In which Satoshi has a bad day, broken by spots of Niwa.
Afterward the only thing Daisuke remembered clearly was lying across Hiwatari-kun. His torso was twisted uncomfortably. Hiwatari-kun was so still that Daisuke thought he must be unconscious.
He thought, This is stupid. We have got to end this.
They lay there for a while, Daisuke trying to breathe without gasping, and Hiwatari-kun still motionless, until at last the thought of moving bothered Daisuke less than the thought of being found or With anxiously chirring and poking his cold, wet nose against his cheek. He tried to push himself up and black spots danced in front of his yes. His ears rang, a sharp painful shrill. He took another deep breath and managed to pull himself upright.
"Are you all right, Hiwatari-kun?" he asked. Hiwatari-kun was so pale his face had blue tints in it. His eyes were open and he was staring into space. His eyes were dull blue. Daisuke didn't like it.
"I'm alive," said Hiwatari-kun.
"Maybe I should --" began Daisuke.
"Leave," said Hiwatari-kun. Daisuke opened his mouth to protest and Hiwatari-kun turned his head and looked at him. "Just go, Niwa. Please."
Daisuke hesitated for a second, and then got up. Everything hurt. "I'll see you tomorrow," he said.
Hiwatari-kun mumbled something that sounded like 'not if I see you first' but Daisuke was too tired and sore to take it up with him. He moved toward the door, limping.
With couldn't transform into wings without Dark -- and Dark was so exhausted that Daisuke could barely sense him, a little flickering presence that felt like it was snoring. So Daisuke took the underground route, the half forgotten sewers under the town. There were lights here and there but mostly Daisuke simply followed the direction that With nudged him in. If With hadn't been there, he would have been lost; he was too tired to even realize where he was going.
Finally he saw the door, with Niwa scratched into the metal. He pushed it open and trudged up the stairs. He was half-afraid that he might fall on the stairs and just go to sleep. He hoped Hiwatari-kun was all right. He stopped for a moment, thinking vaguely he should go back and see if Hiwatari-kun was all right. With nipped his ear sharply, enough to wake him and make him realize what he was thinking. Even if he could get back to the museum safely, he was too worn to help Hiwatari-kun.
He pushed open the door on the top of the stairs. His head throbbed, a dull, queasy ache. He stumbled, and someone caught him.
"You look pretty bad," said his father, setting him upright.
"Fight," said Daisuke, swaying. "Krad." His father put his hand under Daisuke's shoulder, steadying him. "Tired."
"Yes," said his father. His voice was quiet and calm. Daisuke was glad, because everything made his head hurt worse. "Can you walk the rest of the way?"
"Prolly," said Daisuke, his voice slurred. "Can't sleep in. Test tomorrow."
His father pushed him gently onto a chair and knelt to take off his boots.
"Hiwatari-kun," said Daisuke, half-asleep. "Prolly feels worse'n me. Got to do something."
"Yes," said Kosuke gently. Daisuke was barely conscious. It must have been a bad fight. He helped Daisuke to his feet and steered him toward his room. Emiko-san poked her head out of the living room, saw Daisuke, and opened her mouth.
"Tomorrow," said Kosuke, firmly.
Emiko-san scowled and looked worried but she didn't follow them. Kosuke heard her pass behind them and go into the kitchen as he pushed Daisuke up the stairs. Somehow he got him to his room, and hovered while Daisuke tried to get the buckles of his outfit undone. Finally he had to undress and put Daisuke's pajamas on him, like his son was a little boy. He looked at the bruises already blooming on Daisuke's chest and back and tried not to worry.
"Thanks," said Daisuke, falling ungracefully onto the bed.
Emiko-san came in with a tray. "I've got you some milk, Daisuke," she said.
Daisuke sat up slowly, like it was almost more trouble than it was worth. "OK," he said, and took the cup. He drank it slowly and lay down again. With hopped on the bed and curled up beside his head on the pillow, nudging his cheek and chirring at him.
With wasn't the only one who was worried, thought Kosuke, and led Emiko-san quietly out of the room.
"What happened?" whispered Emiko-san.
"A fight with Krad," he said. "Daisuke got pretty beat up."
Emiko-san hissed. "I hope that Hikari boy feels worse," she said, her eyes snapping.
Kosuke sighed. He understood that Emiko-san hated Hiwatari-kun -- couldn't help but hate him -- but he couldn't feel anything but pity for him. "He's a boy," he said. "Just like Daisuke."
Emiko-san ruffled up and Kosuke put his hand gently on her arm. "It's late. Shouldn't we get to bed?"
"He's a Hikari," said Emiko-san.
"He's a /child/," snapped Kosuke. "And Daisuke is worried about him. Even if he is a Hikari, he's probably hurt worse than Daisuke. He doesn't have anybody to make sure he gets to bed or give him hot milk."
Emiko-san stared at him and Kosuke rubbed his head nervously. "I can't help worrying about him too," he said. "They're just boys."
"Hmph," said Emiko-san, and stalked toward the kitchen.
Kosuke sighed. This had to end.
(There is nothing but white in the space around him, the white of blank paper, of canvas and empty air.
He tries to paint, he tries to draw, tries to do something, anything, that will let him out, that will make the paper and canvas surrounding him - choking him - let him go. If he fills the blank space he will be free. But he has no ink for his pen, no paints for his brushes, and he does nothing but make empty scratches on the canvas and paper around him. If he just. One stroke or line will free him but he can't. There is nothing to paint with, nothing to draw with. His pencils are nothing but wood, there is no lead. The pastels in his box are hard marble, they won't leave any impressions.
Finally he reaches for his razor, the one he uses for his pencils, lays it against his hand and)
The doorbell was ringing. It was a hesitant sound, like someone was trying to ring it quietly. He rolled over and saw that it was seven am, and he still felt like complete and utter shit. The only good thing was that Krad apparently felt worse than he did, and wasn't doing anything but lurking quietly in the back of his head.
He could ignore it; if it was his father he'd just use his key. But then again his father wouldn't bother to knock or ring. Satoshi swung his legs over, closed his eyes and gritted his teeth against the nausea. He got up, slowly and walked to the door.
His first thought was that Niwa's mother must have been glad she was there when she gave birth to him, because the man who was standing nervously in the doorway was an older version of Niwa, except for the color of his hair. He was clutching a plastic grocery bag nervously.
"May I help you, Niwa-san?"
"Ah," said Niwa-san, shifting nervously. "You, um. Recognize me?"
"The resemblance is striking," said Satoshi.
"Really? I always think he looks like his mother."
"Is there something you need?" asked Satoshi.
"Well, no," said Niwa-san, looking worried. "Um. Yes. Sort of. How are you feeling?"
"I beg your pardon?" said Satoshi.
"I, um," said Niwa's father. "Daisuke was kind of um. Worried. After last night."
"I'm fine," said Satoshi, wondering why Niwa should have put his father up to visiting him.
"You don't look like it," said Niwa's father, bluntly. His voice was light and hesitant but weirdly soothing. A librarian's voice, a scholar's voice. Satoshi knew that Niwa's father had spent ten years researching both families. He couldn't be gentle and softspoken all the time, he thought. He'd seen some of the places where records were kept -- being meek as milk would end up with you splattered across stone floors.
"I'm a little tired," said Satoshi politely. He'd barely managed to drag himself to his apartment and was leaning casually against the side of the door hoping he didn't quite look like he was clinging for dear life, but he was damned if he would look weak in front of Niwa Kosuke.
Niwa's father gave him a look like the ones Niwa gave him over the ingredient list in his meat buns. Satoshi blinked. "Have you had breakfast yet?" said Niwa's father.
"No," said Satoshi, surprised. "I don't eat breakfast."
"Huh," said Niwa's father. "May I come in?"
Satoshi began to feel like there was two conversations going on at once. It was unnerving. "I beg your pardon?"
Niwa's father smiled at him, soft and gentle and Satoshi was not going to hate Niwa for an accident of paternity. "You need to eat," he said. "I brought some food."
"I - " began Satoshi. "Niwa-san, you really don't --"
"Call me Kosuke," said Niwa's father placidly. "Daisuke always eats everything in sight the morning after a fight." He thought for a moment. "And then he throws most of it up afterward but he usually manages to keep some of it down." He pushed Satoshi gently into the room, one hand under Satoshi's elbow, just light enough to make it so Satoshi didn't have to jerk away to keep his dignity. "Come on."
Niwa's father fed him toast and eggs and protein drinks and waited patiently while Satoshi threw it back up, and then gave him ginger tea, and tried again with the breakfast, and that time Satoshi kept it down.
Satoshi walked into the classroom and saw Niwa, slumped over his desk and looking as crappy as Satoshi felt, except he was trying to avoid listening to Saehara, too. Satoshi didn't bother speaking to him, even when Niwa looked up at him hopefully. He sat down at his desk and stared at Niwa until class started, and then wrote a note, screwed it up in a ball and threw it on Niwa's desk. Niwa started.
your father came to my house this morning
Niwa read it, wrote something and passed it back.
to 'see how I was'. did you put him up to it?
no because I was asleep until fifteen minutes before I was late for school. why? what did he do? There's a little drawing of Niwa with x-marks for eyes, and his rabbit on his head.
fed me. gave me lunch.
well, yeah, he does that.
your father is crazy.
he is not! he just worries about people all the time. A little Niwa face going >:E. do you want to eat lunch?
in general? no
I mean with me
it's a nice sunny day outside and some people like to eat lunch with their friends?
I think I've mentioned that thinking I'm your friend will kill you one of these days.
no it won't! Another little face going XO.
Niwa, who apparently believed they were best friends again, all but dragged Satoshi out when the bell rang for lunch. Satoshi thought they were going to the roof as usual but Niwa veered off into the courtyard. Satoshi was still too tired to argue with him.
"It's nice and sunny here," said Niwa, as if that explained everything.
It was also nice and sunny on the roof, and people wouldn't bother him on the roof, but Satoshi didn't bother pointing that out.
Niwa spread his lunch out, and pulled out his sketchbook. Satoshi wondered where his mother found those horrible rabbit print fabrics she wrapped his lunches in.
"If you had an assignment to finish you could have told me," said Satoshi.
"Hmm?" said Daisuke, a riceball in his mouth. He sharpened his pencil. "Mu a profech," he said, and swallowed the rest of the riceball. "Not a project," he said again. "You should eat."
Satoshi rolled his eyes but opened the plain brown sack Niwa's father had shoved awkwardly into his hands. A vitamin drink, the type that was vaguely gritty because of the herbs or the protein powder and left little bits of sandy debris in the back of your throat to drive you crazy, two riceballs, clumsily but carefully wrapped, an apple, a bottle of orange juice. And a candy bar.
"I know I said this," said Satoshi, staring at his bounty, "but I think you should know your father is sort of crazy, Niwa."
"Not compared to Mom, he's not," said Niwa, who was poking cautiously at a bun shaped like a rabbit, with red candies for eyes. "Oh urgh, they're cinnamon."
"You don't like cinnamon?"
"I like cinnamon," said Niwa. "That's not the problem."
Satoshi raised his eyebrow.
Niwa pulled one of the candies off and held the bun up to Satoshi. The place where the candy had been was red and sort of oozy-looking.
"That's disgusting," said Satoshi.
"Uh-huh," said Niwa. "And she makes them by hand and always asks how I like them so I can't say 'Mom, it looks like With had his eye put out with a stick, please stop using cinnamon candies -- and why do you make them look like With anyway? I feel like a cannibal'." He made a face. "You want one?"
"No," said Satoshi.
They finished eating in more or less companionable silence. Niwa even made a heroic gesture and ate the rabbit bun. Then they sat and Niwa drew and Satoshi almost fell asleep.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Satoshi looked over at Niwa. "What do you mean?" He was never quite sure of Niwa's sudden questions, like random bombshells exploding in his face.
"What do you want to do when you're an adult?"
"Never thought about it," said Satoshi, truthfully. He woke up every morning vaguely surprised he was still alive and in his own form, not a fading conciousness trapped in Krad's mind. He researched suicide like some people studied college brochures. His adult life was not something he worried about.
Niwa's head popped up from behind his sketchpad, like a gopher in a nature film Satoshi had seen once. "Never?"
"Never," said Satoshi. "Why?"
"I was just wondering," said Niwa, retreating again. "Are you going to stay on the police force? Or do something else?"
"NO," said Satoshi, with more force than he intended. Niwa's head popped up again, a gopher sounding an alarm. A hawk is coming! Run away! "I -- police work isn't very interesting. What are you going to do?"
"Paint," said Niwa instantly. "What's your degree in? Don't you want to use that?"
"Mathematics and criminal science," said Satoshi. "And no."
"Well, what would you like to do?" persisted Niwa. "There's got to be something you like doing."
He liked being with Niwa, and, to a lesser extent, sniping at Dark, but that was probably genetic. Or something to do with the fact that Dark was the only being in existence, bar some of the Niwa clan, who could give a Hikari as good as he got from them. He thought for a minute more. "Maybe I'll be a curator," he said, finally. He did like taking care of art. He didn't like creating art, but he liked taking care of it.
"Mom's got degrees in art history and preservation," said Niwa, cheerfully.
"That's a comfort," muttered Satoshi.
"Did you say something?"
"No," said Satoshi. "What are you drawing?"
The top of Niwa's head somehow managed to look guilty. "Nothing."
Satoshi's eyebrow shot up. He was too polite and too much of an artist (in spite of himself) to pursue the point, but he was also a Hikari, and there was some sort of gene labeled "needle Niwa" in his DNA. "So you've been drawing nothing for the past half-hour?"
"No," said Niwa, even more guiltily. "It's just some scribbles."
Satoshi let it pass. "What do your parents think? Of you painting?"
"Mom thinks I'll grow out of it," said Niwa. "Dunno what Dad thinks. Dark thinks it's kind of weird." He stopped for a second, and stared into middle space. "It's weird, you know? By the time I'm a grown-up Dark'll be gone again and I won't see him until I have kids."
Satoshi didn't say anything.
Niwa walked with him for a while after school, chattering away about the rabbit and Towa-chan and his project for the art club. Satoshi thought there must be something amazing in the vitamin drink Niwa's father had given to him, because he felt almost normal. And Krad was still too tired to do anything, so taken all around, he thought the day was going to end pretty well.
Niwa touched his arm lightly and went down his street. His hair glowed in the setting sun, vivid. He waved again before he turned the corner, and Satoshi lifted his hand and watched him out of sight.
He turned around.
"Hello, Satoshi," said his father.
I'll just, er, be running for my life now.
We're getting toward the end, if you're wondering. I'm currently projecting at least two more chapters before the end of the fic. Possibly three but I doubt it. After that I've got a vague idea for a sequel (too many issues to deal with in one fic, because otherwise I'd have to go past the logical climax for what I'm trying to do), which will probably be archived at ficwad because THAT fic, ladies and gentlemen, will very likely have smutty bits.
Also, at the end of the last chapter I'll list the songs used for the chapter titles so people can find them.
Just to remind people, myDec is also at fenya.net/fanfic/dnangel/mydec and on LJ at www.livejournal.com/community/mydec/