Suspended Reality




I woke up in the middle of the night, probably from some kind of nightmare – but I never remembered my dreams, so it was hard to be sure. The fact that my heart was pounding a mile a minute and I had broken out in a cold sweat was a good indication, though – and given what the past few days had been like, I was pretty sure I knew what it had been about.

Izzy. My gaze shifted towards his bed automatically, and then I jolted halfway to a sitting position when I noticed it was empty.

Given that he’d spent the majority of the last day and a half sleeping, I figured that was worth taking notice of.

I guess it would be too much to ask that he do the whole recovery thing at a decent hour… I tried to be quiet about getting out of bed. It was a lot more difficult to be sneaky with three extra people in the boys’ room – the girls had it easy, only having to add one extra bed – but Izzy had managed, so how hard could it really be?

Daisuke’s bed was empty, too – but I knew about that already. He’d been the first of the symbol-holding crew to recover enough to be awake for more than five minutes at a time. It didn’t take a genius to figure out where he’d be, either; you couldn’t pry him away from Ken’s side with a crowbar. Except at meal times, of course.

I could relate to being worried, but I couldn’t figure out how he managed to make himself stay still for so long. It didn’t seem to fit his personality somehow.

The motion sensors on the inside of the base were still off – which meant Izzy was at least smart enough not to go outside. Not that I’d really figured he would. Actually, I had a pretty good idea of where he was.

Busy with his one true love. I couldn’t help but grin, shutting the door to the boy’s room. The outline of his back was pretty hard to miss in the glow from the computer screen. Figures.

I walked over and leaned against the back of the chair. “Shouldn’t you be resting?”

“Huh?” His fingers halted over the keys, and he looked up at me, blinking. “Oh, hey Tai.”

“What, that’s all you can say?” I jabbed him in the shoulder with one finger. “‘Hey Tai’? You know, I kind of think I liked you better when you were only partly conscious. At least then you were asking for me rather than your computer.”

It had been pretty flattering, too – to think that the always-logical Koushiro Izumi would grab at my sleeve and beg me not to leave him alone. Not to mention all the confessions of love I got. If nothing else, my ego didn’t feel neglected.

He raised an eyebrow at me. “I suspect it would have been overly excessive to ask for the computer when I wasn’t capable of leaving the bed.”

“Oh, great.” I shot him a wry grin. “Now I’m a replacement for a computer. Thanks a lot, Izzy. I feel so loved and appreciated.”

“I have reason to believe your ego won’t suffer substantial damage,” he responded drily, but smiled back at me all the same. “It’s shown itself to be impervious to most attacks.”

“Geez, you really don’t pull your punches.” I sank down into a seat beside him, and turned so that I was looking him right in the eye, a little more seriously. “You know, Iz  we need to talk.”

He nodded, and the smile faded again as he met my gaze squarely. “I know.”

I’d thought about this a lot while he was out of it – what to say to him and all. And, well, right at first I kind of wanted to yell at him for scaring me so bad, but after calming down and thinking about it… Mostly, I wanted answers. Not ‘why did you do it?’ – because I knew why. But – “How much did you know about what you were doing back there?”

Izzy looked a little startled. “How much – ?”

But I wasn’t done yet. “I mean, when you… you know… did you already know it wasn’t going to kill you?” It was hard to keep my voice down, but I wasn’t sure I wanted the others listening in. “I’ve been driving myself crazy wondering about it, but I gotta know – were you seriously thinking you’d just die, and it would be okay somehow?”

He stared at me for a moment, and then sighed. “It seemed logical,” he said, and I recognized his ‘reasoning’ voice. “All signs indicated that in order for the seal to function, the holders had to remain alive – at least until the procedure was complete.” At that, he offered me a small smile. “I was counting on you removing the sword at that point.”

“So why did you tell me?” I blurted, beyond agitated. As much as it was a relief to know that he hadn’t really expected to sacrifice himself… “Do you have any idea what it was like to watch that and not know what was going to happen? I thought you were dead, Izzy!” The last part almost choked me up, but I managed not to lose it. “You could’ve at least let me know what to expect!”

“Tai, I know you.” Izzy was still meeting my gaze, unwavering, but his voice was a little strange. “If I wasn’t one-hundred percent certain that there was no possibility of failure, you would never have agreed – and there wasn’t time to argue about it.” He crossed his arms, leaning back in his seat. “I’m well aware that there are times when recklessness is required in our struggle to survive here, but I suspect you have trouble with the notion that the rest of us have just as much right to be reckless as you do when the situation calls for it.”

I opened my mouth to respond to that, but realized at the last second that I didn’t really have anything to say. He was right, after all. But still… “You still could’ve tried to warn me,” I muttered, after a moment of silence.

It just didn’t seem fair somehow.

He nodded. “I’m sorry, Tai. I understand how difficult it is to be concerned for the safety of someone important to you.” At that, he smiled again, just a little. “I’ve experienced it many times during the course of our friendship.”

I had to give him that one. “All right, all right, I get it.” I let out a long breath, and returned his smile. “Apology accepted.”

Izzy relaxed a bit more, looking kind of relieved. “Thanks, Tai.”

“Don’t mention it.” Considering the bad memories that came with it, I really didn’t want this subject coming up too often. And besides, I’d already waited long enough for the good part of this conversation. “I’d say this calls for some kissing and making up, wouldn’t you?” I shifted my chair closer to his.

He grinned, and leaned forward again, meeting me halfway. “You know, I was considering that same possibility myself.” Then his lips were on mine, and I forgot about making any other smart comments.

Neither of us ended up making it back to bed that night – but I couldn’t say I minded.