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You'll Have To Watch Me Struggle

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Hotaru ricocheted into a sitting position, clawing wildly in the blackness, her breath coming in desperate, sharp gasps.

The blankets slid from her shoulders, and the raw coldness of the air seemed to shock her back into the present.

I’m in the shack. I’m with the others.

But the shack, as isolated as it was, was dark- dark as void, and she couldn’t get her breath back, couldn’t hear the others around her over the noise of her own panting.

A hand on her back; she flinched violently, panic screaming in her mind, but there was warmth to it. It wasn’t a zombie.

Obviously. So, who-?

“Hotaru?”

So it was Kayla, her voice a little bleary, but unmistakably Kayla, gentle, full of concern. Still shivery, Hotaru leant into her touch.

“Did you have a nightmare?”

“Yeah.” Hotaru murmured in reply, bringing a shaky hand to brush against her hair.

Still short.

Relief was pure oxygen, and she inhaled deeply, as if surfacing from underwater, dropping her hand to drag the blanket over her and Kayla a little better.

“Sorry for waking you.” She whispered.

“’S fine.” Kayla said, still a tad fuzzily, dropping a sloppy kiss on Hotaru’s forehead. “Wanna talk about it?”

Hotaru hesitated, cast her mind back, remembered all at once the spray of blood, stark against the floorboards, the sickening surprise in Elise’s eyes-

“No.” She said decidedly, pressing closer to her girlfriend, who wrapped her arms around her tightly. Hotaru willed herself to relax into her warmth.

“Okay.” Kayla replied, angling so that Hotaru could better rest her head against her neck.

"Can we turn on a light?" Hotaru regretted asking in the moment's pause, and quickly backtracked. "I mean... never mind. We don't want to waste batteries."

"If you're sure."

Hotaru allowed herself a moment to consider this, focusing on the soft weight of Kayla's body against hers, and realised that she was sure.

"Yeah." She sounded more confident in this than in any descision she had made in months.

Outside, the wind groaned, reminding her of the cheesy horror movies the team used to crowd around on slow weekends, and oddly, she was comforted by the noise. She let her eyes fall closed.

If she concentrated, she could feel Kayla’s heartbeat. If she tried just a little harder.

“Did you have a dream?” She was almost musing aloud, and after a moment of quiet, Kayla laughed softly.

“I did, actually. I’d completely forgotten. Want to hear about that?”

Hotaru gave a minute nod, and Kayla must’ve felt it, because she started;

“So Chau and I were at an ice cream parlour, and for some reason, my math teacher from elementary school was there…”