Rei: Okay this here's a...bondy fic. No, not bondage, you sick freak. .o ::Stares at you like some kind of staring thing that stares.:: Alright, now that I've scared you...those that remain can read the fic! =D It's not an easy fic to explain. You'll just need to read on. I did the best I could in the summary.

Warnings: A pretty clean fic compared to my usual fare. The characters don't curse aside from Hatori's two little words. Also nobody has sex. It's mentioned, and two people do consider it...but they don't. As for couple warnings we've got Akito/Ayame (doesn't last) Yuki/Tohru (implied but unimportant) Ayame/Shigure (meaningless) Hatori/Kana (only in the past) and Akito/Hatori (well it's some kind of bond anyway. Maybe not romantic. I don't know. This one actually means something though.) Also, people are a bit OOC in this fic. Akito's clingier then usual, and Ayame is very insecure. O_O Yes I know, fear. But people who are constantly bragging about how great they are usually the ones who hate themselves most. Yuki's not very nice in this thing. You can blame that on the fact that I don't like him. But all you Yuki fans out there, don't eat me. His being mean actually has a point!

Disclaimer: I shall own an Akito plushie sometime in the near future, but I don't own Furuba. ^^

~ ~ ~

Despite Everything By Rei

"You know he doesn't like you all that that much."
Huh? The thought doesn't register. Hatori, not liking Ayame? That's impossible, they'd grown up together, they were family. How could you hate such an integral part of your life? "Gure-chan, you're being silly," Ayame scoffs, momentarily pleased with this conclusion. But something in him knows it's so; his hand is shaking and he nearly drops the phone.
He sits down, hoping to rid himself of this ridiculous thought. But Shigure talks on. "Don't tell me you haven't noticed it. He never listens to you, and he always looks so annoyed...besides, he's probably busy and I don't think he'll like the movie. Let's make this just you and me, okay?"
"'Kay." Ayame doesn't say how sick this makes him feel. He knows a lot of people don't like him, even despise him, but it's important that he's able to deny this. If he can pretend that their glares of hatred are merely the result of a bad day, he can preserve his sanity and his self- worth. If people like him then he deserves to live.
"So let's make it tomorrow at eight, my place, shall we?" Shigure says. "Be sure to take your birth control pills!" Normally Ayame cracks up at such jokes, but he doesn't find it very funny today. He doesn't want to laugh, he wants to curl up and die. Hatori hates him.
"Sure. Tomorrow at eight. See you then." He hangs up and sinks into a red, armless chair that he now realizes is very uncomfortable and would like to exchange for something else. He plays with his hair, it's very pretty. So's the rest of him. He's nearing thirty, but he's still thin and has no wrinkles. This is very important to him. If he looks good then at least he knows theres something about him worth liking. He acts conceited because he hates himself, and thinks the arrogance will make others like him, but they don't, and that makes him hate himself more. He doesn't know. It's confusing. He has to go see Hatori.

~ ~ ~

After an excessive amount of grooming and primping, and forty-five minutes spent choosing the perfect outfit—skin-tight white jeans with red stitching, and the reverse in tank top form, and his silver hair tied with a red ribbon—Ayame walks outside. The day is warm but he's shivering, he's terrified. He wants Hatori to deny ever disliking him, to fold him in his arms and say he loves him. He dreads that this won't happen. Actually he knows it wont, he just doesn't want to face this particular truth. How could Hatori hate him, Hatori who introduced him to his first girlfriend, Hatori who defended him to their high school teacher who wanted to punish him in ways that weren't legal, Hatori who listens to him talk hour after hour after hour...
That's it, the talking. Is he better off without words?
He doesn't know. He arrives at the Main House having no idea what to say or do.

~ ~ ~

"I'm telling you Hatori, my head is killing me..." Akito whines, violently massaging his temples. "My throat hurts too, and I'm so tired..." All this is true, and Akito is telling Hatori in hopes of getting some medication to fix it. Hatori won' t let him control his own pills because he doesn't trust him not to overdose. A reasonable concern, as Akito's will to live is not too strong. And so the whining continues. "Hariiii!"
"Akito, I've checked, and theres nothing wrong with you!" Hatori snaps, annoyed. "Besides, you've had more aspirin then can possibly be good for you, and I don't think it's helping. You're fine, so stop telling me." He buries his face in his hand and mutters obscenities. He's stressed, he's tried, he's been doing paper work all night. He's not in the mood for Akito's hypochondria.
Akito pulls his yukata jacket tighter around himself, and mumbles that he's cold. He was feeling alright this morning, but now he feels awful. He's glad of this, without illness he's nothing, and Hatori will leave him all alone. He can't be alone for even a second anymore, because what if it's the second of his death? He can't die alone or his life will have been for nothing. "I'm sick," he says. "Believe me."
"You're just trying to drive me crazy," Hatori groans. "You're not sick, I checked. Look, I'm leaving, alright?" He puts on his jacket, a symbol of closure. He knows he'll take it off the minute he gets outside, it's warm out there, but he wants Akito to know that this meeting is over. "Just do whatever sick twisted shit you usually do when I'm not here. I'll be back in the morning to check up on you." With that he walks away, leaving Akito reciting still more symptoms, reasons for him to stay.
Hatori just shakes his head as he goes, ignoring him. He notices Ayame standing in the doorway and assumes that Akito's sent for him. Akito often summons random Sohmas for fear of a solitary death. Hatori can't understand this. He wants to be alone the rest of his life; he hates dealing with people and their conversation. He nods to Ayame and walks off, leaving the two by themselves.

~ ~ ~

Ayame is crushed. He wanted proof against his fear, but all he got was a nod of the head, not even a single word of acknowledgement. If being quiet means being ignored, then Ayame wants no part of it.
Akito narrows his eyes at Aya, and tries to fight his jealous feelings. Had Hatori asked him to come and visit? Right now Hari is too annoyed to notice his visitors, but he could have called before. Here is someone Hatori wants to be with, whose company he enjoys. Here is someone who is loved.
Akito would like to kill him.
"Hi there, Aki-chan!" Ayame says cheerfully. He pulls him into the hug they both need from Hatori, and decides to make the best out of this visit. If Akito has a good side then it's best to be on it. This weak- looking boy has a power over the family that none of them can understand, and he has an endless capacity for rage to fuel his dominance. Ayame doesn't really want to be punished today.
"Hi," Akito says, feeling awkward and pulling away. He has nothing to say to Ayame that would be more articulate then a barked, 'Why are you here!?' He doesn't want him to go though, he's dizzy and thinks he'll die. He flops over, just lets him body fall to the ground. He can't be bothered with such a complex motion as sitting.
"Where did Hatori go?" Ayame asks, also noticing the uncomfortable air, made more apparent by Akito's sudden collapse. He knows he should ask if Akito's alright, but he doesn't really want to. He sits down beside him, hoping to ease the tension.
Akito doesn't move as he answers. "He can't stand to be around me, so he left." He considers allowing the tears gathering in his eyes to fall, but he wipes the away, not wanting to mar his god-like image. Gods don't have feelings.
God's don't lie facedown on the floor like discarded dolls either. What is he doing? He stands up, feels dizzy, and lies back down. Screw being a deity, he just wants to be healthy. Hatori says he is now, so why does he feel so bad?
Ayame's nodding as if he understands, and now Akito really wants him dead. Akito knows there are people who feel like he does, but he also knows that Ayame isn't one of them. Happy, bubbly Aya has no idea what it's like to be despised, to be in pain all the time. His head hurts so bad he can barely see, does Ayame know how that feels?
And Ayame...he has Hatori's undivided attention when he speaks of nonsense. Hatori speaks only shop with Akito, if he can't heal it it's irrelevant. Once he told Hatori that he was lonely and was provided with a self-help manual. All he'd wanted was a brief conversation with the man about something other then his own physical misery. He'd wanted to know about Hatori. He still does, but all he knows is that Hatori hates him.
"He hates me too," Ayame says slowly, sadly, his old ecstatic self gone.
"He...what?" Akito can't comprehend this. Didn't Hatori listen to Ayame, even occasionally call him up on his own free will, just to hear his jabbering voice? Didn't they go out to bars and get drunk together? Why would you do this with someone you despised?
With his confession Ayame begins to cry. The idea of this person who means the world to him, hating him... He thinks about how he could die, and who would miss him. The only person who might would be Shigure, and one person isn't enough to tie him to the world. He still wants to leave it, so that no one can hate him anymore. You can't hate the dead without feeling guilty.
Akito touches Aya's bare shoulder in a pathetic gesture of comfort. The shoulder heaves up and down, and Ayame sobs as if he were the only miserable person. Akito begins to rub the shaking shoulder, and he reaches for the other one with the intention of doing the same thing. He's not sure how this will help, but he's willing to try anything if it will shut Ayame up. The sound is hurting his head and it reminds him of things he wishes he hadn't done to Aya's younger brother.
Besides, Ayame shouldn't angst so much over something that isn't true.
Ayame responds to Akito's touch as he does to all touch, the only way he knows how. He turns around, face full of tears, nose dripping with snot, and tongue-kisses the Sohma Master. Caught off guard, Akito doesn't pull away. Ayame's older, he knows what he's doing. Having been taught from birth that obedience to Hatori means survival, it isn't hard to project this message onto Ayame, who is Hatori's same age. The kiss would heal him, help him to live.
Ayame doesn't wonder why he does this. Common misery is an aphrodisiac, and he does wonder about the experience his brother found so abhorrent—sex with Akito.
But then some very unsexy thoughts enter his head. Akito, with all his other illnesses, probably has at least one STD. Does Ayame really want to take that chance? No, not particularly.
Besides, Akito's moving away, not wanting to go so far so soon, not wanting to overdose this newfound medication. "I'm sorry," he whispers, hoping Aya understands. It's a mutual agreement, they don't go past kissing and cuddling. Ayame's shortsighted and Akito knows if he looks too far into his future he'll see nothing, and they're both so lonely that they don't even consider the consequences of this small act. Others will feel pain for their comfort, but they can't care now. They need this. Still, they don't go too far. Ayame for practical reasons stemming from high school sex education courses, and Akito because he doesn't want to take what he doesn't feel he deserves. He doesn't want to be too happy.

~ ~ ~

Feeling more then a little guilty, Hatori stomps down the street, past various shops and residential homes. He doesn't know where he's going, as technically he doesn't have a home. Normally he stays with Akito, or on occasion another sick Sohma. On those rare, blissful days when he's alone, he goes to stay with his mother. There he has as many hours of solitude as he could possibly want, and when he's finally ready for human contact, Sohmas Hatori and Yumi attempt some mother-son bonding. Of course they rarely speak of more then medicine. Yumi was once the Sohma physician, and now has her own pediatric practice. She likes this better then her old job; she gets paid, and the kids are sweet unlike Akito. Nearly every time she sees her son, Yumi tries to advise him on his dealings with the family head, but she only knows ten-year-old Akito. He's changed in the past nine years, so this advice is no longer relevant.
Unfortunately, Hatori's not sure how to handle Akito the man, much less Akito at all. He has been unconsciously following his mother's council—not good—and treating Akito like a small boy. No matter what the tests say, if Akito says he's sick then probably is. If anyone else said the same, Hatori would try his best to help them, but when it came to Akito, whose life and thus the lives of the rest of the Juunishi depends on Hatori's judgement, he failed.
He keeps seeing the hurt look on Akito's face, hearing the obsessive mantra of symptoms, translated from Akito-speak to mean 'I need you.'
He needs him. There might be nothing Hari can do as a doctor, but Akito is family as well as client. Hatori can't with clear conscience leave his little cousin alone to think about what he wants inscribed on his gravestone.
So he ducks into a nearby flower shop, and buys a bouquet, the universal token of forgiveness. The he heads for the Main house. He has too much pride to run, so he speed walks the way home.
He doesn't think about Ayame. He's not aware of any problems there.

~ ~ ~

After a ten-minute search for his keys, Hatori realizes he hasn't locked the door. Mildly irritated, he steps inside and hangs up his coat. "Akito!" he calls, hoping he hasn't gone out. Akito is unstable; the slightest rejection could drive him to go throw himself off a bridge or into traffic. Akito's death would mean disaster for the Sohmas. And despite himself Hatori knows he'd miss him. "Are you there, Akito?"
"...hai..." comes Aki's voice, low and slow like maple syrup. Akito's voice changes drastically depending on his moods, and Hatori's relieved to hear that he's calm right now. When he's angry his voice sounds nasal, tinny.
"Ah...um..." Hatori stammers, hating himself more and more each second of Akito's silence. He moves steadily towards Akito's dimly lit room. His fingers tighten around the tulip bouquet, and he swallows repeatedly. Why is he so nervous? Akito's not mad Akito's...
Kissing Ayame. Akito's. Kissing. Ayame.
Blushing furiously, Hatori drops the flowers and runs out the door, not knowing why this upsets him so.

~ ~ ~

Their desire for one another is beginning to wane, and both are glad they did not make love. Akito is too tired; he hasn't the stamina to be taken. Ayame has grown bored with Akito's skeletal body; it's too similar to his younger brother's. He has no desire to explore it further, as this reminds him of the despicable things that Akito has done.
Besides, they both saw Hatori. Neither can understand why he looked so hurt. Akito thinks that maybe he has a thing for Aya and will be angry with him later for stealing him away. Ayame thinks exactly the same thing about Akito. Both want desperately to find him and set things right. Instead though, Ayame goes home to blow dry his hair past fluffy perfection, and Akito crawls into bed to sleep like the dead. But before Ayame can leave he must ask the obligatory question: "Do you want to do that again?"
"No," says Akito.

~ ~ ~

Outside, Hatori tries to collect himself. He doesn't understand why he's so upset, why he's nearly crying into the hands that hide his face. Why should it bother him that Akito's finally found someone who will love him? Ayame isn't exactly ideal, but Akito is so moody and uncharming that he's not likely to find anyone better. It's not like Hatori's jealous, it's because of Akito that he lost the love of his life, his Kana...but he can't help worrying. Ayame has a tendency to use people, and Hatori feels a desperate need to protect this child. He feels like a father, or a husband to a particularly simpering wife.
He has to end this. Ayame will give Akito the best and only love he's ever had, and then he'll leave him, let him rot. Hatori has seen this, seen the men and women he destroyed. He can't let this happen to Akito, if he's hurt he'll surrender to his sickness and die.
Hatori turns around and heads back to the home of the Sohma Master.

~ ~ ~

One eye opens, its Hatori. One eye closes. Akito could probably get up but he won't. He wants to show Dr. Hatori that he's really and truly sick. He moans in false pain, and then it becomes real and he stops. "Hi," Hatori says, sitting on the floor by Akito's futon, his long large legs splayed out in front of him. He plucks lint off his pant-leg, waits for Akito to respond.
"Did you see?" Akito says, sounding almost rapturous. "Did you see that? I was alive..."
"You're already alive," Hatori sighs, hating the philosophical hopelessness in Akito's voice. "Look you need to stay away from Ayame, all he wants is sex and once he has that he'll leave and ruin you. I don't want—"
"Hatori." Akito holds his hand up, putting a stop the blather. "First of all, we're not even together. It didn't work out. Second, shouldn't you be warning Ayame?" He grins maliciously as he says this, but he and Hatori both know he doesn't mean it. "You know what I do to the people I love."
"Yes. I do. But even before you told me you weren't together, I knew Ayame would never allow you to hurt him. He's bigger then you and older then you, and..." Hatori trails off, knowing this means nothing. Hatori is Aya's same age, and while Ayame is slim and willowy, Hatori has grown stocky with since he was younger. He could probably crush Akito to death should he decide to, but that didn't stop him from taking his eye and his Kana away. Ayame isn't safe with Akito, but somehow Hari forgets that. Perhaps because Akito means more to him?
"Hatori," Akito says, his voice become tinny, his fingers kneading together. "You have no idea what you're talking about. Just shut up."
He does for a while, accustomed to silence as he is. Akito is silent too, until he breaks the reverie with a fit of loud, harsh coughs. Hatori feels desperate to do something, to help him as he refused to before. Akito, the Sohma god, is willing to tear Hari's arms off if he dares touch him after this afternoon's blasphemous behavior. But he knows he can do no such thing, as right now he can barely breathe.
When the fit is over he has to swallow vomit. Exhausted, he shuts his eyes again, feigning sleep so Hatori will go. He doesn't go. "Akitowhilewe'reonthesubjectcouldyoupleasetellmewhyyoudidthatthingwithKana!? " He does not pause once, he knows he would have lost his courage and stopped if he had. He's afraid of Akito's answer, but he needs to know this. He wants a reason to be mad at this sadistic child.
"I didn't like her," Akito says simply. He doesn't want to go deeper now, doesn't want to probe his motivation.
Hatori blinks, breathes deep. "Why? She was fantastic, what didn't you like?"
"She was so in love with the world, with you, with everything. People like that make me sick," Akito spits. "The world is miserable place to live in. Kana was delusional. She..." He pauses, looking down at his shaking hands, their tight grip on the red bedding. "She made you believe things could be better. I'm sorry Hatori, but—"—he pauses to cough—"—they can't be. Not for you. Not for me. Not for anyone in this whole family. Hatori, you're stuck with me. If you'd left e for her I don't know what I'd do, I'd—" He stops abruptly, fearful that he may drive this precious man away with his words. "I'm sorry," he says.
"So what you hate is exactly what I most loved about her," Hatori says, slowly stroking Akito's back. He does this absentmindedly, as one might do to a cat. "She promised me this whole new world...winter turning into spring and all that."
"Maybe that's true for her Hatori, maybe it was even true for you. But I couldn't stand to hear her talk because my entire life has been a metaphorical winter! And," he sighs. "It will remain that way."
Hatori grimaces, hating this self-pitying talk. He hasn't been trained as a psychologist, and he resents being forced into that role. "Your life hasn't been that bad," he says. "At least you never lost anything very important to you."
"Are you kidding me?" Akito laughs, shoving Hatori aside as he sits up. "I never lost anything? Me? Yuki left me. One day you'll leave. When I was younger my parents abandoned me because I was sick...don't you see Hatori, I've lost everything!"
"You won't lose me," Hatori says, gently pushing Akito back down. "I swear to god, Akito, I never had any intention of leaving you. Not even when I was getting ready to marry Kana. Was that why you threw the vase? You thought you'd lose me?" Looking at the Sohma Master, all Hatori sees is a little boy, a child afraid of death. If Hatori fails to care for him, Akito will inevitably die. He could never do such a thing to him, never.
Akito nods, coughing. "Look," he says bleakly. "Everyone leaves. And you need to do that right now...I've got to go over the family finances, and you need to call Ayame. He thinks you hate him."
"You people don't think much of me, do you?" Hatori says grimly. "Alright let me get you the papers. I'll call Aya in a minutes." He walks over to Akito's filing cabinet, where he keeps the family's documents and their spare keys. Taped to it is a crumpled photograph from the last family reunion. All the Sohmas have formed their own little cliques, but Akito stands off to the side, seeming to revel in his lonely status. He looks so content and confidant, but Hatori knows that immediately after the photo was taken, he'd shut himself up in his room, screaming and crying and breaking things for hours. He only came out when Hatori bribed him with a bottle of aspirin.
On the other side of the picture, Ayame is planting a kiss on Hari's cheek while his left hand is squeezing Shigure's behind. How could someone who did these things have insecurities? If Hatori disliked his eccentric cousin, he'd have broken ties with him long ago. It isn't as if he's obligated to him as he is to Akito.
He opens the cabinet and tosses Akito the financial papers. "Thank you," Akito says, coughing and pointing to the door. "Please go. You really need to call Ayame."
Hatori nods, asks, "Akito? What was he doing here anyway?"
"I don't know," he says. "You're dismissed.
Hatori leaves. When the Sohma Master treats you like a hired hand, rage isn't far behind.

~ ~ ~

After brief consideration, Akito chops 2,000,000 yen off his medical fund and transfers it to Yuki's college fund. This isn't permanent, he's only writing down what he wants done, but the thing is he's making a huge sacrifice for Yuki's schooling. Next he puts another 2,000,000 into a new category, the 'Hatori getting his own place to stay' fund. This is most of his own money gone now. If he ever needs a lot of medication, or an operation of any kind, he won't be able to afford it and he'll probably die. Should he do it anyway? Yes, yes, Hatori is more important. His hand shakes badly as he writes it down, so it's barely legible. He can't stand the idea of Hatori leaving him, but he can't allow him to wither here with him and his disease. Hatori needs freedom or he will hate his master more. The hopelessness in his voice when he said he'd never leave had shown him this.
To be alone is terrible, but to force someone who doesn't care to be with you...well, that might just be worse.

~ ~ ~

Ayame remembers the first time he ever saw Hatori, remembers his mother introducing him to his closest cousin. "Aya, this is Hatori. He's my little sister's son, and he's going to be a doctor."
"Doctors are dumb," Aya had said. "He should be a dinosaur."
Why had he been so stupid? No wonder Hatori hated him, how could you like someone who denounced your dreams with moronic comments? Sure, they'd barely passed age three at that point, but Aya still says idiotic things! Do other people hate him too? Does Shigure? He knows his little brother hates him, but he's pretty well accepted that...no he hasn't, it still hurts. Maybe their mother hates him too, and by now Akito must hate him. He should kill himself, he should—
The phone's ringing.
It's Hatori.
"Ayame?" he says, his voice tinny with bad reception. For a while Ayame can't answer. For once in his life he has nothing to say. Usually he can prattle on about nothing for hours, but he knows that Hatori doesn't want to hear that sort of thing, doesn't want to hear anything he has to say. "Are you there?" Hatori asks.
"Oh, uh...yes," Ayame says. "I'm here. So...uh...I was over at the Main House, and um, I...I didn't see you."
"I know," Hatori says, blurting out his words fast because he knows he won't say them otherwise. "I saw you and Akito together. He told me that you were...under the impression that I hated you. I don't know where you're getting this Ayame, but I don't..."
"Stop," Ayame mutters tearfully. "Please stop. Hatori I know you don't like me. You don't talk to me about anything, and you never let me talk, I— "
"What do you mean I never let you talk!?" Hatori bursts. Then, blushing, he says, "Oh...uh...I guess I just did cut you off...sorry. But anyway, you talk a lot, and I always listen." He sighs, missing this sort of one- sided conversation. Hatori usually doesn't have very much to say, so he's glad for Ayame, who can extend any topic to a nine-hour rant. It's only when he's working or exhausted from his work that he doesn't care to listen to Ayame.
"But you always seem so bored," Ayame says sadly. "And you never respond to anything I say, or broach a topic of your own..."
"That's just how I communicate. Which means, I guess, that I don't really communicate. I do like you Aya; you're practically my brother. Don't worry about that."
"But...!" comes Aya's high-pitched whine. "I...that's not fair, you're lying, I...are you?" The last part sounds hopeful, more like the hyperactive 27-year-old child Hari's used to.
"No," he says with such clarity that Ayame believes him.
"That's great!" he says sparkling, dancing on his toes like a caffeinated ballerina. "That's fantastic! I can honestly say I'm ecstatic! Oh by the way, Shi-chan and I are going to see 'The Fires of Lust' tomorrow at eight! You wanna come? He says you wouldn't want to because of me, but I guess if you like me after all then I should invite you so you won't feel left out. It's a really cool movie, really sexy. Anyway, so we're meeting at Shigure's because it's closer to the theater, and afterwards we—"
Hatori cuts him off, laughing. "Calm down Aya, I'll come. If you don't mind though, I'd like to take someone with me."
"Really!?" Ayame squeaks. "Who is it? Do you have a new koibito Hari?"
Hatori says no; he's not head-over-heels in love with another Kana. "I'd like to take Akito," he says. "I think it'd be good for him to get out."
"Uh...well Hari, I'd like to say yes, but things are kind of awkward between Akito-san and me right now. We uh..." Ayame trails off, humiliated for what he's done to Hari's precious patient. "...kissed? And ah...I left...before anything else happened don't worry Hari!" The sweat is pouring heavy now, is Hatori going to kill him?
"I know that, I saw," Hatori says. "But if that's the case then I can't go. I can't leave Akito alone right now, he thinks that I'll abandon him, and I have to prove that that isn't the case."
"Well...alright," Ayame says hesitantly, "As long as I don't have to talk to him then it's fine. Anyway, so tell me Hari, how have you been?"
Surprised at this unusual question, one that Ayame rarely bothers to ask, Hari tells him.

~ ~ ~

"Haaaari!" Akito calls, getting up from the futon where he's been sitting since he woke up this morning. Though he has plans for the evening, up 'til now he hasn't had the incentive to move. "Ha-kun!?" He's starting to feel panicky, sick, where is Hatori? It's not that Akito has anything really important to say to him, but he should be here, with him. They had plans; Hatori wouldn't ditch him on such a night, would he? He'd promised to be here, he had to be here, where could he have gone!? Akito comes close to hyperventilating before Hatori walks out of the bathroom, showered and squeakily clean. "Yes?" he says, buttoning the top of his high-collared, starch-white shirt. Akito bolts up, and runs over to Hatori, collapsing onto him.
"You should tell me when you're going off somewhere!" he says desperately, trying to sound unconcerned. Not even angry, he can't afford to lose himself in rage against Hatori. He can't afford to let him go. But he knows he's letting his feelings show.
"I didn't think you'd be really interested to know that I was going to go bathe," Hatori mutters, pulling Akito into a brief hug and releasing him just as fast.
"It's my shower," Akito says stubbornly, stupidly. "I didn't say you could use it." Hatori sighs, used to this kind of meaningless rebellion. "You might want to use it yourself before we go. You'll feel better if you're clean."
"I feel fine today," he says. And coughs. "That didn't mean anything. I'm fine."
"Sure you do," Hatori says, smiling indulgently. Akito seethes at this, hating that Hari doesn't believe him, hating how he knows it's a lie. He does feel better today, but he's not fine. He's never been fine in his life.
But he wants to be. If he were healthy, then maybe he'd be okay alone; maybe he wouldn't need Hatori. He could meet other people and not be so lonely and dependent. But who would like him? Hari put up with him because it was his job, and the thing with Ayame had been meaningless. Once, Yuki had liked him, even loved him, but Akito had ruined that with the thrashing of his whip.
He deserves to be alone.
Fueled by this thought, he can't bear to get in that shower, or do anything to keep him from Hatori. He knows he cannot have this man, but he doesn't want to accept the fact. Just to be near him would be alright. "Hari," he says in a weak, raspy voice. "Sit on the bed."
"Okay," Hatori says, utterly confused. He obeys, a bit apprehensive because he knows this bed is far from clean. The sheets have been washed repeatedly, but they still stink from the times when Akito was so weakened by disease that he couldn't even get up to relieve himself. Hatori's considering buying him a new futon, but Akito says he doesn't mind the odor, as his sense of smell is poor anyway.
Hatori wishes he could banish these thoughts from his head. Often he sees Akito as little more then a medical subject, a child's 'Operation!' game. He forgets theres a human being there, and sees only the symptoms. When that becomes too much, he gets angry, explodes at Akito who is blameless. He's not trying to be sick. And he doesn't try to be violent either. Hatori knows in his heart that Akito didn't mean to hurt Kana, to hurt him. Hatori knows that he regrets it. He says so in his sleep.
And now, he's sitting here on the soiled futon, watching Akito weave drunkenly towards him. And now he takes this human into his arms, stroking his hair and face and body, worshipping his tears until it's time to go.

~ ~ ~

Ayame knocks hurriedly on Shigure's door, feeling disturbingly happy in contrast to his recent suicidal depression. "Shi-chan!?" he calls, fidgeting with the doorknob. He wonders if he looks alright. He spent hours dressing for this outing, as his subconscious considers it a date. With who though, he's not sure. He and Shigure have joke sex all the time, but both know it means nothing. Aya never wants to see Akito again, and Hatori is more of a father figure then anything else. So why is he so self-conscious?
"Shigure?" Ayame quavers fearing for a moment that his Shi-chan hates him too. No, not too, Hatori doesn't hate him...but Yuki does, and Akito must by now, ohgodohgodohgodoh—
"Ayame?" Shigure says, opening the door, toothbrush in his mouth and still wearing his dirty tan yukata. "You're early."
"Really?" Aya says, blinking. "What time is it?"
"Seven-thirty. I gave the kids some money to go out, you know so you wouldn't have to deal with Yuki...but they haven't left yet so Yuki's still here. Maybe you'd better...ah...go. Come back at eight?" Shigure says this with a voice saturated in guilt. But he has enough people destroying his house as it is, and unless Ayame is willing to pay for the damages...
Ayame smiles and lies, "Don't be silly. Yuki-kun loves me."
Then, from the inside of the house, comes Yuki's voice, sarcastic and cruel. "I'm hearing a really annoying voice right now. That better not be my brother at the door..."
"Yuki-kun!" squeaks a worried Tohru. "Don't say that! What if he is there? You'll hurt his feelings!"
"Oh yeah, like that big oaf has feelings," Yuki scoffs. The two appear at the door, Tohru in exquisite evening get-up, and Yuki wearing little more then his standard, figure flattering garb.
"Yuki-kun, we're not leaving already are we?" Tohru asks breathily. "Kyou-kun's not back from the store yet and...oh hello Ayame-san!" She waves to him as she's being dragged out the door by an uncharacteristically controlling Yuki-kun.
"For God's sakes Tohru, don't talk to him! Hurry up!" Yuki snarls, shoving his Cinderella in front of him and locking the door. When they're gone, Ayame bursts out laughing. "Oh GOD," he guffaws. "Does Yuki-kun always act like that? Jesus what an asshole."
"Well..." Shigure says nervously, simultaneously wanting to agree with his very best friend and defend his young housemate. "He's not always—"
Ayame holds his hand out, bidding him not to continue. "The point is, now I know I don't need him. I'm sure Yuki's usually much nicer, but around me he's horrific. Why should I want someone like that to like me?"
Says Shigure, "You shouldn't."

~ ~ ~

"Hey Hari?" Akito says nervously, fidgeting with the door handle. "I um...I'm kind of scared to go over there. I don't really want to see Yuki, I..." he doesn't continue, only looks down at his blanket-draped lap. He pulls it around himself, trying to warm up. "You...?" Hatori prompts, trying to keep his eyes on the road. The traffic is unusually heavy this evening, and he'd like to avoid a crash. Akito sighs. "I did a lot of bad things to him when we were kids. If he gets mad at me, or scared, then I'm probably going to do the same things all over again. I don't want to, I want...I want him to forgive me." Hatori pretends not to be affected by the memories that now flood his head. Patching up Yuki after a beating was always horrific. Yuki never told him exactly what went on and neither did Akito, but the blood between the little boys legs told him more then he needed to know. Hatori doubts that Yuki can ever forgive his master's sins. "I know that that's too much to ask for," Akito says, leaning his head against the car's windowpane. "It's just that well...we used to be friends, and I wish we could have that again. It's stupid I know, I'm stupid. I just miss him, that's all." Damn right it's too much to ask for. Hatori snarls, gripping the steering wheel tight enough to make his knuckles go white. He's furious when he remembers Yuki crying for all that had been done to him, Kana crying for all that she had lost...Akito crying for all the awful things he'd done... The anger disappears.

~ ~ ~

They arrive at Shigure's house with neither of them in a very good mood. Not only does Akito feel horribly guilty for all the misdeeds he's dredged up, he's also carsick. Perfect. Hatori feels guilty too, for reasons he can't explain. All he knows is that he needs to hold onto Akito, all that he has left. They walk to the door as a single entity.

~ ~ ~

The door flies open, and two thirds of the former Mabudachi Trio peer out, smiling drunkenly at their guests. "Ha-kun! Akito-sama!" Shigure says, leading them in. "Welcome to my roach-infested junkyard!"
"You realize you're insulting Tohru's housekeeping abilities," Hatori says bleakly, holding Akito's oversized head to his chest.
"Ah Tohru-kun," Shigure says dismissively. "She's great."
"You treat her like a slave," Hari fumes, and Shigure denies it. Ayame begs them not to fight before they even begin, saying that if they don't leave now they'll be late for the movie.
"Please," he says. "I love you guys, I love you both. Don't fight." With that he kisses each of their cheeks, hoping to charm them out of their anger. "Come on," he says. "Lets go."
And they do. The four of them pile into Hatori's car, Shi-chan and Aya in the back to fool around like little kids, Hatori and Akito in the front, man and tired wife.

~ ~ ~

As they enter the theater, Ayame announces cheerily that he will be paying for everyone, tickets, popcorn, soda, candy, the whole shebang. It's not that his pockets are overflowing with cash, actually he's going to have trouble paying his bills this month. But he wants Hari and Shi-chan to like him, he wants to impress them and make them happy. Akito he doesn't care about so much, but he can't pay for the others and not him.
They all seem to be pretty pleased about it anyway. Well all but Akito, who doesn't seem to have heard. He's quietly muttering to Hatori about how the bright theater lights hurt his eyes.
"Close your eyes then," says Hatori. "When we start walking I'd lead you around. Oh ah...Ayame? What movie are we seeing again? I forgot."
"The Fires of Lust," Ayame says uncertainly. Why had he chosen such a stupid-sounding movie? Ayame really wanted to see it himself, and so did Shigure, but Hatori was too mature for such perversion. Maybe he should've asked him what he wanted to see? But no, he only assures Hari that it'll be great. "Shi-chan and I have been dying to see it," he gushes.
Hatori nods, says nothing. "Shi-chan!" Ayame squeaks. "Ne, what kind of snackies do you want?" As he says this he hops from foot to foot, performing a sort of child's bathroom dance. He has to be doing something, moving or talking or anything, if he leaves room for silence then the silence could give way to criticism, the worst possible fate. He can't let his narcissism shatter. He is good, he is okay.
"Um, just popcorns fine for me," Shi-chan says, grabbing at what he imagines to be a gut. "Small. No butter. Actually, forget the popcorn. Make that a diet coke."
"Aww Shi-chan, you're so skinny, you should eat more then that!" Ayame wails, arms around his cousin's neck in uber-mommy mode. "You need junkfood! Right Hari he needs junkfood?"
"Mhm," Hatori says, totally uninterested in their banter.
Disturbed by this lack of response, Ayame starts talking at still greater speeds. Within two or three minutes he's spit out the whole plot of the upcoming movie, as well as asked for everyone else's snack preferences. Hatori requests a packet of strawberry mochi, and Shigure changes his mind and goes for a large amount of popcorn and soda, as does Ayame. Akito wants nothing, as his stomach is still rolling around from the car rides. He'll probably pick at Hari's mochi later.
Ayame skitters off to purchase tickets and junkfood, and Akito mentions that theres no point in actually seeing the movie after Aya's fast- paced description. "Besides," he says. "It sounds kind of gross."
Hari finds Aki-san's immaturity very cute.

~ ~ ~

In the dark of the theater, Ayame and Shigure kiss and grope each other, feeling giddy and amused by their erections. It's a fun but empty practice. They're very nearly brothers; neither feels any strong romantic love for the other. Both worry that this is all they'll ever have. That's why they watch erotically charged romance flicks like 'The Fires of Lust.' To keep hope alive that one day there might be something more.
Hari and Akito are equally lonely, equally desperate. But they don't express their awful solitude in obvious ways. Akito lays with his head in Hari's lap, being fed mochi and petted like a cat. He thinks if things could just stay like this, he'd be happy. If Hari never left him, then maybe he'd survive.
Not a single yen will ever be added to the 'Hatori getting his own place to stay' fund. Both of them will make sure of that.

~ ~ ~

Rei: Whee! It's done! Typing it up was the most mind numbing, boring thing I've done in a while, but it was fun while I was writing it on paper. I hope you liked, and whether you did or did not, please leave a review! =D ::Glomps you for reading her ficcy.:: On a final note, I have no idea what they sell in Japanese movie theaters, so I just made it up. ^^;; If anyone can tell me it'd be much appreciated. Ja~!