title: Healing
fandom: Fruits Basket
characters/pairings: Ayame, Hatori, Shigure, Akito
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Ayame goes to Hatori for healing.
notes: for mclachlan, cuz she's got a rusty knife in her ribcage, and that's not good. takes place pre-series, after hatori's injury to his eye, could be either manga or anime continuity. ^_~ also, i'm too lazy to use the metric system, so there.

Hatori rubbed at the tape holding his eye patch in place. It hadn't been put on correctly, again. It was hard to do on his own. He had a stack of files on his desk. This project to organize the family medical records... it was so tedious and boring. He hadn't realized it before.

He was aware that someone was watching him. The person was not at all subtle, but then, he wasn't used to subtlety from this person, so he wasn't inclined to accommodate him. He picked up his pen again, and started to scratch out notes on his notepad.

Ayame squeaked softly, and then backed off further, but there was still a flourish of red silk flapping inside the door. Hatori sighed, and continued to scratch at his notepad. "Just come in, Ayame."

Ayame shuffled so that he was half inside the door, but he didn't move any closer. "How are you, Hatori?"

There were five million answers to that question, and none that Hatori was willing to give. "What can I do for you?"

He looked up, simply because a quiet Ayame was never a good thing. Ayame was biting his lip, and looking down at his feet. Hatori waited patiently for him to speak, tapping his pen lightly against the pad. Ayame sighed, and closed his eyes tightly. "I don't want to bother you, Ha'ri, but I... I think I might have a fever. But it's no big deal, I'll go away, if you don't want company..."

Sighing, Hatori stood up, and went to the shelf to get thermometer. It wasn't there; it was in the top drawer of the supply cabinet. He was sure it used to be on the shelf. He motioned for Ayame to sit down on the small stool, and he held out the thermometer to him.

Ayame took it sheepishly, and stuck it in his mouth. He sat slumped on the stool, his hands clinging to the edges of the stool. He looked so much like a very large child.

Hatori watched the window, not focusing on anything past the glass, but just keeping his eyes off of Ayame until the little beep roused him. He pulled out the thermometer, and read the number, his eyebrows arching. "102.2? Ayame... How long have you been sick?"

"It's not really that bad!" Ayame protested weakly. Now that Hatori was looking at him, he could see that Ayame's cheeks were pale, and he hadn't buttoned his cheongsam correctly. Ayame looked sheepish. "I didn't want to bother you, but I thought I needed some medicine, maybe..."

It was unthinkable for Ayame to be sick. Hatori fished through his cabinets and shelves, looking for the kit to take a throat culture. Some day, things would be where he thought they should be again. Perhaps. Ayame submitted quietly to being prodded and poked, his large eyes fixed annoyingly on Hatori as he patiently answered Hatori's questions.

Hatori sighed. He couldn't always avoid Ayame's eyes, and Ayame was... so hesitant. This unnatural quiet was unnerving.

It reminded Hatori of things.

"You should have taken better care of yourself," he reproached. He meant to say it softly, but it came out harsh.

Ayame flinched, and scooted back from Hatori involuntarily. "I'm sorry, Ha'ri."

Hatori's shoulders drooped. He turned away, and picked up a prescription pad. "I'll send someone out for antibiotics. The test should be back tomorrow, but I think we need to start treating you now. I'd also like to push some fluids, to make sure you don't dehydrate. You can stay here."

"Here?" Ayame bit his lip. "Is that ok?"

Hatori looked over his shoulder at Ayame. Their clinic had no beds, it was true, but they were more than amply equipped. "You'll stay in my room. I want to keep an eye on you."

Ayame flushed, and fidgeted nervously. "You shouldn't have to take care of me, Ha'ri... I'm really sorry."

Hatori walked over to Ayame, and lifted his chin gently, with two fingers. "Take better care of yourself, then. For now, this is fine."

Ayame blinked several times in succession. It was unfair that he was so beautiful. "I will, Ha'ri... I wish... I could take care of you. But you wouldn't let me, anyway, would you?" He smiled at Hatori weakly.

Turning away, Hatori shook his head. "Give me a moment to gather my things, and we'll go my room."

"Ok," Ayame meekly replied. He watched Hatori go through every drawer , gathering supplies. He smiled softly. "I wasn't looking forward to the trip home. It took all I had to get here, even. It almost makes me think that living away from the main house is a nuisance, but at least..." His smile faded away. "I'm really sorry, Hatori."

Shaking his head, Hatori put the last of what he needed in his medicine bag, and turned to give Ayame a hand up. "You should have called for a car... honestly, Ayame. What am I going to do with you?"

Ayame leaned on Hatori and sighed softly. "Anything you like, Ha'ri."

Hatori put an arm around Ayame's waist and guided him out the door wordlessly.

The clinic seemed overly empty the next day. The sun was bright, and it aggravated his eye. He had a headache forming, again. And the tape still itched.

At least Ayame's temperature was down, and he should know the cause of his illness soon.

He went to work, and ignored the fact that he would need to check on Akito soon.

The day dragged on, and he would have forgotten lunch, except he had set a timer to go back and check on Ayame. The other man was still sleeping, so Hatori left him as he was. When he got back to the clinic, Shigure was leafing through his files.

Harsh glares didn't work nearly as well on Shigure as they did on Ayame. In fact, very little worked on Shigure at all. Hatori did his best to ignore the other man, and the lunch he had laid out on the workbench. No matter how many times he told Shigure that food did not belong there, he never listened...

"How is Aya?"

Hatori moved the food items from the workbench to the table by the desk. "Sleeping."

Shigure smiled as if he knew more than he did. Hatori found that endlessly annoying. "And how are you?"

Shrugging, Hatori pulled up a chair, and began to eat, completely ignoring the fact that this food was, after a fashion, a gift. He had not asked Shigure to bring it. "Fine. Did you see Akito already?"

Shigure sighed, and looked away. His smile seemed sharper. "No. I didn't come here today for Akito. I... don't want to... at least... I can't, until my anger passes, some."

Hatori watched Shigure for a moment. Shigure had the ability to laugh at anything, but sometimes, it wasn't humor that inspired his chuckles. He was loyal, however, and for a moment, he felt mildly guilty, for reasons he chose not to fathom.

A messenger came in to deliver the results of Ayame's throat culture. Neither of them stood up to greet the boy, who was something of a 'lesser' Sohma to their eyes. Hatori placed the letter on the table, and ignored it as he ate. Shigure watched him closely, and then clucked his tongue at Hatori. He picked up the letter and tore it open recklessly with his thumb. He pulled out the lab results, and stared at them blankly. "I don't know what this means."

Hatori leaned forward to look at the results absently. "You don't know what 'negative' means? I thought you were a writer." He sighed softly. "I don't know why Ayame is so sick, then. I didn't think this would be positive, but... He chest sounds are completely clear, he has no other definitive symptoms..."

Shigure watched him critically. "You don't? Aya's been driving himself mad with worry for you. He even went to see Akito. He's been a wreck."

Hatori's back stiffened. His fingers sank into the onigiri. He kept his eyes very precisely not on Shigure. "Oh?"

Chuckling, Shigure packed up his empty boxes. "It would be all right for you to let someone help you. Though, I suppose, being you, you're doing the best that you can."

That hardly required a response, so Hatori ignored it.

Shigure stood up and went to the window. "It's getting cold, isn't it?"

"It does that," Hatori replied.

"It does," Shigure sighed. "But I prefer the warm weather."

Hatori contemplated the food in his hands. It had no taste whatsoever. He ate it mechanically, and with no joy.

Shigure turned to look at Hatori. "You aren't alone, you know. But it's useless to say something like that, so I won't. But... don't be so hard on him, ok?"

The statement was too oblique to be something that could have a response. Shigure sighed, and shrugged.

"Well, I should be off. I have a deadline due today, and I still need to fix up about thirty pages," Shigure laughed.

Hatori sighed. Shigure would never change; if he wasn't careful, his publisher would dump him. "Good luck."

Shigure moved quickly to Hatori's side, and put an arm around Hatori clumsily, kissing the top of Hatori's head. "Take care of yourself, too."

He waved cheerfully to Hatori as he left.

Hatori cleared off his desk, and retook his own chair. He stared at his paperwork. He had to go visit Akito, but he was sure he had some filing to do, or something. He just couldn't make sense of any of this writing.

Ayame was sitting up when he returned in the evening. The pajamas Hatori had lent him looked oddly loose, and were open midway down Ayame's chest, making Ayame look younger than he was. Tactile memories of sleepovers in their youth assaulted Hatori's senses, and he couldn't look at Ayame.

Ayame wilted. "I'm feeling better... I should go home. I've been such a nuisance."

"Have you been drinking plenty of fluids?" Hatori ignored Ayame's offer.

Shrugging, Ayame put on a grin. "Of course. I've followed my doctor's instructions to the letter."

"Mm," Hatori noncommittally shrugged. He got the thermometer off the bedside table, and sat down next to Ayame. "And when did you eat last?"

Ayame eyed the thermometer distrustfully. "It was almost an hour ago, but I really do feel better, Ha'ri..."

Hatori turned on the thermometer, and held it out, so Ayame submitted quietly.

While they waited for the beep, Hatori looked Ayame over carefully. His hair was matted and dirty, which was obvious only in the flat, heavy way it hung, as it was still lustrous. His cheeks were also still very sallow. The beep disturbed Hatori's inspection, and he was almost grateful to be able to look away.

"It's 99.9," Hatori sighed. "Better, but still high." He narrowed his eyes. "Would you like a bath?"

Ayame sheepishly shrugged. "I don't want to be a bother..."

Hatori stood up abruptly. "You're not a bother. Let me draw the bath." He went into the bathroom, and started the water. He had no nice bath salts, or lotions, to offer Ayame. There was one bottle of lavender something...Hatori didn't look it over carefully. He emptied the contents into the water, and tossed away the final remnant.

He went back into the bedroom to find Ayame struggling with his pajamas. He sighed; this really shouldn't be so difficult. He went to Ayame, and helped him gently.

Ayame smiled at Hatori, and Hatori had to look away.

He hadn't intended to actually help Ayame bathe, but he hadn't really considered the weight of Ayame's hair, either, when wet, or how much effort it would take to rinse it out while in the bath. His clothes got soapy and wet, but it was all right. The bath was eerily quiet, the sound of water almost deafening. He moved his hands through Ayame's thick, wet hair, and became entranced by the way the tangles of hair clung to his fingers.

"I miss her, too," Ayame whispered, but it was so loud, so shattering. Hatori's hands stilled, and the water moved around them, Ayame's hair like seaweed, drifting in the current.

There was nothing to say, ever. A great void of words and emotions emptied itself unto Hatori. He was stripped bare.

Ayame reached up with wet fingers that smelled like something that would inspire memory, were Hatori not so utterly bereft. He touched the bandage over Hatori's eye unintentionally roughly. The pain was like balm, it was something real that he could focus on, something tangible to make him solid. "Did you cry?"

The question was childlike in its complexity. Hatori shook his head once.

Ayame surged up, and put his arms around Hatori. "I've cried enough for all three of us."

It seemed to take a long time, but Hatori lifted his arms, and put his hands on Ayame's wet back. His skin was slick with the bath water, and so smooth, so white, so perfect. She... she hadn't been like this. Ayame's long hair stuck to his skin, too, like thin snakes sleeping on the porcelain surface of a smooth rock. Hatori closed his eye, and leaned carefully into Ayame's embrace.

It took a long time to dry Ayame's hair. Hatori did not own a blow dryer, because it was useless to him, so he toweled Ayame's hair out in sections, going back over each section meticulously, and then he brushed Ayame's hair out. Ayame clung to his bed sheets as he did. Last night, he had slept on the extra bedroll he had requested from the house staff. He preferred to sleep alone, in general. He disliked being hot in bed.

Ayame's body was so cool, even in its fever. He was somewhat cold-blooded, but it was a contradiction. He was a mammal, he was ill... His body should have been radiating heat. But even still, he was cool to the touch. It was as if Ayame's skin was that of a snake's, and Ayame's humanity was tightly guarded inside, a furnace that was raging within, whose heat could not escape.

Hatori wanted to rest his cheek against Ayame's skin, but he kept brushing, being so careful, so that it was perfect.

"Ha'ri," Ayame sighed. "I'm sorry."

Hatori put down the brush, and ran his fingers through Ayame's hair. He coaxed Ayame into his arms, and pretended that Ayame was apologizing for being sick. "You're lucky. Even sick, you are beautiful."

Ayame looked up at Hatori childishly. What was it about being sick that made Ayame so innocent? "Are you going to stay with me tonight, Ha'ri?"

He did dislike sleeping with someone, but he could always make exceptions. He nodded to Ayame, and shifted to turn the light out.

Ayame cuddled up against him, and they weren't children anymore, not by a long shot. Ayame wasn't small or lithe anymore, though he retained the elegance of his motions. Hatori felt inexplicably small in Ayame's embrace. "Sleep well, Hatori."

He brushed his fingers through Ayame's hair. He nodded, although he didn't really sleep much these days. He was so tired, but he didn't want to sleep. A dreamscape could offer him nothing that he wanted. He held onto Ayame, and felt the other man drift off.

Ayame's body felt so cool, so relaxing, and his hair smelled softly of lavender. If Hatori wanted to dream, this was as good a dream as any other.

Akito said nothing about being neglected for a few days, nor was there any mention of Hatori's other patient, which Akito could hardly fail to know about. He went about his checkup as if everything were perfectly normal, because, after all, it wasn't as there was anything abnormal about it.

Akito watched him with near disdain, but as he was about to stand to get up, Akito's thin fingers touched his bandage. "Take it off."

The order was melodically issued with dreamy insistence, so Hatori did not hesitate to comply. He pulled the tape off roughly, and crumpled the bandage in his hand. He kept his eye tightly closed, because, in truth, he didn't want to know if he could see from it or not yet.

Akito's fingers lifted to graze over his scar, a touch so soft he only knew it was there by the sight of his other eye. Akito sighed with satisfaction. "It's healing."

Hatori knew that it was. It was what wounds did, though some, it seemed, so much slower than others.

Cold, thin lips pressed to his damaged eye, and then Akito crawled over, and pulled Hatori's bag closer, riffling through it distractedly. Pulling out fresh, sterile bandages, and tape, Akito proceeded to rebandage Hatori's wound carefully, gently. Hatori wanted to lift his hands, to stop Akito, to take over himself. Such light touches, that wouldn't do... But his arms were paralyzed, and he remained perfectly still, as if Akito had placed a silent curse on him, had frozen him in place.

Akito sat back, and smirked. "There."

Hatori leaned back, and lifted his hand, but he did not touch the bandage. He bowed before Akito, and backed off respectfully, but he could not bring himself to thank Akito as he should. He stood, and picked up his medicine bag, dropping the used bandage into it first. "I'll... see you tomorrow, Akito."

Akito rolled over, and dismissed him with a wave.

He went back to his clinic, and scratched at the tape that no longer itched.