When he receives a call from Shigure, he expects the usual idiotic musings from the novelist, leaning back in his desk chair to get comfortable and ignore them.
Instead, what comes through the line is: "It's Tohru, can you come quick?"
Hatori left the chair spinning, yanking on a jacket and grabbing his keys and case. Shigure rarely used that tone, and it wasn't the playful one from before when Tohru had gotten a fever. This wasn't a headache or a housecall. Something had happened.
Hatori slid into the driver's seat, gunning the engine and speeding out of Sohma estate. He never usually drove over the limit. Today he barely paid attention to the speedometer, all he knew was that the vehicle wasn't moving fast enough.
Finally pulling up at Shigure's house, he rushed out, snapping the sliding door open and fixing Shigure with a look.
"Where?" He demanded.
Nodding, Hatori paused, taking off his shoes and padding by the living room, noticing Kyo in cat form. He lay curled up on Kazuma's lap, who seemed to ignore everyone else, looking down at him with soft eyes. Dread caught in Hatori's throat, before he turned to Shigure. "Don't tell me she saw-"
"It had to be done, according to Kazuma. But everything worked out alright. Kyo got a little upset, is all."
Hatori didn't hear anything more, hurrying up the stairs to Tohru's room. He didn't bother knocking, opening it and finding Yuki sat on the edge of her bed. Kagura lingered by the window, staring out of it with a morose expression.
Deep lilac eyes shifted, soon finding the girl.
She sat with her knees bent beneath her, long, damp hair trailing down her shoulders, clothes rumbled and dirtied. Blood caked up her arm, but worse was the marks on her shoulder and neck. Three deep looking rivets had cut through the clothing, breaking the skin. Tohru looked over at him, slightly shaking from the cold despite the towel she clung to around her arms.
"I-it's not as bad as it looks," she smiled gently. "Please don't look at me like that, Hatori."
How else was he supposed to look at her?
Glancing at Yuki, he shifted. "I'd like to examine her," he muttered.
Yuki looked at Tohru, mild guilt thinning his lips. Tohru just nodded with encouragement, and Yuki left without another word. Kagura padded over, appearing conflicted.
"Are you sure you don't want another girl here with you, Tohru?" She asked quietly.
"No, it's alright. I trust Hatori."
Kagura nodded, soon following Yuki. The door slid shut afterwards, leaving them in the gloom of her lonely room. Even the pink of her bedding and curtains didn't liven it up, appearing dulled to his eyes. Hatori took a few steps closer, turning on Tohru's bedside lamp. He then sat beside her on the bed, taking a breath. The priories of a Doctor came first, and he gestured to her t-shirt. "Tohru, I need to remove that to reach the wounds. Judging by your injury, I think it would be best to cut the material off, rather than trying to raise your arms."
She nodded, and he noticed dirt scuffing her cheek. His heart twisted at such a simple thing, before shaking himself and reaching into his bag. Taking out scissors, he gently seized the bottom of her ruined pink top, cutting a line up the middle and leaving it in two halves. Slowly, gingerly, long fingers eased the material down and off her arms.
This left Tohru in her bra and skirt, which he ignored, taking the towel and sliding it over her good shoulder to preserve some of her modesty. Tohru smiled at him, curling her fingers into it. Hatori wished he could find the same strength to smile back. He went about cleaning the wounds carefully, wiping down her arm and trying to remove the sheer amount of blood. But soon he stopped, realising something. Dark eyes shifted, catching hers.
"... I need to stitch these wounds. They're too deep to leave as they are."
Tohru's eyes dimmed a little, soon nodding once more. She didn't ask if it would hurt. He didn't ask if she was alright. Of course she wasn't. Instead, he sterilised a needle and thread, shifting until he bent close, their knees touching.
"You can lean into my shoulder, miss Honda, if you want." He uttered quietly. "Just be careful, I'd really rather avoid turning into a seahorse right now."
At that, she gave a small, wobbly giggle. Carefully, she set her forehead on the broad expanse of his left shoulder. He could feel the slight pressure of her cheek, the faint tingle of nervous breath fanning onto his neck. She was much quieter than usual.
"... It's alright," he soothed quietly, voice hushed. It didn't feel right to talk loudly in this atmosphere. The house felt so silent, as though holding its breath with her. Sliding the needle in, he began stitching, sewing the skin together. Tohru made a noise, crying out, until she muffled herself into his suit. Hatori continued working with sure, practised fingers, finishing one deep gash, before tying the sutra and having to start on the second. Her trembling didn't make matters easy, so Hatori took a moment to rest a hand on the crown of her head- not expecting her to flinch and make a whimpering noise.
"Tohru..." he slipped up, using her first name. "Your head. Were you hurt there as well?"
"Y-yes. I landed in some water quite hard, I think. It was shallow, so..."
A long exhale escaped the Doctor, hissing through blunt teeth. Hatori's head bowed. "... I'm sorry this happened to you. I never wanted-" he tripped over words, soon focusing. "Don't you understand now why I told you to leave the Sohmas? We only hurt others," he murmured lowly, like a confession. But she knew. And of course, she'd stayed, worrying all the time what she could do for them. Not what they could do for her. Now he was fixing her up, like their own personal patchwork doll to play with and ruin anew.
Gentle fingers smoothed over his cheek, and Hatori's eyes fluttered shut as she rested her palm over his bad one. "That's not true. I... was frightened. I won't lie. Kyo didn't look, speak or act like himself when he transformed. But... I knew it was him, and I had to bring him back here. If I didn't, he'd disappear... that's why..." she lifted her head slightly, and Hatori turned his cheek to look at her with his good eye. "I'd rather go through this now than lose him. I don't want to lose anyone else," she murmured, stroking dark hair away from his face. "So please don't blame yourself, Hatori. It's just...the curse, isn't it? I accepted it then. I accept it now."
When her touch drew back, Hatori trembled slightly. She was strong, miss Honda. Even with her body shaken and bleeding, she didn't waver. He couldn't understand it, only look at her as though trying to solve the riddle- the paradox she presented.
He carried on stitching, doing his damn best to make them clean, willing away any scars. He sighed once it was finished, treating it with antibacterial ointment and covering it with a bandage, leaning back.
"Thank you so much," Tohru smiled tiredly, tilting her head slightly and sending a tumble of brunette locks spilling forward.
She swallowed some painkillers soon after, and he rested an ice pack on the lump forming on her head. "Honestly, you might have to go the hospital anyway," he said quietly. "Do you have a headache? Eyesight problems?"
"Ah! No, no. Nothing like that. It just hurts a bit."
"Mn. Call me, if you feel any change."
Tohru paused. "Oh... are you... leaving already?" She asked haltingly. Her attitude abruptly shifted, taking the ice pack from him and pressing it to her head. "Aha! Of course you are, you're probably extremely busy! I'm so sorry. That was selfish of me! I didn't mean to say it like that-"
"Tohru," he lifted a finger to her lips, stopping the flow of worries. "I meant for you to call downstairs. I'll be sleeping here tonight."
Tohru jolted. "Rwure?" The words came out muffled behind his finger.
Hatori blushed slightly, shifting his hand away. At least she sounded more like herself again. "Mn, really. Knowing your disposition though, you wouldn't be honest and call down complaining about any aches, so I'll check on you again in a few hours."
It was Tohru's turn to blush, glancing away. "I-I'm plenty honest, I promise!"
His lips quirked at the edges, smoothing a warm palm over her forehead and resting it there. She stilled, looking at him with curious, earthy brown eyes, not moving an inch. Hatori leaned down, resting his lips against his knuckles. He let out a long, extinguished sigh, dusty lungs constricting. "Not enough. You're never honest enough about what you're feeling, miss Honda. If it's pain, you just cover it up. I swear... you're going to give me grey hair before my time."
Tohru blinked like a lost doe, soon relaxing and stroking his arm fondly. "But you're just the same, aren't you?" She said smally.
He swallowed. "...There's nothing I can do for you, is there? Nothing I could say to make you change your mind now and forget us."
"No, I'm alright as I am now. But..." she smiled. "You really are kind, to worry so much. You could make me forget by force, but you don't."
He didn't need to be reminded. The hypnosis would be so easy. She'd never be hurt again if he just threw away her wants and acted of his own accord-
But he stayed perfectly still. She deserved more than to have the choice ripped from her fingers.
Pulling back to look at her with treacle immediacy, his eyes softened. Tohru's lips bent into a painful, honest smile, a rare glimpse of her real self. Hatori felt humbled having seen it.
He shifted away slowly, helping her ease down beneath the covers. He then hesitated, before removing his jacket and laying it over her bedding.
"I'm warm enough," came her subdued voice.
He ignored this, padding to the door and opening it, letting the stronger light from the hallway flood a corner of her room. "Mn. Remember what I said... If anything hurts-"
"I'll call down and complain," she smiled, looking small beneath the mountains of covers, dwarfed by her large bed.
He nodded, voice turning quiet and reverent: "get some rest. Doctor's orders."
Tohru watched him go, the door sliding shut soundlessly between them. Hatori lingered in the hallway, shifting to lean heavily against the opposite wall. A pale hand racked through dark bangs, breath shuddering. Ugly, painful memories resurfaced.
Him, trying to stop the blood flow. Pressing urgent, shaking hands to his blazing eye. Kana looking so frightened, so lost. He'd wanted to comfort her, to wash his blood from her hands.
Hatori paused, glancing at the bloodied cuff of his shirt. Now some of Tohru's blood was on Sohma hands. It wasn't enough that they suffered inside their own circle, apparently. They needed to do the same to outsiders. And yet... she hadn't looked like Kana. She never did. Tohru's back had been straight, eyes steady. She bore the weight of the curse like the death of her mother, folding it away in her heart.
Hatori leaned his head back, craving a cigarette.
"We're all hopeless children when compared with you, miss Honda."