a/n: I decided over at livejournal/dreamwidth to start writing daily, and these are the drabble for the Natsume Yuujinchou fandom that I ended up writing. I hope you one or two will spark your interest. And I hope you enjoy reading them. Feel free to give me advice, point out the good and the bad, and generally help me grow as a writer. Thanks and happy reading!

Title: Unpleasant Dreams
Fandom: Natsume Yuujinchou
Characters: Tanuma Kaname; mentions of Natsume and others
Rating: PG
Words: (+/-) 635
Summary: One day, he knows, the nightmares are going to follow him into reality and what then?
Notes: Written for fic_promptly at dreamwidth.

He's running with everything he has and yet he's still too far away to stop the screaming. Low branches and brambles scratch at his arms and legs, but he doesn't let up in his pace long enough to think of brushing them aside or untangling himself. He blindly keeps going, using pure force to reach the place he needs to be.

Natsume, Natsume, Natsume. The name repeats like a mantra in his mind and that's all he can focus on. Natsume's still too far away. The sun abandons him halfway through the forest, his only guiding light hidden behind clouds, and he stumbles on a tree root. The shadows are dense under the crown canopy and Kaname has to wait for his eyes to adjust before he can go any further.

It costs him, those few seconds of waiting. The screams have stopped and the forest is too quiet.

Either Natsume had won or he wasn't there any more. Or worse, he was there, but he wasn't alive. Kaname forces that last thought away in a hurry. He refuses to even consider that. He can't lose Natsume. He can't. There were promises he had to keep with Natsume. A promise to go to the same university. A promise to stay friends forever. A promise to never let Natsume experience loneliness again.

He knows too well what it's like to be alone, and he won't let his friend feel like that ever again. He'll be there. He'll stop Natsume from going somewhere he can't.

The trees start to thin and Kaname can make out a clearing ahead. He skids to a halt just outside the grasp of the shadows. A body lays face down in front of him and that is enough to cause panic to well up in his chest before a cry of Natsume!rips itself from his throat.

He pulls the motionless form into his lap and shakes Natsume as hard as he can, still with the mantra of Natsume, Natsume, Natsume - but aloud, hoping the name would do something, anything, to bring Natsume Takashi back to him. His friend looks asleep in his arms and it can't be true. Natsume can't be dead. There's no blood, no more screaming, nothing that can give away what transpired mere moments before in this desolate place.

His forehead collides with Natsume's, hard, but the gesture does nothing to stir the seemingly asleep Natsume. The other boy's skin is cold to the touch. Not unlike what he imagines a corpse would feel like. Stiff, cold, clammy - but without the stench of death in the air.

Kaname can't believe it. He knows what death is like and this isn't it. Natsume can't be dead. The ayakashi, he thinks, did something. Taki, Natori, someone would know how to fix this - but that doesn't stop the tears and they fall one by one on the cold, unfeeling skin of his friend as Kaname pleads, "Don't leave me."

He awakens to the sound of his alarm clock and it's just another day, like the one before it and the one before that. Except this time his pillow is damp and he can still feel the panic in his veins. One day, he knows, the nightmares are going to follow him into reality and what then?

He reaches for the glasses beside the alarm and holds them up. Natori gave them to him a while ago. Maybe Natori could teach him a way to protect Natsume, too.

His grip on the glasses tightens and he wonders how long he has.