Compromised

BY : Dementian
Category: Yuyu Hakusho > Yaoi - Male/Male > Kurama/Kuwabara
Dragon prints: 1129
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu Yu Hakusho and make absolutely no money off of it.

He waited without knowing when the end would come, a coiling string of panic wound tight round his chest. Every minute without an answer was an hour, every hour a day, and suddenly Kazuma Kuwabara found himself in a hole of anxiety that he could not escape from. The regret that piled upon him was a massive stone, crushing him under its god awful weight. Every moment in which he’d slipped up, made a mistake, not done what he was supposed to have done, suddenly seemed tantamount to dooming him to hell; how could he have been so fucking foolish and careless? How, when so much had been on the line? When the one thing he treasured most was suddenly his to lose forever. 

What he would have given in that moment to see Kurama’s smiling face, to hear him whisper words of comfort? What he would have done, to know that there was a second chance available to him? To know that all was not lost, and not in vain?

He waited for a sign, for a voice, for anything... Yusuke’s head in his lap; the pair of them squashed together upon an uncomfortable couch in the waiting room of Sariashiki Hospital. The clock struck two in the morning, and a soft gong peeled back another miserable hour of perpetual anticipation. 

The gong was finished. Silence resumed. 

Fourteen Hours Earlier: 

    It began and ended in the kitchen. 

    Kazuma received the call, bore the news, and watched as the man he loved fell apart. 

    It unnerved him that the sun rose the next morning, that he heard people moving about on the street. That somewhere in the world, as close as next door, there were people living, laughing, eating, going about life without the knowledge that someone as important and loving as Shiori Minamino had died. Kazuma locked the door of Kurama’s shop, and called his clients to ensure an absence from his contractual work, but it still did not seem real. At any moment, Kazuma expected another phone call, for Hatanaka or his son Kokoda to inform them both that Shiori was alive, that she was apologetic for the mismatch in information, and all was as it should be. No such call came. 

    

    Kurama, the pinnacle of strength in Kazuma’s world, was shaken to the core. His listless eyes searched backward and forward, finding nothing satisfying, unable to explain the hunger or the pain now brought up deep inside him. He often roamed throughout the confines of their apartment, as if to fetch something from the kitchen or get some work done on the couch, only to stop and stare. Only to die a little death, and retreat back to their bedroom where he collapsed upon the bed and stirred no more. 

    There was no comforting him. He was inconsolable. 

    The day of the wake was cold and gray, and Kurama remained lifeless right up until the last minute as if hoping to prolong the social custom. Kazuma could not blame him; he could only gently help Kurama dress in a mofuku that had been brought over by Hatanaka’s sister who acted as communicator between the two deeply grieving men. It was shocking to see Kurama in a plain black silk kimono, hakama, and haori. Like something out of a disturbing dream, Kurama drifted through the world clad only in black. The gray swept back and divided for him, romance fled from where he walked. As Shiori’s eldest son, it was Kurama’s responsibility to contact a temple where Shiori had worshiped as a girl to schedule a funeral. Kurama had been unable to move, much less speak, and so Kazuma had assumed the role. He lied later and told people Kurama had contacted the temple. It was a strange lie to tell, and yet it saved face in a society that demanded the grieving remember their responsibilities. 

    Kazuma watched Kurama all through the wake, expecting any moment for him to burst into another fit of hysterical sobbing of screaming; praying even, if only that the silence be broken and the grief be heard. Yet Kurama said nothing, his hands folded in his lap, sitting upon the floor with his back against the farthest wall. Shiori had been incredibly loving and kind, and her circle of friends was expansive. Each came, bowing to Kurama upon their knees, yet Kurama saw none of them. 

    His eyes were like broken light bulbs, dark and useless. They let nothing in, they let nothing out. 

    

    He kept overnight vigil at her coffin, never moving. 

    He was... absent. Like a shell lacking an inner muscle that simply flapped in the wind.

    The funeral, however, was truly horrific. Worse beyond all imagining. 

    Kurama had lain in bed, dressed but unmoving till the very last conceivable moment. It had taken all of Kazuma’s will power to get him out of bed, to get him moving out the door and into the car. By the time that they were actually at the church they truly were pushing the limits for time. It was a packed house, and quite embarrassing to have to walk down the main causeway to take a seat behind Kurama’s step father and step brother who looked genuinely hurt that Kurama had not been early to help them prepare and grieve. 

    Still, Kazuma was with Yusuke, Keiko, Shizuru and Yukina... so he didn’t feel as embarrassed as he sat right behind Kurama and prayed to god the next two and a half hours would go by quickly. It did not help that Jiro was in the crowd, giving Kazuma questioning looks of sheer indigence as the funeral finally began. Shiori’s coffin, closed upon request of Kurama’s step father, made an unnerving backdrop as Kurama's step father thanked everyone for attending. It truly was a massive turn out, a loving tribute to a woman who had been so kind to so many, and Kazuma was relieved to see that Matsuri had not shown his ugly face. Kurama was a silent canon at this point, a bullet lodged between his teeth ready to fire... and Kazuma had no idea how Kurama might react to any amount of tension. 

    Yet tension was exactly what they got, from Kurama’s step father of all people as he finished his own eulogy and looked down at Kurama expectantly. 

    Oh sweet fucking God, Kurama was going to have to say something? Kazuma’s stomach flipped as he realized that Kurama had told him nothing in regards to a eulogy, had prepared no speech and would probably be ‘winging-it’ for lack of a better term. Some people, such as Yusuke, did well under that sort of pressure, but Kurama was already a champagne cork ready to burst.

 

    With his arms crossed over his chest and an ugly sullen look upon his usually benign face, Kurama did not seem to hear his step father’s call to the podium. It was as if he was a boxer on the side of the ring, waiting for his turn to step up and crush his opponent, not a grieving child at his mother’s funeral. Kurama got up, his movement fluid and yet oddly jerky as he walked down the aisle. His head was cocked to the side, his long red hair sliding a little bit in the wind of his wake as he took to the podium and glared down upon the crowd. 

    Suddenly Kazuma was very afraid of Kurama being handed a microphone. 

    Kurama leaned a little upon the podium and observed his captivated audience.

    “... It’s easy to see why this room is full,” Kurama said, his amplified voice full of cold contempt. “She was nice to people. She didn't really like most of you; she just pretended. She was good at that.” 

    An uncomfortable silence took over the crowd. Kazuma slowly turned his head to look at Yusuke, who had done a double take to gape open mouthed at Kurama. It seemed he too fully understood what was about to happen. They were powerless to make it stop. 

    “It’s incredible how many people are here today considering only four ever consistently visited her during her many lonely months of extended hospital visits. Although I suppose it was only technically three people, since my company is probably not worth counting for anything. I’m really curious, where were each of you? And, more importantly, why are you here?” Kurama asked. A nervous titter swept through the crowd as friends and family turned to look at one another. 

    “Oh my God...” Keiko whispered under her breath. 

    “Jesus shit, Kurama,” Shizuru cursed softly. 

    “I see you’re stumped.” Kurama gave the crowd a small, snide smile, one often reserved for enemies. “Well, let me fill you in. You’re here because you are required by society to act like you are grieving when really you are not, and then when are you are alone in your own houses and back to a state of seclusion you will take off the mask and complain about how exhausting it was to sit through such a boring and pointless funeral. Especially considering she’d been dying for years. Years.” He repeated the word. “I guess I should be surprised she managed to live as long as she did with someone like me for a son.”

    He nodded a little to himself before continuing on. 

    “So I suppose you’re curious what it’s like to care for someone who has a brain tumor which is consequently destroying their cognitive awareness? I’ll tell you. She had exhausting headaches, seizures. She couldn’t move; she couldn’t see. She was practically a walking copse by the end of it. She started losing her mind about two months ago; she thought one time that I was my father and she tried to kiss me. Of course she came back to her senses but she was horrified. I told no one about it but now I figure, what the fuck? Who cares? She’s dead.” 

    Kazuma could not stop himself as he slowly ducked his head down to put his hands over his mouth. He blew forcefully through his fingers, his heart hammering at Kurama’s unbelievable words. Kurama’s voice was breaking, tight and rigid but cracking with hairline fractures as he forged on. 

    “She talked to people who weren’t there, people who had dead for years, like my grandfather or her sister. But the worst part was when she went quiet and didn’t say anything at all.” Kurama stopped for a moment; Kazuma dared to glance up. Kurama’s face was stone cold, but the emotion in his voice was undeniable. It was an ugly, angry, bitter tone that spoke of years of pain. 

    “Because she was hearing voices, and I didn’t know what they were saying to her, or telling her to do. They could have been telling her to burn down the house; so I stayed close... I made sure she didn’t kill herself. But maybe if she had, that would have somehow been satisfying to her. I can’t help but wonder if she was ever truly satisfied.” Kurama looked down. 

    “I’m glad she’s dead,” he said. 

    And that was that. 

    He left the podium, walking right past his stunned and horrified step-father down the main causeway. He did not pause at his seat, did not even turn to look at Kazuma, merely continuing on out the church doors. The murmur that swept through the crowd was one of shock and awe, as people all around them spoke in stunned disbelief that polite and genial Shuichi Minamino would think to say something like that at his own mother’s funeral.  

    Kazuma could not take it. He jerked up and took off after Kurama. He heard footsteps behind him, the sound of a bench emptying, and knew that the others were following right after him as he burst through the church doors and out onto the rain slicked front steps. He took them two and a time, shoes crunching on the gravel at the bottom, and ran out into the parking lot after Kurama. Kurama was continuing on, a good ways ahead of them, his long legs keeping up a swift stride that was difficult to match or best, but Yusuke suddenly brushed past Kazuma, running at full length after Kurama. He even jumped a railing, landing hard on the concrete in his slick black shoes, and cut Kurama off from walking any further with a risky jump maneuver that Kazuma wasn’t sure he’d like to try in a rented tux. 

    “Hey!” 

    Kurama made to keep walking, nearly knocking into Yusuke. Yusuke just followed in hot pursuit, angry and disbelieving. “What the fuck was that about?!” 

    Kurama did not answer; in a rage, Yusuke grabbed him by the front of his shirt. Kurama was expressionless. “Have you lost your fucking mind?!” Yusuke demanded, brown eyes popping with fury. His fists tightened upon Kurama's black button down, Kurama's dark hair spilling over Yusuke’s hands.

    Kazuma had caught up, and immediately put a hand out to stop the fight that he knew was about to start. 

    “Yusuke!” Kazuma begged; Yusuke steamrolled right on. 

    “My mother is one of the most selfish, sloshed-“ Yusuke pulled a face, his anger suddenly making it impossible for him to speak clearly, “fucked up women I have ever met, but I tell you something, I wouldn’t almost be late to her funeral and say that shit!” 

    Keiko was suddenly at Kazuma’s elbow, no doubt having run just as fast to stop Yusuke from starting a fight. She’d arrived too late though; Kurama’s green eyes were darkening by the second. 

    Kazuma knew it was only a matter of time now. The pressure on the champagne cork was building. 

    “Like, Jesus Christ, Kurama!” Yusuke snarled, pulling them nose to nose as he vented, “You are one of the most kind, smart people I know and you go and say something like that?! What, did you just not give a fuck that she died or someth-“ 

    CRUNCH! 

    Keiko let out a cry of horror, her hands flying up to her mouth in surprise as Kurama reached back and punched Yusuke so hard in the mouth Yusuke was forced to let go of Kurama’s shirt. Never in the history of their entire friendship had Kurama raised a hand against Yusuke. It was shocking, and Kazuma was rendered speechless as Yusuke slowly looked up again at Kurama. His nose was bloody, maybe it was broken. His rage had left him; he was now calm. 

    But a calm Yusuke was just as dangerous as an angry one. 

    Suddenly, they were upon one another. 

    Yusuke launched forward, bringing his fist around to punch Kurama, but Kurama threw him hard into the concrete wall that supported the parking lot above their heads.  Yusuke shot for another punch but Kurama blocked it, swinging an arm hard only to use it again to slam into Yusuke’s gut. Yusuke was knocked forcibly off his feet, but Kurama was not done. Kurama let out a wild scream of fury, bringing an arm down, and Yusuke blocked it at once only to get the wind knocked out of him by Kurama's other hand as Kurama punched him once more in the gut. Yusuke came up swinging, but Kurama punched him hard in the neck; Yusuke had never truly been hit so hard before in such a tender area, and as he fell Kurama went with him, grabbing Yusuke tight around the throat-! 

    His eyes were murderous, black and blazing, he breathed tight through his nose, his nostrils flaring, and suddenly Kazuma was reminded quite forcibly that Kurama was not only the most experienced member of their team but perhaps the most capable of making an unthinkable kill. He had ripped a head clean off its shoulders in the cave during their Sensui trial; he had pierced Karasu’s heart even as his own life’s blood slipped through his finger to pool at his knees. Kurama had no enemies because Kurama left no enemies alive- 

    A cocky smile, a flash of warm brown eyes, tight strong arms wrapped about his neck and a wild joyous shout as a new restaurant was unveiled- 

    Kazuma ran forward and grabbed Kurama hard by the shoulders, jerking him clean off of Yusuke who immediately began to choke and cough with such seizing distress that Keiko could not stand by and let him lay alone upon the ground. She rushed to his side, helping him to sit up, but Yusuke was already clambering back to his feet. A dark bruise was already starting to form beneath his eye where Kurama had punched him, but Yusuke did not seem to care about physical injuries such much as the dark and dangerous look in Kurama's eye  that was slowly slipping away to be replaced by... nothingness. 

    A complete and utter lack of emotion. 

    “...Kurama,” Yusuke rasped the name, swallowing several times. “What the fuck.” 

    In Kazuma’s slackening hold, Kurama brushed away; he straightened his collar for one moment before continuing on down the sidewalk towards where their car was waiting.

Twelve Hours Earlier: 

    The ride home had been unnervingly quiet. Kazuma had driven the entire way with knuckles white upon the steering wheel, praying to god another fight didn’t start out while they were in a moving vehicle. Kurama remained listless and quiet, life simply flashing before his eyes without anything truly sinking in. When they’d parked outside the restaurant, Kurama had gotten out of the car rather quickly and made to cross the street; he moved with that same fluid yet jerky grace, a bizarre mix of total opposites. It was a miracle that no cars were coming; Kazuma had a feeling Kurama would not have stopped even if there had been one barreling down the road. 

    Kazuma could not afford to waste time apologizing to Yusuke; he ran after Kurama. He suddenly felt quite nervous about Kurama being alone in the house. He’d barely managed to get over the threshold before Kurama was up the stairs. Kazuma followed in hot pursuit, yet he was shocked to find that Kurama did not go into their bedroom and slam the door. He’d expected a fight, a scream session that would have the neighbors calling the cops. Instead Kurama now stood quietly by their kitchen sink. 

    He was standing so strangely still, as if he suddenly did not know what to do or where to go anymore. 

    Then he was moving again. 

    He took one of their tea kettles to fill it with water from the tap, setting it upon an eye to allow it to boil. It seemed he was going to make a cup of tea, which now that Kazuma thought about it sounded like a damn good idea. 

    Leave it to Kurama to keep his head on his shoulders even in such a terrible moment. 

    Yet as the silence between them kept growing, Kazuma felt like something needed to be said. Something was missing from this interaction between them, but what was it? Deeper emotion? Reaction or response? 

    “Maybe you should lay down and rest for a while,” Kazuma suggested softly. Kurama merely made a noise, pouring the tea into his cup. When he turned around, Kazuma saw that it was a milky white. Perhaps it was a new blend, something from England meant to sooth. Kazuma would have to try it and see if it helped him too. God only knows his nerves were shaken. 

    “I think I will,” Kurama murmured, his voice calm and steady. He turned around, cup of tea in hand; his eyes were still hollow and dark. “I’m really tired.” 

    “Yeah,” Kazuma mumbled, his anxiety showing in his next words, “fighting Yusuke will do that to you; I know your pain.” 

    Kurama did not seem to hear him. He walked away from the stove, probably intending to head into the bedroom and lay down for a nap. Yet he stopped again in front of Kazuma, and now was looking up at him with those hollow eyes. Kazuma did not know what on earth he was supposed to see there, but he was scared and prayed that Kurama was not angry at him. He wanted to love Kurama through this pain, to nurse him back to health. 

    The tea would help, but Kazuma knew he could do more with his own heart, with his own arms. He could kiss tears away just as easily as wipe them. 

    “... I love you,” Kurama whispered. “So much.” 

    There was something in the way he said it; as if he thought he might never be able to say it again. Kazuma didn’t like the fear in his voice, the horrible aching sadness, the way his eyes suddenly seemed to be screaming even though they were blank and hollow. Maybe he was overly paranoid, still nervous after that shocking row with Yusuke. But... Kurama looked down for a moment into his milky tea cup, observing the contents for a moment. Kazuma wondered what about the tea fascinated him so much. 

    He looked back up at Kazuma, his eyes swimming; he blinked rapidly, not bothering to hide the tears there. 

    

    “Thank you, for this past year,” Kurama whispered. “It was short, but it was the best time of my life.” His tone was incredibly sincere. 

    Kazuma smiled. “We’ll have more, I promise.” Kazuma was slightly surprised when Kurama reached up and gently kissed his cheek; it was like a farewell kiss, not so much passionate as it was loving. 

    “You are a good man, Kazuma Kuwabara,” Kurama said. 

    For a moment he stood there, his face close to Kazuma’s neck, utterly still as he inhaled deeply. Then, it seemed, he’d come to a conclusion that he’d stood still for too long as he pulled away. Kazuma watched him go, walking down the hallway to their bedroom as one might walk to a tomb. As he closed the door behind him, Kurama did not turn around. It was as if he did not want to face Kazuma again, as if he was resolved to sleep and speak no more. 

    Kazuma supposed he’d earned a rest. 

    Kazuma was exhausted as well, and really who could blame him after such a horrible day? He made to pour himself a cup of tea, but was surprised when he found that the water inside the tea pot was merely that- water. Kurama’s tea had been milky. Had he added something to it instead of steeping it inside? Kazuma looked about, wondering what kind of tea Kurama had made, but the more he stared the more he realized that there were no loose teabags about nor any remnants in the trash of loose leaf. 

    Kazuma looked down at his tea cup, full of clear pure water. 

    Something was not right. 

    He left the kitchen for the bedroom hall, a sudden strange pounding beginning to take hold in his heart. He reached for the door to the bedroom, but as he attempted to open it he found it locked. 

    Kazuma’s hand stilled upon the nob, his heart racing even faster. He leaned his ear into the door, listening intently. 

    The sounds of horrific coughing and gurgling- 

    Kazuma jerked back from the door, and in that moment all lucid thought fled from his brain like water sucking back from the shore in lieu of an oncoming tsunami. Panic propelled him forward, and he slammed his shoulder into the door with all the strength he could muster! It busted down, breaking clean off its hinges, and Kazuma was greeted with the horrific sight of Kurama upon their bedroom floor, blood oozing from his pale mouth- the teacup was drunk, its contents drained, but a bottle was on the floor. 

    

    Kazuma did not know what it was, did not care what it was, only knowing that whatever it was was not meant to be drunk and probably poison. Dropping to his knees he seized Kurama up from the floor, cradling his lover in one arm as he reared back with the other and- god damn him for it- punched Kurama hard in the stomach. 

    It was all the force Kurama needed. 

    Kurama doubled over, vomiting blood and that strange milky fluid everywhere. He jerked wildly, trying to get away from Kazuma, making inhumane noises as he thrashed. He turned on Kazuma like a wild animal, blood spilling in a flood from his mouth as he launched himself at Kazuma and began to attack him. 

    “N-no! NO!” Kurama howled.

    Biting, punching, tearing, slapping- his throws were weak and his body seizing but his fury was clear as he screamed. Kazuma could do little but hold on for dear life, Kurama’s blood soaking through his shirt as Kurama’s horrible wails filled his ears. 

    “God damn you!” Kurama shook wildly in Kazuma’s arms even as he attempted to tear him apart; those dark forest eyes were glazed and wide, unseeing in their pain, “How could-you-no!” Kurama could not stop vomiting, his body seizing so violently that Kazuma was afraid he would bite off his own tongue. 

    He began to sob, hands clutched tightly in his hair as he jerked and shook, several dark red strands coming loose from the strain. Kazuma tried to stop him, tried to pull his hands down, but Kurama was inconsolable. 

    “How could you- do this- to me-!” Kurama could barely speak between each vomiting spell, more and more blood coming up with each heave, “If you loved me- you wouldn’t- you wouldn’t do this to me! If you loved me-“ 

    Kurama gave one terrible shake, almost falling from Kazuma’s arms, “You’d le’- me die-“ 

    Kazuma could bear it no longer. 

    He snatched up cellphone and called for an ambulance. The little bottle next to Kurama rolled up into the light as Kurama kicked at it unknowingly with his foot. Its label was proud and clear: Lye. 

    

Eleven Hours Earlier: 

    

    Kazuma could not be still, could not breath correctly, and yet seemed to be doing both by the grace of god as he trembled in his chair and breathed slowly into his hands. He waited, more afraid than he’d ever been in his life, unsure of who to call or what to say. The ambulance ride had been absolutely frightening with Kurama choking up blood and having a tube shoved forcibly down his throat right in front of Kazuma. He’d jerked and spasmed, his eyes rolling up into the back of his head. It had gotten to where his movements had overwhelmed the EMT’s, and so Kurama had been strapped down to his traveling gurney. 

    The straps, the tube, the blood seeping down Kurama's neck and covering his face... Kazuma had not known what to do but mutely follow the orders of nurses and technicians who bade him to follow to a back room where he could sit down and be cleaned. Kurama’s blood was still upon him, mixed with bile and a milky white substance that was immediately confirmed to be lye. His clothes had been taken from him, changed for green scrubs, and a stinging water-based substance had been scrubbed onto Kazuma’s hands and face... a deterrent for lye, he’d been told. 

    In the waiting room of the ER, Kazuma found himself unable to do anything but wait in fear and pray. He’d realized after sitting there numbly for thirty minutes that absolutely no one knew about Kurama’s predicament; it had taken him a great deal of strength to force himself to call Yusuke. He feared Yusuke would not pick up after the tiff with Kurama beside the parking lot; Keiko had picked up instead. 

    Now, they were on their way, and Kazuma prayed they would get there soon. 

    With his head between his legs and his hands laced behind his neck, Kazuma breathed as slowly and deeply as he could (orders from a nurse that he dare not disobey), but a numb feeling was creeping down from his neck and settling into his chest. 

    He was cut off from the rest of the world, in a purgatory alone known to him upon the couch of the waiting room. 

    But the sounds of footsteps, hammering upon the floor, reminded Kazuma that misery loved company as he raised his tear stained face to look towards the door; he was unsurprised to find Yusuke and Keiko there, haggard and horrified in a half kept state of hurried fear. 

    They saw him in scrubs with tears upon his face, and immediately joined him.

    “Oh my god, what happened-?!" Keiko demanded, heaving for breath as she stopped before Kazuma. Both of them were now out of their funeral clothes, no doubt having changed as soon as they got home. Yusuke’s left eye had a deep purple hoof mark around it, evidence of the earlier fight; his face was bloodless with fear, eyes usually so warm now cold and wide. 

    “He... tried to swallow lye-“ Kazuma’s voice was strange and clumsy in his own ears; he scoffed at himself even as he spoke. “Tried? He did. He swallowed lye.” 

    “Lye- oh my goodness!” Keiko clapped a hand over her mouth; dammit, it didn’t help that the empty bottle of lye was still in the pocket of his scrubs- evidence to be used later no doubt. It was as heavy as a brick against Kazuma’s hammering chest. 

    “What did you do?” Yusuke demanded at once. 

    “I punched him.” Kazuma damned his words even as he said them; to lay a hand upon Kurama in such a way... he could hardly believe that he’d done it. “I punched him to make him throw it up-!” 

    He sobbed into his hands, unable to hold back before his two closest friends in such a time of need. “I didn’t know what else to do!” he wailed, though it was a shitty excuse for hitting the man he loved. Keiko’s hands were upon his back and neck, holding him even as he sobbed into his hands. 

    “Where is he now?” Yusuke asked. 

    “They’re-“ Kazuma needed to take several deep breaths, “getting x-rays. Trying to see the damage to his esophagus. He’s already had two seizures-“ 

    Keiko’s hands were the only thing keeping him grounded as they rubbed soothing circles into his back. 

    

    “Jesus god.” Yusuke collapsed beside him on the sofa, his horror in tandem with Kazuma. 

    After a while, Keiko sat down between them, a wide berth left by the two men as they clung to the arms of the sofa and prayed for an end from this ugly nightmare. Could it be that only a week ago all of them were happy? Could it be that only a few weeks ago Kurama had turned twenty five? That Kazuma had kissed him under the stars on the roof of their home and made love to him? Kurama’s laughter, his twinkling eyes, seemed a century gone... yet it had only been a few weeks. 

    It made no sense. It was pure madness. 

    It was a long time before anyone spoke again, but Yusuke was the first in the quiet of the waiting room. “Where did he get the lye?” he asked, hollow voiced and somber. 

    “I have no idea,” Kazuma mumbled, for even now he had no idea how Kurama had managed to put lye into his damn tea cup right in front of him! Kazuma had seen absolutely nothing, but he’d been only feet away! If the water in the teapot hadn’t tipped him off.... he dared not finish that thought. 

    “Lye...” Keiko said the word, feeling the weight of it in her mouth. Her fear was obvious, “Surely he knew what drinking that might do to him-“ 

    “He’s Kurama,” Yusuke spat, bitter. “Of course he knew, that’s why he did it.” 

    He looked away, rubbing his face with his hands; it was as if he couldn’t sit still, suddenly rocking upon the sofa and unable to look his wife in the face. 

    “I shouldn’t have said what I said,” Yusuke whispered, his face turned away but his tone thick with self-hatred. 

    “Do not blame yourself-“ Keiko tried to touch him as she’d touched Kazuma, to hold him, but Yusuke jerked away right out of her hands. 

    

    “If I hadn’t fucking goaded him--” Yusuke cursed himself; his voice broke, “If I had kept my stupid mouth shut--“ 

    Kazuma could hear the tears in Yusuke’s voice. Still Yusuke would not look at either of them. 

    “You were afraid, Yusuke.” Keiko tried to touch him again, but Yusuke was shrinking from her hands as if she was slapping him instead of soothing him, “We all were. I’ve never heard Kurama act so indifferent and cold in light of a death. It was frightening-“ 

    “He wasn’t indifferent,” Yusuke seethed through clenched teeth. Kazuma could now see the edge of his face and the tears that rolled fat and thick upon his cheeks. “He was suffering. He was suffering and I didn’t see it-“ Yusuke broke off again, a quiet sob escaping his lips. “Because I’m the stupidest motherfucker alive-“ 

    He could not finish, suddenly burying his face into the arm of their sofa to keep Keiko and Kazuma from seeing his tears. Keiko was pulling him back up, trying to put her arms around him, but it was a difficult job when Yusuke was fighting her every step of the way. 

    “No,” Keiko murmured lovingly into the crook of his neck, able to cling tight to him with a hand about his waist and in his hair. Kazuma could see Yusuke holding tight to the hand upon his waist, his grip deathly hard. “No, you are not.” 

    “I don’t even know why people put up with me,” Yusuke whispered, unable to speak any louder than a hush for the emotion and the weight in his voice. His face was screwed up, his eyes closed, “for the shit that I do and say- I’m fucking worthless- I let a friend nearly kill himself. A friend who’s like a brother to me; who’s in love with my best friend-“ 

    Kazuma reached out across Keiko’s lap and grabbed onto Yusuke’s unclenched hand, squeezing it tightly. It was incredibly rare that Yusuke ever called Kazuma his ‘best friend’. 

    “I’m sorry,” Yusuke sobbed, “I’m so sorry.” 

    “It’s okay,” Kazuma whispered. 

    Suddenly the lye bottle felt a little lighter upon his chest. 

    “What k-kind of a person am I-“ Yusuke demanded of the air, but Kazuma was the one to answer. 

    “The best kind,” Kazuma said at once; he did not regret his word choice, “Because you’re here with me right now even though a few hours ago Kurama nearly choked you to death, and you have no regrets about it. You’re here because you love your friends like your family, because we are your family...” Kazuma paused sniffing, “So we’re gonna have to do what families do... and just sit and wait here together.” 

    And so they did. 

    

    Four hours passed, and nothing changed. 

    Six hours passed, and nothing changed. 

    Eight hours passed and suddenly they realized that it was ten at night and no one had thought to call Kurama’s step family. Not only that, they were starving, and so Keiko made a succession of calls (simply because she was the only one capable of speaking calmly) to both the Hatenaka’s, Shizuru, and a local sub delivery. 

    Nine hours passed, and their couch was now occupied by six people. Keiko sat in Yusuke’s lap sleeping, Kazuma sat beside him, and Shizuru and Yukina took up the other end of the couch. Hatanaka, exhausted and bent over in grief, sat across from them in an unoccupied chair. 

    Ten hours passed, and nothing changed. 

    Eleven hours passed, and nothing changed. 

    

    Twelve hours...

    He waited without knowing when the end would come, and a ball of panicky string wound tight round his chest. Every minute without an answer was an hour, every hour a day, and suddenly Kazuma Kuwabara found himself in a hole of anxiety that he could not escape from. The regret that piled upon him was a massive stone, crushing him under its god awful weight. Every moment in which he’d slipped up, made a mistake, not done what he was supposed to have done, suddenly seemed tantamount to dooming him to hell; how could he have been so fucking foolish and careless? How, when so much had been on the line? When the one thing he treasured most was suddenly his to lose forever. 

What he would have given in that moment to see Kurama’s smiling face, to hear him whisper words of comfort. What he would have done... to know that there was a second chance available to him. To know that all was not lost, and not in vain. 

He waited for a sign, for a voice, for anything... Yusuke’s head in his lap; the pair of them squashed together upon an uncomfortable couch in the waiting room of Sariashiki Hospital. The clock struck two in the morning, and a soft gong peeled back another miserable hour of perpetual anticipation. 

The gong was finished.

Footsteps... footsteps upon the tile. 

Kazuma picked his head up from his shoulder, blinking around blearily at the deserted waiting room to see an older and haggard man coming towards them from the hall. He was wearing scrubs, his mouth shield down around his neck and deep bags underneath his eyes. He looked damn ready to pull his hair out, and Kazuma couldn’t blame him. 

He stopped before Kazuma, observing them all sleeping upon the couch. 

Twelve hours and five minutes had passed, and finally something changed.



You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story