|Strength of Solitude
Author: Verdreht PM
All his life, Aoshi has worked to be the best. But what happens when that obsession, and the expectations of those he cares about, become too much for the young man to handle? And what does Saito have to do with anything? YAOI AoishixSaitouRated: Fiction M - English - Hurt/Comfort/Angst - Aoshi & Saitou - Chapters: 3 - Words: 5,531 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 13 - Published: 08-06-10 - id: 6211938
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Aoshi lifted the teapot, keeping the wince that fought to surface pressed carefully away from his face. Perhaps accepting Saito's offer was not the best idea, he thought to himself, glancing across the table at the golden-eyed man. Then again…
Aoshi didn't realize that he was staring, his eyes now fixed ahead on Saito. He wasn't quite sure why, but he was captivated. He had laughed with this man, for the first time in ages. He had relaxed…he hadn't realized how nice it was…not to fail to live up to someone's expectations.
It was about that time, with that realization, that everything went to hell.
With a shout, the waitress carrying their food tripped, spilling food forward onto their table. Aoshi, startled by the sudden noise and movement, jerked back. Between the weight of the kettle and the speed of the movement, Aoshi's arm gave a painful spasm and he dropped the pot, its contents spilling out onto the table.
Having held the pot, Aoshi knew just how hot it was, and he did not want the steaming liquid falling into his lap. Being castrated by his favorite drink wasn't something he was interested in.
He lunged from the seat, but at that very moment, the waitress slipped and fell on the soba noodles scattered in the floor. She collided with Aoshi hard, knocking him to the ground and landing on top of him.
Saito had watched the whole ordeal with relative amusement, up until the point he heard the scream. A pained – no, agonized scream tore from Aoshi's throat, and Saito followed the younger man's hands to his leg. He gripped it tightly, as if the pressure from his fingers could stop the pain that had drained every last ounce of color from his face.
The waitress apologized profusely and stood up as quickly as she could. Aoshi did as well, but unlike the waitress, Saito saw his pupils dilate in a way that was quickly identifiable. He was about to pass out, but still he stayed on his feet.
Saito sought to rectify that. "Aoshi, sit down before-."
Aoshi cut him off, slamming some money down onto the table. "I have to go," he said shortly with a voice that clearly announced its owner was fighting back the pressing need to hurl. Whatever had just happened to Aoshi wasn't good. He'd seen the fighter take a direct hit from Shishio and not let out a cry like the one he just had.
Somehow though, Aoshi was able to run, albeit lacking the grace Saito would expect from someone of his caliber.
Saito quickly stood up, not bothering to put any money on the table, but grabbing the jacket Aoshi had left behind as he ran after the retreating Oniwaban fighter.
Saito wouldn't have thought it possible, but it was raining even harder outside. Wind blew the harsh rain against his face, and he was glad that his jacket kept it out. Aoshi didn't have that luxury, a voice in the back of his head reminded him, which made it all the more important that he go after the man.
Luckily for him, Aoshi didn't get very far. Even in the dark of the evening, he spotted the deep violet of Aoshi's shirt. "Aoshi, stop!" Saito shouted after him. Instead of stopping, though, Aoshi picked up his pace.
So Saito did too, and unlike Aoshi, he could take his strides unhindered. He caught up with the smaller man, wrapping his arms around his waist from behind and turning him so that the momentum didn't make him jerk forward.
Regardless of Saito's attempt to smooth the stop, Aoshi's legs still slid out from under him in the slick mud. The older man could have held him up – he was startlingly light – but the pained gasp led him to think that it wasn't just Aoshi's leg that was injured. As gently as he could manage, he lowered Aoshi to the muddy ground, pulling him back a little so that his leg rested straight out in front of him.
The younger man gripped Saito's arms, trying to pull himself free, but he wasn't strong enough. Or maybe, Saito thought, he was just too injured.
"Sit still, Aoshi," Saito commanded, holding him firmly as he struggled to free himself. "You're not going anywhere, so just sit still." He could feel Aoshi steadily tensing, hear the rasping breaths he exhaled growing steadily more strained. He was hurting himself, just try to get free from a grip he should've been able to break with ease. Saito could feel the other man's desperation, his panic, and he had no idea what was causing it.
Still, whether he knew the cause or not, he knew it had to stop. Tightening his grip as much as he could in one arm without hurting him, so that he could free up the other. "Sorry about this," he muttered quietly, slipping his fingertips against the strangely warm skin of Aoshi's neck.
"What are you—" A quick pinch of Saito's fingers into a pressure point silenced Aoshi's exclamation before he got a chance to finish it, and the young fighter went limp against Saito's chest.
Sighing, Saito released him and slid his own jacket from his shoulders. The youth was shivering, even in his unconsciousness, and his clothes were all soaked. It wasn't good for him, especially not with the fever he seemed to have.
Saito let Aoshi's limp form fall against his chest, and wrapped his own jacket around his slender shoulders. His tan overcoat was soaked through and through – putting that on him would do more harm than good. Hopefully though, Saito's jacket would protect him from at least some of the elements.
He went to turn Aoshi around so that he could pick him up, but when he shifted his body away from his chest, something caught his eye. His shirt, which had been pristinely white when he'd left the shop, was now stained red across the front. And it certainly wasn't his blood.
"No time to waist then," he said to himself, sliding an arm behind Aoshi's shoulders, and another under his knees. He was so light, he realized as he lifted him off the ground, even soaked and muddy as he was.
Saito pushed the door to his complex open with his foot and hurried into the guest bedroom. He didn't know why he kept it up – he never had guests since he and Tokio had broken it off – but he was glad now that he did.
As gently as he could manage, he laid the slender figure in his arms on the bed in the room, then got up to light some of the lights in the room.
Now that he could see, he grabbed his box of medicine, too large now to be referred to as a first aid kit, and returned to Aoshi's side, dropping to his knees with a knife in hand. He unwrapped his jacket from him first, and then set about removing the rest of his clothes, starting with his shirt.
He didn't get past the shirt before he realized that this was way beyond his skill level as far as treatment went. The parts of Aoshi's torso that weren't caked in the blood oozing from a large gash across his front were a sick mottling of green and purple – almost black. His rib cage bent inwards at an unnatural angle on the right side, the disfiguration stretching up into his shoulder as well. Saito hoped the shoulder was only dislocated, but from the way the bone prodded against the inside of the skin, he was going to think not.
A sudden stab of fear took Saito by surprise. What was he afraid of? He couldn't think of anything...but…the labored breathing, the pale skin, the shivers, and the gore tormenting the somehow still beautiful man…That, he realized, was what he was afraid of; Aoshi. Or more specifically, what could happen to Aoshi; what was well on the way to happening.
Cursing himself, he stood up, running for the door with speed gifted by his long legs. When he reached the door to his compound, he scanned the street outside. Finally, he spotted what he was looking for.
Cupping a gloved hand to his mouth, he shouted for the courier to come over, waiting impatiently as the young man ran his way. "I need you," he said when the boy reached him, "to go to the Oguni Clinic and fetch either Doctor Gensai, or Megumi Takani. Bring them here, tell them it is an emergency, that a man will die if he isn't treated quickly." He dug some money out of his pocket and shoved it into the boy's hand. "You'll get the rest if you get them here in time."
That was all it took for the messenger, it seemed, and he took off like hell itself was after him. Saito wasn't slow either, running back inside and dropping to his knees next to Aoshi's still unconscious form. Blood was still seeping from the wound on his chest, and it didn't look like it was going to be slowing down anytime soon.
He frowned and grabbed some clean rags and long strips of cloth from his medicine box. "I hope you're really unconscious, Aoshi," he muttered, more to himself than anything, and pressed one of the cloths against the wound hard. Aoshi's face twisted, and a groan escaped his lips, but he didn't wake up, even as Saito lifted him up a little and tied a strip of cloth tight over the rag to hold it in place. Hopefully, that would be enough to slow the bleeding until the doctor came.
With that wound secured, he thought that Aoshi would be okay. He noticed a few moments later though, that for some reason, the bloodstain on the sheet was still spreading, almost as quickly as it had been before. It seemed to be focused around his lower body, and with a frown, he reached for the belt of Aoshi's pants. He could cut away the actual pants, but the belt, he thought, might come in handy if he had to stop any more bleeding.
Belt gone, he made fast work of the rest of Aoshi's coverings, leaving him bare. It wasn't something that bothered Saito – nothing he hadn't seen a hundred times before, if not more – but for the sake of Aoshi's decency, he covered his waist before he continued. The wound, it seemed, was on the inside of Aoshi's left thigh, rather high, so Saito ended up having to tuck the cloth between his legs like a sort of half loin-cloth so that he could see the wound.
And what a wound it was. It stretched from the back of Aoshi's thigh, around to just a few inches below his highly pronounced hip bone. Saito tried to move the leg so that he could see the rest of the damage, but the moment he attempted to shift the deadweight, he felt a strange but not entirely unfamiliar popping. That drew his attention away from the gash long enough for him to noticed the rest of the leg.
It was one big mess of bruises, and from the looks of it, broken bones. Cuts littered the skin like he'd run through barbed wire, and Saito couldn't believe the man had been walking on it that whole time.
Come to think of it, just how the hell had he been upright? Then again, the way he'd fallen in the restaurant, Saito wondered if maybe everything had been stable enough before. He hadn't staggered like he did after the restaurant when the two of them were walking in together.
He shook his head. He didn't have time to be thinking about things like that. Not when blood was still spilling out of Aoshi's leg like water from a stream. It wasn't that bad, but it was enough.
Grimacing, he wrapped another cloth around the inside of his leg, then looped Aoshi's belt around it, pulling it tight. This time, it was more than a groan. He very nearly screamed in his sleep, his back arching off the cot and his body twisting. Saito quickly held him down, and though his body didn't exactly relax, he stilled.
Now that he no longer had to worry about his charge bleeding to death, Saito was able to take a moment to take it all in. His eyes scanned up and down the abused body, calculating, considering. What could have been done to make each of those wounds? What could have lead up to the head of the Oniwaban wandering by himself in Tokyo, battered and beaten? What could have accounted for the fearful look in his eye, not when faced with a fight, but faced with another human being?
All of the questions ran rampant in his head, until the moment the door to his compound slid open. "In here!" he called, and waited. There was no reply, but footsteps came his way, until the door to the room slid open, revealing none other than Megumi Takani.
Her eyes focused on the sight before her immediately, and they went wide. She stood stock still, staring at the panting, still form in front of her.
"Takani!" Saito shouted after a moment, hoping to shake her out of her daze. "Whatever your problem is, deal with it later. He needs a doctor, not a fucking audience!"
That seemed to do it, and with a tight set of her jaw, Megumi Takani set into action.