A/N: So finally the final chapter! ;) It took a bit longer than expected. College starts soon so its time to wrap this story up. Updates will probably be slower after this. I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who reviewed, you guys kept this story going! Now, without further ado, chapter six! (side note: I don't know how this chapter became the longest in the story when it was originally only a page or two!lol!)
Disclaimer: I do not own Air Gear.
It was the incessant beeping that woke her.
Irritably, Yayoi clamped her hands over her ears. Or tried to anyway. The moment she even thought about moving, pain shot through her body making her gasp with the strength of it. Counting to ten, she held completely still until it had receded to bearable levels. Cracking her eyes open a slit, she tried to get her bearings. Bright light seared her sensitive eyes like a burning lance and she quickly shut them again. This was ridiculous; she needed to know what was going on and stop that infernal beeping noise. It was driving her crazy.
Bracing herself, she slowly pried her eyelids open, muscles fighting her all the way. Funny, she hadn't even known she had muscles there until they were determined to disobey her will. This time however, she was ready for the assault on her eyes and forced herself to leave them open. The light was as bright as ever but as her eyes adjusted, she realised it was actually only daylight.
Daylight? But wasn't it night time? What happened to the fight? Like a flash she remembered the wall thundering down on her. The memory made her even more determined to find out what had happened. First though, she needed a clock. She had always been able to tell the time without having to consult one, but after everything she was slightly disorientated. Not knowing the time made her feel lost.
Gathering her courage, she carefully pushed herself into an awkward sitting position, gritting her teeth against the pain that tore through her. The first thing she noticed was that she was in a hospital room. The beeping noise that had so annoyed her was coming from a group of machines huddled in the corner to her left. Various tubes and wires sprouted from their surfaces and Yayoi could only guess at their function. She began to feel a little nervous. A needle inserted in her skin connected her to a clear bag of fluid. She swallowed and looked away quickly. She hated needles.
Now that she was fully awake, the pain was more bearable. It felt more like cuts and bruises than the entire broken skeleton she had imagined when she first woke up. Considering the size of the falling wall, she supposed she was lucky…
A slight movement out of the corner of her eye drew her attention to the right. Glancing over, an involuntary gasp escaped her lips.
Seated in a chair shoved against the wall to her right, he only shifted slightly at the sound of his name. With a shock, Yayoi realised he was fast asleep. His arms were folded against his chest and his head hung limply, clearly exhausted. She smiled softly. This was her first time to see his sleeping face and he looked surprisingly peaceful. She offered a quick prayer of thanks to whatever god had listened to her plea and kept him safe.
However, her smile changed to a concerned frown as she studied him more closely. His trousers were still in tatters from using the fangs and blood stained his t-shirt and jacket. Neither the gash above his eye nor his broken fingers had been tended to. A hastily wrapped bandage around his hand was the only sign that he had acknowledged something was wrong. It was also clear that his face had only been given a hasty scrub. Dried blood crusted on his cheekbone contrasted sharply with his skin, highlighting how pale he was. Dust was the most prevalent thing though, coating every piece of his clothing. The majority of it seemed to have been brushed off but some remained, clinging stubbornly to the fabric.
Looking at him sleeping there, clearly never having left her side, Yayoi felt a strange emotion welling up inside of her. It swept aside all other feelings reducing them to insignificance. Even the pain became only a minor annoyance. It filled her to the brim until she thought she would burst with it, racing through her nerves like wildfire. It was just like the time on the beach when she had first seen his scars. She had no words to describe the alien emotion; all she knew was that she had never felt anything like it before. Unable to contain it within her anymore, she opened her mouth and poured all the feeling into two words:
This time he snapped awake. Yayoi smiled when she saw he was instantly alert just like any predator. She was still feeling woozy. His gaze searched her out immediately and seeing her awake, Agito settled back in the chair, clearly trying to appear nonchalant. His blatant disregard was like a blow to the heart and brought back the memory of how he had shut her out right before the end of the battle. Her good mood disappeared like water down a drain.
She still didn't understand it! Clearly he had spent the time since the battle here, but one look at his stiff posture and folded arms and it was obvious that his barriers were still firmly in place. An awkward silence filled the room. Yayoi felt miserable. It was as if yesterday at the beach had never happened, as if they had never become closer.
Agito made a move to leave, standing up abruptly and sending his chair slamming into the wall behind.
"No, don't go."
The words came unbidden to her lips but she didn't regret them. It was how she felt. His gaze was unreadable as he looked at her and Yayoi cursed the new distance between them. She couldn't even catch a flicker of what he was feeling. She was surprised then when he grasped the chair roughly and sat without a word. It was so unlike him to be so quiet. He hadn't said a thing since he woke up.
Once again the words were involuntarily spoken but right then she didn't care how desperate she sounded. She wanted, no needed, to repair whatever had been broken between them. He seemed to be fighting some internal battle with himself as he considered her words, glaring intensely at the opposite wall. Finally he stood up and made his way to the head of her bed.
"What is it?" he asked. His voice wasn't harsh, but it wasn't gentle either. Yayoi was just relived that he had spoken at last. Maybe now they could make some progress. He stood close too, within her reach. If she stretched out her hand she could have touched him, but she left it lying on the coverlet. Something deep inside her warned that he wouldn't welcome her touch just now.
Yayoi struggled to sit up straighter. She had to get to the bottom of this. A sudden flare of pain from Raki's bruise on her back sent a spasm racing through her. She groaned softly. Agito was instantly at her side, easing her back onto the pillows.
"Idiot!" he exclaimed angrily. "What are you fucking moving for?"
Although his words were harsh, Yayoi saw the genuine concern in his face. She took heart from the sight. Maybe she could settle this. Up close, it was harder for him to hide his emotions from her. With him so near to her, she could see the hurt buried deep within his gaze, painstakingly hidden behind a mask of indifference. It was the same hurt she had glimpsed so briefly during the fight with Raki, just before he shut her out.
Tears stung her eyes. To see him in pain was unbearable, especially when she didn't know what had caused it or how she could help. Her fingers twitched, wanting to comfort him. Agito, as if sensing her intentions, pulled back from her. Desperate to keep him with her longer and (if she dared admit it) afraidhe might leave and never speak to her again, Yayoi burst out:
"What happened, Agito-kun? The fight? The building? I know for a fact that that wall was heading straight for me. I should be a pancake right now!" Curious despite herself, she stared at him expectantly waiting for an answer. He had winced at her last remark but remained stubbornly silent.
"How did I get out, Agito-kun?" she asked again, more softly this time. It was as if the fight went out of him. He sighed tiredly and his shoulders slumped. Keeping his gaze fixed on the blanket, he spoke in a low voice, as if struggling with some strong emotion.
"When the building began to collapse, those wearing AT's escaped easily and without injury. You were the only one there without them and so I knew you wouldn't be able to get out in time." He flashed a quick look at her as if reassuring himself that she was still beside him. In his gaze, Yayoi thought she caught a glimpse of the panic he must have felt.
He continued, "Of course, Raki was there as well and, due to our fight, also trapped. Basically, I just used my fangs to destroy the wall before it fell completely." He shrugged dismissively but Yayoi wasn't fooled. She could see the signs of strain on his face. Releasing all those fangs after a tough battle was no mean feat, not to mention he would have had to do it quickly. The toll on his body must've been enormous. The fact that he had saved her didn't escape her notice either. This time she did take his hand.
"Thank you," she said gently, a small smile on her lips. He didn't pull away and she let the silence stretch for awhile, content just to hold his hand. Her peace was interrupted when an unwelcome thought intruded on her mind.
"But what happened to Raki?"
"Although I managed to destroy the majority of the wall, the piece closest to you, I could only separate the rest into smaller chunks. I didn't have much time."
Yayoi nodded in understanding. That wall had been close and she was thankful for even being alive. Agito surprised her out of her memories when he reached out suddenly with his damaged hand and touched her gently on the head. With a start, she realised that a bandage had been wrapped there.
"That's why you're here. Some of the lager falling rocks struck you, knocking you out."
His hand tensed in hers, squeezing hard. Yayoi stroked his fingers tenderly, trying to give some comfort. It was clear to her that he was avoiding the subject of Raki and it concerned her. It was so unlike Agito to avoid anything that she had to know the truth. She couldn't have him suffering in silence if that was the case. She looked up from their clasped hands and deliberately caught his gaze.
"What happened to Raki?" she asked again, daring him to avoid the question.
She was surprised when he clenched his teeth, eyes flashing with anger, though she could tell it wasn't directed at her. Beneath the anger however, lay something else-regret.
"That stupid bastard tried to crawl away by himself. If he had just stayed where he was, close to you, then he would have been fine." His voice was hard. "By moving away, he got hit by the larger pieces I couldn't destroy. Both his legs were crushed, the right one in three places." Yayoi gasped despite herself. For a rider that could only mean…
"He'll never ride again," Agito stated remorselessly. He stared straight at her. The emotion in his eyes was unreadable just then and not because he was shutting her out. This time, the problem was that she wasn't a rider. Yayoi could sympathise but she would never understand what it was like for a Stormrider to forever be denied the freedom of the sky. Agito did though…and he felt responsible.
"This wasn't your fault Agito-kun," she said, touching his face softly with her free hand. The movement sent warning twinges of pain through her, promising worse to come if she didn't stop. Stubbornly, she ignored it. Right now the most important thing was helping Agito. The blood crusted on his cheek flaked away at her contact. Seeing the blood on her hand, Agito pulled away roughly.
"As if I'd feel responsible for that bastard's stupidity," he stated simply.
Yayoi sighed tiredly. Removing her hand from his, she clenched the blanket tightly in frustration. She felt the first stirrings of anger in the pit of her stomach. She let it grow, needing its strength for what she was about to say next. Taking a steadying breath, she glared reproachfully up at him.
"So what's wrong?" she blurted out, sounding sharper than she had intended. She forged on regardless. This had to be said. "Why do you keep shutting me out? Do you know how much that hurts? You can't do that someone without any warning! Does it mean that you don't want to be…friends anymore?"
She stopped suddenly, anger leaving as quickly as it had come. She stared down at her hands in shame. What was she doing? Sure it had to be said but not when he was injured and after saving her no less! Immediately feeling terrible, she turned to apologise…and froze, unable to utter a word.
The look on his face broke her heart.
Never before had she seen him look so vulnerable, so…childlike. He was always so mature, so certain of himself, that sometimes she forgot he was no older than she. She could see it now though, staring into a face that had faced more hardships than she could ever understand. Almost instinctively, Yayoi knew he had never shown this side of himself to anyone before. Knowing she had put that look there with her words, her arms ached to hold him.
"Friends…" He let the word trail off. Without warning, his expression hardened again. It was like a slap in the face to Yayoi. So close, she had been so close to getting through.
"What need is there for friends who fear you," he stated coldly, implacably. He turned away from her and started walking towards the door.
"Fear you…?" Yayoi's voice was confused. Glancing up sharply, she called to his retreating back desperately, "Please wait, Agito-kun! Please tell me what you mean!"
He paused. Without turning around, he spoke to the door.
"Yesterday…during the battle, I saw the fear on your face as I fought. The strength of it caused your whole body to shake." His voice changed suddenly, becoming filled with self-disgust. His hands balled themselves into fists at his side. "You were afraid of me when I fought. You couldn't stand the sight of me."
"No…no, Agito-kun," she whispered, shocked beyond belief. This was what was wrong? He thought she feared him? The relief could have made her laugh if it wasn't for the utter seriousness of his demeanour and the barely disguised hurt beneath the words. In a way she could understand his reasoning. Better to shut people out than give them the power to hurt you. This answered so many questions. By shutting her out he had trying to prevent her from affecting him. Yet it mustn't have worked judging from the pain she had spotted in his eyes when he came to help her sitting up. After all they had gone through together that day she could see how, seeing her apparent terror, he would feel like she had betrayed him.
A sob escaped her throat. Not caring about the pain it would cause her, she ripped the needle from her arm and swung her legs over the side of the bed. A wave of dizziness passed through her. Gritting her teeth, she tottered to her feet and staggered towards Agito. He turned at the sound of her approach, eyes widening in surprise.
"You idiot! What are you doing?" he asked angrily, "Get back in bed."
Yayoi shook her head furiously. She reached him and had to grab his jacket to steady herself.
"Listen to me for once," she said thickly through her tears, "I wasn't afraid of you, I was afraid for you, baka!"
He blinked a few times in surprise.
"Wha-? For me?" It seemed incomprehensible to him. "But I was fine," he pointed with infuriating logic.
Yayoi thumped her fists on his chest angrily. He stumbled slightly and had to catch hold of her waist for support.
"Well it didn't look that way to me!" she retorted but with less vehemence. Her anger was leaving her. He was alright after all.
Following her outburst, they stood in silence for awhile, Yayoi leaning weakly against Agito. She felt herself beginning to drift off but Agito's voice cut through the daze.
"So…you don't fear me then?" he asked softly, his breath brushing through her hair.
Yayoi pulled back to see his face. With delight, she noticed his eye was unguarded, the thoughts there plain for her to read. It was as if the wall between them had never been. The intensity of the emotions hidden just beneath the surface set her heart racing. Surely he could feel it, as close as they were to each other. Seeking to distract her wandering thoughts, she answered his question.
"Of course I don't," she replied just a gently. Grinning suddenly, she let a teasing tone enter her voice. "What's there to fear from a little baby shark like you anyway, Fang King?"
"Bitch," he said but without malice. Instead he smiled slightly at her, a real, genuine smile.
It took her breath away.
Without conscious thought, Yayoi leaned forward and pressed her lips softly to his. Immediately she pulled back, afraid she had gone too far. He wasn't dying for lack of oxygen this time. Before she had time to form an apology she felt arms encircle her back, pulling her even closer.
She was cut off as Agito's lips met hers again and all thoughts left her head completely. Her eyelids fluttered closed of their own accord. Slowly, she raised her arms and wrapped them around his neck, stretching her body against his. It felt as if someone had exploded a box of fireworks inside her. Hundreds of emotions raced within her before sizzling out and being replaced by one overwhelming sensation-love.
Opening her mouth, she deepened the kiss and Agito followed her lead effortlessly. Fire coursed through her veins at the feel of him pressed against her. She couldn't help the small moan that escaped her as Agito stroked his hand down her back. She threaded her fingers into his hair holding him to her more tightly. His hands on the bare skin of her back sent shivers down her spine…Wait, bare skin?
With sudden embarrassment, Yayoi realised she was wearing one of those ridiculous hospital gowns with the slit up the back. One wrong move and she'd be flashing Agito a lot more than she was willing to share just yet! She pulled away with reluctance. Everything in her screamed to go back to what she had been doing. Stubbornly, she refused to listen. They were both breathing heavily and Yayoi was sure her face was flushed. Agito looked a little dazed. At her withdrawal, he tightened his hold on her waist and made as if to pull her back. Yayoi placed one hand gently on his chest.
"Agito-kun," she said breathlessly, "much as I would like to continue all day, you need to get your wounds tended to. Not to mention someone could walk in." Her cheeks heated at the thought, imagining Ikki or Kazu finding them five seconds ago. Agito seemed to snap out of his daze. Letting his hands fall from her waist, he stepped back slightly.
"Yeah…you're right." His voice had gone husky and his hair was dishevelled from her hands. Looking at him made things deep inside her tighten pleasantly. Yayoi quickly clasped her hands behind her back lest she do something she'd regret later.
Just as she was opening her mouth to suggest they should find a nurse for him, the door burst open.
As if her earlier thought had summoned them, Kazu and Ikki barged in the door, pushing and shoving to see who could get in first. Following more sedately were Emily, Buccha and Onigiri. Emily carried a box of chocolates in one hand and a bunch of flowers in the other. Seeing Yayoi standing there, she threw them to the floor and rushed forward, catching her in a back-breaking hug.
"You're okay!" she cried, sobbing into her shoulder, "I was so worried when I couldn't find you! And then we saw Agito carrying your body out of the rubble and everyone thought you were dead and then we weren't allowed see you…and…I was so scared! Yayoi, I was so scared you were dead!"
Yayoi patted Emily's shoulder gently as she wiped her tears on Yayoi's gown.
"As you can see I'm fine," she said soothingly. She was deeply touched that Emily had cared so much. She knew her friend loved her but to see this reaction was something else. Her mind couldn't help wondering though how Agito had managed to be allowed wait with her if even her best friend couldn't. He had probably charmed the nurses, knowing him. Focusing her attention back on her crying friend, she continued, "Agito-kun saved me."
The words acted like a trigger. Everyone turned to stare at the midnight-haired boy.
"What the fuck are you losers staring at?" he muttered darkly, glaring at them
Ikki sidled up to him. With the air of a conspirator, he draped an arm around Agito's shoulders casually.
"You know shark, this isn't the first time you've saved this chick if my memory serves me correctly," he said slyly, "Maybe that Raki guy was onto something. Maybe she is your little crush." He pulled Agito closer to him and whispered so everyone could hear, "You know if you ever need advice on how to be a man, just come to me. I'll give you a tip or two."
"Fuck off Crow," Agito said disdainfully, shrugging his arm away, "As if you know shit about girls."
"Hmmm…he didn't deny he liked her," Ikki wondered aloud, gripping his chin as if deep in thought and ignoring Agito's final comment. Glancing from Agito to Yayoi he grinned evilly. "Maybe we were interrupting some-"
He was cut off when Kazu slapped the back of his head. Ikki glared at him indignantly.
"What the hell did you do that for?" he asked, rubbing his head in an exaggerated manner. Kazu ignored him. Turning to Agito instead, he fixed him with a serious look.
"You should get those injuries seen to or you'll end up with crooked fingers. We'll stay here until you're finished."
Agito nodded once. "Yeah, I'll go now."
He surveyed the room quickly. His gaze came to rest on Yayoi last. She looked steadily into his one clear eye and the promise of things to come cheered her more than any medicine ever could. This incident would not be forgotten like the last. She smiled to show she understood. Only then did Agito look away and start heading towards the door. Just before he left, Yayoi couldn't resist calling after him one more time. She searched her mind for something to say. Seeing the discarded box of chocolates by his feet she seized the idea.
"Don't forget some chocolates on your way back."
He turned just enough so she could see his face. A smile curled the edges of his lips.
"Just get better soon…Nakayama."
Had the world just stopped or had Agito actually called her by name? He was gone before she could form any sort of reply. Yayoi was pulled out of her daze by Emily cautiously poking her on the shoulder.
"What is it?" she asked, wondering why Emily looked so worried. She was edging slowly behind Yayoi while constantly twisting her head from side to side as if on look out.
"Well I don't mean to alarm you," she said calmly while still making her way behind her back, "but," here she dropped her voice to a whisper, "You know your flashing your ass to a roomful of boys don't you?"
"What?!" Yayoi screeched, thrusting her hands over her exposed backside. She felt a blush spread over her cheeks. Damn these hospital gowns! She had totally forgotten about it. Like a dog scenting prey, Onigiri raised her head from where he had been eating Emily's chocolates with Buccha. His eyes zoomed in on Yayoi as if mentally undressing her in his mind (which knowing Onigiri wasn't that implausible).
"Oh no you don't!" Emily cried, kicking him in the face as he made to pounce, "Kazu-sama help!"
Soon all of Kogarasumaru had joined in, turning the hospital room into a battlefield. Kazu and Emily were against Ikki and Onigiri, one group protecting Yayoi's dignity, the other trying to sabotage it. Buccha ignored them all and finished off the box of chocolates.
As Yayoi hid under the covers of her bed shouting occasional words of encouragement to her protectors, her thoughts soon drifted back to Agito. He was never far from her mind. Remembering how he had looked as he had said her name, Yayoi couldn't help but smile.
A kiss and a name. Well, maybe they were making progress.
A/N: So the end of my first story. I'm kinda sad! Actually it was really rewarding to write. I think Agito and Yayoi need more support. Even if I never got any reviews I would still have written it but you guys made it worthwhile! Thanks a lot! I really want to do a Kazu/Emily fic next but college starts in a day so I probably won't even get writing it for weeks! I also might do a sequel to this, if an idea strikes me that is. Stay tuned though, you never know when I might find a spare minute. ;)