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Domiciliary Visit

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Mid-February 2000
Takamura Mansion
close to midnight

 

Takamura Nagisa had always known her husband would risk his life for his Chosen One, had known not to ask about it even when he returned bruised all over or with a bullet wound. But six weeks ago, they’d brought him home nearly disemboweled. By a sword! Who attacked Imonoyama Nokoru with a sword!? And nobody had told her what had happened and why. Not Imonoyama, not his physician…

…not even Suoh himself when he had been awake. He wasn’t awake now. Nagisa averted her eyes, suppressing tears, and sat down on the chair beside the bed. It was late. She should go to her own bed, but… every time when he was unconscious, it took longer for him to wake up again, and his waking times shortened as well. She was afraid she’d miss one, afraid he’d slip away forever while she was asleep, afraid—

She buried her face in her hands. The time since November had been so quiet and peaceful[1]. Tokyo authorities had used the calm to rebuild what last year's earthquake swarm had destroyed, starting with the Yamanote. The ring line had been operational again by December, restoring some normalcy even though Shibuya 109 and the Shinjuku high-rises were still fields of rubble slated for reconstruction in the new year. And in the first hours of that year, Imonoyama’s medical team had swarmed their house, setting up what looked almost like an ICU unit in their bedroom. Almost. She wondered if that ‘almost’ made any difference. It had been six weeks ago, and the wound wasn’t healing, the sour scent of it permeating through the medical dressings and antiseptics, though the physicians assured her that there was no infection. Nothing. It just didn’t close, didn’t heal, and Suoh was in pain and was getting weaker every day.

The wound has a spiritual component, Imonoyama had told her, but couldn’t explain what that meant. He’d given her a contact number for the lead onmyoji of the Sumeragi because of it, but her husband had flat-out denied seeing the polite man who’d answered her call. She’d tried to convince Suoh, but to no avail[2]. And the Sumeragi would not treat him against his will—

 

Seishiro entered the room through the window in a squall of sakura blossoms right after a sleeping spell had made sure that both – the patient and his wife – wouldn’t bother him. As expected, Takamura’s place had been well secured and the master bedroom turned sickroom was on the second floor, but the medical equipment keeping the occupant alive had forced some of the more cumbersome components of the security system offline.

Seishiro closed the window behind him and sauntered over to the bed, studying the battery of medical equipment set up around it. It seemed he and Takamura shared their dislike to hospital treatments, he mused as he picked up the medical clipboard on the bedside table, scanning the assessment of Takamura’s deteriorating physical condition quickly. Seishiro shook his head as he returned the clipboard. “Really, Taka-chan,” he addressed the unconscious man on the bed, “you should have accepted Subaru-kun’s help. If you were a dog, you’d have been put down already. Aren’t you supposed to die for your ‘Chosen One’?” He snorted. “That’s a position I don’t intend to fill.”

At the very end of the final year, the misbalance between Heaven and Earth had been extreme. The shin-ken, as focal points of the Final Battle, had mirrored that. The Twin Star’s shin-ken that had torn through Takamura’s abdomen had been almost pure yin energy[3] at that point. While the physical wound was a clean cut and expertly treated, its spiritual equivalent… Seishiro hissed. Frankly, spiritually there wasn’t much left of Takamura’s intestines now.

He established the circle right on the bedspread, pinning the white cloth to the bed with the ritual daggers. Keeping Takamura’s abdomen in the center, he drew the five elements in a generating cycle beginning with water[4] as befitting the time of night and the association with bone, the one undamaged body component Takamura still had. It wouldn’t regenerate the missing yang but redistributing ch'i from the healthy yin organs to the damaged yang ought to give the body a fighting chance to heal itself. The rest would be up to Takamura’s stubbornness. He wasn’t concerned in that regard.

 

Nagisa woke with the sensation that something had changed. Early morning light from the uncovered window fell onto her face as her head still rested on her husband’s bedcover. The room itself was quiet. Suoh's labored breathing had calmed. She sat up, panicked, fearing it had calmed forever, but his chest was rising and falling quietly, then she noticed the scent. Spring, she thought, confused. In the last weeks of a winter with bitter cold spells, it smelled of spring, of flowers. She imagined cherry blossoms—

She stopped. Pale pink petals were scattered around her feet and along the baseboards, and the scent of cherry blossoms had replaced the acrid antiseptics and the smell of Suoh’s wound. Nagisa drew a deep breath and straightened, swiftly checking her husband’s temperature and pulse, finding both improved. There were five holes in the white cloth of the bedcover, black smears surrounding them, as if— No. She shook her head. She hadn’t asked about his injury. She wouldn’t ask about his healing, just be thankful for it. Raising from her vigil, she went to get dustpan and brush.

 

[1] Nagisa is not close enough to the participants of the Final Battle to recall the events as they occurred in X after the fall of Rainbow Bridge. For her, the nightmare of X!1999 stopped at the end of October.

[2] There’s overlap between onmyodo and ninjutsu with respect to the Kuji-in syllables (Rin, Pyo, To, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, Zen) interpreted in ninjutsu as Strength, Channel, Harmony, Healing, Sense of Danger, Reading of thoughts, Control of space and time, Control of sky and elements, and Enlightenment. Suoh’s reluctance to have an onmyoji “practice” on him is related to that [source: Kuji-in - Wikipedia].

[3] Traditional Chinese Medicine sorts organ concepts (not identical with the anatomical organs) into yin (liver, heart, pancreas, lung, kidneys) and yang (gall bladder, stomach, large and small intestine, urinary bladder) and considers illness / injury in terms of disbalance between these.

[4] Generating cycle of the Five-Elements: Wood feeds Fire, Fire produces Earth (ash, lava), Earth supports Sky, Sky produces Water (clouds, rain), Water nourishes Wood. The Five-Elements are associated with emotions, body parts, time of day, time of year, and so on (see Wuxing (Chinese philosophy) - Wikipedia (based on the Chinese version that uses Metal instead of Sky) for a list).