Hello all. The idea for this fic came to me suddenly one day in the shower. I was reading this great poem by Vikram Seth called 'Soon' earlier (which I highly recommend) and it occurred to me that if Hotohori and Nuriko ever did actually get together, they might have to face the problems most other gay people are facing nowadays – namely, a fear of AIDS. This is not to say that straight people don't fear AIDS, but that it seems to be more prevalent and associated with being gay. I mean no disrespect and do not wish to be targeted by people who might take umbrage at my explanations. It's what I truly think and is supported by most of my friends; a few who are actually gay and have no problems with my asking them stuff like this. So, please do not think of me as judgmental and let the story speak for itself.
Disclaimer: - I do not own any of these characters. I am not Vikram Seth and hence, do not own the poem 'Soon'. This fic is entirely based on my imagination and is a sign of my great respect for the wonder of Seth.
Soon.I shall die soon, I know.
This thing is in my blood.
It will not let me go.
It saps my cells for food.
My hands are still shaking. I'm sitting on the sidewalk, waiting for the bus and my hands are shaking like they're never going to stop…
When I woke up this morning, the sun was shining, the trees were green and everything was right with the world. Now the world's all torn up and I can't see anything but dust and dirt and pain and grime. I know people are walking by and staring at me but I can't really bring myself to care at this point. Why bother worrying about that when I've got so much more on my mind? After all, it's not every day that you find out you're dying… And that you might be taking the one you love most in the world with you.
It feels like I've been sitting here forever. But that doesn't matter because I don't want to go anywhere. If I go anywhere, then it means that I'm moving on. Moving one step closer to telling him, moving that one step closer to the end. How am I going to tell him? I barely understand it all myself. And then... what then?
I'm sure he won't leave me. He wouldn't! He loves me too much, doesn't he? Of course he does! It's silly to be worrying. He actually tracked me down in this life to be with me. That proves it… doesn't it? He wouldn't be angry about all this, would he? I really didn't know… how this happened…
The bus finally arrives. I get on and try to tug my coat tighter around me to ward off the chill. The old lady on the seat beside me is giving me strange glances. I try forcing myself to smile at her but she's still staring at me. I wonder if my hair's out of place? Is that why…
God! I can't believe how silly it is to be sitting here worrying about my hair when inside me…
It soaks my nights in sweat
And breaks my days in pain.
No hand or drug can treat
These limbs for love or gain.
I get down at my stop and trudge the three blocks to our quiet, little bed-sit. Normally, I skip down this road humming, but I don't want to any more. If he were here, I might have tried for him, tried to be happy for him. But he's waiting for me at home because I told him to. Because he thought that it wasn't really serious, just some sort of lingering flu that I might have caught over the winter. But it's summer now, and that brought cause for worry.
When he first suggested the appointment, I was amused and pleased at this sign of his affection for me. The worry in his golden eyes was just another sign of his love. Over waffles for breakfast, he told me in that velvety no nonsense tone that I was going to go to a doctor and that he had made the appointment. I remember laughing at him, thinking that I was invincible. I mean, I wasn't a warrior anymore but it had taken quite a bit to kill me, as far as I remember. Even in this life I'm playing the fool.
He had wanted to come with me. Moral support, he had claimed. But I saw no real need for any support as such. Why make such a fuss over a little cough? So my chest hurt a little in the mornings and I was a little weaker than usual. Big deal! It's not like I hadn't had the flu before.
Love was the strange first cause
That bred grief in its seed,
And gain knew its own laws-
To fix its place and breed.
In a way, I'm glad he wasn't with me. The doctor's face when he had given me the results was so openly sympathetic that I couldn't bear it! It scared me that something I had thought so far in the past would have the power to come back and haunt me; hurt me. A previous relationship that I desperately wanted to erase from my memories. Someone before Sai, someone I never wanted to tell him about. But now there was no choice in the matter – I would have to tell him the truth; to save him… and to separate us. I knew that long before the doctor tried, painfully yet tactfully, to tell me.
I'm standing outside our door now. I can't even remember how I climbed the stairs or whether I smiled at the bell guy. I can hear Sai fumbling about in the kitchen. I can picture him in I close my eyes and try. 'Not Unusual'. He always sings that particular song while cooking. It's familiar enough to bring tears to my eyes. My hands are trembling as they insert the key and twist it slowly in the lock. I can hear each tumbler move until they click into place. Ever since this morning, I'm constantly stuck in moments that last eternities. But this one's ending cause the door's swinging open…
…And he's standing there. The windows are open and the sunlight's bouncing off his hair, making the sepia locks almost golden in their radiance. His lips are smiling, but his eyes are concerned. His mouth is opening, but I can't bear to hear the words. And then I can hear myself –
"I'm dying, Sai."
He whom I love, Thank God,
Won't speak of hope or cure.
It would not do me good.
He sees that I am sure.
We're sitting on the couch now. I think he's in shock. I know I am. He's shaking his head in disbelief as the whole story comes out – the boy I thought I loved, our one night stand, the fights, him leaving, me moving on, meeting Sai, deciding to let him be the first… because to me he was, keeping the truth from him, the test results – it all poured out of me in a sickening flood. Sai just keeps shaking his head and I keep begging him to look at me. But he won't.
I know it's all over now. He's walked over to brace his hands against the table. His back is so rigid and filled with pain that I can almost hear his muscles screaming. I want to go over and put my hand on his shoulder or hug him close to me, but I'm dirty now. And he finally knows.
CRASH! He's pushed the table over. The china's broken and everything is seeping together. I notice but he doesn't. He's too busy tearing apart the rest of the apartment. He screaming at the same time, the same question that has been haunting me since I found out.
He knows what I have read
And will not bring me lies.
He sees that I am dead.
I read it in his eyes.
He's over in the corner sobbing. I finally have the strength to try to touch him again. Crouching down beside him, I brush his hair away from his face, crooning to him, trying to comfort him. After all, he's the only thing that really matters. The only thing I know of that makes life worth living. He's curled up in a corner shaking and I'm shaking too. And I'm holding him and he's holding on to me. And maybe if we hold each other together long enough, everything will be all right. Everything will be all right again.
When he finally calms down enough, we move to the bedroom. Spooning together, we talk about everything. If there could be a mistake, how long I have left, when he should go get tested, why I never told him… everything except if he wants to leave. I can't bear knowing the answer. If he stays, I'll never know if it was pity or love. And I don't know if he truly will either. But then… maybe he's got it too. What then? I couldn't bear to know that he might be hurt because of me, dying because of my past…
How am I to go on -
How will I bear this taste,
My throat cased in white spawn –
These hands that shake and waste?
We're back at the clinic now. Sai's getting his blood tested. They say they'll let us know by this evening. The doctor's telling us both about precautions until then. What we can and can't do. How many times I have to come see him. Medication, treatments, the parasites in my blood…
We're both nodding, but we're not really here. It's just a dream, isn't it? Some sort of horrible dream that we've gotten sucked into by mistake. Maybe if I pinch myself hard enough, I'll wake up. Then I can turn over and Sai and I can cuddle until I go back to sleep. But I can see the bruise on my arm growing and I'm not waking up…
And then suddenly, we're back home again. I don't remember much about how we got her. Memories float in of shaking the doctor's hand, collecting my prescriptions, getting into the car and then they float back out of my conscious. Sai's hugging me gently as we sit on the sofa. He's whispering into my hair that it doesn't matter, that he loves me, will stay with me for as long as I'll give him. And then we're both crying…
… and my hands won't stop shaking…
Stay by my steel ward bed
And hold me where I lie.
Love me when I am dead
And do not let me die.
Author's note: - any constructive criticism or review is welcome. The story isn't over and will probably have one more chapter. I was too tired to proof read so I apologize for any mistakes. My computer has the rather nasty habit of eating my files and so I thought it might be safest to post this while I still can. Any comments would be appreciated. As you can tell, the story is from Nuriko/ Ryuuen's point of view.
As always I remain,