Title: In the Dark (Part 9)
Rating: 15 ish
Link to Part 8
Link to Part 10
Hatori pulled the car up outside his house once more, and he, Shigure and Yuki piled out to join Haru and Momiji, who were waiting on the porch.
“Momiji is going to wait here, what do you want me to do?” Haru asked bluntly.
“Kyo-kun is searching the area around Shigure’s house, if you take the area around here, the rest of us will cover the rest of the area. Hopefully, Kureno won’t have taken him too far, he wouldn’t want to leave Akito unattended for too long.”
“Right.” Haru nodded and vanished off into the darkness as Hatori let Momiji into the house.
“I’ll take the woods around the lake, which should be far enough from where Kyo-kun is for me to summon all the stray dogs in the area, just incase he’s using the cats.” Shigure offered.
“Thanks. Yuki-kun, will you take the area around the school?”
“Thank you and I’ll head over toward the Dojo.”
They all headed off in their assigned directions, all hoping that Ayame would be found soon. The chill in the air would soon put the Snake out of commission.
Kyo moved through the woods, his bright torch cutting through the darkness as he walked in a loose spiral, covering as much ground as he could. He had thought about summoning the cats to help him search, but an image of one of the feral strays finding Ayame in his snake form, and killing him had quickly changed his mind. Much as he occasionally wanted to see the irritating man gone, the thought of Hatori’s obvious distress, and the fact that Yuki was trying to get along with his brother made him rethink the idea.
He hoped Ayame had been dressed in one of his usual brightly colored outfits, it would make it a lot easier to see in the torchlight, and he thought for a moment about calling Hatori and asking him, but in that moment, his torch flashed over a bundle of red cloth. Swinging the beam back again, he relocated the bundle and hurried over to it, watching where he put his feet carefully. Kneeling beside the bundle, he started to gently search through it, wanting to avoid startling Ayame if he was there, he had never got a satisfactory answer on whether or not Ayame’s snake form was venomous, and he didn’t fancy finding out by being bitten. His fingers brushed scales and he resisted jerking back, instead getting a cautious grip on the cold snake.
The sinuous body was completely limp in his grip, and he wondered how the hell you were supposed to check if a snake was alive or not.
Hatori jumped, dropping his torch as his cell phone rang and he scrabbled awkwardly in his pocket to pull it out.
“Kyo-kun?” He asked as he answered it, the name having come up on the screen.
“Hatori-san. How do you check if a snake is alive?” Kyo asked, he sounded breathless, and Hatori thought he might be running.
“You have him?”
“Yes, but he’s totally limp, he isn’t moving at all.”
“Where are you?”
“Heading for your house, I’m on
“I’ll meet you there, if he’s gone into hibernation, it will be virtually impossible to check if he’s alive on the run like that. I’ll call Tohru-san and have her call the others in.”
The line went dead, Kyo had obviously hung up to focus on his running, so Hatori quickly called Shigure’s home number.
“Sohma house, Tohru Honda speaking.”
“Tohru-san, it’s Hatori, could you call Haru, Shigure and Yuki, and direct them to my house, Kyo-kun has Ayame, but it sounds like he might be in a bad way.”
“Of course, Hatori-san. I will do that at once.”
They both hung up, and Hatori started to run back to the Dojo, where he had left his car.
Kyo had reached the house first, and he and Momiji were in the kitchen when Hatori got there. He was pleased to see that Momiji had taken control, and set about starting to warm the snake up, wrapping him in towels on top of a warm hot water bottle, not hot enough to kill Ayame with a shock to the system, but warm enough to start raising the temperature around him.
“We still don’t know if he’s alive, but I thought we should start warming him anyway,” Momiji said, looking up with frightened eyes.
Hatori nodded, and peeled back the towels a little, just enough to see if the small body was taking on warmth. He was relieved to feel the tiniest flutter under his fingers as the snake twitched a little, the warmth starting to revive him.
“You did well, both of you, he’s alive, and warming up. The others should be back here soon, tell them that he’s hanging on. I’m taking him to my room to work on him.”
“Hai, Hatori-san.” They chorused.
Hatori gathered up the warm bundle, slipping from the room.
In the bedroom, he removed the towels, and laid the hot water bottle on the mattress, the snake curled up on top of it, then carefully piled blankets on top of that, observing the very fine line between suffocating the unconscious snake, and making sure he was warm enough. Once he was done, he pulled up a chair beside the low bed, and sat down to wait.
He had only been sitting there a few minutes when the bedroom door slid open, and footsteps crossed the room.
“I’m the first one back, how is he?” Shigure asked.
“He hasn’t changed back yet, but he is getting warmer. He might not be happy for a while, but I think he’ll be ok, in the end.”
“Thank heavens for that. Akito went too far this time, Hatori.”
“Yes, but there is nothing we can do about it, is there. I can’t risk turning any more attention onto Aaya right now, Akito might not give us a chance to find him the next time.”
Shigure hesitated, then crouched beside the chair where Hatori was sitting.
“Haa-san, I hope you don’t mind me saying, but I have never seen you quite this shaken up. What’s going on?”
“You answer me a question first, ‘Gure. Why did you tell him never to tell me how he felt about me?”
“He was so young, so fickle and flighty, when he first mentioned it. I didn’t want the friendship we all shared ruined when his attention flittered off to something else. When he got older, and the feelings stayed, you had already met Kana, and it wouldn’t have been appropriate for him to say anything to you. Besides, that indicated you were straight, Haa-san. There was no indication you would return his feelings, and he needed you too much as a friend to risk driving you away from him.”
“So instead I, we, spent years making him hurt, ‘Gure. How is that any better?”
“I’m sorry, it seemed like the best course of action at the time. He told you then?”
“This evening, yes.” Hatori nodded, his fingers absently brushing over his lips.
“You kissed him?” Shigure asked in shock.
“I love him.”
Shigure’s jaw dropped open in shock at the calm, blunt statement. He hadn’t expected things to change so fast between the two even if Aaya did find the courage to speak, Hatori caught the expression and smiled faintly.
“’Gure-san, in the last few days, he has been almost killed, twice. We wasted so much time before that. I’m not willing to waste any more time. He means too much to me, even if I did need a kick in the ass to see it myself.”
There was a puff of purple smoke, and a soft bang, and Ayame’s shape filled out under the layers of blankets. Hatori dived over to the bed, the conversation forgotten as he slipped into doctor mode.
Pulling back the covers just enough to search out a pulse, he found it thready, erratic. Akito really had come far too close to killing one of the juunishi this time. Ayame’s skin was still chilly to the touch, and he was still unconscious.
“Shigure, he needs more heat. There should be another hot water bottle in the cupboard in the bathroom, and this one needs heating up.” Hatori ordered, slipping the bottle out from under Ayame’s back.
“Right.” Shigure took the bottle and darted out of the room to carry out his orders.
Hatori piled more blankets on top of Ayame, before lightly brushing a hand over his forehead.
“Hang on for me, Aaya-chan. I’m not ready to lose you, not after I just figured out what you meant to me.” He whispered. Leaning forward, he pressed a tender kiss to the chill, clammy skin of his forehead.