She'd fallen asleep. Again. Skylar Ashynhurst had made a habit of doing so, especially on long bus trips like these. She snored softly, head rested at an angle on a propped up arm leant against the window. Drool slicked the side of her mouth, strawberry and raspberry coloured hair stuck to the side of her face. Wrapping an arm around her shoulders, Nagisaka pulled her close, letting April rest her head on his shoulder.
Rain thrummed against the window, making a gentle rhythm against the glass. Dark, ashen clouds rolled across the skies, blotting out the sun and turning the green fields of farmland and ancient old oaks grey. They past herds of sheep, cows and horses, all grazing in the downpour in the same shade of noir.
Nagi smiled faintly as Sky grumbled awake. She looked up at him, raising a curious eyebrow. 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡUZk1YhIBOB
"I didn't fall asleep like this." 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡFD1UPrzrqO
"Indeed you didn't," Nagi replied, smiling a wide, white-toothed smile. 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡUktJnfIIDF
Sighing, Sky righted herself and gave him a dubious look.
"That's not how normal teenagers talk," She said, peering around cautiously at the few, mostly asleep passengers. Nagi's smile was replaced with a confused frown and he did the thing he always did with his eyebrows whenever he wanted to tease her in some way. A combination of a devilish vice and puppy-dog look in his eyes and a raised eyebrow, the only thing that could make Sky almost shy. The white of his eyes and chocolate brown pupils turned a cloudy black, and he smiled again. 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡNOTLLde86g
"Stop that, someone will see you!" Sky hissed between her teeth, irritated. To that, Nagi snorted softly, and offered a gentle smile. 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ9jBYcgo1rz
He murmured, "No one can see my real eyes but you. You know that, right?" 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡr6WRGGx64t
Sky actually looked away this time, pulling her red hood up and curling into a ball, choosing to ignore the Djareo and the boy he possessed for the rest of the trip. 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡso4uV7UVYH
When they woke to the early morning sun and soaking, muddy countryside they discovered they'd arrived in the middle of goddamn nowhere. On either side of the dirt road, fields of sunflowers stretched on for as far as the eye could see. 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ3HfpRCY0pm
"Queenstower is about two days out. If we start out now, we can make it to the hotel the driver mentioned by nightfall and find some transport," Sky mumbled aloud, probably half-aware that she was talking instead of thinking.
Nagi had found a fondness for her disregard of the boundaries between thought and the spoken word. She didn't seem to care what others thought, but that most likely stemmed from from the fact she was quite literally unable to feel fear. It was the only way she could see him, in fact. Well, his true self. Whilst possessing the body of the strange teen with hair that spiked up into a head of tawny brown that rather resembled a hedge of some sort, he was able to be seen and passed off as human.
Nagi often watched the cogs turn as she considered the risks of traveling cross-state with the long-time estranged Djareo. It made his human heart thud, the very thought of her leaving. Despite the billions of humans in the world, the Djareo only had her to call friend. 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡelkUjqCYBi
Those close to death, those few split seconds before they succumbed to the deep dark, they felt no fear. So, in his time before he'd even met the girl with the wondrous condition, he'd become a close friend of death all those years. Hospitals, mental wards...sometimes, if there'd be a tiny bit of them left. A lingering essence that he'd soothe with a promise of something greater. Something grand.
"Does he ever talk to you?" Sky asked, casually entwining her hand with his. Thud, thud, thud. Despite the insistent beat of the boy's heart, Nagi kept his face and tone almost disinterested as they walked the lonesome road, the mud sucking on his pink and her blue canvas shoes.
"No. It's almost like he's...sleeping. He doesn't know anything about the car, the train, or that his family's dead. He's been sleeping since the moment I saved him."
"Sleeping? Does that mean he dreams-?" Nagi cut her off, his eyes going black again.
"-No. The sleep he sleeps is a dreamless one."
After a few moments of walking in silence, Sky spoke up.
"So, who are these supposed friends of yours?"
In his way of reply, Nagi pulled out his phone bearing the cover of a bedazzled unicorn, he punched in a number he'd called a thousand times before and held it to his ear. April just gave him a look of contempt and asked, "Where'd you steal that cover?"
"I didn't steal it, it was on special mind you," He said, veering off the muddy road and into the sunflowers that towered at least a head taller than the two. Sky followed, saying, "Well, how'd you get the phone?"
"Borrowed it, obviously. I left an I-owe-you so they'll get it," Nagi replied, staring at his phone, clearly frustrated at the beeping noise coming from it.
"Borrowed? Right." Sky sat on the filthy ground without a care, tracing patterns into the soil whilst she watched Nagi awkwardly climb the scarecrow with the grace of the walrus with no limbs. Panting and puffing he sat on it's shoulders, raising his cell to the sky in some vain hope of a signal.
"C'mon, c'mon...yes! Hey, Jersey, what's up you ugly son of a gun," Nagi laughed. "Yeah, I'm headed your way now, I'm gonna crash at your place so I thought I'd call so you can clean your shit-house up...Yeah, yeah, fuck you too man I'll be there tomorrow." Ending the call, he seemed to forget he was six meters up in the air as he went to stand up and and walk over, and instead fell and face planted into the mud.
Now, that made Sky laugh.
After hours of walking, humming to countless songs by Daft Punk and Led Zepplin and Sky piggybacking on Nagi's back half of the way. With the sun sinking and red and orange rays splashed across the sky bleeding into each other in an almost water colour effect, Nagi and with Sky on his back arrived at the dank lobby of the Shabberton Motel.
A young woman wearing large, hoop earrings, caked-on makeup and a look that spoke of all the fucks she did not give worked the counter. Chewing loudly on her gum, the woman gave them the keys to the smallest room in the scrubby motel. On their way out, Sky hitting her forehead on the doorframe, the woman felt inclined to mention if they used up more than two minutes of hot water they'd have to pay extra.
Groaning, sore, soaked and their legs caked in mud the two stumbled into their room, flicking on the yellow light. They discarded their now-soaked packs onto the floor, as rain had decided to hammer down as they'd crossed the motel parking lot.
"Two minute shower?" Nagi offered sheepishly, peeling off his wet shirt and flicking on the winking bathroom light.
"Well, we'd only just have a minute each if we showered separately...I suppose this would be the smart thing to do," Sky murmured, slowly taking off her red tank.
"Let me help you with that..." Nagi said under his breath, fighting back a natural sneer that threatened to crawl across his lips as he slid off her shirt. Sky looked to him for a split second with her bright eyes that reflected a clear summers day sky, then went and began to undo his belt.
Taken aback, Nagi stammered, "Wh-what are you doing?"
"You can't very well take a shower with your pants on, can you?" Sky said flatly.
With a shaky smile, Nagi said, "Right...right." With his human body, he'd felt many new, strange things...but not like this. His life's blood pumped rapidly around his body, his heart beat so fast it threatened to burst from his chest. And all he wanted was her, to hug her and never quite let go.
How very stupid. It made him almost feel like a leech. Shaking his head clear of such foolish thoughts thoughts he stripped down to his briefs and watched curiously as Sky ran the shower. In the warm, misty tub floor they sat beneath the shower head back to back. Despite the colourful fashion of undressing each other, nothing happened that night between the lost Djareo and girl without fear. But, they did curl up in a mountain of sheets and blankets to watch the late night run of old horror movies, Nagi making a habit of shoving his face into a pillow at every scare, leaving Sky to comfort him, admittedly amused by his charming fright. All whilst the storm outside thundered, the rain in full force against the musty-curtained windows.
That night, the two fell asleep in their small-clothes in the squeaky double bed, now warm and finally clean after having gone days without a shower. Sometime just after midnight, Sky woke to the sound of frightened, frantic crying.
Right on time, Sky thought, checking the clock on the bedside table that read 1:15. Every night, for the past two months at the exact same hour, right down to the minute, he woke. Not Nagi. Nagi slept. It was the boy who woke.
Almost like he's...sleeping. 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ7rsRDohkob
Tears streamed down his cheeks from his chocolate brown eyes, his breathes quick and shallow as he desperately gasped in panic. As she always did, Sky hugged him close. 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡeQ861HZ0tb
"It's ok...I'm here...Ethan, I'm here," She soothed softly, rocking him back and forth slightly as he nestled his head by her collarbone, sobs racking his every breath. After a moment of regaining his breath, Ethan got out of the bed, only for his knees to buckle, collapsing onto the floor.
"Ethan, slow down. You haven't had control of your body for a few days, you're gonna be weak as," Sky comforted, a hand on his shoulder as he slumped against the velveteen wall.
"Why,- why hasn't he been sleeping?" Ethan said, his voice hoarse from days of not having one.
"We've been traveling across the countryside for a while, he's only been sleeping for a few hours a night, and it's been disrupted too. Suppose he just wasn't sleeping deep enough," Sky pondered, chewing the tip of her thumb. Ethan quickly noticed he only wore black boxers, and stared up at Sky suspiciously.
"You didn't...?" He began.
At that, Ethan let out a deep sigh of exhaustion. It tugged at her heart, seeing the helplessness in his brown eyes. When Sky had first seen that look, she'd sworn to herself that she wouldn't let that helplessness turn to hopelessness.
Yet...what could she do? Even if there was some way to evict the Djareo from the boy's body...would she do it? Sky had found an odd fondness for Nagi, despite herself and his troublesome ways.
The two rested against the foot of the bed, Ethan wearily trying to down a bottle of water. I'll find a way, Sky promised to herself, and to the Djareo she held dear and for the boy who'd lost everything.
And so, Skylar Ashenhurst causally entwined her hand with his, and promised everything was going to be alright. 484Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡn9nRCS6RVZ