Your body convulses, your lungs wracked with another fit of painful coughs. Your chest strains with excruciating effort. The effort of keeping you alive. Body working. It’s an useless effort on its part, there’s no more pieces still whole enough to mend.
“Don’t you dare pity me, Daniel,” you whisper in a broken parody of a snarl, voice too weak. Your throat locks up, your body trying desperately to hack up the blood filling your lungs. But it’s no use. Herald finally defeated you. Daniel finally defeated you.
And you’re dying.
He’s on his knees right next to your battered form, grasping your helmet between two shaking hands like a lifeline. His mouth is a thin streak, his eyes wide as his expression twists into one of absolute anguish, tears spilling down his cheeks. He beat you. He beat the nemesis that had been haunting Los Diablos with his idol’s name, a fallen ghost of a hero; a villainous bastardisation of all he wanted to be. What you wanted to be. Your protege got better than you and defeated you, all the while unknowing of your true self. Your true intentions. And now you’re dying on the ground, lungs burning as your broken body tries to heave another breath.
You’re so angry.
You’re dying on the concrete and you’re so angry, because everything was for naught; all your efforts turned to dust in the wind. Your blood is boiling, not just for lack of oxygen, but for the unfairness of it all. Sidestep died a broken doll on crushed concrete, and history does nothing but repeat itself. How much did you sacrifice to achieve your goals? How much didn’t you? Your final penance is sitting beside you, his lips wobbling as he sobs, too shocked and pitiful to act like he should. Like a hero should. Your mind is in tatters, weakening along with your flesh as your heart pumps more precious life-blood out of it and into your lungs, choking you one heartbeat at a time.
Daniel is trembling, the helmet seemingly forgotten as he drops it to the side. His hand feels shockingly warm as he clasps it around yours, bringing it to his his chest. Cradling it. He opens his mouth to speak, walls down and your heart breaks.
“Why?” he says, voice twisted and desperate. His mind is a sudden mess, projecting an avalanche of realizations, of knowledge and clues put together. It shouldn’t hurt to see him like this. But you’re broken, dying and he’s crumbling too, cracked in the middle in a way that’s too raw to touch. It hurts. Your body hurts. His anguished affection hurts too, piercing you in a way no knife ever could. You’re so angry. Even dying and having lost, failed, there’s no relief. His soft yearning is an accusation as it hits you, twisted together with thoughts of “oh god no” and “this can’t be true” . There are streaks of wetness on your face, a red trail from the edge of your lips. You can’t answer him. Your mouth won’t move, breath stuttering in a way you know it shouldn't. Know is final. This is a farce, one final humiliation in a life of indignities. Daniel wishes he could save you, and in your final moments of lucidity you see yourself reflected, a crushed, pitiable mess. A pitiable mess he loves.
And you wish Daniel wouldn’t see you like that.