it feels like vultures are circling above his head in this tranquil bedroom, waiting eagerly for him to sleep. tigers with red eyes and sharp teeth salivate, running their claws against the carpet and dreaming about the taste of his flesh. water is filling up the room, and if he closes his eyes for a second, he’ll drown. the static screams so loudly he fears he may go deaf, but he knows that his senses are too intense right now for that to occur. the void he calls depression and panic holds him hostage, chains binding him to the bed as he struggles to breathe. something is compressing his chest, and all he is aware of is the pain.
he feels like he should be aware of the fact that there is nothing dangerous in the room: no tigers, no vultures, no water, just panic. it’s in his head, it always is, that’s why people call him insane. there is nothing dangerous here, except maybe him. he is dangerous; images of setting an island on fire and stabbing a knife into his leg-
there’s nothing dangerous here, but there is a knife in the kitchen-
he squeezes his eyes shut as tears continue to poor down his face. he hears the noises again and his eyes open and, dammit, it’s four am he should be asleep. he wants to sleep but he can’t, he’s too scared and he’s too sad and he’s too much of everything. he’s shaking. his fingers are digging into his pale arms and he’s scared they may bleed, and since when were his arms this bony? skeletal? he forgot to eat yesterday because he was alone, is that why? is it the illness killing him?
he lets out a sob, one hand grasping his hair, and he’s standing, and he doesn’t want to go to the kitchen, he doesn’t, he’s panicking, he’s panicking, he might die from this panic.
he isn’t alone in bed, he knows that, and normally that’s comforting but right now his room is filled with ghosts and shades and he wonders if it’s better to be alone, but not lonely. he really should just go back to sleep. he doesn’t even know why he’s so anxious: it’s too many things that are half formed and illogical. he starts moving towards the door, his fragile and brittle fingernails pressed against pale skin, when-
two arms wrap around his waist, and he’s pulled against somebody else’s chest. he didn’t even hear his boyfriend get out of bed. (he guesses that his panic blinds him to what’s most important to him). his companion’s skin is warm and tan, and he feels a kiss being pressed against his shoulder. another kiss touches his cheek, and he hears a whisper, a comforting voice thick with sleep, “nagito, are you okay? it’s four am.”
nagito swallows back his tears and forces his voice to be steady. “sorry i woke you up. go back to sleep.”
he should have figured that hiding his emotions wouldn’t work, since his lover (he feels guilty calling him that: he doesn’t deserve to call someone so bright his lover) is extremely observant. he can almost hear the frown in his voice as he speaks. “i won’t sleep till i know you’re okay.”
“...i’m fine. i-” he hiccups, and he can feel a tear slide down his face. dammit. now he’ll be more of a burden, more of a mistake, more of a-
he starts sobbing.
“i-i’m sorry, hajime, i-” he’s shaking violently, trembling like a leaf and gripping onto the strong hands that are holding him protectively. “i’m so w-worthless-”
“shhh, shhh, nagito breathe.” nagito turns in hajime’s arms to face him, crying into his neck. hajime holds him tightly, brushing a hand against his hair and murmuring loving words to him, “you aren’t worthless. you are beautiful and so fucking strong and i love you, okay? i love you so much.”
“i’m- i’m s-so s- sorry,” he gasps.
“don’t apologize. it’s okay. you’re going to be okay. i’m here. i’ll protect you.”
nagito buries his face into hajime’s shoulder, biting his shirt to try and stop the sobs. hajime kisses his cheek and temple, soothingly caressing his hair and rubbing his back. god, he feels so empty against the broad and beautiful body hajime has, one that practically swallows him with every embrace (the same way his panic envelops him).
nagito wants that thought to go away, wants the panic to go away, to disappear so that hajime can sleep and he can sleep and he can be okay. but no, it never leaves, it’s always there and sometimes it’s there and he can’t do this-
“breathe with me, nagito. everything’s okay. i promise.”
he takes a staggering breath in, listening to the rhythm of hajime’s heartbeat to soothe him. his breathing begins to slow, but panic is still present in his mind. he tries to focus on the encouragement hajime gives him: “keep breathing. it’s okay. i love you.” he gasps, clinging to hajime as he struggles to breathe. the simple act of monitoring his breaths and heart rate gradually becomes comforting in the same spaces where it used to be painful. after ten minutes of silence (apart from loving whispers and shaky breaths), nagito can feel his panic die away, departing from the front of his mind, and leaving a numb fog in its wake.
“there you go.” hajime smiles down at nagito, and the white-haired boy suddenly shoots up and kisses him. both of their faces turn a pink-ish shade, but the kiss fills nagito with warmth and security. when he pulls away, hajime is smiling, and it’s so beautiful. after a few seconds, the peace of the kiss begins to wear off. hajime kisses his forehead to comfort him and focuses back on the topic at hand. “wanna talk about it, or do you just wanna sleep?”
nagito immediately shakes his head, hiding his face, “i...i-”
“you don’t have to talk-”
“it felt like waves. and tigers. and vultures and static all around me. i couldn’t breathe or see or think and goddammit,” tears appear in his eyes again, “i’m so scared. everything is terrifying and i hate how reliant i am on you, how i need you to survive, because i can’t do anything on my own.” he sucks in a breath, “i-i don’t think i can talk about this right now, i’m sorry. i know i have to, but-”
“shh, don’t apologize. we can talk tomorrow. we always have tomorrow.” hajime leads him back to the bed, covering them both with a blanket and tangling their legs together, “let’s sleep, okay?” nagito nods. “i’m here, so wake me up if you need anything.”
“...i love you.” his voice is still shaky and scared, but he feels an odd sense of peace and comfort surround him.
“i love you so much, nagito. goodnight.”
he shuts his eyes, and he doesn’t think about the vultures. he forces the tiger out of his mind, and he senses the water starting to leave the room. he needs to talk about this tomorrow, because it’s killing him inside, but for now, he should sleep. so when he hears hajime begin snoring, still caressing his hair, he falls into a deep unconscious, content.