Looking back over the events from that afternoon, Fushimi couldn't help but think that everything was so contrived. It played out like a bad drama, predictible in the way it hit a twist. He would've made a comment if it were something on the TV - some derogatory remark that would make Misaki snort and agree - and they'd change the channel, leaving the hapless characters to their fate.
Couple argues, cue drama. Tragedy strikes, cue shock.
Somehow, staring down at Misaki's body in the hospital bed, with the bandages on his head and the IV on his wrist and his entire being seeming shrunken down into something smaller than he'd ever been in Fushimi's eyes, it hadn't felt predictible or stupid.
It felt real. Like the moment of impact after a fall.
Or, better, waking up from a dream. In this case, the dream of whatever their life had turned into - that comfortable domesticity in the apartment where they'd been gradually building a home. Talking casually with Misaki, arguing with Misaki, touching Misaki, being with Misaki - that felt unreal. It was a fantasy, built on airy, whimsical things like dreams and feelings and happiness.
Fushimi had never been good at seeking out or accepting happiness. It was too painful when it was ripped from your grasp.
Maybe that was why the phone call from the emergency room felt real - solid. Awashima driving him to the hospital was stark and clear, the paperwork and admittance rules were tangible things, and seeing Misaki laid out battered and unconscious on the bed seemed grounded in reality.
Awashima was the one who called Kusanagi, which Fushimi found out later. He'd been in the middle of the painfully awkward phone call with Misaki's mother, and hadn't noticed at the time.
That was another thing that stood out with surprising clarity: Misaki's mother's voice on the phone. By the end of the call, she'd been teary and a bit frantic, promising him that they'd be there as fast as possible, as if he'd needed the reassurance. His own voice had sounded dull and level, somehow, lacking any of the emotion in hers, so he couldn't think why she'd get that impression. It didn't particularly matter, though.
Essentially, the only thing that mattered was laid out on the hospital bed, condition stable (so he'd been told) but in that nebulous state of will-he-or-won't-he regarding the possibility of slipping from badly concussed to a full-on coma.
How am I supposed to feel about that?
Really, all he could manage at that moment was something that felt a lot like 'empty'.
Misaki was laid out flat on the bed, in an unnaturally stiff sort of pose that looked nothing like the way he would normally sleep. Fushimi indulged the sudden urge to pick up the hand closest to him - the right - turning it over slowly and running his fingers along the callouses. Somehow, Misaki's hand was still warm, brimming with life as always.
Exactly the way he currently wasn't.
"Sorry to interrupt," Kusanagi said apologetically, from the end of the bed, and Fushimi put Misaki's hand back down. Not because he particularly cared what anyone thought of their unusual relationship - there weren't all that many people whose opinions would've made a difference in his life, one way or the other - but because it felt awkward, and he didn't like the idea of his feelings, whatever they were, being on display.
"It's fine," was all he answered with. That dull, uninspired tone. Maybe it looked like he didn't care.
What does it even matter what it looks like?
"The doctor would like to speak with you at some point." Kusanagi's voice was unusually hushed. There was a kind of weary, almost resigned sadness in his eyes - the look of someone who'd seen loss and still prepared himself for it, Fushimi thought. Maybe. It wasn't as though he was good at identifying other people's emotions, but it seemed to make sense. "When you're feeling up to it, that is."
'When you're feeling up to it'. What did that even mean? And wasn't it better to get the unpleasant things out of the way quickly? Fushimi clicked his tongue, without much feeling. "What does he want?"
Kusanagi paused before answering. "It's about the... long-term possibilities," he answered, with obvious care. "I think maybe it's too early to be considering it, but I guess they prefer to bring it up sooner rather than later."
Somehow, that hit against a compartment in his head that had been holding in all of the things he wasn't quite feeling. Fushimi turned back to where Misaki lay on the bed, his chest rising and falling steadily, eyes shut, unresponsive and unreachable. The reality of his own helplessness against this huge potential turning point in his life struck him, and his throat seemed to swell up, all the emptiness from before filling with unpleasant emotions. Desperation. Grief. Fear.
He barely felt Kusanagi's hand on his shoulder. "Don't lose hope," the older man told him, before turning again to leave the room.
What the hell was hope, though? Fushimi would've sneered at that, if he'd felt up to it. It was the thing someone dangled in front of you before snatching whatever you wanted away just before you could've had it in your hands. It was a trick - a lie.
In reality, there was no such thing as 'hope'.
He wasn't entirely sure how long he'd been there when Misaki woke up the first time. It felt like an eternity, but practicality suggested it was more likely a matter of hours.
Awashima had come and gone with the change of clothes he kept at his desk, and his work uniform was now sitting in a bag under his chair. She'd also brought a charging cable for his PDA, which apparently was a 'spare' (he couldn't shake the suspicion that she'd gone out and bought one for him, but she'd never admit it if she had, so he didn't bother asking), and a boxed meal from the store that was a block down.
"The captain asked me to pass on his best wishes," she'd added, crisp and serious as always, and her eyes drifted to the bed very briefly before she went on. "You can feel free to take as much leave as you need, of course. And... if there's anything we can do..."
He might've scoffed at that thought, if he'd had the energy for it. What could you possibly do about this? "It's fine," he said instead, toneless.
There was an undercurrent of sympathy in her gaze that made him wish she'd just leave already. "Well, please keep us informed, anyway." As she turned to go, though, she shot him a parting glance over her shoulder. "And - Fushimi."
She turned her face forward again. "Take care of yourself." Her brisk step carried her out through the door and off down the hall.
It didn't do much for the persistent feeling of helplessness, but somehow the room felt less oppressive after she'd left.
He'd been trying to spend his time working on some personal projects on his PDA, but it was almost impossible to stay focussed, so he hadn't made much progress. More often than not he'd catch himself staring at Misaki's face while his thoughts wandered.
What am I even doing? Fushimi lowered the PDA, letting out a low breath, and tilted his head so that it rested on the back of the chair, staring dully at the ceiling. How long can he stay asleep like this before they categorize it as a coma?
Not knowing only made it worse.
A sudden sharp intake of breath from the bed tore him out of that mental spiral; when he looked up, Misaki's face was scrunched up as if in pain.
For a moment, Fushimi just stared, skin prickling, every nerve ending on edge, in case this was some sort of sleep-deprived illusion. He managed to venture a tense, quiet, "Misaki?"
Somehow - impossibly - Misaki's eyes slid open again. They were unfocussed and glassy, and he blinked slowly several times as if to try and clear them, looking befuddled and disoriented.
But he was awake.
"Saru?" he whispered after a second or two, sounding lost.
Something clenched painfully in Fushimi's chest; he reached out to take Misaki's hand in his - still so warm; he was always warm, while Fushimi was cold. "I'm sorry," he half-mumbled, not really thinking about what he was saying but driven by a powerful urge to get the words out. "I didn't really mean it." He actually hadn't; he was irritated, and lashing out at Misaki - hurting him - was too easy, the path too frequently used. "Misaki. I don't - " It was difficult to say; he swallowed, shut his eyes, and went on anyway. "I don't know what to do. Please." He squeezed that hand in his, feeling desperate. "You have to stay awake."
When he looked up again, though, Misaki had already drifted off back to sleep.
By the time Kusanagi arrived, bright and early the next morning - although 'night' and 'morning' had started to blend into one long stretch of unbroken time in Fushimi's mind - Misaki had been re-examined and moved to a different hospital room. He wasn't certain about the reasons - it had to be something to do with the fact that he'd woken up once - but it didn't matter as long as he still had his uncomfortable chair beside the bed, keeping an eye on Misaki's face for any signs that he'd wake up again.
He wasn't sure if he'd even been properly heard last time, but Misaki had said his name, so he'd at least known that Fushimi was there.
"Do you know how long it'll take Yata's family to get here?" Kusanagi asked him, after looking at his face for just a moment too long to be comfortable.
Fushimi shrugged. He'd gotten out of the chair - mainly to work out the kinks in his stiff limbs - when the older man had come into the room, so they were standing at the foot of Misaki's bed. "I don't remember where they went."
"Ah. Well." There was a brief pause, and then Kusanagi said, carefully, "I can stay with him, if you want to go home and get some sleep. You look like you could use it."
He was already shaking his head before the offer was finished. The idea of leaving and possibly having Misaki wake up while he was lying at home in a bed meant for two by himself was so unappealing that he didn't even want to consider it. "No thanks."
"I thought you might say that." Kusanagi shook his head, smiling a bit ruefully. "I spoke with the doctor before coming in, though, and the fact that - " He glanced over a the bed, almost idly, and then froze. "Yata?"
Fushimi didn't even pause to verify. His nerves were on high alert after the last time, and he couldn't bring himself to care about anyone looking in - not now. He strode back around the bed and hastily took up Misaki's hand, meeting that confused gaze with a relief so strong he could've cried. "Misaki," he breathed.
He was awake - properly awake, this time.
It felt like being back in a dream, but if that was the case, he wanted to stay. Misaki was awake. Misake was awake.
"What... truck... hit me?"
And that was such a typical thing for him to say that Fushimi responded without thinking. "A bus, actually."
Misaki stared at him. "... eh?"
"Yata," Kusanagi interjected - Fushimi had very nearly forgotten that he was even there - looking typically concerned, "Don't worry about remembering the details. You still need to rest."
"Oh..." Misaki's bewildered gaze slid from Kusanagi back to Fushimi, and then he frowned, brows furrowing a bit as he stared down at the hand still holding his. Like he wasn't quite sure why it was there.
Somehow, that expression touched off an ominous feeling at the pit of Fushimi's stomach.
"I can give Seri an update," Kusanagi offered; when Fushimi looked up, he offered a small, reassuring smile, pulling his PDA out of his pocket. "You should stay with him until he falls asleep, at least."
He didn't really get a chance to respond to that, because Misaki visibly tensed, his eyes sliding away from Fushimi again to fix on Kusanagi with a kind of desperate confusion. "Wait..." he croaked out, "Kusanagi."
Fushimi could feel his heart racing against his chest. Why are you calling for someone else? That ominous feeling was growing, hollowing out a cavity inside him again. I'm here. I'm right here, Misaki. Why...?
Typically enough, Kusanagi just smiled back, calm as ever. "What is it, Yata?"
Misaki was still staring back at him, not sparing Fushimi a glance, his expression lost and tired. "I.. don't..." he stammered, and then seemed to focus again. "What happened to the strain?"
"Strain?" Kusanagi repeated, before Fushimi could comment - if he was even sure what to comment with.
"The... the guy. With the... the thing." There was kind of a desperate edge to that babbling; Misaki's brow had furrowed even more. "Is - Is Kamamoto all right?"
Kamamoto? It didn't register right away why that was wrong, but Kusanagi tensed up, his eyes suddenly sharp. "Kamamoto has been out of town for the past week."
Something was wrong with Misaki, then - whatever had knocked him out had also done something to his brain. Fushimi tightened his hold on Misaki's hand, the strain from his sleepless night already seeping back in. He tried to draw out what little he knew about head injuries and what the side effects could be from the back of his head, eyes still locked on that bewildered face. Brain damage? Dementia? Memory lo -
"That can't be right." Misaki's voice had gone quiet - uncertain. "No - we were fighting a strain together. He was trying to hijack a subway car."
It was suddenly difficult to breathe. Fushimi sucked in a sharp mouthful of air, struggling to keep his thoughts in order. The infamous incident in the subway car - Misaki's concussion - the ambush - the drug - meeting outside of Scepter 4 headquarters... The event that everything about their current relationship had snowballed from.
Kusanagi's voice said, very carefully, "Yata... The hijacking happened almost a year ago."
And it was the last thing Misaki remembered. The last thing.
He was coming out of the dream again - falling towards the ground at an impossible speed. Fushimi listened to Misaki and Kusanagi talking about the concussion, only really registering it when Misaki let out a little gasp as he tried to shake his head too quickly, obviously aggravating the injury.
"Misaki." His voice came out sharp, but he couldn't help that. He tightened his hold again on that hand; somehow, it felt like it would be tugged from his grasp if he didn't keep a good grip on it. "You need to stop. This isn't helping."
You need to remember. What am I supposed to do if you don't?
Everything that happened between them had been Misaki pushing for it - Misaki reaching for him - Misaki somehow finding the exact right things to say and do. All of the things that Fushimi couldn't do. Where was he supposed to start? How could he fix this?
If he reached out the wrong way... if he messed it up... if Misaki slapped his hand away...
That thought was like an icy fist closing around his heart. No. Above all else, he couldn't face Misaki's rejection. He would throw away everything they had, first. He'd burn it, like he had before.
In front of him, Misaki had closed his eyes, breathing erratic, obviously still processing the shock. "I'll call the nurse," Kusanagi said, and then hesitated. "Yata, just try to take it easy for now, okay? Plenty of time for questions when you're feeling better."
Fushimi watched him press the call button, feeling bleak, and then turned his eyes back to Misaki's face. His breathing had evened out, and his expression was neutral again, slack with sleep. "I'll go home," he said, and the toneless sound of his own voice was the last trigger to surround him with clear, unpleasant reality again.
The dream was over.
"Are you sure?" Kusanagi was studying him with some sympathy - the same look he'd seen on Awashima earlier. It was repugnant, really. "I can't say it's a bad idea, but if Yata wakes up again..."
"It's fine." It would be fine. Somehow. Fushimi set Misaki's hand back down on the bed again, rising from the bedside chair slowly. He'd probably rather see you right now, anyway.
That thought hurt more than it should've.
"I'll let you know if anything happens, then." Kusanagi didn't move, and Fushimi was aware of the eyes on him as he gathered his things. "Try to get some rest, okay?"
He didn't bother to answer that.
It was his own fault, in the end. Fushimi clenched his teeth together, striding briskly out into the hallway. 'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...'
This marked the second time in his life that he'd tricked himself into thinking that Yata Misaki could be something permanent in a world that only had temporary things.