LunaescenceLunaescence
 
"Drowning" by littleduck


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Drowning is suffocating underwater, is being pulled down or held down by something you won't ever be able to tell other people about.
Drowning



Water…

There was water everywhere.

It was crushing him, pressing relentlessly on all sides of his body. He watched as another bubble of precious air escaped his lips and floated up to who knew where. His lungs were burning, crying for oxygen that he couldn’t get. Red spots dotted his vision as black crept in from the corners, his arms and hands eddying lazily through the water.

He desperately tried kicking himself to the surface, but only deep blue greeted him, light and air unreachable from where he was.

Oxygen continued to escape his lungs and no matter how hard he tried swimming up, he could feel himself being dragged down by the weight of his clothing. His vision continued to narrow until he was barely conscious, and he could feel something nearby, hovering just out of view, waiting for him to finish struggling.

Roxas woke with a start, bolting up in his bed. His skin was clammy despite his flushed face, his blue eyes glowing in the dark. He swiped a shaking hand through his hair, trying to calm himself down. “The same damn dream,” he muttered, staring out his rain-streaked window.

Lying back down he squeezed his eyes shut, his racing heart echoing the thunder rumbling outside. After a few futile attempts at sleeping he sighed and sat up, swinging his legs over the edge of his mattress. Standing, he grabbed the blanket from his bed and wrapped it around himself as he walked over to his desk, turning on his laptop. Roxas couldn’t stop the chill that raced down his spine when there was another crash of thunder, lightening racing across the sky. His room lit up, everything painted with a bone-white glow, and from the corner of his eye he spotted the glare of lightening reflecting off the mirror on the closet door before he quickly focused back on the computer.

He logged on and selected the Internet icon, Google popping up with its cheery white background and brightly coloured letters. He hesitated, fingers hovering above his keyboard, fear and curiosity churning in his gut. Steeling himself he started to type, the gentle clacking barely audible over the rain drumming on the roof.

“dreams about drowning”

He hit ‘enter’.

~*~

“It’s a nice day for the end of an era,” (Name) chirped, linking her arm with Roxas’. He rolled his eyes and detached himself from her, yawning loudly as he played with the ring on his finger. (Name) looked up at him worriedly, touching his arm. “Are you alright? You look like you haven’t slept in a week.”

“Just last night…that stupid storm didn’t help either,” he half-lied; she didn’t have to know about the past few sleepless nights.

(Name) started to speak and then shut her mouth, worrying her lip with her teeth. Roxas sighed, lazily patting her head.

“Go ahead. Ask,” he said in a soft voice, face impassive when she met his gaze. “I won’t hate you for it,” he promised.

“Was it the mirror again?” He shrugged noncommittally, but the tension that seeped into his face and eyes gave him away. “Oh Roxas…you have to try to get rid of this fear–”

“I have been trying,” Roxas shot back, eyes narrowing as he shoved his hands into his pockets.

“–and stop giving into paranoia all the time.” She stepped in front of him, fists clenched and arms akimbo as she stared him down. Passersby cracked a smile at the scene: here was this tiny girl dressed in a light pink sundress, staring down a fairly muscular boy at least a foot taller than her. Roxas scowled, adjusting his backpack.

“I’m not paranoid,” he muttered, the line of his shoulders tight with embarrassment. (Name) sighed heavily, letting her arms fall to her sides.

“Then when it’s dark, why don’t you ever look in your mirror?” Roxas sputtered and fumbled for a reply, but when none came he shrugged helplessly in defeat.

“I can’t,” he answered, wincing at the weak statement.

“Have you ever tried to, at least?” He shrugged again, this time half-heartedly. Heaving another sigh, (Name) patted his shoulder and re-linked arms with him again. “Come on then. Let’s get to school.” She pulled up a bright smile. “Then after we see our exam marks, we’re out of here for the summer!” she said, eyes glittering with enthusiasm. Roxas laughed and let her lead the way, half-hearing her spirited chatter as he watched her hair catch the sunlight.

But despite (Name)’s attempt to draw Roxas’ mind back to reality, back to what was normal, what was right, he couldn’t banish the cold pit of fear lodged inside his heart.

~*~

“Just think,” (Name) said as she stared at the sky, hands linked behind her back as they headed home from the university. “In two years, we’re going to be finished here.” She sighed. “Who knew life was going to go this fast?” Roxas was silent as he walked beside her, lost in his thoughts. She turned and looked at him, lightly touching his arm with a hand when the vacant look on his face didn’t leave. “Roxas?” He started, and shot her a quick grin.

“I’m fine,” he said, trying his best to sound reassuring. (Name)’s brow furrowed.

“You know, ‘fine’ doesn’t really constitute as an emotion.”

He laughed. “Only you would say that.”

“Come on,” she murmured, eyes softening as she smiled gently. “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.” She nudged Roxas over to a bench outside an ice cream shop, sitting beside him. Roxas closed his eyes as he rested his face in his hands, trying to sort his thoughts out.

“I’ve been having some weird dreams lately.” (Name) couldn’t help the exasperated sigh that escaped, and Roxas lifted his head to look at her.

“Sorry,” she said when she saw the look on his face. “It’s just…it’s like one thing after another, Roxas. Even when we were kids you were never not scared of something.” He scoffed and turned away, frowning as he stared resolutely at the bottom of the garbage can in front of him. (Name) bit her lip and then leaned against him, letting her head rest on his shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I should’ve waited until you told me before making any assumptions, right?”

He laid his head on top of hers. “That might have helped.” He let his eyes slip closed, the sunlight making the back of his eyelids glow red. “An average person spends a third of their life sleeping,” he mumbled, fatigue making his tongue heavy. “That means that I’ve spent 3.6 years of my life drowning.” (Name) lifted her head from his shoulder, startling him awake.

“What?”

“You remember when we were younger, and our parents let us have sleepovers?” he asked, letting his head fall onto her shoulder.

She smiled. “Of course; and the one time we tried to have a pillow fight, you ended up breaking the overhead light,” she said with a laugh. “Then your parents made us start sleeping in the basement.” Roxas smiled, his eyes sliding shut once more. There was a pause before he spoke again, reluctant to break the brief peace that had settled over him as they reminisced.

“Remember that one night, when we were eight?” he asked, opening his eyes and looking up at her. She tensed.

“You woke up screaming in the middle of the night,” (Name) whispered. One of her hands found his. His smile grew a bit as he tried to lighten the mood and ease the worry and fear rolling off her skin.

“You woke up and started screaming with me.” Roxas started laughing, shoulders shaking. “And my parents came down, thinking something was wrong, and spent the rest of the night feeding us cup after cup of hot chocolate.” His laughter started to peter out.

“After that, you wouldn’t sleep in the basement anymore.” Roxas’ face grew somber, and he closed his eyes.

“That was the first night,” he said in a quiet voice, and balled his free hand in a fist to keep it from shaking. Abruptly he sat up and bent over, staring at the concrete, trying to create an anchor to keep the world from spinning around. “God, it hasn’t changed,” he said with a bitter laugh. “It’s still the same: I can’t breathe, and the water’s pressing in, and right before I finish blacking out, I always wake up. You know what the worst part is, though?” (Name) released his hand and wrapped her arms around his torso, holding him tight.

He swallowed as best he could, his mouth completely dry. “I can never see any light at the top. I can’t–I can’t ever see the surface, and everything around me is dark.” (Name) started rocking both of them back and forth, trying to ease the fear coiling in his heart. “No sun, no stars, no moon, no hand reaching to pull me out.” He drew in a shuddering breath. “And I just know that once I finish passing out, the minute I lose consciousness is when something comes and takes my body away.”

(Name) tightened her arms, and, at a complete loss for words, resorted to murmuring “it’s going to be alright” into his ear.

Even when I’m dead, I don’t reach the surface.

Roxas’ arms wound around her waist, his face burying into her shoulder. She smoothed a hand over his hair.

“It’s going to be alright.” She felt awful, trying to promise him something that she wasn’t completely sure would come true, but this was all she could do right now for him, and for her. “It’s going to be alright, Roxas.”

He turned his face so his nose brushed her neck, sending a tingle down her spine. “No,” he whispered, breath washing across her skin. A chill spread through her body, starting from her chest. “No it’s not.”

~*~

Roxas entered his and (Name)’s house, slamming the door shut behind him with a foot and locking it. Kicking off his shoes he threw his bag onto the floor and trudged to the kitchen to grab a bottle of water. Snagging an apple as well, he made his way upstairs and into his bedroom, flopping gracelessly into his desk chair. As he ate, his eyes caught sight of the flashing orange light on his laptop. He slowly rolled closer to his desk and opened his laptop, pressing the power button to bring it out of stand-by. The light flashed green and the screen flickered back to life, right where he left it. The Google results page of his inquiry hadn’t budged, the search bar still declaring ‘dreams about drowning’. Roxas glanced at the clock, feeling rather foolish before facing the screen once more. He still had some time until (Name) finished got back from her parents’ house. He moved the cursor onto the first link and clicked.

The website looked cheerful enough with a pale yellow background and light blue and pink font; it reminded him of a baby’s bedroom. Scrolling down to the black text below, he started to read.

“I’m home!” Roxas jumped and swiftly minimized the website, quickly pulling up his email. (Name) walked up the stairs and into his room, a smile on her face. “I’ve moved everything back home; I just came back to let you know I’m going. …are you going to be alright here tonight?”

“I’m not eight anymore,” Roxas pointed out, and smiled to show her that he really was okay. “Really…I’ll be perfectly fine.” (Name) pursed her lips. “Really,” Roxas insisted.

“I’ll see you after summer ends, then,” she promised him, turning to go. He stood, intent on seeing her off, but she stopped him. “It’s okay…I can walk myself out. You finish what you’re doing.” She walked off, disappearing around the corner and a moment later, Roxas heard the front door shut and lock. He sighed and fell boneless onto his bed.

The house seemed far too quiet now; he could hear the gurgle of water as his neighbour watered his lawn, the faint sound of conversation from the people across the road from him, and the yells and laughter of children playing outside.

“I really am alone,” he declared in a loud voice, as if trying to permeate the silence that seemed to be surrounding only him. Uneasy, he rolled onto his side and shut his eyes, trying to ignore the words circling around in his mind. After a few more minutes of fidgeting he sat up and went back to his laptop, restoring the site from before. Blue eyes scanned over the text once more and he scowled, exiting the site and shutting his laptop off.

Roxas lay back down on his bed and buried his face into the pillow, trying to empty his mind. “‘Dreams of drowning or struggling in treacherous waters may represent your fear of being swallowed by forces hidden in the depths of your unconscious’,” he quoted softly to himself. He snorted and wrapped his arms around himself. “Don’t be stupid,” he whispered, “it’s just nonsense.” He yawned, loudly, and relaxed, slowly starting to fall asleep.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!”

Roxas jerked awake, sitting up swiftly as his heart pounded in his ears. He scrambled madly for his blankets and pulled them up to his chin. His eyes darted wildly around the room before coming to a rest on the television on top of his desk, seated innocently beside his laptop as it played out the rest of the horror movie, the leading female dashing wildly through the woods as a maniacal cackle followed her. Calming himself down Roxas fumbled for his beside lamp, turned it on and grabbed for the remote to turn the TV off. The screen turned black with a click, and Roxas released the breath he’d been holding, a hand combing through his hair.

“God, I’m such a tool,” he mumbled to himself with a wry smile. Then his brow furrowed. He didn’t remember turning on the TV in the first place. His chest clenched and for a minute it felt like his heart stopped, the silence thundering in his ears. ‘Must’ve been half-asleep,’ he reasoned; after all, he always watched TV before going to bed, so it must have been an unconscious act. “Nothing to worry about,” he said aloud slouching against the wall. He glanced out the window, groaning when a foggy gray light greeted him, the morning mist still clinging stubbornly to sky.

His digital clock clicked as it changed numbers, the bright red digits reading 4:43 AM. Knowing he wasn’t going to be getting back to sleep any time soon he rose from bed, yawning and stretching. Shuffling over to his dresser he grabbed some clean clothes and made his way to the bathroom. Stepping inside he closed the door behind him, not bothering to turn the light on as he figured that the sun was going to rise soon, and the light that was going to pour through the tiny window near the ceiling would be more than enough for him to shower and get dressed in.

He stripped and turned on the tap, waiting a few seconds before testing the temperature. Satisfied he stepped in, pulling the shower curtain across the tub. He sighed with relief when the warm water washed over him, the steady stream of water gently massaging his stress away. He finished washing and took a few minutes to soak relishing the fact that he didn’t have to rush so (Name) could have her turn.

Something cold brushed his ankle and he whipped around, goose bumps rising on his skin despite the steam that filled the shower. The shower curtain shifted a little, swaying slightly. Roxas paled and yanked the curtain aside, eyes wide as he his gaze bounced around his bathroom from ceiling to floor. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary so he turned off the tap and cautiously stepped out, grabbing a towel and wrapping it around his shoulders. Holding it tight against his body he walked over to the light switch and turned it on, despite the pale gold light shining in the window. Drying off he wrapped the towel around his waist and left, refusing to look into the fogged up mirror.

He quickly dressed, feeling far better once he was clothed and his room was lit up with sun, and looked in the mirror. His heart pounded for the slightest second when he half-expected there to be someone, or something else behind him in his reflection, but all he saw was a tall, lanky blond boy, dressed in wrinkled clothes from the week before. After wasting away the next two hours in front of the TV, he swiftly finger combed his hair and grabbed his bag, then headed off to work.

~*~

“You look awful,” Axel laughed, handing Roxas a stack of books. “You sure you should be working?” Roxas grinned.

“I’m fine,” he replied, taking the books. “Besides, it’s not like there’s anybody here, so there it’s not like I’m super busy.”

“Summertime…when most people opt out of coming to the library in favour of a vacation,” Axel sighed. “And look at me: I’m stuck here because I stupidly decided to sign up for courses at university instead of going on holiday. And speaking again of holiday, you might consider taking one some time.”

Roxas snorted. “Somehow, I think I should’ve known that was coming.” Axel gave his friend a lopsided grin and shrugged with one shoulder, flipping his unkempt hair out of his eyes.

“Then maybe you should consider actually considering a vacation. I’ll see you later for some drinking!” He turned and waved, strolling out and leaving Roxas alone. The blond chuckled softly and finished checking in the rest of the books Axel had returned, placing them on the rack. He stared at the clock: 9:15; he still had another 45 minutes until Annabelle got here. He placed an elbow on the table and leaned forward, propping his chin in his hand.

The steady ticking of the clock was slowly starting to lull him to sleep, the traffic and noise outside muffled by the thick glass doors. Cracking open an eye to glance at the time, he groaned when he saw that only two minutes had passed. “Just think that once you get through this day, you can go and get buzzed with Axel,” he muttered under his breath, slowly sitting straight and waiting for the next patron to arrive.

~*~

Roxas stumbled into the front hall of his house, cursing softly when his keys slipped from numb fingers and clattered to the floor. He bent and picked them up, swaying a little when he stood up too fast. It took him a moment to shut the door and lock it, and he nudged his keys to the side of the hall with his foot. He flicked the light in the hallway on, the soft glow illuminating the stairs that had never seemed so long before.

Going up the stairs he had to pause every once in a while, leaning heavily on the railing as he fought the alcohol roiling in his stomach. This was the last time he was listening to Axel and drinking five vodka tonics in two hours. His gut clenched and heaved, and he stumbled up the last few steps, bursting into the bathroom and kneeling before the toilet. After breathing heavily for a few moments he emptied his stomach and flushed the toilet, standing shakily and rinsing out his mouth. He grabbed a towel and patted his mouth and dried the cold sweat that covered his face in a light sheen. Unconsciously he looked up into the mirror, staring his reflection in the eye.

He snorted as he looked at his sorry reflection, and saw nothing else in the mirror. Maybe (Name) was right; maybe he was being irrational about the whole fear of seeing something in the mirror he’d have been better off not seeing.

“Never again,” Roxas promised himself weakly, squeezing his eyes shut when his vision blurred. He unglued them a second later, pulling a disgusted face as he took in his appearance. His hair was limp against his scalp, his face was pale, and his skin looked waxy in the dim light. His eyes were glazed over and he sighed, turning on the tap and splashing some cold water on his face. He dried his face and hung the towel clumsily back on the rack, glancing at himself one last time in the mirror right as the bathroom door slammed shut, plunging him into darkness.

Roxas froze. His heart stuttered as his blood ran cold, the hair rising on the back of his neck.
His reflection stared back at him, blue eyes wide as what little colour was left in his face drained. For a split second his double had smirked wickedly, a sliver of pearly white teeth flashing as blue eyes narrowed, the ocean blue marred by a thin red ring circling the pupil.

Roxas’ breathing grew erratic as he played the image again in his mind panic constricting his throat. The bathroom seemed to drop another ten degrees, his skin crawling. He reached for the light switch, intent on proving to himself that he was hallucinating, when an ice-cold hand clamped down on his wrist. Screaming he flung the door open, yanking his arm free and kicking away whatever had started to sneak around his ankle.

The doorknob gave a muffled thump as it hit something, or someone, and another spike of fear stabbed Roxas. He slid across the hardwood floor and groped uselessly at the two locks on the door, his feet jamming hastily into his shoes. His hands were trembling as slow, steady thumps reached his ears, the stairs creaking as his unwelcome guest made their way to where he was.

“Shitshitshitshitshit come on!” he pleaded with the lock, body and mind screaming relentlessly for him to rip the locks from the door and run as fast and far as he could. By the time they reached the end of the stairs he was already out the door, tears streaming down his face as he ran down the street, fingers numbly dialing (Name)’s number.

Roxas’ breathing was ragged as he pressed the phone to his ear, feet still steadily pounding the pavement until he was a block away from his house, standing under a streetlight.

“Hello,” a sleepy voice said, and Roxas let out a strangled cry of relief. On the other end of the line (Name) started to wake up, her whole body clamouring that her friend needed help. “Roxas? What’s wrong?” His knees buckled and he collapsed on the pavement, curling into a ball as he pressed his face to his knees, an arm wrapped around his legs.

“I’m fine,” he replied, not even flinching with embarrassment when his voice, thick with tears, cracked.

“You don’t sound fine,” (Name) replied softly.

“I am!” he insisted, a touch too loudly. Wincing he glanced at the houses around him, windows dark as the occupants slumbered peacefully, unaware of any danger. “I am,” he repeated, quieter. “I just wanted to talk to someone.”

(Name) laughed softly, though it was tense, indicating that she didn’t believe him, and Roxas could hear the faint sounds of her settling back into bed. “What do you want to talk about?” Roxas sighed and checked his watch, grimacing when he noticed he still had another five hours until he would have to head off to work. He laced his shoes as he hummed in thought, then stood brushing off his pants.

“Anything, for as long as you can.”

~*~

“So tell me again why I’m doing this?” Axel asked, idly swinging the golf club in his hand back and forth as he tugged on his cherry red hair.

“I told you: I think someone broke in last night, and I want to make sure it’s safe before spending the night here,” Roxas said, exasperated as he armed himself with a baseball bat. He couldn’t bring himself to tell his friend the truth; Axel would write it off as a result of too much drinking, breathing in too much pot, or a product of his over-active imagination.

“Okay…then let’s do this thing,” the redhead crowed, bounding up the driveway and then pausing, wrinkling his nose. “You got a cat that likes you, or something?” he asked, prodding at something outside Roxas’ door.

“What?” The blond stood beside his friend and paled. On his doorstep, its tiny body limp and bloody, was a brown half-massacred rabbit, its eyes blank.

“Gross,” Axel said with a shudder, leaning down to inspect it. “Shit…this thing used to be white! How much blood is in a rabbit, anyways?” Shaking his head, he pushed it off into the garden with the golf club. Roxas stared where it had fallen, frozen in place as his heart lodged itself in his throat. “Come on!” Axel nudged Roxas’ arm and jerked his head towards the door. Roxas unlocked the door and Axel waltzed in, golf club at the ready.

The two boys covered the whole first floor, Axel always heading as he opened every door and prodded around with his golf club. Finished, they went upstairs and continued the process. When they entered the bathroom Roxas hovered near the doorway, his arm tingling with fear when he recalled the hold on his arm that had been too solid, too tight, too real to brush off.

“Well, nothing here to report, except that you’ve got to wash your tub,” Axel declared, and exited, leaving Roxas alone as he went off to snoop around the bedroom. Roxas stepped slowly into the tiny washroom, took a deep breath and turned to look at himself in the mirror. His own face stared back at him, etched with anxiety, completely unchanged from how he normally looked, except for the faded purple circles under his eyes.

He sighed and swiftly ran a hand through his mussed blond hair, leaning forward so his head was resting against the mirror as he stared himself in the eye. “It’s just you. Nobody else. Just…you,” he whispered. “You’ll be fine.”

“All clear!” Axel yelled, voice floating through the wall that divided the bathroom and Roxas’ bedroom. Roxas pushed away from the sink and went to where Axel was waiting.

“Nothing,” the redhead said, shrugging his shoulders as Roxas walked him to the door. “You must’ve just been really drunk, man.”

“Guess so,” Roxas replied, forcing a smile and a laugh. He bid his friend farewell and then shut the door, the feeling of unease within him slowly dissipating as he surveyed his sun-filled house. He shook his head at his own foolishness; he must’ve been really out of it, and his imagination had probably overcompensated to cover his anxiety at living alone

Grabbing a frozen dinner he unwrapped it and stuck it in the microwave, tapping his fingers on the counter as he waited for it to heat up. The minute it finished he pulled it out, rummaged in his bag for a book, and then sat and ate, slowly pushing the memory of the night before from his mind.

It was well past 10 by the time Roxas rose from his seat and set his book down, tossing his fork into the sink and his garbage into the trash. The lights he’d turned on partway through his book were still going strong, despite the thundering in the distance that heralded a summer squall. Moving to all the windows Roxas swiftly shut them, making sure to lock them as well. As he was walking up the stairs his phone rang, and he grabbed it from his backpack, flipping it open.

“Hello?”

“Hey! Just wanted to see how you were doing…you seemed like you were having some trouble last night,” (Name) said, and Roxas smiled.

“I’m alright; I just thought someone broke in–”

“Broke in?”

“–but it’s alright. Nobody did,” Roxas finished quickly, trying to calm her down.

“Did you make sure? Did you call the police?”

“I had Axel come over after I was done work and he was done school to help me look through the place,” Roxas reassured her, stepping into his room.

“Axel? The guy you met at the university?”

“The one and only,” Roxas confirmed, and idly twirled the silver ring on his finger.

“That’s good…anyways, I’ve got to go, but I thought I’d check up on you! I’ll call again tomorrow, alright?” (Name)’s voice wavered for the slightest second, her worry slipping through.

“I’ll be looking forward to it,” Roxas replied softly. (Name) murmured a goodbye and hung up and Roxas sighed heavily, glad for his friend’s concern. He flicked on the light to his room and dropped his bag on his desk, striding over to his bed and then tugging off his shirt. Half naked he turned to his closet and his step faltered.

Why was his closet door wide open?

The sight rooted him to the spot as he frantically racked his mind for some reason to explain why the closet door, always carefully kept closed, was ajar.

“Axel,” he breathed, and relief washed over him. Of course…Axel had been looking through the place, for Roxas’ benefit; of course he’d have checked the closet as well. Feeling at ease once more Roxas finished changing and put his clothes away, taking care to close his closet door. He lay down on his bed, yawning loudly as his eyes fluttered. He’d been running solely on caffeine the entire day, and he was too tired to bother going about his nightly routine. His eyes half-heartedly tried to open once more before he gave in to his exhausted body, and slept.

~*~

Water…

There was water everywhere.

It was crushing him, pressing relentlessly on all sides of his body. He watched as another bubble of precious air escaped his lips and floated up to who knew where. His lungs were burning, crying for oxygen that he couldn’t get. Red spots dotted his vision as black crept in from the corners, his arms and hands eddying lazily through the water.

But something seemed off. His toes grew numb, his lips pressed tightly to try and keep air in, and fear swirled in his stomach when the feeling of something invading his subconscious refused to leave. From the corner of his eye he caught sight of something and a stream of bubbles burst forth as he silently let out a cry of fear.

He back-peddled swiftly, swimming away as fast as he could with what little strength he had left, but a pale hand, not unlike his own, reached forward nonetheless and secured itself on his ankle.

The first thing he saw was the wicked grin, stretching from ear to ear. Then the nose: thin, ever so slightly crooked; the same bump Roxas had as a result of a biking accident three years ago. With his narrowing vision he could see the faint glimmer of one eye, and then–

With a thump Roxas fell out of his bed, his eyes snapping open the minute he hit the floor and darting to the black shadowed space under his bed. Flailing he quickly jumped back on top of the bed, pulling his blanket up after. After a few more tense seconds he relaxed, cursing himself for moving about enough in his sleep to end up rolling off the bed. He covered himself up again with the blanket, tucking it under his chin, and turned so he was sleeping on his side, back pressed against the wall.

Roxas’ breathing eventually evened out and he drifted off again, but not before hiding his head under the covers.

~*~

“At least you look like you got a decent amount of sleep tonight,” Axel said with a laugh, dropping another pile of books on the counter. Roxas returned the gesture, and started to sign the books in.

“Yeah…thanks for going over the place with me, by the way.”

“No problem!” Axel said, waving off the thanks. “Anyways, I’m gonna be late if I don’t leave soon…I’ll see you around, alright?” He turned and ran out of the library.

“Bye!” Roxas called after him, whistling as he placed the books on the rack.

Work passed by and Roxas walked home, steps hurried as he focused solely on the fact that (Name) was going to call in a half hour, and he wanted to have eaten something before she rang. Stepping onto the porch he bent to pick up the newspaper on the doormat. He stood after grabbing the Tribune and cursed when a few flyers slipped from the pages. He used his knee to pin them against his door and bent over again to pick them up.

Roxas barely managed to keep his panicked yell inside as he violently pushed himself away from the door, his palms scraping painfully on the driveway as he scrambled away from his house. For a second, as he bent over, the mail slot had been cracked open just the slightest, and a blue eye, ringed with red had been staring him straight in the eye. He stood and edged forward, glancing repeatedly at his neighbours’ houses in case he needed to call for help. Grabbing a stick from the garden he stood as far from the mail slot as he could and pressed the tip of the stick to the hinged panel.

Hesitantly he pushed in, crouching a little to look in. Seeing nothing but the sunlight painted walls of his house he opened the door and stepped in, making sure the door stayed open in case he had to make a hasty retreat. Upstairs, something fell and shattered. Roxas felt like throwing up. He grabbed the baseball bat he’d left by the door yesterday and, holding it tightly in his sweaty hands, he started to ascend the stairs with his shoes still on, going as quietly as he could. As he got closer to the top floor he could hear the faint sound of chatter and laughter, and his brow furrowed when he crept into his room and found his TV on.

He walked over and powered it off, silence falling around him. A breeze blew in from his open window and the hangers in his closet rattled, lightly jangling against each other. Readjusting his grip on the bat he tiptoed towards his closet and stuck the bat in and wildly smacked every inch, sending half his clothes to the floor. Turning on the spot he looked around once more and then sighed in relief knowing that there was at least one safe room in his house.

Next was the bathroom. He swallowed dryly, and dragged a hand across his face, wiping off the sweat that was making his skin clammy. Licking dry lips he took a step and paused, and then took another until he was standing in front of the closed bathroom door, his hand hovering over the brass doorknob.

He frowned and then pressed an ear to the door, his fingers convulsing with fear when he caught the sound of a very light drip drip drip. His taps were leaky, and normally such a sound wouldn’t have inspired such terror, but it wasn’t the familiar short, smacking sound that came with the water falling onto the ceramic tub.

It was a wet, full sound that seemed to echo for the barest moment before fading away. His hand closed on the doorknob and he flung the door open, brandishing his baseball bat, a fierce expression painted on his pale face. His knees buckled for a moment and the bat shook in his grip as the scowl melted from his mouth.

The bathroom mirror was shattered, glass scattered in the sink, on the counter, and strewn all over the floor. The tub was full of water and the tap continued to drip, each drop of water sending another slow curl of fear into his gut.

Roxas crossed the threshold of the bathroom, something crunching beneath his foot and he looked down, his face fractured as it reflected off of the shards of his mirror, eyes upon eyes staring up at him, though all of them were completely blue. Sighing with relief he smiled, some of the tension ebbing from his body.

The phone rang and he shrieked, the buzz in his pocket startling him, Transferring the bat to his left hand he opened his phone, pressing it to his ear.

“Hello?”

“I said I’d call, didn’t I?” (Name) chirped, the smile evident in her voice.

“You did,” Roxas said, laughing as a grin tugged at his lips.

Say hello for me, will you, pet?

Roxas’ eyes widened. His heart skipped a beat and he turned, slowly, his body and mind numb with horror as his phone slipped from his fingers and fell to the floor, bouncing once and then snapping shut.

There was a charming smile; a wink of a blue-red eye. His twin took a step forward Roxas took a step back.

And. He. Screamed.

A hand grabbed Roxas’ hair and kicked his legs out from under him, sending him to his knees, the hand forcing his face into the tub.

Water…

Roxas threw the bat wildly behind him and, bracing his hands on the side of the tub, pushed his face up to greedily suck in some air when he was pushed back under, the cold water lapping at his shirt, soaking his hair and filling his nose.

There was water everywhere.

Nonononono!’ his mind wailed and he fought back, panic completely overriding anything else as he clawed and scratched at unrelenting hands and arms, and at the ice cold body pressed firmly against his back to keep him from surfacing again.

It was crushing him, pressing relentlessly on all sides of his body. He watched as another bubble of precious air escaped his lips and floated up to who knew where.

Slowly his movements started to grow sluggish, until he was barely struggling at all, the panic leaving as his mind grew muddled, despair flooding him.

His lungs were burning, crying for oxygen that he couldn’t get. Red spots dotted his vision as black crept in from the corners, his arms and hands eddying lazily through the water.

His eyes drifted shut.

~*~

The minute (Name) stepped out of her car she knew something was wrong. The front door was open and when she stood in front of it, a frigid blast of icy air blew across her skin, making it prickle. She dared not to move any further and instead pulled out her phone and called the police.

Forty minutes later Roxas was being transported out of his house under a beige blanket, eyes unseeing, mouth wide in a scream, lips blue from lying in frigid water. They’d pronounced him dead five minutes after lifting him from the tub, and covered his face.

“Miss?” (Name) turned to see a man in his late forties, his jet-black hair peppered with gray. He was dressed in a suit and carried an air of professionalism about him, but his eyes were kind and empathetic. “Doctor Greer, Roxas’ psychologist.” He offered his hand and she shook it, a little limply as she tried to push past the grief resting heavily on her.

“(Name) Statham,” she replied in a trembling voice.

“I understand that you’ve experienced a great loss, but I’m afraid I need to ask you some questions.”

“Wait…why does he have a psychologist?” (Name) asked, worry flickering through her eyes.

Greer hesitated, and then chose not to answer. “Can you tell me who was with Roxas last?”

“Last night he told me he had his friend Axel with him, so they could look through the place. Roxas thought there was a break-in,” (Name) whispered.

“And have you ever met Axel, Miss Statham?”

(Name)’s brow furrowed. “What does this have to do with–”

“And are you aware, Miss Statham, that Roxas Kingston has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, has experienced tactile hallucinations as well as penduncular hallucinosis, and that Axel does not, in fact, exist, but is a result of the two?”

(Name) gaped at him, guilt flooding her when she realized that no, she hadn’t known. “What does this have to do with how he died?”

“Mr. Kingston wasn’t drowned by another’s hand. I doubt he remembers, but we met just this afternoon and he confessed to seeing a doppelganger of himself that appeared to want to harm him. He also mentioned that he had smashed the mirror in the bathroom in hopes of driving the illusion out.”

“So he killed himself,” (Name) murmured, and her hands flew to her mouth. “He drowned himself?!”

Greer nodded. “I’m afraid so.” He patted (Name)’s back. “Thank you for your cooperation…and I’m sorry for your loss, Miss.” He walked off and (Name) fell to her knees, not registering the sting of pain that shot up her legs.

How long had Roxas held his head underwater, unknowing that there weren’t any hands forcing him down?

Something moved in front of the window and she slowly looked over her shoulder.

A wink; a smile.

(Name)’s eyes flew over to the body being loaded into the ambulance, the dangling arm and ring validating what she already knew: that Roxas was dead, and his body had already been taken out of the house. Her head whipped back around to look at the window, hair flying in a fan behind her with the movement.

‘Roxas’ lifted a hand and waved lazily, mouthing a few words and then smirking, his eyes narrowing as he chuckled.

(Name) could feel her blood run cold as she registered what she’d just seen, the words echoing in her mind as if ‘he’ had just whispered them in her ear.

You’re next.

Her hands flew to her face, fingernails digging into her cheeks as, for a moment, she forgot how to breathe.

And don’t forget…it’s just all in your head.

She screamed.







I was much too far out all my life/And not waving but drowning. (Stevie Smith)

A/N: Please review! Shall I continue to write horror-esque stuff? Or no?













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