Oyasumi Nasai 7

Arriving at Edo hospital, Souji decided he would get better as soon as possible. From the outside, the building looked threatening and morose and the interior was even more so. Everything was made of dark smelly wood and the staff was made up of severe men who barked instead of spoke. They were taken to the tuberculosis ward, where everyone wore masks and most of the patients in the two rows of futons looked half dead. There was the constant sound of coughing and the stench of blood and vomit was terribly strong. Souji looked up at Hijikata with wide eyes, his sleeve over his mouth and nose, and saw the larger man was glaring around him. The man who had shown them the way was the first to feel his wrath. The demon of the Shinsengumi turned on him, eyes blazing with his arm protectively around Souji's skinny form

"You cannot be serious! How do you expect anyone to survive in these conditions?!" the man looked taken aback. Just then, another man came over to them

"I'm dreadfully sorry, I should have met you at the front - please follow me." He said with a smile. Souji and Hijikata looked at each other but obeyed, leaving their guide standing there looking confused. Once they were well away from that room, the man leading them turned to speak tp them, stopping them in a hallway "Allow me to introduce myself - my name is Miyavi-sensei and I am the director of this hospital." He said. Hijikata growled

"You call this a hospital? That room is a disgrace, I will not allow Souji to stay here-"

"Mr. Hijikata, you misunderstand. That is not the room Mr. Okita will be staying in - that place is for tuberculosis patients who we do not expect to recover.." he explained. Souji shivered at this, it was like a waiting room for the dead…and he would be in there one day "Mr. Okita has a special private room, his doctor insisted." He said. Hijikata frowned

"Senan-sensei?" the man nodded

"Of course, he specially requested Mr Okita gets the best room and the best possible care." He said. Souji was beginning to get tired now; Hijikata obviously sensed this as the arm he had around his dear friend's depleting waist tightened slightly, for both comfort and support.

"May we see this room then?" he asked, picking Souji up. The man nodded again and lead them to a room near a pretty outdoor courtyard. He opened the shoji door to reveal a large, airy room with a window viewing the courtyard and a spacious futon. There was a large cabinet against one wall, which Souji assumed held medical supplies of some kind, and a desk.

"Here we are, your new home, Mr Okita. How do you like it?" the hospital director asked

"It…it's lovely…" Souji breathed, eyes wide as he looked around the wonderful room. Hijikata sat him down on the futon, kneeling beside him in their usual fashion. The director joined them on Souji's other side

"I'm sure you'll be very happy here, Mr Okita, you will be cared for by some of the top doctors in the country. You will be in safe hands all the while you are with us." Souji smiled with a nod

"Thank you, that's great to be here.." he said. Hijikata saw he was getting tired so he cleared his throat

"Why don't you get some sleep, Souji? I want talk with Miyavi-sensei outside.." he said, looking at the director. The doctor nodded with a smile and excused himself, standing up as Hijikata helped Souji lie down in bed, covering him with the futon and ensuring him he'd be there when he woke up. He stood up and followed Miyavi-sensei out of the room, closing the door behind. The doctor led him to his office down the hall a ways and they sat either side of his desk.

"What did you want to talk to me about, Hijikata-san?" the doctor asked with a smile

"I just wanted to make sure Souji will be taken care of, especially after I have gone back to our headquarters. He gets very lonely and bored when he has no-one to talk to…we were hoping he'd be able to keep his pet piglet, Saizo, while he stays here? Souji keeps him very well behaved, he won't be any burden to you." The doctor considered it for a moment before shrugging

"I don't see why not, so long as the pig sleeps outside and doesn't cause trouble."

"Oh no, absolutely, thank you, sir. Souji will be so pleased." They both smiled, then something in Hijikata's mind became stormy "Sensei…what do you think Souji's chances are? You know, of recovering?" he asked. The doctor sighed, as if he's both expected and dreaded this subject

"We will do the best we possibly can but to be honest, Mr. Hijikata, tuberculosis is usually a killer. Only a few people have ever survived it.." Hijikata nodded, expression dark "But," the doctor added a little brighter "everyone who has survived have been treated here and they've all had a great support of friends to help them along." Hijikata smiled

"Well, Souji certainly has that. But I do wish I could stay with him all the time - my job doesn't allow me to be away from headquarters for a long period of time… Perhaps I could think about sending someone up each week? Stagger his visitors, so to speak, so he always has someone with him. When Souji gets lonely, he feels much worse."

"That sounds like a marvellous plan! We would be happy to accommodate one visitor at a time if it means Mr. Okita would improve." Hijikata grinned as much as he allowed himself to, nodding

"That would be great, thank you so much!"

"How long do you expect to stay with us, Mr Hijikata?"

"I'd say about a week, or at least until Souji is settled." The doctor nodded with a smile

"Very good, I will sort out a room for you. I assume you'd like to be as close to Mr Okita's room as possible?"

"Yes, please." He said. They smiled and bade each other goodbye, Hijikata heading back to Souji's room. When he returned, Souji was asleep with the naughty Saizo curled up beside him on the sheets. Hijikata smile at him and took the time to look around his room. He was sure Souji would like it when he looked properly, the walls were a pleasant light blue, the floor simple tatami and the windows let a lot of light in. He even had a view of a sakura tree in the courtyard and he could see the sky from his bed. The room was perfect for Souji that was for sure, Hijikata just hoped you would have to stay in it for long. In a kind world, they would be able to cure Souji before he got much worse and he would be out and back home before the next Festival.

Hijikata sighed, absently stroking Saizo as the pig got up sleepily. It snorted up at him before stretching itself and curling up again next to Souji. The older man smiled and chuckled slightly

"Good night." he said softly.

Well…? What do we think? I hope this was even a little bit worth the wait. I doubt the next update will be very soon sorry


PMKnut xx