Title: Thank Goodness
Disclaimer: Konomi's, not mine.
Warnings: BL, bucketloads of angst, possibly some language.
Author's Note: This is written for Yanagi Kotaro, the first Echizen Ryoma of the musicals. For more information, see here.
Atobe sits by the bedside, and it's quiet, too quiet, and too dark. He's grown used to the bright, sterile, white hospital lights and the continual clicking and whirring and beeping of the hospital machinery. He hated them at first, hated them both; they seemed disrespectful, profane in their unfeeling nature, completely oblivious to the life struggling, barely breathing under their automatic care. But he had come to understand, the continual whirring and clicking and beeping weren't just mechanical noises but voices whispering comfortingly in his ear, he's all right, he's all right, he's all right.
But now there are no comforting voices, no permanent beacons to prove to Atobe's fears, renewed with every inhale, every blink of the eye, every passing second, that he's all right. There is only darkness and silence, and what ought to feel normal and right is just so wrong as Atobe sits, a sole sentry, wringing his hands, as if he can keep things right so long as he keeps watch. If he had anything left in him at all, he might have laughed; there was a time, not so long ago, really, that Atobe thought he feared nothing-- no fellow human nor beast nor intangible entity could shake the great Atobe Keigo. But the sight of one slight body, small and frail in the hospital bed, hooked up to more machines that Atobe could even count... that sight alone is burned into his memory as the most frightened he has ever been and that he hopes he ever will be.
But even if that was the spike on the graph, the peak, so to speak (and oh, god, he's been watching heart monitors for too long, too long now) the fear has clung to him like damp cloth, and he's beginning to think it has soaked into his being, under his skin, into his bloodstream, always lingering there, never quite allowing him to relax. He hardly does anything but watch anymore and he's a mess, unkempt for lack of caring, pale from lack of sleep, trembling from lack of nourishment, or perhaps that's the fear speaking in yet another way, too. Oh how the mighty have fallen, Ryoma might remark if he could see him this way, in that acerbic tone with that smug half grin and--
But it hurts just to think about it, and Atobe doesn't want to cry again, not again. He hadn't cried at first, not when he had arrived at the hospital, and not for the two weeks of the coma, either. He had been too afraid, he had been waiting, breath held, for some outcome, for fate to decide. But when, suddenly, the decision was reached, when suddenly, someone was standing before him and telling him that yes, Ryoma would pull through, yes, he was out of the coma, yes he was going to live, he was going to live, that was when Atobe lost it the first time, lost it entirely. He waited for the doctor to turn his back, held it in a full two minutes to get to the bathroom before breaking down entirely because for the first time in two weeks, the fear was releasing, just a little bit, its hold on his heart.
He should have known, he told himself, in the brutal battle against the reemerging fear that lasted for the next week, that Ryoma would pull through. He was a tenacious little brat like that, and he never, ever lost. Ryoma, even, tried to be reassuring in the two hours a day Atobe was allowed to see him; he couldn't talk, at first, because they had been working so hard to save his life that they hadn't been able to do the reconstructive surgery on his vocal chords yet, but he gave that grin, weak as it was, and Atobe hated to cry in from of Ryoma, but he gave up and did anyway, and as soon as he could talk again, Ryoma made fun of him for it, weakly, but assuredly, and that, more than anything, eased the fear, just a little bit.
And now they're home again; after almost a month of living at the hospital, they're home, and everything is "normal" again. As normal as things can be, anyway; the doctors didn't think Ryoma would walk again and he proved them wrong, of course, being who he was, but regardless of his ability, Atobe has been informed that he's not to be walking around the house until the physical therapist signs off on it, and of course, there's changes that have to be made, things that have to accommodated for, and though Ryoma grumbles about it all, Atobe knows they both know he needs it, and that is why he can't find it in his heart to shoot back some nasty comment like Well, I'm not the one who went and got himself hit by a car.
They're home again, yes, and Ryoma is acting just like Ryoma again, but when Ryoma sleeps, the fear still comes back, always comes back to clutch at Atobe's throat and course through his veins and keep him from shutting his eyes, because if he lets down his guard then maybe something will happen and Ryoma will lapse back into nothingness again, and Atobe can't take that thought, and so he sits by the bedside, watching Ryoma sleep, watching Ryoma breathe. Ryoma sleeps a lot still, and with his eyes closed, he looks almost as he did when he was in the coma and though Atobe knows it isn't true, he can't help but count Ryoma's inhales, exhales, can't help but continually prove to himself that Ryoma's still here, still here.
Atobe is counting, keeping meticulous track; inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale when, all of a sudden, there's a small disruption, and then Ryoma's eyes flutter open and his pupils focus on Atobe and a grin forms on his lips and oh god Atobe wants to cry again but he won't, he won't. Ryoma sits up and looks at him before sighing and shaking his head slowly. "Go to sleep, stupid. I'm not going to die on you, I promise."
It's really entirely irrational, but at those words, somehow, the fear crumbles and melts away and Atobe lets out a soft, misplaced chuckle before collapsing forward to wrap his arms around Ryoma's body, firmer, stronger, healthier even since they've come home. "Geez," Ryoma mutters under his breath and Atobe can feel his smile against his body as Ryoma puts his arms around him too. "I'm right here, I swear."
Atobe laughs softly again, pulling Ryoma closer and, in the warmth of his embrace, feels exhaustion, unobstructed by adrenaline, tugging at his eyelids for the first time in a long time. Atobe's mouth is dry, but he swallows, unable to bring himself to pull away from Ryoma's warmth, Ryoma's life just yet. Just another moment to emphasize that simple truth; Ryoma is right here.
Smiling into Ryoma's hair, Atobe nods. "Thank goodness."