This is it, the last chapter. I hope everyone's as excited about this as I am.
Walking amongst the butterflies
- Fermata -
Misaki gripped the sheets in his hands, digging his nails into the fabric.
"I...I don't know," he confessed, hurriedly wiping his tears away with his sleeves. "Is it okay for me to try? Is it okay? After everything that I did - "
Akihiko wrapped an arm around Misaki's shoulders and lovingly kissed his forehead; one butterfly kiss, which burnt his cool skin. "You didn't do anything wrong. You never did anything wrong," he said softly.
"But what if I - "
"If you fall, I'll be there to catch you."
This time, he did not protest against Akihiko's use of cliché lines. Misaki shook his head. He tried to laugh but he ended up choking on the sound of his own voice.
"Usagi-san should worry about himself. Aren't you trying to get published? You don't have time to worry about me," he protested, though weakly, as though the butterflies were watching him and could sense his lie.
Akihiko kissed the tears as well. "If I didn't worry about you, I could never go back to writing."
"That doesn't make sense!" he protested.
"Don't you understand? You're my inspiration."
"Don't say such embarrassing things!"
"I can say them because they're true."
Misaki sighed. How could he win against such a stubborn, unreasonable man?
"Don't give up, Misaki," Akihiko whispered; he was tempting him, drawing him away from the safety of apathy with his poisonous promises.
"Usagi-san too," Misaki retaliated. "If – If I'm going to try my best then Usagi-san has to do his best as well. I'll be watching you, s – so don't think you can be lazy! I'll always be watching you."
He thought that he had hit back, he thought that he had tied Akihiko up in the same chains but when the man smiled, Misaki realised that this was what Akihiko had wanted all along. He wanted to be chained; he wanted to be bound, together like this so that neither of them could leave the other.
Misaki bowed his head, his hair falling in a curtain around him. He had been tricked again. "If it wasn't for you, my life would have been a lot easier. Why do you always make me try? Why won't you let me give up?'
He could not say such embarrassing things with the same ease but, leaning into Akihiko's chest, he could hear the man's heart beat and was sure that he probably knew about it anyway.
Misaki sat in the common room, now almost depressingly empty in the early morning, with Shigure in front of him. The man had no problems with being called out at this time of the day. Rather, he was eager and had arrived within fifteen minutes of the call. Now he sat on one of the plush chairs, soaking in the smell of coffee and toast.
"Misaki-kun..." Shigure's words faded away silently but the sentiment of his feelings remained lingering in the air.
"Thank you for your concern, Shigure-san," he smiled apologetically.
Shigure touched his arm with concern. "But Misaki-kun, what if - "
He shook his head. "It's okay. To be honest, Shigure-san, I was really happy to hear you say those things. It felt good to have someone who would accept me no matter how low I fell, but Usagi-san..." Misaki laughed lightly, "Usagi-san is a slave-driver. He just won't let me give up. I don't want to give up either," he confessed.
"That's why I'm going to pick myself up every time I fall down. Even if it's a clumsy, pathetic sort of life, I'm going to keep doing my best!"
"A clumsy, pathetic sort of life, huh?" Shigure muttered thoughtfully, reclinging even further into his chair as though he would sink into it. "That's very brave of you to think that way."
"N – Not really," he blushed.
"I wanted to be the one to help you but it looks like you already have someone doing a better job of it than me," Shigure managed to both sigh and laugh at the same time, creating a noise that sounded like neither.
"Shigure-san?" Misaki tilted his head to one side, confused. However, though he could not see his expression, he felt that there was something distinctly sad about the man's countenance. He had always felt that way about Shigure but now it seemed more prominent than usual. "Shigure-san too!" he insisted, not quite sure what he was insisting about. Still, he cried; "Please take care of yourself!"
Misaki was not sure what to make of the atmosphere he felt. He had a definite sense that something was ending but he was not sure what. There was a certain sense of serenity around them, yet it quivered on the edge of frenzy. Thoughtfully, he bowed his head.
Standing, Shigure wiped the invisible dust from his suit. He smiled at him and ruffled the boy's hair, making no comment about what he thought of the boy's wish.
"Good luck, Misaki-kun."
Those few words seemed to say everything; their wishes, their hopes, their dreams all packed into that one, brief exchange.
They both bowed their heads to each other in respect as they parted; Misaki wheeling himself back to his room, Shigure walking towards the exit. Though they did not say goodbye, as they passed Misaki was certain that they would probably never see each other again. Yet though Misaki would miss Shigure's company, he could not help but smile.
Akihiko threw on his coat as he made his way outside. If the traffic was good, he should have been able to reach the hospital just on time, if not then he was sure to be late.
Shrugging on his coat, he hurried towards the car park rushing past a man leaning against the wall of the complex with his arms silently folded.
"Hey," the man called him back, his head was bowed and his eyes closed but he seemed to know who he was talking to.
Akihiko stopped abruptly, doubling back to get a good look at him.
"I'm in a hurry," he replied, as tersely as the man had spoken
Finally, the man uncrossed his arms, opening his eyes, he frowned at Akihiko. "I heard from Nowaki. Honestly, some people would consider what you're doing to be sexual harassment," he grumbled.
Akhiko sighed. "Hiroki, if I didn't know you better, I would think that you don't have a romantic bone in your body."
Hiroki pushed himself away from the wall. He could hardly believe he was wasting his time like this but it sure as hell beat grading papers. "Forgive me for harping on about it, but what about your book?" he asked.
Akihiko smiled inwardly, at a private memory only he and Misaki shared. "He said that he would be watching me," he whispered, shaking his head as if he too could not believe it. "When someone you like says something like that to you, it's hard to just give up."
"Don't flatter me," Akihiko cringed.
"Who the hell said it was flattery?" Hiroki snapped yet, brightening a little, he waved a dismissive hand as if to shoo Akihiko away. "Well then, if that's how you feel, do your best, Akihiko-sensei."
"You don't need to tell me that."
"Ah, Akihiko!" Hiroki called him back just as he was about to dash for the car park.
"What?" he looked back, impatient.
Hiroki dug into his bag, finding a thick wad of papers bound together by a single clip. He tossed the manuscript into Akihiko's arms. "It was good," he smirked, "though I wouldn't show it to the boy."
Misaki was playing with clay when Akihiko barged into the room shouting; "Misaki! Misaki, are you ready?"
Looking up, he put aside the moulding clay - some habits died hard – and wiped his fingers together. "Ready for what, Usagi-san? You just told me to stay in my room."
"That's because I have a surprise for you," he said, heaving something, which made a heavy thud sound, on top of Misaki's bedside table.
"It's not more butterflies, is it? I feel sorry for them, being stuffed into a little box," Misaki said almost reproachfully.
"It's nothing living this time," Akihiko leaned over, kissing his forehead. Misaki accepted the first without protest.
"What is it?" he asked, still cautious despite Akihiko's promises.
Akihiko pressed something. There was a click sound followed but what seemed like a lid popping open. It did not take long for Misaki to guess that it was likely a radio or a CD player.
"If you can overcome this, I think you can overcome the main source of your trauma."
The player began whirling. After a pause, a steady stream of music began pouring out; the first threads of a piano followed by the low trill of one, two violins
"B – Beethoven?" Misaki stiffened.
"Don't you like it?"
He batted away Akihiko's outstretched hand incredulously. "You idiot, Usagi-san! You know I hate it!" he cried, shuffling away in an attempt to distance himself from the awful music. Why had Akihiko brought something so horrible as if it was a pleasant surprise? The man knew just as well as the doctors that it made him sick.
"Listen, to him!" Akihiko insisted, grabbing his hands before Misaki could use them to cover his ears.
"No, he hurts!" he protested, battling him away.
"I don't want to hear it!" he yelled.
"Misaki!" Akihiko's lips pressed against his, silencing the boy. For a moment, everything froze; Misaki, the room, even the music seemed to be suddenly suspended in stopped time.
Akihiko kissed him hard, as though he were trying to take away all the pain and worry inside of him. Misaki's body shook with stifled sobs, feeling far more frail and breakable in Akihiko's arms than he had ever felt during one of his attacks.
"Listen to him, Misaki," Akihiko whispered, soothing the boy's agitated nerves with his voice. He brushed back the loose strands of hair falling over his forehead, placing a cool hand against Misaki's cheek. "Listen to it, Misaki. Can you hear it?" he asked.
"This is the sound of forgiveness."
Even though it's the end it's also sort of a beginning. A new beginning for Misaki and Akhiko to start over and try again. This fic was gave me lots of trouble over the course of writing. There were even times when I just wanted to delete the fic. Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed that. Thank you to everyone who took the time to review. You're the reason why I didn't just delete the whole thing but kept going!
ETA: I've had a few requests about a sequel. If people really do want a sequel, I'm willing to write one and I'll do my best!