The previous night had passed in torment for Akito Sohma. Unable to sleep, he had nothing else to do. His night consisted mostly of staring at the ceiling, listening to mindless drivel on the TV Hatori had brought in for him, and coughing harshly, in a dry attempt to bring up the phlegm clogging his airway and hindering his breathing. He would hold a tissue in front of his mouth, waiting for another coughing fit, but the efforts were fruitless, as revealed when he pulled the tissue away. There was usually nothing in it, save for the saliva that often dribbled out when he coughed. He cursed all of his sicknesses, but at the moment he was busy damning this cold's descendants to the darkest depths of hell.

... Which displayed to even himself that he had an anger problem. People without an anger problem didn't sit in bed all day punching the mattress and damning whatever was descended from their disease to the darkest depths of hell. People with anger problems (i.e. him) did.

The morning came so slowly that Akito wondered if it would ever come at all today. One of the things he always counted on in the morning was the sun creeping up from under the horizon and shining through his curtains. That was something he depended on, for sunlight gave him hope. Maybe someday he would just... feel better. Someday he wouldn't suffer one illness after another, because that was how it usually went. As soon as he got over one ailment, and started to feel better, another one would crawl up and overtake him. Head colds, chest colds, pneumonia, sinusitis, random fevers, the flu, assorted stomach viruses, headaches, odd pains and soreness. He sometimes wondered how it was that he caught all of these sicknesses, for the only person that visited him on a daily basis was Hatori, and that man hardly ever got sick.

Akito sat up in bed, blinking at the bright sun through the curtains. This obviously caused some kind of change in his body, probably because of how quickly he sat up, and his nose began to run. Groaning, he reached over to grab another tissue. He growled when his hand was met with an empty box. He reached deep inside the box, just to make sure they really were gone, and glared when he looked around the room to find no more boxes (not to mention all the used ones littering the floor). He sniffled, clutching the blanket. "HATORI, I NEED MORE TISSUES!"

He sat there for a few minutes, arms crossed over his chest and sniffing, blinking wearily. He wondered what on Earth could be taking Hatori so long; he knew that Akito was waiting. So why was he dawdling?

After a few minutes, Akito considered the idea of just lying back down and trying to go back to sleep. He was still so tired.

Finally, however, the door opened and Hatori walked in, carrying two more boxes of tissues. "I'm sorry it took so long," he said, placing one on the table and the one that he had already opened on Akito's lap. "Forgive me."

"Yes, but what did take so long?" Akito snatched a tissue from the box and wiped his nose.

"I was checking out Momiji's sore throat when you called for me, Akito-sama. Please forgive me."

"Hmph." Akito sniffed deeply, reaching for the remote. "Whatever." He flicked to a different channel. "I need books. There isn't anything on, and I'm bored."

"Actually, Akito-sama, that's what I wanted to talk to you about." Hatori swept some of his hair behind his ear. "I'm getting busier and busier, as far as my other appointments go. My appointments outside our family, I mean? And I don't have so much free time anymore. And... I take care of you in my free time. I can't neglect the other patients outside of the family. They count and depend on me as much as you and the others do."

Akito noticed that Hatori was speaking softly, and that his hands were shaking. That meant he was afraid. "Why are you frightened, Hatori? The news you're going to tell me - is it going to upset me? Is that why? Are you scared of how I'm going to react, what I'm going to say? Are you afraid I'm going to yell at you?"

"... Frankly? Yes."

"Then you're afraid of me."

"... Somewhat, yes."

"Good. You should be. Now what are you telling me? Stop beating around the bush. I know very well of your other job."

"Ah, well... you see, since I am so busy, and you seem like you might be getting more independent... I've come to a decision. I have hired you a nurse to replace myself as your daytime caretaker."

Akito had already discarded the previous tissue and was blowing his nose with a new one. He glanced up through red-rimmed eyes and raised an eyebrow at his nephew. "You better tell me you're kidding right now."


"The hell is wrong with you!" Akito tossed the tissue box at Hatori. "I don't want a freaking nurse! I don't want-" He was suddenly launched into a coughing fit. He threw his arms over his mouth, the sleeves of his loose kimono bearing most of the brunt. He slouched over, clearing his throat and glaring at his lap. Still nothing had come up, and still it was hard for him to breathe.

The tissue box had bounced off Hatori's head. He bent down, scooped it up, and deposited it right back in his uncle's lap. "Akito-sama, I can't attend to everyone at once. I will still take care of you. But from the time you wake up until the time that I get home, your nurse will care for you. She will do anything that you want or need done. She will also sleep in the spare room next to yours, so that if you need something in the middle of the night, you can call her and she'll be able to hear." He pushed back his shirt and looked at his watch. "Oh, dear. I have to be going. My first appointment is in twenty minutes. Your nurse's name is Akane, and she will be here soon. Alright, I have to get going. I'll see you this evening. Good-bye."

And just like that he was gone, out of the room.

Akito growled, pulling another tissue from the box. "Son of a bitch..."