with a solemn contemplation. We stood like this for a while: him, scrutinizing my sincerity and me, awaiting judgment. It wasn't like we would be late for school, so I let him take his time. Though I suspected even if we had been late, I would have given him as long as he wanted.
As far as I knew, Watanuki topped pretty much everything on my priority list.
It seemed as though a long time passed before he spoke, but then, time was funny like that. At first, he only opened his mouth a couple times, whatever he wanted to say abandoning him at the last second and leaving him only with a sigh of annoyance. I waited patiently, because I knew Watanuki was rarely without words and he would find them eventually. And sure enough, after the first abortive attempts, he managed a reply.
"You... weren't wrong."
And that was definitely not the reply I had been expecting to hear. It floored me for a minute, and had I been as expressive a person as Watanuki, I probably would have been left with a hanging jaw and several shades of 'what the hell?' colored across my face.
As it was, I think I might have blinked a bit more than normal, but I still protest Watanuki's claims that I am completely expressionless (though this probably wasn't helping my case). Despite my lack of theatrics, Watanuki seemed to understand he had thrown me off balance and tried to rectify any misunderstandings with his own special variety of statement retraction.
"I'm not saying you were right! Don't go getting all egotistical. I'm only saying that, you weren't completely wrong. And..." The bluster wore down back into staid composure. "And I can kind of understand how you feel. That's all."
It may have seemed like a victory on the surface, but I could feel the uncertainly and hesitation in his words. It had cost him a lot to say what he did, and not just because his pride was taking a hit. Watanuki wanted nothing more than to forget everything and everyone associated with that night. That he thought about it long enough to see things from my own perspective gave me an even greater appreciation for Watanuki's strength and sense of fairness.
He was waiting for my answer. It was written in his body even if he didn't turn to look at me or say anything more. From the stiffness of his shoulders and the clenched, white-knuckled hands, I could tell he was foreseeing a fight, or something close to it, and was steeling himself to argue his point and drive home that stubborn logic of his.
But for once, I was willing to forgo the give and take we usually threw around and let him have the final word on the matter.
When I said nothing more, Watanuki finally looked at me, a half skeptical, half hopeful look on his face.
"And that means..." he prompted.
"I'll also try to see things your way."
His eyes regarded me warily, sensing a loophole no doubt. "So then, you'll leave him alone?"
I wasn't so optimist to think he would allow me to leave it at that statement, so I was prepared for this. I caught and held his eyes, and carefully recited the words I had decided on last night.
"I won't speak to him unless I have to, and I won't ever mention you or anything about that to him. My contact with him will be as little as possible."
I could see the words filtering through that suspicious head of his, each sentence being broken and analyzed for trustworthiness.
"You... promise?" It was a childishly naive way to end a conversation, but I hadn't exactly envisioned him pulling up paperwork, so I didn't mind. Besides, I would never back out on my word to Watanuki, and he seemed to know that.
It was almost magical the way his mood lightened almost the instant the words left my mouth. It was the key phrase that closed the subject, and Watanuki was now moving on to new matters, such as those regarding my expected (overwhelming) gratefulness to him for making lunch (even though I totally didn't deserve it) and anticipation of Kunogi's reaction to the new dessert he had tried (I had better leave plenty for her), plus other odds and ends of anything that popped into that cluttered brain of his.
It was different from our usual walk to school, but I recognized the need to erase the feelings brought up last night. I played along, interjecting my own brand of medicine when the occasion called for it. And it was good to see that sometimes, with a properly place comment or two, I could still get a genuine feeling of homicidal intent from him.
Which was why I made sure to word my sentences very carefully.
And, under normal circumstances, what I said would be more than binding for any person up to no good. But, I was certain these weren't normal circumstances.
I entered the classroom with a schooled face, testing it out on several other students to make sure there was nothing there that would be considered unfriendly (though I've been told I just have a naturally scary face anyway). I nodded a few times at the greetings of my classmate and concluded I was no scarier than usual.
I kept my features the same and waited. As predicted, my test subject came in only seconds before the final bell rang. He kept his head down as he made his way across the room and down our aisle.
He almost managed to make it to his seat too.
When he stopped, it was a dead stop, as if he had come in contact with some invisible force field preventing him from making it the final step to the seat of his desk. Though it didn't look as though he was looking forward to sitting there anyway.
He was staring straight ahead, mouth hanging slightly open as he struggled to breathe. He was shaking a bit and I could see the hand not holding onto his schoolbag opening and closing in a twitchy kind of way.
I made sure my face remained impassive and kept my eyes straight forward, not noticing the boy beside me in the least. Pretending I had no idea there was a problem.
All the while filling my entire mind and body with an unequivocal contempt and rage, laced thoroughly with malice, and directing all those thoughts and feelings to the person next to me.
I never once looked at him, even as he dropped his satchel to clamp his hands over his mouth and run from the room.
And unless Kazahari was suddenly suffering from an acute case of food poisoning, I could say that the experiment was a success.
I wouldn't have to break my promise.
Because empaths don't need words or actions to know when someone hates them.
Big thank you to my beta toriolees!
Thanks for reading.