Disclaimer: Naruto © Masashi Kishimoto
: Opaque :
He almost screamed from the pain rushing from his calves. Physical therapy was utter hell. It was humiliating the way he fell every time he struggled up to his feet. The metal bars and the unreliable hands of the therapist weren't helping. They would lift him up every time and fail to catch him if he fell. Apparently the only way to learn how to walk again was very, very painfully.
"Kenshin, c'mon, get up! You almost made it!"
And then there was that. He glanced at the lovely face of his wife, who was standing above him, poised to help him up. Her cheeks were rosy and she no longer had the haggard look that he had come to associate with her. Even when the doctor confirmed his earlier diagnosis of lasting nerve damage in his arm and legs, she had looked oddly satisfied. Satisfied that he would probably spend the rest of his life with a cane or in a wheelchair.
Rallying up what little strength he had, he grasped at the two metal bars above him and pulled himself up. A sharp pain shot up his leg and it slipped out from under him. As he fell again, he thought about how the therapist had said that pain was a good sign because it showed that the nerves in his legs were still intact. His palms were slick with sweat as he braced himself for another try.
As they grasped the metal bars, he slipped again and a sudden coldness enveloped him. The chilly white-tile floor pressed against his burning cheek. The lights above him grew dimmer and sound faded as he thought of only the cold floor beneath him…
Once upon a time there was a princess in a tower…
Thoughts of a beautiful princess, a selfish monster and handsome prince swirled around in Kenshin's head as he grunted. All around him was darkness; a warm, gentle darkness that enveloped and comforted him. Shining footsteps appeared under his feet as he was set down gently on the watery black nothingness. Mindlessly, he followed, placing one foot in front of another. What was missing? Something essential, something that made up his identity, something that belonged yet that was utterly foreign – pain. There was no pain in this world, the world of darkness and warmth.
When was the last time that he felt the crumbling earth under his bare feet? When did he last feel the soothing breeze ruffle his hair and guide his soul?
Where had he heard the haunting melody of despair, longing and grief? The fragile melody picked up speed, stirring the innermost part of his being and bringing the spring wind under the soles of his feet. He ran, sprinting over the graceful tune as if it were a walkway. A music like golden raindrops alighted on each part of his body. Suddenly, he was not alone in that dark world any longer. A figure walked in front of him, covered in a cloth, with only the feet showing.
It was completely black, yet wholly white. Solid yet transparent. Beautiful yet haunting. Comforting yet frightening. Familiar yet foreign. Right in front of his hands, yet thousands of miles away. The music emanated from beneath her, the music that he ran on, the music that was flowing through him and erasing the pain. The whispery strands of music clung to her feet, weaving themselves into the fabric of an old and new song.
He stretched out his hands; in his heart, a curiosity. It grasped dark air; she escaped from his fingertips, never increasing the speed of her steps. The melody started to disappear as the pain came back slowly. The desperation in his heart grew, bursting forth into a fiery fire as the melody withered away into nothingness. The soft earth beneath his feet now felt like a thousands needles piercing into the sensitive skin of his feet. The warmth of his surroundings suffocating, choking him and preventing any sound. He stumbled as his feet lost movement and darkness enclosed his legs. Yet the melody played on with the girl, who was walking farther and farther away.
Who are you? Who? He struggled to move his paralyzed body from the darkness that sucked him in. It seemed like his anguished cry reached her when she stopped suddenly. A white, gleaming teardrop glistened on her cheek as it fell down as he was sucked deeper and deeper into the endless void…
'I passed out again…' Not wanting to open his eyes, Kenshin turned around and covered his face with the thin hospital sheets. How long has he been waking up to uncomfortable, white sheets? There wasn't anyone in the room and everything was quiet. Quite a surprise considering that he couldn't remember the last time Fukiko had left him alone for anything. It was a nice release, but also slightly terrifying.
After all these months, his memory had yet to return. She was the only one who knew who he was. She was the only link he had to his past life. She was supposed to be the woman that he loved so much that he defied tradition and eloped with. Somehow, it didn't fit quite as well as it was supposed to.
Fukiko certainly seemed to know plenty about him; even more that he himself did, in fact. But that wasn't particularly surprising since he was still "recovering" from severe amnesia. No matter what the doctors tried, he couldn't remember anything. There was something … blocking whatever it was that he needed to remember. He drew up a blank whenever he tried to delve deeper into his mind.
"Hey Kenshin, are you awake yet?" The door opened and a pink-haired woman stepped inside. Fukiko had changed after the first time that he'd seen her. No longer wearing her hair up in a bun, she adopted a more relaxed and soft look. The rectangular glasses were replaced with contacts and her unique pink hair fell in gentle waves down to mid-back. She wore light make-up, sticking only to the essential bit of lipstick and some foundation. Sitting down next to the hard plastic chair next to his hospital bed, she brushed a bit of hair from her face and smiled.
"Hey," she said softly, her eyes shining. Kenshin grunted, not bothering to reply. This did not faze her; she'd grown long used to it. Instead of speaking, she took his cold hand, stroking it softly. He looked away, still not used to the feel of her warm skin on his hands. Again, his mind called up the suspicions that had always been there, prodding gently at him. If Fukiko was a woman that he loved, then wouldn't he feel some trace of warmth for her? When he looked at her however, all he felt was, not revulsion or dislike, just nothing. She was just a woman – nothing special at all.
He tried to picture her in an apron, scrubbing the plates and making dinner. Hell, he even tried to imagine them having sex. Now, that had been completely impossible and only served to make his head ache. She was just there. How she managed to keep up with his astronomical hospital fees was unknown to him; if they were really as poor as she had first insinuated, where did all this money come from? $500,000 was an enormous amount of money, but he felt that months of such care must have already exceeded the amount that insurance had paid. Not to mention that the only clothes he ever saw her wear were obviously designer labels. She had money, he was certain of that fact.
Saying they were poor; that was just one of her lies.
Kenshin knew that there had to be more that she was hiding. He never told her, but his hands always felt strange, ever since he could remember waking up and losing his memories. He felt like he wanted to do something, and sometimes, he started tapping his fingers to a forgotten rhythm when he got lost in his own thoughts. There were uncharacteristic calluses on his fingertips, hardened surfaces that couldn't have come from the boring, low-paying desk job that Fukiko had described to him. Whenever he heard music drifting from another room down the hall, he had always felt this longing, for what, he had no idea whatsoever. Fukiko never played any sort of music in his room, something that he sorely wished for, but would never admit to her.
The few times he had mentioned trying to relate to his past, she had tried to change the subject or injected more morphine into him. He was utterly helpless under her watchful gaze.
"Mm." After a moment, he answered reluctantly, still not facing her. It was such an odd name; he didn't feel as if he should respond to it. Yes, he was almost positive that this was not his real name.
"What are you thinking about?" She sounded worried and concerned, but Kenshin thought that he could hear suspicion underneath the tone. Perhaps he was reading too much into things.
"Oh." Kenshin could hear the disappointment in her voice. He would never tell her anything, something that greatly bothered the pink-haired female. Even though he had lost his memory, he knew that they were still there somewhere. When he could finally walk and leave this cursed hospital, he would find the nearest plane and run away from her grasps. But for now, he needed to keep her happy.
"I'm just thinking…" he trailed off, wondering if he should formulate a satisfactory lie to please her of his supposed empty-headedness. The idea was repugnant to him; pretending his own stupidity when he was obviously fully capable of thinking for himself. Then an idea came to him. He decided to actually tell her the truth, for once. Just to shock her.
Who knew; maybe he could find some fragments of his old life from whatever stinted conversation he could extract. Taking a deep breath, he could feel the anticipation in the room. This was going to be good.
"About music." Her hand froze for a moment and she let out a weak chuckle. Kenshin suppressed a laugh.
"Music?" Her weak laughter trailed off into serious silence. "Why…why would you be thinking about something like that?"
"I just noticed," he turned over, fixing his black obsidian eyes on her turquoise ones. "That you never play any in my room."
"You never liked music," she breathed. He fought an urge to scowl; she was telling a blatant lie to his face.
"You said it gave you a headache and…" her ramble trailed off. "You don't believe me, do you?"
"I would like some music," he changed the subject abruptly. "If you don't bring it, then I'll just get one of the nurses."
"But, you won't like it, Kenshin." Fukiko's eyes were wide as she protested weakly.
"Some Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, and Mendelssohn would be nice," Kenshin continued, taking no notice of the trembling woman beside him. "Violin pieces, preferably, of course."
"Why?" She whispered, fear growing in her eyes. He almost smiled; this conversation was taking a pleasant turn. Maybe music was a clue to his former life; something that she tried to hide from him. Her grip on his hand loosened and he pulled it away, tucking it under the thin, white hospital bed covers. Her hands lay limp on her lap as she stared into the distance, past him and past the flowered walls of the hospital room. "Why…why do you still want that so much?"
"What?" His smiled disappeared.
"Why do you still want that…that…music?!" She spat the word out like it was the most repellant of vermin, her frantic eyes now focused on his pale face, on the small scar slightly crossing his eyebrow. "Why is it still so important to you?" A tear ran down her face as her voice increased in volume. Her eyes took on the fervor of madness as she suddenly clung to his arms, rocking back and forth on her chair. "Why do you still want that; even when you've lost your memory?"
"I…I don't know…" He prodded her carefully, taking in her quavering figure. A sudden ache appeared in the back of his head, slowly growing in intensity. His forehead furrowed; the scar there burned. Fukiko's bright green eyes were wide and bright, tears spilling down freely.
"You've always just wanted music!" She looked furious all of the sudden. "Before me, before anything else, you just always always always always wanted that damn, God-forsaken music! Why?!" Her eyes searched his pale visage, which now was uncertain at the strange spell that she was going through.
"Why is it always music? Tell me tell me tell me, Sasuke!" Fukiko gasped loudly and clamped a hand over her mouth. Kenshin froze. That name again, his breath hitched in his throat. It was a name he heard whispered near his room when Fukiko left, it was the one of the first names he had heard when he woke up – it was something so utterly familiar yet so frustratingly foreign.
"Sasuke…" he whispered under his breath, feeling it roll out smoothly. It felt so right for some reason. It wasn't like Kenshin; whenever he addressed himself as that, there was always a measure of hesitation and peculiarity. Sasuke…the name resounded in his mind and he tried to burn it into his memory. His name; he was sure of that now.
"Is," he gulped, staring at the frightened woman. "Is that my name?"
She shook her head, but he grabbed her arm in an iron grip, desperate for any information she could provide him with. She had lied to him about his own name; there was no telling what else she had done. His mind flashed back to when he first woke up. There had been a woman looking for Sasuke Uchiha. Uchiha; that was his last name, wasn't it? And this woman had the nerve to lie in front of everyone and sent that other woman away with a slap, no less. He was furious; a mixture of desperation, new discovery, and anger at the blatant betrayal of trust that Fukiko has inspired.
"That is my name, isn't it, Fukiko?" He chuckled darkly. "Is that even your name? It's probably not; it's just another lie made up to trick me. My name isn't Kenshin Uemora, is it. My name is Sasuke Uchiha." When her eyes widened at his conclusion, he took it as an affirmation.
"What else have you lied to me about, hm?" His dark eyes glinted, his voice steadily increasing in volume and intensity. "Now that I look back, that woman who was looking for Sasuke Uchiha, that was me, wasn't it? And you fucking sent her away. What is your plan? Why would you do something like this?
How long did you think you could keep this façade up?"
She shook her head, trying to shake off the accusations. His bruising grip on her wrist was beginning to hurt, and for the first time, she looked afraid of him, like he was a monster. With a terrified yelp, she wrenched herself from his grip and cradled her injured wrist protectively. She stared at him, whispering something unintelligible. He attempted to follow, but his weak legs could not support his weight, collapsing from underneath him when he swung them over the bed. The pink-haired woman scurried out from the room, almost crashing into the nurse coming down the hall. Damn, he slammed a fist down onto the table, he'd almost got her, and almost got to the bottom of the web of lies she had spun. At least he had gotten his true name out from her, if nothing else. Sasuke Uchiha, he ran through it over and over again in his mind. With a monstrous effort, he pulled himself up from the floor into a sitting position. Then, using the bed railing as leverage, he pulled himself onto the bed, panting from the exertion.
He laid there, enjoying the music that flowed into his room from down the hallway. His suspicions had been right; Fukiko or whatever that woman had been called, she had been lying to him. It troubled him slightly that he knew next to nothing about his past now except for his name and his odd interest in music, but now, nothing would impair him. She might return the next day, but Sasuke Uchiha – he reveled in his newly discovered name – would not let her trick him again. A dark-haired nurse peeked into the room, surprised to find him on top of his sheetsm, cheeks flushed with exertion. Gingerly, she stepped into the room, mumbling, "Do…do you need anything?"
"Hm?" He looked at her, and then a slight smile graced his lips. "I would like some music."
"Whatever you can find," he was feeling in a particularly pleasant mood. The nurse nodded slowly, a confused look on her face. "Maybe whatever is playing right now, down the hall. What's that by?"
"It's nothing special," the nurse blushed. "Not Tchaikovsky, or Mendelssohn or anything like that…" Sasuke, as he now called himself, narrowed his eyes. This nurse had obviously been listening in on their conversation. He took a closer look at her, noting her oddly colored eyes – they were almost pure white. She looked familiar – like someone he had seen before. The throbbing pain in the back of his head increased in intensity, making him wince. Suddenly, he saw those same silver eyes on another face, a softer, charming face of a woman. The pain in his head exploded and he keeled over, barely suppressing a groan. Immediately, the nurse was by his side.
"What? What's wrong?"
"You…" his teeth were clenched from the pain. He opened an eye, scrutinizing her face. "You…have I seen you before?"
"No." A simple answer. However, the woman's eyes seemed apprehensive. "My name is Hanabi Hyuga. I'm an intern from a nearby college."
"Hyuga…" he whispered, another wave of pain enveloped him. He passed out for a second, then the darkness receded and he heard himself screaming. The pain was like a hammer, hitting him over and over again, mercilessly pounding him into the pavement. He felt like his head was being obliterated, his mind destroyed. The screaming sounded very far away, like it was someone else providing the sound. Yet the pain was very close; threatening to choke him and stabbing at his mind like a thousand needles and spears all at once. Faintly, he could make out the outline of the frantic, white-eyed nurse as she struggled to hold him down and press an IV into his veins. Two security guards had come in, restraining his wrists as she firmly inserted a long needle into his wrist. After a short moment, the pain receded, leaving a dull ache in his head. Hyuga…he thought as his eyes drooped shut.
Dimly, he could hear a sudden calm music brought by his bedside. It was middle of a complex melody, the music falling like warm drops of water after a sun-shower. He was so wrapped up into the music, that he was barely aware of her swift fingers flipping the pages as soon as he finished one page after another. Then the light tone all but disappeared, replaced by sadness, but a different darkness than before. The darkness of losing what once was, making the notes conjugate in something unbearably empty…yet sweet. The ending measures went up and down several octaves; the calm after the rage of a storm of emotion.
Sasuke held his bow on the violin for a moment after he finished and then put it down. He peeked down at the woman standing beside her. Her eyes were still closed, and a tear was glinting at the edge of one of them. Sasuke was about to snap irritably that if she didn't like it, she didn't have to be so emotional about it. He knew it wasn't the best sight-reading he ever played, but that was partially because of the difficulty of this piece she offered.
"That…" she opened her eyes and looked up at Sasuke, "That was so beautiful, Sasuke-san. "
An odd thrill went through Sasuke when she said his name. All the irritation left his mind as he stared at her gentle expression. Suddenly this Hinata Hyuga didn't seem as 'damn annoying' as before. Actually, she could be more correctly classified at 'damn cute'.
He sat up in his bed with a gasp. The full moon shone down brightly in his room. The dream had been so real, so vivid. He could still remember the small girl, just fourteen, listening as he played the violin to a melody so sweet and beautiful he felt like crying. Sasuke looked at his fingers, examining the hard calluses formed on the tips of them. He was a violinist – it all made sense. How his fingers ached to feel something under them. Why he tapped them unconsciously to a forgotten rhythm. It all made sense now. He hadn't just been a violinist – he'd been famous as well.
He stared at the bright moon. And the girl beside him, Hinata Hyuga, he recalled. Who was she? His heart clenched at the thought of her name, and a bittersweet feeling entered him. She was it. She was what he had been hurting for, missing for so so so long. Music had been an essential part of it, to be sure, but she had been the center of it. Her shining silver eyes, her soft pale skin – it was her – Hinata Hyuga.
The woman that he loved.
Author's Notes: Hehe…sorry for such a long wait. I thought I would never write again, but I suddenly felt the urge to continue this story. I'm so sorry for making you all wait for soooooo long – it's been a year! However, I hope that you'll continue to read & review no matter how angry you are. It's really an encouragement. So, please REVIEW!!