In a quiet sterile room, Ryou slept. There was a window to the side of the room, allowing the sun and a somewhat pleasant view of Tokyo to be seen. But it wouldn't matter to the boy sleeping on the bed. He hadn't seen the sun for months.
A woman, wearing a worn expression, sat beside Ryou, gently holding his hand and staring. His mother, the worn young woman, was always there every day without fail.
Machines were hooked up to him, monitoring his body. The beeps of the machines were the only indication that Ryou was alive. Other than that, his motionless body mimicked the dead. His mother sighed, slightly squeezing her son's hand. She did what she always did and talked to him.
She hoped her voice would reach him. With the Second Network Crisis just merely a few months back, she wanted her son awake and well again.
"Good evening, Mrs. Misaki."
The intern, Mr. Kurogai, walked in. She greeted him silently and looked back at her son.
There were voices somewhere above his head. There always were but somehow, this time, they were louder.
Ryou wanted to know who was talking. But he couldn't move his body. His arms wouldn't move nor his legs. He was scared. Ryou didn't like it. He shifted; his head barely moving as he slowly opened his eyes.
Light assaulted his eyes and he quickly shut them again. But the voices stopped. For a moment it was silent then one of the voices shouted.
What was going on beyond the light?
Ryou tried again, eyes glaring at the light. He couldn't. It was too bright.
Something warm grabbed his hand and another voice spoke to him. It was soothing and felt familiar. The warmth squeezed his hand, calling his name. Ryou tried for a third time, facing the light and keeping his eyes opening.
Everything was a blur. Faces were rushing around him but the one that stood out was a woman's face, the closest one to him. He blinked, eyes wandering to the faster blur around him before he settled back to her. Underneath his oxygen mask, his lips moved and the rest of the blurs stopped. The woman looked up, a smile on her lips as she faced one of the still faces. She looked back down on him.
The warmth squeezing his hand spread throughout him.
Her expression crumbled and she was pulled away, the warmth leaving him. The still faces began to blur again, so much motion, and the voices began to speak.
Ryou drifted back to sleep.
Ryou's gradual awakening took time.
For the first week, he could barely stay awake for more than a few minutes. The times he was awake, all he remembered were the nurses checking his signs, lights being beamed into his eyes, and so many voices speaking. But none of those faces were of the woman. By the second week, he could stay awake for longer but didn't speak. The faces he recognized as the nurses would talk to him, every day, with smiles and soft voices. Ryou would simply stare.
By the third week, after extensive testing and giant machines that whirled, the more complicated machines that were hooked up to him were gone. This time, the woman he saw, did come.
She smiled, a strained one, but she sat down beside him. She grabbed his hand, squeezing it gently. He looked down at their intertwined hands, the warmth coming off her hand familiar.
"Sweetie, do you know your name?" She asked.
Ryou glanced back to her face. He knew that voice. Her voice called his name so many times. What was it again?
Ryou thought, and he squeezed her hand back.
"…Misaki." Ryou said his name again. It was coming back to him. "Ryou Misaki."
The smile on the woman's face was so bright. Ryou smiled back and squeezed her hand again.
The voice that was always calling out to him was his mother, the woman sitting beside him. This time the smile wavered. She leaned forward, embracing him in her arms, holding him tightly. Her body was shaking and he could hear her cry. Ryou's arms gripped her and for reasons unknown to him, he began crying too.
It felt like he hadn't seen her in so long.
At the fourth week since waking up, he could talk. It was difficult, recalling some words, but the nurses helped him remember. When his mother came to visit again during the middle of the week, the doctor came in with her, and a nurse he hadn't seen before. His mother came to sit beside him and she grabbed his hand.
"Ryou, I would like to explain to you about why you're in the hospital, but first I need you to answer a question for me." The doctor said. Ryou looked at his mother; the doctor's tone of voice scared him. His mother patted his hand, giving him a reassuring squeeze.
"Okay." Ryou replied, looking back at the doctor.
"Can you tell me what year it is?" He asked.
His mother's hand slightly shook. He looked at her but she smiled.
"And how old are you?"
"Six." Ryou answered.
They explained to him he'd been asleep for a long time. From a rare disease that left him in a coma. His memories were gone; at least four years worth of memories. Hearing just that was a lot for him to comprehend but they explained it to him slowly. They said they might not be permanently gone, and they were going to help him remember, but the doctor also said it wasn't likely. The nurse, a male intern called Kurogai, was going to help him keep track of his rehabilitation.
He'd given him a journal to keep track of his days and any memories he might remember.
Kurogai explained that his rehabilitation was going to take a long time. They needed to build his muscles up again after being bedridden for so long. Ryou remembered Kurogai explaining but he hadn't paid much attention. It was too complicated to remember. He just knew they were going to make his muscles stronger again through exercise. And that was just his physical rehabilitation.
His mental condition was something else entirely different. It would take even more time.
It took years for his body and mind to recover. Ryou spent the first year in the hospital, focusing mainly on his physical rehabilitation. And even after that was done, he stayed for another few months to make sure he was physically healthy. He would still have to go back to the hospital, to keep up with more muscle rehab but at least he could go home.
The memories he had lost hadn't come back. He had accepted they wouldn't come back but he kept writing in the journal. Kurogai bought him a small set of journals at his discharge so he had plenty to write in.
After that, he spent the time relearning everything he had forgotten in those four years. He was homeschooled by a tutor and didn't attend school until he was caught up. After that, Ryou transferred back into the school he was enrolled in and he started his life again.
And so we begin Ryou's arc.