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temperance reversed.

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When Shinji was very young, he was sent away.

Returned to his family’s home country of Russia to attend a famous preparatory school. He was told it would only be for a year and they would be in touch, but come the winter holidays Shinji found that there was no plane ticket; no arrangements made to visit his family back home. When the following school year approached, again, no plane ticket. Rather, his tuition had been paid in full until graduation.

 

He never received a letter from his father; never received a phone call. He couldn’t help but wonder if this was what he had planned since the day he had been taken to the airport. In retrospect, there had always been a bitterness to him, and Shinji would never be able to forget the way he always looked upon him with scorn. Shinji was six years old.

 

Now in his early twenties, he has studied and traveled all over Asia and Europe, getting restless if he stays in one place for too long. Always more focused on where he’ll go next, forming relationships isn’t something he’s come to be good at. Truly, he only really knows how to be fake: how to say exactly what someone wants to hear; how to act to keep people from maintaining further interest in him. He doesn’t understand how to form a true bond with anyone and the prospect of being open or any sort of vulnerable left him in a state of visceral discomfort.

 

He has never experienced any sort of love, and while he has lived a great deal of loneliness, he’s never known what to do about it. Trying to get along with classmates and co-eds feels empty and meaningless. Being sent away from his family so young has left him permanently without a sense of belonging. No one wanted him, so what’s the point in trying so hard?

 

 

 

As he gets older and the days feel longer, the nights press down hard onto his neck and chest relentlessly, keeping him flat on his back and enveloped in his own loneliness. His energy crumbles into a dry dust that’s easily scattered and lost completely. His only reprieve comes from the furthest corner of his subconscious, where he sits across from a boy and they carry on as if they’re old friends.

These dreams have come to him for a couple of years now, where he can spend time with this person he’s never met and soak up the warmth of his smile. Shinji doesn’t know his name and he thinks he may be going crazy, but meeting this boy in his dreams (recurring but with continuity) has eventually become the only thing he has to look forward to.

He can make it through the day if it means he can visit with that boy in his dreams again.

 

This subconscious relationship grows and Shinji can’t help but spend time in the library pouring over psychology books to see what part of his brain has caused this kind of mess to take hold of him. Though he isn’t so sure he wants to cure it. The pain he feels when awake has become excruciating, but he can’t imagine not being able to see him. Maybe he’s obsessed. Maybe he’s too far gone.

His name is Shirou.

Shinji remembered to ask him, finally. They had a picnic and watched the flowers. Shirou is good at cooking, so he made lunch and Shinji found the best place for them to sit.

 

Just the two of them alone in this space. A blanket and flower petals and the feeling of desperately clinging to something.

 

Shirou had to leave. He usually leaves first, for whatever reason. Sometimes they barely get to say hello and Shinji watches as Shirou gets pulled away from him. It’s heartbreaking, but he knows it isn’t his fault.

 

Shinji has been skipping his classes. He can’t seem to get out of bed. It’s the only place he really ever feels like being, since it’s the gateway to Shirou. He’s long since passed the days of feeling insecure over having a crush on a guy who lives in his head — rather, he craves their interaction. He closes his eyes and plays over the times they’ve met before and he can’t help but curiously wonder what they’ll get to do next.

 

Maybe one day Shirou would kiss him? It’s a nice thought. One that Shinji can’t help but have several times a day.

 

The mail and laundry pile up around him in his single room apartment and the air is always thick with cigarette smoke. He hasn’t been anywhere in some time... He hasn’t eaten in days; he isn’t hungry. He only wants to sleep. Late afternoon sun filters in through bent mini blinds and just as Shinji is about to drag his forearm to cover his eyes, he feels a lurch feel in the pit of his stomach.

 

The feeling is. Fear. It’s excitement? Possibly the rawest adrenaline Shinji has ever felt; so much that he feels it in bursts of bright colors behind his eyes that pulse and make his limbs tremble with electricity that has him jumping to his feet. He’s barely moved in days, but however rickety he may feel doesn’t keep him from the muscle memory routine of pulling his clothes on, tying back his hair and pushing up his glasses. It’s all in slow motion and fast-forward at once, and he knows that he’s just burst through his front door with more energy than maybe he’s ever had in his life.

 

He’s running. Fast.

 

Oxford shoes slide on gravel as he takes off down his street and to the outside of town. Shinji can feel himself panting; sucking in air, but he doesn’t feel winded. He’s blazing with so much adrenaline that he hardly feels inside his own body, save for the cold, frozen fear that’s penetrating his chest. Even so, Shinji’s body knows what it’s doing. Shinji’s heart knows what it’s doing. His brain is trying to catch up with little success.

It only takes a second for something to snap inside of him that tells him something is Wrong and he Has to fix it. He clumsily stumbles around another corner and his shoes slap against the brick path that leads to the bridge. The wind immediately surges and his tie flips back to hit him in the face. Shinji can’t hear himself gasp. He can’t hear anything. Absolute, perfect silence has created a void between him and the rest of the world. Skinny legs jump together and land on the railing with precision as his arm comes out to catch a beam for balance.

 

He can see all the way down.

The sea is angry.

 

Even with his grasp on reality long since faded, Shinji now completely knows what he’s doing. His body and his heart are screaming at him to do it and frankly, he doesn’t feel like fighting them. This is where he’s been pulled to, so he feels a responsibility to see it through. The wind rattles the metal railing of the bridge.

 

If he can go to sleep forever, maybe he can spend more time with Shirou.

 

It’s with that thought Shinji all too casually steps off the bridge. He doesn’t see or hear the people who witnessed him; he never felt the ones who tried to pull him back down. This space he exists in at this moment feels nostalgic.

 

There is no agony here.

 

Not anymore.

 

The fall to his presumable death feels remarkably peaceful. It’s silent and delicate, though that doesn’t keep Shinji from tumbling now and then before he’s able to right himself. It’s hard to decide the best way to fall — is it less painful head first? At this height does that sort of thing even matter? He’s lost sight of the bottom. The only thing that exists right now is the fall itself.

His jacket flares out behind him as he pushes up his glasses again, though he isn’t sure why he’s bothering with preserving them. Still, a part of him feels like he ought to be presentable. After all, he isn’t entirely sure what death will be like and he can’t ignore the overwhelming feeling that something amazing is going to happen — or perhaps he’s just a touch more morbid than he once suspected.

 

He tumbles again, having gotten lost in his own head.

 

It’s just as Shinji rights himself and wonders when this leap to his demise will end that he suddenly slams into something with so much force that he finally feels startled. For all the effort he’s made to fall with dignity, he wraps his arms around a familiar, radiating warmth as he closes his eyes and he tips head first.

 

Sound only returns to him as he crashes into the water and sinks under.