A/N: A Halloween stand alone fic for a dear friend who loves Prince of Tennis, the Twilight Zone, and the Outer Limits so I'm giving him a touch of all three for his Halloween birthday. Happy Birthday! :)
Disclaimer: Nope sadly not mine.
Pairing: GP and Tezu/Fuji
Rating: PG-13 ANGST WARNING. Really.
Ending: Well, that's up to you. Depends on if you're an optimist, a pessimist, or a nihilist. ;)
Happy Halloween! :)
Thanks for reading and reviewing.
Eiji Kikumaru woke up and started screaming.
His anguished screams rang out, echoing his utter sense of loss. He was distantly aware while he screamed that he was probably in a hospital and that something very bad had happened. Something catastrophically bad. In agony and abject despair, he went to tear at his hair and claw at his face only to discover that his left arm was gone. He could still feel it though as if from far away, almost like his arm had achingly fallen asleep, but it was just no longer there.
He would gladly accept its loss and even more if he could only feel the one thing most important to him. The one thing that he had instantly sensed was missing.
His boyfriend of fifteen years, Shuuichirou Oishi, was gone. He was just no longer there. Eiji could no longer feel Oishi's ever-constant presence before Eiji was even fully awake. They always had been very connected to each other. They had always been so close. Even when work separated them by a distance of many hundreds of miles, even during their worst fights, Eiji could always feel Oishi in his heart.
But not now.
Now Eiji knew, Shuuichirou was gone.
The unimaginable, unacceptable loss both froze and seared Eiji's heart.
Eiji screamed on and on until they held him down and sedated him again.
Each time he regained consciousness.
From a long way away he heard people, doctors, nurses, his mother, his sisters, others, telling him there had been an accident. That Eiji was all right now. That he was going to be fine. Eiji was shocked at the horrific lies everyone told him. As unconsciousness blissfully and numbly claimed him again, he wondered how anyone could say anything could ever be all right if Oishi was gone.
Many hours later or perhaps it was even days later, Eiji was sleeping again. It was a soft sleep and in it he felt Oishi's presence for an all too brief instant. It felt like a sense of home and love, but from very far away. As if Oishi was haunting him.
Eiji even wondered as he floated there sleeping if maybe he was the one who was gone. Maybe Eiji was haunting Oishi. Awareness pulled at Eiji, tried to tear him away, and Eiji struggled to stay asleep, to stay with Oishi. To talk to him. To stay with him.
Eiji tried to yell at him and he heard Oishi doing the same. It came out muted and garbled in a roar as if they were screaming underwater.
Eiji gasped awake, keenly feeling Oishi's loss again, a wrenching agony, a tearing at his heart, and he went to scream again.
His second best friend in the world put his hand over his mouth before he could finish drawing in the breath he needed to fully yell. "Ne Eiji, wait!" Syusuke Fuji said, "If you scream again they are only going to drug you again. Please listen to me!? Please?"
Fuji was crying and begging him. So Eiji waited. He figured he could always scream when Fuji was done. Eiji realized in horror that he had probably been screaming every time he woke for a long time, days and days, maybe even weeks and weeks and that none of it was not helping to bring Oishi back.
Nothing probably would.
That thought set Eiji to trembling and put him on the verge of madness. He bit it back with a moan of agony while Fuji wrapped his arms around him as silent tears fell. After a time, Eiji tried instead just to sip the cool water Fuji held out to him. Eiji went to move his left arm again to help and remembered it was also gone. It hurt but not as much as Oishi not being there.
Eiji considered how he could still feel his hurt arm but not Oishi.
It just did not seem fair.
If nothing else Eiji knew Fuji could give Eiji more information. His friend Fuji must have seen that Eiji was waiting, fighting his urges to panic and wail until they put him under again. Eiji saw Fuji visibly sag as if in relief, but his friend looked also on the verge of crying too.
Eiji took a hard look at Fuji, he really looked terrible. Fuji looked worse, more exhausted and more worn, than back when he was a resident. Now Fuji was one of the top psychiatrists in the world. His specialty was recovery of repressed memories using hypnosis. Fuji was a very public, very controversial figure in a hotly debated, still very disputed science. Fuji had written some very popular self-help books. He had a huge following and had consulted on many court cases and even some movies.
Fuji was Eiji and Oishi's friend since they were in junior high together. Eiji trusted him more than anyone else except Oishi. Eiji made a little whimper as he again remembered Oishi was gone.
Fuji put the side rail on Eiji's bed down and gingerly climbed in to sit next to Eiji. He touched him as if reassuring himself that Eiji was still there. At least what was left of Eiji.
Fuji leaned down to hold Eiji. He half lay next to Eiji on Eiji's mostly undamaged right side and his friend broke into tears. Eiji felt bad for his usually smiling sunny friend but found he could not move to comfort him. His right arm was hooked up to an IV on a board and his left was gone. So Eiji waited until Fuji's sobs ceased enough to talk to him.
When he finally could, Fuji spoke in a ragged voice, "Eiji, I've been here with you since the accident. Whenever your family was not here I've been here. Do you remember anything?"
"Wh...." Eiji cleared his hoarse throat and tried again. He had to know. "Fuji, where's Oishi? What happened? What accident?"
Fuji closed his eyes as if it hurt him too. He told Eiji there was a car accident.
In a harsh croak from the screaming and the weeks of not speaking, Eiji said, "I...I can't remember anything." He took in a shuddering breath, "The last thing I remember is Oishi coming to bed. He kissed me and we went to sleep. Then I woke up here."
"Ah." Fuji said sounding distressed.
"I was really tired. I had just gotten in from traveling." Eiji remembered it all in a sudden aching rush. "And I was mad. He insisted we go see my parents for an early dinner the next day. I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay in bed the whole next day with him. He was acting weird. He was all excited about stupid dinner. We could always have dinner with my parents but he insisted we go." Eiji blinked back tears trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and let the argument that happened go. "We went?" He asked Fuji.
"Ne, Eiji, that was almost three weeks ago. You both went." Fuji looked even more upset. "Eiji, Oishi wanted to go so badly because he wanted to formally ask your parents permission to ask you to marry him."
Eiji was shocked. He and Oishi had talked about marriage for a long time, ever since they were first together, but Eiji was always traveling and he just assumed it would happen eventually. Maybe in a few years. After they were both in their thirties. Asking Eiji's parents for permission. After fifteen years of being together. It was such a silly romantic thing to do and so much like Oishi, that Eiji started crying again. This time, softly, in his friend's arms, missing Oishi and all that they had together.
When Eiji eventually stopped crying, Fuji told Eiji about his injuries. His leg and hip had been nearly shattered. His left arm was gone. His face was a mess of broken bones, burns, and scars. He had a skull fracture that was healing nicely after surgery but they had shaved Eiji's hair.
Eiji did not care at all about his injuries and interrupted Fuji talking about them to ask one question. "Fuji, how did he die?" To Eiji who could not remember anything and now just could not feel him it seemed that Oishi fell of the edge of the world. "I...I can't remember. I need to know."
Fuji looked surprised. He took a deep breath and paused. "The other driver fell asleep at the wheel. It was a very bad accident. The doctors, we, think that he died instantly given the nature and extent of his injuries. There was no way he could have survived. There was nothing anyone could have done. When they found you, the paramedics said it looked like at the last moment he threw himself across you to protect you. He saved you, Eiji. Otherwise there was no way you would have... The last thing he did was to save you...." Fuji's voice drifted off with the pain he was feeling.
Eiji remembered Oishi haunting him just before he was awake and somehow knew this was not what should have happened.
Something had gone horribly wrong.
Eiji just had no idea how to begin to express this, this feeling he was sure was right that things had gone wrong, even to his very good friend, so he waited. He thought. While Fuji talked again about Eiji's injuries and the recovery he would need, Eiji felt a flash of extreme physical pain and then it instantly abated. He looked at Fuji confused. Fuji explained he was on a morphine drip for the pain.
Eiji remembered the yelling through the water before he woke up and figured out that it was the painkillers causing the problem. Eiji somehow knew he had to get off them. Immediately. He turned to his friend and spoke again in a harsh voice, "Fuji, will you help me?"
"I'll do whatever I can to help you, Eiji. Anything. Name it." Fuji said it like a vow. He touched Eiji's face and Eiji realized that there must have been a time or two when his friend had given him also up for dead. His friend must have figured to bury Eiji too. It must have been very close there. Eiji knew it all should have been different.
This was just wrong.
"First, get me off the drugs." Eiji croaked.
Fuji tried to argue with Eiji about how hard it would be for him. He was extremely injured and it would be crazy, unbearable nearly, to get off everything. Eiji held fast and wore Fuji down by simply insisting. Eiji somehow knew he was right about this. About all of it. This was not supposed to have happened. Finally, Fuji agreed but only if Eiji was weaned off. It would take a couple of weeks but would be easier for him to adjust. Eiji would also have to agree to talk to someone, a grief councilor, a therapist, anyone.
"Fujiko," Eiji knew it was almost mean to say his friend's name the way he used to when they were kids. It would make Fuji wary and hurt him but Eiji right now, more than anything, needed Fuji to agree to his rapidly formulated haphazard plan one step at a time. "I'll talk, but only to you."
Fuji tried to argue that Fuji was too close to this, it would be too hard on him, but in the end, again, he agreed. Eiji knew how hard this would be on his friend but he felt he needed to do this. Eiji's longtime friend knew Eiji well, and he knew Eiji had already had a plan in mind, "All right Eiji, you're off the drugs, you're talking to me, what then?"
"Fujiko, I need to remember everything." Fuji now went to vehemently protest, he sat up. Fuji knew better than most people that suppressed memories sometimes were too horrible to unearth. Sometimes, it was a kindness to forget. Eiji calmly listened but he knew in his heart, again, he was right. When his friend the genius, the tensai was done talking, Eiji simply said once more, "Fujiko, I have to remember. I need to remember."
Fuji perhaps in his sorrow at the loss of Oishi, and maybe in his exhaustion and his stress of nearly losing Eiji too suddenly got very angry. Eiji had rarely ever seen Fuji angry in all the years they were friends. Had Eiji not been so positive that he was right, he would have been afraid. "Ne Eiji? You want to remember what? What!? The day? The accident? How Oishi died? If he said anything to you? If he died screaming in agony? Why Eiji? Why?! It won't change one thing. No matter what you find out it will not bring Oishi back!"
Eiji closed his eyes at how much the words alone hurt. Just hearing Oishi's name and not feeling him was more pain for a moment than Eiji thought he could bear.
Fuji must have seen the look on Eiji's face and his friend's anger abated. Fuji started crying again. Saying he was sorry to Eiji. So very sorry.
Eiji tried to take a deep breath, but it came out in a harsh whimper of pain. Eiji tried again until he found his voice. Eiji was so desperate for his friend's help, although he was so sorry it would hurt Fuji that he used Fuji's name for the first time ever. "I know all that, Syusuke. I do understand what I'm asking you. I'm sorry it hurts you. Please. I need your help. I would never ask if it wasn't important. Please, Fujiko, please, I need to remember."
In the end, Fuji agreed.
It took just over two weeks for the drugs to be mostly out of Kikumaru's system. It was the worst two weeks of his life. Between the side effects from the drugs being stopped and the horrific pain of his injuries and loss, the only time Eiji felt any relief was those few moments right when he started to wake from an exhaustive, thrashing, nightmare-filled sleep. In those few precious moments alone he felt Oishi close to him. Haunting him. It was easier to speak through the water now as the drugs cleared his system and understand what Oishi was saying back to him. The Oishi that he dreamed before being awake was hurt almost exactly the same as Eiji was, only on his opposite side.
Eiji realized that if their hearts had not recognize each other, that they might not have known for certain who each other was. They each looked so different, so battered, so damaged, and so alone. Eiji's heart ached for Oishi being so hurt and alone without him. Not able to touch him or clearly communicate with each other was as painful as the miracle was wonderful. The miracle of being able to feel Oishi again even if it was for just a moment and from so far away.
Eiji knew he had been right. He knew what somehow had happened. He believed even if he did not understand how or why. This should not have happened. They had to put things back the way they were supposed to be. He and Oishi could. They would find a way.
Just before waking he told Oishi his plan every time. He hoped that Oishi understood, that he believed, and that he would do the same on his end. Eiji knew Oishi talked to him too but Eiji could never remember when he woke up exactly what Oishi had said. Only that he had been there.
Distantly, during moments of despair while awake, Eiji wondered if he was just dreaming. If he was holding on to his grief. If he was just not accepting his loss. If any of this was real, if maybe he was just crazy, but then just before he woke, Eiji knew. He believed.
He just needed to believe. And then remember. Believe. Remember. Believe. Remember. Believe. Remember.
It became a mantra for him during those difficult days.
Eiji had finally been aware and responsive for the better part of a month. He was off the painkillers and though it was terrible searing pain he physically and emotionally felt, his family and friends held out hope for his recovery for the first time. Even for his recovery from the loss of Oishi. The two had always been so close, so synchronized, so connected that they even excelled through high school and college together as a tennis doubles pair. They were inseparable. You never even thought of one without thinking or expecting to see the other.
Eiji and Oishi's family and friends had no idea how their beloved friend, son, and brother would even begin to recover from a loss such as this but they were determined to help him try. They reasoned quite right that if nothing else, Oishi would want Eiji to be happy and go on without him.
Eiji listened to them express their thoughts but he reasoned that he knew different. This was not supposed to have happened. He tried to figure out exactly how it had. He felt terrible for what their friends and family had gone through but he knew somehow he and Oishi could put it all right again.
They had to.
Fuji had hypnotized Eiji before. Eiji had been afraid of flying after a small plane accident he was in years before. It was a minor incident. Just a small plane turning around and then landing hard due to mechanical problems. No one was injured but Eiji had been unable to get on a plane again after it happened. His job required him to fly so he turned to his friend the tensai with great success.
Fuji and Eiji worked over the next couple of weeks on the basics again but Fuji did not ask Eiji to recall anything from the accident. Fuji would put Eiji into a restful sleep for an hour or so and then wake him. He even helped guide Eiji in self-hypnosis so that he could sleep better and start to control the physical pain that he felt.
Fuji in time received Eiji's primary doctor's permission to take Eiji back to the house he shared with Oishi. Eiji insisted the session where he remember take place there. Fuji agreed because comfortable surroundings were usually helpful and eventually, Eiji would have to start to face his loss if he was going to ever have any kind of life.
The night before, Eiji asked Fuji to help him fall into a light, restful sleep for the night so he could focus the next day.
Fuji agreed. The moment Eiji was under, this time, Oishi was there too. Still synchronized. They could not physically touch, but they could clearly speak to each other for the first time. They talked all night. Eiji when he woke could not remember much of anything they had talked the entire sleeping night about. All he knew was that Eiji had to tell Oishi to believe and Oishi had to tell Eiji something too.
Eiji repeated it to himself to tell Oishi to believe as they dressed him. He repeated it to himself as Fuji and Fuji's longtime boyfriend, their former tennis captain Kunimitsu Tezuka, helped Eiji into a car and then into his and Oishi's house. He repeated it to himself as they helped seat him on their couch. He repeated it to himself as Fuji began the session and then again as Eiji slipped under.
Eiji woke safe in his bed. In their bed. His and Oishi's. Whole. He instantly sensed Oishi. His comforting and so long absent presence was like a shock of warm water to his heart and spirit. Eiji somehow knew as he always did, that Oishi was fine. He was just in the next room.
Somehow, everything was fine. Eiji's left arm was there. His leg was not broken. His hair was not shorn. Everything was all right. He was fine. And most importantly, Oishi was fine. Eiji thought for a moment the entire thing had been a terrible dream. The worst nightmare ever imaginable.
He heard their bedroom door softly open and Oishi slip inside the room. He was trying not to wake Eiji though it was still early. The sun must have just set by the glow from around the closed curtains. Eiji remembered being exhausted from traveling and laying down to sleep early the night before. Which was somehow now...again.
He remembered Oishi had come to bed a little while later. Oishi woke Eiji with only a kiss and held him close. He told Eiji he loved him and they settled down to sleep.
It was the last thing Eiji could remember before waking up in the hospital without him, screaming over and over again at the loss of him.
Eiji's heart was pounding now. He was confused, upset, and anxious. He sat up. "O...Oishi?"
Oishi gasped as Eiji must have startled him. "Eiji! You scared me. I thought you were sleeping. I'm sorry, did I wake you, love? Eiji, what's wrong!?"
At the sight of Oishi, whole, alive, there, saying his name, saying his pet name, at all of it, Eiji froze for a moment. He then burst into tears and reached for him. Oishi sat next to him and tried to kiss his tears away. He tried to tell a nearly hysterical Eiji it was all just a bad dream. That everything was all right. Nothing he did or said calmed Eiji down. "Eiji, love, it was just a bad dream. You're just tired from traveling, but you're home with me for the next two weeks. We're going to have a great time, love. Everything's fine. Remember, we're going to your parent's tomorrow for dinner?"
"Nya, nya, NO!" Eiji insisted in between sobs, even in his stress using the baby words Eiji had years ago paid someone to make him unlearn. "Nya Oishi, it was real, you were gone, I couldn't feel you, you left me, we were hurt, nya Oishi...ask me now!"
"Wh...what?" Oishi looked shocked at Eiji.
"Nya! We can't go to my parents or you'll die! Ask me now! Don't wait Oishi! Ask me now!" Oishi's jaw dropped. Eiji saw his boyfriend's eyes in the dim light go from surprised to annoyed that Eiji somehow knew to then seriously worried over how upset Eiji was.
Oishi telling Eiji to remember somehow made Eiji recall one thing that Oishi had told him when Fuji helped Eiji to sleep the night before. Eiji had a terrible nagging sense he was supposed to do something. "Nya, Oishi, ask me. You have the rings, you told me you hid them in the back of your sock drawer. Blue for me and green for you." Eiji sobbed remembering a little more, "Our families found them after you.... They told me they buried you with the blue one! I never saw it!"
Now Oishi looked alarmed, "I...I was going to hide them there until we got back tomorrow night, but I hadn't even put them there yet. It was what I was coming into the room to do right now, while you were sleeping. Love, how did you...?"
Eiji kissed him. He was crying so hard he was sobbing and yet he smiled at the same time because he could now finally feel Oishi. Eiji could touch him, taste him, feel him, smell him, he was so real, and yet Eiji felt any second it could all be ripped away again. This time forever. "Shuuichirou," Eiji desperately sobbed, "please, please, please Oishi, believe me!"
Oishi pulled back and then looked at Eiji in horror. He gasped and made a terrible sound. His face changed as Eiji watched. Oishi now started crying, sobbing as upset as Eiji. Oishi pulled Eiji even closer to him, he held him tightly and kissed him. "Eiji, remember...!"
And then Eiji did. Right when Oishi told him to. Everything. The night, the day, the car accident, and them somehow being split. One of them survived in one time and the other in another. It was wrong. It was not supposed to happen like this. It was not supposed to happen at all. They were supposed to be together, no matter what.
Eiji realized suddenly what had gone so very wrong. He remembered. "Nya! Oishi, I wished for an instant that you would be all right even if I wasn't!" Eiji sobbed against him now remembering everything.
"Oh Eiji, love, I wished the same thing! I wanted you to be okay. I wanted you to live." Oishi cried just as hard. He kissed Eiji. "I'm so sorry."
"Nya, me too. I wanted you to live even if I didn't." Eiji cried and kissed him back. "Nya. We'll fix it though, Oishi. We'll put it right. Hoi?"
"Eiji, you're sure? No matter what? Always?" They both knew it could go either way. There were no guarantees of what would happen, but at least they would be together.
They looked at each other, and nodded in agreement. They already knew the answer to that and the terrible alternatives.
They took a little time together, hoping it was the right thing to do. Each worried that they would run out of time in this in between space. They cried against each other, said everything they had been unable to clearly say in the weeks, and days apart, and they touched and kissed each other constantly. They both wished aloud that they could have more time but they were both concerned and watching the clock. They knew what they had to do and that their time in this pause was limited.
After a few all too short moments, they looked at each other and nodded. Without another word Oishi handed the phone to Eiji who dialed their friend Fuji.
When Fuji and Tezuka arrived they found the door to the house open. Eiji and Oishi were inside waiting for them. They entered and discovered their friends entwined together and sitting on their couch. They both had been crying hard and still looked extremely upset. They looked disheveled and you could see from their faces, they were a mess. Eiji sat facing Oishi on his lap with his legs and arms wrapped around him. Oishi was clinging to Eiji just as tightly.
Fuji was alarmed at how distraught his friends were. It was an unusual request on the phone but Eiji was nearly hysterical and insisted. Fuji still almost did not agree until an equally upset Oishi got on the phone and also begged the tensai. Oishi was not usually this emotional so in the end Fuji agreed and dragged a perturbed but curious Tezuka along. "Eiji? Oishi? What...?" Fuji started.
"Just one minute Fujiko, you're early. We're almost ready." Eiji said and then turned back to Oishi. Tears were spilling down Eiji's cheeks, "Oishi, I love you. I always have. I always will."
"I know love, I love you too, Eiji. I always will." Oishi was crying too. "Will you marry me, Eiji?"
Fuji watched in surprise.
"Hoi, yes, if you'll marry me, Oishi?" Oishi said yes and then they kissed each other as if to seal it but they both looked even more upset. They cried harder and Fuji was not sure what to do or say or what was going on, so he waited and watched. They put rings on each other. Fuji was now more than alarmed. The odd request and now they were acting as if they were both going to never see each other again. It was almost as if they both expected to...die?
Eiji smiled through his tears as Oishi put the emerald ring on his left hand's ring finger, "Nya Oishi, I lost this arm....but it was nothing to losing you." Oishi kissed Eiji's left hand and Eiji smiled through his tears.
Eiji put Oishi's sapphire ring on his left hand and Oishi held Eiji's face with his right, "I lost this one, but I can't lose you. I believe, Eiji. Together." Oishi kissed him while his tears still fell. Eiji kissed Oishi's right palm and then went back to kissing Oishi's mouth.
Eiji sobbed a little while kissing Oishi back. "And I remember, Oishi. Together." Eiji kissed Oishi one more time and rested their foreheads together. A long moment passed.
"Hoi, Fujiko? Now we're ready."
Fuji was startled out of his thoughts. He looked at Tezuka who looked just as confused and alarmed. Fuji shrugged to tell him he also had no idea what was going on. "Ne, Eiji, Oishi, you want me to put you both under, and then wake you both?"
"No Fuji...." Oishi said not moving from holding and touching Eiji. He looked at Eiji like he was the most precious thing on earth and Eiji looked back at him the same way.
"...we're already under." Eiji finished also not moving from their embrace or their long loving look.
"What? What do you mean?! When...? Who...?" Fuji was baffled.
"Fujiko...." Eiji smiled.
"You put us under...." Oishi explained smiling as well.
"Different spaces...." Eiji added.
"We made a mistake...." Oishi continued.
"Nya, it was out of love...." Eiji comforted him.
"But still a mistake, love...." Oishi said smiling through tears.
"Hoi, we're fixing it now...." Eiji kissed Oishi again once softly. "Together."
Oishi kissed him back as a tear fell down his cheek. "Together. No matter what."
Fuji had a sudden terrible sense of impending disaster wash over him. He realized that whatever this was could really happen. This could be real and both his friends could be...gone. Forever. That everything would be different...forever.
The tensai took a step back and as he blinked at tears that suddenly stung his eyes, he clearly saw for an instant three Tezukas in the room. All three were standing in various places in the room. As Fuji looked around in his next blink he saw two other versions of himself. One was sitting on the couch next to his friends, one was standing beside it, and all three of himself looked at each other.
Fuji blinked and turned to watch Eiji and Oishi. There appeared to be only one of each of them. Then in his next teary blink he saw horrors done to each of them. Limbs missing, burns, scars, massive damage, and then one would fade out and then fade back in, then the other would on the next blink.
Fuji realized he had at some point also started crying. He reasoned to himself that his tears could have something to do with the weird effects he was seeing. Although it was logical, the tensai did not think that was truly the reason for these distorted flashing images. For some strange reason the tensai felt that what he was seeing through tears was real. Somehow it was real and coming closer. Time was somehow running out. The tensai was truly afraid.
Fuji blinked back tears again. He shook his head and tried to dismiss all of this in a wash of logic. Most likely this was Eiji getting Oishi all worked up over something silly, as always. A strange dream. Or a movie. Or something Eiji read in one of his books. Maybe Fuji was dreaming all of this. Maybe this was a nightmare.
Fuji could just run through an end session and nothing would happen. Everything would be fine. Or then the tensai suddenly thought maybe, just maybe, that everything would cease to exist. At least here. Or maybe, horrifically, that Eiji and Oishi would be gone. Maybe this was the last time Fuji would ever see them. Or maybe, that Eiji and Oishi would be fine. It might be like none of this ever happened.
Fuji realized he desperately needed to believe this last possibility, and so he tried to cling to it, but he truly wasn't sure of anything anymore.
"Ne...Eiji, Oishi...I...I can't...." the tensai heard his own carefully cultivated voice crack on the last word as his throat tightened. His heart was racing and he felt confused and sick. Tezuka, worried, came to his side. Fuji saw all three of the Tezukas all moving to go to all the versions of himself. Fuji wondered for a moment if a wrong one came to him, if Fuji could touch him. If Fuji would know. If Tezuka would. If any of this was really real and how far it went. Fuji had more questions than answers.
Eiji interrupted his thoughts. "Nya Fujiko. Nya, its all right. Hoi, it has to be put right, we're ready, and we love you...." Fuji turned to look at Eiji who was still holding onto Oishi for dear life. Eiji spoke to Fuji but he was only seeing Oishi.
The tensai had not heard Eiji speak in this baby talk way for years and years. Even now, even distraught, it almost made him smile.
"Fuji, its okay. Its what we want. We're ready. No matter what happens, it has to be done. Either way, whatever happens, we'll be together." Oishi finished and Eiji met his mouth in a kiss. As if Eiji agreed and still wanted to reassure Oishi and himself at the same time.
Fuji realized now that even Eiji and Oishi did not know for certain what would happen. Fuji tried to quell the panic that rose in his gut once he realized they didn't know the outcome of this either. They were bravely facing the unknown and only able to because they were together.
He watched his two friends entwined, deeply in love, and ready to face whatever was to come. No matter what it was. Even if it was their deaths. Together.
His friends believed though somehow even though they had no idea what exactly would happen, that it would be all right. That this was the right thing to do.
Or at the very least, that they would be together.
Tezuka now stood behind Fuji (in fact, all the Tezukas had moved to stand behind him and all the hims were suddenly standing in the same place). Fuji borrowed some of the Tezukas warmth and strength. The tensai could count on him. Fuji could believe in him if nothing else. The tensai thought of being without Tezuka forever and involuntarily shuddered slightly. He understood at least a small part of the risk and the desperation his friends seemed willing to face even if Fuji was not certain of what had happened, what would happen, how this had happened, or why.
Tezuka touched Fuji's shoulder softly in a gesture of both comfort and support. He lay his warm hand there as if saying without a word that he too believed and wanted Fuji to proceed.
The tensai took a breath or three to steady himself or himselves. Fuji almost asked his friends again if they were ready but he clearly saw they were. "All right. When I count from one to three and clap my hands, you will awaken. After I clap my hands, you will feel wide awake, refreshed, and relaxed at the same time."
"One." Eiji kissed Oishi again and Fuji heard him murmur to Oishi through tears that he loved him.
"Two." Oishi kissed Eiji back and told him while crying also, he loved him too.
"Three." Fuji watched as they tightened their embrace, and pressed their lips together as if for the last time, perhaps ever.
Fuji clapped his hands.