"You're running a high fever. One hundred and two degrees." The voice was icy, as if to compensate for the heat emanating from the other.

Akito scowled up at her doctor, whose statuesque figure loomed over her frail one. Hatori's gaze, which had held faint concern in the past when it came to matters of her wellbeing, was detached, clinical.


And it was a one-eyed gaze now.

Hoarsely she replied, bitter, "I suppose you'll be confining me to my bed." Her head was spinning and her body was racked by a fierce chill despite the sweat that beaded on her pallid skin, the illusion of fever, but she did her best to ignore the symptoms that plagued her. Hatori had seen her at her weakest before, but today she simply couldn't stand it. Not when he was looking at her like that, like she was a petulant child as opposed to his superior in every sense.

As expected, he responded stonily in the affirmative. "Until your temperature has returned to normal, you need bed rest. With it you should be much improved by this time tomorrow." Already he was packing his bag, taking off his stethoscope, readying himself to leave. Akito's blood boiled. "Without it, your condition will only worsen."

He didn't spare her another glance as she lay there pathetically in her own sweat. Akito recalled how he would sometimes give her a small smile in the past when she fell ill, as if to reassure her—a polite smile, one that seemed far from endemic on his stern, narrow features, but a smile nonetheless. However, ever since last week…

"What's your hurry?"

The words were out before she had put any thought into them. Her tongue was sharp enough, uncaring enough about how deeply it wounded, without being loosened by fever, and as Hatori stopped in his tracks as he was taking his leave, his back to her, she went on remorselessly. "Who's waiting for you? Who could be more important to you than your master?"

He didn't move, didn't speak. As a sudden violent cough shook her, Akito trembled with something else: anger. So he was ignoring her now? She might have deprived him of his vision entirely, had she the strength for it.

Instead, she rasped out between coughs as she clutched at her sheets, knuckles white, "How long do you intend to hold this grudge, Hatori? Are you determined to blame me for something that was your fault? Her fault?"

At this, the stoic doctor visibly stiffened, but still he said nothing, and the satisfaction Akito felt was slight. Though her thoughts were muddled and hazy from sickness, as if it blanketed her mind like a thick fog, she managed to go on, refusing to cease until she created a dent in that placid surface.

"Your duty is to me, not to the memory of your lost love. Especially not non-reciprocated memory," she spat. "Should I have you erase your own? It would be an interesting experiment. If it were to go wrong, so be it. Better than having you mope about day after day like a useless…pathetic…" Again she stopped to dissolve into another coughing fit, this one even more powerful, and her eyes shut tightly as she clamped a small hand over her mouth to muffle the noise.

She didn't even hear him move, but when she opened her eyes after the horrible coughing had died down, Hatori was facing her, sitting up rigidly in a chair across the room, bag at his feet. He hadn't even gotten to the door.

Seeing that he had her attention, he spoke in a calm, even monotone, not looking riled in the least by her words—indeed, he didn't even address them. "Forgive me, Akito-sama. As you wish, I will stay with you until you are feeling better, of course." Those solemn features revealed nothing, betrayed no hint of pain or rage or sorrow.

So calm. So…

"Cold." A slow smirk tugged at her pale lips, and she chuckled, feverish, as the doctor arched a brow in inquiry. "So cold…" Akito laughed and shook and breathed raggedly and watched as Hatori merely sat there and stared like a sculpture, a dragon carved out of ice. Slowly, after a while, her laughter subsided.

In this way they remained for several hours, he in frigid silence and she in a heat-induced delirium, until eventually her temperature returned to something like normal, as if between the two of them they had reached equilibrium, two extremes—hot and cold—of loneliness.