AN. Hi... Been a while, huh? Well, I've been writing and working very hard at all sorts of things (school included...) and I am pleased to present the first of many Tien-x-Chiaotzu friendshippy one-shots I have been working on. This is set during Dragon Ball after everyone was wished back to life after Piccolo Daimao and before Tien, Chiaotzu, Yamcha and Krillin left to do their own training. Enjoy!
Kame House was completely still. The stars did their best to light the beach below them, but it was a feat too great for such scattered troops. The waves beat a constant, reassuring pulse as they washed up onto the sand, each one met by the one behind it, never stopping in their relentless march onwards. The palm trees swayed in the cool night breeze, their long fronds bending. The house itself, almost black in this darkness instead of its usual cheery pink, was silent.
There were many people there, all asleep. Some slept downstairs, sprawled on the floor or sharing the couch. There were only two bedrooms upstairs, and these were shared by two people each. The guests had gotten one of them, of course, and it was in this bedroom that the peace of the rest of the world was shattered.
His hands were clenched into tight fists, his brow knitted in a deep frown, his lips twisted in a fierce look of denial. His breathing was not the slow, steady rhythm of sleep, rather the harsh pants of exertion. His skin was slowly beginning to coat with a fine sheen of sweat. His eyes darted beneath his closed eyelids, back and forth, up and down, constantly moving.
"No," he mumbled in his sleep, and his voice was full of desperation, a plea unheard by any. "Please…no…"
He shifted, the hard muscles beneath his skin visibly moving as he did. His closed eyelids flickered, as though he was on the verge of waking, but whatever dream he was having dragged him, unwilling, back into the confines of sleep. The blanket, more a sheet than an actual duvet, had moved in his sleep as he had kicked and tossed and turned, and was now twisted around his ankles, heightening his illusion of being trapped.
His muttered voice came again, loud in the otherwise silent house, but not another person stirred. "No… You… you bastard..."
As he spat out this curse word his hands clenched into tighter fists, feeling like rocks on the ends of his arms, his short nails punching through the skin of his calloused palms to allow trickles of blood to stream from thin, perfect crescents.
His eyelids flickered again, allowing him a brief glimpse of the shadowed room, the ceiling shrouded in gloom, before they closed again. This time it was more persistent, and anyone observing would know he was near the point of waking. This dream, this nightmare, was too terrible for even his sleeping mind to deal with, and soon the pain of it would wake him up.
His awakening happened in such a short amount of time that it took his mind a moment to comprehend the sudden switch. His eyes flew open as he jolted upright, his hands unclenching as they settled beside him to take his weight, his feet snapping the blanket taut as they spread reflexively, the gasped semblance of a name barely distinguishable.
He panted for air, his bare chest heaving, sweat running in thin streams down the crevices between his muscles. He swallowed, then began to pant again, unable to control his breathing as his eyes darted around the dark room.
For a moment he didn't know where he was. His fear was magnified by this simple fact, almost driving him to screaming, until he either recognised the room around him, or remembered the night before, as these two realisations happened within such a short time it was impossible to tell which one happened first.
His breathing slowly calmed, but he couldn't quite make himself stop panting, like a dog in the heat, like a runner who has pushed himself too far, too hard, too fast. It hurt, tearing at something deep in his chest, but he wasn't sure if that was the remnants of the dream or the harsh exhalations and short gasps in.
He looked down at his side and suddenly the entire world stopped. It was as though that small empty space, the dent of someone who had lain there, but was not there anymore, was enough to stop the world turning, to stop his lungs drawing breath, to stop his heart beating.
"No," he gasped out, one hand falling on the empty spot. It was cold, as though no one had ever lain there. "No, please no…"
Pain filled him, not from the torn muscles in his arms or the slight fracture (no more than a crack really) running through his skull, but from the very centre of his chest, his soul. He slumped back against the head of the bed, his eyes wide, taking in every miniscule ray of light as they remained fixed on the small rumpled spot on the sheet.
He reflected on his dream for a moment, his nightmare. His sight, limited not by its strength but by his viewing field, had been enough to see the horror of that day, the pure evil that had snatched away his world. He had never been really religious, never prayed, never believed that there was really anyone looking over him, but he remembered believing that what had just happened was blasphemy, spitting in the face of whoever had created such a pure, innocent child by pulling the life from his small body. He remembered hearing the echoed scream of agony, the sound sending splinters through his body. He remembered the tearing pain in his chest, as though someone had reached in a large, four-fingered, clawed hand and pulled his heart, still beating, from its cavity.
His other hand, the one not resting on that small, cold spot on the bed, now pressed over his heart, trying to encourage it to start beating normally. It refused to listen, skipping beats, fluttering in his chest. The nightmare had really happened, he knew that, and he had been there. But the vague memory flitting through his mind…had that been just a dream? The empty space in the bed certainly said it had.
Tears blurred his vision, first doubling then tripling it as he tried to fight back the sobs building in his chest.
"No," he said, and it was more a despairing moan than speech.
The door (dutifully closed to allow privacy within) slowly creaked open, disclosing the darker shadows of the hall beyond. His eyes flew upwards, widening as hope and fear bubbled in his chest, mixing so perfectly they were almost one.
A small white blur came from the door, diving into the bed beside him, and the quiet, high-pitched voice of a small boy said, "By Kami, it's dark out there…"
Blissful, euphoric relief filled him, and it was this deep feeling of joy that made the tears in his eyes finally spill over his cheeks. He wrapped his arms tightly around the small boy, bending his head to press a kiss to the bald crown of his small head, clenching his eyes shut.
The small boy hugged him back instantly, though his short arms didn't reach far around his broad chest, and his relief finally pierced through the pain surrounding his heart.
"Don't ever leave me," he whispered against the boy's forehead, desperation in his voice. "Please, I couldn't take it if you left again…"
"I'm not going anywhere."
"Please…" His voice still held that note of desperation.
"What happened when I was gone? You were asleep, but I'm gone five minutes and you're basically an emotional wreck. What happened?"
"I…had a dream, a nightmare," he admitted, and there was shame in his voice. Nightmares were for children; he was a grown man. He should have been past this. "Every night. I see him, and then I see him kill you… Then when I wake up…you're usually there, asleep, alive, but then you weren't and I couldn't remember if you were really alive or if the Eternal Dragon had just been a dream…"
"I'm alive, I'm here."
He clenched his eyes shut, savouring the feeling of having the small boy in his arms, hearing the soft sound of his breath, feeling the gentle throb of his heart. The young boy practically oozed life; there could not be a more alive person anywhere. Yet not long ago, only a few days, he had held this same body in his arms. It had been cold then, lifeless, the heart and lungs still, the eyes closed. The boy had been dead, and it was as though a part of him had died as well.
"I won't go anywhere." The boy pulled away, looking up into his face with a worried frown. "Listen to me, read my lips if you can't hear properly. I'm not going anywhere. Piccolo Daimao is dead. Son Goku killed him. Son Goku bought me back."
"You…you…" He swallowed, fighting back tears. "I'll die if you leave me again."
"I won't leave. I wouldn't leave you again. I wouldn't go back to where I was before…"
"I know, but…natural death might be nicer than what you went through. Promise you won't leave again."
"I can't." The young boy sounded regretful.
"I can't, you know I can't. We all have to die sometime…"
"We'll always be together," the small boy whispered. "Always. Even if I die…"
"If you dare…"
"Even if I die, I'll be with you. You know that."
"I'll follow you."
"You're my brother; I'll follow you if I want to. I have to make sure you're okay, that you're not hurt." His lips quirked up in a smile through his tears. "That you're not lonely."
"Chiaotzu, I swear by Kami's name that you will never be alone again. I won't let you. We'll always be together."
Chiaotzu, the small innocent boy who had been Tien's best friend, his brother for the past ten years, blinked up at him, then smiled as tears welled in his eyes.
"Alright," he said quietly. "Okay, you win."
"Good." Tien smiled, then kissed the top of Chiaotzu's head gently. "I don't know if I'll be able to get to sleep…"
"You will," Chiaotzu murmured. "Now that I'm here you will."
They lay down, Chiaotzu still held tightly in Tien's arms, and Tien discovered that Chiaotzu was right. Now that he could actually feel the young boy's presence, sense the life from him, sleep reclaimed him like a rising tide. And even if he woke up again, if the nightmare claimed him again, then he would have the warm, living, breathing boy still nestled in his arms to dispel his fears. And that was all he would ever want.
AN. There we go. Wasn't that sweet? If you like it, review. If you don't, I apologise. See you next time!