DIFFERENT ROADS, SAME DESTINATION
Author: Lady Addiction
Fandom: Hikaru no Go
Characters, Main: Hikaru, Sai, Akira, Akari, Mitani
Warnings: GEN, AU, angst, people with disabilities
DISCLAIMER: Hikaru no Go doesn't belong to me.
SUMMARY: In another universe, Hikaru is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
DEDICATION: Thanks so very much to Harumi for being such a friend, helping me go over my ideas and also beta-ing my fic thoroughly! hugs And thanks also to the Lord, for giving me the time and the inspiration to write this fic.
Thanks for the people who have left me reviews in my fics (any of them)! I never mention how much it thrills me to read them and how much reviews have encouraged me to keep writing! Thanks so very much!
I was hoping to finish this before posting it, but it looks like there'll be several more chapters and with classes and all, I decided to start posting a part weekly. So BE WARNED, it'll probably have all sorts of errors and what-not.
REVISED: Sept 14, 2005
1. While I have researched MS and its effects on people, I do realize that there's probably a number of inaccuracies here. Please pardon the errors and feel free to correct them.
2. Akenoyama is not an actual district, but I created it as a district in Tokyo for the convenience of the story.
3. I've blanked out on the names of Hikaru's family members. If anyone knows for sure, please comment & let me know! It'll be much, much appreciated!
Tragedies always seem to come upon people's lives like a lightning bolt hitting a tree. All the aftermath left would be charred and broken remains.
This was how Shindou Mitsuko felt when she learned of her son's condition.
It all seemed so unfair that her bright, handsome boy could have such a condition. Hikaru was the healthiest baby, round and plump. He had been noisy and greedy, but their family doctor had marvelled at how excellently he grew and developed. The chubby toddler had grown into a boisterous, energetic child who delighted in athletic events and despaired at scholarly duties. Mitsuko often commiserated with other mothers in the neighbourhood who had shared the same fate, but for all that she scolded Hikaru for his low marks, she was delighted to have such a son born from her flesh.
Then Hikaru started having problems.
At first, they had passed it off as things that just happened to people. After all, cramps in the middle of the night were common during winter, why shouldn't it also happen in the spring or summer?
However, Hikaru started to report other problems. Mitsuko listened with growing alarm as he told her stories of how he would stumble when he walked because his toes suddenly felt numb, or how the night cramps became painful spasms, or how he was starting to get dizzy at heights.
Frightened, Mitsuko had immediately taken her only child to the Emergency Room at their family hospital. The emergency doctor examined Hikaru but couldn't find any obvious problems – the boy had then been recommended to see a specialist.
It was a private specialist clinic and Masao had refused, stating that his company's medical coverage didn't include such clinics and that the costs were unreasonable. Mitsuko had reluctantly agreed and had immediately taken Hikaru to one of the local apothecaries for herbal medicines and teas that could possibly cure her son's problem.
She had forced the awful-smelling potions upon Hikaru for weeks and the problems seemed to go away. Her ten-year-old was once again happy and healthy, enjoying his entrance into his school's soccer team.
Mitsuko had breathed a sigh of relief. Hikaru was going to be fine.
Unfortunately, her prediction was wrong. Four months after their visit to the apothecary, she and her husband awoke near dawn to the sound of Hikaru screaming and sobbing. Upon rushing to their son's bedroom, they learned to their horror that Hikaru could not feel or move his legs. Wrapped in her husband's arms, Mitsuko rode on the ambulance with a sedated Hikaru, a numbing horror spreading from her heart to the rest of her body.
Mitsuko had thought that the hospital would cure her son. She was wrong.
For although there was something obviously wrong with Hikaru, the doctors couldn't pinpoint the reason why. He didn't have a spinal cord injury, X-rays were showing no problems, and examination of his legs revealed no issues with either bone or tissue.
Two months of consecutive tests passed with no obvious conclusion. Mitsuko, to her later embarrasment, had finally exploded in rage against Higurashi-sensei, Hikaru's doctor, half-way through this endless, nightmarish procession. For weeks, she and her father were subjected to vague, wishy-washy discussions about her son's illness, with Higurashi-sensei downplaying the severity of Hikaru's condition and handing them empty platitudes that the hospital was doing its best and that her son would be fine. Higurashi-sensei had been affronted by her conduct and had recommended that care of her son pass onto another of his colleagues.
It was Yamaoka-sensei, a new graduate at one of the most prestigious medical colleges in Japan, who recommended a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan done on Hikaru, followed promptly by a spinal tap procedure. When the results came out, Yamaoka-sensei had calmly sat Mitsuko, her husband, and her parents down in a conference room and clearly explained what her son was suffering from.
A disease with many forms. An inflammatory disease of the nervous system that left patches of damage which interfered with the regular functioning of the body. Since the damage can appear anywhere, the symptoms varied, from paralysis to numbness of various limbs to depression to visual impairment and many others.
Yamaoka-sensei told them that MS may be life-changing, but it did not mean that the quality of life can deteriorate. Hikaru would have periods where there would be no symptoms and, he assured them, if they took care that he ate healthily and exercised well, these periods can last for months and years.
A sense of deep relief had flooded Mitsuko at this pronunciation. Then her husband spoke: "You mean, this disease cannot be cured? Hikaru is terminally ill?"
Yamaoka-sensei hesitated. "MS patients can live long lives. However," he looked each one of them in the eye, "MS is a deteriorating disease. As Hikaru grows older, you may find that the periods of relapse, when he suffers symptoms, stretch longer and that his symptoms are much more pronounced. So, in a sense, yes, Hikaru is terminally ill."
Mitsuko bowed her head and cried.
Three days later, she convinced her father to talk to Hikaru about his illness. During the month that the boy had been in the hospital, Hikaru had gone from panic to curious enjoyment to depression. Weeks of running around the hospital in a wheelchair had lost its glamour as time passed and Hikaru watched other patients come and go.
She had sat with her father as he explained the nature of Hikaru's disease to her son. Hikaru had listened solemnly, his bright green eyes wide. She couldn't prevent her trembling as she watched the light in that gaze dim. Hikaru had smiled and assured them that everything was going to be fine.
Later that night, they were awoken by an urgent call from the hospital. Hikaru had somehow gotten a hold of razors and had slit his wrists.
The vigil held for those long hours seemed to last forever. When Yamaoka-sensei came out of the operating room and told them that Hikaru was going to be live, Mitsuko and her mother grabbed the doctor's hands and kissed them in heartfelt gratitude.
But Hikaru was far from well. After his failed suicide attempt, Hikaru went into a rapid decline. He refused to talk to anybody, he didn't respond to any of his visitors, and he didn't eat or drink. She watched him in his special room, where the nurses kept a close watch on him and ensured that he made no further attempts.
Mitsuko had to watch her husband turn away from their son. Masao had began to spend much more time at work. She pleaded for him to visit the hospital but he refused. As the days turned into weeks and months, Masao acted as if Hikaru no longer existed. Mitsuko hated him for that. She began to hate herself as well for her helplessness and her inability to help her son.
Visiting Hikaru's room became a personal nightmare for her. To see her precious son lying there, so pale and thin, all manners of tubes running through his body, strapped down carefully so he didn't try and hurt himself. She forced herself to sit beside him, chatting to him as if he was a friend on the phone. Her trips away from his bedside grew longer and longer.
Sometimes Mitsuko wondered if it wouldn't have been better if Hikaru had succeeded in his attempt. And she hated herself for thinking that.
It was her father who became Hikaru's saviour. Her father, who doted on his only grandchild, never stopped visiting. Daily he was there at Hikaru's bedside, reading newspaper articles to him and talking to the boy as if there was nothing wrong.
It was her father, not her, who eventually pulled her son out of the abyss. Not her, the woman who had given birth to him, who had fed and clothed him for ten long years.
Mitsuko wondered what would happen to her family now.