His vision was clouded with nothing but white for the past few days: white-washed walls, white ceiling, white curtains, white bed sheets – even a glimpse in the mirror would reflect a deathly white complexion. He did not take pleasure in how monotonous everyday turned out to be that it led to a constant struggle of attempting to get out of bed – attempt as the operative word.
"Hahi! Stop moving, Gokudera-san! You're going to strain yourself again!"
"Let go of me. I can't just lie here all day and do nothing," he snapped when Miura Haru appeared in his pallid prison one afternoon.
"Well, you'll be able to do something once you've fully recovered! Haru hates to burst your bubble but it's unlikely you'd be able to walk in your current condition!" Haru continued to push the Storm Guardian back to bed.
"Fuck off, you stupid woman!"
Haru's face turned red in the blink of an eye, and admittedly, he was expecting her to slaughter him for bad-mouthing her, thus ending her great battle of keeping him in bed. He was taken aback when she released her hold and stepped away, all the while looking at him with an eerily blank expression.
Emerald met russet.
"Fine. No dinner tonight!" Haru snapped, closing the bedroom door with as much force as she could.
And this marked the end to Gokudera Hayato's lacklustre days in bed.
The next time she entered his room, it was merely several hours after their first banter. Her face was grim and irritated, and she had dark rings under her usually bright eyes – he could tell she had not slept well.
When she noticed his gaze upon her, she quickly plastered on a smile and said, "Good morning, Gokudera-san! Haru has your breakfast! After skipping dinner last night, you must be starving!"
He stopped himself from bombarding the girl with a string of curses for being the root of his hunger. He didn't want to anger the girl, hence miss a meal again; his grumbling stomach had already become a serious nuisance.
"Since Gokudera-san's condition is still critical, Haru will gladly help you eat!"
He did a back track – spoon-feeding was the first thing that crossed his mind.
Haru's eyebrows were drawn together, "Why not?"
His scowl deepened when he noticed Haru's grip on the silver spoon, ready to scoop some miso soup from the bowl and shove it inside his mouth. "I can feed myself. Just leave the tray and get out."
Haru did not budge from her spot. "Now, come on, Gokudera-san! Be rational! You can hardly even move!"
"I can move!" he cried, already preparing to get out of bed and prove the girl wrong.
"Don't you even dare get up from that bed!"
"Who are you to order me around, idiot! I can do whatever I want!"
"Hahi! You're going to strain yourself, Gokudera-san! Please lie back down! Haru doesn't want your condition to worsen because... because Tsuna-san needs you!"
He did not miss the fleeting look of pity she threw him before she had averted her eyes towards his soup bowl.
His temper flared. "I don't need you to fucking tell me that," he said icily before he could stop himself. "Fuck off, stupid woman."
Realization dawned on him a moment too late, for Haru was already on her feet, her expression a mixture of rage and utter helplessness.
"Fine!" she screamed, storming out of the room with the food tray still in her hand.
"Fuck," he muttered to himself, ignoring the rabid grumbling of his stomach and glared at the white ceiling which surprisingly didn't appear as colourless as before.
Then it hit him that he was going to be at the mercy of Miura Haru for the next few days.
The third time she came to drop by, he was much too famished to have enough energy to curse her for starving him. Once again, she carried a tray of food with her, and one look at the steaming curry instantly made his mouth water.
"Here's your lunch," Haru said impassively, placing the tray on top of the side table.
He gradually sat up from his lying position, careful enough not to strain his severely damaged and fatigued body. An ugly scowl marred his face as he struggled keeping the upright position. He believed that if ever his condition worsened, there was no one else to blame but Miura Haru.
But he was barely able to touch the tray because the side table was completely out of reach. He could feel Haru's gaze on him, but he ignored it. He had another go in reaching for the tray.
After several more futile attempts, "Hahi! Haru can't take this anymore!" In the next moment, the food tray was in Haru's lap, the girl already seated right beside his bed.
He narrowed his eyes, "Just place the tray on my lap—"
"And have you spill the curry Haru worked so hard to make all over the place? Haru doesn't think so... Haru can help you know," she smiled, rendering him speechless for the sudden turn of events. It wasn't long after a spoonful of curry was hovering right in front of his mouth. "Say aaah!"
He felt the warmth on his cheeks and immediately turned away.
"There's no need to be so stubborn, Gokudera-san!" Haru said jovially, circling the airborne spoon like an airplane. "Say aaah!"
"Damnit, woman! Can you not make this so humiliating?" he snapped, his face a brilliant red.
Haru fought back a smile and put on her best poker-face. "Alright."
Overridden with hunger, he finally gave in and opened his mouth, allowing Haru to stick the spoon of curry inside.
"Is it good?" Haru asked eagerly, her eyes gauging his reaction.
He smirked, "It's not that hard to make good curry."
And a thunderous spat resulted right after.
Confined inside a dull room with nothing to do all day, he cannot deny that the only thing he looked forward to – aside from getting out bed – was Haru's visits. The soft click of the door interrupted him from his inner musings. Shifting his head to the side, he saw Haru carrying a pile of white cloth and bandages in her arms.
"Time to change your bandages, Gokudera-san!" she smiled brightly. Situating herself an arm's length away from him, she began to carefully unwrap his old bandages.
He couldn't help but stare at her as she did her work. Her gaze was determinedly fixed on his chest, several stray hairs falling over her russet eyes. Her pink lips were set into a soft smile that unpredictably did things to his stomach. Her scent made him rather intoxicated that he couldn't stop himself from leaning a bit closer.
A comfortable silence reigned in the room.
"All done!" she exclaimed a few minutes after, smiling contentedly at her handiwork.
He had the sudden foreboding to look down at his chest.
"What the hell did you do?"
The supposedly white bandages neatly wound around his torso were contorted in the shape of a t-shirt painted with thick black stripes. Had he been that distracted to not notice the monstrosity Haru had inflicted on him? He looked like a teenage delinquent – he didn't need something else to remind him of his present imprisonment in the room.
"Hahi! Haru thought she could do something about your oh-so-boring bandages!" she smiled. "It must suck to wake up in the morning and see nothing but white, huh?"
He was at a loss for words.
"Do you like it?" She looked expectant.
"Do you expect me to understand your weird fetishes, woman?" he huffed. "Who would like something like this?"
Right after Haru stomped out of the room, he lay contentedly in bed and stared at his new, black-striped bandages.
In truth, he really, really liked it.
Lately, Haru's visits had become more frequent, and as much as he didn't want to admit it, he found himself growing accustomed to her presence.
At meal times, although he was now very much capable of feeding himself, Haru would choose to occupy herself with some origami as she waited for him to finish eating. There were also instances when she'd drop by merely to check on him and say hello, and the momentary sight of her smile could send his mind reeling for reasons he didn't know.
His strength was gradually coming back, but the girl would insist that it was too early to do any strenuous activities. They would constantly bicker about what he ought to do and ought not do, but Haru would always emerge victorious, leaving him frustrated at the end of every visit.
It was one afternoon when the brunette entered his room only to blindfold him for the entire duration of her stay. She was quick enough to wrap the cloth around his eyes even before he could protest. She said that she had a surprise for him.
For the next several minutes, all he heard was the soft rustling of paper and padding of light footsteps.
Being the impatient boy he was, he was about to pry the offending handkerchief off his face when,
"Hahi! No peeping, Gokudera-san!"
He stopped for a moment, "Give me one reason not to remove this blindfold."
"Haru doesn't want you to ruin the surprise! That'd be no fun!"
"Being blindfolded is not fun," he retorted, already preparing to remove the blindfold, "God knows what foolishness you're up to now..."
"W-Wait, Gokudera-san! Don't remove it yet!"
But the cloth was no longer wound around his eyes and now lay discarded beside him.
The previously washed-out walls were now adorned with countless origami plastered using sticky tape. Paper flowers and animals were scattered on the opposite wall, the different colours making the once monochrome room gush with effervescence and life.
"What the fuck is this?" he breathed.
"Just a little something to brighten up your bedridden days," her smile was as bright as the morning sun. "You need to smile more often, Gokudera-san! Mou... but Haru didn't get to finish sticking these stars on your ceiling... Haru even brought a ladder with her!"
"Stupid woman," he muttered, looking away to hide the smile creeping on his face.
The moment Miura Haru first stepped foot inside his room, he knew that the once pallid bedroom would forever be tainted with life whenever she was around.