Taptaptaptap, taptaptaptap. The drums were forcing their presence louder and louder into Koschei's head. Begging for him to give in to them, to be the quivering, scared, teary mess they knew they could make him. Taptaptaptap, taptaptaptap, there was nothing special about the day, it was just one of those days where Koschei woke up in agony because of the drums taptaptaptap and it just got worse as the minutes passed by. He wasn't going to let them win though. He was going to fight them in the only way he knew how. He pulled on his tracksuit and trainers and headed out.

"Kosch, wait up!" Theta called just as Koschei reached the door out the academy. "Going running?"

Koschei nodded, struggling to concentrate, hating that Theta had made him stop when he was ready to zoom off, taptaptaptap.

"I'll join you," Theta added.

"I won't wait for you," Koschei replied more snappily than intended.

Theta just shrugged, "Then I'll keep up," he replied with a determined smile.

Koschei managed a small smile back, "if you can," he replied and was out the door seconds later.

Theta laughed slightly and ran after him instantly. He run alongside Koschei's steady pace. Koschei was taking little notice of where he was running and even less notice of Theta beside him. The drums were still persisting loudly in his head, showing no signs of slowing or quieting. His breath steadily became heavier and heavier and his hearts were thumping against his chest.

He sped up his pace, forcing himself to go faster and faster, leaving Theta a considerable distance behind him. He kept running until all he could think about was putting one foot in front of the other and keeping going. But it didn't work like it normally did. Normally it caused him to have to focus on breathing and moving and helped him forget the drums just for a little while. Today the drums were fighting back, throwing his mind into turmoil, taptaptaptap, taptaptaptap. The faster Koschei ran, the louder they thumped. The closer he got to his usual escapism, the more they hurt. Koschei wouldn't stop though, he couldn't give up. He couldn't let the drums have him. He had to fight.

Faster. Faster. His lungs were screaming in protest, his legs were begging him to stop, the cool wind was powerless against his burning cheeks and through it all the drums were laughing at him. He forced himself to continued. Faster. Faster taptaptaptap, taptaptaptap, taptaptaptap, taptaptaptap. Faster. Taptaptaptap. Faster…

He blacked out, hitting the concrete ground with a thud. When Theta caught up to him a few moments later he had come to but had barely moved. He was lying flat on his back with his right hand pressed to his forehead in a feeble attempt to ward off the agony within. His breathing was quick as though he'd left his breath behind when speeding along and now he had to wait for it to catch up with him.

Theta knelt down beside him, one hand at his side against a stitch, "Did no one ever tell you that running that fast isn't good for you?" he joked breathlessly.

Koschei didn't reply, he barely heard Theta against the drums. He couldn't think, he couldn't do anything. His whole body was screaming in pain both physical and mental, he didn't want to move until it had passed. He couldn't think sensibly enough to. Finally his breath caught up with him but although his breathing normalised nothing else did.

"Koschei?" Theta's voice raised an octave in worry. "Are you all right?"

"Sshh!" Koschei said, a desperate hint in tone, "Not so loud."

"I'm talking at normal volume, Kosch," Theta pointed out, but lowered his voice anyway.

"It hurts, T, I have to fight it. To stop it hurting. I have to run," Koschei jumped to his feet but Theta putting his arm around him at exactly the right moment was the only thing that stopped him from falling. Rather than pulling away Koschei leant against Theta, grateful for the support.

"I'm taking you back to the Academy," Theta told him, ignoring Koschei's one-hearted protest. "You can't stay here and you're in no state to run."

"Can't let them win," Koschei mumbled, "Have to run."

"You can't run right now, Kosch, it doesn't mean they've won," Theta told him softly.

He started to lead Koschei back and Koschei was powerless to do anything but let him. Theta didn't move his arms from around him until they were safely in Koschei's dorm room. As soon as he was out of Theta's grip, Koschei climbed onto his bed and curled up small, once again a hand pressed to his forehead. As the drums pounded in his head and he was acutely aware of Theta saying he'd tell their teachers he was ill, he was forced to swallow back his tears of pain. And as the hours passed on and the drums didn't let up, Koschei knew Theta was wrong. Maybe not right now, but Koschei knew that in the end the drums would win.

This is proof that I cannot right fluff to save my life. Well I can. Just not well. This was supposed to be a nice, happy fic about how running made the drums better for Koschei. Instead it became this, angst. :P R&R anyway?