Well, here it is! This may just be the final chapter of this lovely little fic. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. The thing is, I love the way things played out between Ritsuka and Soubi and I'm afraid that adding more would ruin the illusion! I'll think about it for a while… I'll be on vacation for two weeks in the mountains starting Monday – no cell phones or internet access up there – and give it some thought. When I come back, hopefully I'll have decided to either leave it as is or write one last chapter…
This chapter is actually pretty long. Almost 4900 words long! That's around seven single-spaced Word 2007 pages long! I'm so proud =3 This extra chapter gives this fic the boost it needed to become officially my longest fic for now. I've got an Ouran High School Host Club fic running, however, and seeing as it is not nearly close to being finished, I'm quite sure it will surpass the word count of this fic... eventually... You should check it out if you're into Ouran! It's titled Diary of a Reluctant Rich Girl. (Oh, wow, I'm promoting my fanfics in my fanfics. That's kind of sad...)
And so, without further gilding the introductions and no more ado, I give to you the (perhaps) final installment of Putting My Trust In You: Chapter 5!
I can't tell you how long it went on like that. What little I ate – a grand total of four more times – I threw up, and Soubi eventually stopped making me take medicine because none of it was working. I had on and off chills, and my temperature fluctuated but never dropped below 101 degrees. I had never felt more miserable. I would have faced several more painful battles, enduring through agony as Soubi's sacrifice, if only it would make whatever illness I had go away.
All I seemed to be able to do was sleep. This was perfectly fine by me, of course, since asleep I didn't have to deal with my burning throat, my throbbing head, or my aching stomach. Soubi snuck into my house a couple more times to bring me clothes, which I appreciated. I actually did fall asleep in the bath at one point, but Soubi yelled me awake rather than took immediate action, to my great relief.
I guess, at last, Soubi couldn't bear it any longer.
"Ritsuka, wake up," he murmured, and I startled out of sleep. I was freezing. As I reached out for him and he gathered me up in his arms, he told me gingerly, "We have to get going."
I yawned and rubbed my eyes, still groggy. "Where are we going?"
"I scheduled you for a doctor's appointment in thirty minutes."
That got me awake real quick. Unease pressed against my already sensitive stomach and I rolled out of his arms and back onto the mattress at once. "Soubi, that costs money," I protested. That was the best objection I could come up with at the moment.
"I don't care, Ritsuka," he reassured me. "It doesn't matter as long as you get better. That's all I care about."
"But I care, Soubi. Don't waste your money on me; it's not worth it. I'll get better on my own, I swear."
"Ritsuka, we have to get going," he said, ignoring what I'd told him.
"No!" I burst out fearfully, unable to hold it back anymore. I didn't want to go see a doctor. If we're so attune to each other, why couldn't he tell that?
Soubi looked taken aback by my sudden blatant refusal. "Is there something wrong?" he asked, concerned.
"I don't want to go," I mumbled. "I… I hate doctors. Don't make me go!"
"What on earth are you talking about, Ritsuka?" Soubi sighed, shaking his head. "Don't you want to get better? Now, come here. We have to go." He held his arms open. Tempting, but still a trap. I ignored him.
"I'm not going and that's an order!" I snapped, turning away from him and curling my knees into my chest. "You go, if you want. I'm staying here."
He lifted me off the mattress at once and I yelped. His voice stony, he told me, "I'm disregarding your orders on account that your well-being is my first priority. Please don't be difficult."
"Put me down!" I exclaimed shrilly as he opened his apartment door and went through it. "Soubi! Let go!"
"Not a chance."
Soubi chuckled at my murderous expression as he carried me into the clinic. "Don't be like that, Ritsuka."
"I am not speaking to you," I informed him furiously, trying to formulate an escape plan. "I said I didn't want to go and then you dragged me out here in my pajamas and everything!"
"You were being difficult," he chuckled as we approached the front of the clinic. "And I want you better as fast as possible. Did you know it's already been three days since you started throwing up?"
"Three days?" I groaned. "I've wasted three days of my life being sick?"
"Five," he corrected me softly. "That's how long ago your school called me to tell me you were sick."
"I don't want to believe this," I mumbled, then groaned again, wordlessly, as he went through the clinic's doors and approached the registration desk. "Please turn around!"
"Not a chance, Ritsuka." He carried me up to the registration desk and said to the clerk, "I called in last night. For Ritsuka Aoyagi."
She smiled at him and scratched my name off her list of patients. "I'm sorry we couldn't get you in earlier. You sounded so worried about him." She flashed me a grin and said, "It'll just be a minute."
"Soubi, quick! We can still make a run for it!" I whispered. He smirked and shook his head, moving away from the door and towards the waiting area, where he sat in a chair and pulled me closer into him. I felt fear begin to settle over me and I involuntarily began shaking.
"Ritsuka? What's the matter?"
"Please don't make me go in there, Soubi!" I whispered pleadingly. "I don't want to… I can't do it. Please take me back to your house!"
"There's no need to be nervous," he smiled reassuringly. "Haven't you ever been to see a doctor before?"
I had to think a lot about my answer before I replied. "Sort of. But only before I switched personalities. My mom didn't want to invest any time or money in a boy who wasn't… her Ritsuka. I don't remember ever… I… I just don't know," I mumbled tremulously.
Soubi sighed and pulled me even tighter into him. "It'll be okay," he assured me. "You'll get through this and then you'll get better. You don't have to be scared. Do you want me to come in with you?"
I stared up at him in horror. "You mean you weren't planning to?" I squeaked, my trembles accelerating by the second.
"Ritsuka Aoyagi," a loud female voice called from a side door. My muscles tensed and I buried my face between the folds of Soubi's coat in a pitiful attempt to hide myself. Soubi gave me a reassuring squeeze as he stood and headed towards the side door. The nurse stared at me like she were confused as to why I wasn't walking, but smiled anyway. "Right through here…"
She led us down a separate hallway and into a room with an examination table on one side and two chairs next to a desk on the other. "Okay, then. You can go ahead and sit in the chairs," she said, proceeding to the cupboard over the desk and pulling a thermometer and an instrument to measure blood pressure from it as Soubi sat in a chair without releasing me. The nurse asked no questions about this and slid the thermometer under my tongue.
As the machine got an accurate reading, Soubi pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and passed it to her. "I recorded his temperature every time I took it," he explained. I startled, having no idea that he'd been tracing it. I glanced at the paper, impressed, and saw he'd even noted what measures had been taken to lower my fever.
"Thank you," she said briskly, attaching the list to the clipboard on the desk already loaded with my medical records. The thermometer in my mouth beeped and she took it, scribbling down the temperature reading on a new document. I doubt she would have even told us what it was had Soubi not asked. Her answer was simply, "101.2."
She wrapped a Velcro band around my arm and slowly constricted it to take my blood pressure and jotted that down in a box near my temperature recording and smiled. "All right. The doctor will be by in just a few minutes." With a wave, she slipped out of the room.
I felt my throat close up slightly and Soubi noticed my suddenly shallower breathing. "It's okay, Ritsuka. Just breathe."
"I'm trying here," I gasped, taking to the nervous habit of chewing anxiously on my bottom lip. "Soubi… what's…?" I blushed, realizing that the question I'd been about to ask sounded juvenile and foolish. "Never mind."
"No, I want to hear this," he told me as he started to play with my tail, winding in his fingers. "What do you want to know?"
"It's just that… what… What is he going to… to do to me?" I finished the inquiry in a whisper, staring down at my lap to avoid looking at Soubi. That had been a stupid question.
He didn't seem to think so. "Firstly, I want you to realize he's not going to hurt you, alright?" He hugged me closer to him and didn't let go, his hands on the back of my head and between my shoulder blades. "I'm here and I'll never let anything hurt you. He'll shine a light in your eyes to look at them and listen to your heartbeat. You'll probably have to endure another strep test. And he might feel your stomach. There's nothing to be worried about."
"No needles?" I whispered hopefully.
He gave me a long, sympathetic look and kissed the center of my forehead. "I can't promise that," he murmured.
I involuntarily began trembling again and my cat ears flattened against my head, proving I was suddenly terrified out of my wits. The reason I hate doctors doesn't lie in my unfamiliarity with them – it's the fact that doctors mean needles, something I am devastatingly frightened of.
Soubi sighed, knowing there was nothing he could really do to help, and cradled my frail, sick body in his lap, rubbing my back and murmuring an occasional reassurance. I felt tears welling up in my eyes, but I refused to cry.
When the door opened again, it was a man wearing a white lab coat who entered. He was middle-aged with dark hair and eyes that crinkled at the corners, like he had done a lot of smiling in his lifetime. It made you want to trust him – something I was unwilling to do.
"Well, Mr. Aoyagi, quite a fever you've been running for the past few days," he said pleasantly, picking up the clipboard and perusing Soubi's record of my temperature. "How do you feel today?"
I hated being addressed by him, forced to answer a question. "My throat hurts," I mumbled, burying my face in the folds of Soubi's coat again. "And my head and stomach."
"Sounds awful," he said sympathetically, flipping through my medical information on the clipboard. "Have you been sleeping?"
"Excessively," Soubi replied for me, and for that I was grateful. "He's been sleeping for up to fifteen hours at a time."
Good lord. I had no idea it had gotten that bad. I just never felt rested, so I slept more. It was no wonder Soubi was so worried about me. I was practically a zombie.
"What about food? How much has he been eating?"
"Whenever he was awake we made sure he had water," Soubi said, making this response about us, not just himself or me. "And I got him to have some soup, some toast, and some oatmeal at different times over the past few days."
"He's been vomiting?"
"Yes," Soubi replied simply, and I turned red with embarrassment, for some unexplainable reason. I felt suddenly very guilty for making Soubi have to live with me for the past few days.
The doctor scribbled a few notes onto a medical record and nodded. "All right, then. Ritsuka – on the table, if you please."
He indicated the examination table and fear clutched at my heart. It was like being crushed by torrential waves of frigid water. A tear trickled down my cheek and I buried my face into Soubi's coat until I couldn't see the room anymore, only the pale brown fabric.
"He's just a little nervous," Soubi said apologetically, and I felt his hands move away from my back to my cheeks, pulling me away from his body. "It's okay," he assured me with an amused smile. "Nothing bad is going to happen. I won't let it."
"I don't care," I whispered. "I… can't. I just can't do it."
Against my will, Soubi stood up and carried me the two strides it took to cross the room, setting me down on the exam table and gently prying my fingers away from his coat. "It'll be fine," he assured me, and grazed his lips against my hairline to ignore the betrayed glare I was giving him.
"Soubi—" I began to protest, and then suddenly the doctor had his stethoscope over my heart and my voice caught in my throat as I turned rigid with fear.
Soubi stood at my side and I held onto his hand as though my very life depended on never letting go. If I couldn't have his arms around me, his hand in mine would do. His hands are larger than mine and very nearly engulf my hands when we hold them. It makes me feel secure enough. Not nearly as protected as his arms make me feel.
The doctor listened to my heart, like Soubi had said, and then my lungs. I did not want to follow his orders and breathe calmly in and out when I felt ready to hyperventilate, but I obeyed for Soubi's sake – Soubi, who squeezed my hand every few seconds to reassure me he was still by my side, who was wasting his money on me by taking me here, who was desperate for me to get better. I endured for him.
A light was shone in my eyes. I hated it. It made my head hurt and I had to follow more orders. Look left, right, straight ahead, up, down. They watered terribly.
I relaxed slightly after a couple minutes, only after my throat had been invaded once more by a strep test administered by a well-meaning hand. I prayed that would be the worst of it and that Soubi and I could go home with the promise of my recovery.
"Lay down on your back for me," the doctor requested, and I hesitated. I was not willing to be completely vulnerable for this man.
"It's okay, Ritsuka," Soubi urged me gently, placing a hand below my legs and swinging them onto the examination table, aware that I didn't have the courage (or the energy) to execute even that motion without assistance. Slowly, he reached for my shoulders and eased me down until I was lying on the table. I was trembling, and Soubi leaned over and kissed my forehead as he took my hand again. In an attempt to calm me even further he started combing his fingers through my hair and playing one-handedly with my ears as the doctor tugged up my shirt and began to probe my stomach, instructing me to tell him if anything hurt.
I didn't like it at all. I didn't like his hands on my exposed stomach and I didn't like lying down in front of him with my head throbbing and the world spinning, and I didn't like waiting for something to hurt.
I looked up at Soubi as I tried not to think about the doctor's hands on my abdomen. His blond hair was tied back in a ponytail and his glasses were slightly askew, which amused me. The bandage around his neck wasn't as noticeable as usual, played down by his white shirt and long tan jacket. He looked cool, casual, not like he was caring for a sick preteen boy. He looked like a sophisticated college student and he looked, well, like a fighter. He was strong and lithe and beautiful. And I had never felt more towards him than I did in that moment.
I yelped when the doctor pressed down on a particularly sensitive part of my stomach and bile leapt violently to my throat. I gagged and jolted, and I would have rolled off the exam table if Soubi hadn't caught me. I was forced to swallow down the horrid, acidy taste stuck in my throat so I wouldn't be tangibly sick all over the floor.
"Well!" the doctor said, raising an eyebrow and stepping away from the exam table. "That's more than enough for me. You've caught the stomach flu going around, Ritsuka."
Soubi sympathetically gathered me up in his arms and rubbed my back while I took to shuddering and almost breaking down in distressed tears as I buried my face in his coat once more. "Is there anything we can do for him or will we just have to wait it out?"
The doctor talked and I didn't listen. I didn't want to listen to what he thought about me and my stomach flu and whatnot. But I guess no matter how hard you try to drown out the voices of the people in the room with you, a few words slip through the barrier and lodge themselves in your mind, prepared to be your salvation or your death – whichever came first.
"I'm concerned about his injuries," the doctor said at one point, and my cat ears twitched. "His immune system can't work to its fullest potential at warding off viruses if his body is already trying to heal numerous wounds. How did you hurt yourself, Ritsuka?"
I slowly resurfaced, pulling away from Soubi. My fighter was giving me a stony look, challenging me to reveal the way my mother hurts me. The way I get my injuries. He was practically begging me to tell.
But I lied. "I thought it might be a nice surprise for my mom last week if I polished the silverware in our attic for her anniversary with my dad, but I tripped coming down the stairs and a landed badly on some of the forks."
There. That explains my bruises and the puncture wounds. What a beautiful, thorough lie. I was actually kind of proud of myself for coming up with it on the spot.
Soubi sighed and shut his eyes. He was disappointed. He wanted me to reveal Mother's true nature so very badly. And I was sorry that watching me be hurt by her made him sad, but I just couldn't do that to my mom. I couldn't give her up. They would take me away from her, and then she'd be truly alone. And it would be all my fault.
"Well, I can send a nurse in with a saline injection, which should help speed his recovery along…"
I gasped and had to bite down on my lip to keep from crying out. The doctor said a few more things to Soubi, which I blocked out to try and deal with my horror, and told me to feel better soon before he left.
Soubi was already prepared for my meltdown. "Now, Ritsuka—"
"He said injection, Soubi! Needles!" I exclaimed frantically. I couldn't get in a decent breath of air.
"I know you're frightened," Soubi said softly, hugging me the way I love, that jerk. But that couldn't calm me down.
"I want to leave," I whispered pleadingly. "Please, Soubi. I want to go home."
Soubi sighed and reached for my hand. Slowly, he raised it to his lips and kissed a point below my knuckles. "Do you trust me?" he murmured, trailing kissing to my wrist, just like the first day we'd met.
"But I'm scared," I breathed, a tear spilling out of my eyes.
Soubi kissed it away. "I love you," he said quietly. "So don't be afraid. I'll protect you from anything. Everything."
My resilience was slowly crumbling. "I can't," I told him through choked sobs. "I'm frightened, Soubi. I can't do it."
He kissed my forehead and then let his lips hover over mine, agonizingly. I wanted his kiss so very badly. He brushed his thumb against my bottom lip and smiled. "I can't kiss you until you're better," he said. "You ordered me not to get sick… remember?"
The door opened and my breath caught in my throat. The same nurse who had brought us in here entered with a silver tray. I tried not to dwell on what was on it.
"Close your eyes," Soubi whispered.
"Don't let go of me."
I squeezed my eyes shut. Soubi began to pepper my hand with kisses again, distracting me from feeling the freezing alcohol swab. My breaths turned into short gasps. I knew what came next.
His lips reached my wrist. The needle went into my arm.
It was awful. Hell, was it awful. I could feel the damned thing inside of my arm. Not natural. Not right. But it didn't really hurt… until the nurse began to push down on it.
Soubi kissed my forehead once more. The antibiotics passed through the needle and into my bloodstream, and it stung fiercely. Hurt like hell. My arm would be sore for hours. At least in battle the pain goes away immediately once it ends. I preferred the pain of battle to this. That pain was all-consuming and concentrated, reminding me of Semei's life and his horrific death.
To this pain there was only fear.
And then the needle was out, but I could still feel the ghost of it lingering in my arm. And the pain was still there, resolute. Demanding to be felt.
I didn't listen to a word spoken after it was over. Soubi picked me up off the exam table and I was in pieces, crying into his coat. Too embarrassed and distressed to even look up. I didn't hear the nurse's final instructions to him or anything at all as we left the clinic. I tried blocking out every sense available to me but touch. All I wanted was the feel of Soubi's arms around me and the occasional kiss he gave me as his body rocked smoothly, telling me we were finally on our way back to his house.
I didn't resurface until I felt that we were climbing a set of stairs. We were back at his apartment building. "Soubi?" I mumbled, finally pulling my face out of his jacket and looking up at him. "I'm really sorry. For everything. I'm so sorry."
"You don't need to apologize to me, Ritsuka," he informed me gently. "None of this is your fault."
"I humiliated you back there."
"You think so? I didn't notice anything," he said sincerely, unlocking his apartment. "I don't really notice anyone but you, you know."
"I've been a brat for the last five days."
"Just a little," he chuckled, making me blush. "But when you're so sick, you have a right to be a little demanding." He carried me over the threshold and paused. "Would you like anything? Food? Sleep?"
I tested the state of my throat by swallowing. Still burning. I didn't want any food. But I didn't want any sleep, either. "I don't know."
"I don't know."
Soubi laughed. "I'll get you some water," he decided for me, and I was carried to his kitchen and set down in the chair at his table. I sighed and rested my elbows on the table, burying my face in my hands. I felt like such an idiot. "I really am sorry."
"I know," Soubi told me, setting a glass of water in front of me. "But the worst is over. All you have to do now is get better and we can get back to focusing on the Seven Moons."
He brought me the glass of water and I drank it eagerly, gulping down the liquid. My throat felt dry as parchment still. Soubi sighed and picked me up again, carrying me back to the air mattress that had once been the Zero pair's. "Are you cold?" he murmured in my ear. I nodded, and he sat down on the mattress, cradling me in his lap.
"Soubi?" I mumbled, shutting my eyes.
"Thank you…" I whispered. "I love you."
He kissed my forehead. "I know. Now go to sleep."
"And I know I've said it before, but… I love you, too."
Cute… right? =3 I hope you'll tell me what you think in reviews! And also, tell me whether or not it needs another chapter! I care a lot for all of your opinions! (I won't say which, but one of the ideas posted in a past review is sounding pretty appealing right now…) Heck, yell at me for finishing it for all I care. At least you took the time out of your day to review my story!
Actually, I based Ritsuka's fear of needles off of my own... I am so trypanophobic that I become a nervous, trembling wreck when presented with an injection. God knows I want a Soubi to hold me when I have to get a shot! The needle-in-arm description may seem a bit overdramati, but I swear that's how it feels to me! Are any of you out there terrified of needles, too?
On a completely unrelated note, I just realized that TWELVE YEAR OLD Ritsuka has already had more romance than I've had in my almost seventeen years! He's found himself a boyfriend and he's already given away his first kiss! I have yet to do either of those things! T T ... I'm gonna go watch some Azumanga Daioh later to cheer me up... stuped epiphanies.
Wow, I'm being really random.
And now, I must return to studying for my ACT… which is on Saturday. I've taken it once before, but alas, a 30 is not enough for a full ride scholarship to University of Washington. Must be raised by at least two points… (rips hair out and groans) Also, I haven't packed a thing for my two week stay in the mountains… Just cuz I want to share my excitement and maybe gloat a little, Imma be horseback riding every day up there in technological isolation! Squeeee!
I love you all so much and I apologize for the 1) randomness of the "my life is a romance wasteland" pity paragraph, 2) unloading my ACT woes upon you and 3) gloating about the horses. Teehee =3