It was fast. Too fast.
Weren't things like this supposed to stretch out into infinity, until time almost seemed to stand still in that crystal clear moment where you can see everything at once, but do nothing at all? Watanuki was sure he had heard a rule like that somewhere.
Someone was a damn liar.
And it was because of this misconception that Watanuki could only stand and stare down at the ground in shock when one instant Doumeki was standing at his side "hn-ing" at something or other, and the next was lying on the ground in a spreading pool of blood.
The puddle crawled at a sluggish pace, the vividness of the red contrasting sickly with the pale pavement.
A slow bleed to balance the quick attack?
But what had happened? What had happened?
A shadow, a blur really, was all Watanuki's paralyzed mind would supply. A dark blur against a brightly setting sun. With neon pink and dazzling orange, and red the color of...
Watanuki's knees connected to the sidewalk with a muffled thump and tiny splash. The material of his pants began to soak up the redness instantly and, dimly, Watanuki could feel the cool stickiness against his legs.
And now time altered for him. But whether it was speeding up or slowing down, Watanuki couldn't be sure. All he knew was that Doumeki's life was probably being measured in seconds and all he could do was stare.
At the small red stain in front and the ever-increasing red stain in back.
His mind screamed at him to do something. Anything. Had their positions been reversed, surely Doumeki would know what to do. So what would it be? Call the ambulance, naturally. But Watanuki had no phone and they were in the middle of nowhere.
Stop the bleeding, then.
With what? What?! And how? He was bleeding from his back for the most part. Rolling him over would probably kill him right away.
Badly shaking hands hovered over Doumeki's chest, not knowing what they were supposed to do. But they didn't get the chance anyway, because one of Doumeki hands reached up and gathered them within the confines of long, chilled fingers.
"Doumeki... What do I do?" He didn't care at that moment if his voice sounded small and frightened, or if it trembled slightly at the end.
Half-closed golden eyes regarded him blamelessly and lips moved slightly. Watanuki leaned forward to hear as much as possible.
Watanuki jerked back, suddenly afraid to hear anything else.
"No. Doumeki, tell me what to do!"
Lips moved in the same silent pattern.
There was the tiniest of pressures as Doumeki's fingers attempted a squeeze before slipping away from Watanuki's hands.
Lips moved silently again, in a different pattern. Readable.
'Please don't cry.'
And the sun slipped silently away, leaving him in darkness.
Watanuki woke in a lurch of limbs and bed sheets, the echo of his last shout still reverberating from the walls. His throat was tight and hair clung wetly to his right cheek.
For a full minute Watanuki could only stare at the wall in front of him. The relief...
The relief he should have felt was nowhere to be found. Especially with the feel of cooled blood on his legs still fresh in his mind.
Not dead. Not dead. He repeated the lines over and over. Just a dream. Just a dream.
The tight knot in his stomach refused to leave though, rejecting the validity of the words drumming through his head. If only his heart would stop pounding so hard and his mind would quit replaying the scene again and again. Where was dream amnesia when he really needed it anyway?
But as the minutes still ticked by without the fear he had felt upon wakening abating in the least, Watanuki finally realized there was really only one thing that would put his mind at ease.
Not entirely trusting his legs to support him, Watanuki crawled over to his phone and pulled it into his lap.
It was stupid.
It was ridiculous.
It was the middle of the night for gods' sake.
Watanuki hesitated and squinted at the clock, one hand griping the receiver. 4:03 AM. It took another minute of jittery uncertainty before Watanuki finally caved, the urge to just know winning out above all other reason.
As his finger hit the first button of a phone number he would never in a million years admit he memorized, the first unwinding of that tight knot in his stomach began. By the last digit, he was feeling calm enough to breathe properly and finally lose some of the burning in his throat.
The phone rang.
Once. Twice. Three times.
The knot snapped back as if it had never left.
His throat closed up.
His heart doubled its rhythm ad breathing became difficult.
It was somewhere just after the sixth ring that the first choked sob escaped.
And of course that was when he picked up.
Watanuki held his breath, swallowing the hiccups that threatened, hoping he hadn't been hearing things. There was a brief pause when Watanuki began to wonder if he really had heard something.
"Hello?" The voice sounded much more awake now. "Watanuki?" And a little worried.
And he would have answered, really, only now the tears were flowing again. And the relief had finally come. And he would be damned if he was going to sit there on the phone and blubber away while Doumeki listened. So he did the first thing that came to mind and covered his mouth against the worst of the sobs as he hung up the phone.
He'd never hear the end of it the next day, surely, but Watanuki was beyond caring at that particular moment. And since he no longer had an audience in hearing range, he let the horrible weight lift from his heart and lowered his head to his knees.
For once, the nightmare hadn't been real.
And he wasn't sure who to be thankful to for that particular favor, but he figured if he said it enough, the right person would hear it eventually.
Watanuki could run a mile in five minutes flat, and possibly (on a great day) Doumeki could run a little bit faster than that.
He had, on one occasion best not remembered, had to run to Doumeki's temple from his own apartment. It had taken him a little over ten minutes and he had been inspired at that time to run a bit faster than normal. He estimated it to be about 2 and ½ miles from here to there.
At 4:14 AM Watanuki felt a hand on his shoulder and the sound of heavy breathing behind him. Without thinking, Watanuki wrenched backwards and threw his hands up, ready to beat off whatever it was that was trying to attach itself to him.
Through the dim light filtering in from the street and the now open balcony door, he could make out a familiar figure and face. Sweating profusely and looking a bit wide-eyed, but familiar nonetheless.
Wait, what had he been doing before Doumeki came? Oh yes, crying like a baby into his knees.
"This, ah, this isn't what it looks-"
The words cut off as Doumeki suddenly reached for him again, grabbing his shoulders and pulling him forward. For a strangely calm moment, Watanuki thought Doumeki might hug him.
Instead he felt himself being poked and prodded, shifted and examined, with a clinical detachment that bordered on professional. And again, Watanuki felt calm enough to let it happen. Perhaps it was the feeling of warm hands, or the surreal quality of being bodily inspected in the middle of the night. But whatever the case was, Watanuki felt no need to push away the hands, or to demand an explanation for the pawing.
When the examination was over, Doumeki sat back on his heels with a sigh and stared expectantly at Watanuki.
Knowing he was supposed to say something, but unwilling to explain why exactly it was Doumeki had found him curled up in a ball and crying his eyes out, Watanuki could only clear his throat nervously and bluff.
"I didn't ask you to come here."
"I thought you might have been hurt."
Watanuki looked away from the penetrating stare of his friend and focused his gaze out the balcony door.
"As you've probably noticed through your molestation, I'm perfectly fine." He tried to sound annoyed and bitchy, but it came out sounding more petulant than anything.
"It was just a... bad dream... it was nothing serious." He hoped that Doumeki hadn't noticed the slight waver in his voice, and attempted to cover it with a cough. "So there was no need to overreact like that. Who goes running around in the dead of night in their pajamas anyway?"
"I didn't feel like changing."
Watanuki noticed that Doumeki refrained from pointing out it was his phone call in the god awful hours of the night that had gotten him worried in the first place. It was okay to feel grateful for that, right?
"So, you've come and seen for yourself that I'm fine. And now..." The rest of that sentence should have been, "and now you can leave," but Watanuki suddenly didn't want to say it, didn't want him to leave.
Hell if he was going to say that out loud though.
"Ah, right." With that, Doumeki got to his feet. A surge of panic rose in the smaller teen's stomach. He was going to have to ask him after all. Maybe he could just say that it would be dangerous to go out at this hour, or-
Wait, why was Doumeki lying down on his futon?
"Are you going to sleep over there?"
"Like I'm going to sleep over there with you!"
A shrug and then the taller boy was pulling up the blanket to cover himself.
An immediate demand for removal of all persons not him from his futon rose, but it died before even reaching his throat. And he wondered, surely it was okay to be grateful for this too? He contemplated this for a moment as he closed the sliding glass door (hadn't he locked it?), and decided that, just this once, he wouldn't yell at the idiot too much.
As he padded over to the other side of the futon , slipping beneath the now warm covers and pressing his back against the one lying next to him (because there was so little room), Watanuki wondered if he would have enough time in the morning to make those little sweet rolls Doumeki liked so much last time.
Sleep claimed him only seconds after his eyes fell closed. The last foggy thought that came to him was if there wasn't time the next morning, there was always the one after that.
AN- Yays to toriolees for making it all presentable-like.
Thanks for reading!