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Acceptance

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It began in darkness. Pure white fingers reaching out to him, muffled voices indistinct in the background. Shouting, demanding, pleading. There were no words, only tones to the voices. Ren felt his body being pulled up and then nothing.

For weeks, it was nothing. Blackness, silence, only his own thoughts of confusion and despair. Aoba's head hadn't felt like this before, but now it was a prison. Assuming that's where he'd gone, anyway. His world was an abyss of nothingness and he wished for someone, anyone to appear. Call out to him, tell him that he's not alone. That he hadn't failed.

Their voices had been distant at first, becoming more distinct as days pressed on. Eventually he recognized them. Those two that had been by Aoba's side for so many years. Those two that had betrayed him in his hour of need. Those two that always seemed abnormal and untrustworthy.

The room had been dark when his eyes came open. Rhythmic chimes and beeps from medical equipment filled the room, soft breathing that must have been his own. Ren was paralyzed completely, like some horrible waking nightmare. Perhaps this had just been another view of his personal hell.

He slept often but always woke up in the same place. By chance, he'd missed them the first few times he'd regained consciousness. The gasps and squeals of delight when they'd finally made eye contact were alarming. Ren would stiffen up as they hugged him, caressed his cheeks and hair. They called him by another name, which was fine. He was already so vulnerable like this, fooling them into thinking he was someone else would only given Ren strength.

That name made him sad, however. If Ren looked like Sei now, it meant Sei was no more. He'd begged Aoba for release, and apparently got it. Ren had cried the first time they called him by that name. Those vicious creatures were so calming and sweet as they cleaned off his tears and soothed him. They were only stranger in Ren's eyes.

More time passed, somehow less easily kept track of now that Ren was awake more frequently. They took care of his every whim, like parents doting on a sickly child. They would speak to him, feed him, read to him, brush his hair, dress him in beautiful clothes, treat him like royalty. It was becoming normal. They were becoming normal.

When his motor skills had returned, he spoke with them. Crudely writing on a board, making an effort to communicate with his caretakers. Seeing them smile at his childlike handwriting made his heart swell. They were truly proud. They truly cared.

Aoba's voice came to him at night, echoing through his skull. He'd always sound sad, sometimes sobbing as if he were right in Ren's ear. Calling out to Ren. His muteness applied telepathically as well, reducing himself to trembling tears trying so hard to scream out to him. They'd always hold him when he got like this. He'd shake in their arms, holding them as if they were surrogates for Aoba. He'd kiss them.

With a hoarse crack, Ren's voice returned. For a few days he hid it. If they only heard that deep timbre, they'd know everything had been a lie. Sei was gone. This was an imposter. He'd already lost Aoba, he couldn't lose these two.

It had come out first during sex. Ren was so pathetic, he'd scribble out his perverse desires to them when asked if he needed anything. His arms and legs barely had enough strength to move, but still they would comply. They'd ravage his body until he was both filled and emptied, trembling and panting shamefully in a silent display of lust. With his voice returned, he couldn't keep it down any longer. Moaning and crying out their names, instead of mouthing the shapes of the words.

They said nothing about it. As if it hadn't happened. Ren told them he wasn't Sei and they said they already knew. They'd known for months. It hadn't mattered. They still loved him.

Ren worked so hard to recover. He did his exercises, drank those disgusting nutritional supplements, suffered through the aches of muscles shredding and bones expanding. He still heard Aoba sometimes but it was quieter. Maybe he was blocking it out. Maybe he didn't want to be found.

Once he could get out of bed, he was always in theirs. Detached from the medical monitors that were always so irritatingly constant, connected in two places with the people he loved. They pandered to his every wish. They encouraged his desires. Restraint was a distant memory now. He didn't need it. He didn't want it.

Aoba was a distant memory now, too.