He awoke from his dreams of death, into the nightmare of his life.

There was dust everywhere in the air and it hurt to breathe, each ragged gasp drying out his lungs further. He tasted grit in his mouth and fought back the urge to cough, knowing that he would wind up breathing even more dust if he did. He was dying. In this moment, there was nothing else he was as certain about. He eased himself onto the ground, involuntarily curling into himself, fingers brushing past his useless legs. The air was thinning. He had calculated the approximate amount of air that would be left, and didn't dare to add the final figures and face the unfortunate answer.

It scared him so badly to think of death and he didn't know why. He shouldn't have had anything to fear. All his life, he had been a model student, a perfect son who was filial to his parents and loyal to his two siblings. He was well-liked in school and he had good friends whom he'd miss. A voice in his head reminded him of the emptiness in his life, a spaced blank between the orderly files of his daily activities, a constant heartache with neither cause nor reason.

He was dying.

There were things he could have done if he had more time, but somehow, he couldn't really think of any of the activities right now. His mind was more preoccupied digging out dusty memories which he had locked away inside. He remembered the way his friend's face had fallen, when he had declined to go home together with him that day, preferring to stay in the library to prepare for his research paper. It didn't seem that important then, but at the same time, it could have meant the world for a person who chose to hide so many of his real emotions behind a stoic mask and innate pragmatism. He wished there was more time to ask his friend about the wistfulness in his expression, the almost-caress of his hair when he had thought Fuji was asleep at his desk, the warmth of his jacket when the temperatures dipped.

Was it bad if he secretly wished that his friend was with him right now? Fuji blinked back the tears at that idea. He could cry if he wanted to, especially since there was no one around to see him. He just thought it'd be a better idea to die quietly, with nary a tear or smile, so that no one would know that he had been alive in the final moments, and not well, dead upon impact. It would be better to sleep, and die in the intensely vivid dreams that took over him.

He would have liked the phone call to be real. He had awakened from his feverish delirium to find himself even more alone than ever, clutching his cellphone tightly in his aching hand. It wasn't even switched on when he checked. Still, he couldn't help thinking that if there was truly a Tezuka Kunimitsu out there, he had spoken to him, felt the warmth in every careful word that came from him, and known the sound of his tears. He wanted there to be somebody he could rely on, someone who could have accompanied him through the last minutes, and his mind had created that very apparition for him.

Curling closer into himself, he pretended he didn't feel the hot tears that slid from his eyes.

He was dying.

He had spotted a cat that with an injured paw, a mangled mess of blood and bone that made him cringe a little. It was limping away from the roadside, stopping every so often to lick its wound, looking at him distrustfully when he stooped down next to it to examine the severity of its wounds. There was nothing to do, but to bring it to the veterinarian clinic nearest to Seigaku. Even so, he had been abysmally late for tennis practice, and he was resigned himself to the notion of running 50 laps before the day's end.

It was understandable really, how his mind had frozen in shock when Tezuka Kunimitsu strode towards him determinedly and pulled him into an embrace. He could only catch certain phrases over the heady pounding of his heart resounding in his ears, something about how he was glad that Fuji was safe after all, and how worried he had been. He was mortified when he remembered how his body moved on its own volition, his hands tangling in Tezuka's hair and pulling him down demandingly for a kiss. Oh, and he remembered Tezuka flushing to the roots of his hair when Eiji shrieked in consternation, causing everyone on the tennis team to glance in their direction.

Later, no matter how often Fuji pestered or attempted to bribe Tezuka into telling him why he had been so concerned, his boyfriend merely gave him a stern glance and refused to say a single word. One day, he'd get the secret out from him, but in the meantime, Fuji was content to lean against him and enjoy the warmth of the other boy's arm around his shoulders.

In that moment, he had everything he ever needed.


A/N: I referenced the Amagasaki rail crash (25/4/2005) which occured around 9:18 in local time. The train crashed into an apartment building, where one of the carriages hit a parking garage, and as a result took days to remove. Including the driver, 106 people died. Upon reflection, I think I should have used a fictional train and timeline. I really didn't mean any disrespect by this story, and I hope my readers will forgive me.

By the way, does anyone want me to write a story for them? Feel free to drop me a note with a request; phrase, word, plot, situation, etc. and I'd see what I can do. :)