Chapter 6 – Pain

"Johan! Wake UP!" I groaned, not wanting to wake up, and flung my arm over my face.

"Leave me alone… sleeping…" I rolled over, sighing tiredly.

"But Johan, we missed the beginning of school. Chronos-sensei is going to kill us if we miss all of school. Or at the very least he'll throw us in detention…"

That woke me up. I shot into a sitting position, accidentally bashing my head on Judai's. We both cried out in shock and scrambled back, clutching our heads in pain.

"Judai," I sighed, "Oh man, you gave me a shock!" I groaned in pain, rubbing my forehead to try to stop the throbbing. Judai laughed and crawled to me, slinging his arm around my shoulders.

"Sorry about that Johan!" Judai grinned at me. I returned the grin, flinging my arm around his shoulders. "I shouldn't have leaned so close…"

"It's fine!" I laughed. "And no, you shouldn't. This is the second time this week that I've hit my head on yours!"

Hane-Kuriboh and Ruby suddenly materialised in the room, screeching loudly and rushing around in circles. I jumped in shock, accidentally knocked Judai over. I blinked, looking down at Judai, who I had somehow managed to knock off the bed onto the floor. He was sprawled out awkwardly on his shoulders, his head resting on the floor and his legs waving in the air. His eyes were wide and confused, his thoughts visible in his face as he tried to piece together what just happened. I couldn't hold back my laughter. And, of course, the rest of the gang chose that moment to walk in.

I heard them enter, felt them stare. I glanced up at them and tilted my head, forcing my laughter to stop.

"What?" I asked of the others as Judai pushed himself up on his elbows.

"Uh… Johan… What happened? Why is Judai on the ground?" Sho asked, staring at us in confusion. I snickered in amusement.

"Funny thing…" I giggled quietly. "I kinda accidentally knocked Judai off the bed as he woke me up."

The gang didn't look too convinced, and Judai saw this.

"Guys, it's true." Judai grinned. "I went to wake this guy up, but when he woke, he woke really fast, so he crashed into me. You saw the result…" he started laughing, which I soon joined in. When our laughter had subsided, I turned to our friends.

"So, why are you here?" I took the opportunity to jump down from the bed, once again skipping the ladder. I felt the others staring at me. "What?! I don't like using the ladder!"

Sho recovered rather fast. "We came to see if you to were okay, since you didn't come to school…"

"We're fine, Sho." Judai chimed in, managing to force himself into an upright position. "It's just that… you know how Johan fell asleep in class?" There was a collective nod from everyone sans myself. "And then started thrashing around in his sleep?" Another nod.

"Well… technically I fainted." I pointed out, running a brush through my ever-stubborn hair.

Judai shrugged. "Whatever."

"So what does Johan's fainting have to do with you skipping school?" Asuka asked.

"Well, I thought that it would be best for him not to go to school today, and I stayed behind to take care of him!" Judai padded to me and patted my head like he would pet a cat. "Right, Johan?"

I shrugged, scowling as he ruined my vaguely neat hair, though I couldn't find it in myself to tell him off. "I guess…"

"You guess?" Asuka asked, raising an eyebrow.

"I was asleep, remember?" I blinked as I realised that Judai was still stoking my hair. "Judai… what are you doing?"

"I'm bored, and your hair is fun to play with!" Judai complained, tugging gently on several locks of my hair.

"Okay." I winced when he tugged harder. "Stop that! It hurts and I only just got it to stay down!"

"Meh, it looks better spiky anyway!" Judai grinned, but let go of my hair either way. I mock-glared at him before turning back to the others in the room.

"If you don't mind, could you leave? I need to get changed…"

.

XXXXX

.

There was a horrible, burning sensation in my chest, as if a small fire was searing through my lungs. The pain had been present for a while, forcing me to stay quiet and perfectly still in class as I tried not to alert anyone to my pain.

"Johan, are you okay?" Judai whispered to me during class, worry leaking into his eyes and voice as he noticed my suffering.

"I'm fine, Judai…" I whispered, trying not to move. I saw Judai blink and look at me in disbelief, though he didn't push for answers.

But as class continued on the pain got continuously worse, my mind drifting further and further away in trying to escape.

The small burning slowly grew into a raging inferno, heat searing through my skin and making me feel dizzy and sick along with the fiery agony. I was panting hard, keeping my hand over my mouth to smother my whimpering cries.

I could barely see straight, everything blurring together as I blinked back pained tears. I couldn't remember where I was, couldn't hear the teacher speaking, couldn't see of feel the tears that had finally broken through my guard.

"Johan?" I dimly heard Judai whisper to me. "Johan? What's wrong?"

"J-Judai, it hurts." I whimpered, one arm wrapping around my chest in an attempt to smother the pain, and the nails of the other digging into my cheeks to hold back the screams. "I don't know how much more I can take before…"

"Chronos-sensei! Something's wrong with Johan! Can I take him to the nurse?"

"Anderson-kun, what's wrong?" Chronos's voice sounded very far away to me, "Johan-kun?"

I tried to stand, get to the fresh, cool air that I was almost certain could help me; but as soon as I was upright, the burning intensified tenfold. I couldn't hold back any more.

I screamed in agony, dropping to my hands and knees as my body gave out. White light flashed all around me, my energy draining away as I blacked out.

.

XXXXX

.

I tried to stop Johan from standing, pleaded with him not to make his condition worse; but he didn't hear me. His normally shining green eyes were vacant and streaming with agonized tears.

I stood and grabbed his shoulder, watching him anxiously as he turn his dull eyes towards me.

And then he screamed.

The sound echoed around the room, bouncing off the metallic walls and back into my ears. My eyes snapped shut as we fell, and a blinding, white pillar of light exploding from Johan's body, encircling us in warm light.. I felt myself drifting, as if my body was cutting the connections it held with gravity.

For a minute, it was wonderful. I felt light and free, nothing holding me back as we were pulled upwards. It was a beautiful feeling, like a child's dream of flight. But it couldn't last, no good thing ever does.

A searing sensation pierced my chest; it was short, but unbearably hot and painful regardless. I screamed, slowly succumbing to the desire to fade into the darkness and leave the agony behind.

.

XXXXX

.