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Dreams of Memories

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Perhaps it was only Byakuya’s imagination, fueled and addled by something primal and sinister lurking between the plated walls. A hitherto unidentifiable and untouchable evil that had already claimed several lives one way or another, and continued to suggest it could manifest at any time, anywhere, and in anyone. Even in someone as meek as Fukawa Touko, and especially in someone like Genocider Syo… and since the two shared one body, it seemed self-evident that Byakuya should consider her (them) with twice as much interest as the rest, an interest Touko reciprocated in her own wilting wallflower way. Yet suppose the double threat she and Genocider Syo presented was not serious enough to invite subconscious reflection from Byakuya, the manner in which Touko crept upon him in the library and stalked after him in the corridors often intruded upon his otherwise disciplined mind. Was it so extraordinary, then, that by sheer determination and constant hovering, she managed to worm herself into his dreams?

Except Byakuya could not explain these nightly visions to himself, at least not in a satisfactory manner, for they were of a nature alien to his cold, calculating logic. Not ominous, not even premonitive, but alarming nonetheless – like déja vu. Night after night, his mind’s eye beheld Touko as she came before him, always alone, always in secret, and offered herself to him body and soul, and Byakuya accepted her, he must have, because his counterpart’s body anticipated her every movement and seamlessly closed the gap between them. Lips he had never touched were tasting his with reverent familiarity. Thin and calloused hands roamed across his bare chest as he undressed her with something akin to impatience, even desire, and each time Byakuya crashed against her, the void resonated with echoes of her and echoes of him, as though they had been there before…

Impossible, he reeled in terror each time he started awake from the dream a shivering, tingling mess. They were just strangers thrown together by a morbid twist of fate, but the more Byakuya struggled, the deeper he sank as if dragged by invisible hooks, losing sleep and losing himself.

As the days passed and the needle of his subconscious scratched away at the broken record of him and her, Byakuya found himself looking away whenever he was alerted to Touko’s presence, ignoring her not out of disinterest or pride but for fear that his eyes might start searching the folds of her blouse for the soft contours he had seen in the dead of night, that by paying her any further attention he might surrender more of his sanity to her. But his refusal to acknowledge her could not stem the tide. The visions returned and multiplied; they whirled in his mind like a kaleidoscope of memories of memories he could not recall.

To the world he remained impassive, but behind that marble facade, Byakuya was growing desperate for answers. Was he being manipulated by the mastermind, or had Fukawa Touko bewitched him the way she had once captivated her readers with oceans and fishermen? Was he hypnotized or fascinated by her, and which was worse?

These thoughts and others more intimate, more shameful continued to hunt him until one night, Byakuya jolted awake in a burst of sweat, and instead of lying down and gritting his teeth till the sensation passed, he fled his room to confront Touko.

He rang her doorbell at least three times before she opened the door in her nightgown, a startled, confused apparition that looked as haunted as Byakuya felt.

“What have you done to me?” he rasped, hoarse with a strange, white-hot tightness in his chest, his throat, and the heart that kept leaping from one to the other. ”Why do I keep dreaming of you?”

Touko wetted her lips, her trembling hands wrapped around one of her braids. She swallowed and flushed as Byakuya’s gaze darted to her mouth, her own chest rising and falling sharp enough to ache.

“I-I, I dream of you, too…!” she gasped for air with a strange glimmer in her eyes. “Every night, you come to me, as if we…! As if we were…!”

She couldn’t finish. Her next breath, he snatched between his teeth.

(As their bodies collided and tangled together, the sensation was anything but familiar, but when they unwound at last, something in Byakuya was soothed for the first time in what felt like years.)