Title: In the Dark (Chapter 10)
Rating: 15 ish
Link to Chapter 9
Link to Chapter 11
Hatori looked up as someone else came into the room, too soon to be Shigure back from his task.
“Yuki-kun,” he said tiredly.
“Hatori-san. Is he going to be all right?” Yuki asked, drifting over to look at the still form in the bed.
“I don’t know, I wish I did,” Hatori said honestly. There was no way he was going to lie to the boy on this, Ayame wasn’t out of danger, and there was still a chance that he might die.
“Momiji told Haru that Kyo found nii-san?”
“I owe him for that then. He was right about Akito being spiteful enough to leave nii-san to die within reach of safety too. We have to do something, he’s getting worse. He’s always been cruel and vengeful before, but he’s never actually tried to kill one of us.”
“What do you suggest we do Yuki-kun, kill him? All that would do is trigger the birth of his replacement, and leave whoever he chose to rule in his place to exact vengeance on his murderer.”
“There has to be a way Hatori-san, there has to.”
“And if we attack him and fail, his punishment will be to target the more defenseless among us, Momiji, Aaya, Rin, Ritsu, Kisa, maybe even Tohru-san. Are you so sure we have to do something now?” Hatori spat bitterly.
“You….you’ve thought about it then?” Yuki stuttered.
“Every time I think about how he took my eye, and how cruel he is, even to his ‘favorites’, how vicious he has always been to Ayame, who did little to deserve Akito’s loathing, or his parent’s rejecti……….” Hatori stopped mid word, shocked that he had forgotten for that one careless moment who he was talking to, horrified at what he had just let slip.
“What do you mean, Hatori-san?” Yuki demanded.
“I shouldn’t have said that, I can’t……”
“I’ll tell him, he should know, and Ayame will never be able to say it, he barely talks to us about his childhood anymore, let alone anyone else,” Shigure said, making them both jump, neither of them had noticed him slipping back into the room in the heat of their discussion. He handed Hatori the hot water bottles, and watched as he tenderly settled the snake, before leading Yuki out of the room, looking for somewhere private to have this conversation.
They ended up grabbing their jackets and going out to the summer house in the garden to make sure none of the others would hear what they were talking about. Shigure waved Yuki to one of the benches, and took the one across from him himself, clasping his hands and looking down at the dark floor.
“Hatori-san said, or started to say, that our parents rejected nii-san. Is that true?”
“Yes. They were horrified, disgusted, that they had the snake from the zodiac. He was shunted between nurses and nannies, never having one in his life for more than a few months as they were fired every time your parents caught them showing Aaya any affection at all. They hated him, really hated him, and they made sure he knew it. He was never diagnosed as being deaf, because they denied him interaction so much, everyone just assumed he was quiet, withdrawn, or worse one suggestion was retarded or possibly even autistic. Of course, they didn’t see any of this as their fault, it was just another reason for them to reject him, not only the snake, but ‘abnormal’ too.”
Yuki was stunned at the pure bitterness and loathing in the normally cheerful mans tone. He had never heard that much hatred in anyone’s voice before now.
“So what happened, because none of those terms could be applied to him now?”
“When your mother went into labor with you, they had just fired their latest nanny, so he ended up being shunted off to Haa-san’s home. I was there when Haa-san’s mother brought him in, God; he was tiny and so timid, all white hair, pale skin, and huge, terrified golden eyes. He’s only eight months younger than me, ten younger than Haa-san, but seeing him that day you would have thought he was a couple of years younger.”
Shigure fell silent for a moment, looking down at his clasped hands, thinking back to that day when they had first met Ayame. Yuki remained silent, waiting for him to resume his story.
“He hid in the corner of Haa-san’s bedroom, too scared to look at us, not paying us any attention when we spoke to him, or so we thought. I was all ready to pull him out of the corner and tell him not to be such a brat, but Hatori has always been a more gentle soul than me, probably why he ended up in medicine. He knelt there for ten minutes, talking to him so quietly and gently, trying to coax him out, nothing. It wasn’t until Hatori actually touched him that he looked up. It took less than twenty minutes for Hatori to figure out that Aaya couldn’t hear him, twenty minutes to figure out something that no one had seen, or maybe bothered to see, for ten years. I don’t know how he did it, but Hatori saw something in Ayame, he decided we were going to teach him to talk, I decided that if we were going to do that, we were going to be his friends.”
Hatori stepped into the summer house, dropping tiredly into the seat beside Shigure, he saw the alarm in their eyes, and shook his head.
“He’s ok, Haru is watching him, I needed a smoke,” Hatori said, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it. He took a deep drag, and then glanced between Shigure and Yuki.
“It was his eyes, I had heard all the things the adults said, slow, stupid, retarded, autistic, whatever, but I looked into his eyes that day and saw just how bright he really is.”
He saw them both looking at him as if he had gone mad, and shook his head.
“You of all people should know better Shigure, he did go to University, remember?”
“Yes, to study fashion design, and art.”
Now it was Hatori’s turn to look floored, as he stared at his old friend.
“He didn’t tell you? I can’t believe he didn’t tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
“He took Literature and Mathematics too, he got his Masters in design and art, yes, but he got PhD’s in the other two as well. I cannot believe he didn’t tell you.”
“Actually, I can. He wasn’t in love with Shigure-san, he wanted to give you something no one else had, he passed them for himself, to prove he could, but knowing about them was a gift for you,” Yuki said quietly, understanding something else about his brother that he never had before. A need to prove himself, coupled with a generosity to those he cared about. It was much the same as the way he was trying to make amends to him, only less ass about face than he was going about it now.
“That does actually make sense, in a roundabout kind of way,” Hatori acknowledged.
“But that still doesn’t explain how he went from being timid and terrified to, well, Ayame.”
“You’re not going to like it.” Shigure warned.
“I haven’t liked a lot of it so far. Just tell me.”
“We brought Ayame out of his shell, Haa-san and I, we were the first friends he ever had, and while we were teaching him to talk, and to read lips, we would sneak him out of the house. In hindsight, it was less sneaking, and more your parents not caring that we were taking him. He was out of their hair, and with Hatori proving that he wasn’t stupid, by teaching him to talk; they could pack him off to school too, even better in their book. It all got much easier for him when Haa-san’s voice broke of course, because then there was someone he could hear. It did mean though that Ayame got even less attention from them than he ever had before, at least previously they had yelled at him sometimes, even if he couldn’t hear them, he knew he had their attention. He could see them showering all the love they had denied him on you, their ticket back into the God’s good graces after the shame of bearing the snake. He got loud, and over the top and flamboyant in an effort to get some attention. It didn’t work with your parents of course, but he got attention, so the façade stuck. He’ll never change now, and to be honest, I don’t think I want him too, I like our Aaya the way he is.”
“No wonder he hated me,” Yuki said miserably, feeling tears pricking his eyes.
“Yuki-kun, he never, ever hated you. Envied, yes, resented, a little maybe, but never hated. He knew you had no more say in being born than he did. He was indifferent, that’s all. He was indifferent to you, to your parent’s actions, to what people might think about the way he dressed, the way he acted. It was a shield, and while it defended him from them, it also kept him shut off, only Shigure and I got to see behind it then, and of course his relationship with you suffered. All you wanted was your big brother’s attention, but by then, he just wasn’t capable of giving it to you. He’s trying so hard to let you in now, but he can’t be anyone other than who he is. He may calm down a little once he understands he has your attention, but that’s the best you’re going to get,” Hatori said, finishing his cigarette.
“That’s…….ok, actually. I’m getting to understand more about him than I ever thought I would, or really thought I cared to. Maybe we will be able to work something out. I doubt I can ever be as close to him as you two have always been, but I’m willing to work on it now.”
Momiji ran out into the garden, looking petrified, and saw the three of them in the summerhouse.
“Hatori-san, he’s awake, but he’s hysterical, Haru-kun can’t calm him down.”
Hatori took off at a run without another word, leaving Shigure and Yuki alone once more, tense, nervous fear leaving silence between them, neither having any idea what could be wrong with Ayame now.