Author's note: I originally wrote this for a prompt over at the new Fafner Kink Meme. Please go and check it out, since it would be great if more people joined in the fun and posted requests (and filled them in too).
Incidentally I thought some of you guys might be interested to know that I've actually started writing more of the next chapter of "Days of blue". Yes, I haven't abandoned it completely, I was just put off writing it when Heaven and Earth came out, and now Exodus too... But I've been rereading it, and it's rekindled my urge to write! Hopefully one day soon I shall finally finish chapter 11. lol
Anyway, on with this story. I hope you guys enjoy it.
THE FIRST PAIN
At first Soushi thought it was going to be just like any other dream. Thanks to the strong sleeping pills he often took, his dreams were usually filled with nothing but a peacefully silent darkness that stretched on, or things he just couldn't remember when he awoke, or more… interesting dreams that he could remember - often vividly - but embarrassed him, so he tried not to…
Before the sleeping pills what little sleep he could get had been plagued with nightmares of all of his… failures; Kouyou's emotionless voice as the assimilation overtook him; Shouko's serene face as she made her sacrifice; Sakura's desperate cries as she fell into her own darkness; the list went on and on…
Soushi had gone to the Alvis doctors for help when the flashbacks had started to invade his dreams too; and the pills had done their job and given him back at least that little comfort of a peaceful sleep. Since his return to Tatsumiya a week ago he hadn't even needed the pills any more; maybe his mind was finally at peace with the things that had happened during the Festum war?
But this dream felt different; it wasn't quite the same as the flashback dreams, but an oppressive feeling of guilt and despair weighed down on him.
I seeing someone else's dream? Soushi wondered to himself.
"Are you… there?"
A voice that Soushi recognised very well sent a shiver down his spine, and a scene suddenly materialized before his eyes: an open field with a great tree in the centre, bathed in summer sunshine; the crackle of the small radio laying in the grass; the two small boys who stood facing each other.
"Are you there?" Soushi heard his eight-year-old self say again, holding his small hand out to a confused looking young Kazuki. 'I heard we can become one."
"Soushi…?" Kazuki whispered, the tinge of fear in his voice obvious. "What are you—"
"Let's become one… Kazuki."
Soushi watched, feeling frozen to the spot as the young Kazuki's eyes went wide in shock as the bright green crystals burst out of young Soushi's palm, his grey eyes turning a deep blood red. Young Kazuki recoiled, falling to the ground in his panic. Soushi saw his small hands fumbling about amongst the fallen branches and leaf-litter beneath him.
Soushi started in surprise at that single word. It seemed to echo around him in all directions.
He saw young Kazuki's hand finally come to rest upon a sharp looking stick, fingers clenching tightly around it.
No, stop. Please, stop
The desperate plea grew louder, echoing over and over like a mantra, and the feelings of guilt and regret that didn't belong to just him alone overwhelmed Soushi.
It happened just like he remembered; his younger self moved forward, reaching out for Kazuki, at the same Kazuki lunged towards him lashing out wildly.
No, no— Don't—! Don't! Stop it!
Soushi flinched harshly at the remembered pain as he watched Kazuki grappling with his younger self, slashing across his left eye with the sharp point of the stick over and over, until the pair of them stumbled apart and fell to the ground.
The assimilation crystal burst into countless shards of green, and young Soushi's eyes faded back to their normal grey. He stared at Kazuki, frozen for a second before he came back to his senses, and realised what had happened. Then the pain set in, and he started screaming over and over, "it hurts! It hurts!" a small, trembling hand pressed to the gaping wound. "It hurts!"
No, I— I did it. I did it. I hurt him. I hurt him. I hurt him. I hurt him—
Soushi shuddered, wishing he could block out the frantic words surrounding him. He looked down at his hands, almost expecting them to be coated with his own blood, just as they had been so many years ago…
I hurt him. I hurt him. I hurt him. It's my fault. It's my fault! My fault!
"No, Kazuki, stop it, please," Soushi whispered under his breath. "It isn't."
Young Kazuki stared at the still screaming young Soushi in disbelief. He looked down at his own blood soaked hands, and then to the stick that lay forgotten on the blood-spattered grass beside him. A horrified look covered his face as he realised what he'd done.
His anguished scream seemed ripped through the dreamscape, and Soushi was forced to his knees, the weight of Kazuki's mental pain and guilt pushing him down like a physical presence.
"K-kazuki!" Soushi gasped out painfully, reaching out weakly towards the vision of his friend, who had turned on his heels and started to run.
Then the scene suddenly melted away into nothingness and Soushi was left kneeling in the darkness again. He swallowed, trying to blink away the burning sensation in his eyes, the urge to cry.
Why? Why did I do that? How could I do that to him. I hurt him. Soushi…
Soushi looked up quickly, but there was still nothing but darkness around him. Just darkness and Kazuki's guilt-filled voice.
Why didn't he tell them what I'd done? I can't ask for his forgiveness until then. But… maybe I don't deserve it. I don't deserve to be forgiven…
Soushi bowed his head, feeling the tears flowing despite his efforts. "Kazuki, don't talk like that. It's not true."
He must hate me for it. He must! How could he not hate me after I hurt him like that? He must hate me like— like I hate myself. Perhaps it would be better if I just disappeared…?
"NO!" Soushi shouted, his cry stretching out into the distance. "No," he repeated again softly. "Don't say that. You don't realise what this scar means to me, Kazuki. I should have told you years ago, but I've never been good with words. You know that, right?"
The world slowly came back into focus again, and Soushi found himself standing in what looked like a small, dark bedroom. He blinked as his eyes adjusted to the dark, and he became aware that there was someone else in the room too, laying on the futon near the wall.
Soushi crept forward and stared at the sleeping face in recognition. "Kazuki?" he said. The other boy only looked around nine years old, but it was definitely Kazuki. What's going on here? Am I still in Kazuki's dream? Soushi wondered to himself.
"Urg." Soushi jumped as the younger Kazuki groaned in his sleep, and his eyelids slowly slid open. His bleary eyes quickly focus as they rested on Soushi, and Kazuki sat up hurriedly, hands fisting at his bedcover as he gaped at Soushi. "Huh? What—? What's going on?"
Soushi knew he probably looked as surprised as Kazuki did. "You… can see me?"
"You can hear me?"
"Yeah," little Kazuki repeated, reaching over to switch on his bedside lamp. "But who are you anywa—" He trailed off as he got a good look at Soushi's face, bathed in the yellow glow of the lamp, his gaze locking on the scar around Soushi's left eye. "No. It can't be. You… You're—"
Soushi sat there awkwardly, words caught in his throat, as Kazuki lowered his gaze, his small shoulders starting to tremble. "Kazuki, I, um, er—"
"T-that scar. It is you… But, but, how—" Kazuki bit his lip, refusing to look up and meet Soushi's gaze, but Soushi could still make out the trails of tears on his cheeks, shining in the lamp light. "You didn't come to school again today. I know it was because of… me. Even though you already transferred to another class, because of me— because of what I— But how are you here…?"
Soushi just stared at the tearful boy, unsure what to do. He still didn't know what was going on. This had to all still just be part of Kazuki's dream, but in the end, did it really matter?
All he knew was that there was something inside him whispering; tell him, tell him he doesn't need to blame himself. Tell him what your scar means to you. Tell him right now, while you have the chance.
"You still hate me don't you; for what I did?"
"You have to hate after what I did!" Kazuki choked out, starting to sob loudly into his hands. "Even the future you! You must do! After I hurt you like that, and just… and just ran away and left you there. No wonder you don't want to talk to me any more… I ruined everything! I— I—"
Soushi felt something inside him snap; he couldn't take this any more. He had to do something about this - now. He reached out and grabbed hold of Kazuki's arms firmly. "Kazuki, look at me," he ordered. But the hysterical boy continued to cry, not seeming to hear him.
Soushi frowned in determination, and cupped his hand under the other boy's chin, forcing Kazuki to look him in the eye. "Look. At. Me." Kazuki still had fresh tears falling, but at least he didn't try to pull away. "Now, listen to me; I don't blame you for what happened to my eye. I never have, and I never will."
"I'm talking now. Let me finished before I lose my nerve," Soushi interrupted quickly, letting out a shaky sigh. What does it even matter? This is a dream, it's not like this Kazuki will even remember this. But… but maybe my Kazuki will hear this too, since it's his dream. He must still be suffering over this after all these years, if he's still having dreams like this…
"Listen to me, Kazuki, this scar, you can't begin to understand how important it is to me - it's the proof of who I am."
"But I… hurt you."
"Yes, you hurt me. It was the first pain; the pain that made me realise who I truly was, that made me realise that I was truly alive and that I wanted to keep on living as me." Soushi paused, swallowing the lump of emotion gathering in his throat as he tried to find the right words.
This Kazuki, he couldn't truly understand what he was talking about; this Kazuki knew nothing of Festum or Fafner or assimilation. In a way, this Kazuki was still innocent, and it was him who had tarnished that innocence before its time, by trying to drag Kazuki into his world. But this Kazuki didn't know that - all he knew was that he had hurt his best friend, and he couldn't forgive himself for it.
"If you hadn't hurt me, if you hadn't managed to snap me out of it, I would have lost something much more important than just my eyesight on that day - I would have lost myself. And also…" Soushi paused, face flushing with shame as his own guilt about that day came flooding back. "And also… I would have lost you. I would have… assimilated you. When I think of what I almost did… I should be the one begging for your forgiveness, Kazuki."
"Assimilated…?" Kazuki whispered, looking confused. "What's that?"
"I can't explain that to you right now. But one day you'll know. It's a terrible thing, Kazuki," Soushi said, his voice sounding rough with his own guilt. "That's why I stopped talking to you, because I was ashamed of what I almost did. I couldn't bring myself to face you. I… was running away too."
Kazuki looked quite bewildered by Soushi's words, and like he still didn't quite believe him, but Soushi hoped this would give the boy at least a little bit of comfort. "But, Soushi, I still—"
Soushi sighed in exasperation. Kazuki let out a little squeak of surprise when the blond reached over and pulled him into his arms. Kazuki's face flushed pink, and he nervously returned the embrace, letting his head rest against the top of Soushi's chest. "Uh… um… S-soushi—" Kazuki stammered, his face growing hotter in embarrassment.
Soushi chuckled in response, nuzzling his face into Kazuki's short hair. "Please don't forget what I said, Kazuki." He pulled away slightly so that he could look at Kazuki's face. "I don't hate you. You saved me. And I'll always be grateful for that. Understand?"
"Y-yes," Kazuki nodded hesitantly. He closed his eyes, relaxing into Soushi's comforting arms. "I… I want to be friends again, Soushi. I miss you so much."
"We will be. I promise you, we will be," Soushi whispered, closing his eyes and pulling the younger boy closer. He couldn't help but feel sad when he thought of all the years of loneliness that still lay ahead of this Kazuki. "Just don't forget what I said, Kazuki—"
Soushi was laying in his own bed in his Alvis room, staring up at the immaculate white ceiling. That dream - had it been his own or had it been Kazuki's? Was it the result of their crossing? He didn't know. But one thing he did know—
He had to see Kazuki. Right now.
Soushi leapt to his feet, stopping to hastily shove his shoes on before he hurried out of the door into the hallway, not caring that he still wearing his pyjamas.
He raced desperately down the hallway towards the main entrance of Alvis. He had to see him. He had to see Kazuki. He had to see if Kazuki had also—
"Kazuki?" Soushi's head shot up in response: Kazuki was there in the hallway just ahead of him, looking rather out of breath - also clad in only his pyjamas - a sign that he too had hurried here on the spur of the moment.
"Soushi—! I had to come here. I needed to see you right away," Kazuki gasped out. He leaned forward, hands braced on his knees as he tried to catch his breath. After a moment he looked up at Soushi hopefully. "I was dreaming. I was… It was a horrible dream at first. But then, then you— Was it just me or did… did you also have that dream…?"
Soushi just stared back at him silently before a small, but sweet smile crossed his face. "Let me ask you, Kazuki: did you remember what I said to you?"
The delighted smile that blossomed across Kazuki's face as he realised what Soushi's words meant made Soushi's heart ache with joy.
Kazuki stumbled forward the last few feet between them and pulled Soushi into his arms. "S-soushi! Yes, I did remember what you said," Kazuki said, his eyes glistening with tears of relief. "Thank you. Thank you for telling me all that, Soushi, for trying to ease my pain. And I hope that I… can ease yours too."
The end. n_n