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Ready To Lose (everything but you)

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It's another bad day.  

He's motionless, emotionless, silent as their car ride home. The air is stifling and it chokes him, biting at his windpipe until all he can do is watch. That's all he can ever do. 

His eyes are full of distance, miles and miles of endless roads Hajime will never travel, will never find. His stance, backed up against the headboard, gives the most distance of all. Hajime aches but doesn't say a word.  

Tooru lets out a shuddering exhale, more sound than he's made all day. All week, even.  

He has a sweater on and maybe that's progress. He dressed himself of his own volition, without help or Hajime's shaking hands.  

(They used to be sturdy but that word has long left his vocabulary.) 

Hajime waits, he always does, then goes to prepare the dinner he knows only he'll eat.  


 

There's a chance... a chance he might not ever recover fully. 

That's what they had said, in a hospital room filled with flowers from people Tooru never really knew. They said that but Hajime still feels the twinge of hope when Tooru sits on the porch or takes a shower on his own.  

Because hope is fragile but it lingers even when you don't want it to.  

He thinks, though, that maybe he has no right to hope. He wasn't there. He didn't hear the screams or the cries for help or see the blood. He has no idea what Tooru is replaying in his head all day, what he could possibly be feeling when he wakes up from nightmares clawing at his own skin.  

He's not sure he wants to know at all.  

He does know that Tooru sits by the window reading the same newspaper article with the headline "School Shooting at Local College" and his eyes burn but he doesn't cry. Neither of them have cried for a long time.  

Hajime thinks that Tooru might be afraid of crying. That it scares him now, but most things do so he stops. He bites it back, holds it in, because he wasn't there. Hajime might see tears but Tooru doesn’t see what Hajime sees anymore.  

If he sees anything at all, that is.  


 

It gets harder to breathe when you think it would be easier not to. 


 

He wants to scream. He wants to pound his fists against the coffee table and just scream until his voice is hoarse and he's subdued to numbness.  

(He doesn’t get the pleasure of being numb anymore.) 

Instead, he drinks his tea and pretends Tooru isn't shaking again. He knows if he touches him he'll only shake worse. If he acknowledges it, Tooru will leave. Maybe that would be for the best.  

He'd heard that keeping a routine is important to dealing with a loved one who's gone through something traumatic. This is their routine, Hajime drinks his coffee while working on his laptop as Tooru shakes against the living room couch while reliving something Hajime will never understand. 

He can't help but wonder if that man got what he wanted. How he was able to purchase a gun and take it onto a college campus, shoot a total of twelve students and hold one bright eyed brown haired innocent boy as his hostage.  

He wonders if that man sees the same things Tooru does. If he's spent the past year without speaking a word, too. If he has nightmares that leave him gasping for air or days where he just shakes until he falls asleep.  

Probably not.  


 

The therapy doesn't help. He was sure it would but Tooru, if possible, looks even more exhausted after his sessions. On the days he has therapy, Tooru sleeps on the couch.  

Other nights, they sleep as far away from each other as possible.  

Hajime used to try and hold him. He would shift closer, let his hands wander to grip Tooru's, whisper small assurances. But then Tooru would stop breathing completely. He'd hold his breath, not on purpose but because Hajime thinks he's probably terrified. He doesn't try to hold him anymore.  

But sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night and Tooru isn't there. Chances are, he's sitting at the window again. Reading the same article that he probably has memorized by now.  

Not that it would matter if he did, he already knows firsthand what happened.  


 

The first time Hajime hears Tooru speak in a year is on Christmas.  

"Let me go! Please, I'll give you whatever you want! Please please please please.." and it goes on. For about two minutes until Hajime finally gets over his shock enough to wake the other up. Tooru continues screaming even after Hajime stirs him. 

"Make it stop make it stop please make it stop," Tooru says and Hajime's sure he isn't talking to him.  

Hajime doesn't try to hold him but they sit together in silence until the sun rises.  

He wouldn't have been able to sleep anyways.  

---- 

The next morning, there's a paper on the pillow beside him. It reads: 

I'll tell you what happened if you promise not to cry 

Hajime feels his lungs emptied so fast he's afraid he might choke. His hands shake around the thin square of paper, not sure what to focus on. The messy cursive script that he'd missed so much or the promise of something he wasn't sure he'd ever get.  

He pulls the blankets off of him with the idea that maybe, just maybe, they'll be okay.

Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but someday.  


 

They both cry.  

Hajime is sure he'll have nightmares for months maybe years but it's okay. Because they're crying, and and he's speaking. There's no silence, no shaking, no screaming.  

It does happen, of course. There are bad days, and there always will be. 

There are days when Tooru can't get out of bed. And days when someone grabs his arm unexpectedly and he screams. Days when they drive past his old college and Tooru can't breathe until Hajime reminds him to.  

And then there are days when they laugh so hard they spit out their drinks. And days when Tooru cuddles up with him on the couch to watch terrible daytime television. Days to spend with their friends who they love.  

It's fine, really. Any kind of day.  

Through better or through worse, they can handle it together. 

(Healing takes time but it's well worth the wait.)