connected to it.
First, he was aware of the feeling of sheets and a lumpy bed beneath him. Then the stench of antiseptic in the air. And finally, somebody's heavy breathing from a few feet away and the intermediate beeping that came from his left side. Confused, he opened his eyes and stared up at the speckled tiles above him that indicated that he was in the hospital. He was wondering who was in the room with him.
He turned his head to the side and saw Akito in one of those incredibly uncomfortable chairs, dozing. Frowning, he wondered why she was here. And if she was okay. What had happened to them?
Deciding to check on her- just to make sure that she was all right- he slowly leaned up, pain niggling at his nervous system but never fully forming, and then swung both legs over the bed. He carefully stood up.
And then immediately collapsed back onto the bed as left leg gave out from under him completely and his right leg struggled to hold its weight all on its own. Confused, he poked at it, wondering why he could barely feel his own touch. He was pressing down pretty hard and yet it felt like he was only poking at it. It wasn’t working properly for some reason obviously, but why?
Memories from the late morning before came back.
Akito starting to realize that she didn’t know who she was or how she should behave and appearing to want to change. Him pulling her towards him and holding her and letting her know that he understood and was willing to help her become a better person. Her stabbing him in the back and then running off before he collapsed. The maids coming to check on him and him telling them to go see Akito instead. She was who was important then. Not him.
And now….now, he didn’t know how he’d felt. Too many years of making himself numb to Akito and her abuse of him and the others had made it impossible. Both for him to identify his emotions and for him to feel anything other than pity towards Akito.
It was kind of sad, in its way.
Yet, even as he thought that, the emotions started to appear. Sadness. Hurt. Betrayal. Pain. Despair. Shock. Confusion. Helplessness. Anger. Guilt at feeling angry. A sense of failure. Dejection. They came first as a trickle, then as a deluge. All combining and contorting and contracting together to create one big ball of overwhelming grief. Grief for what exactly, he didn’t know. Certainly part of it had to due to the fact that he’d no longer be able to use his leg properly, but there was something else there underneath that. Something that he wasn’t ready to look too closely at quite yet.
(Then again, when had he ever been ready to look closely at the darker parts of their lives, his decisions, or Akito’s actions?)
But even as sobs ranked his body against his will and his chest hurt from everything finally boiling over, he made sure to stay silent. Shoved his hand over his mouth, biting hard onto it so as not to let the sounds escape him. Wrapped an arm around his chest to keep himself together as best he could. Tilted his face downwards so that the sound wouldn’t travel. He couldn’t bother Akito. Didn’t want to wake her up or have her see him like that.
(Whether it was because he was scared she’d feel guilty or was scared she wouldn’t feel guilty, he didn’t know. And didn’t want to know)
After a while, it could’ve been seconds or minutes or hours, he wasn’t aware of time passing right now, the heaviest emotions started to pass and he was able to pull himself together. Shove on a brave face and a kind smile. Just in time to, as across the room from him, Akito stirred, slowly waking up.
Once her eyes were open, she looked around, searching. The instant she saw him, she jumped out of her seat and rushed over to him, the sorrow and guilt evident in her eyes.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for what I did to you. You were just trying to help me and instead of seeing your offer for what it was, I let my anger and frustration and helplessness take over and I shouldn’t have done what I did- I know that now. I’m not asking you to forgive me. I don’t deserve it. But I’m really sorry and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you heal. Use all of the Sohma Estate resources towards it. And I-”
“Akito,” He interrupted her for once. “It’s fine. I understand why you did it.”
“That doesn’t make it right.”
He didn’t contradict her, but instead shifted and opened his arms, inviting her into them. She looked conflicted for just a moment before she fell into them and let him sooth her, as he had ever since she was a little child. He rubbed circles onto her back and she snuggled into his side. He looked down at her and she looked up at him and their eyes met. The guilt, shame, and self-hatred in them was immense and deeper than any emotion he’d ever seen from her- deeper even than the hundreds of times he’d seen her lose control due to fear and insecurity. But this was an Akito who was in control of herself, rather than an Akito who was lashing out due to her overwhelming feelings. And he knew the only reason she was calm was because she didn’t want to burden him anymore, but it was clear she wasn’t over what she’d done. That she’d never be over it, as long as he was nearby.
So he made a decision. As soon as he was healed, he was going to leave. Not just the Sohma estate, but Tokyo- no, their whole providence. He’d go somewhere far away so that she’d never accidentally run into him again. It was the best decision for her. He was doing this for her, so that she’d finally be able to heal from her trauma.
Or so he told himself.