Author's Note: Hello! This is my first story in this account, I used to have another but...yeah it sucked xD Anyway, I wrote this a while ago, and have the next 4 chapters done. I've had them lying around on my iPod and decided to post this now so I hope you all like this story. I really appreciate reviews and critics if any. Thanks(:
A dream. Or a nightmare, either way I knew it was reality for only a mere second. Standing on a hilltop, the breeze slightly rose my skin. Everything was so natural about this place, I almost felt at home. Almost. Nobody was around, it was empty, and despite the beauty, this place was lacking so many things. I felt it, tightly and painfully in my chest, the feeling of emptiness. It was unpleasant, almost unbearable. I could feel a presence, but it was far away and distant; all hope was lost for this beautiful land, and my knees began to buckle under me. And as my sanity slowly vanished from my bare hands, and my body gave in to the emptiness, I was caught; I was saved. Warm arms wrapped around my body, preventing me from falling down a deep, dark hole. Everything was forgotten at this moment, and as I felt myself being lifted, and my feet touched the grass and soil firmly, my eyes connected to his; to his dark blue eyes, and this land suddenly bloomed, and the emptiness was filled in the heart. Dark hair flew around his face, and a sweet smile formed on his lips. My hands subconsciously made their way to his face, to touch him, to know if this was truly real, but as I made my way, they trembled, I guess in tremor from knowing the truth, in fear of being dissapointed by the lies of this world.
"Thank you, Natsume." The words flew off his mouth like a sweet lullaby. My trembling hand fell, my mouth slightly open from surprise. His hand reached to carasse my face, along with his face that slowly inched closer. Before I knew it his lips were an inch away, his hand nearly on my face, and as my heart pounded hard on my chest, and butterflies flew all around us, he disappeared. He just disappeared in the blink of an eye, and I blinked a few times to make sure my vision wasn't deceiving me. It wasn't. He was gone. Emptiness settled in, the truth hit me in the face. I had been deceived once again. I yelled his name as loud as I could, but no response was heard. Not a single sound, nothing.
When I woke up, I felt tears streaming down my cheeks. My hands made their way to my face automatically to wipe them away, and I was surprised when more tears cascaded down my face. I felt a pang on my chest as images of my dream flooded my mind. The feeling. The closeness between us. It felt so real.
I somberly stood up and made my way to the bathroom to begin the day. When I looked at myself in the mirror I noticed how pale I looked, how drained. I didn't like it. I didn't want my friends and family to see me like this, it felt almost shameful to make them worry. I washed my face from the negative expression, and even practiced a smile after brushing my teeth and getting dressed. Nyanko-sensei was fast asleep on the sheets still, so I decided to just let him sleep since he came back really late last night. I went down to eat some breakfast, and thankfully Touko-San and Shigeru-San didn't notice any wrongness in me. I sighed in relief after I was halfway to school and looked down at the ground to see small youkai passing by my feet, and I carefully tried my best not to step on any. They are so clumsy. I chuckle.
No more youkai passed my way, and no one was around while I walked to school. The leaves from the trees rustled and petals of cherry blossoms flew about the air and landed around the area. I smiled at how beautiful the day was. The sky was a soft shade of blue, not a cloud in sight, the sun shone brightly above, and birds perched on trees to sing. Suddenly I remember my dream, the beauty, the emptiness held within it, Tanuma. It was an odd feeling, something I'd never really experienced before, but I feel very fond of him. He is very important to me, so much that I feel the need to protect him from the youkai. I don't want him to get hurt, I don't want anybody to get hurt, like last time, when I let my guard down and got stuck in the jar, Tanuma ended up being involved, ended up being hurt. Because of me.
I stopped thinking once I reached the school. I walked down the hallway, past countless people, different faces, but none of them mattered, no. I only needed to be sure, to prove my dream wrong and make sure he was there and hadn't disappeared. For some strange reason deep inside of me, I felt the need to at least know he was here, I needed it more than anything.
My feet made their way to his class. Some people sat around talking or just studying. I desperately looked for Tanuma, eyeing everyone to make sure I hadn't mistakenly missed his face, but I hadn't, Tanuma wasn't here, and all my insides screamed for him, worried immensely about him. The dream was right, he disappeared, because Tanuma always comes to school unless he's sick, and as I recall from seeing him yesterday, he was surprisingly perfectly healthy. But maybe I was wrong, maybe he was alright, I tried to calm down, taking a deep breath and I took a step into the class and walked up to a girl who talked to some other people.
"Um, excuse me, but have you seen Tanuma-kun?" I asked with an edge to my voice I hadn't noticed until I finished the questioned. The girl frowned for a moment and then looked me in the eyes. "No, he's still not here. It's still early so he might still be on his way." She said eyeing me carefully, as If trying to see into my thoughts. I avoided her eye, and smiled as I said "Oh, okay, thank you." and I walked out, looking out the window to see if he was outside. He wasn't, and I started thinking of going to see if he was at his house, or trying to call him. But I don't have a phone, and even if I had I don't have his number. I frowned at the thought, then I shook my head because it really doesn't matter.
I begin to think a youkai might have attacked him on his way to school. Or that he was so sick he was on the verge of death, and so many more negative things, so many situations Tanuma could be in right now, and I'm just standing here, not doing a single thing. What if he needs help? What if he's trapped? What if...what if...what if...?
"Natsume? Are you okay, your shaking?" A sweet and concern voice says behind me, and I feel a hand touch my shoulder. I slowly turn around to meet with his dark blue eyes, his jet black hair.
"Tanuma!" I exclaim in relief, holding back the sudden urge to throw my arms around him. "Are you okay?" I ask frantically.
He eyed me carefully before saying "Yeah, I'm fine, but you're not." He takes my hand in his and examines it. I feel my face fluster and my cheeks burn a bit, and my hand tremble more, and Tanuma tighten his grip on my hand as if to make it stop. He examines my face, and I can see the deep worry and sorrow in his eyes as he stares at mine back. He lightly lets go of my hand and signed.
The school bell began to ring, cutting him off. I see he sighs again, and he gives me a sad look and a smile.
"I'll see you later, Tanuma." I say and begin to make my way to my class, leaving Tanuma in the middle of the hallway. My worried thoughts drift to nothingness, but the dream still lingers in my mind, and before I walk into my class I look back down the hallway to see Tanuma doing the same. I give him a sheepish smile, and he seems to do the same as we both walk into the class.
The lesson given in class honestly tires me. I feel my eyelids heavy and they try to close as I try my best to pay attention to the lecture. The teacher's voice seems to drift off and the class becomes dark in my eyes. My thoughts are blank and I rest my head on my arms tiredly, givin in to sleep.
My dream is blurry, all I can make up is myself, standing on top of the same hill from before, looking sorrowful. He didn't come back. I thought so. Other things happen, but the blurriest won't allow me to see. I give up on it and focus on the blur, on nothing in particular, really.
My eyes open to the sound of my name, and when I raise my head from the desk I see Sasada poking me with her pen.
"Natsume, are you okay? You look really pale." She says worriedly. I smile kindly and reassure her that I'm okay, and she just nods her head and walks away. I stand up from my chair and meet with my two friends, who seem all giddy and as happy as ever. I smile and dismiss them, telling them I'll talk to them later and I walk out of the class room and look out the window, resting my elbows on the windowsill. Outside a few clouds cover the sky unlike before, and a few people pass by the front of the school. I see a small, chibi-looking youkai walk down the street and I can't help but think its kind of cute.
A strange feeling suddenly hits me, and I look around the campus with narrowed eyes. "Natsume~!" I heard my name being called out, in a hissing but playful way. My eyes widened as I looked at the tree I always sit under, and I notice within the leaves of the tree, a youkai that looked like a cloud of dark smoke with a mask of drawn kitty features. I was taken aback by the sudden presence, and took a step back before I heard the youkai's voice malign laughter morphed into something like a woman and a man's laugh. I saw the youkai rushing its way towards me, smiling widely under its mask, showing it's sharp teeth. I yelled as the youkai entered my body laughing. My body fell back, my head hit the hard floor. I didn't lose consciousness but I couldn't move. My body wouldn't respond, no matter how much I tried to move my arms or legs it was impossible. People rushed towards me in worry. I noticed Taki, Sasada, and a few others calling out to me, but what I noticed the most was Tanuma, who made his way into the small crowd of people and towards me, kneeling down and yelling my name frantically. I felt myself being lifted by a pair of strong arms, and noticed it was Tanuma taking me to the nursery along with the rest of my friends. My face rested on his chest, and it actually felt really nice, I felt like I wanted to stay there for as long as possible. He put me in the bed as the nurse quickly came over and inspected me while asking about the incident. As they went on to explain to her how they found me lying on the floor, I felt her fingers on my neck and a gasp afterwards. Worried questions were quickly asked, and the nurse took a step back to see them more clearly. "Natsume is- he has no pulse, he's dead." Silence filled the room, as everybody processed this new tragedy, and my eyes widened, or would have widened if I had control over them now. I wasn't dead, I could hear every word they said, I could see them. So how did-
My rambling thoughts ceased as I heard my friend's voices.
"Natsume is...what... ?" I heard one of them ask as if he hadn't heard the nurse clearly, but he had, he just didn't want to admit it. The nurse shook her head sadly. "There's nothing we can do, he's been dead for a few minutes now." She said with an edge to her voice. I felt all eyes on me. Someone approached me, and I saw Tanuma's face. Tanuma, my dearest friend, so strong and valuable now had tears rushing down his face, his body trembling uncontrollably. Sobs escaped from everyone, and Tanuma carcasses my hair ever so slightly.
"Natsume, I'm sorry. I'm so-so so-rry!" He tried to hold on as the rest of them gathered around me sadly. I couldn't bare to see them like this and not be able to move, to speak, to do anything. I tried oh so desperately to move, I felt anguish take over me. I felt tears forming in my eyes and suddenly I could lift my finger just a little, and before the nurse called for the principal or Touko-San, I shot up from the bed, gasped in deeply new fresh air. My body was stiff and it trembled uncontrollably. My friends all gasped in shock, and the phone the nurse had on her hand fell to the floor, and more tears fell down their faces. My heart felt as if it were going to explode as they all called my name and hugged me tightly. Tanuma's hair carassed my face as he and the rest of them hugged me tightly. My trembling hand made its way to his back, and I tried to pull him closer if possible. When they all finally let go, and their cheeks dried of tears, they slowly pulled back, and my hand fell from his back. I gave them a small smile as soon as they stood further from me, and despite my trembling voice, I said "T- Thank you all. I- I'm sorry for worrying you." I feel a strange pang in my chest, something of sorrow. I shook my head and sigh.
"Don't be, Natsume! You were dead! I don't know how you...you came back but- I'm glad!" Taki said taking a step closer to me. Everyone nodded in agreement, and I just stared at each and every one of them with such great happiness, my eyes watered, tears threatens to fall but I held them back.
"Thank you." I say and smile. Smile genuinely with all my heart, because they actually care, because they truly are my friends. The kind I'd never had.
As I was about to take my leave to my house, I heard someone call out to me. I looked back to see Tanuma rushing towards me, waving his hand to signal he was there. I stopped and waited for him to catch up. When he finally did he took a deep breath, then stood up straight and smiled my way.
"Let's go together." He says kindly. I stare at him intently, searching for something deeper in his dark eyes. Something...of similarity to me.
"Natsume?" He suddenly asks softly, his eyes take a glint of worry, something I've always seen in him. He's very caring, yet very quiet. I smile slightly his way. "Okay."
My expression is mirrored by him, and we make our way to our houses. I shove my hands in my pockets, feeling the cold of the slight breeze coming our way. Cherry blossoms dance along with it, the sky is clouded, yet a ray of sun manages to escape the clouds. I look down at my feet, feeling my hands slightly quiver. Silence has taken over since we left the school, though it's not awkward nor is it uncomfortable. I feel at ease with him at my side. Like if he was next to me, I could protect him from the youkai. He couldn't see them, he was blind to that mysterious world, all he could do was scence them, but it wasn't enough to save himself. It was a world I could guide him through, only if he let me. I don't want to lose him.
I look at him, his hair flowing along with the breeze, his eyes fixated on the path before him. I noticed a glint of something different, something I'd only seen once loom within his dark eyes. Melancholy. He looked down at his feet, admiring the way his shoes touched the ground. A strange feeling pangs my chest; my hand slowly made its way to his shoulder, where it rested slightly, carefully but firmly. Tanuma turned to meet my eyes with puzzled ones.
"Tanuma, why did you apologize when I was...unconscious." The words fell from my mouth directly, and he looked surprised at my question. We didn't stop walking, I felt my feet were automatically moving on their own. Tanuma's face looked troubled, and I am quickly swept with guilt as he averts his vision from mine.
"I- I..." He sighed, and I knew this must be hard to express. Feelings are something I've never learned to express, and I suppose he is the same as I suddenly feel distant from him. The breeze picks up speed, blowing our hair wildly around our heads. My house comes to view, only a few feet away, and Tanuma stops me, standing right besides me with his head turned towards me and a serious expression on his face. The words he utters flowed through me, made me imagine thousands of things in just mere seconds; Wins and Losses.
"Because I thought I had failed to protect you."
Such simple and unsignificant words to others meant oh so much to me. The closeness of our shoulders startled me, and I backed away, felt my eyes clouded with tears I have been so desperately trying to shun out. Silence follows us, as we stand side by side waiting for something to happen, not knowing exactly what. I lift my head, looking directly at the house before me; my home, and I thank him; I thank him with a conspicuous edge to my voice. I hear him voice my name, as my feet quickly make their way into my home, as tears threaten to fall without much of a reason. I hear Touko-san's voice welcoming me back, and that dinner will be ready in about an hour, and I try my best to tell her I understand without worrying her, and quickly make my way to my room. The door slides closed behind me, and I am helpless as agony takes its toll on me. I notice Nyanko-sensei sittin on the open windosill. He gives me a look as I walk in. I stand my ground as tears roll down my face unintentionally. I don't do anything in attempt to wipe them away, I stand in my own misery, I feel...incomplete.
No sobs escape my mouth, only tears stream down my face. Nobody is around to comfort me and it is better this way. I stand for myself, even if I can barely defend myself. I am weak, I know this, and I am reassured by the expression Sensei gives me from the windowsill. I don't do much for the rest of the day, apart from putting on a satisfactory smile for the sake of my family and myself. Later I go to sleep. Sleep a dreamless slumber, and feel I've had enough dreams for the week. My mind is blank, and I drift off to nothingness.