January 15th, 2010

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Our Story - Chapter 19 (part I)

Chapter 19

 

The end to our story takes place on the same day in which it started –  the worst day of my life.

 

My first spring back at work passed quickly and the long, hot days of summer were winding down. My twenty-fifth birthday had recently come to pass, and I spent it alone in my apartment, sharing a cupcake with my cat.

 

I buried myself in work, trying to keep my mind occupied with things other than my eternal loneliness. My patient load had increased and with that, the companionship my patients provided eased some of my isolation. With every bit of progress they made, I shared their sense of self-worth.

 

The morning in question, Subaru had come to me, his usual cheery demeanor amplified. My headache was so intense, however, that his energy only served to make it worse. As he sat down in the chair across from my desk, I pinched the bridge of my nose, desperate to make the pain disappear.

 

“Are you okay?” Subaru asked, concern leaking into his voice.

 

I nodded my head, trying to blink away the little white orbs that had been floating in front of my eyes. “I'm fine.”

 

“I wanted to talk to you,” Subaru began, and there was a hesitation in his voice that I had never heard.

 

“Oh,” I said. If my headache had not been so intense, I would have been more curious about his tone. “About what?”

 

“About leaving,” Subaru said, so quietly that I almost couldn't hear him.

 

I sat back in my chair, letting it sink in.

 

“I'm almost 20, and I really can't stay here forever,” He was fidgeting with the loose strings surrounding a hole in the knee of his jeans. “I feel like I am ready. I know I'll never get over my addiction. But lately, I've found myself thinking more and more about being in a polygamous relationship. And with that, I feel less and less like I need to have sex in order to feel something good.”

 

I nodded, not sure what to say. I felt sad that Subaru would be leaving, but he knew that he was ready. And from what he was saying, I too, thought that perhaps Shibutani Subaru was ready to re-enter the world.

 

Love was a complicated thing. One moment, you felt on top of the world, full of a joy that there was no proper word for. It made you feel like anything was possible. But, it could also leave you lonely, isolated from the world. Subaru knew that he could never be with Yokoyama, and yet, love gave him the courage to change his life.

 

Like me, like Shingo and Maru, Subaru would feel that isolation, that perpetual loneliness that came with love. He would know the desperation of being so in love with someone, unable to forget them, unable to function normally without them.

 

I wanted to protect him from those feelings and the thoughts that accompanied them. It wasn't my place, however, to keep him from living his life. He had grown up in front of my eyes, and the Subaru sitting across from me was a man.

 

“I agree,” I said to him. “I'm really happy for you, Subaru. I'll talk to Murakami about it. We'll help you find a place to live and set up some type of job for you.”

 

Subaru smiled brightly, standing up. “Thank you.”

 

“Have you told Yoko yet?” I asked, standing up and following him towards the door, blinking against the lights. A sharp pain filled my head, blurring my vision as I struggled to focus on Shibutani's face.

 

He smiled somewhat sheepishly. “Not yet.”

 

My head started throbbing then and I could feel my legs begin to give away. I threw my hand out against the wall, using it to steady myself before I collapsed.

 

“Yasu, are you okay?” Subaru grabbed my shoulders and helped me straighten up.

 

“Yeah,” I nodded my head. “I'm okay.”

 

“Are you sure?” he asked, letting go of the grip he had on my arm.

 

My knees did give out then and I crumpled onto the floor. Subaru reached down, attempting to help me up again, but I pushed his hands away. “I'm fine.”

 

“I'll get Murakami,” He left the room quickly, his face filled with concern.

 

I sat down on the floor and clutched my head, never having felt such intense physical pain. My head had been aching dully since I woke up that morning, but at that moment, I was keeled over as a sharp pain prodded every inch of my head. Every sinus passage felt like it had been filled with boiling water, and I had to fight back the urge to vomit.

 

Murakami entered the room then, kneeling down next to me. “Are you okay?”

 

I nodded my head, then quickly shook it as my ears started ringing.

 

“You should go home,” He put his hand to my forehead, testing my temperature.

 

“I'll be okay,” I said, trying to stand. “I just need a couple of minutes to rest.”

 

“No,” he helped me up. “You don't look well. Just head home and get some rest.”

 

I nodded, knowing that it was useless to disagree with him. Slowly, while blinking against the lights, I crossed the room to my desk and started packing up my briefcase. Suddenly remembering my talk with Subaru, I turned back to Murakami, “Ah, I need to talk to you about Subaru.”

 

“It can wait until later,” Murakami grabbed my arm, helping to guide me from the room. “Are you going to be able to make it home alone?”

 

“Yeah,” I nodded. “I'll be fine. I'll see you tomorrow.”

 

Murakami and I had made it to the front door, and I quickly waved goodbye to my co-workers. Holding the door open for me, I thanked Shingo quietly.

 

Looking back on the moments leading up to my discovery at the train station, every step I took seemed to last a millennium, every breath I drew felt like the last.

 

The pain in my head intensified the closer I grew to the train station, and I wanted nothing more that to go home, draw my curtains and crawl into bed. The crowd gathered, the police carrying the stretcher from the station, and the realization of what had happened hit me, and the world slowed down in the moments leading up to when my eyes had landed on the bag an officer was carrying.

 

The same one he had the night I met him, the same one he had lovingly unpacked at my apartment, the one he had brought with him that last weekend we were together at my parent's house.

 

My heart slowed as I ran towards the stretcher, and squeezed my way through the tarp. And the moment that hand slipped out from under the sheet covering the body, I knew from the ring on his finger that it was Tadayoshi.

 

My legs gave out and I fell to the ground, my knees hitting the concrete with a loud crack. I didn't feel it though, nor the pain in my head. All the emptiness that I had been feeling since the day Tadayoshi walked out of my life, multiplied and my heart burst, the shattered bits covering me like a sheet. My body went slack and inside I felt dead.

 

The past two years, I had been holding onto hope that Tadayoshi would come back to me. Any strength I had to continue working, eating, breathing seemed to vanish as my eyes settled once again on the blood soaked sheet.

 

And then a pair of arms were wrapping around my midsection, pulling me up gently from the ground. “Yasu,” a familiar voice called softly into my ear.

 

I looked up into the concerned eyes of Yokoyama. “Yoko, is that...?” I needed to hear it, though I was already positive of what his answer would be.

 

“I'm sorry Yasu,” He turned me around and hugged me.

 

I shook my head, wiggling my way out of his grasp. I felt numb. I knew that I should be crying or screaming. The appropriate feeling would be anything other than the numbness that consumed me. “Are you sure? Is he okay?”

 

Yokoyama shook his head. “I was the closest on duty officer, and the first one to the scene. It doesn't look good, Yasu.”

 

The paramedics were loading the stretcher onto the ambulance and Yokoyama pulled me towards where they all gathered around. “He's a family member,” he pointed to the stretcher, and the paramedics nodded, moving over and offering me a place in the ambulance.

 

I looked back at Yokoyama before climbing into the vehicle. Behind me, the doors swung shut, and I stood frozen in place as they pulled away the sheet covering Tadayoshi's body. The tears that had refused to come suddenly emerged, and I bent forward, choking back the sob of horror. Taking a deep breath I steadied myself as one of the paramedics guided me over towards the bench seats.

 

Tadayoshi's once beautiful face was covered in blood, his hair matted to his face and neck and I struggled to tear my eyes away. That wasn't how I wanted to remember him.

 

My eyes traveled down to where one of the EMTs was cutting away Tadayoshi's blood spattered shirt. Further down the stretcher, another paramedic was studying his legs, which were bent at an angle that didn't seem humanly possible.

 

“You have to sit down and let them work,” the paramedic said as she pulled me down onto one of the seats.

 

“He's got no pulse,” one of the paramedics said, and the woman sitting next to me stood up.

 

She grabbed the defibrillator, rubbing the paddles together quickly.“Clear!” she shouted, pressing the paddles against Tadayoshi's bare chest. His body flopped on the table, and my heart filled with hope briefly.

 

“Still no pulse...”

 

The tears sprang to my eyes again, and I let them fall, trying to keep my sobs silent as the paramedic rubbed the paddles together again.

 

“Clear!”

 

I couldn't watch. I need a distraction, so I picked up his bag up from where it had been tossed on the floor, hugging it to my chest. I pressed my nose against the leather and inhaled deeply, sighing as Tadayoshi's scent filled my senses. Something fell out of the front pocket and fluttered to the floor. I leaned over, picking it up quickly.

 

It was the picture of me and my family that my mother had given him. He had kept it the past two years, carried it with him in his bag like a precious belonging. That thought stirred something inside of me, and the heart that I thought had vanished forever started beating wildly in my chest.

 

“Clear!”

 

I opened his bag, intending to replace the picture. I paused, inhaling deeply as his scent drifted from inside. The tears continued dropping onto my lap; his smell reminding me of the moments he would hold me in his arms, pressing my cheek so tightly against his chest as he rested his chin atop my head.

 

I opened the bag wider, attempting to breathe in more of his scent and the happy memories that came along with it. It was the first time in over two years that I had felt truly happy. The smell brought back so many memories and I was reminded of how whole I felt waking up to that smell – how well I slept breathing in that scent as I listened to the beat of Tadayoshi's heart.

 

“Clear!” the paramedic yelled once more.

 

And I knew that this smell would be gone forever. Like it had disappeared from my sheets and my apartment, it would also disappear from the bag. And I would never get a chance to get it back, because Tadayoshi would never be able to come back to me.

 

The picture I was holding crumpled in my first and I stared down at it. I opened the bag, preparing to toss it in like the useless piece of garbage that it was. He wouldn't miss it or me.

 

Then, another picture inside of the bag caught my attention, and I pulled it out. It was one of the photos that my mother had taken from our first date. Tadayoshi was smiling widely, his arm wrapped around me as I blushed. I wondered where he had gotten it. I had never seen this picture, and my mother probably kept them from me on purpose. But where had Tadayoshi gotten the picture?

 

He had either been back to my home, or in touch somehow with my family.

 

And my eyes landed on Tadayoshi's hand, dangling from the stretcher. He was still wearing the ring I had given him the day the picture was taken. A loud sob came out then and I buried my face in my hands.

 

I remembered the moment he put the ring on his finger, promising to never take it off, to wait for me. To this day he was still wearing it, still carrying around my picture, still wanting desperately to be a part of my family.

 

“I'm sorry, Tadayoshi,” I choked out, reaching out for his lifeless hand.

 

“Clear,” she called, her voice sounding defeated as she pressed the paddles against his chest once more.

 

“I love you,” my voice cracked, and I didn't care about the looks I was receiving from the other occupants of the ambulance. Then, I gasped in shock as I felt Tadayoshi's hand squeeze around mine.

 

“We have a pulse.”

 

------

 

I sat impatiently in the waiting room, Tadayoshi's bag on my lap as I fidgeted nervously. My heart was beating rapidly and dozens of emotions that I hadn't felt in over two years filled me – fear, happiness, anxiety, nervousness, hope.

 

By some miracle, Tadayoshi's heart had started beating again. I could remember the way his cold hand had squeezed mine tightly, and the prospect that we could be together again filled me with an indescribable happiness. I knew in my heart that he loved me, and that was enough to forget everything in the past and start over again.

 

And then the nervousness set in. Would he be able to forgive me for losing hope in him? Or for giving up so easily on our relationship? Would he still be able to look at me the same way?

 

There was always the possibility that he wouldn't make it through surgery. He had given up on life once already that day, the same way I had given up on him.

 

Again, I needed a distraction from those thoughts. Hope was all I needed. I needed to keep faith that he would come out of surgery, that we could start over. I opened his bag again, pulling out the picture taken before our first date.

 

On either side of me, I felt two familiar presences plop down. “Are you okay?” I heard Maruyama's voice.

 

“I'm fine. What are you guys doing here?” I asked, thankful for the distraction they provided.

 

“Yoko told me what happened,” Shingo's arm slung around one of my shoulders. “We thought you could use some friends right now.”

 

“Thank you,” I smiled, though my attention was still focused on the picture in my hand.

 

“How is Tadayoshi?” Maru asked, quietly, resting his chin on my shoulder and staring down at the picture.

 

I shrugged, “He's in surgery still.”

 

“Yasu,” Murakami leaned over. “Don't get your hopes up, okay? The chances of him living through that...”

 

“Shin-chan,” Maru scolded, and from the corner of my eye I could see him glaring and shaking his head at the older man. Maru returned his chin to my shoulder. “That picture is cute.”

 

I nodded my head. “I have no idea where he got it. He must have gone to my house sometime.” The more I thought about that possibility, the angrier I felt myself getting. My family had kept it a secret, for who knows how long. They could see how lonely I was, how lost I was without Tadayoshi. And still they had not told me.

 

“I can't believe they didn't tell me...” I pulled out my cellphone, preparing to call my parents.

 

“Shota,” Maruyama grabbed the hand holding the cellphone. “Now is probably not the best time for that.”

 

“Yes it is,” I pulled my hand away. “They had seen Tadayoshi, and they never told me. They never said a god damn word about it.”

 

“Maybe they thought it was for the best,” Murakami started, and I didn't miss the look he shared with his ex-lover.

 

“Shota,” Maru began, swallowing hard and glancing nervously at Shingo.

 

“Tadayoshi came to the clinic, too. When you were living in Tokyo he came looking for you,” the older man finished for Maruyama.

 

“What?” I turned to Maru, hoping that he would offer a more logical explanation. I received nothing. “Why didn't you tell me this?”

 

“We thought it was for the best,” Maru began explaining.

 

“For the best? You could see how miserable I was without him and you still kept it from me?” I didn't know whether to shout or cry, and my question came out as a mixture of the two.

 

“Exactly,” Murakami started, “Shota, he ruined your life. You've been depressed the past two years. I can't even remember the last time I've seen you smile. We couldn't risk him doing the same thing to you again.”

 

“That wasn't your decision to make,” I stood up, wiping at the tears in my eyes. “The past two years, I've felt so empty and alone. And now you're telling me that you kept me from the one thing that would have made me feel like a complete person?”

 

“Shota,” Murakami began, and I raised my hand, silencing him.

 

“I don't care if he would have left me again. It wasn't your god damn decision!” The tears were coming faster now, and I wiped them on my sleeve before continuing. “He could do it to me a million times over and I wouldn't care as long as I was able to feel happy again.”

 

They exchanged a look, and I knew they thought I was being crazy. “You both are so screwed up. You're way worse than I am. You both hurt as much as I do, and you can be together, but you're not even willing to take a chance to be together because you're both afraid of what can happen.”

 

They glanced briefly at one another before glancing down at the floor in shame. “It has nothing to do with Murakami not saying he loves you,” I pointed at Maru before turning to Murakami, “or being afraid of what your family thinks. This is completely about both of you being too afraid to commit to one another, to put faith in the relationship. All you can think about is how the relationship will inevitably fail. You're both cowards.”

 

They stared at the ground, unable to look me in the face. I received no reaction from either of them, so I clicked my tongue in disgust. “Do you realize what Tadayoshi did to himself? Did you ever stop to think about how you were playing around with two people's lives? You took away a decision that was mine to make, and I might never get another chance. I don't think I can ever forgive you for this.”

 

I walked away from the pair, not caring if I ever saw them again.

 

------

 

Pacing the hallway, I tried to breathe, to cool the anger that had filled me. I realized that it was the first time in two years that I had felt so angry or passion towards anything. I knew that I should return to the waiting room. Tadayoshi had been in surgery for a long time and I wanted to be there when his surgeon reported his conditions.

 

I decided to swallow my anger at my two friends and I returned to the waiting room, picking up Tadayoshi's bag and carrying it to another area of seats.

 

I closed my eyes, trying to remain calm, to regain the hope that I had felt when Tadayoshi's hand squeezed around my own.

 

“Are you Ohkura's family?” A gentle voice asked, and when I opened my eyes, a doctor was standing above me.

 

I nodded my head.

 

“Ohkura-san is out of surgery. He was lucky that the train had rubber wheels, otherwise he would have lost his legs. As they are, however, it's difficult to say if he will ever walk again.”

 

My heart beat fast, the hope spreading through my entire body. I didn't care if he never walked again as long as he was alive. “So he's okay?”


The doctor's face fell, “That was the good news, I am afraid. If the train had hit Tadayoshi's head, it would have instantly killed him. We were lucky that didn't happen, however, when he fell onto the tracks, he hit his head on the ties, resulting in some hemorrhaging. At the moment, he's in a coma and showing very little signs of brain activity. It's very doubtful that he will ever come out of the coma. Perhaps, you and the rest of the family should discuss...” he trailed off.

 

“Thank you doctor,” I heard Murakami say behind me.

 

“Of course. You're free to go see him anytime you'd like.” The doctor tried smiling reassuringly at me, but I could say nothing. “Room 1204.”

 

“Shota,” My boss started.

 

“I am going to go see him,” I said, standing up and letting my body carry me to the elevator.

 

Tadayoshi had walked out of my life two years ago, as abruptly as he had entered it. The moment he had left me, taking a piece of me with him, I had changed. From that day, I couldn't feel happiness or anger or passion or love or any other strong human emotion. I only felt emptiness, numbness towards everyone around me. Each day, I went through motions, for no reason except to live one more day and grow closer to dying.

 

I entered Tadayoshi's room, sitting down next to his bed and listening to the beeping of the machines that monitored his heart rate and brain activity, the whirring of the machine to keep him breathing. I grabbed Tadayoshi's hand, raising it to my lips. It was still warm, I could feel the blood pulsing through it and I knew that he was alive.

 

“Tadayoshi,” I opened my mouth, but the word came out in a weak, cracked whisper. “Tadayoshi,” I started again, knowing this would be my last chance to tell him everything. It would be my last chance to say goodbye, and I wanted him to leave the world knowing exactly how I felt.

 

I poured out every detail, every emotion I had felt since I met him. I wanted him to know how happy he made me, how miserable I was without him.

 

If I had to lose him forever, I wanted him to know that there was someone in the world who loved him the way he deserved to be loved. I wanted him to know how happy he made me, how he'll always be a part of my family. He needed to know that he changed my life, that I didn't want to live without him.

 

All of the feelings that had built up since the moment I had met Tadayoshi came spilling out. I had finally acknowledged all of the things I had been too afraid to say or think about during the last two years. By the time I had finished, I was mentally exhausted.

 

Leaning forward, I lay my head on the hospital bed. My hand slid up the scratchy wool blanket, searching for the warmth of Tadayoshi's skin. I found his hand, slipping my own into it and letting my eyes fall shut. I fell asleep easier that night than I had in over two years.

 

------

A/N: The chapter is too long for LJ again, so please click HERE for the second part.

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Our Story - Chapter 19 (Part II)

This is the 2nd part of chapter 19. If you have not read the first part, click HERE

Vaguely, somewhere in my sleeping state, I heard the door of Tadayoshi's hospital room open. I could hear footsteps shuffle across the floor and I struggled to stay in my dream world. Waking up would mean facing a world without Tadayoshi in it, and I wasn't ready for that reality.

 

The footsteps stopped beside my chair and someone wrapped a blanket around my shoulders, tucking it gently under my chin. “Should we wake him up?” I heard a voice whisper and recognized it immediately as Maruyama.

 

“No,” Murakami's whisper answered. “Let him sleep.”

 

I cracked my eyes open, trying to keep the intruders from realizing that I had awoken. Judging from the dim light filtering through the window, it must have been very early in the morning.

 

“Ryuhei...” Murakami started, his voice gentle.

 

“Shhh,” Maruyama started, perhaps knowing that Murakami was about to say something serious. “You'll wake Shota.”

 

“Ryuhei, listen...” Shingo's voice was pleading, but the gentleness had not disappeared from it.

 

“Shingo, I know what you're going to say, but please don't.” Maru was the one pleading now.

 

“I've been thinking about what Shota said all night. He was right.”

 

“They really love each other, don't they?” Maruyama asked quietly and I could feel his eyes on me.

 

“I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about us,” Murakami said, his voice becoming gruff at Maru's avoidance.

 

“But it's just fate that you'll only hurt the person you love. Over and over, you'll just end up hurting each other.” His voice grew louder, and I knew that he had moved further from his lover towards the hospital bed. Murakami and I understood he wasn't just talking about my relationship with Tadayoshi.

 

“Ryuhei,” the gentleness was back in Murakami's voice. “I love you. I don't want to lose you. Please, I'll treat you the way you deserve to be treated.”

 

“It's too late,” Maruyama's voice had taken on an uncharacteristic roughness and I knew that he was probably trying to keep from crying.

 

“It's not too late. Please, listen to me,” I could hear the way Murakami's voice was shaking, I could recognize the desperateness to his voice. It reminded me of the day I had gone to the Ohkura estate. “It's probably too late for Shota and Tadayoshi,” Murakami started, and I choked back a sob at those words. “It's not too late for us though. I don't want to live without you.”

 

“It is too late,” Maru's voice came out weakly. “Even if I wanted to come back to you, it's too late. I can't hurt Ohno like that.”

 

“Who cares?” Murakami's voice grew louder and if I wasn't already awake, he surely would have woken me then.

 

“I care.”

 

“You don't love him. You're in love with me.” I could tell that Murakami was crying now.

 

The statement was bold, but Maruyama didn't deny it. “I know what it feels like to be hurt by someone you love. I won't do that to Ohno. I'm sorry, Shingo. I love you, I love you so much it hurts, but it's over between us.”

 

“I can't live without you,” Murakami choked out.

 

A silence settled over the room, and I thought for a moment that perhaps Maru was reconsidering his decision. “I can't live without you either. But it's time we learned how to live without each other, don't you think?”

 

“You were my best friend,” Murakami's voice was barely a whisper.

 

“You were mine, too,” Maruyama spoke, and I could almost hear a smile in his voice.

 

“Maybe we can get back there someday?” Murakami's voice sounded hopeful.

 

“Someday,” Maruyama's reply came out, and it sounded like a promise.

 

A silence fell over the room again and I could hear Murakami coming closer to where I was laying. I wondered what he was doing when the sound of paper shuffling reached my ears, followed by a gasp.

 

“What?” Maruyama asked, also hearing Murakami's surprise.

 

“Tadayoshi's brain monitor...” Murakami trailed off and my body went stiff as I waited for him to expand.

 

“What?” Maruyama's voice was now coming from near where Murakami was standing, “That...”

 

“Yeah. Look at all of the activity...” there was the sound of more shuffling, as the doctor and nurse examined the paper tape that had been spilling from the machine monitoring Tadayoshi's brain waves.

 

“Didn't his doctor say that there was no activity?”

 

“That's what he said. But look at this. It's practically the same as a person who's wide awake.”

 

I cracked open an eye again, unable to resist. Glancing at Tadayoshi's face, I half expected him to be awake, laughing at having fooled us all so well. But his face was as stoic as it had been, his eyes moving slightly under closed lids.

 

I turned my attention back to the conversation between my two friends, hoping that they would elaborate further.

 

They did not get another chance, however, as the door opened again. I sat up, the sudden loud interruption making any chances of me faking sleep slim. Tadayoshi's doctor, along with Hiroki Uchi, had entered the hospital room.

 

“I need to ask all of you to leave, seeing as how you are not Mr. Ohkura's actual family,” he glanced sternly at me then, and my face flushed a little as I realized that I had been caught in a lie.

 

I stood up, and tried to catch Uchi's eyes as I left the room, but he was looking everywhere but at me. In the hall, Murakami wrapped his arm around my shoulder. “Shota, I'm sorry for not telling you about Tadayoshi coming to the clinic. If I had...”

 

I shook my head, “It's okay. I know you thought you were helping me. You didn't know it would end up like this.”

 

“Let me buy you some coffee,” he offered, leading me into the waiting room, and pushing me gently into a chair.

 

“I'll be back in a few minutes,” Murakami stood up, and I watched as Maruyama hesitantly followed.

 

Alone, I glanced down at the floor, so many thoughts flowing through my mind. The doctor had told me that Tadayoshi's brain had very little activity and that he would never awake from the coma. According to Murakami and Maruyama, however, Tadayoshi's brain was working fine.

 

My heart filled with dread as I realized that perhaps he was telling Uchi the same thing at that moment. The previous night, the doctor had suggested that as his family we consider letting him go, letting the hospital take him off of whatever machines or feeding tubes were keeping him alive, letting him die. And perhaps, I realized as my heart started beating fast enough to pop out of my chest, perhaps the doctor was telling Uchi the same thing.

 

I started panicking, my breathing coming out in heavy, painful bursts. I gripped at the armrests of the chair, wondering if that as the reason why Uchi had been avoiding eye contact with me. He had come to kill Tadayoshi.

 

I was about to stand up when a voice called out to me, “Yasuda-san?”

 

Looking up, Nishikido's blotchy red face was staring down, hesitantly. In his arms, he was holding the album that Tadayoshi had stolen. The one that I had given to Uchi for safe keeping. He sat down next to me, placing the book on his lap and grabbing my hand.

 

“Yasuda, I'm so sorry,” Nishikido's voice came out shaky.

 

“Sorry?” I wasn't really listening to him, imagining instead, that Uchi was in Tadayoshi's room, maniacally unplugging all of the machines and laughing.

 

“About Tadayoshi, I'm sorry.”

 

I tore myself away from those thoughts, focusing on the young man sitting in front of me. “What are you sorry about that for?”

 

“You haven't talked to Uchi yet?” he asked, his voice suddenly becoming hesitant.

 

I shook my head, “I haven't. He seemed like he was avoiding me. Why? What's going on?”

 

Ryo bit his lip and I could tell he was contemplating whether he should tell me whatever he thought Uchi was going to. “About Tadayoshi...” he finally began and then stop.

 

“Yeah?” I asked, silently urging him to continue.

 

“I don't even know where to start...” he let out a long breath, looking at me expectantly, but I didn't know what he wanted me to say. Taking another breath, he began. “I guess the best place to start would be when Tadayoshi came back to talk to his father.

 

“Uchi told me all of this, so I don't know everything. But Tadayoshi went back to the house, and he sat down with his father and with Uchi and told them both that he had no intention of taking over the family business. He wanted to be with you.

 

“You've met Hideo, though. You know what he's like. He wouldn't listen to Tadayoshi. He told his son that he would have you arrested, that he could press charges against you and you'd end up in jail. Tadayoshi was worried about what would happen to you and your reputation,” Ryo, like me, was staring at the floor.

 

My vision blurred, my eyes becoming teary as I listened.

 

Nishikido continued, “So Tadayoshi promised that he would stay away from you until he graduated from high school. I think maybe Hideo thought that if he could separate you two, Tadayoshi would forget about you and move on. He hoped that by the time Tadayoshi graduated high school, he would be ready to focus on continuing the family business.

 

“But as Tadayoshi's graduation came closer, it was clear that he still had no intention of doing that. Hideo knew that Tadayoshi would go back to you the first moment he could. Tadayoshi would be legal in a matter of months, and the statute of limitations would be up for charging you with any crimes. So he hatched a deal with the president of Morikawa Oil Company, where they would both benefit from the marriage of their children.

 

“Hideo had it set up so that Tadayoshi couldn't escape him or the family future. And the more Hideo controlled him, the more broken Tadayoshi became. I'm sorry, Yasuda. Uchi agreed with Hideo about the whole thing, he told Tadayoshi to forget about you. He wanted to see Tadayoshi seriously think about his future and the family business. And Uchi told me about the whole thing. I've known about it these past two years, I saw how miserable you were, and I never said anything. I'm so sorry.”

 

I didn't acknowledge his apology at first, still letting all of the information sink in. For the past two years, I had spent every waking breath believing the words Tadayoshi had said to me that day. I had honestly believed that he had only been playing with me, that he never loved me the way I loved him.

 

A sob came from my chest, bubbling out of my throat pathetically. I blinked rapidly, as the tears started coming. It was no one's fault that Tadayoshi was laying in that hospital bed, but mine. It wasn't Hideo's fault for forcing his son to leave me. Or Uchi's for agreeing with his father's idea. It wasn't Ryo's fault for not telling me. Or Maruyama and Murakami's for keeping Tadayoshi's visit a secret from me.

 

It was completely my fault. I had lost faith in Tadayoshi, and our relationship. I had forgotten about the promise that we made to each other. Carelessly, I had thrown everything away, unable to see past the lie that Tadayoshi had told.

 

If I had remembered that promise, if I had kept faith that he would return to me, if I had silently supported him the past few years, this would never have happened. I had closed the door on Tadayoshi years ago, leaving him alone and isolated when he needed me the most.

 

I leaned forward, burying my face in my hands as I tried to keep my loud sobs from causing a scene.

 

“I'm sorry,” Ryo said, and I could tell he was crying.

 

I shook my head and tried telling him that he had done nothing wrong. Nothing came out, however, but a pathetic whimper from behind my hands.

 

“What happened?” Murakami asked, suddenly reappearing. He set the cups of coffee he was holding on a nearby table, sitting down next to me and rubbing at my back.

 

“You told him?” I heard a voice ask, tentatively, and when I looked up, Uchi was standing there with his hands in his pockets.

 

Ryo nodded in response.

 

“I'm sorry,” Uchi said, looking guilty. His face was red, and I could tell that he had been crying. “I'm sorry.”

 

I shook my head once more, wiping my nose on my sleeve. “Its not your fault.”

 

An awkward silence fell on the room, and no one knew what to say. Ryo, Uchi and I continued silently crying as Murakami and Maruyama looked on, confused.

 

“I need to go see him,” I stood up and Uchi nodded at me.

 

I walked faster than I ever had, and somehow before I realized it, I was standing at the door of Tadayoshi's hospital room. Reaching out for the door knob, I hesitated. Was there anything I could say that would matter? I didn't deserve a chance to apologize to him.

 

I knew, though, how much I loved him. Even if I lived a million years, I would never find someone I loved as much as him. It was true that I didn't deserve a chance to apologize, but Tadayoshi didn't deserve to die thinking that he was unloved.

 

I entered the room, walking silently across the floor. The chair I had slept in was still in the same place, but I didn't sit in it. Instead, I stood so that I could see Tadayoshi's face. Though caked in blood, stitched in several places and bandaged, he was still the most handsome person I had ever met. I wondered what someone like him saw in a potato face like me.

 

I reached out, gently brushing some hair off his forehead before leaning down and pressing my lips against the skin. His skin felt warm against my lips and I sighed as his scent filled my nostrils. I felt calmer already, finding the strength I needed.

 

“Tadayoshi,” my voice came out louder than I had intended. “I gave up on us. You kept your promise, but I was too weak. This is all my fault. I'm so sorry.”

 

I sat down then, too ashamed to continue staring at his face. “I love you, I don't want you to think that I don't. The past two years, I wanted nothing more than to be held by you again. I missed you; your smile, the way you smell, the sound of your voice, especially your laugh. I missed you so much, but I told myself that you weren't coming back. I forgot all about the promise we made.”

 

I started crying again, my voice shaking. “And now I'm afraid that it's too late.”

 

I knew, as I stood up again, bending over his bed and draping my arm across his chest, that Tadayoshi would probably never embrace me again.

 

------

 

I had been sitting in Tadayoshi's room, alone for hours. I was surprised that it had already grown dark outside before I was interrupted.

 

“Shota,” Maruyama popped his head into the room. “You need to go home and get some sleep.”

 

I shook my head, sighing as he opened the door and came in. “I'm not tired.”

 

“You've been here for over a day. You need rest.”

 

“I said I am okay,” I started again.

 

“Are you just going to live here then? You're not doing him any good by being here all the time.”

 

I knew Maruyama was right. He didn't know whether or not I was there. In my heart I knew nothing would change in the few hours that I went home to rest. But I wanted to be there in case his condition changed. If he woke up, I wanted to be there, selfishly, as the first person he saw. The chances of him waking up were slim, I knew. I also wanted to be there if his direction changed for the worst. I had abandoned him once already, but this time I wanted to be there, silently supporting him until the end.

 

“At least, let's go get something to eat.” Maruyama pulled me from the chair.

 

Reluctantly, I followed him, making him promise that we would only be gone for an hour or two. To my surprise, in the waiting room, the crowd had grown larger. My mom, dad, sister and Osamu had all come.

 

“Shota,” My sister stood, wrapping her arms around me.

 

“You look awful,” my mom commented. “Let's go get something to eat.”

 

My support group hurded me down to the hospital cafeteria, sitting me down at the table and loading up a tray of food. I remembered the picture that Tadayoshi had been carrying with him, but I was too emotionally exhausted to ask about it.

 

My sister slid across from me at the table while everyone else was busy getting food. “Shota,” she grabbed my hand. “Are you okay?”

 

I nodded, resting my chin in my hand as my thoughts drifted to Tadayoshi again.

 

“I can't believe Tadayoshi did this. I just saw him yesterday,” she commented.

 

I looked at her then, incredulously. “You saw him?”

 

She nodded, pulling an envelope from her purse. “I was at mom and dad's two days ago and he suddenly showed up at the door. He reminded mom that she said he could come back whenever he wanted. None of us knew what to do. We knew how badly he hurt you, but he looked so... lost.”

 

Tadayoshi hadn't been in touch with my family. He had visited them out of nowhere, and I knew that they hadn't betrayed me.

 

“He said he needed a place to stay for a night and that he wanted to see us again one last time. Really, Shota, we had no idea he was going to do something like this,” She set the envelope on the table, sliding it towards me. “He left this in your room.”

 

I opened the envelope, pulling out a piece of paper and unfolding it.

 

Shota,

 

I wish I didn't have to write this in a letter. I want to tell you to your face, but then, I don't really deserve a chance like that.

 

I have a lot of things I want to say to you.

 

Most importantly, I love you. I think I probably loved you from that first day we met. I love you still now, and I want you to know that. I lied to you. I told you that I didn't love you. I'm a despicable person for doing that to you.

 

The time I spent with you was the happiest time of my life. Being with you, those hours we spent alone with each other, was the most precious thing to me. I didn't know what it felt like to be happy until I met you. You weren't just a lover, you were my best friend, my family, and my source of joy. Because of you, I knew not only what it felt like to love a person, but I also felt what it was like to be loved by someone.

 

Murakami told me that you had gone back to school. I am happy for you. Your strength, your ability to move forward, I love that about you. I wish I could be as strong as you are.

 

I don't have the strength to live without you, I'm sure you realize what that means now that you are reading this.

 

I set the letter down, unable to read anymore. I couldn't handle Tadayoshi blaming himself for anything that had happened. I put my head down on the table, feeling miserable again now that I knew the thoughts that had been running through his mind when he tried to kill himself.

 

That he had felt as guilty as I had caused a pain to tear through me. He thought it was his fault that the relationship had been ruined, that we were no longer together. He had not lied to hurt me, but to protect me.

 

It was my fault for not realizing what he had been doing. It was my fault for not believing in him, for thinking for even a moment that he didn't love me. A sob came out and my sister reached across the table patting awkwardly at my hand.

 

Both Tadayoshi and I had spent the last two years apart from each other, consumed by loneliness and sorrow, when both of us had been longing to be with each other.

 

What had been standing in our way? I wondered as I wiped my tears with my sleeves. It hadn't been Tadayoshi's father or my job or any other reason.

 

We had been standing in our own way. Tadayoshi was so consumed with fear of his father and the things he could do that he had forgotten how much I loved him, how I didn't care if I lost a stupid job. And I had forgotten his promise to me, forgotten his desire to love and be with me -- that he would never leave me.

 

My love for Tadayoshi was the most important thing to me. Would I have loved him any less if I lost my job or got sent to jail? No. I would still love him and desire his presence as much as I did at that moment in time.

 

And would he love me any less if we had to spend some time apart until he could leave home for good? Of course not. These two miserable years were enough proof that no amount of time could change our feelings for one another.

 

We had both misconstrued things, let our petty fears get the best of us. We'd lost faith in each other and now it was too late to apologize. Tadayoshi was in a hospital bed, clinging to his life because he was too foolish to realize that I only wanted to be with him, and I was too stupid for not realizing all I had to do was wait.

 

I wished desperately for another chance, but knew it was impossible.

 

A wave of nausea overcame me and I stood up, desperate to see Tadayoshi. As I stood up, my legs gave way under me as my vision went black.

 

------

 

I woke up, not recognizing where I was. I blinked a few times, looking around and recognizing my whereabouts as a hospital room. I had fainted in the cafeteria, I remembered. My parents crowded around my bed and my sister was sitting in a chair near. A thick curtain was pulled around my bed, and though I couldn't see past it, I knew it must have been late at night.

 

My sister was shaken from her sleep at the moment, as the hospital room filled with excited voices.

 

“Get the doctor,” I heard Maruyama's voice call.

 

“I am a doctor,” Murakami answered, his voice sounding slightly annoyed. “Everyone move.”

 

I sat up as my sister poked her head through the curtains.

 

“He's awake! He's awake!” I heard Maruyama's voice.

 

I threw the blankets off of my body, wondering how they knew I was awake when the curtains were closed. Climbing from bed, I tried to catch a glimpse over my sister's shoulder at the commotion.

 

My sister looked up at me, noticing, as I hovered over her, that I was awake. “You woke at the same time,” she commented, smiling slightly.

 

My brows furrowed in confusion as I wondered what she meant. I didn't have time to continue wondering as I heard a familiar voice weakly ask, “Where is Shota?”

 

I pushed my sister out of the way, throwing open the curtain. I knew my ears had to be mistaken, but as I stood there, Tadayoshi looked over at me, our eyes meeting for the first time in two years.

 

“Shota,” my sister's voice interrupted the moment, “Nice hospital gown. I can totally see your butt right now.”

 

------
 

I thought, surely, that I was still passed out, or perhaps I had died and this was heaven.

 

After over an hour of doctors prodding and poking at Tadayoshi, I was finally given a chance to be alone with him.

 

I was sitting in the chair next to his bed, still wearing the hospital gown and my heart was thumping painfully in my chest. Neither of us spoke, as our eyes met again. That Tadayoshi had lived through the train accident was a miracle. That he had gone from almost no brain activity to completely normal brain activity was another miracle. The fact that he had woken up from the coma was beyond a miracle.

 

Before I knew it, I was crying again.

 

“I heard you,” Tadayoshi announced, finally breaking the silence.

 

“Huh?” I asked, grabbing a hold of his blanket and wiping my nose on it.

 

“When I was in a coma, I heard you talking to me.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“Shota, it's not your fault. You didn't betray me. I was the one that made you think that I didn't love you.”

 

I shook my head, “No. I should have seen past that. I shouldn't have given up so easily, I should have waited for you. If I wasn't so stupid, I would have realized that you were trying to protect me...”

 

He cut off my babbling. “It would be unfair of me to expect you to wait around forever. Every time I thought I would get away from my dad, something would happen to change it. It wasn't just you, it was me too. I gave up. I didn't want you to wait for me. I knew that you were trying your hardest to move on and find happiness again. I wanted that for you.”

 

I shook my head. “I couldn't move on, and I couldn't find happiness. When you left, you took my happiness with you.”

 

Tadayoshi didn't say anything, and we both knew we were getting nowhere in the conversation.

 

“Don't you think...” Tadayoshi finally began, and I looked over at him, “isn't it weird that we both woke up at the same time?”

 

“Is it?”

 

“It's kind of like we were reborn. Like we were given a second chance,” he was staring at the ceiling as he spoke, and then he abruptly turned to me. “Don't you think?”

 

I studied his face carefully as my thoughts wandered. It was true that Tadayoshi and I had awoken at the same moment, which in of itself was a strange occurrence.

 

So overcome by guilt, unable to continue on, Tadayoshi had tried to take his own life. He felt he had betrayed me with his lie, that he had lost me forever and he didn't want to live anymore. Likewise, I had become so overwhelmed with guilt at giving up on Tadayoshi, my body had also given up.

 

While he fell into a deep coma, I had also lost my consciousness. And somewhere in the depths of our unconsciousness, we had reached out to one another. He couldn't live without me, and I couldn't without him. And somewhere, when we were both unalert, our hearts had met, our souls cleansed.

 

And we had awoken, like Tadayoshi had said, reborn. In perhaps the biggest miracle of all, we were given another chance.

 

I was about to nod but we were interrupted once more as Tadayoshi's doctors re-entered the room.

 

“We need to do some more check-ups, Ohkura-san,” his doctor looked expectantly at him and Ohkura nodded. “And then you need some rest.”

 

I stood up understanding that it was time for me to leave. I was reluctant to go, now that I finally had Tadayoshi back in my life. I knew he needed rest, though, and we had already been promised a new beginning. “I'll go now. We can talk after you rest.”

 

Tadayoshi nodded, adding, “We still have all the time in the world.”

 

I smiled brightly, nodding before heading towards the door.

 

“Shota?” Tadayoshi called and I turned back towards him. He was smiling widely. “Sister was right. I can totally see your butt...”

 

End Story

------

A/N: Continue to HERE for the epilogue :D

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Our Story - Epilogue

This is NOT the last chapter. I've posted the final chapter and this epilogue on the same day, so click HERE to read the last chapter first.

Epilogue

 

I couldn't remember the last time I was this nervous. Not the uncomfortable, dread-filled nervousness one feels when something bad is about to happen. The nervousness I felt on this particular day was a happy, hopeful kind of nervous.

 

“Would you calm down already?” My sister scolded me from her perch on the chair as I rearranged the cushions on the sofa for the umpteenth time.

 

I ignored her, continuing to make sure that everything in my apartment was perfect. The rest of my family looked on with amused smiles as I darted back and forth across my living room, searching every corner for some kind of imperfection.

 

I had exchanged my third floor apartment for one on the first floor. With the help of Murakami, Yokoyama and a newly emancipated Subaru, all of my furniture had been moved and replaced into the identical apartment. To many people, this might seem strange, leaving one apartment for another one in the same building.

 

But the reason was actually quite simple and logical.

 

“Okay,” I turned to my family. “Ryo, Uchi, Maru and Shingo are on their way. I'm going to go pick Tadayoshi up from the hospital. Don't forget the plan,” I spouted, heading towards the door. “Oh, and don't make a mess. And the champagne glasses...”

 

“Are in the cupboard above the sink,” my sister muttered. “We know. Just go already.”

 

The reason for my apartment switch, and my nervousness, was that Tadayoshi would be coming home from the hospital that day. Home – to my apartment, our apartment. After three months, and a series of operations on his legs, Tadayoshi was finally leaving the hospital.

 

Although it was unclear whether he would ever be able to regain full use of his legs, he had made progress on his rehabilitation. He was, however, still confined to a wheelchair and climbing the three flights of stairs to our apartment would have been impossible.

 

The nervous butterflies in my stomach continued fluttering all the way to the hospital. Of course, Tadayoshi and I had lived together for those short weeks in the past, but this arrangement was more permanent and suddenly I wasn't sure things would be the same. It had been over two years and although we were starting our relationship over, I wondered how much we had changed.

 

I had visited Tadayoshi in the hospital nearly everyday over the past three months. Those visits, however, were always cut short by doctors, check-ups, or my busy work-schedule. There hadn't been a moment since we had reunited that we were able to have a moment alone. And although I was eager to have him all to myself, I couldn't shake the nervousness.

 

I wondered if Tadayoshi would still be able to read my thoughts, understand the meaning behind my every action the way he used to. Would it still be possible for us to sit together as companions, blanketed in a comfortable silence? Would he still be as happy to see me every night when I came home from work? Would he want me physically the way he used to?

 

For me, the answers to these questions were all an easy, resounding yes. I loved Tadayoshi, had been lonely for his company every day of my life over the past two years. There was no one whose face I would rather see everyday, whose voice I would want to wake up to, whose touch I would want to feel every night for the rest of my life. To me, there was only Tadayoshi.

 

As nervous as I was, the excitement coursing through my body overwhelmed any other emotion. I would finally have him all to myself. That thought alone sent me hurrying into the hospital, where Tadayoshi was waiting for me in the lobby, already discharged.

 

“Why are you so nervous?” he asked, narrowing his eyes the moment he saw me.

 

“I'm not nervous,” I came around behind him, wrapping my hands around the handles of his wheelchair, and pushing him towards the door.

 

“You are, I can tell.”

 

Though he couldn't see me, I stuck my tongue out at the back of his head. “I'm not nervous. I'm excited.”

 

“Okay,” he muttered the response, a note of disbelief to his tone. “And I saw your reflection in the window just now. Very mature.”

 

------

 

“Okay,” I pulled a set of keys from my pocket. “For you...”

 

A smile spread across his face, and he held his hands out. “Thank you.”

 

I blushed, not really understanding why, except for maybe the cute smile that had become plastered to his face. “Why don't you unlock the door?”

 

He cast me a weary glance before leaning forward in his wheelchair and sticking the key into the lock. With a loud click, he unlocked the door and twisted the doorknob. I held the door open for him as he wheeled himself inside.

 

“Surprise!” came a resonating yell, as several friends and family popped into view.

 

“Oh, wow. You got me,” Tadayoshi said, sarcasm dripping in his voice.

 

“You told him,” my sister pouted, glaring at me.

 

“No, he didn't.” Tadayoshi defended me. “He's just too easy to read. Sending text messages as we walked back from the station, making me unlock the door.”

 

I blushed again, although I was secretly pleased that this meant he could still read me as easily. I shrugged, feeling deliriously happy as my sister handed us both a glass of champagne.

 

“Quit pretending like you don't like it,” she scolded Tadayoshi, ruffling his hair.

 

“I do like it,” He smiled. “Thanks for coming.”

 

She smiled back at him, “Of course, we're family. I wouldn't miss it.”

 

The rest of the party went by without many problems. Of course, Maruyama had brought Ohno with him, and both Tadayoshi and I worked hard to make sure that Murakami wasn't placed in an awkward situation were they would have to confront each other.

 

Yoko had, naturally, followed Subaru around like a lost puppy the entire party. Or perhaps it was Subaru that was dragging the older man around. Either way, we also learned that day that getting Subaru and my sister in one room together was very dangerous. I couldn't decide which of the two was more deranged and perverted. Neither, much to his horror, could Osamu.

 

Nishikido and Uchi had showed up together, and I was glad to see that after two years, they were still together. Uchi had brought with him a bag full of clothes that he had gotten from the Ohkura estate. Although it wasn't much, it would certainly get him by until he had a chance to go shopping. And by the time the party was over, my sister and Tadayoshi had already planned a shopping trip.

 

Tadayoshi seemed happy to be back with me, and the nervousness of being alone with him after everyone left slowly started to melt away until it reached the point where it felt like people would never leave. At midnight, I had enough and was practically shoving everyone out of the door.

 

With everyone gone I slowly began cleaning up, the nervousness once again starting to kick in. “Should I run a bath?”

 

“Okay,” he commented, stacking some dirty plates sitting on the coffee table in the living room.

 

I turned on the hot water, returning to the living room as the tub slowly began filling. I dropped the plates I was holding as a hissing sound suddenly filled the room.

 

“What the hell?” Tadayoshi shouted, a white blur jumping into his lap and proceeded to scratch at him.

 

“Tadayoshi, stop!” I yelled.

 

“I didn't do anything!” he shouted back at me, getting angry.

 

“Not you,” I walked over, picking the cat off of my boyfriend's lap. “Bad Tadayoshi,” I scolded, smacking my cat lightly as I set him on the floor.

 

“Did you... Did you just call the cat Tadayoshi?”

 

I blushed. “That's his name.”

 

He was silent for a moment, staring at me in shock. “You can't just name a cat after me. And... is that the same one from the pet shop?”

 

“Maybe,” I pouted, picking up the cat who was currently purring and rubbing himself against my legs.

 

“Well, you can't call him that.” Tadayoshi pouted, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

“Well, he's been Tadayoshi for over two years. I can't just change it now.” I commented stroking underneath the cat's chin. His purring grew louder and he closed his eyes, tilting his head back to give me easier access.

 

“I've been Tadayoshi for almost twenty years,” Tadayoshi's pouting continued, and when I glanced over at him, he was glaring at my cat.

 

“Are you jealous?” I asked, smiling at the realization.

 

“No,” he snottily replied, unfolding his arms.

 

“You are,” I leaned down, the cuteness of his pouting making me feel giddy, and brushed my lips against his.

 

I sighed against his soft lips, and he seemed to have forgotten his annoyance as he took the opportunity to slip his tongue into my welcoming mouth. Likewise, I forgot what we had been doing previously, dropping the cat onto the floor as Tadayoshi's hand rested against the small of back.

 

I broke the kiss, straightening up. “I think the bath water is done running. Want me to help scrub your back?”

 

He grinned at me and followed as I led him to the shower room.

 

------

 

After Tadayoshi was done bathing, I had the shower room to myself. I was thankful for this as I sank into the hot water. Helping Tadayoshi do things like shower would probably become a normal occurrence until his legs were strong enough that he could do things on his own again.

 

Just once, however, was almost enough to do me in. The sight of his naked body and the feel of his skin, slick and slippery under my fingers, would be the death of me. There was no doubt in my mind that the physical attraction I had to Tadayoshi had not faded in the two years we had been apart.

 

Unfortunately for my body, which was painfully aroused at that moment, Tadayoshi was probably not ready to be physically intimate yet. I closed my eyes and leaned back, willing both my body and mind to calm down.

 

Tadayoshi needed someone to support him and help him when he needed it. The absolute last thing he wanted was a horny boyfriend. Besides, I wasn't even sure if Tadayoshi was physically able to do anything with his legs in their current state.

 

I would be lying if I said I hadn't thought about making love with Tadayoshi again, not only since he came back in my life, but since the night when we first made love. And then I had to scold myself for thinking about it all over again.

 

I drug myself out of the bathtub. Perhaps it was more dangerous being alone with myself. I quickly dried myself, wrapping the towel around my waist and returning to our bedroom. I made quick work of getting dressed, trying to ignore the fact that Tadayoshi was watching me closely because I was still battling to keep Shota Jr. from getting to excited.

 

“Do you need help?” I asked, watching as Tadayoshi hoisted himself from the wheelchair.

 

He shook his head at me, “I can do it.” With shaky legs, he pulled the cover back from the bed and crawled underneath.

 

Somehow, watching Tadayoshi, I felt a slight bit of pride well up in me. The doctors had said that he wouldn't live, that he wouldn't walk, and he had proved them wrong twice already. Tadayoshi had already come a long way in his progress.

 

“Are you coming to bed?” Tadayoshi asked, amused as I continued daydreaming.

 

“Sorry,” I smiled, crossing the room to the bed and getting under the covers with him. Again, I felt nervous and excited as I pulled the covers up to my shoulders. I had forgotten, as I turned on my side and my body came flush against Tadayoshi's, how small my bed is. “I guess we should get a bigger bed now that you are staying permanently.”

 

Tadayoshi shook his head and pulled me closer so that my head was resting on his chest. “I like having an excuse to be this close to you.”

 

I would have blushed at such a statement, but I was too busy enjoying the feel of Tadayoshi's warm skin against my cheek and the sound of his heart beat. He threaded a hand through my hair, playing with the strands as I closed my eyes and tried to fall asleep.

 

He dragged his hand down my neck and back, sliding his hand up the back of my t-shirt. I lifted my head from his chest, looking at him as his fingertips scraped against my bare back. His eyes were closed, a small smile on his lips as his touches continued.

 

Unable to resist, I leaned forward, pressing my lips against his. He opened his mouth to me and I slid my tongue inside of his mouth, melting into his arms as he pulled me on top of him. I sat up, breaking the kiss and when I looked down at his grinning face, I knew that he had found himself in his desired situation.

 

I hovered above his hips, hesitant to rest any weight on the lower half of his body. If I hurt him, it would probably ruin the moment. I leaned down again, gingerly straddling his hips between my legs and kissed him again.

 

His hand slid down my waist grabbing at my hips and pulling me down onto his lap. I broke the kiss again, trying to wiggle away as his half-hard cock came into contact with my backside. “Ah, we should stop,” I said trying to disentangle myself from his arms.

 

“I don't want to,” he pouted, holding me in place.

 

“We should wait,” I tried wiggling out of his grasp once more.

 

“Wait for what?” He grabbed my hips and pulled me back down on him, moaning as my ass came into contact with him once more.

 

It was hard to resist him, with his hands up my shirt, teasing at my skin and his hard length pressing against my ass. With all the effort I had, I tried to move away once more.

 

“Don't,” he pleaded, sending me a lusty look that made me shudder.

 

My hips started to move on their own as I slid my ass against his length. “That's right,” he breathed, his hands sliding up my shirt and teasing at my nipples. I gasped, pressing myself hard against him as he pinched at them.

 

One of his hands trailed down my stomach, teasing briefly at the waistband of my pants before disappearing inside. A moan escaped my lips as he wrapped his hand around me.

 

“Let me see it,” He murmured letting go of my dick, and I sat up quickly, pulling my pants down to my knees. I watched his face as his eyes hungrily took in my naked body and suddenly, I wanted to see him too.

 

I struggled to removed my pants all the way, kicking them off before setting to work on the ties at the waist of Tadayoshi's pajama bottoms. Undoing the knot, I pulled them to his knees, licking my lips as his cock sprung free.

 

Greedily, I reached forward, tugging at his dick while another moan escaped him. I bent over him, my tongue darting out to taste the sticky fluid leaking from the head of his shaft. I slid the tip in past my lips, desperate to taste every inch of his salty flesh.

 

I had forgotten the way he tasted, the little moans and gasps he made as I suckled at his delicate flesh. He sat up in bed, burying his fingers in my hair, and wiggling impatiently against the mattress. I understood that his legs were strong enough to allow him to thrust himself into my mouth, so I slid his full length into my mouth, swallowing until I could feel his head rubbing at the back of my throat and making me gag.

 

He moaned louder, his fingers pulling at my hair as I choked on him. “Shota, stop.” He panted, as I continued slurping on him. “Let me cum inside of you.”

 

I tried to ignore the desire that welled up inside of me at those words and I slid him out of my mouth as I sat up again. “I don't think that's a good idea.”

 

“Please,” He wrapped his hand around the base of my shaft, sliding it up teasingly slow. “I've waited two years.”

 

I shook my head, although my hips slowly began thrusting into his warm hand. “I don't want to hurt you.”

 

“You won't. Please, I want to feel you wrapped so tight around me.” I couldn't resist between the begging, the way he was slowly jerking me off, and the desire to feel him inside of me once more.

 

Leaning across him, I opened the drawer of my bedside table, pulling out the bottle of lubricant that had been sitting inside, untouched, for over two years. He pulled me back towards him, taking the bottle of lubricant from me and kissing me sloppily.

 

I heard him flip the cap open, as his tongue explored my mouth, lapping at the taste of his own fluid. I shuddered, gasping as the cool liquid slid down my ass. He tossed the bottle aside, his fingers sliding through the viscous liquid and spreading me open. I moaned, wrapping my hand around Tadayoshi's dick as one of his digits began penetrating me.

 

“Shota,” he breathed, breaking the kiss. “You're still so tight. I need to feel you.”

 

I nodded, sitting up and reaching for the lubricant again as Tadayoshi's fingers wiggled impatiently inside of me, stretching me open to accommodate his dick.

 

Messily, I covered his shaft in lubricant and positioned myself over him. His fingers slid out of me and took hold of his own shaft as I slowly began lowering myself over him. He laid back against the pillow, spreading my legs wide as he watched himself disappear inside of me.

 

We both panted and I wiggled my ass against him, reveling in the way his thickness stretched me. I had forgotten the way he felt inside of me, the look of ecstasy on his face, the sounds of our panting and moaning mingling. I had not, however, forgotten the feeling of wholeness that being this intimate with Tadayoshi had given me. It was a feeling that I had been desperate for the past two years, one I had grown sure I would never feel again.

 

Slowly I raised myself once more, slamming back down over his shaft, leaning forward and grabbing his shoulders as my ass smacked against his pelvis.

 

A rough moan escaped Tadayoshi's lips and he squeezed his eyes shut.

 

I froze. “Ah, did I hurt you? I'm sorry...”

 

He opened his eyes, shaking his head profusely. “Don't stop.” He grabbed my hips pulling me up until he was almost completely out of my body before slamming me back down over him.

 

I moaned this time, nodding as he let go of my hips. His hand found its way to my pelvis, wrapping around my hard cock. As his hands started going to work at me, sliding quickly up and down my shaft, my pace increased.

 

The room was filled with the sounds of low moans as our skin slapped against each other. I could feel my orgasm near and I squeezed my eyes shut, slamming myself over him once more and gyrating as my seed spilled out onto Tadayoshi's chest.

 

He released me, holding my hips to still me as his back arched off the bed, “Ah, Ah, Shota.”

 

And then his body went limp underneath me. I slid off of him, feeling his warm cum dripping out of me. My body was numb and sore and I flopped down onto the bed next to him, allowing him to pull close.

 

I used my discarded pants to wipe the cum from his chest, kissing him briefly before laying my head to rest against his now clean flesh.

 

He reached down, threading his fingers through mine and I sighed in contentment.

 

All of the fears I had that it would be awkward between us had been washed away. Tadayoshi was still the arrogant, childish, adorable young man I had fallen in love with. The two years apart had done nothing to change the way he knew me inside and out. He still made me happy, and as his free hand stroked my back, I felt confident that he was happy to be there with me too.

 

Things had changed, but remained the same. We had not known two years ago how to cherish each other, how easy it was to hurt each other and how hard it was to live without one another.

 

In a way, those two years apart from each other was like a gift in disguise. Without that heartache, would we had ever known how important we were to one another?

 

It was a hard lesson to learn, one that we barely lived through, and I wondered if the me back then even understood what love was.

 

I was wrong when I thought that love only meant pain. Until you're ready to love one another, to let go of any other fear or inhibition, you can only be held back by the painful things.

 

I realized that perhaps this was a lesson that Ryo and Uchi had lived through. I hoped, from the bottom of my heart, that my other friends would grow to understand these feelings. I wanted them to find happiness in one another, Maruyama and Murakami, and Yokoyama and Subaru.

 

“I love you,” I whispered to Tadayoshi, wondering if he had drifted off to sleep already.

 

“I love you, too,” He whispered back sleepily.

 

I would never do anything to cause Tadayoshi pain. I wanted him to be by my side forever, happy and carefree. There may be times in our future where someone or something might try to keep us apart. When and if it happens, and we are separated, wherever he may be, I will always be silently supporting him, believing in him, and waiting patiently for him to return to my side.

 

Unlike what I had believed, that day that Tadayoshi had tried to kill himself, that last act of desperation, had not been the end to our story. No, in reality, it was just the beginning of a new chapter.

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A/N: *cries* Okay, that's really it now. I hope everyone is satisfied with the ending. Sorry it took so long. The last chapter (19) was so hard to write ><. It was rewritten several times over the past couple of weeks until I finally reached an ending I am somewhat happy with. I really wanted to please everyone in the end. It was always my intention to let Tadayoshi live, so it was very fun making everyone believe that he is gonna die xD.

Anyway. thanks to everyone who stuck around and read the story until the end. I hope you weren't disappointed!

Also, if (and I am not saying that I will) I decide to write a sequel to this someday, who would you like the main focus to be on?

1) Yasu/Ohkura again
2) Hina/Maru
3) Uchi/Ryo
4) Subaru/Yokoyama