"Just let it happen…" The voice purred.
But Yuki could not help the instant pain in his chest, an automatic response to the voice he knew so well. Yuki waited for what he knew would come next, and he was never disappointed….ever. The voice became more menacing, hot breath on the back of his neck.
"If you cry, it will only make this worse for you…" The voice hissed this promise, inches from Yuki's ear.
And then it happened. Fingers found their way onto Yuki's neck, a shiver ran down his back from the unexpected sensation as he let out a small gasp. His breathing became more labored. Then something he fully expected, as the fingers began to slowly tighten around his neck and close off his air supply.
"No…..please…" Yuki gasped.
But the only response was shear pain as the fingers dug into Yuki's throat, closing off his windpipe. His eyes burned from the pressure building in his head, and despite his best effort a single tear traced it's way down his cheek. Yuki could feel himself loosing consciousness, and he made one more feeble attempt for his life.
"Please…Akito…..Stop!" He whispered. "It hurts….."
As Yuki slipped into blackness he felt something else. A gentle hand brushing his face and hair. Then came a different voice, more gentle and full of worry.
"Yuki! Yuki wake up! You need to wake up and open your eyes! Yuki! Yuki, breathe!" the new voice pleaded.
By shear will, Yuki managed to obey this latest request but was confused when all he found was more blackness. As his vision cleared through the tears he had been crying Yuki saw a familiar face looking down at him, their eyes full of genuine horror and worry.
"Sh-Shi-gure?" But Yuki could not make sense of anything, and he was still in so much pain.
"Yuki, your having an asthma attack. I called Hatori, but I need you to tell me where you keep your medication. Yuki, please!"
Yuki felt himself slipping back into the blackness again. But this time it was for real. He could see the panic come over Shigure's face as he began to close his eyes.
"Yuki! No, no, no! Open your eyes!" Shigure shouted, but his voice sounded too far away to reach Yuki now.
Yuki's eyes shot open, and were flooded with blinding light. He hissed as he lifted his hand to his face, trying to shield his eyes. He could feel that he was laying down, and as he looked from between his fingers he began to recognize the familiar surroundings of his bedroom. Then he heard the same worried voice from his dream.
"Hatori! Hatori, he's awake!"
As Yuki let his head fall to the side, he could see Shigure kneeling near his bed. Yuki assessed Shigure's face, drinking in all of the lines and deep bruising under his eyes. Yuki had never seen Shigure this disheveled and exhausted, not even after coming home late from a night of partying with Yuki's brother, Ayame. Then it dawned on Yuki that the clothes he had fallen asleep in were no longer on his body. He sat straight up from his bed, clutching his sheets.
"Shigure, what happened?! What did you do with my clothes?" Yuki shouted in horror, eyes fixated with utter confusion on his cousin.
Yuki's older cousin and acting guardian, Shigure, was not above practical jokes to fulfill his own need for amusement. Shigure, having been on his own for quite some time with only his editor to harass, sometimes left Yuki feeling more like a new play-toy than a younger cousin. Needless to say Shigure's pranks and hazing were almost always inappropriate, and never welcomed. Though for the life of him Yuki could simply not understand why Shigure would go to this length just for sport.
"Huh? Don't look at me, Yuki, I had nothing to do with that!" Shigure cried against the accusation.
"No…I did." A calm, monotone voice came from the other side of Yuki's bed.
Before Yuki could turn around to identify the other person in his room he felt something extremely cold placed beneath his bare shoulder blade. Yuki flinched at the unexpected discomfort, but before he could protest he felt a hand clamp down on his shoulder, keeping him stationary.
"Breathe in normally." The voice prompted, and Yuki complied.
Yuki sat in his bed obeying the voice giving out orders to breathe in and out, focusing on his breath and the cold object migrating around his bare back. He closed his eyes, and listened as Shigure began to speak in a low, serious tone.
"Yuki, you had a pretty bad asthma attack in your sleep. Actually, the worst one I've seen since you moved in. You stopped breathing, Yuki. Had I not heard you mumbling in your sleep when it was happening…." Shigure trailed off, his eyes glazed over, filling with tears.
Yuki looked away from Shigure. He couldn't handle seeing Shigure looking so guilty. That, and Yuki could tell that Shigure had at least some idea of the nightmare Yuki was having…but how much had he heard?
"Thankfully Shigure had the wherewithal to call me before it was too late." the monotone voice stated. "I'm done here. "
At that announcement Yuki swiveled to the direction of the voice, coming face to face with Hatori.
"So…how bad was it this time…" Yuki asked, having finally collected his normal composure.
"It was bad, Yuki." Hatori said calmly, continuing to examine the boy gently, his fingers a stark contrast to those in Yuki's nightmare. "Open," He prompted, and Yuki obliged without question, opening his mouth widely to give his doctor a good view of his throat. "You were completely blue and unresponsive. I had to give you an emergency epinephrine injection so the swelling in your throat would reduce enough for me to administer you your medication." Hatori stated in a calm, clinical tone. "Have you been taking care of yourself?"
Yuki closed his mouth slowly letting his head slump down, his stiff sweat soaked bangs covering his line of sight. He did not want to look his doctor in the eye. Absentmindedly rubbing the back of his neck made it obvious to everyone that Yuki was trying to avoid the question…without success. A deep sigh escaped Hatori's lips as he pinched the bridge of his nose. Yuki just held his breath, waiting for the fallout.
"Yuki Sohma. If I am to treat your condition properly I need to know what you have been doing to exasperate your symptoms." Hatori barked, his eyes piercing Yuki's avoidant gaze.
"Well…" Yuki mumbled, continuing his refusal to make eye-contact, "I have been staying up late studying for the past two weeks, preparing for exams. And I have also been spending extended hours after school to fulfill my obligations to the student counsel."
After a moment of silence Hatori cleared his throat. Having treated Yuki for serious, chronic asthma since childhood, he knew that the teenage boy was hiding something. Yuki had been steadily growing out of the condition, so Hatori assumed that something more must have induced this latest onset.
"So…that is everything, is it?" Hatori inquired in monotone, making it more of a statement to be challenged then an actual question.
Yuki's shoulders stiffened in response, understanding that Hatori had become wise to his diversion. After another moment of silence in the room he finally met Hatori's gaze, letting out the breath he had been holding in.
"No…" Yuki whispered, almost too quiet to hear. "I also competed in a long distance race for my track team yesterday afternoon."
Yuki sat perfectly still on his bed, clutching the sheets in his fists, waiting for the anger that would understandably come from his doctor. Yuki knew that he had not been taking the normal precautions to keep himself healthy. Hatori finally broke the silence with another sigh.
"I see." a gentle, almost paternal tone came from Hatori. "You really must be more careful from now on. You know you can't put this much stress on your body, it's not good for you."
Yuki just blinked with astonishment and nodded his head. Hatori was never this…warm…if that is what you could call it. This must have been worse then Yuki thought, and he felt very badly that he had caused so much worry to his family.
"Now, Yuki, this is extremely important" Hatori stated clinically, making sure that the youth was paying close attention to his instructions. "You need to make sure that from now on Shigure knows where your medication is. If you move it you need to let him know right away so he will be able to find it if this happens again." he paused, looking at Shigure to make sure that he was also listening. Then he looked back at Yuki. "I also suggest that you stay home from school today and rest." As Yuki frowned and opened his mouth to protest Hatori simply ignored him, stating "I will write you a doctors note that Shigure can deliver to the school as soon as it opens. You really must rest now, Yuki, or you will become seriously ill." he warned, clearly leaving no room for further objections. "It's Friday, so that will give you the weekend to recuperate as well."
"Shigure," Hatori looked past Yuki to make eye-contact with Shigure. "I need you to monitor Yuki's condition over the weekend and call me immediately if he worsens."
Shigure nodded seriously, and looking at Yuki's thin, fragile body he vowed to himself that he would not let the boy out of his sight. Hatori then stood up from Yuki's bedside and handed him a pair of clean cloths.
"Shigure, come see me out. Yuki, go take a long hot shower. Make sure to breathe in the steam to further relax and open your airway. Then dress and go straight back to bed…I mean that."
And with that the adults departed and Yuki was left alone to do as he was told. He could hear Hatori whispering to Shigure down the stairs, something about Yuki being sicker than he looked, and scolding Shigure for allowing Yuki to participate in so many extra-circular activities. Yuki flinched at those words. He tried so hard to be…normal…and his illness was just one more manifestation of just how far away from normal he really was. A truth that had been revealed to him a long time ago. He hung his head, unconsciously pulling his knees to his chest. His eyes glazed over, an old memory infiltrating his mind without permission.
"Akito, am I really that strange? Am I so strange that we have to hide it from everyone?" asked a young Yukie, only four or five at the time. A voice not much older than his own answered with icy, cold disdain.
"Hmph.. yes, you are that strange... really, you're a freak. They wouldn't come near you, they'd hate you."
Yuki shook his head, forcing the memory back to the darkness where it had come. He stood up weakly, still lightheaded from the sustained lack of oxygen, and with the sheet wrapped around his thin body he slowly made his way to the bathroom. Hatori was right to keep him out of school today. Hatori was right, as always, when it came to matters of Yuki's health.
Yuki drowned in his thoughts, trying furiously to focus on each drop of water that fell on his face. He wanted…most of all…to forget the nightmare, to forget the one who's name he could only speak in his nightmares. Even though the water was hot, turning his normally pale skin an angry red, Yuki began to shake. He placed his hands out to brace himself against the shower wall. His head fell forward, allowing the water to fall on his back, as the tremors continued to rock his body. A voice spoke then, just loud enough to be heard over the running water.
"Yuki, how are you doing in there?" Yuki stiffened with the fact that he was no longer alone, torn out of his own thoughts.
"I'm fine, Shigure, really." his voice came quietly from behind the shower curtain. "I'll be out in a minute…" Yuki heard the door close, and he was alone once more. He would have to thank Shigure when he was done.
Yuki turned off the water and began drying himself off slowly, continuing to breathe in the steam as ordered. Again, Hatori was right, and Yuki could feel his lungs becoming stronger. Then, wrapping the towel around his waist, he approached the mirror. Wiping away the steam with the palm of his hand, he looked into the mirror to better assess his reflection. His hair was a disheveled mess from being towel dried, so he quickly combed through it with his fingers. He then looked at his face, focusing on his eyes. Eyes that looked like they belonged to someone who had seen much more than any seventeen year old high school student. Looking closer he could see that they were blood shot, having suffered broken capillaries from his recent struggle with breathing. Then he looked at his bare chest which was covered with multiple, though faint, scars from scratches and burns. Most of which Hatori had treated himself. None of which were ever visible to others. An act of mercy on his part, Yuki assumed. He traced his fingers over some of the larger scars, then quickly let his hand drop. His eyes hardened at the reflection in the mirror, and he quickly threw on the shirt and sweat pants Hatori had given him.
"Yuki, shouldn't you be back in bed?" Shigure asked, surprised to see the youth coming down the hall into the kitchen where he was.
"Not tired…" Yuki mumbled, his back to Shigure as he opened the refrigerator door.
"B-But…Hatori…" Shigure stammered from the kitchen table, looking bewildered at the boy.
"I'm…not…tired…" the words came slow…deliberate…as Yuki glared coldly at Shigure, cutting him off mid sentence as he closed the fridge door.
Shigure sat motionless, averting his eyes to the small lines and scratches on the table. Yuki moved silently to sit across from him. After a moment Yuki folded his arms on the table and rested his forehead on them as he began to speak.
"I'm….I'm sorry. I just. I just don't want to sleep right now. I promise I will rest and take a nap upstairs later." Yuki's muffled voice came soft and calm, attempting to sooth the tension.
Shigure finally looked up from the table to see Yuki looking at him, head still resting on his arms. His eyes, clearly exhausted, were pleading with Shigure to let him stay at the table…to understand. Shigure nodded with a smiled.
"But you better really take a nap today, or you will get me in big trouble with Hatori!" Shigure gave his infamous goofy grin and wagged his finger at Yuki, trying to further ease the tension. All Yuki could do was smile back. Shigure knew that grin always worked on him. They both began to chuckle softly.
"So, since you are up, want some hot tea?" Shigure asked, glad to see that Yuki was beginning to relax.
"Yes, that would be wonderful. Thank you…" Yuki smiled softly.
With that Shigure set to work boiling the water and washing two cups for tea. He frowned as he did so, looking at the state of the kitchen sink, filled with dirty dishes that had needed to be washed for some time now. He let out a heavy sigh.
"How I wish I could afford a maid…maybe one of those cute high school girls that keep following you around at school, Yuki. Yeah! Put them in a cute little maid's outfit, get this house properly cleaned up!" he mused, more to himself then the boy sitting at the table.
"Well…maybe if you wrote better material then the trash you publish now you might make more money…" Yuki growled. Sometimes Shigure's adolescent immaturity was too much to handle.
"Honestly though, we really need to do something about this kitchen. It's starting to become embarrassing." Shigure continued to muse as he was choosing tea bags to put in the cups.
"Don't look at me…" Yuki muttered, "I'm suppose to be taking it easy and resting, remember…" Just then the water boiled, making a loud whistle that echoed throughout the house.
"Tea time!" Shigure sang out above the tea kettle, apparently having forgotten about the mess that had been vexing him only minutes before.
Yuki rolled his eyes, shaking his head at the man-child that was acting as his guardian. Honestly, sometimes Yuki thought he could do a better job caring for himself. After spinning around the kitchen Shigure finally placed the hot cup of tea in front of Yuki.
"Drink up before it gets cold, doctor's orders!" Shigure looked at Yuki, winking with a smile. Then he took his place at the table with his own cup.
"Just don't let Hatori catch you saying that…" Yuki scoffed, putting the cup to his lips.
The two sat across from each other at the table, silently drinking their tea and thinking to themselves. Shigure would peek at Yuki from his cup every so often, noticing that the boy was deep in thought about something that Shigure could only guess was deeply unpleasant. Shigure had not heard much when Yuki spoke in his sleep. Just before he had come into Yuki's room to see what was wrong all he had heard clearly was Yuki gasping three words… "Akito… Stop… Hurt…" The rest had just been wheezing, mostly. He had a feeling that whatever nightmare he was having probably had more to do with his asthma attach then any of the activities he had disclosed to Hatori. Which made him wonder.
"Yuki…" Shigure started hesitantly. "Why didn't you tell Hatori about the nightmares you've been having…I mean…the stress alone…" But Shigure could not finish. Yuki would not even look at him.
"Because…I didn't think it was…important…" Yuki whispered.
"N-not important?!" Shigure looked perplexed. "But you have them almost every single night, Yuki, since you came here. And it seems like their getting worse…"
"So! What does that matter?!" Yuki spat bitterly, not wishing to discuss it further.
"It…It's just that it has me worried about you is all." Shigure's words trailed off, looking back down at the table.
He knew he wasn't, and could never be, the boy's father but he did feel a sense of responsibly for his well-being and happiness. Whatever happiness Yuki was allowed to have in this family, anyway. That is why Shigure never minded Yuki spending so much time on school activities. He saw Yuki smile more when he spent time at school…with other people.
"Shigure…" a small whisper came from across the table that made Shigure look up. "Do you think that Hatori will tell…him…about what happened tonight?" Yuki's voice faltered as he tried to finish the question, so terrified of the answer he knew was coming.
"Probably…" Shigure sighed, focusing on what was left in his tea cup. "He will want to know what Hatori was doing here at such an hour…and Hatori will have to tell him, you know that."
Shigure had picked up on Yuki's dislike of speaking, or even hearing, his name. It always looked like Yuki would flinch, expecting to be hit. So Shigure had decided long ago that in this house it would be an unspoken rule between the two of them that was respected….always. Shigure had also made the decision to never lie to the boy, either. That was something he provided enough of already.
"Yes…I know that…" Yuki whispered, affirming what he had feared all along.
"Awe! Don't worry about it so much! Besides, right now I think you need to worry more about taking better care of yourself so you don't get in more trouble with Hatori! He took it easy on you this time, but if you get worse he won't be as nice about it!" Shigure chimed, giving Yuki his signature goofy grin.
"You're probably right about that." Yuki smiled, even managing to chuckle a little. "And, Shigure…"
"Yes…" Shigure seemed a little curious about the look on Yuki's face, not sure of what he might possibly want now.
"Thank you…for calling Hatori and taking care of me…I really am sorry I worried you so much." Yuki finished, looking down at his own, now empty, tea cup.
"Don't mention it, kid." Shigure replied warmly, smiling at the boy sitting across the table from him.
Yuki had come quite a long way from where he use to be. Shigure only wished that he could see it in himself. Just then Yuki stood up abruptly from the table. Shigure looked up, watching him carefully.
"Do you want some more tea, Yuki?" He asked, inspecting the boy's every movement.
"No. Thank you. Actually, I think that I might be able to sleep for a little while now, so I'm going back up to my room." Yuki stated, already halfway up the stairs.
The sun was just starting to rise over the mountains, and daylight was beginning to break. School would be starting in just a few short hours. Shigure continued to watch Yuki carefully, as he walked up the stairs to his room.
"Okay." Shigure replied softly. "I will check in on you in a while to see how you are doing."
"Thank you." That was all that came from the hall before Shigure heard the opening and closing of the bedroom door.
Shigure looked at the clock in the kitchen, deciding against a nap for himself. He would stay up, and check in on Yuki before heading to the school to deliver the doctor's note to excuse him from class. He would also need to make a call to his editor to let her know not to expect too much work from him over the weekend. Of course, he would try to make up some sort of story to tell her about how he was on his death bed…again…and lead her on until she finally discovered that he was actually ahead of schedule on his latest novel. He really couldn't help that her extreme gullibility and numerous emotional breakdowns over the potential of missed deadlines made for such good sport, he chuckled to himself.
Yuki laid in his bed, staring at the shadows playing across his ceiling from the morning light coming through the curtains. He allowed his mind to wander, feeling his eyelids becoming heavy with exhaustion. But he vowed to put off sleep as long as possible, praying that it would be dreamless when it finally clamed him. He was pulled out of his thoughts by the slow, gentle opening of his door.
"Oh…hey Yuki. Still awake?" Shigure smiled sheepishly, suddenly realizing the blatant stupidity of the question.
"Yes…" Yuki whispered politely, choosing to ignore the awkward question as he closed his eyes.
"Well, I'm going to the school now to drop off the note to excuse you. Will you be okay for a little while?" Shigure watched as Yuki nodded his head lightly in response. "Okay. Want me to pick anything up from your classes or locker?"
"No, thanks." Yuki sighed slowly, keeping his eyes closed. "I will just catch myself up on Monday."
"Okay. I'll be back soon." Shigure said in a hushed voice before taking his leave.
For once Yuki was grateful to be alone. He felt as though he could safely slip into a dreamless sleep and get some much needed rest. He actually became amazed at just how exhausted and week he really felt. He would have to begrudgingly thank Hatori for making him stay home from school.
Yuki jumped awake, not even realizing he had fallen asleep. The room was dark, and Yuki could hear light rain playing against his bedroom window. He sat up in bed and heard the phone ringing, the obvious culprit for the disturbance of the best sleep Yuki had had in weeks. He walked down the stairs muttering to the person on the other line to hold their horses as he slowly approached the phone.
"Hello…" Yuki answered the phone, his voice fogged with sleep.
"Yuki?" the voice on the other line asked, taken aback by surprise. "Where is Shigure?"
Yuki looked at the clock in the kitchen, becoming more aware of his surroundings. He realized that he had only been sleeping for a little over fifteen minutes. Why did it feel like so much more time had passed? The voice pulled him back to awareness.
"Yuki? Are you okay?" concern built in the voice on the other line.
"Oh…yes, I'm fine, Hatori. Shigure left to deliver your note to the school. He should be on his way back soon." Yuki stated, trying to calm his doctor.
"Well. It sounds like you took my orders to go back to bed seriously… Did you take the shower beforehand?" Hatori's voice became monotone and clinical again.
"Yes, I took the shower. It really helped, thank you." Yuki added, feeling grateful for being so well cared for.
"Good." was the only reply. "Huh…oh, hold on one moment…"
Yuki could hear that Hatori had covered the phone with his hand and was conducting a muffled conversation with someone in the room. All Yuki could make out was that yes, Hatori was speaking with Yuki, and then came more muffled conversation. Then Yuki heard Hatori take his hand off of the phone and the line became clear again.
"Someone wishes to speak with you…" was all he said before handing off the phone.
Yuki prepared to be barraged by irritatingly nosy family members wanting to share their condolences and well wishes. Yuki just sighed and hoped that he would be able to return back to his bed soon.
"Hello…Little Yuki…" came the new voice.
Yuki instantly grabbed his shirt, feeling the all too familiar pain in his chest. His eyes widened as he began to feel his airway tighten. His body trembled uncontrollably as his breath quickened.
"I heard you had fallen ill, and I wanted to see how you were feeling…" cooed the voice, laced underneath with acidic malice.
"I'm fine….thank you." whimpered Yuki, slumping to the kitchen floor and pulling his knees tightly to his chest, willing the shaking in his body to end.
"Well, you sound awful." spat the voice. "I would really hate to see anything bad happen to my favorite…little…cousin." the last words were spoken with slow, methodic purpose.
Yuki had learned long ago that the term 'little' was used to further solidify his insignificance, and not as a term of endearment. There was no endearment…only hate and pain. And it was painfully clear that the only 'bad' happening to Yuki would be his doing, and his alone. After a period of silence the disembodied voice spoke again.
"You really should get some more rest, Little Yuki. When you get to feeling better I expect you will come and visit me. You see, I haven't been feeling too well myself, lately, and a visit from you would cheer me up…greatly." the voice whispered this last word in a most unimaginably wicked tone, and Yuki had to cover his mouth to stifle the horrified moan.
Shigure entered the kitchen, back from his errand, and his eyes widened with horror at the boy's expression. He took in the sight of Yuki balled up on the kitchen floor in the fetal position. Yuki had lost all color in his face and the hand that clutched the phone in a death-grip was shaking uncontrollably.
"Yuki! Are you having another asthma attack!? Yuki, are you okay!?" Shigure shouted, but all Yuki could hear was the malicious giggle erupting from the other end of the phone.
"Uh-oh! You had better go take care of that…Little Yuki." the voice laughed, obviously able to hear the commotion on the other end of the line. "Remember, you need to get better now so you can come see me…right?" and with that the phone went silent.
Shigure had to pry the phone out of Yuki's hand and help him off the floor. Once he was back in bed Shigure proceeded to dig for the necessary medication. Once taken the effects were immediate and Yuki could feel himself breathing again. Shigure sighed with relief as he finally collapse next to Yuki's bed.
"…So…" began Shigure, having finally caught his own breath. "Do you need me to call Hatori?"
"No!" Yuki shouted, eyes widening in sheer panic. "I mean…that really wont be necessary. Honestly, I'm fine now…" his voice trailed off, trying to convince himself more than anyone else. "All I want to do is get some sleep…" he lied, but at least it would make Shigure want to leave him alone.
And sure enough, with that Shigure exited the room without any further pleading on Yuki's part. Yuki focused on the rain, now pounding ferociously outside his window. At lease he was probably not missing much for track. He drifted unwillingly into sleep, and although he did not have another violent nightmare he shed many, many tears. Another thing he was only capable of in his sleep. Just another ability stripped away by him.
Yuki spent the entire weekend confined to his bed, made sure by Shigure and the countless obnoxious family members who stopped by to see him. Momiji and Hatsuharu, or 'Haru' as he was affectionately called, came to visit Yuki the most, all three days before the end of the weekend. The visits with his younger cousins constituted mostly of Momiji energetically jumping on the end of Yuki's bed, forcing Yuki to sit cross-legged to avoid his shins becoming casualties. Haru would just stand in the middle of the room yelling at Momiji to knock it off, which caused Yuki to have to cup his ears as well. Shigure walked in more than once in order to absorb the spectacle, Yuki pleading with him to make both of them go away. But Shigure could see the positive effect they were having on Yuki's health so he allowed the circus to continue. It didn't hurt that it also added to his own personal amusement. Yuki was even visited by his older brother Ayame who, despite being very close to Shigure, had only recently shown any interest in getting to know Yuki himself. Yuki had really only ever spoke to his brother once, when he was very young, and it had gone very badly. Yuki remembered being shunned, further confirming his worthlessness. And although he was adamant to Ayame's face that he did not want a relationship, Yuki was secretly grateful to his big brother for at least trying.
By the time Monday morning came Yuki practically ran out of the house screaming, eager get back to school and a level of…normalcy. But on arrival Yuki was further barraged by his 'fan club' at school, consisting of admiring girls, some boys, and even a few teachers. Two years of high school, and into his third, and Yuki still could not fathom the infatuation. By the time school was over Yuki had become thoroughly exhausted of answering the same question of why he had not been at school on Friday. He almost began to miss the weekend spent with his two cousins…almost. He remembered the weekend while walking home from school alone, a slight smile playing at the edge of his lips. A smile that quickly dissipated when he saw a black car parked outside of the house. Yuki entered the house cautiously.
"Ah, Yuki. There you are! Took your sweet time coming back from school, huh? Spending some quality time with one of your pretty classmates, perhaps?" Shigure laughed playfully, causing Yuki's frown to deepen.
"Cut it our, Shigure…" Yuki mumbled, walking past him and into the kitchen.
"You two really need to start taking better care of this house. This kitchen is atrocious." a monotone voice came from the table, making Yuki stiffen with surprise.
"Hatori?" he breathed, feeling much more relieved, relief soon to be short lived.
"Take off your shirt, I need to examine you." Hatori prompted.
"Sheesh, Hatori! Let the kid at least sit down and give me the scoop on all of his loving admirers! Come on now, Yuki, how many gorgeous high school girls were worried about you when you missed school!" Shigure giggled as he began to break into another one of his deeply inappropriate songs about high school girls.
"Shut up!" Hatori and Yuki yelled in unison, stopping Shigure's song right in it's tracks.
After a moment of welcomed silence Yuki finally placed his book bag and jacket in his room and came down the stairs, taking off his shirt as prompted. He made his way to the kitchen again, coming to sit at the table facing his bare back to Hatori to allow the examination. Once Yuki was given a bill of full recovery Hatori's expression deepened, his gaze becoming even more serious than normal.
"Yuki," he started, his voice becoming hard. "Akito has summoned you pending the results of your checkup." At this Yuki recoiled, a reaction they had all seen one too many times.
Yuki walked silently along side Hatori to the car. Shigure just watched both of them leave, wishing desperately that he could be with Yuki in what he was about to endure. But that was not how it worked in this family. All Shigure could do was wait, and be here when it was all over. His eyes followed the black car as it slowly slipped away into the distance.
Yuki exited the car first, attempting to avoid Hatori's gaze as he had done for the duration of the drive. Even though Yuki could not really blame Hatori directly for what he knew he was about to suffer, the fact that Hatori had an idea of what had been happening to Yuki for some time now, and never stopped it, left a feeling of resentment. In the end Yuki understood, like the rest of the family, that he was to be refused nothing. He walked in silence slowly along the path to the front door, following behind Hatori. Hatori knocked, and waited for the signal to enter. They walked into a plain entrance, almost resembling a waiting room, and stood in silence until they heard a faint voice come from one of the nearby rooms.
"Thank you, Hatori. That will be all. But…stick around, I might need you later." the voice came cordially, and with that Hatori left Yuki's side.
"Come in, Little Yuki." the voice beckoned soothingly from the room upon hearing the door close behind Hatori. "I wish to see you…"
Yuki stepped forward numbly into the room which was dim, the only light coming through the window. Yuki knew that he preferred darkness due to chronic migraines, so remembered not to turn on the light. And as the light from the doorway flooded the room Yuki could see his thin frame standing by the window, back turned to Yuki looking out.
"Close the door, please." his voice came weekly, and Yuki remembered what he had said about being ill as well.
Like Yuki, Akito had suffered chronic and serious childhood illness. The two had been quarantined numerous times as children, usually together…and always alone. However, unlike Yuki, Akito was not growing out of his illness. Only two years older then Yuki, and Akito was growing closer to death. That well known fact gave Yuki little comfort now as he obliged, closing the door.
"Sit." came the demand, and Yuki silently moved to kneel on the hardwood floor in the middle of the room.
"How long has it been since we were in this room together, Little Yuki?" he mused, not turning from his view out the window. "I think that out of all the rooms in this house…this one is my favorite." he finished, giving a light chuckle.
"So…you are feeling better now, are you?"Akito asked, malice beginning to form behind his kind words.
"Yes" Yuki replied, keeping his voice as even as he could. "Thank you." he bowed his head, keeping his gaze fixed on the hardwood floor.
"Good." Akito responded coolly, not turning away from the window. "So…I really must know. Did you think you could get away with your little stunt?"
"I…I don't understand…" Yuki stammered, attempting to remain calm while genuinely trying to comprehend the meaning of this accusation.
"Come now…" he whispered. "Causing such a scene, making the family worry, taking Hatori from my side… You just wanted people to pay attention to you." he spat the last words, animosity growing.
"I…..I" Yuki stammered, but could not manage the words to defend himself.
Akito turned from the window and moved slowly, deliberately towards Yuki with movements so graceful and fluid that it was difficult to imagine this man being so ill. As he heard the footsteps growing closer, keeping his eyes transfixed on the floor, Yuki's breath quickened and despite his best effort he began to tremble. He stiffened as he felt a hand glide gently, almost tenderly through his hair. Yuki did not take down his defenses, however. He had been through this too many times. And, as always, Akito never disappointed, possibly one of his better qualities, as he finally twisted his thin fingers into Yuki's hair and violently ripped Yuki's head back, forcing Yuki to look at him.
"What makes you so damn special!" Akito screamed, forcing Yuki's head further back.
"I…I…I'm so…sorry." Yuki whimpered, and a long deep hiss escaped Akito's lips.
"Sorry?" Akito growled. "Sorry? Hah!" he scoffed.
Yuki watched as the grimace on Akito's face slowly curled into a cruel and sinister smile. A gasp escaped Yuki's lips as he tried to comprehend how someone so terrifying could be so beautiful. And Akito was beautiful, even in illness, and Yuki had never understood members of the family who said that they looked so much alike.
"Sorry…hmmm…well I doubt that very much…" Akito said, his voice full of scorn, his lips ever holding that merciless smile.
Still gripping Yuki's hair at the scalp Akito began to stoop, with such grace that it again entranced Yuki. Akito moved so close to Yuki's face that they almost brushed cheeks, making Yuki automatically blush. Yuki shivered at the sensation of warm breath on his skin as Akito whispered four, clear words into his ear.
Yuki sighed and closed his eyes, as a single tear escaped to trace it's way down his cheek. In one fluid motion Akito moved up and, lifting Yuki by his hair, slammed him face first into the floor. Immediately stunned, Yuki was unprepared for the impact to his ribcage as Akito kicked him hard enough to roll him onto his back. Gasping and still dazed from the initial impact, all Yuki could do was gaze in astonishment at the sheer pleasure on Akito's face. Then came the second impact to his chest, as he was almost certain he felt one of his ribs break. Though all of his being forced against it, Yuki cried out weakly. Akito appeared to take immense gratification in this reaction as he fell to his knees, placing his face inches from Yuki's.
"You see, I just knew that your visit would cheer me right up." he cooed, then erupted with laughter.
Yuki's face furrowed with the pain radiating from his ribcage and head, trying to make his breathing as shallow as possible to prevent further injury. Upon seeing this Akito's smile faded slightly.
"Hmmm…" Akito assessed the situation clinically, looking away from Yuki. "Clearly I'm enjoying this more than you are…" he mused, then looked directly into Yuki's eyes with a smirk. "I really must leave you with something spectacular, shouldn't I?"
With that Akito stood and walked to the other side of the room to a small cabinet mounted to the wall. A few moments later he returned in silence holding something brightly polished. Yuki began to shutter as Akito knelt next to him, smiling maliciously.
"Hmmmm…" he began, watching Yuki's growing horror, "Yes…I do believe that this one had always been your very favorite…" Akito held the small, delicate blade, gently sliding it the length of his jaw. "Now, where should I start this time…" his eyes lit up. "Ah, I assume Hatori handed you that shirt after your checkup? So sweet, always keeping me in mind…" he smiled with delight as he began to slowly unbutton Yuki's shirt with one hand. "We wouldn't want to ruin this lovely shirt of yours…I actually quite like it, and I guarantee this will be messy."
Akito swiveled from his knees, crossing his legs. He stared into Yuki's eyes, hatred reflecting in his own. His mouth turned downward as his gaze hardened. The blade was delicately placed on Yuki's bare chest, which was hardly moving. Yuki gasped, eyes widened with fear.
"Honestly," Akito spoke harshly, "I really don't understand why you simply refuse to learn your place." he continued, dragging the blade cross Yuki's chest. "Why do you always insist on making me so angry? Everything about you…your insolence…" he dug the blade in deeper, making Yuki wince, "The way you carry yourself like a martyr…" the blade finding a new point on Yuki's chest as he cried out involuntarily, "The way you gain pity from others…" the blade pushed into the skin, as Yuki's pale completion stained red, "The way you simply…breathe." Akito then paused, clenching his fist, "And that damn face!" he hissed, striking Yuki's face so hard it split his lower lip.
Then the hand grabbed Yuki's jaw, lifting his head slightly to hold it as Akito stared at him.
"Remember what you are…" Akito spat bitterly, "I am your reason for living, and it's about damn time you start acting like it. Try pulling something like this again…and I swear I will just kill you." with that Akito slammed the back of Yuki's head to the floor.
As Akito stood and turned to leave the room Yuki was again left alone with his thoughts. In the silence Yuki wished the pain to cease, and knew that the cruelest thing Akito could have done that day was accomplished when he left Yuki…alive.