There are nights when Watari wakes because it’s too quiet. It must be something about the silence that brings long suppressed unease up to the surface again; to that part of his mind which is awake even when he sleeps.
His thoughts are clear long before his body agrees to let him open his eyes. They rush through his head; a welcome noise to break the silence that woke him. Sometimes he shudders, on the edge between reality and dream, and the bed gives a quiet creak. Then his eyes snap open and he remembers; this is the place he calls home, and the breathy sigh to his left comes from Tatsumi, asleep beneath the covers beside him.
Tatsumi stirs in his sleep but he never turns. He always takes up exactly as much space as he needs and never an inch more. That leaves Watari with most of the bed for himself, and a feeling that it could very well be empty, for all the cool sheets between them. It's never long before he scorns himself for such thoughts; it’s wrong, and he knows that, even when his inner voice continues to chime on about loneliness he knows he shouldn’t feel.
He likes to think that, as he watches his lover sleep, he somehow protects him from the invisible harm that scars his tired soul. At night, Tatsumi’s breathing is slow, his face unguarded and calm. It lasts only so long before tension is back in his features. Watari isn't privy to the dreams that haunt him, but there's one thing he does know: once the morning light chases them away, he will not ask. He never does. For both of them, it’s better that way.
And then it's there, as rare as it is shocking: a tear in the corner of Tatsumi’s tightly closed eye, one of many tells to suggest the dream is a nightmare.
Watari sees a lot more than most people think. Behind those wire-rimmed glasses there’s a pair of eyes nothing can escape. And yet he has never seen Tatsumi cry while he’s awake. Not even when the subtle nuances in the Shadow Master’s tone tell him he’s about to break. Not in all the years he has watched him, from a distance and now that they are close. He is there, for Tatsumi and with him, and in the times when he knows the dams are about to give, he is the one who understands. But Tatsumi keeps himself guarded, in front of him not much less than in front of everybody else. Sometimes he thinks it should pain him, but he knows well it would be nothing but hypocrisy. He too never lets his guard down. It lets him stay strong.
It’s easier that way.
But in the darkness of the night everything is different. And so Tatsumi isn’t Tatsumi; he is Seiichirou, not the secretary, the accountant, the shinigami. His face no longer wears the polite smile that only sometimes reaches his sapphire eyes; it betrays a deeper, not that well-hidden struggle--ever so faint, but there nonetheless.
And for a moment there Watari isn’t Watari, as he reaches out his hand to wipe that tear away--he is Yutaka, and his unguarded heart absorbs Tatsumi’s pain. He doesn’t need to know; it is enough to feel. He doesn’t need to see; he can almost hear the salty drop leaving traces down Tatsumi’s cheek.
But time resumes its flow even as his hand comes to a halt, barely halfway there, and Yutaka is Watari again. He knows only too well; one of those nights will be the last, and he can do without the memory of Tatsumi’s tears drying on his skin.
August 25th 2005