Disclaimer: I once made the mistake of asking Tatsuki how much that Kotarou in the window was. I barely managed to dodge as he tried to run me over with his motorcycle. So I don't think I'll be trying again any time soon.
Authors' Note: This is a continuation of the series, in a different vein than Interlaced (which is really just an alternate ending/continuation). In this story, Kotarou healed Tatsuki at the end like normal and everyone thought that he lost his powers - like normal. Only, the universe works in the strange way that says "once a psychic, always a psychic," and while Kotarou has touch-based ESP that allows him to channel his power into others and manipulate their own dormant abilities, that doesn't mean that he can get rid of his completely. What it does mean is that if he doesn't know how to use them, he can end up screwing himself over, and, well . . . That's what this fanfiction explores.
I'm not sure how long this will be.
It takes place several years into the future, when they're all already out of college. I would say they're about two years or so out of college by this point - give or take depending on what careers they've chosen. They're all roughly in their mid-twenties; I'm not sure exactly how old. Tatsuki, Yuuto, and Mio are probably around twenty-five/twenty-six; Kotarou's probably around twenty-four/twenty-five. But I'm not setting anything into stone here.
Anyway, if you read, please review. I realize this fandom is pretty much dead, but reviews don't hurt, you know. They help.
For serious, they do.
Past, Present, Future
"It's not 'what if,' it's 'what now.'" - Author Unknown
It wasn't the sort of reunion he'd always imagined.
For one thing, he hadn't expected it to be during his office hours. When Yuuto imagined meeting Kotarou again, he imagined a phone call signaling a visit, or the blond turning up on his doorstep, or hearing about him crashing at Tatsuki's place through photographs that Karen would take when she spotted the blond wandering the streets of Tokyo again. The last thing Yuuto expected was to see Kotarou's name written down for an appointment, and the last thing he expected to need to do was to argue with the originally scheduled counselor for two hours to get him to trade clients at the last minute. Trading clients was probably unethical on many levels and ordinarily Yuuto wouldn't do it, but desperate times called for desperate measures. He hadn't seen Kotarou since the kid had upped and left Tokyo abruptly six years ago, abandoning the rest of his college education without so much as a reason why. If he was not only back in Tokyo but was also seeking the help of a therapist, Yuuto was going to find out why.
Besides, they were old friends, weren't they? Yuuto used to help Kotarou with his emotional woes all the time. Now that he was a certified counselor, he was even better equipped to handle the problem.
Of course, the largest problem was that Kotarou was not pleased.
"I should report this," the blond grumbled, glaring at Yuuto from beneath messy blond fringe. "I was told that I'd be seeing a different therapist - not you. How the hell did you even manage to become a therapist, anyway?"
"Egad! So cruel, even after all these years." Yuuto smiled despite Kotarou's scowl. He was used to having to smile in the face of angry scowls and purple auras, so it didn't even bother him that Kotarou was frustrated with his jokes. No, it was everything else that bothered him. "You know I've always had a sixth sense, Kotarou. 'Bout time I put it to good use. 'Sides, I always got plenty of practice on you and ass-face before."
In spite of himself, Kotarou couldn't help but snort at Yuuto's name for Tatsuki. It was something, but it wasn't enough to dispel everything that Yuuto was seeing - and Yuuto did not like what he was seeing.
"Kotarou," he said after a few seconds, his tone completely serious, "you look like hell."
All traces of laughter left Kotarou immediately, and he glared at Yuuto once more, his voice low and rough. "Thanks, asshole."
No, really, Yuuto thought, unable to even fake a smile. If Tatsuki saw you, he'd freak.
Kotarou had always been short and slim for his age, a sore spot for him due to his naturally feminine appearance, but now he looked so thin that Yuuto almost wanted to scratch possible eating disorder onto his notes. His cheeks looked slightly sunken in and his wrists seemed even smaller than Yuuto remembered them, but Kotarou was wearing a baggy sweatshirt and cargo pants, and so it was hard to tell how thin he really was. His blond hair was longer than Yuuto remembered it (which surprised Yuuto, given how long hair had the chance to make Kotarou look even more girly than he already did), falling across Kotarou's eyes and hanging down around his chin, but instead of the healthy golden sheen it had in high school, it looked closer to dirty blond, lifeless and limp. With his skin as drawn and pale as it was, the dark bags under his dull eyes were even more pronounced; along with not eating properly, it was also obvious that Kotarou wasn't sleeping properly.
And that was only the half of it.
Yuuto had seen plenty of auras come into his office - most of them dark and somewhat depressed. After all, it wasn't like happy people needed a therapist. He'd dealt with those who were merely stressed out to those who were suicidal, and he'd taken them all in stride. It was his job to help people - his job to help people see that they always had another way out, that suicide wasn't the answer. By reading their auras, he was able to gauge whether he was getting through to them or not, and he was able to change his tactics accordingly. Seeing dark and depressed auras didn't bother Yuuto anymore. It didn't make him happy, but it didn't make him panic, either.
He was panicking now.
Kotarou's aura was dark - very dark, dark enough to send alarms ringing in Yuuto's head, screaming for him to do something - anything - to lighten Kotarou's aura. Yuuto could see a mixture of blue and purple in Kotarou's aura, but only barely; the colors were so dark they were almost black, with the only brightness being the streaks of red that flashed through with Kotarou's annoyance at Yuuto's behavior. Yuuto had never seen Kotarou's aura go so dark, and seeing it as dark and troubled as it was - along with Kotarou's physical appearance - didn't scare Yuuto.
It terrified him. And that was something that was damn hard to do.
Due to the fact that he was a trained professional, Yuuto knew that he couldn't sit in silence for long. He had to get working, and he had to get working fast; he could thank his lucky stars that he'd managed to get Kotarou into his office later. Right now, he needed to find a way to lighten Kotarou's mood and figure out just what had happened in the years the blond had been M.I.A. Forcing himself to appear much more relaxed than he actually was, Yuuto laced his fingers behind his head and leaned back in his chair, watching Kotarou as intently as he could while still appearing casual.
"So, kid. Wanna tell me why you decided to drop in for a visit to the therapist?"
Kotarou's expression was still sullen, and Yuuto saw flecks of orange (panic) and a few brighter spots of purple (worry) jump through Kotarou's aura. The blond pulled one knee up to wrap his arms around it, and rested his chin on his knee before he finally spoke.
"I don't know," he muttered finally. "I don't know why I even bothered coming. No therapist could ever help me with this. Anything I said would just get me a one-way trip to the loony bin."
"Hey, anything you say here is in confidence. I mean it. I won't even tell Tatsuki." Of course, being a therapist put Yuuto between a steel wall and a bulldozer in this particular case. By law, he was bound to confidence; he couldn't tell anyone anything Kotarou told him, no matter how suicidal the blond was. On the other hand, if - God forbid - Kotarou did anything to harm himself, and Tatsuki found out that Yuuto knew yet didn't say a word about it, Yuuto would found himself as roadkill at the wheels of Tatsuki's motorcycle.
A steel wall and a bulldozer indeed.
"But you've gotta spill," Yuuto pressed, seeing as how Kotarou was content to keep quiet. "I can't help you if you don't. Then again, I can just start listing off what I see, and we can go from there." Kotarou's eyes flashed up to meet Yuuto's, but as his continued silence, Yuuto sighed. "Okay then, we'll do it the hard way. Have you been eating? You look underweight."
Kotarou shrugged. "I eat enough."
"How much is enough?"
"Two meals a day."
"Do you throw it up after you eat it?" At Kotarou's glare, Yuuto raised his hands in defense. "Look, kid, all I'm saying is that you don't look like you're at a healthy weight."
"I don't have an eating disorder." Kotarou's tone was final, and though Yuuto wanted more than anything than to believe him, he still left a question mark next to Kotarou's weight on his notes.
"Okay, okay. What about your sleeping? You can't tell me your panda eyes are natural."
"Panda eyes?" Kotarou asked dubiously, and Yuuto forced a grin.
"I won't lie. You make an adorable little panda, Kotarou! With those dark rings under your eyes and those cute wittle cheeks - "
"Go to hell, bastard!" Kotarou made to stand up from his seat, but once again Yuuto raised his hands in defense, preparing to rise from his chair as well. The last thing he was going to do was let Kotarou leave the room in the condition he was in. If he had to barricade his door against possible eavesdroppers and tie Kotarou to a chair, he was going to force Kotarou to stay until he made some improvement.
"I merely jest! In the condition you're in, you're in no condition to be an adorable panda. A zombie, perhaps, but not a panda." Kotarou sat back down, but his glare was just as intense as before. "So, sleeping habits?"
Kotarou sighed, and ran a hand through his lack, darkened hair. His eyes drifted to the window and fixed upon the glass as he answered Yuuto, his voice sounding low and somewhat defeated. "I don't really sleep anymore. I try not to."
"Why do you try not to sleep? Sleep's wonderful. Heals the body and rests the soul." As Yuuto spoke, he began to twirl his pen slowly between his fingers, keeping his voice casual, yet coaxing. It was a natural reaction, and on some vague level, he was grateful that he was slipping more into therapist mode. It'd be easier to coax answers out of Kotarou if he wasn't continuously pissing his old best friend off (even though pissing off Kotarou was so easy to do).
"When I sleep, I - " Kotarou broke off suddenly, and looked back to Yuuto, biting his lip. Even if Yuuto didn't have the ability to read auras, he'd be able to tell that Kotarou was hesitant, even afraid of spilling his secret. He'd need a final push, and Yuuto knew just what to say.
"C'mon, Kotarou. You can tell me. I'm a psychic too, remember?" Yuuto tapped his pen against his chest as he spoke. "Maybe you couldn't tell any normal therapist without taking a trip to the rubber room, but you know you can tell me. Nothing fazes me anymore, I promise."
Kotarou nodded, and licked his chapped lips before blurting, "When I sleep, I see things."
"That's to be expected. They're called dreams."
"If you're going to mock me, then get bent." Kotarou's tone was acidic, and sensing the true hurt that lay beneath the anger, Yuuto quickly backtracked.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Care to elaborate on what you meant by that?"
Kotarou leaned back in his chair, resting his cheek on his raised knee and looking out the window once more.
"When I dream, I . . . see things. Not just ordinary dreams, but . . . visions. Of the . . . of the future, I think." He paused, and then continued. "I didn't used to have these visions, but ever since Akira and his father left, and Tatsuki almost . . . Ever since then, I started having weird dreams. At first, it was nothing more than weird feelings. I would wake up every morning feeling uneasy and uncertain, and I wouldn't know why. I didn't think anything of it, and just went about live like usual. But . . ."
"But after I entered college, it started getting worse. I started to actually see things - to dream about things happening. Bad things. It was very vague at first - blurry shapes and muted sounds - but as the nights progressed, things started getting more clear. And while at first I thought they were just nightmares, I soon learned that they weren't, Yuuto. Because when I dreamed about bad things happening to people I knew, they did happen - sometimes the very next day."
"Are you sure it wasn't coincidence?"
"Positive. It happened too many times to be a coincidence - and it still happens. Sometimes about people I do know, and most of the time about people I don't. But, do you remember that plane crash that happened three months ago?" Yuuto nodded. "I dreamed about that three weeks before it happened. I should have warned someone - but, damn it, I wanted it to just be a dream for once. I don't know what's happening - I don't know why it's happening - but I keep having these premonitions of horrible things that I can't stop or change even when I do try to do something about it!" Kotarou's words were coming out in a rush now, his voice increasing in volume. "And it's getting worse. I didn't think it could, but it's getting worse, Yuuto, because now I've started having these visions while I'm awake. I'll be completely awake, and all of a sudden I'll be somewhere else, seeing something else, and I know it's the future because I can't interact with what I'm seeing at all. But I'll see some horrible event unfolding before I'm jerked back into my own body with people staring at me even more than they usually do. I can't control when this happens, and so I'm afraid to go anywhere - to do anything - because if I have one of these stupid freaking visions while I'm crossing a street, I'm probably going to end up getting creamed by a bus or something. But at the same time, if I do become bus-food, at least then I'll stop having these Goddamn - "
"Woah there, buddy. Slow down." Yuuto held up his hands in a time-out signal, and Kotarou obediently shut his mouth, gazing at Yuuto with an expectant - yet slightly frenzied - look in his eyes. Several things were obvious to Yuuto all at once, and he took a second or two to sort them out in his own mind before he let the session continue.
Kotarou was, above all else, telling the truth.
The fact that he was apparently experiencing precognition - as opposed to Tatsuki's postcognition - was tearing him apart at the seams.
Whatever they might have originally assumed, Kotarou had not lost his power.
"Kotarou," Yuuto began, setting his pen on his desk and reaching across it toward his friend. "Give me your hand."
"What? Why?" Kotarou demanded, staring at Yuuto with both suspicion and rising irritation. Yuuto fought the urge to roll his eyes.
"What you described is psychic power, but I thought you lost all your powers after the Yukisato incident. I want to see if touching you will boost my powers like it did in the past. Give me your hand."
Hesitantly, grudgingly, Kotarou extended his hand toward Yuuto's. For a few precarious seconds, it hovered over Yuuto's upturned palm, yet then finally - and quickly, as though he was making the decision before he could change his mind - Kotarou brought his hand down and clasped Yuuto's tightly.
At first, nothing happened. Yuuto could see Kotarou's aura with the same intensity as he could before, with no change. The seconds ticked by, and as Kotarou's aura remained as average as ever, Yuuto was about to call it quits and decide that there was something else going on - that maybe some other psychic was influencing Kotarou somehow. But before he could say anything of the sort, he found himself in too much pain to do anything but scream.
"Yuuto?!" Kotarou cried out in alarm, panic saturating his voice. "What's wrong?!"
Light. Bright, bright multicolored light that slammed into his senses and burned his retinas, ripping through his head with the force of a motorcycle through mesh. Yuuto closed his eyes intently around it, his fingers gripping Kotarou's so tightly that Kotarou hissed in pain, and his head continued to pound even after he closed his eyes to try and accept something that wasn't Kotarou's burning aura. When his headache subsided enough so that it wasn't in danger of splitting his skull open, Yuuto peeked through his eyelashes, and opened his eyes fully when he saw that the danger had passed. Kotarou's aura had somehow returned to normal, dimming from the vivid intensity that it had so suddenly taken before. Yuuto released Kotarou's hand, slumping back into his chair, panting as though he'd run a marathon and trying to ignore the rest of the marathon runners still stampeding through his head.
"What the hell happened?" Kotarou demanded, wringing his hand where Yuuto had nearly broken it with his grip. Yuuto wiped his arm across his now sweaty forehead, shaking his head slowly.
"That's what I'd like to know. When I touched you, nothing happened. And then, all of a sudden, your aura . . ." Yuuto groaned, closing his eyes again and resting his forehead against his palm. "But when I opened my eyes again, it was back to normal. Like your power was off, then went into painful overdrive, and then turned off again."
"I didn't do anything," Kotarou muttered, sitting back into his chair. "I mean, I didn't mean to . . ."
"But that's how your power works, isn't it?" Yuuto cracked a wry smile, opening his eyes and looking to Kotarou once more, his expression becoming more serious. "But something's wrong. Your power shouldn't be screwy like that. It's like you've completely lost all control over it - even the subconscious control that you had before. Maybe that's what's making you have that precognition."
"You think?" Kotarou's voice held an almost hopeful tone to it, and Yuuto nodded, frowning slightly.
"Yeah. But I can't say for certain. I'm not an expert on this sort of thing. We might have to call in for backup, even though I don't even know how to get in contact with them . . ."
"With who?" Kotarou didn't sound at all welcoming to the idea of involving others, even before he knew who the others would be. "You said this was confidential."
"It is - unless you give me permission. But Kotarou, I don't know what to do here. I'm not exactly the leading expert on psychic abilities." Before Kotarou could open his mouth to protest, Yuuto continued. "If we can find them, Udou and Kiba would probably be our best bets - but even they thought you'd given all of your power to Tatsuki. They might not know what to do, either."
Kotarou scowled again, and was unable to suppress a large yawn before he rested his forehead on his knee.
"I didn't sign up for a visit for a solution," he muttered. "I just . . . wanted someone to talk to. Or maybe some medication so I'd sleep so deeply I wouldn't dream about any of this stuff. If that's even possible."
"Drugs aren't always the best answer, kid, and I don't like to prescribe 'em." Yuuto paused for a moment, inwardly debating, before he finally stood up, cementing his decision in his mind before he could change it. "Hey, why don't you go lie down on my couch? I've gotta step outside to make a phone call real quick, but I don't care if you get some sleep while I do. I won't even charge you for - "
"No!" Kotarou interrupted, and Yuuto was hardly surprised to see orange streak through his aura. "I already told you, I don't want to sleep!"
"And you also told me that you've started having this visions while you're awake - possibly because you're neglecting them by not sleeping," Yuuto pointed out, and Kotarou grimaced, knowing that he was defeated. "Go over and rest for a few, Kotarou. Your body needs it, and collapsing from exhaustion isn't going to help you a single bit."
Though he glared sulkily at Yuuto for another few seconds, Kotarou grudgingly pushed himself out of the chair and shuffled over to the couch, dropping upon it with a muffled thud. By the time Yuuto made it to the door, he could hear Kotarou's breathing even out, a signal that he'd fallen asleep almost instantly. It's no wonder, Yuuto thought, quietly slipping out of his office and pulling his cell phone out of his pocket. Kid's more sleep deprived than your average insomniac.
As his fingers dialed a familiar number - though one he hadn't really dialed in years - Yuuto silently prayed that he wasn't going to be too crushed by the oncoming bulldozer. In the midst of his prayers, an impassive voice answered the call, and Yuuto took a deep breath and crossed his fingers before returning the greeting.
"Tatsuki, it's Yuuto. And before you hang up on me like the ass-face you are, we have a problem, and it's about Kotarou. He's back in town, and he needs help."