This happens often. You can hear it all. The familiar catch of breath in his throat, a quick leap and shaky hands clacking at a cellphone. It's midnight when Yuki crawls from the comfort of his bed to stumble downstairs. Each step sloshes, and pushes him farther into the water that's slowly rising around his pajama bottoms.
"Yuki?" Natsuki's voice is gruff over the line, especially so since he'd been woken up. All it takes is the sound of sharp breaths and silence for him to realize. "Hey." He says, voice clear and in attention.
"I-I.." There's a shakiness in Yuki's throat, a shrill crack of a tear even.
"Shh, you don't have to talk." And with this, Yuki's breaths try to even, the sound of Natsuki's voice calming him. "I was just having a really nice dream." There's a gentle start to the story, and it continues, made up or not until Natsuki can no longer hear the sound of Yuki's panic attack on the phone. With every sentence, sometimes he even finds the strength to reply saying "yeah." and "mhm." until it's over.
It most often ends awkwardly, with Yuki apologetic and confused as to why he'd dialed Natsuki. But it's alright, and Natsuki laughs it off, knowing Yuki doesn't understand his own feelings. I'm just glad to be able to help, is the typical reply. But Yuki doesn't understand that either, why it works.
One night Natsuki has the guts to ask what used to happen before they met. Surely it had happened before then?
"I try to talk myself out of it, but it never works. I end up crying and choking."
"What is it you think about... that makes you have your panic attacks?"
"I wake up, and realize how easily it may have been for me to be dead. How fleeting life is. There was a time where I didn't exist, and that'll happen again when I really do die. Honestly, do I even have a purpose? I want to... have a purpose."
The line stays silent for a moment, and you can hear Natsuki shuffle the phone around.
"You do, Yuki." There's a scoff over the line, and Yuki doubts that statement even more than he usually would because of the pause. Natsuki actually had to think about it.
Quickly the subject changes, and soon they both hang up and go back to sleep.
A week later the horror hits again. Yuki's feet rush down the stairs, hand at the banister until he shakily reaches the bottom. The phone is ringing as his body lowers at the foot of the stairs. One, two, thee, four and the voicemail starts. He's never...not picked up before.
Just like that the breakdown gets worse, excelling and causing Yuki's breath to catch. Every time this happens, he gulps and purses his lips in an attempt to make it stop. But once it hits too hard and his uneasy fingers dig into the wooden stairs. Again, and the tears start. Hazy vision keeps glaring at the phone, but Natsuki hasn't called back.
"Pick up." The call starts again, but the ringing of the phone just plunges him deeper down, realizing he'll never answer. "God damn it." Yuki starts to get up before realizing he's too uneasy to stand. Gravity yanks him back down, falling to his knees. I scared him away, didn't I? I should have never told him what was really bothering me. I'm hopeless. Always acting clueless when I'm on the phone. He knows I'm in love with him...and he's just been putting up with me until now. I became... a burden.
"Yuki." The voice is just as it always is. Calm and collected, knowing the job it needs to do. Yuki glances down at his phone and picks it up.
"Hello?" But there's no one on the line. The call isn't even open. Yuki sniffles and tries to clear his eyes.
"Yuki?" A subtle lift of the chin and Natsuki's slender frame comes into view. Eyes concerned, and staring.
"H-how did you get in?" Yuki's scared so much he's snapped out of the panic and stands immediately, flustered by their small amount physical contact.
"The back door's always unlocked." Right, Yuki says to himself.
"Y-you're in your p-p.." Pajamas. Yuki clenches his jaw, frustrated that he can't even get the words out.
"You don't have to talk."
But I do now that you're here. Like a child, Yuki's face is red from crying, and they're standing facing one another downstairs in the dimly lit house. Both in their pajamas at midnight it's hard not to say a thing.
"Why... why are you here?"
"But that's what phones are for –"
"You seem fine now though."
Their feet shift, and Yuki's fingers are fumbling.
"You startled me." And I'm not perfectly fine.
"You're still crying though." Natsuki's thumb glides across Yuki's cheek, wiping up a falling tear. "I'm here because," His hand lingers, working it's way at a comfortable spot in Yuki's hair and neckline before finishing the sentence. "I'm not sure I could go asleep, knowing you believe you don't have a purpose. I won't let you sit here on the phone with me every so often until I calm you down and just wait for it to happen again. I have to be able to...do something."
"Natsuki, you don't have to do this. It's not your job-"
"Why do you call me, then? Why not Akira. Why don't you just wake up Haru?" Natsuki's eyes break contact for the first time to motion upstairs. Yuki's toes curl, here comes the confrontation.
"You calm me down easily. The sound of your voice. Sometimes I think, that the best times I've ever had have been with you. Because of you. Even if I don't live long, or I feel kind of purposeless, it'd be a good life if I was able to spend it around you."
Natsuki's eyes widen at the comment, never expecting something so honest to come from him in his broken down state.
"Was that..." A confession? But he can't even finish the words. Then again, they don't need something as petty as words. Yuki already understands and nods. I've scared him again. I guess... this is over. I can't believe I said that. Yuki, say something else damn it.
"I think... I should go back to sleep." Yuki says as Natsuki's still staring, struck and terrified by those beautiful words he'd said just moments before.
"You're still purposeful without me, Yuki." Here comes the rejection, Yuki bites his lip, not ready for the words. "Even if you don't know it or think so, you just feel more purposeful with me and–"
"I know, Natsuki I'm sorry, just let me go to bed." He steps backwards, but Natsuki's hand on his neck has a firm grip, and they stumble together. Their feet step on one anthers, and noses brush before Natsuki realizes he needs to let go. "Good night." Yuki chokes before running up the stairs even faster than he would usually fall down them. He doesn't stop until he's safe under the covers of his bed, while Natsuki, dazed and confused stands at the bottom of the stairs.
"Yuki.." There's a brief sigh before climbing the stairs and rounding the corner. The doors still open.
Yuki starts to loudly whisper, afraid he'll wake Haru in the next room, or Kate at the room down. He can see Natsuki walking closer to the bed."Go away, I'm sorry I ever said anything! I won't call you anymore. I won't bother you, or ask you to do anything for – "
"I love you." Natsuki utters clearly in a normal voice, knowing that's no thing to whisper.
"When you wake up at night I want you to call me like you always do," Yuki's sitting up as Natsuki moves into the bed. Lurching upwards to be eye level.
"When I tell you about my dreams, and calm you down please let me say you're going to be okay because you have me."
"You're not mine..I c-can't have you –" Natsuki is so nervous he stops to look in Yuki's eyes before doing it, lingering and weighing on the outcome, the possibilities even. That look is enough to silence Yuki for good, and even more silencing is the kiss that follows. When you kiss someone you love for the first time it fixes everything that's ever been wronged. Every word you couldn't say, or feeling that wasn't properly conveyed finally has a way to show itself.
"Come back." Yuki begs as Natsuki finally pulls away, wanting to hold that feeling in forever. He doesn't hesitate to fall forward again, just as tenderly as before, entangling a hand in Yuki's hair this time for balance.
Relieved. I feel... relieved. This time Yuki's the one to break away, making sure the kiss can't turn into anything more.
"Thank you," Yuki purses his lips, feeling that he's about to cry.
"Don't thank me, Idiot. Do you know how long –"
"Yes, do you think you were the only one?"
There's an awkward silence before they both burst into laughter.
"I know." Yuki sighs.
"Let me stay, please." And Yuki doesn't have the means to resist. The covers even out and fall over them accordingly. They say goodnight to one another, on their separate pillows on separate sides of the bed at first, even though through the night Yuki's head manages to find the crux of Natsuki's arm, and they hold one another throughout the night. There's nothing surprising or embarrassing about it as they awake, in fact Yuki enjoys it enough to pretend he's asleep a while longer.
"Did you sleep well?" Natsuki asks.
"If you sleep with me every night, I don't think I'll ever wake up in a panic again." They smile, and Natsuki asks if that's Yuki's way of asking him out.
"If you'll say yes, then it was."
"Yes, you idiot... Yes."