I can leave tomorrow. Everything looks good, so far. All the test results have returned, and the doctors have given me a promising prognosis. The chances of me recovering most of my memory are high. All my injuries have healed, and they were actually quite surprised how fast I was healing. I'd been so sick just a little over six months before due to my illness that they thought they'd have to keep me hospitalized longer.
Sanada said he'd bring the team over after practice today. I'll be meeting them for the first time. At least, it feels that way. They're already on their way. I'm nervous, fidgeting as I attempt to read a book. I realise, after a moment, that I've been staring at the same page for over five minutes. And then I realise a moment later that I'm holding the book upside-down. I mark my page with a bookmark made by one of the other kids in the hospital—some of them know me, but I don't remember them (they were rather upset until a passing nurse explained to them my condition)—and try to focus my mind a little.
I place the book on my side table and look out the window. I try to recall their faces, but nothing comes to mind. Sanada told me their names, but their names are simply words to me, with no real meaning. I vaguely remember someone with short, dark-brown hair and eyes that are always seemingly shut. But I remember that only because he visited when I was depressed. And even so, I don't recall his image very well, since I wasn't really interested in much at all, then.
How will they react when they see me? Will they like me? And will they still want me to remain their team captain? I'm not even sure if I remember how to play tennis. What use is a team captain who can't play that team's sport?
Oh, kami-sama…what if they hate me for failing them?
I look down at my hands. They're faintly callused. But only barely. I stopped playing tennis for quite awhile, apparently, while I was ill. And when I finally recovered, within a few months, I landed back in hospital. With the amount my parents have spent on my treatments and fees, they should name a new wing after me.
They're on their way now…
I squirm for a few more minutes, then get frustrated. This is getting ridiculous! I cover my face with one hand and close my eyes, trying to gather some semblance of patience and whatever a buchou should be made of.
I sigh. This is not working. Maybe if I sleep, time will pass faster. Hey, maybe I'll wake up with my memory fully intact. Yeah, keep dreaming, Seiichi. It's worth a shot. Right now, I'll try anything.
I fluff up my pillow and lie back. I close my eyes. Sleep refuses to come. I try counting sheep, but after counting to ten, my thoughts go back to the team. I try counting backwards from a thousand; maybe the utter boredom will lull me to sleep. I only reach nine-hundred and sixty-five before my mind starts wandering again. This is so stupid!
I snarl in frustration at my pillow and pound it a few times before trying to fall asleep once more.
Gen-kun… I smile. I heard him as I fell asleep that day. I've been dreaming only of him when I sleep. I'm so lucky that he's been there for me. I can't imagine what I would have been like, these few weeks, if he hadn't been there. I would have been totally alone. Thank you so much for everything, Gen-kun.
I've been trying to memorize every aspect of his face, every nuance of his actions. If I never regain my memory, it wouldn't be too bad to have him fully in my mind. That way, I'd never forget him ever again. If only he was here to hold me…sleep would come so easily. I imagine his arms around me, fingers gently stroking my skin. He makes me feel so…loved. So cherished. Aishiteru, Seiichi.
I love you too, Gen-kun. So much…
It's the memories of him that send me to sleep. I feel his imaginary fingers stroking my hair as I slip away into sleep. I hear his voice, tenderly whispering sweet words as I approach the gates of dreams.
"Shh, he's sleeping!"
"But that cake looks so good… Can I have a tiny slice first? Please?"
"This cake is for Yukimura buchou. It gets cut only when he wakes up."
Those voices…I remember them, vaguely, in the recesses of my mind, they are familiar. The first is full of pure exasperation, chiding yet patient. The second is full of cheer and airy innocence, perhaps a bit of yearning…for cake? The last sounds annoyed, but just enough for the emotion to show through. He's not really annoyed. But his patience is wearing a bit thin.
I try to put faces, names to those voices. But I can't.
I already know who they are, rather who they're supposed to be. They're my team mates, the ones I know only by name because I can't even remember their faces.
"Marui, Kirihara, stop making so much noise!" That voice is the same as the first. "You'll wake him up!"
"But if he wakes up, you'll let me have cake, right?"
"Marui," says the third voice. "If you purposely wake buchou up just to get at the cake, I-"
I sigh. Those guys, they're always fighting like that.
"You're making too much noise," that worried voice hisses.
I blink sleepily, rubbing my eyes as I wake. That was a pleasant nap. A strange scene to wake up to, but the nap was nice, nonetheless. I stretch felinely, yawning as I feel the comfortable stretch of muscles and joints. I smile faintly and close my eyes again, settling on my side. I blink blearily at them.
"You brought me cake?"
"Buchou!" A boy with curly black hair leaps to his feet, pausing for a moment from his glaring match with a scowling redhead.
I blink several times in confusion as a cacophony of exclamations of "Yukimura" and "buchou" fills the room.
"Oh, stop it," a calm voice says, from the back of the room. He sounds so stern, but I can hear the amusement hidden in his voice.
I sit up with a smile of pure joy. "Genichirou."
His face is emotionless at first, but then he smiles. "How are you feeling, Seiichi?"
"Fine," I reply. "They'll be releasing me on schedule tomorrow morning." I see a faint smirk appear in his smile. He's thinking along the same lines as I am.
"That's good." He sits down beside me. "Yes, we've brought you a cake," he says, gesturing to the pristine white box held by the one with closed eyes. I remember him faintly from the previous time he came to visit me.
"One whole cake?" I grin. "That's a big leap from the single slices you've been bringing me each day."
"We had to consider the fact that we brought Marui along with us."
I turn to look at the owner of this new voice. He has pale, spiky hair, and his eyes are shrewd. But there is a kindness in them, if you know where to look. I tilt my head to one side. I know this guy. He's very familiar, and that tilt to his jaw, the wildness of his hair… A single name comes to mind, and I just pluck it from the emptiness.
"Ni…ou?" I say, uncertainly.
The gentleness that hides deep inside him comes to the surface for a brief moment as he smiles. "Yeah, that's me." He winks at me. "You'll be alright, I think, Yukimura."
"Maybe," I reply in a soft whisper. "I hope so…"
The redhead bounds over. "Yukimura!" He exclaims with glee. "You're awake!" He points at a dark-skinned teen standing near the back of the group. "Jackal refused to let me have any cake! He even made Yanagi hold it so that I couldn't reach it!" He sits down beside me, effectively sandwiching me between himself and Sanada. "Ne, buchou, now that you're awake, I can have some cake, right?"
Now that he's beside me and rambling on about desserts and popping his gum, it comes back to me suddenly. I know who he is. I know his name, and it fits with his face. It's like a piece of jigsaw has appeared in front of me and I place it beside another piece and it fits just right.
"Bunta," I murmur with an amazed smile. "Marui."
"Buchou remembers me!" He gives me a big hug. "That means so much more than the cake!"
I pat his back. "But you still want some, don't you?"
He grins at me. "What do you think?"
I laugh. I look over at the guy with the cake box. He notices my glance and walks to me with a knowing smile. He holds out the box to me.
"Thank you, Renji," I say. "For everything." For Sanada.
He smiles again, and I know that he gets what I mean. "You don't have to thank me, Seiichi. I'm glad you're feeling better now."
"Let's let Marui have some cake now, ne?" I take the box and open it up. It's a marbled chocolate cake dripping with fruits. "It's beautiful…"
"Like buchou, ne?" Marui points at one section. "Can I have a slice with some strawberries?"
"Sure." I'm not sure how much cake he wants, but before I can ask, my hand moves on its own. I slice out about a fifth of the cake. "There, all the strawberries for you, Bunta."
There is a bright smile on his face. It seems that I've remembered something he never before thought important but is suddenly significant. "You…like strawberries. Do I remember that right?"
"Hai." He plucks one deep red berry off. "For you," he says with a shy smile.
Since I'm wielding the cake knife, I ask, "Who else wants cake?"
"Marui! You're such a pig! You've left us with so little!" Marui sticks his tongue out at the kid with the curly hair.
"Marui, stop baiting Kirihara," Jackal chides. Mother-hen. The word pops into my mind in a flash. I smile. I remember them. Jackal the keeper, and Kirihara is his charge.
"Ne, Akaya-kun, how much cake do you want?" I ask, holding out the cake and tilting the box ever so slightly for him to see.
"Buchou! I didn't mean to imply-"
I grin and shake my head. "It's alright, Kirihara. Which part would you like?"
He looks away, cheeks pink. "But there won't be enough for senpai-tachi."
He's so cute. On a whim, I make two cuts and remove a section with peaches on it. I place it on a disposable plate and walk over to him. His stares at me in stunned surprise.
"I can share a slice with Sanada," I tell him and place his hand on the plate. "I'd rather see all of you enjoy yourselves."
"I hope you like peaches, Akaya-kun, I just…sort of…cut it." I give him a small shrug and an unsure smile.
"They're my favourite," he mumbles, the pink on his cheeks darkening. "Thank you, buchou."
I ruffle his hair, messing up those unruly black curls even more. There a feeling of satisfaction. I think I might have liked him a lot before I lost my memory. There's a wildness to him that irresistible. He's like a hyper-active and highly emotional puppy, reckless and untamed. He needs a proper keeper. He's too strong-willed for even Jackal to handle.
"You're very welcome."
Jackal politely refuses the cake, he's not one for something so sweet, he tells me, but is happy enough that I offered it to him. I give Renji the slice with just cake. I recall vaguely that he prefers his food quite plain. When I offer Niou cake, he gives me another wink and says that he'll share with Yagyuu. I glance at the bespectacled guy standing beside and just a bit behind him, then smile back at Niou. Ah. So that is how it is.
I divide the remaining cake into two portions and let them choose. Niou gives me a knowing look and leaves me the slice with cherries and raspberries. I return to Sanada's side.
"Ne, Gen-kun," I murmur. "Share the cake with me?" I cut off the tip of the triangular slice and offer it to him. He doesn't reply, but leans forward and eats off my fork.
"How is it?" I ask him, resisting the urge to lick the chocolaty smear at the corner of his mouth. I don't think that's the appropriate thing to do around my team members. I don't think Niou or Yagyuu would particularly care if I did so, but Sanada might be embarrassed. Something tells me he would. And then there'd be hell to pay during the next practice.
"Try some and you'll know, won't you, Seiichi?"
I glance discreetly at the others and notice that they are all very conveniently looking elsewhere. I lean over and lick the chocolate from his mouth. "Mm, very nice, Gen-kun."
I see a faint blush stain his cheekbones and grin. "Who chose the cake?" I ask, popping a chunk of cake into my own mouth.
There is still a remaining trace of pink on his cheeks. There is a glint in his eyes that promises payback when we are alone, regardless of the fact that nobody else saw. So they do know. How…interesting.
"Marui pointed it out, and I saw no reason to turn down his suggestion," he replies with a small smile, and wipes away a bit of chocolate from my lower lip with a fingertip. I watch with heavy-lidded eyes as he licks the chocolate from his finger.
"Did he?" He nods with a small, secretive smile. "Mm, I'm suddenly feeling very tired, Gen-kun. Will you stay with me until I fall asleep?"
"Didn't you just wake up?" He asks me, suddenly sounding rather worried.
"Yes, but maybe it's just the cake. I don't know, I don't particularly care." I nudge his shoulder with my head. "Stay with me?"
For a moment, he allows himself to forget that the rest of the team is there, and he bends down to kiss my forehead. "Always," he whispers. I feel his lips moving over my skin.
"Sanada, we'll go first, since Yukimura wants to rest," Yanagi says. He turns to me and I happen to glance in his eyes.
I grin back at him and wink. He replies with an almost imperceptible nod and begins herding the others out. He's not our data collector for nothing, I suppose, although I've forgotten how good he is at what he does.
I wave at the team as they leave the room. A part of me is overjoyed that they still think of me as their buchou, that they still respect me, that they still love me. But there is also another part that is glad that they've gone. I suppose I do miss them, but they're still so…foreign to me. To me, they're still strangers. The door shuts with a soft 'click' and now that they're all gone, save Sanada, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I sigh and slump against Sanada.
"I'm okay, Gen-kun. I'm just…" I give a small laugh. "You do realise that this was a small ruse to get them out, right?" I shut my eyes, face turned towards his. "Yanagi figured it out, although I'm not sure if you did. But now that we're alone…" I sigh again, and this time even I can hear the weariness. "Now that we've alone, I really do feel drained."
"Drained? Seiichi, you're scaring me. Are you sure you're okay?"
"They're all strangers to me, Gen-kun, even Yanagi. I feel that I should know all of them so much better. They came in with so many expectations and when I remembered only so much…it's like… I was so afraid that they would hate me, Gen-kun. That's why I tried my best not to think about you bringing them over. I tried everything, but I kept thinking about what would happen once they saw me like this. That's why I went to sleep. I had to stop thinking about it. And even then, I could only sleep after imagining your arms around me."
I bury my face in his shirt. "You're my only anchor in this storm, Genichirou. Without you, I'm lost. And that scares me so much. I feel better now that they're gone because I don't have to try and remember anything. You have no idea how much will-power it took to look them in the eyes and try not to flinch when they search your eyes for recognition."
"If I'd known that you felt so about seeing them, I would have postponed their visit until you'd regained more of your memory." He gathers me closer and strokes my hair comfortingly.
"No, it's something that I have to get used to, and it was inevitable that I meet them. I just didn't expect it to be so…so tiring. There's a part of me, Gen-kun, that remembers them, but only just barely. Right now, they're almost perfect strangers to me. Most of what I said was outright guessing. I didn't even know what I was saying half the time."
His warmth and strength is soothing, and he listens as I speak without interrupting me. It's as if he knows that I have to get all of this out. He just sits there and holds me and listens to what I need to say.
"What if I never remember more than this?"
I pull away slightly and look up at him. My vision is blurry, and I realise that I'm crying. I wipe my tears away furiously. When did I become such a crybaby? I don't think a sports team captain would be the type to cry over small things like this. I look down at my hands, fingers damp with tears.
"What if I never remember how to play tennis? Tennis… I remember that it was once my life. Now, it's gone. What if I never get it back?" I look back up at him. "Then what?"
He brings a hand up to cup my face, his thumb wipes away a stray tear. His eyes are gentle as he just looks at me without saying a word. I see only deep, dark brown, the colour fills my vision, and I see only him. It's like I'm falling into his eyes. There's something in those chocolate eyes that says he'll be with me forever, that no matter what happens, I'll always have him by my side. He doesn't say a word, but that is what I hear nonetheless.
I fling my arms around him, crying his name. He smiles tenderly and hugs me. "It will be okay, Seiichi. I'll be there with you, every step of the way. You will recover your memory." His embrace is tight, but still comfortable. He rests his head lightly against mine.
"When you get out of here, we can go to a tennis court. It doesn't matter if you can't remember how to hold a racket, how to serve. I'll teach you. It doesn't matter if you can't remember the past. You can make new memories, Seiichi. I'll make them with you. This doesn't have to be the end of anything. You can make it into a new beginning. A blank page is where you start a new story."
"You say that now, Genichirou. But when somebody else comes by, when the novelty of your amnesiac lover passes and you grow bored of someone who can only remember part of your relationship…and you will, because that's the way the world works… I'll become a duty. You'll stay with me, Genichirou, because it's your duty to stay with me." My chest hurts to think of the possibilities. There's a growing pressure inside me that wants to get out, but I don't dare let it loose. My heart is racing like I've just run a marathon.
"Even if we remain friends, Genichirou, it won't be the same. I don't want to chain you to me—it wouldn't be right. You deserve to have a life separate from me. You're my lifeline, but I won't be yours. I can't be yours. How can I? I can't even keep myself together—you left, I was catatonic for days! It wouldn't be right to keep you…"
I squeeze my eyes shut. I know for certain that he will leave me one day, after the newness of this has faded. He'll grow frustrated that there will always be certain things that he remembers and knows that I should know but can't remember. It won't last. I'll lose the only thing in the world that is familiar to me… The pain in my chest grows, and I realise that I'm gasping for breath. I can't breath. My eyes widen and I scratch at my throat, hoping to loosen the invisible bonds that are choking me.
I gasp his name, clawing at my throat, at him, and back at myself. My eyes beg him to help me, to do something, because I can't draw in the breath to say the words. I see him pressing the call button frantically, but it doesn't register in my brain why he's playing with the little gadget while I'm unable to breathe, why he's not doing anything to help me.
The edges of my vision begin to darken, and I try to blink the grey from my sight. He's shaking me in terror, but not too hard, because he might hurt me if he's too rough. Why is he… I blink at him, mouth open in a vain attempt to breathe or call his name—both seem equally important to me at this moment in time.
It seems like I'm falling away from him, in to a wide, yawning darkness. He's growing further and further away. I try to grasp his hand, his shirt—any part of him.
Suddenly, someone thrusts something into my face, obscuring my vision. I clutch at it, trying to rip it away—it's covering my nose and mouth. I hear voices in the background, but I don't pay them any attention.
"Breathe, Seiichi, breathe."
I turn sharply to one side. It's Sanada.
"Slowly, just one breath first. Only one."
He's the one holding the…it's a paper bag. He's the one holding the bag to my face?
"You're hyperventilating. Take a small breath, just one, and then hold it for a moment."
But I can't!
"Yes, you can, Seiichi." I glare at him, frustrated and panicking and terrified. He says something to the doctor—how come I didn't notice him earlier?—and the doctor nods and leaves the room. Why is he leaving? Come back! I don't want to die!
Sanada takes the bag away from my face, but I still can't breathe. He looms before me, and suddenly kisses me, his lips clamped over mine. He exhales into my mouth, forcing me to accept his breath. He doesn't move for a moment that seems like years, and then he pulls away slowly.
"Exhale, Seiichi, and then take another small breath," he instructs me.
I try to do as he says, and manage a tiny sip of air.
"Don't breathe out," he says immediately, hands grabbing my shoulders. "Hold it in for a moment."
But I have to breathe! What is he trying to do? Kill me? I stare at him in bewilderment.
"Let it out, Seiichi, slowly."
I exhale, shocked by the rattling wheeze that I hear. Is that really me? I take another breath, and it comes easier this time round. As more air gets into my body, the logic of his words and action sink in, and I don't have to wait for his instructions to breath properly. When I'm finally able to breathe without my throat seizing up in terror, I lean against him. His heartbeat is reassuring, and unconsciously, my own tries to slow down to beat in time with his.
"What happened?" I ask shakily.
"You had a panic attack," he tells me. "It's not unusual, for someone with your condition, that's what the doctor told me. He said that you might even get another one, or you might not." He tucks a small lock of hair behind my ear from where sweat has made it stick to my face. "What were you thinking, that you got that attack?"
"That you will leave me one day. You're all that my heart remembers. You're the only certainly in my life, and I don't know what to do when you're no longer in my life. It scares me so much, Sanada, to imagine life without you. You are what fills up the emptiness of my life. Without you, all I see is a void."
"Seiichi, Seiichi…" He tilts my head up so that I have to look into his eyes. "You think of such unproductive, negative things. You will always have me by your side. You never have to fear that I'll leave. Do you understand that?"
I nod, but then his gaze grows intense. "Do you understand me, Seiichi? Don't just say 'yes' without thinking first."
He'll never leave me?... Really?
"Promise?" I ask, my voice hopeful, cracking with uncertainty.
"You never have to doubt that, Seiichi, but yes, I promise." He kisses me, the pressure of his lips gentle. "I won't leave you to face this alone."
"Thank you," I whisper, clutching his shirt and pulling him closer. "Thank you."
He changes the angle of the kiss and thrusts his tongue possessively into my mouth. His grip is firm, unyielding, but not enough to hurt. I'm not planning to escape anyway. I kiss him back, but let him lead this little dance. I don't want to be in control right now. For now, I am willing to follow him in anything. He'll keep me safe.
Thank you, Genichirou.
Wow, I finally got this out. Yeah, I know it's short and weird and maybe a bit boring, but hey. My brain went dead for awhile. -.- about panic attacks… I've never actually had one, so this might not be accurate, but from all that I know (because we did cover a bit on panic attacks for psychology when I was in Melbourne) you get one when you really panic (not something minor like exams jitters, although I'm very sure that you can get panic attacks from exams, for some people), when you are unable to handle certain stimuli. You start to hyperventilate, and since the carbon dioxide level in your body is responsible for your being able to breathe, when you have much more oxygen in your blood compared to carbon dioxide, there is no longer a stimulus for you to breathe, but the rational/conscious brain (or whichever it is that you use for voluntary actions) interprets that as you being unable to breathe, and so no matter how hard you try, you can't breathe properly (and that only adds to the panic, how horrible -.- positive feedback system in homeostasis?). I used the paper bag thing since it works for hyperventilation.
I have no idea if what I wrote is actually accurate or even plausible, but what the heck. It's fanfic, not a psychology/physiology essay. But I'd be ever so grateful if I'm wrong and you point it out for me to edit/correct/whatever.
If Yukimura sounds a bit OOC, remember, he has lost his memory. He's in a great state of confusion, everything is new to him. The only person he seems to be able to remember with any frequency and accuracy seems to be Sanada, so obviously Sanada is of great importance to him. Pkus he's falling in love with Sanada all over again. Imagine falling in love (which is traumatic and destabilizing enough as it is) and trying to regain your memory and life at the same time. I seriously doubt it's easy. But still, I tried to keep him as in-character as I could.
Besides, I'm typing this at 6 in the morning. Give me a break.
Read, review, give me feedback, okay? After all, I'd do it for you (if you have an account).