Note: Chapter Five has been updated with additional content – it's tagged onto where I left off before.
Despite the fact that they were being paid handsomely for their work, Kyouya couldn't help but pity Hikaru's doctors. They'd tried their best with him, poor souls, but the older twin was too stubborn, too willful – he had never seen the same streak in Kaoru, who had always been compliant and placid. If he had it, Kyouya had yet to see it. For a little while, Kyouya helped him hide his secret, out-of-hours visits to Kaoru's room, taking advantage of reduced staff rounds… but it got more and more difficult once the nurses caught on and started coming to Kaoru's room at irregular intervals. From then, no matter how creatively he tried to hide, Hikaru was ousted out as quickly as he was found… but back again within the hour.
Kyouya had pinched the bridge of his nose on more than one occasion, in an attempt to stave off a building headache. Of course he understood Hikaru's reasons, and empathised with him completely, but in the end this was still a hospital, and a hospital had rules. He may be involved with the Hitachiins these days, but Kyouya was still an Ootori, and nothing if not a stickler for regulations.
"They're concerned for your health, Hikaru." Of course, even if he tried to tell Hikaru that the doctors were in charge, he'd never hear of it. But he still tried to reason with him. "You had a head injury. They're worried about your well-being…"
"My well-being is here, senpai." Hikaru had replied quietly, slipping into the seat at Kaoru's left hand side, which was always kept open for him. "As is yours."
He wanted to learn, he wanted to understand precisely what Kaoru needed, and he wanted to help. He read almost constantly these days – when he wasn't visiting or sleeping – usually anything Kyouya had recommended, anything that might elucidate things for him. He was thankful that Kyouya was around to help him discuss what he's read and clear up anything that he was confused about, but he was tired of having to obey his doctors. If nothing else, he at least wanted to go back to the hotel once and get some stuff for Kaoru. He knew Kyouya was reading Kaoru's books to him, but there were other things too, like brushing his hair, or playing his favourite music.
One week after the accident, the doctors finally released him from their care. All that meant to Hikaru was that he could now spend every moment, waking and sleeping, by Kaoru's side – and had it not been for the rest of the Host Club and their careful marshalling of both Hikaru's schedule and Kyouya's too, they both would have.
Between the other four of them, they managed to push them into some kind of compromise, whereby Kyouya took the night watch and Hikaru the day, with Mori, Honey, Haruhi and Tamaki relieving them to sleep, or to poke at some food or maybe even sit in the sun for half an hour while the doctors ran their usual routine of scans and tests. There was a brief crossover in the evening, where Kyouya would recommend this book or that study to Hikaru, though for the most part his sleeping patterns were so different to Tamaki and Haruhi's that they had to sneak into his hotel suite in the mornings to check he was definitely there.
Not even Kyouya could tell how much the others knew. There was a high probability that Mori had formed an idea of what was going on – one more person than Kyouya had wanted, but he blamed himself for that one, for squeezing himself onto the edge of Kaoru's bed and resting his eyes for just a second - - but the tactiturn senior had said little about the matter, only lending his quiet support when the others tried to convince him to surrender, or at least split the night shifts.
The days passed in blurs of waking, sleeping, travelling to the hospital and eating, all of them to facilitate the cycle they had found themselves in.
None of them planned on leaving their established radius of the hospital, and taking Kaoru home was out of the question until the doctors deemed it safe enough and none of them wanted to leave without him. So they waited.
Not all of Kaoru's dreams were drowning dreams.
He flopped onto his back on the beach, splayed like a starfish, breathless and laughing. It was almost noon, the sun at its height above him, beating on his chest and striking at his eyelids. Hikaru's voice was coming from far away, grousing at him from somewhere down the beach – probably for challenging him to a race he knew he would win - but too far to hear, never mind pay him any mind. He wasn't really paying anything much mind, not even the conversation they need to have at some point.
The cover of a cool shadow was the only warning he got before his brother's weight dropped on top of him, sandy and seawater-damp and they wrestled, yelping and shouting. They rolled carelessly down the beach, though Hikaru stopped them just before they end up in the water and the tide lapped at them for a while, making the damp ground shift beneath them. They were covered in it, in the sand, they'd have to swim again to get it all off their bodies. Their limbs were tangled together, Hikaru's hair gritty and salty and wet by his mouth, but Kaoru couldn't conceive of loving his brother more than he did at that moment. Whatever he would tell Hikaru today, everything would work out fine.
"…I miss you so much, Kaoru."
"Huh?" Startled, he tried to shift Hikaru over onto his back to look at him better, to question him better, but his twin refused to be budged and clung to him like a limpet, only bothering to move his head to Kaoru's shoulder instead.
"Hey. Remember when we were kids? How we used to play hide-and seek, just the two of us? We were three, maybe four back then, and you always made me the Oni. 'cept you always hid within, like, three rooms of me, so I could find you easily. So I got pissed off at you 'cause it wasn't really a challenge…"
Kaoru said nothing. There was nothing but the sound of his brother's voice and the rush-in rush-out of the tide he's timed his breathing to. But it felt better to have his nose buried in his brother's seasalt hair so he tugged him a little bit closer.
"...anyway. So. I got really bratty and told you to hide properly. To go far, far away. Because that was the whole point, yeah? To make it a challenge? You wouldn't go until I promised that I'd find you but… but the house was always so big. And you were so tiny back then.
"I searched for you for about an hour before I started to get scared. I mean, when you're that age an hour feels like a lifetime, right? Right. Only we never really liked grown-ups, did we, so I didn't tell them for ages. And because you were my twin and I promised and I had to fix it. So I kept looking didn't say anything, Not 'til the maids came to find me for dinner and found me twin-less and crying… Why'm I telling you this when you know the whole story, anyway?"
Hikaru's hand tightened in his – Kaoru's not quite sure how it got there because he thought his arms were around Hikaru, and Hikaru's around him. He pressed his nose further into his brother's hair. Hikaru had been inconsolable at that time, of course he had been. He'd apologised and apologised and they'd cried and cried but it soon became a childhood incident long-forgotten… they'd never really talked about it.
"…but I found you in the end. In the ceiling, of all places. And you were dusty and cold and you'd twisted your ankle, and you were just as distraught as I was, 'cause I know you were scared like me, like maybe you're scared now. I was scared because I thought you'd got mad and run away, and you were scared because you thought I'd got mad and decided not to look for you, but… ne, Kaoru… I'm right here, you know. I'm right here and I'm holding your hand, and I'm saying all this stuff because I know you're there, and I'm going to find you. Me and senpai, we're looking, we're searching, and we're right here, okay? I don't know if you're scared 'cos you can't get out, or if you're scared to come out because something's… but I promise. We'll find you, if you're stuck and… and if something's broke, we'll fix it, okay? So you don't have to be scared." A wry chuckle ran though Hikaru's chest. Pressed against Kaoru's, it felt like his own. "…you did a stupid, stupid thing, you know? You're an idiot, but then, so am I. And I fucking get it now, how you can love me despite – because - of all that. So please don't leave me. Just come back, yeah? Just… come back."
Then the moment was gone, and was as though he never said any of it, and with only the briefest of jars the dream switched track. Hikaru rolled off him with a boisterous laugh and pulled him to his feet, trying to ruffle the sand out of his own hair before offering his hand again.
Completely forgetting where he was supposed to come back to, Kaoru smiled.
He took the proffered hand, and let Hikaru lead him back to the water instead.
"I-I swear I didn't do anything." Hikaru stammered, half-destroyed and horrified, shaking as he watched the scene unfold in front of him. "I swear I don't know what I said to… I thought they'd stopped, I thought you said…"
They were all too busy to notice him – it was night time, five days after Hikaru had been discharged. Honey and Mori had come to drag him back to the hotel, and he had only been saying his goodbyes when… when Kaoru had opened his eyes so wide and then…
This had happened, and he didn't know what to do. The way their senpai had all sprang into action, arranging themselves up the bed like they'd put some kind of plan in place, made Hikaru feel even more useless. It was all he could do to jump out of the way, releasing Kaoru's hand as Mori came to restrain his body; Honey pressing down on his ankles and Kyouya gently bracing his head still.
Even when the room flooded with doctors and nurses, they continued to hold him gently, firmly, like he was made of glass and they were scared he'd break if they let go. Hikaru was sure he could see Kyouya stroking Kaoru's hair, could hear him pleading softly, futilely to stop, to calm down, not to hurt himself. It wrenched at him, because Ootoris didn't plead. Ootoris didn't beg.
The seizures were completely involuntary, begging him wouldn't change anything. But it should have been him there, even if Kaoru might not have been able to hear him, even if he might not have been able to understand.
It was the first time Hikaru had ever seen it happen and he just didn't know what to do.
Hikaru was in such a state that when Kyouya moved to his side he barely registered it. He was white as a sheet and shaking, eyes still trained out the door where the doctors had taken Kaoru once the seizure had subsided. He looked like he was about to collapse, or throw up, or bolt after them at any moment. Honey had slipped out already, and Kyouya was glad Mori was at hand to help him steer Hikaru out of the room and just… somewhere else. Anywhere else. After nearly two weeks it felt like they had only ever existed in this hospital, in this room. Even moving down the hall would be a pleasant change.
There was a small room for visitors just around the corner from the nurses' office. They let themselves in there and sat Hikaru down in one of the armchairs. Mori immediately moved off in search of tea – they'd brought along a decent enough stash in the beginning that it should still have been there – leaving Kyouya to snap Hikaru out of it.
"Are you all right, Hikaru?"
"I didn't know." Any of the cocky, self-assuredness Hikaru might have had left was gone. He was shivering. "Haruhi said it was bad but I didn't know and… and I thought they were supposed to have stopped, why did that happen when it was supposed to have stopped- -"
"That… is what the doctors are trying to figure out." Kyouya spoke over him, if only to stem off the rambling. "He was on some medication-"
"-which isn't working, is it?"
"No, it's not, but the doctors will figure out the dosage to help them stop. But for now, Hikaru, it's better this way-"
"Better this way?" Hikaru echoed, lifting his head abruptly, "How exactly it this better? I've tried, you know? I've tried so fucking hard to go along with the fact that this whole thing is happening. But I can't... I can't accept that I'm worth this, Kyouya-senpai. It's bad enough that he almost died saving my life. But he shouldn't still have to suffer for that like this, it's… it's not fair. It's not fair that he has to go through this after he did such a good thing, such a brave thing - such a… a dumb and misguided thing, maybe but… surely the fact that he saved my life should count in his favour? Surely… fuck, senpai…" Hikaru pressed the heel of his hand against one eye, "Does he even know I'm all right? Does he even know that it wasn't for nothing, that I'm here? I don't… I don't believe in God or anything; Kaoru was all I wanted and all I needed but he… he believes in karma. And surely if either existed he'd be in enough credit not to deserve this… this, just, like, lying there while his body starts failing against him."
"You've been reading too many papers."
"Enough to know what can happen." Hikaru shot back.
"Hikaru, he's in no pain-"
"Can you really promise me that?" he demanded quietly. "Can you really promise me he's not in pain? Or scared? Can you promise me he has no idea what's happening, that that will never happen again? This…" He had barely allowed himself tears since that first night, he had tried to be strong and believe, and not let it get to him. But they were threatening now, and he knew his voice would shake too much if he continued this way, so he lowered it. "This should never have happened in the first place, Kyouya-senpai. It's against the rules. Nothing bad should ever happen to Kaoru, not ever, because he's good. And even if it does… we're supposed to be the ones to stop it before it happens. Right?"
"Right." Kyouya assented quietly, taking a seat next to Hikaru's. There were two steaming mugs on the table – just like Mori-senpai to identify that what the two of them needed at that point was tea and space. Kyouya forced a mug into Hikaru's hands.
"…where'd they go?" It seemed as though Hikaru had just figured out two of their party had gone missing and was only now taking stock of his surroundings.
"Probably in search of answers, or informing your father that you'll be back late tonight."
"They can inform Tamaki that I won't be back at all tonight. I'm staying here."
Silence. Hikaru stared into the mug in his hands. Kyouya watched him staring.
"...are you done?"
He chuckled hollowly.
"Maybe. I don't know. When… when his eyes opened… I know that can happen as a reflex but for a moment I… I thought that he'd come back." He let out a breath. "…I don't get how you can be so calm about this. I'm not saying I doubt you care about him or anything, but… I thought if I read enough, maybe I'd get smart like you, be calm like you, and not be so afraid all the time."
"This isn't calm." Kyouya corrected quietly. "It's patience. A quality I can't say I ever noticed in you in the first place, but one Kaoru has in spades."
"Apparently I was absent when the patience was handed out."
"I'm sure Kaoru needs it more to deal with you." He shrugged, though was slightly relieved to hear Hikaru sounding more like himself. "Overlooking that idea… you and I are fundamentally different people. My family is in the hospital business."
"Yeah. It must be nice that none of this stuff scares you, huh?" Hikaru had expected Kyouya to confirm the fact with some biting sarcasm of his own, but there was nothing but awkward silence where the comeback should have been. "About what you said earlier… about how you said it's a good thing that he's almost impaling himself on the fricking ventilator every time this happens…"
"Listen." Kyouya cut in quietly. "I never said that these seizures were a good thing. There are seizures that don't produce convulsions like we saw earlier. These can be damaging, not least because we can't know when they're happening if he's not being monitored constantly. I know it's shocking to see… but at least as things are, we know these are happening and can intervene." Hikaru bowed his head slightly. "Drink your tea. And we'll find the others."
He gave a half-hearted snort.
A/N: So, truth is stranger than fiction. A pair of twins I teach at elementary school – and their teachers - came clean just before graduation and admitted they'd both gone by the same name for the past eight months. "She's Hikaru. I'm Kaoru." "…uh. Are those common names for twins?" "Not really…" "…Mum said she took them from some manga."