I started this a while ago, and just decided tonight that I'm going to finish it. And so I did.

It's my first attempt at first-person POV, so I hope it's ok. I prefer third-person (it's harder to write in character in first, i find).

But anyways - enjoy :)

...o...o...o...o...o...o...o...o...o...

And then Kazahaya was gone.

"Idiot!" I yell, and, without thinking, jump straight after him. But I know that even if I had had time to think about it, I still would have done the same thing.

And then I'm falling.

"Kazahaya!" I call his name as I see his small form tumble and twist in the air, his replying shout whipped away. Suddenly he's lost from sight and I hear a muffled thud, like a body hitting the ground. My breath catches in my throat, which is painful and raw from shouting. I realise I'm still shouting.

Shouting his name.

...o...o...daily doses may be hazardous...o...o...

Suddenly I'm falling.

In shock, I try to recount the last few seconds. All I can remember is windmilling as my heart stopped, and calling out his name.

The air whips around me, and I can't comprehend the snatches of earth and sky I see, as they twirl together. I close my eyes to avoid the sight, which is making me sick, amidst my overwhelming terror.

"Rikuo!" I try to yell, but it's lost as I tumble downwards.

And then, just as suddenly, I'm not falling anymore. It takes a few moments for my shocked body to register the impact, and then every inch of it aches.

But I'm alive.

It feels like I've landed in something soft. Shaking with adrenaline, my breath comes out in shaky gasps. I can't even call out for Rikuo in this state. And then I realise.

He's not coming.

No one in their right mind would have jumped off that ledge.

For the first time since that cold night, I'm alone.

I hadn't realised it, but somehow I've become used to someone always being there, ready to bail me out of trouble and protect me.

And I've become used to him being there.

And now I'm on my own. I almost have to choke back a sob, but then I hear a dull thud nearby. My heart leaps in fear. I close my eyes, hardly daring to breathe, praying that whatever it is doesn't find me.

But I doubt that, because my heartbeat seems deafening.

Concentrating so hard on the blood pumping through my ears, I'm not aware of it until it's looming right over me.

Heart racing, my eyes snap open.

...o...o...daily doses may be hazardous...o...o...

When I hit the point where Kazahaya disappeared, my vision blanks out for a split second, then I hit the inevitable ground with a painful thud.

To my surprise, it's soft. Good. Then I probably haven't broken anything, although it doesn't feel like it. It feels like I've broken most of my ribs.

Struggling to get air back into my winded lungs, I vainly twist my head around to look at the surroundings. It looks like… nothing. Well, nothing too out of he ordinary, anyway. If you count the fact that there really is nothing after about twenty metres in every direction. Otherwise everything surrounding is extraordinarily ordinary. The grass I landed on is…. well, grassy. Green, but not too green, and not too dull. The rocks, which are scattered throughout the grass in a random and yet somehow balanced way, are a mundane grey. Even the grey clouds rolling overhead seem to be uniform, and dull whatever light they let through so that it appears to have no source.

It's eerie.

I wince as drag myself up. Now that I'm standing, I can see that . But I'm not interested in that. I'm looking for one thing only. Slowly turning in a circle, scanning my surroundings, I spot a small huddled form lying in the grass and immediately sprint over.

Kazahaya is lying on his side, eyes shut tight.

There isn't enough light here for me to cast a shadow, but he must sense my presence, because his eyes snap open to reveal bright amber.

"Ri… Rikuo?" he asks incredulously. I'm not sure why he's so surprised – I've come to his rescue every time he's been in trouble since we met. That's just how it is.

"Are you okay?" I ask, not bending down to inspect. He looks okay from here. He nods, anyway, so I guess I'm right. I reach out a hand to help him up and watch as his eyes widen. I know he thinks I'm a jerk (an image I have done little to actually change), but does he really think I'm unkind enough not to help him up after such a fall?

Either way, he takes my hand, like he always does, and mutters a thank you.

Unknown to Kazahaya, because my only reply is a short grunt, I carefully file his words away with all his other 'thank you's, to be replayed in my mind later. Now I have to get us out of here. But we can't leave until we've done Kakei's bidding.

That damn bastard. I swear he does this just for kicks. He knows that Kazahaya is stupid enough to take the job every time because, apparently, he needs the money. And he knows that I'll go along too, if only to make sure the idiot doesn't get hurt. And he knows just when Kazahaya will get hurt. That's what really pisses me off.

"….Rikuo."

I glance around at Kazahaya, who, I realise, has been talking to me for the past minute.

"What's that stare for!" he snaps at me, fur already ruffled. I guess I still looked annoyed when I turned around. Oh well.

"Calm down, kitty. You can play all you want when we get home…" I tease him with a smirk, watching out for the kitty to hiss and scratch at me.

"What's that supposed to mean!"

My smirk widens. That boy never disappoints me. But now really isn't the time to play games, and I'd much prefer to play with him at home, like I said.

"Come on. Let's just get this over with so we can go."

"That's what I said!"

...o...o...daily doses may be hazardous...o...o...

I don't know why I'm so glad that Rikuo followed me after all. He's just being a jerk, as usual. But it could have been worse – it could have been a monster or something (you never know with Kakei-san). Hmm, not much worse.

I mean, I was talking to him for a whole five minutes and that prick just ignored me. And then he had the nerve to turn around and suggest we get the job done and go home, like it was all his idea.

Grrrrr. And this job is another annoying one too. At least I'm not cross-dressing this time, though. All we have to do is count the big rocks around here, but as usual, there's something weird going on. They keep moving around! We've spent a good half hour trying to get this done, and this place is starting to creep me out.

Well, at least we can actually see the rocks now. There weren't any rocks back up on the ledge, and we had no idea what to do. The weirdest thing is that the ledge was over a lake. There is no lake here.

This place…it looks kind of artificial, and you can't see anything after about ten metres, and every time you turn around, the rocks have moved.

I'm sick of this.

Rikuo hears me sigh and comes over. Great, just what I need.

"Hey." Why does he always talk in monotones? "Look. I know this isn't exactly fun, but we've got to get it done so we can leave."

Eh? Words… of encouragement? Sometimes… Sometimes Rikuo can be really nice. I don't understand why he can't be like that all the time. I don't think I'll ever figure him out.

"We must be doing something wrong." He sounds as frustrated as I feel. "There must be a way or Kakei wouldn't have sent us."

Or would he? I wonder with a shiver. Sometimes Kakei-san is scarier than any monster.

"This place is giving me the creeps, too." Rikuo reassures me. He must have noticed my shiver. He looks up to scan what can be called, for want of a better word, the horizon, and frowns. Not that this is out of the ordinary for Rikuo – the only times I've ever seen him smile are when he's being an ass to me, and even then, it's rare.

"Kazahaya – how far away would you say that edge is?"

I look over in the direction he's pointing "Huh? But- it was at least ten metres away before!"

Rikuo just grunts in reply. How can he be so calm! Does this guy have any emotions at all?

We are (as usual) in mortal danger, in a freaky place that doesn't make sense, and that's how he reacts?

I wonder just how many thoughts he's got locked up inside him.

I wonder if he's always been this way – keeping his emotions to himself.

When I next look over at him, he's a small jar out of his pocket. I recognise it – it's the free sample Kakei-san gave us yesterday. Some moisturiser or something.

"Hey – do you still have this?" he waves the jar at me.

I fish around in my pocket.

Yes!

"Yeah. But how's that gonna help us?"

"If we put a dab on each rock as we count it, then we'll be able to keep track of which rocks we've already counted, even if they move."

I hate to admit it, but that's a really good idea. Why couldn't I have thought of that?

Rikuo smirks, as if he knows exactly what I'm thinking.

"It's a good thing one of us has a head that isn't full of air."

Grrrrr. That bastard!

...o...o...daily doses may be hazardous...o...o...

I scoop out another glob of green goo from the jar.

It's slimy and has a tangy chemical smell to it.

I hope there aren't many more rocks, because there isn't much of it left, either.

Kazahaya casts an anxious look at the amount of goop remaining. We've already used up the first jar.

A few rocks later I have to scrape out the moisturiser.

And all the while, the horizon is getting closer and closer.

Or maybe I just feel that way because Kazahaya is also getting closer and closer.

He's scared.

He won't say it – not in front of me – but he doesn't have to. I can see the way he looks uneasily into the distance, mentally comparing the distance between us and the nothingness. The way he stands closer to me than my own shadow. Well, if I had a shadow in this place.

I don't know what he expects me to do.

I don't think I can save him if it comes to that.

Even if I want to.

Not for the first time, I sigh in frustration.

It's taking a long time. Even if we know which rocks we've counted, the ones we haven't move around so we can't get to them. It's trying my patience. Having Kazahaya rant in my ear about how much of a bad time he's having isn't helping either. But I know better than to tell him to shut up. Because he won't. And if I tell him to, he'll just complain about me instead.

And contrary to what he might think, I'd prefer him to complain about something else, than about me.

Well, maybe just a little.

The thought makes me smirk and I get scolded for it, amongst my co-worker's endless tirade.

Finally we cover the last stretch of trampled greener-than-green grass to the final remaining uncounted rock. It's like reaching the Holy Grail. Even Kazahaya has stopped talking.

I glance over at him; he's white as a sheet. His lips are pressed together in anxiety, and now I see why. This final stretch of grass is the only stretch of grass. The world has shrunk to this tiny sphere of existence.

Shit.

"It's going to be okay." I tell him, even though my breath catches in my throat.

He doesn't respond, just stares wide eyed at the encroaching darkness.

"Oi. Kazahaya."

I think he's shaking.

Screw this. I grab his arm and yank him forward, practically dragging him across the grass. If we were both running, he would outstrip me in moments. Now I'm struggling to get him to keep up with me, his fear making him stumble.

He clings to my hand tighter than tight in panic.

I cling back.

We reach the rock, catapulting into it painfully because we didn't slow down.

Now that we're here, I don't know what to do.

Kazahaya is breathing hard, clutching his leg for support.

The horizon is barely a metre away.

And all I can think of is to count the stupid rock.

So I do.

"Nineteen." I gasp out before the darkness hits us.

...o...o...daily doses may be hazardous...o...o...

There's a sensation of wind rushing past, but all I can see is blackness.

But I can feel Rikuo's hand in mine.

I can't see or hear or touch or feel anything at all, except for that one thing.

And then suddenly it's all over again.

We're standing by a lake.

Well, I'm standing by a lake.

Rikuo is standing in a lake.

I stare at him for a moment, and he stares back at me.

And then I laugh.

I can't help it. I giggle, I chuckle, I even chortle. I laugh so hard tears form in my eyes and it's hard to catch my breath.

From my doubled over position I look up at Rikuo, expecting to see a death-dagger-stare. But he's laughing too.

The first time I've seen him smile.

And we both just stand there and laugh, neither really knowing why, only that we are both still alive. The laughter borders on hysterical, there are tears streaming down my face.

Rikuo wipes his own eyes with the back of his hand.

His other hand is still connected to mine.

He realises this at the same time I do.

In seconds I am tugged forward sharply and tumble into the lake and into him, sending both of us crashing down.

The water's cold.

I am soaked in freezing cold water.

Sometimes I hate him.

But not this time.

I exact revenge on him by splashing him with sheets of icy water. If there was a part of him that wasn't soaked, there isn't now.

He retaliates, and soon we are both cold and wet and shivering.

But smiling.

And then, quick as a flash, he draws me into a hug. It's fierce and warm, and all I can do is hug him back.

It's a while before either of us lets go, and we trudge out of the lake, ready to go home and get paid and give Kakei-san a mouthful.