More Egoist stuff just because I'm pretty obsessed with Junjou Romantica again after re-reading the manga.
This is kind of the full and extended version of the tiny little Drabble under 'comfort' from my fic 'Glimpses'. Might rewrite later. Anyway, this situation had to come up at some point with Nowaki's job being what it is.
Dark Side of the Moon
Hiroki watched the other man closely out of the corner of his eye, his mug held to his lips. Nowaki had been quiet ever since he got home, his "tadaima" so soft as he came through the door that Hiroki in the other room almost didn't hear him. They now sat together on the sofa, the television yammering away in the background. The teacher was fairly sure there was something wrong.
As Hiroki sat, unnoticed and observing Nowaki, the other man let out a small sigh and furrowed his brow slightly into a look of pain. He was sitting all leant over himself with his hands between his knees. Something was definitely wrong. But the brunette didn't know what.
"Nowaki," he called. The young doctor jumped and then looked up slowly. Hiroki watched him put on his happy face; trying to make his eyes light and his smile warm.
"What is it, Hiro san?"
For a while neither man said anything. Hiroki surveyed Nowaki's pale complexion and his tight smile. The unders of his eyes were puffy and dark. His jaw clenched and then unclenched, his smile trembling on his lips. A scowl tugged at the corners of Hiroki's mouth and Nowaki attempted to look simply curious- the way he always did when his lover called him. This face was very, very wrong. Hiroki had seen tired on the doctor; shadowed eyes and exhausted smile. But all those times the smile was still genuine, as if everything had dropped from Nowaki's mind when he looked at Hiroki. There was never a smile that trembled or looked forced.
"Nothing," Hiroki replied finally. Nowaki smiled one more time before he turned away, dropping his eyes into his fringe to hide from the older man.
Hiroki frowned, watching how Nowaki laced his fingers together and the way the tips of his nails turned white as he dug his fingers into his hand. Dark worry bubbled somewhere at the base of Hiroki's stomach as he considered his options. This wasn't the situation that he was used to where Nowaki was worrying about something unnecessary and all he had to do was shake it out of the tall idiot or grab him by the hair and force him to tell him what was wrong. What should he do...?
The hairs on the back of his neck raised as Nowaki took his bottom lip in his teeth and chewed. Nowaki never chewed his lips. It was something he always told Hiroki off about:
"Hiro san, you're lips are chapped enough from the amount of chewing you do already. Try and stop, you'll ruin your beautiful mouth."
Something was wrong. But it wasn't like normal. It wasn't trivial and it wasn't the sort of thing that he could confront Nowaki about. If it were nothing to really worry about, Nowaki would never be so careless with his actions and expression that made him look so... hurt.
Hiroki put his mug down and the younger man didn't even seem to notice Hiroki get up off the sofa, only looking up when the teacher came to stand in front of him, nudging at his knee so that Nowaki opened his legs for him to stand between. Setting aside their usual antics Hiroki looked down on him.
"Nowaki..." he said quietly and something stole across the other man's face at the tone. Hiroki softened his eyes and parted his lips to say more but couldn't find words.
"H-Hiro san," Nowaki replied, the name sounding difficult and stuck in the back of his throat. The mask the man had been showing since he came home fell away and big hands came forward and gripped the back of Hiroki's thighs, his fingers clutching the inside of his legs. His hands were hot and shaking. Hiroki swallowed and bought his own hands forward to touch Nowaki, one threading into his dark hair and pushing it off his face, the other stroking his cheek with his thumb. The man's eyes were dark with anguish, his usually soft hair felt grimy.
There was no hint of a blush and nothing sexual in the touching. This was completely different to when Hiroki stood before Nowaki and nudged at his knee with his face all flushed bright red and his angry-embarrassed eyes off to one side, asking for something he could absolutely never voice.
"Hiro san I'm..." His voice shook and the end of the murmur pitched up like Nowaki was going to deny what was going on and say that he was fine.
You're not fine! is what Hiroki wanted to yell. But now wasn't the time.
"It's ok, you can tell me."
"I won't be troubled if you lean on me a bit..."
Nowaki closed his eyes and dug his fingers into Hiroki's legs, bringing him closer so that he could rest his forehead on Hiroki's stomach. Hiroki stroked his hair and held his face in one hand, Nowaki's head leaning into his touch, his lips trembling against the heel of Hiroki's palm.
"S-She went cold in my arms Hiro san... She... She..." murmured Nowaki and Hiroki breathed in through his nose.
So that's what happened...
"Nowaki you..." Fingers massaged into the space behind the dark haired man's ear. Hiroki didn't know what the right thing to say was. He'd told himself he'd comfort Nowaki but it wasn't something he was used to. But it was Nowaki, his Nowaki who was so hurt...
"I couldn't save her. It's my fault," said Nowaki. "I... I..."
Suddenly wet soaked into Hiroki's skin where he held Nowaki and the teacher whispered "Oh God..." as he realized what was happening. Nowaki's hands slid upwards to grip at material between shoulder blades and Hiroki let himself be pulled to his knees on the edge of the sofa, his arms wrapping around Nowaki, the action something like instinct, his body turning numb in shock.
Oh God. Oh God. He's not.. He can't be...
A choked sob escaped from the clenched tight teeth that tried so desperately to keep the noise inside... And then another and another in a slow and heart-stopping way that reminded Hiroki of cracking ice, slowly breaking until Nowaki's shoulders sagged as he gave in and began to cry softly into the chest before him, making Hiroki freeze, the places where Nowaki's hands touched him burning.
The brunette had no idea what he should do...
Nowaki couldn't cry. Nowaki never cried. It was always Hiroki in tears and it was always Nowaki holding him... Never Nowaki.
What do I do?
I don't know what to do...
There was something so incredibly wrong with the picture. Nowaki with his face pressed against Hiroki, his hands all quaky like he was falling apart. But he couldn't be... It was Nowaki. Nowaki with that stupid smile of his and his lovely blue eyes...
But he was.
What would Nowaki do... ?
"Look, Nowaki look at me..." said Hiroki shakily, pulling Nowaki's face from his chest with his hands to cradle him in his palms. The doctor's face was a mess and he tried to pull away to hide himself, his blue eyes clenched shut and his expression more hurt than Hiroki had ever seen. It knocked him breathless.
"Here... It's ok..." he murmured, trying to be soothing. Nowaki tried to shake his head and opened his mouth to speak but stumbled over strangled phrases. Hiroki's eyes flicked back and forth across the other man's contorted features, trying to find the answer to what he should do in Nowaki's face; the face he had always turned to; but found nothing but tears and pain that made his heart ache.
No amount of advice masked by a layer of indifference, or even the reward of a rare smile could brush away the sheen of cold sweat or the churning dark pain in the doctor's eyes that the death, the death of a child had caused.
Nowaki needed to be held. The way he always held Hiroki...
Climbing into Nowaki's lap Hiroki pulled his lover's head forward, holding him as tightly as he could, doing the only thing he could think of. Nowaki pressed his eyes into crook of Hiroki's neck, nuzzling at the skin there, his mouth whimpering over the other man's collarbone.
"I...I'm warm and alive, h-hold me ok...?"whispered Hiroki, the words- caught in his throat, sounding like an offer and Hiroki hated that he couldn't do this. Couldn't comfort.
Fresh sobs burst unrestrained from Nowaki's lips and his shaking hands clutched Hiroki's body. His touch was so hot even through Hiroki's clothes. It burnt but he ignored it.
"Y-yeah, just like that... I'm here. We can make it better ok?" offered Hiroki again and he grit his teeth at the sound of his own pathetic voice. The words didn't match his manner making him sound stupid he knew it. Nowaki's body heaved against his, the man's breathing rasping and raw with grief. Hiroki gripped at his neck more firmly. Tears were pushing dangerously at the edge of his vision but he bit them back.
Strong... Be strong...
"It's not your fault I promise." He tried to keep his voice steady but it shook in several places.
It's too much to see him cry... It's just too much...
"You tried your best..."
Nowaki's hold on him was almost painful but nothing like that mattered.
"Please don't cry... I'm here..." Hiroki murmured weakly.
When they finally came to bed both men stripped to their underwear despite the chill in the air and Hiroki for once didn't hesitate to crawl to Nowaki and settle inside his arms when he opened them with a weak smile.
They lay chest to chest, Nowaki's arms wrapped around Hiroki's shoulders and Hiroki's draped around Nowaki's waist, the bigger man with the smaller tucked in at his chin, his lips in Hiroki's hair. Their legs were tangled together, Hiroki's toes rubbing lightly at Nowaki's ankle absently. For a long time there was nothing but silence.
"You're very perceptive as always, Hiro san," said Nowaki suddenly, his voice supposed to hold a smile but sounding empty.
"...It was all over your face," came the reply. Hiroki tried to smirk and said, "'I want to be held' was written on your back", quoting Nowaki's words from some point back to him. He felt Nowaki smile a little and a huff of air in his hair as Nowaki laughed through his nose.
The silence returned and the smiles faded away.
"Life is so precious Hiro san..." Nowaki started after while. "I never truly realized before now I... I had no idea how hugely having someone you know d-dying... I mean, she was my patient but... because she had looked at me, because I had seen her alive... Just that... It's so much harder than I ever imagined..." He trailed off.
Hiroki stayed quiet.
A moment of quiet passed and the smaller man thought maybe Nowaki had just wanted to say his name before:
"Please don't die before me. I don't think I could take it..."
Hiroki tensed slightly.
And you think I could?
More silence... If it hadn't been with Nowaki, Hiroki wouldn't have been able to bear it.
"They told me off for holding her while she died..." said Nowaki, his arms tightening around his lover.
Hiroki blinked slowly, lost in thought. Nowaki thumbed the skin at his shoulder.
Hiroki was sure he would never find a better place even if he tried. Arms that were warm and so big that they could hold all of him without any trouble, enveloping him and making him feel safety he found nowhere else. The arms of the person that he loved to the point it drove him insane...
Nowaki was someone who everyone liked, there was just something about him and sometimes when Hiroki came to the hospital and saw all the children hanging over him it made him a bit jealous that Nowaki spread his love with them so easily. He was always warm and always smiling. There was a certain something in his face and his eyes that was very comforting...
Hiroki wasn't sure what exactly had happened today but in his mind he saw Nowaki bending over a hospital bed, thin white arms hanging limply over his at his elbows as doctor held patient. As adult held child. As warm held cold...
Dying inside these arms...
Nowaki's arms shifted slightly around him. Hiroki licked his lips and considered his words.
"I think... she would have been happy you did..." He nodded to himself. "You did a good thing."
Another tiny smile in his hair.
"Thank you Hiro san..." The tone of Nowaki's voice sounded almost normal and Hiroki blushed for the first time all night and fought against the urge to squirm uncomfortably and ruin the moment.
"I love you Hiro san," murmured Nowaki.
"I-I love you too..." he replied. Damnit, even if he hadn't squirmed, he'd stuttered.
"You're so cute Hiro san..." Nowaki slurred sleepily. Hiroki's air caught in his chest at the familiar words and then blew slowly through his lips.
Thank God. He's alright.
Hiroki stroked the other man's back until he heard his breathing deepen.