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In a Broken World

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          Lost. It was the only word Yuki could think of to describe his life at that moment. He was lost and his world was broken. It had been six months since Ken’s death and he still had nightmares, or a dream of a dream that he could never quite wake up from. He was sitting in the waiting room of the orthopedic doctor’s office, waiting for the nurse to come and take him for x-rays. Yuki had come alone, he wanted none of his friends or family there to nag him about not taking better care in his recovery. A nurse came into the waiting area, “Yuki, we’re ready for you.”

          Half an hour of x-rays later, the doctor sat in front of Yuki and paged through the report. “Everything looks great, except your back.” The doctor looked up from his charts. “I understand how hard it is for a young man of your age to restrict your activities, but your T-8 has not healed correctly.”

          “What happens if I don’t want the surgery?” Yuki was challenging the doctor. “You’ll be in pain for most of your life, and possibly disabled by the time you’re 40.” He said bluntly. “Can you explain the surgery please?” The doctor smiled and went through the procedure with Yuki, explaining the recovery time and rehabilitation aspects.

          “I’d like to schedule the procedure four weeks from today, you will be in the hospital just over night, but you will need someone to take you home and you’ll need some help at home as well.”

          With a new prescription for pain medication and a gentle scolding from the doctor, Yuki left the medical building with a growing sense of doom; he would have to tell someone that he was going to have surgery. “Who the hell am I going to tell that won’t chew me out?”

          Walking around the pharmacy while his prescription was being filled, Yuki mulled over who he was going to ask to help him, knowing he didn’t want to ask Aiko, that left Ayato and Pon, neither of which he wanted to ask to take any more time off than they already had. If he could figure out a way just to get home from the hospital, he wouldn’t need anyone’s help in the flat…but that was just it, who could he get to bring him home?

          Listing the possibilities in his head as he drove, he kept coming back to one name; Aoi. He knew the man would do anything for him, but his heart told him he’d be leading the man on, and just using him. “I can’t even ask that…”

          “Hey, what’s up?” Ayato met Yuki in the parking lot of the complex, pulling in just after him. “Nothing, just went to the cemetery for a little bit.” Why am I lying? “Want to come over for a beer… wait, you’re not still on pain meds are you?” Yuki had the pills in his bag, “Uh, no…I’m done with those. Sure, give me a minute to feed the kids and I’ll be over.”

          Taking a pain pill then stashing his medication in the bathroom, he fed the two screaming kittens, Yuki tightened his back brace and walked over to Ayato’s. “You’re not working today?” taking the beer Ayato handed him, “Nope, but Akira is going to be late, I think this is the last day in the studio for him.”

          After the first two beers, Yuki started to feel the effects of the alcohol mixing with the pain medication, relaxing him to the point that he no longer cared if he was in pain, lounging on the couch with is feet up. “Hey, should you be sitting like that?” Ayato looked over, noticing the unconcerned posture of his best friend. “I’m okay, my back doesn’t hurt, it’s fine.” After three beers, Yuki finally decided that he needed to cook himself some dinner, and left Ayato to wonder if his friend really was ‘okay’.

          Yuki thought he was great at that moment; his back didn’t hurt, he wasn’t crying over Ken, and he enjoyed his dinner as he sat with his computer on his lap, just typing in random search words.

          As the effects of the beer wore off, Yuki’s eyes began to droop. He’d had a busy day and still had to find a ride home from the hospital for his surgery. Cleaning up his dinner mess, making sure that Rin and Sora had food for the night, Yuki made his way down to his bedroom, hoping that he would have a dreamless night.

          Laying in bed, he opened his phone and flipped through his contacts; who could he rely on, that wouldn’t spread the information about the surgery to his close friends and especially not to his family?

          His eyes kept coming back to the same person; Aoi. “Fine.” Turning onto his side, he quickly typed out the text and hit send before he could back out. “I need to talk to you about something, call me when you can.” Yuki’s eyes were slowly closing before he even shut his phone.

          “I need to talk to you about something, call me when you can.”

          Aoi knew it was too late to call Yuki at that moment, which left him the rest of the evening to fret over what the boy wanted to talk to him about; was he asking to see him? Was he interested in going out with Aoi? “Pfft, dumbass, you should know better than that.” Lying in bed he let a million scenario’s run through his mind, until he finally got up and grabbed a sleeping pill, went back to bed and put the pillow over his head.

          “Uh, sure…when and where?”

          Aoi’s mouth hung open, “You’ve got to be fucking joking, why in the world would you ask me to do this for you?” Yuki crossed his arms and sat back in his chair. “Because you won’t run your big mouth to my friends, that’s why… yes or no? Will you take me to the hospital and pick me up?”

          “I absolutely will not take you or pick you up! Why are you hiding this from Ayato, hell…why doesn’t your family know you’re having surgery? What the hell have you been doing to fuck up your back so badly?” Yuki’s request had thrown Aoi completely off the rails, the fact that Yuki wanted to hide the surgery from his family and friends was beyond what he could understand.

          “My family doesn’t need to know, I don’t need Aiko hovering over me like a freaking nurse, and I don’t’ need Ayato screaming at me about what I’ve been doing to fuck up my back. Just take me to the hospital, then take me home the next day…I’m not asking for that much.” Yuki knew this had been a mistake, waking up and seeing that he had basically drunk texted Aoi.

          Aoi was pissed, “You will tell your family or I swear, Yuki…I’ll tell them myself!”

          “What? FUCK YOU! This was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, asking you for anything, you’re a selfish bastard!” Yuki turned to grab his bag, stepping down from the chair, his face paled and he started to fall forward, Aoi catching him at the last second, “Yuki! What …”

          Yuki stood carefully, then pushed Aoi’s arm away, “Leave me alone…forget I ever talked to you.” Placing his hand in the small of his back, Yuki slowly walked to the door and left the café. “You fucking stupid kid.” Aoi got up and went after Yuki. “Hey!” running up behind Yuki, “Let me take you home…you look like you’re going to pass out.”

          “I have my car, just leave me alone Yuu.”

          “No, I’m not leaving you alone, you’re in pain, just let me drive you home and get you inside, then I’ll leave.” Aoi wasn’t quite begging, but close. “You’ve made it perfectly clear what you think of helping me, I don’t need you Aoi. I’ll call a damned cab if I have to, just go away.” Aoi fell into step next to Yuki, following him to his car. “If you can get into your car without passing out, I’ll leave you alone.”

          Yuki said something under his breath that sounded like ‘fuck off’, as he turned the corner and walked to his car in the lot. Reaching into his pocket, he took out his keys and opened the door, throwing his bag in. “Look, just go home Yuu, seriously I’m fine.” Aoi stood with his arms crossed over his chest.

          It took Yuki a few minutes to get himself into the car, and he was in pain but he wouldn’t give Aoi the satisfaction of admitting that he needed help. “I told you… go home, just leave me alone and forget I ever called you.” He reached out and pulled the door closed, and started the car. Aoi looked down at him, shaking his head in disbelief as Yuki backed the car out and drove away.

          The tears burned behind Yuki’s eyes as he slowly made his way back to the flat, Aoi’s words burning in his ears, “You told me you still love me… why won’t you help me then?”

          Because you’re using him babe, and he knows it.

          “How is that using him? I’m asking him to take me to the hospital and pick me up, I’m not asking him for anything more.”

          Really Yu? You’re playing games with him, you know he loves you and you’re trying to use that to get what you want, that’s kinda pathetic.

          “Now you’re telling me what to do? That’s not fair Ken, that’s totally not fucking fair!”

          Babe, nothing that’s happening right now is fair. You’re hiding your surgery from your family and friends, why? I’d never let you do that if I was still

          “You’re not, you’re fucking dead and this isn’t fucking fair! I have to do all this shit alone, by myself!” Yuki was sobbing, his vision blurred as he drove through the streets, trying to make it home before he collapsed.  

          Parking haphazardly, it took Yuki several minutes to get out of the car, and into his flat, praying that none of the others would see him. He just wanted to get inside, take a pain pill and have a beer, the combined effects seemed to help him manage his pain better. Ignoring the cries of two hungry kittens, he grabbed a beer out of the fridge and stumbled into his bathroom, grabbing the pill bottle, shaking out two pills and popping them in his mouth, followed by a large gulp of beer.  He slowly walked back down the hall, taking sips of beer as he made his way to the kitchen, “Yes, I’ll feed you now,” he mumbled to Rin and Sora, as he poured dry food into their bowl, “I know it’s not wet food, but it hurts for me to bend right now, I promise to give you some in the morning.”

          He stumbled to the couch, spilling his beer on the floor as he tried to sit down, “Shit…” Bending forward, Yuki tried to pick up the beer can, but ended up falling into the glass coffee table, busting his forehead open just over his left eye. “What the…” sitting up he put his hand to his head, feeling the warm blood starting to run down into his eye. “Damn…”  With his hand pressed against his forehead, his brain muddled with alcohol and pain pills, Yuki couldn’t draw a cognitive thought on what he should do next.  

          “Gosta ges sum…hurss,” trying to stand just made the room swirl and turn him over, “S’damn…” sitting back down on the couch, he leaned his head back, “ssoo tired…. napsss,” he slowly toppled over, his hand still on his forehead and still covered in blood as he closed his eyes.

          “Aoi?” Reita came around the corner and almost knocked his bandmate down, “What are you doing here?” Aoi frowned, “we need to talk, it’s going to piss him off but I don’t care.” Aoi pushed past Reita and walked into the man’s flat. “Is Ayato here?” He asked as he sat down, “Um, no…he’s at work, want to tell me what the hell is going on? Who’s going to be pissed?”

          “Yuki,” Aoi rubbed his face roughly before explaining. “He texted me last night, wanting to ask me for some help. I met him earlier at a café and what he asked… damn it Rei… he asked me to take him and pick him up from the hospital in like four weeks, because he has to have surgery on his back and he didn’t want to tell anyone.” Aoi felt like a piece of shit ratting Yuki out, but this wasn’t some minor bullshit issue.  

          “Wow, he asked you?” Reita found that hard to believe, “Yah, he doesn’t want to tell Aiko, because she’ll get all mom like, and he didn’t want to tell Ayato either…”

          “Tell me what?” Ayato pushed open the door, just catching the last part of Aoi’s statement, “Babe, Yuki needs surgery on his back, but he doesn’t want anyone to know.” Reita got up and hugged his boyfriend, then went to the kitchen to grab him a cola, “What the fuck? Why are you here?” he snipped at Aoi.

          “He asked me to take him and pick him up after the surgery, I told him no.”

          “Why?” Ayato took the cola from Reita, “Why? Because he needs to tell his family that he’s having surgery, that’s why! He shouldn’t be hiding this shit from them or from you… would you rather I just do it?”   

          “No, but I want to know exactly why you wouldn’t agree to it…I mean it’s a perfect opportunity to spend time with him alone, you can’t deny you didn’t think of that.”

          “Ayato… really?” Reita groaned. “Yes really, answer me Yuu, why did you turn him down?” Ayato kept pressing for an answer. “Because it’s a serious medical issue, he shouldn’t be lying to his family about having surgery on his back, he shouldn’t be lying to you either, I’m not going to be part of that, period. Look if you don’t want me here, I’ll leave, I just wanted to check on him. He had some problems getting in his car when he left.” Aoi got up to leave, “Yuu, wait a minute, sit down.” Ayato snapped. “Let me go talk to him first before you leave.”

          Ayato walked into Yuki’s flat, seeing his best friend asleep on the couch. “Hey, we need to …. SHIT! AKIRA!!! YUU!!!” Moving quickly, Ayato kneeled on the floor in front of Yuki, pulling the boy’s hand away from his face, “Yu… what happened? Yu? Yuki!”

          “Babe, what’s… damn it… what happened?” Reita kneeled next to Ayato, “I don’t know, but he’s bleeding from his forehead, what did he cut himself on?” Aoi grabbed a wet towel from the kitchen, “Here, wipe his face off,” Ayato carefully moved Yuki’s hand, “Oh shit, this is nasty. Yuki, hey wake up…” Ayato gently shook Yuki’s shoulder, but got no response, “Yuki!”

          Aoi sat down on the couch, pulling Yuki up into his arms, “Hey, Yuki… come on, wake up, hey…it’s Yuu, wake up babe…come on.” All he got was a mumble, “Look,” Reita held up a beer can, “You don’t think?” Ayato growled, “This stupid son of a bitch, he’s on pain meds and drinking! He fucking lied to me!” Ayato got up and stormed out of the flat, “Wait…Ayato! Stay here Yuu, I’ll be right back.” Reita ran after Ayato, calling his boyfriends name.

          “Why would you do something so stupid?” Aoi murmured, “Come on, we’re going to wake you up and you’re not going to like it but too bad.” Laying Yuki back down, Aoi got up and walked down to the bedrooms, looking for the bathroom with the tub. “Okay… towels, lots of towels.” Digging through cabinets, he found a few big bath towels then laid them out next to the tub. Reaching over to pull the stopper, Aoi turned the water on, the temperature just shy of cold. “You’re going to hate me…”

          Yuki hadn’t moved and was still passed out. “Okay…here we go,” lifting the young man into his arms, “You don’t weigh a thing, have you even been eating?” Aoi carefully carried Yuki down to the bedroom and into the bathroom. Sitting on the side of the tub, he reached over and turned the water off.

          He reached down and pulled off is socks, then slowly turned and lowered Yuki into the tepid water, “Hey… come on now, you need to open your eyes for me, Yuki…come on, wake up.” The reaction wasn’t instant, but it didn’t take but thirty seconds for Yuki’s eyes to flash open as he gasped, “What the hell?”

          Yuki started to thrash around, trying to get out of the cold water, “Hey wait a minute!” Aoi yelled, “Let me get you some towels!” Yuki gaped at Aoi, “What the hell are you doing here and why am I in this fucking freezing water?” Aoi held a wash cloth to Yuki’s forehead, then pulled it away, “Because of this, dumb ass.” Showing Yuki the bloody wash cloth, the young man looked down at the red tinged water he was sitting in.

          “What were you thinking? You mixed beer and pain medication? Then you hit your head on something? You passed out… you could have slipped into a coma, Yu.” Aoi scolded Yuki, as he rinsed out the wash cloth and put it back on his forehead, “let me see if you need stitches,” placing a finger under Yuki’s chin and tipping it towards him, Aoi looked only at the gash, he knew if he looked in Yuki’s eyes he’d regret it.

          “Hmm, you might be able to get away with a butterfly type bandage, just don’t touch it until tomorrow, or it will start bleeding again.” Aoi stood up, and held his hand out for Yuki, “Come on, get out of the tub and change, I’ll wait in the living room.” Yuki’s mouth was still hanging open as he watched Aoi leave the room, “What the hell is this all about?”

 

          After twenty minutes of waiting, Aoi had been sitting on the couch, playing with Rin and Sora, when Ayato and Reita came back, “He’s in his room changing.” Ayato raised an eyebrow, “Changing?” Aoi just waved his hand towards Yuki’s bedroom.

          “Hey can I come in?” Ayato knocked softly, “Yah…”

          “Are you okay? Wait…why are you wet?”

          “Yuu put me in the bathtub to wake me up, in cold fucking water.” Yuki was embarrassed, “Sorry about this.” He mumbled. “Tell me truthfully, why didn’t you want to tell anyone about the surgery?”

          Yuki shrugged, “Because I don’t want to be a fucking burden anymore, I’m so fucking lost without Ken I don’t know how to act anymore. I’m tired Aya…there are some nights I don’t want to wake up, some days I don’t get out of bed until 3pm. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything, just sleep. I don’t care what you say, I don’t know how to live without Ken… and I’m not sure I want to.”

          This hit Ayato so hard in the heart that he whimpered, “Yu…you have me, you have Aki, Pon and Die…you have Uta…and weirdly enough, you have Yuu. Do you think dying would make you happy? Would it make you happy to know how much your parents and Aiko would suffer if you died? Don’t you remember speaking to Ken’s parents…how devastated they were? Do you want that for your friends and family too?”

          “But you’re not Ken. You won’t hold me tenderly in your arms, you won’t make love to me, you won’t tell me that I’m the best thing that ever happened to you and how much you love me. You’re just not Ken.” Yuki’s eyes filled with tears, “I love you, Aya…I do, but it’s not the same.”

          Ayato grabbed Yuki and held him tightly, “I know I’m not Ken, but I love you as much as he does…just in a different way. We all love you… and you know damned well that Yuu still loves you, and that if you ask him for something reasonable, he’ll always be there for you. I can’t say that you’ll get over this, you won’t, but it will get easier each day. I can’t tell you that you’ll find someone else to love, because we can’t see into the future. What I can tell you is that Ken wouldn’t be happy with what you’re doing right now, and you know it. So please, stop abusing yourself, please come to me or Akira…or Pon... hell even Die, just make sure to say something when it hurts too much, promise me that?”

          Yuki nodded his head, a muffled ‘okay’ coming from Ayato’s chest. “Do you want Yuu to leave before you come out?” Yuki shook his head, “No, I want to talk to him.”  Ayato got up and left the room, Yuki blowing his nose and wiping his eyes.

          “Hey, you wanted to talk to me?” Aoi grinned sheepishly. “I want to apologize for putting you on the spot earlier today, it wasn’t fair.” Yuki wouldn’t look at Aoi.

          “No, it wasn’t fair, but I kind of understand, you’re tired of having people do things for you, you don’t want to be a burden. What I don’t understand is what you did with the beer and the pain pills. Didn’t you know it was dangerous mixing them?”
          “Yah, and honestly, I didn’t care, I just wanted to stop feeling. Guess I did a good job of it if I bashed my head in and didn’t know. But thanks for being here and putting me in the tub…I kind of deserved that.”

          “You’re welcome, and if you need me… you know I’ll always help if I can.” Aoi walked over to Yuki and kissed him on the top of the head, “I’ll see you around.” And with a last pat on the head, Shiroyama Yuu walked out of Yuki’s apartment.