Disclaimer: Fruits Basket is the property of Natsuki Takaya. I hold neither affiliation nor ownership. The character Shin Dokaru though is of my own creation.
Chapter Nine: A Moment to Sit
Chapter Nine: A Moment to Sit
It was just another day. People passed by, rushing as if there was no time to spare. Everything seemed hurried. Was the world really moving this quickly? Was time really being lost at such a rapid rate?
Her gaze turned forward. Everything slowed and returned to the current moment.
"Are you alright?"
She looked away. Any thoughts that she had of apologizing for becoming distracted vanished. It was not that important anyways. He would not care.
Maybe he did care. She was being rude for not talking to him after all. "Sorry."
"Why are you apologizing?"
She stared at her hands. It was difficult to look at him. There was no guarantee about what she would see. "I... I just am."
Hatori thanked the waitress when two cups of tea were placed before them. He waited for her to leave before addressing Shin again. "How have you been?"
"Fine." She uttered a quiet apology for having interrupted him.
He ignored the apology. She was agitated and he sipped at his tea until she seemed to have calmed down. "You left the house abruptly."
Her body tensed and she waited for him to chastise her.
She raised her eyes and looked at him for a few brief seconds before she diverted her gaze. It was surprising for her that he had not chastised her. Of course, he had spoken kindly to her while at the Sohma house. It seemed that had not been a front to force her to lower her guard.
There was annoyance in his tone. She opened her mouth only to close it. For several minutes there was silence between them. "Why does it matter to you?"
She was looking at him now. He held her gaze while he answered her. "You are my patient. It is my duty to ensure your health."
"I am not your patient."
"No, I suppose not," he admitted.
Her gaze left him. She was not sure what had given him the idea that she was his patient. Yes, he had treated her. However, he had not asked for any payment. There had been no commitment to be had and yet he had thought that there was.
There was an air of obstinacy about her that he had never noticed. Their prior meeting, of course, had consisted of him tending to her injuries. She had, at that time, been nothing more than a shell. There had been very little will. Yet, it seemed that some life had returned to her in the time that had passed.
"What did you want to talk about?"
He was surprised that she had asked. The matter was one that he had thought that he would have to bring up. He leaned back and made himself more comfortable in his chair. For a time he was silent as he pondered the best way to approach the subject without her running off. Experience had taught him that this was a delicate matter. "I want to discuss why I had been called to treat you." The effect was instantaneous. In a matter of seconds the girl that he had first met was sitting before him.
"There is nothing to discuss."
"I beg to differ."
She said nothing. Her gaze became fixed on her hands.
"Miss Dokaru." Her body visibly flinched. He waited a moment. "Miss Dokaru, I have experience in these matters." She said nothing and sighed heavily. It would have been better if he had not leapt. He should not have even stuck his nose in the matter. She really did not mean much to him. Shigure had shoved his nose into it though. His involvement had been forced by appeals to his good nature. His resolve needed to be hardened even more against his cousin. Yet, he had not let matters rest. Very easily he could have forgotten her. He did not have to pursue further inquiry, but he had. There were numerous reasons as to why he did. He preferred to focus on his sense of medical responsibility. There was sympathy too. He had a vague understanding of what was plaguing her. If not for his own experiences he would have most likely remained ignorant. There was no other reason that he had for pursuing this. "You do not want to talk about that. I understand."
He understood. Almost he could believe him. People were deceiving though. Besides, there was nothing for him to understand. There was nothing for them to talk about. It didn't concern him. It concerned no one.
For a brief second he saw something flash in her eyes. Was it spite? No, that would not have been it. Perhaps it was amusement or maybe it was just trying to understand what he was saying. "It would be wise if you did though." There was a slight movement of her head that he almost missed. She didn't agree with him. That was okay. After everything before this he didn't expect her to agree that talking at anytime would be a good idea.
She waited for him to say more, but he did not. Her gaze finally lifted and for a few minutes she just stared at him. When that time had passed though, she looked away.
How familiar that gaze was. The expression was similar too. He knew it. He had seen it many times before. It was almost a little surprising to find it out here in the real world.
"Are we done?"
Her question drew him from his musings. "Is there anything that you want to talk about.
He kept asking that. It was annoying, frustrating. "I am not the one who wished to talk," she said, her voice not betraying her dislike of the question.
"Yes, we are."
"May I go?"
He nodded and watched as she almost immediately stood and prepared to leave. "Miss Dokaru." She did not look at him at first, but she eventually did. He stood and offered her a white card.
She looked distrustfully at the card, but still took it.
"If you need anything call this number."
Without a word she turned and left. She walked quickly in case he called her back, but he didn't.
Sitting down again Hatori looked at the two cups of tea. She had not touched hers. That was alright. A few minutes after she had gone he put some money on the table before leaving.
It had been strange. She was not certain why she had agreed to speak with him. Ultimately, she regretted having done so. He had brought up, at least he had tried to bring up, things which had no plausible reason to be addressed. A part of her though, was glad that someone had tried to ask. Still, the doctor knew nothing.
"Watch where you're going."
She stumbled away from the man who had run into her. Instinctively, she checked her bag. Her wallet was still there. Nothing had been touched. With that reassurance she started to walk again. More care was taken to avoid those who walked the sidewalk. When she reached the station she found that she was early. She had missed her usual train when she had sat down with Hatori. Now, she would have to wait another thirty minutes until the next train arrived. There were no empty benches so she found a space along the wall to stand.
His phone was ringing when he stepped into his office. He tossed his coat onto his chair before answering his phone. "Hello."
He sighed when he heard Ayame's overly enthusiastic tone. Sitting down, he closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. "What is it?"
"I thought that I would call to see if you had gone home yet. Why are you still in your office?"
It crossed his mind to tell him that he had just returned to his office, but that would not help him. Ayame would just say the same thing to him. "I have paperwork to finish."
"Paperwork? Come now, Hatori. You could not have had that many patients today."
He would have responded, but Ayame was not done talking.
"You work too hard. You need to have some fun."
"I don't have time."
"Of course you do."
He frowned. "Ayame-"
"Shigure and I are going to a bar tonight. You should come with us."
A drink did sound good right now. "Alright." He heard Ayame's exclamation of happiness, but managed to cut him off before he spoke again. "I have to bring Akito her medicine." He pulled out a pen and wrote down the name of the bar that Ayame gave him. After assuring him that he would in fact meet them both there he hung up. With a heavy sigh he leaned back in his chair.
The bar was quiet. The atmosphere was dull. The night was young though, and he was certain that it would liven up as it grew later and night blended into morning.
He walked over to where Ayame and Shigure sat. They had apparently already ordered for him since a glass sat waiting. He took a grateful sip of it. "Thank you."
"Long day?" Shigure asked with a slight smirk. Hatori didn't answer him, but his expression told him enough. "I'm glad to see that you could come."
"I was not left with much choice."
"I do believe that our Hatori is joking."
"It is better than that cold, stoic demeanor," Ayame stated.
He could only shake his head; unable to bring himself to chastise them.
Discussion turned to pointless matters. The weather was mentioned and then the progress of their jobs. The topic turned to the day's events. A few laughs were shared as Ayame told them about his latest commission.
"Tohru said that you left the festival quickly today," Shigure said as he sipped his drink.
"I had a consultation with a patient."
"You work too hard, Hatori." Ayame shook his head. "You need to take some time for yourself."
"I will this summer."
He waved his hand dismissively. "Nonsense. We will do something sooner."
Not in the mood to argue the matter, he nodded.
Shigure waved his hand to get the bartender's attention.
"I'll get the drinks."
"You are so good. Thank you, Hatori."
He shook his head, his lips curved with amusement. Standing up, he walked over to the bar. Placing his order, he waited with some boredom as the drinks were prepared. There was a loud bang as the door violently swung open and bounced off the wall. He looked at the newcomer. The man came to stand beside him. There was something familiar about him that he couldn't place. His order was placed before him and he returned to the table. The man was forgotten as he entered the discussion that his two cousins were having about him needing to meet a woman. It was an old argument, but he no longer fought it as much as he once did.