A/N: So, I’m not exactly sure where this story is going. It’s just kind of writing itself. I’ll tell you this, though – I’m attempting to get to a good ending with it, although I suspect it’ll be a more adult iteration of ‘good ending’ rather than a Disney princess version of ‘good ending’ (I specify Disney princess as opposed to fairy tale since fairy tales in their pre-Disney forms have more complex/conflicted endings). But I’m really going to try to get there.
I would like to note that I do not include suicide in every story with Muroi in a cavalier manner. I do feel it is important to mention that, as it is possible that it comes off as being exploitative. I have had several friends and acquaintances commit suicide and have struggled with suicidal feelings myself, so I want to stress that I do not consider it merely as a convenient way to get Muroi and Ozaki involved romantically or sexually.
Happy Endings Are All the Same
“You’re staying here.”
It was a firm statement, a statement which solicited no argument, the tone leaving no room for debate. Seishin regarded Toshio with flat eyes, his bandaged arm hanging loosely at his side. He felt underclothed, his shirt crumpled in the corner of the doctor’s office, his pants speckled with bloodstains. His religious garb still hung on the hanger at home; if he’d been in it, would he now be naked? He shivered uneasily at the thought.
If anything, he felt more miserable standing here now than he had a couple of hours earlier when he’d calmly sat down, slid the door to the outdoors open, and slit his own wrist. If he really thought about it, he wasn’t at all miserable, actually, when he’d done so – he’d been deeply unhappy before he finally made his decision, but an intense calm had come over him after he decided it. It was even possible that he had felt quite happy as he’d swiped the blade easily across his arm.
And then had come the pain. It hadn’t hurt at first – the cut was so clean, it was done so quickly. But as the blood beaded along the line, a stinging sensation had bubbled up, to be replaced by an intense burning. It had been almost unbearable. But he’d remained sitting, looking out at the summer skies and the still landscape. The sun had seemed to fade as he’d sat there, although he knew it was only the early afternoon, had known that there were no clouds.
He realized he had slumped completely to the floor, however, when he felt someone tugging insistently at his arm, had noticed that there was a voice calling for him. The pain had receded mostly, but now it returned, a stabbing-type feeling in his arm with each jerk of the limb. He felt he was dreaming, and this threatened to pull him loose from it all. But he found he had little strength to resist, and then it all seemed to slip out of his grasp like the air.
This hadn’t seemed important until he’d come around, a needle pricking repeatedly at his left arm. It was like falling, and he instinctively braced himself before realizing it was simply himself regaining consciousness. The doctor’s office came slowly into focus, the hard chair beneath himself making itself apparent. Toshio’s slow, soft cursing became audible all at once, and Seishin had looked at him with some surprise as he tried to make everything cohesive.
Of course. Toshio had saved him. Had saved him? Had damned him? Had grabbed him, had brought him here, was now sewing his arm shut.
But it was the lack of shirt which truly made him sit up. Toshio swore loudly as Seishin’s arm jerked away from him, and then glared at the other man, snatching the limb back. It was clear that he was angry, although it wasn’t clear with whom. Probably both himself and Seishin. Which meant there was a good chance that he was going to be mean.
But now Seishin stood in the middle of the office, awkwardly, his arm stitched and bandaged. He felt as though he may as well have had his hands tied together for the look that Toshio had fixed upon him now. He didn’t know why he’d even bothered to stand up; he felt woozy, suddenly, and he feared that if he tried to take a step he’d stumble. Toshio was still sitting in his swivel chair, the angry expression faded slightly, an authoritarian style one having taken over more fully.
However, Seishin knew him well enough that he knew that it was this expression Toshio forced since the alternative would’ve been one of confusion and despair. He felt terrible. He hadn’t predicted that Toshio would be around for any reason during the daytime… he had anticipated one of the temple workers coming to ask him a question or something of that sort. His mother and father had gone to see relatives elsewhere, after all…
Yet, if he was being honest, he would have to confess that a small corner of himself was angry. He’d “saved” him – saved him as he saw it, hadn’t he? No regard there for what Seishin himself wanted, was there? The same as it always was now. What he wanted mattered very little. But what the doctor believed? It mattered more than anything, didn’t it? And he believed that Seishin had to be prevented from carrying out his own wishes, apparently.
It fueled a funny little black hatred which he had first noticed about a year prior when his friend had gotten married. He’d felt profoundly out of joint as he’d watched them repeat the vows, and then a nauseous sensation when they had kissed. He’d also been upset with this reaction of his. And yet he’d also felt a worming sense of disgust when Toshio had spoken warmly with him at the reception following. All because Toshio just didn’t seem to take any notice at all of how his own childhood friend was feeling, and hadn’t seemed to have been capable of doing so since they’d both gone off to university.
Of course, this in turn just served to reinforce his own self-hatred. How could he be so awful about Toshio, after all? If he wasn’t aware of how Seishin was feeling, wasn’t that mainly Seishin’s fault? Toshio would ask him how he was, and he always gave his standard bland response before rushing on to some other topic. To distract him. So how could he have known?
The creaking of Toshio’s chair as he turned it interrupted Seishin’s thoughts. Toshio was shutting off the small lamp on his desk, preparing to leave the office. His hand crumpled a sheet of paper, then stuffed it in his pocket. He stood, not facing Seishin, “I’m not giving you a transfusion. We don’t have any of your bloodtype.” He turned back to Seishin, “And I don’t trust you enough, anyway. It’ll be better if you’re sluggish for a few days.”
There was a hard look about him, and Seishin looked away, ashamed. He was probably right to keep him like this, unsteady. He would’ve done the same had he been Toshio.
“Come on. You shouldn’t be standing anyway.”
He took his arm as he said this, and began to guide Seishin out of the room. The floorboards beneath him felt wobbly, and he leaned heavily into Toshio. The clinic was empty and quiet, and they passed through easily to the living quarters. Seishin felt himself grow tense, afraid of running into Mrs. Ozaki. She’d always seemed to be contemptuous of him, and he doubted that this would improve her opinion of him by much.
They had to stop twice on the stairs, Seishin panting from the exertion. There were spots in his vision, and he wanted nothing more than to simply sink to sit on the stairs and remain there. But after a few minutes rest both times, Toshio roughly forced him to move along.
He was surprised when they went into Toshio’s childhood bedroom; he knew that he’d moved into the larger spare bedroom after graduating high school. But they had gone to the very end of the hall, past the elder doctor’s bedroom, past Mrs. Ozaki’s bedroom, past the bathroom, past the study, past the bedroom Toshio had shared with Kyouko, all the way to the room of his youth, the walls still hung with old posters from bygone baseball team rosters, the bookshelves crowded with yellowing issues of Shounen Jump.
It was strangely comforting to be here. And Seishin was glad that they hadn’t stopped at the other bedroom, although Kyouko herself had been gone for four months or so now. He wasn’t sure he could’ve managed to stay in there without going mad. But here was a cheerful reminder of a better time, a time before death-wishes and wives. He’d spent a good deal of his own childhood in here, secretly reading manga with Toshio with flashlights under their covers when they were supposed to be asleep. He almost smiled at the memory.
Toshio had left him by the door and gotten a futon out of the closet. He gave it a hard shake before unfurling it on the floor, then returned to the closet for a pillow and blankets. His own bed was Western in style, the mattress raised a foot and a half off the floor. Mrs. Ozaki enjoyed wearing a kimono, but she had never seemed to enjoy anything else Japanese. Futon ranked somewhere between rotted food and hot weather as far as she was concerned. But they still owned a few anyway, passed down from previous generations who had been more inclined toward their use.
After setting out the futon, Toshio went to his bureau, and took one of his older yukata out, then returned to Seishin, “Here. Change.”
Seishin took the clothing, and walked fully into the room. Behind him, Toshio closed the door. He looked back and saw that Toshio had averted his eyes, and Seishin bit his lip, uncomfortable. But he turned away toward the windows; it was unlikely that he would be able to convince him to leave the room entirely. And so he changed like that, the silence almost crushing.
He pulled at the sleeves when he was done, feeling exposed. The entire thing was just slightly too short. But it was entirely possible that this was part of the point; Toshio had already told him he didn’t even trust him enough to give him a transfusion, after all. Why would he trust him enough to have his arms fully covered, then? Well, he wouldn’t. And didn’t.
“I’m done.” He said it softly, his pants folded in his arms.
Toshio took the pants from him, and stuffed them into the hamper in the corner of his room, “You should lie down, then.”
Seishin obeyed him, but he felt awkward as he did so, Toshio watching him. When he’d pulled the sheets up, Toshio had retrieved a book from the floor and settled into his chair by the window. Seishin couldn’t read the title on the cover from he lay, the shadows throwing it into too-sharp relief. He could hear himself asking inside his head what the book was, but he remained silent, unwilling to speak even for such a simple thing.
He realized he must’ve drifted off when he became aware that the room had grown quite dim, and that Toshio was no longer by the window. A panicky feeling seized him, and he looked around sharply. He felt achy and tired, as if he had not slept at all, and his glasses were gone.
The squeak of the door’s hinges sounded when Toshio entered the room again. He was now wearing pajamas, a bowl of something hot in his hands, the steam giving it away. He clicked a small lamp on by the bed, lighting up the room somewhat. Seishin sat up as Toshio knelt next to him, sticking a spoon into what looked to be a thin-ish stew. He looked up at Seishin, “You need to eat something.”
The smell made him realize that he was starving, and he couldn’t really remember what it was he’d even eaten at all earlier in the day. If he’d actually eaten anything. He frowned, realizing that there was a definite chance that he had not bothered. He took the bowl carefully, and began to eat, the hot food filling him up rapidly. Even with Toshio watching him so closely, he did not feel self-conscious.
Toshio took the bowl when it was empty, then stood and set it on the narrow windowsill. He sat down on his bed, stifling a yawn. He looked exhausted. He looked at Seishin for a moment or two, as if he wanted to say something. But then he reached for the lamp instead, and turned it off, the room fading once more. Seishin could hear him moving the sheets before his eyes adjusted and he could make out his shadowy form.
A hand reached out in the darkness, “Give me your hand.”
He took it wordlessly, and Toshio gripped him tightly, “If I do this, then you can’t leave, can you?”
Seishin looked away, even as he could not see Toshio’s face. The grip didn’t fade.
“No… I can’t…”