the darkest time of the year. Sat/Dai
With grateful thanks to readers and cohorts of all descriptions, especially Sakkit, Ysabet, Icka, Becky, Meimi and Vikki (who was faced with the choice of 'beta fic' or 'beta fic' the night I started the editing to post on ff.net. Aha).
Reviews are like, the grease of the wheels of my typing fingers. o.o -- meg
(The story probably began like this.
Once upon a time, there was a young man who was born into a clan of artists.
At the same time, there was born a young man into a clan of thieves.
The artist had a gift for his art, and the things that he created seemed to possess life of their own. He made his art with the desire to capture the hearts of all who saw it.
The thief saw what the artist created, and desired it. He would do anything to have it for his own, to keep and possess it forever.
Do you know? Their wishes were exactly the same.)
When Daisuke was a baby, he would lie for hours staring at nothing and laughing delightedly. If you picked him up, he looked at nothing and a huge, happy smile would split his face and he would laugh and laugh. It was almost as though someone was playing with him, even when there was nobody around.
When Satoshi was a baby, he had spells of screaming in terror. Even if you picked him up to comfort him, he stared at nothing and screamed more.
When Daisuke was four, he had an imaginary friend named Dark. Dark had purple hair and was seventeen years old. He followed Daisuke around and helped him climb up trees to escape his mother.
When Daisuke turned five, Dark told him he had to go away for a while, and it would be better if Daisuke forgot about him. He promised to come back someday.
When Daisuke turned fourteen, he turned into a seventeen year old boy with purple hair, whose name was Dark. He still didn't remember his imaginary friend.
Dark did, though.
When Satoshi was four, he had an imaginary enemy named Krad. Krad had blond hair and was immortal. He followed Satoshi around and laughed at him a lot.
When Satoshi turned five, Krad told him he had to go away from a while, and it would be better if Satoshi forgot about him. He promised to come back someday.
When Satoshi turned fourteen and fell in love with Daisuke, he turned into an immortal boy with blond hair, whose name was Krad. He still remembered his imaginary enemy.
So did Krad.
a DNANGEL FIC by MEG
01 : day by day
DNANGEL does NOT belong to me. /disclaimer
Satoshi swung around, unsurprised, as Niwa bounded up to him. Niwa had the arm-and-legs gait of someone whose body had decided to suddenly grow and forgot to tell him first, but he still had an odd, coltish grace. In two or three years he would be as quick and light as Dark.
"Niwa," he said, calmly. He'd told Niwa about fifteen million times -- or it felt like fifteen million times, perhaps he had only told him aloud once, but repeated it in his head over and over so much that he had lost count -- that he should stay away from him, but Niwa continued to bound up to him.
Satoshi couldn't decide if that was the most foolish thing he had ever seen, or the most trusting, but either way he couldn't help but be glad, somewhere, that Niwa never listened to him tell him to go away.
"Are you going shopping? Mom sent me out to get stuff for supper tonight."
"Yeah, kind of," said Satoshi neutrally. He supposed that eventually he would stop somewhere and get something to microwave, but mostly he was walking just to tire himself out. He looked at Niwa, and wondered for a moment what it would be like to run errands for a parent. Foolishness, to think of that, and he knew it.
He turned again, and Niwa fell into step beside him. Satoshi looked at him through the corner of his eye, and then turned and stared. The rabbit-thing that apparently belonged to Niwa looked back at him from Niwa's hood.
"Why have you got your ... pet in your sweatshirt hood?"
Niwa blinked at him. "He likes riding in it," he said, as if that should the perfectly obvious answer.
"I thought only ferrets did that."
"With's special," said Niwa, proudly.
Considering that the animal in question regularly changed into the wings of a famous thief, not to mention the forms of the thief himself and the thief's host, and was probably some sort of magic beast listed under the heading 'bound demon', Satoshi decided not to argue the point. "Won't it fall out?"
"Not if he doesn't want to."
"Kyuu!" agreed the animal.
"So what is he, exactly?"
"With?" Niwa considered for a second. "Dunno. A familiar or something, I think."
"...," said Satoshi. "Niwa?"
"You are the only person in this universe who carries a lesser demon in his sweatshirt hood."
"He sleeps on my face at night," said Niwa, cheerfully. "And he and Towa-chan watch soaps with Mom. He especially likes 'Hearts Toward the Future', but I guess Towa-chan likes 'Your Heart Only' better."
Satoshi wrenched his mind away from the oddly appealing image of Niwa asleep with a long-eared white lump of fur spread over his face, and stared at him. "'Towa-chan'? Oh. 'Towa no Shirube', you mean?"
"Yeah, but if you call her anything but 'Towa-chan' she throws a fi-- wait, how did you know she moved in with us?"
"She asked me first," said Satoshi, trying to avoid a second vivid mental image of With, Towa no Shirube and Niwa's mother watching television and talking back to the characters. He failed utterly. "She was made by the Hikari family."
"Oh," said Niwa.
"Dark does specialize in Hikari artwork," said Satoshi mildly.
"How should I know?" He added something under his breath that sounded like 'Mom sends out the notices and tells me where to go', but Satoshi concluded he wasn't supposed to hear it.
They walked on in silence for a while. It was nice, Satoshi thought, comfortable almost, as if they really were friends walking nowhere in particular together, talking about anything and nothing that came to mind. As if Niwa did not carry Dark within him and Satoshi did not carry Krad, as if they were not fated to be enemies whose burdens meant to kill each other and did not care if they killed their hosts in the process.
Almost like being normal, he thought.
Niwa cleared his throat. "I was just thinking... um..."
Satoshi stopped and looked at him. Niwa looked slightly embarrassed and harassed -- Niwa usually did, of course, but he looked a little more embarrassed than usual. "What?"
"I was, um, just thinking..." said Niwa, and then in a rush, "It's kind of nice. That you're around and, um, that we're kind of friends now. Cos it's nice to talk to someone about With and Dark and Towa-chan, and, um, I'm glad you're around."
Daisuke was kind of busy studying Hiwatari-kun's face anxiously, but he answered anyway. :Yes, Dark?:
::That was not the smartest thing you have ever done.::
:Huh?: Hiwatari-kun was still standing there, staring at him.
::... but on the other hand, at least we've got With here.::
:Dark, I'm pretty sure you think you're making sense.:
::...:: A deep sigh, as if from the depths of a patient martyrdom. ::Put it this way: That was real bright making him go doki-doki like that.::
::I give up.::
/I'm going to kill him,/ said Krad, almost pleasantly.
Satoshi took a deep breath. He could actually feel Niwa's worry. Shut up.
/Shan't,/ said Krad. /He really has no idea what he does to you, that boy./
I said, shut up.
/And I said I shan't,/ retorted Krad. Satoshi knew he had his nastiest smile, the one that meant that Satoshi was being a fool to even think of what he was thinking, and Krad was going to spend as much time as he pleased pointing this out to him. /My, how very touching. He's glad 'you're kind of friends'. That 'you're around'. It's 'kind of nice to talk about Dark and With and Towa-chan'. Such very strong feelings for you, Satoshi-sama. Isn't that wonderful?/
Satoshi's fists were clenched, he discovered. He relaxed them, deliberately. I have got a cut-throat razor, a full bottle of sleeping pills and a very sturdy beam in my apartment. Shut. Up.
/You wouldn't kill yourself to get rid of me. You'd make poor Niwa sad to lose his friend./
And I'd die knowing that I wasn't the cause of his death, wouldn't I?
/I could heal your body. It would be mine then./
Are you sure? He felt Krad hesitate. It wasn't a light matter to bring a body back from the point of death, especially if the original owner meant to die, and both of them knew it. Are you sure enough to try it?
Krad didn't answer, which meant that he wasn't. Satoshi was distantly relieved. He wasn't particularly afraid to die, but the threat was one of the few holds he had over Krad. Even so, a threat was only as good as your willingness to carry it out, and Satoshi knew that he had begun to wish to live. With any luck Krad hadn't realized it yet, but Satoshi doubted it.
If it came down to it, he would end his life, and they both knew it. If it was between him and Niwa, Niwa would live.
"Hiwatari-kun...?" Niwa's voice was even more anxious than usual, and it brought Satoshi back with a thump. "I said something weird, didn't I? I'm sorry."
"NO," he said, forcibly. He took a deep breath when Niwa looked alarmed. "No, you didn't. I ... I agree, it is kind of nice."
/'I love you but I'm afraid you'll run screaming if I say so' -- is that what you meant, Satoshi-sama?/ The honorific was anything but a term of respect. /'Let me be with you even though I'm afraid I'll kill you. Stay with me.'/
/My dear Satoshi, you are a coward and a fool./
And you're a liar and a betrayer.
/I was lied to and betrayed first,/ said Krad, matter-of-factly. /That's why I'm going to kill him. And then we'll both be happy./
That doesn't make sense.
/They'll be ours then,/ said Krad, his voice still calm and perfectly rational. It scared Satoshi more than anything else Krad could have done or said, that flat statement of facts as Krad saw them. /If we kill them, if I kill him, if you kill him, we will finally be important to them./
Nausea swept through him.
/I think you do, Satoshi-sama. I rather think you do./
"You look sick," said Niwa anxiously. "Maybe you should sit down. Sit down on that bench and I'll get you something to drink, ok?" Satoshi sat, for lack of anything else to do. He did feel sick, but he doubted a drink would cure it. "With, you stay with Hiwatari-kun, ok?"
"Niwa --" began Satoshi, but With had already bounded down onto his lap and Niwa had taken off in his tangle of arms and legs.
Satoshi looked at Niwa's pet.
Niwa's pet looked at Satoshi.
"You could follow him if you'd like," said Satoshi.
The animal gave every appearance of considering this. "Kyuu," it said firmly, and settled itself on his lap.
/I despise that animal./
Because it's Dark's?
/Because there is no reason for Dark to use that creature./
Satoshi supposed Krad was right. There was no reason for Dark to need someone else's wings. Still... Satoshi stretched out his hand and stroked the thing. It had curiously soft fur, fine and dense, like mink. It squeezed its eyes at him and settled more comfortably. It was rather nice, a warm living thing keeping him company. "I'm sorry I scared you when Dark stole the Moonlight Mask," he said. He felt faintly ridiculous but he had some vague feeling that he ought to hold a polite conversation with the creature. "And, er... the other time, I'm sorry about that, too."
"Kyuu?" The creature blinked at him puzzledly.
/I beg your pardon?/
"At the lighthouse," said Satoshi, looking away from the creature for a second.
/............,/ said Krad.
That sounded like Dark, said Satoshi.
Krad did not deign to answer.
"Kyuu," said the creature, as if to say it knew it wasn't Satoshi who had done it, and not to worry about it any more.
Satoshi closed his eyes and laid his hands on With's back. For just a minute, with the sun shining down and his fingers buried in warm, living fur, he could let some of his tension seep away.
/Fool,/ said Krad, but even that was almost lazy, a formality.
Satoshi didn't care.
Daisuke studied the choices in the machine. He liked mocha, but what would Hiwatari-kun like? Canned coffee, like him, or juice, or plain water? Iced tea?
::I seriously doubt anyone who eats convenience store meat buns and juice boxes at lunch for two weeks straight cares that much.:: Dark made a face. ::The same type of meat bun, no less.::
:Some of us like routine.:
::SOME of us are as boring as hell,:: retorted Dark. ::Get him the lemon vitamin water.::
::Contrary to popular opinion, I am occasionally capable of feeling sorry even for the Honorable Commander Hiwatari. It ought to settle his stomach a little.::
Daisuke considered this, and punched in the code. It fell with a soft rattle and landed against his can of coffee. :I wonder why he got sick so suddenly.:
::At a guess? Blond hair, idiot ponytail with a damn stupid cross on the end, and psychopathic homicidal tendencies.:: Dark made a sound like an exasperated sigh.
:You don't think that Krad --:
::I know he did,:: said Dark. ::Maybe he didn't do anything, but I'm damn sure he said something.::
::It's the truth,:: said Dark. ::He's always hated the Hikari.::
:No, I mean --: Daisuke hesistated. :Living like that. With someone who hates you so much, and hating them, and never being able to escape, because he's in your head. We argue, but --:
::I don't look for ways to make your life a living hell?:: Dark thought for a moment. ::Well, I do, but not like that.::
::What? You're going to deny me the fun of making you turn bright red and scream at me?::
:.........,: Daisuke picked up the cans and turned back to the bench. :I wish there was some way I could help him.:
::Sure there is. Let me kill Krad.::
:But if you did --: Daisuke began, and stopped. Dark could only kill Krad if he was physically manifesting, which meant that Hiwatari-kun would...
::Yes,:: said Dark.