'No... Not him; please, anyone but him...'

Toris awoke from his dream by an insistent chiming. It had been like this a lot lately; nightmares plagued him nearly every night. They were always one of three:

Mr. Ivan coming towards him with his dreaded whip, smile cruel, voice soft and child-like and oh so cold. "You know I do this because I love you, my little favorite..."

Miss Natalia, pressing a knife to his throat, pale porcline face as expressionless and dull as that of a doll…

And then the worst- and most frequent- from which he had just awoken.

Toris groped his bedside table for the bothersome thing that had chimed, turning his head groggily. His cellphone had gone off. He glanced and allowed himself a tired smile. Felik's name glowed on the little screen.

Hey, u awake?

Toris's reply was quick.

I am now. Whats up?

Shit. I totes didnt want to wake you.

Its fine; something wrong?

No, just cant sleep. Go back to bed, srry I woke u up.

K. Call me in the morning.

Sounds good. Sweet dreams Liet

You too Feliks. Get some sleep.

Toris set the phone back on his nightstand. Feliks... one of the few nations he genuinely liked. Heck, he'd even say he loved him. It certainly felt that way at times, and his most recent dream did an awful good job at reminding him of this fact.

It always started out the same way, with a knock on the door and a feeling of dread. Toris would hesitate before answering; who would call at such a late hour? Finally he would open it to find Feliks swaying on his doorstep. He'd give a weak smile. "Hey there, Liet," he would say, and then start to cough so violently he would collapse into Toris's arms. And then the panic would set in, because Feliks was suddenly gasping and coughing and wounded and bleeding; God, there was always so much blood... and Toris would begin to cry, like he always did, and Feliks would smile and shush him and comfort him, when in reality he was the one who should have been comforted. His hand would come up to gently cup Toris's face, saying "Hey, like, don't cry over me. I'll be back before you know it. So be strong, because I'll be super pissed off if I come back and you're not here. Got it?"And Toris would nod and promise him he would; he'd promise Feliks he'd harness the moon if it would bring him back- and by God if he wouldn't try like hell to keep his promise.

He would continue to cry as Feliks would smile and say "I'm just gonna take a rest for a while, that's all..." and inhale his last labored breath. His hand would fall to his stomach, and Toris would hug his lifeless body and sob and shake so hard he was afraid he'd fall apart. And it would be like he is falling apart; like a part of him broke off and died along with his very best friend- the person he had loved the longest and the most in his life. And he would sit there in the open doorway and stare blindly and think numbly 'Why? Please, God, no. Not him. Not him... please; anyone but him...'as Feliks's body would dissolve away into nothingness.

And then Toris would wake up, and his heart would be pounding, and he would continue to shake. His pillow would be soaked with tears, and he would wrap his arms around himself and try to calm down, reassuring his troubled and aching heart that all that is past;

'Feliks is alive and well, and that he'll be calling you later to tell you about his plans for the day and what he did yesterday and which color he wants to paint his walls next. And you'll smile and make the right comments in the right places and act exasperated at his color choice. But secretly you'll love it- you'll love everything about it- the routine of it all and the mindless conversation and the sound of his voice and the fact that he's alive; he's ALIVE and he's strong and happy, and that makes you happy... happier than you've ever been. And maybe he'll even come over for a visit, or maybe you'll go visit him, because any time you get to see him is time precious and treasured.'

And so the semi-vicious cycle of Toris's days will inevitably begin again: nightmare, wake up, calm down, talk to Feliks, go about the rest of the day, go to sleep, and begin again. But he didn't mind it too much; it was in his nature not to really care about things involving himself. He was too used to taking care of others. It wasn't all bad; nothing would ever be as bad as that horrible night long ago.

And sometimes, on nights like this, Toris gets a small reminder that everything really is okay; that Feliks, if he is needed, is simply a text message away.