Note: Originally a claim I had in the classic LJ comm 30 kisses, but abandoned after five tries (this is the fifth one). Written to the prompt "the space between dream and reality," which is number 6 on the original table. Not very good--older fics, older crap-ness.
The fire licks my lungs, making my insides burn as the tears run down my face. The smoke is killing me, and I hope that it just might, but it won't, and I know it won't because I've done this before, too many times now. I've never died yet. I wait and I suffer until I hear the voice that saves me.
Something touches me. It's a hand. It pulls me upright and I see a face dressed in ginger-brown hair and cool blue eyes. He glares at me with something rather like worry and hauls me up off the floor. I can barely breathe, my vision swimming before me, but I know who it is as well as I know my own face.
"Treize," I croak, my voice gone hoarse with the smoke. "My leg is broken."
It was true, I could remember now--the roof had fallen in and I was under it. It got me pretty bad, which is why I'd been lying there waiting to die in the first place.
Treize doesn't answer. He just pushes through the endless burning walls of the palace, the loud arrogant crackles of the fire the only sound for miles around. He has me hoisted over his shoulder, adrenaline-fueled arms wrapped around my midsection to support me. My leg is sending sharp pains in the frantic twists and turns of the fire, but I barely notice it as numbness washes over me, my mind dull, my memories shifting...
"Duo," a voice calls, and it takes me several moments to realize that it is my own. I'm lying in a bed, and there is a body next to me. A very warm body. It turns as I call to it, and a head props itself on a hand, looming over me.
I stare beyond him to the ceiling that I am not seeing. I see only fire and feel dead arms holding me upright, dragging me away with a strength unheard of, where I lived yet again to see another day.
"Does death ever make a mistake?"
Beyond my stare, I can feel Duo looking at me oddly, trying to decipher where my words had come from. I wait for his answer. If anyone will know about death...
"Only if you consider it one," he says.
I look at his face, my vision blurring the ceiling as it sharpens to those suddenly very serious eyes and that stern mouth few people ever had the glory of seeing so strict. Duo is a hard man, he just doesn't like admitting it.
I sigh. "I consider it a mistake," I say.
Duo frowns very deeply. "Why?"
"Because all I ever dream is death."
And then he smiles. "That just means you're alive."
I lift an eyebrow, asking the question that burns me.
He laughs. "The dead don't dream, Millie-man. They're dead. If you're still dreaming, you're alive, aren't you?"
I nod a shaken thing. I can feel Treize's arms around me, his breath against my neck, my eyes stinging in the smoke. I can smell the ash of history burning my skin, the blood of my parents spilled on white marble as my life is doomed to repeat itself. I can see Duo and I can see myself, and I can see nothing. I lie there and I say nothing. The images assault me, and I do nothing.
His lips brush against me like the kiss of butterfly. I turn away.
His voice is warm. "You're alive, Zechs. Be happy that you're alive."
I don't have the heart to tell him that I am not happy, and I never will be. I just lie there and listen to Treize's ragged breathing as he rescues me once again from the fire.