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Sleepless Nights

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Takemichi sits in the dead of the night. Staring at the moon shining brightly in his face, reminding him that he should be asleep lest he wanted to feel the effects tomorrow.

With a disgruntled sigh, he lies down on his bed, staring at the white ceiling.

He doesn’t want to close his eyes.

Fears that every time he closes his eyes, he’ll be gifted with the sight of his dying girlfriend and friends. Of Hina being pinned in the car, crushed between the wall and a truck. Of Akkun, crying his last breathe, praying the damnation of their mortal enemy. Of Mikey, asking to be saved.

Takemichi fears a lot of things.

He fears scary and strong people. He fears most bugs. He also has a slight fear of heights. He also fears being alone. But out of everything he fears, he mainly fears the moment he closes his eyes because each time he closes them, he’ll be greeted by the reoccurring sight of his dead girlfriend and friends.

He relives each moment like it was happening for the first time. 

At first, Takemichi feels an overwhelming rush of fear, anxiety, pain and stress. The sense of hopelessness and despair each time he's forced to relive his failure at saving Hina, Akkun, Baji, Izana, Mikey...everyone. And each night is a constant cycle of Takemichi drenched in his own sweat and tears. Shaking viciously from the overwhelming and graphic scene, bile threatening to spill. 

His solution had been to force himself to stay awake and it's still his solution. He gives up the thought of sleeping after consecutive weeks of reoccuring vivid flashes of their last moments.

Instead, he just thinks.

About what, one might ask.

Takemichi doesn't really know what's he's thinking about. But he knows that he just has to think so he can keep himself busy. 

He thinks about anything and everything that could happen or had the potential of happening no matter how slim the chance is. He thinks about all kinds of scenarios that could happen. Of ways to stop things from going shit. Thinks about having a plan b and perhaps a plan c in case plan b doesn't work out. He continues thinking about backup plans for his backup plans until he does get to a plan z. 

Eventually, he stops feeling angry about being forced to relive the deaths of his friends and girlfriend everytime he shuts his eyes. 

But that doesn't mean Takemichi wants to relive the experience.

He can't.

Takemichi doesn't want to, under any circumstances, experience it again. He doesn't want to ever see them take their last breath. 

Which is exactly why he still refuses to sleep. He fears that once he closes his eyes for longer than a minute, he will be forced to see and relive Hina's death second by second. Akkun's death. Baji's death. Izana's death. Mikey's death. 

Just everyone dying right in front of him while he just stood there. Doing absolutely nothing even though he knew. Or at least had a gut feeling. 

Yet, he didn't do anything.

Couldn't do anything. 

He just stood there like an idiot. 

Takemichi starts functioning on one hour of sleep (an hour being broken down into seconds of momentary black outs—a cry for help from his body to please sleep but Takemichi can’t. He just can’t). 

But at least he has a companion on most nights.

A loud ringing sound that blares into his ears. While annoying, it's exactly that sound which helps him by distracting him from overthinking. But eventually even his companion leaves and he's left all alone again. 

And then, it’s just silence.

It's a deafening silence. 

It sounds like he’s in the middle of nowhere on a cold snowy night and he's forced to listen to his own voice and his own heartbeat in the dead of the night. 

Takemichi thinks he's starting to imagine things. Perhaps it's the earlier rush of anger and adrenaline but those are long gone. He sees shadows in the corner of his room. It kind of looks like Baji. Maybe Izana. Or maybe someone else.

He can't be exactly sure. But whoever they are, perhaps they came back to haunt him. 

For what? 

Takemichi thinks it's because he failed them. And each time he tries to call out to them, the shadows vanish.

And if it isn’t for the scar on his hand, the constant ache of his broken bones and the constant bruises he picks up every now and then, he would have believed that everything is just a dream.

But it's not a dream. 

Yet, he feels too numb for this to be a reality. It's almost like he's incapable of feeling anything. 

But his injuries, the after pain he feels when he presses just hard enough on his bruises are all here to let him know that it’s not a dream.

Not even a nightmare.

It’s all real. 

And still, despite his best efforts, he can’t stop the constant flood of people dying over and over again while he stands there—useless as ever.

Takemichi can’t understand…why’d it have to be him?

He’s nothing special. He’s not strong like Mikey and Draken. He’s not smart like Chifuyu, Inupi and Kokonoi. He's not charismatic like Baji or Mitsuya. He’s not optimistic like Hina—he’s none of them.

He’s just Takemichi.

The loser.

The lackey.

Why did it have to be him?

It’s a burden to be the chosen one. To have all these expectations on him even though no one knows these expectations that have been placed on him except...maybe Naoto and a couple of others. 

This situation is unbelieveable. 

It almost feels like a divine punishment because every time Takemichi thinks he’s finally done it, had finally protected and successfully saved the future—it all comes crashing down as if to laugh at his face...as if to say that his pathetic attempt is exactly what it is…a pathetic attempt at being a hero. 

He never asked for this. Never asked to be anyone's hero. 

Takemichi can’t do it anymore.

He feels empty.

Dull.

Numb. 

He feels like somewhere, amidst the constant time travelling, the constant buzzing of things he has to do, the expectations of the future—someone had taken the time out of their precious day to carve out a hollow cavity in his chest.

It’s fucked up, Takemichi realizes, to see people die over and over again.

To be forced to see and relive the scene over and over again with the same scenario, and the same feelings. It's so fucked up to constantly be forced to feel this sense of hopelessness.

The guilt eats at Takemichi because he could change the future. 

And he tries.

Yet every single attempt is a fun circus to others while a painful, humiliating and devasting desperation for Takemichi. 

It’s like he’s fighting a losing battle against a deity that feeds on Takemichi’s hopelessness, on his despair, on his pain.

Takemichi just didn't understand why...

It's the big question. 

Perhaps if it had been someone else, someone that isn't Takemichi then maybe they would have been successful. Perhaps if it had been someone else then maybe they'd be more grateful than Takemichi, perhaps they'd feel lucky to have this ability but he couldn’t.

Takemichi didn't feel grateful for this ability. 

At first, he had been and he knew he should feel lucky.

But now?

Should he really feel grateful for the ability to jump back into the past in order to save his loved ones?

Is it truly a blessing? Or is it more of a curse?

Takemichi thinks it’s the latter, especially when the failures outweigh the success.

(He knows a great portion of people may disagree with him but what do they know? They don’t see what he sees. They don’t feel what he feels. They just don’t experience what he experiences).

It’s fucked up—Takemichi wouldn’t wish this upon anyone.

He wants to be happy yet every time he closed his eyes, he can’t see anything that even resembles happiness.

That's why he keeps his eyes open because at least this way, he doesn't have to imagine. 

Doesn't get caught up in some fantasy. 

Takemichi blinks a couple of times, feeling his eyes sting a little. With the little bit of energy he had left, and with a choked sob, he roughly rubs at his eyes, trying to push away the tears because his tears isn’t going to solve this, it never has. 

(A part of him thinks nothing will solve this but he still clings onto the little hope he has and he doesn't plan to give up just yet, no matter how enticing 'giving up' sounds).

He pretends that the sniffles are simply a sign of a cold and his sleepless nights are nothing more than insomnia.

“You’ll be okay, Takemichi,” he says to no one in particular.

Takemichi sits back up, turning slightly to look at the mirror and he grimaces a little because staring right back at him is his own beaten self. All tattered. He looks beyond exhausted. Like he's about to black out. His lip’s inflamed, his eyes are swollen, and there’s little bruises on his cheeks.

He certainly looks worse than yesterday and with a shaky hand, he press at the purpling bruise just underneath his eyes. He winch at the sharp pain, truly reminding him that he’s not numb to the sensation—it’s that he chose to be numb, to disengage from reality. 

With a shaky breathe, and a false smile, he offers himself a little hype talk. Clenching his fist once again, the mirror glinting from the sun peeking through, reminding him once again that he didn't get a good night sleep. 

“You can do it, Takemichi. You'll get through this," he cheers to himself. 

But deep inside, Takemichi wonders if he’ll actually be able to get through this. 

Whatever today has to offer, that is.