The Only Exception


Haruka doesn't like these nights.

The ones where her bed actually looks uncomfortable and she doesn't want to go to sleep just yet, but she should if she wants to stay awake while riding the bus the next morning. She's ready for bed, having brushed her teeth, twice and a third time because she snacked on a few crackers right after, and combed her wet hair. Maybe even grabbed a cup of hot chocolate to drink before nestling under the comfy covers. That's when she realizes that she can't keep her eyes closed long enough. Her gaze keeps trailing back to the window, as though the moon's attractive force were pulling her in as well.

Her fingers are gripping the covers too tightly and she lets go immediately. Her hands meet under the covers and sweat coats them as she rubs her fingers together. Once she stops fidgeting with her hands, her fingers head straight to her clothes and start toying with the fabric there. Her feet are crossed. Then they're thrown over to the side. Then they're back to being crossed.

Deciding to change her environment, she gets up and sits down on a chair in the kitchen. Bringing her fingers to her face, she tries to imitate what she's learned at the few sessions of yoga her friends dragged her to and breathes deeply in and out, while rubbing circles at the side of her head. It does nothing but increase her attention on all of the wrong things. Her head feels heavier than usual and she's sure the headache is a warning from her body. She's been awake far too long this week but she wants nothing more than to not fall asleep. She doesn't want to stay awake but right now, anything is better than trying to go to bed.

Leaving the chair behind her, she goes to the couch and picks up a book that he had left there. Making sure the plain black bookmark wouldn't fall out, she opens to the beginning of the book and tries to concentrate on the words. Her mind falls back between listening to the tale of the beginning of a case to trying to stop the gnawing that she thinks is ready to emerge from her gut and chew and consume her until all that is left is her hair. Turning into dust sounds nicer.

She's not sure if it's only emptiness that's eating at her. The feeling is hollow, like someone's dug a hole and didn't bother to fill it. It weighs down on her, threatening to crush her ribs, but that could be her tired state at fault. There's something else though, something stinging about the sensation that makes her think it's soft kisses of pain, imprinting emptiness in its wake instead. Pain and emptiness at once, it shouldn't make sense but it does.

Having struggled for years with this feeling, she used to hope that it would get easier but she's sure that it's only worsened. It sounds like a terminal disease and she hates it, because just like one, she can ignore it but it's really a shield of sand consisting of false security for a short period of time before it makes its presence known in the worst way possible.

Stupid mistakes, mere chance carelessness, or letting your ugly side of humanity take over for a tiny moment allows the opportunity for the biggest of regrets to occur. She can try to be a better person but nothing can make up for taking away a human life. She knows.

Her mother used to be there for nights like this. Sit beside her on the bed, sometimes softly sing or chant a prayer, and her sobs would quiet. The next morning, her red-rimmed eyes would be the only residue left. Now she's alone and the weight on her ribs has grown to encompass her throat. She can feel the sharp tingle around her eyes. Maybe being alone isn't too smart.

But she knows this feeling well, She's had practice. She also knows that allowing herself to give in to the fatigue, to fall asleep only leads to nightmares. It's much easier to control your subconscious when you're awake.

Haruka hates nights like these.

One hour later, she reaches for the phone. It takes just ten shaky breaths, each a little harder to release than the other, before dialing the number. It takes plenty of waiting, and she thought she was sapped of strength but the fist her free hand forms says otherwise. There is silence for a few beats and then a groggy male voice, with a little more than a hint of annoyance underlying his tone, answers.

She realizes later that the sound immediately stopped the empty feeling from growing further. An hour after that, the feeling had started to recede.

A/N: I do plan on getting to the requests (I have ideas planned, trust me so for now, you're free to send more in if you like!) but this was a spur of the moment thing. I guess it really wanted to be written.

Also, a shoutout to mujintou scans because they released two chapters after a short hiatus! Always a nice thing to see.