When Cherry Blossoms Bloom

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One's Own Worst Enemy

Hirozaki couldn’t help but pace. He could sense that Ruth was struggling and yet despite his best efforts, he was cut off from her. His avenue of dreaming and joining her, was now closed off. Either by Ruth as a way to protect him or the entity in order to keep her isolated. He didn’t like either option. He hated feeling helpless. Reading to her was nothing more than a distraction. He continued to give her words of encouragement in the hopes that she was hearing him. He had to at least do that. Her life signs were stable and strong. When she made it through this, he was going to make sure she wanted for nothing. Don’t you mean, if? He shook his head. “Shut up.” He said aloud. The nurse that was caring for her looked at him and shook her head. No doubt she would go and retrieve the doctor after hearing his outburst. That was fine with him. The doctor did indeed walk in moments later. “Professor, you really must go home and rest. We will contact you if there is any change in her condition.” The doctor pulled out a piece of paper. “Here is my direct number if you have any concerns or questions. Please.” With that he bowed and left. Hirozaki rubbed his eyes. He was exhausted and hadn’t even showered, he was so afraid of not being there if she woke. He walked over and kissed Ruth on the forehead. “I’ll return, my love. Please stay strong.” With that he finally allowed himself to leave. He returned home, took a much needed shower, and then lay down. After what seemed like forever, he finally fell asleep. Eerily, he didn’t dream. For someone who always dreamed, this was very unsettling for him. Almost as though part of him had gone blind. When he woke the next morning, he found himself in a cold sweat.

Ruth woke when she heard a footstep. Her arms were sore from hanging, her wrists and ankles raw from fighting against her bindings. Her breathing was becoming more labored as her body hang. “You’re lying to yourself.” She heard a familiar voice say. “Telling yourself that you’re strong doesn’t make it so.” Ruth chuckled. It sounded raspy. “I’ve been in more shit in my life. You’re nothing.” The figure appeared in front of her. Ruth could only see the glowing eyes. She faced the entity, even as she shook. “You have no idea what pain is?” With that Ruth watched as the figure raised a hand pointing a finger at her. A very feminine finger, she realized. “Pain has so many different levels, child.” With that the figure dug her nail into Ruth’s chest and sliced downward leaving a deep gash. Ruth screamed. The pain was intense, but eased after a moment. She took a breath as best she could. “Physical pain ends after a short time. But emotional pain....” She put her nail at Ruth’s temple. She could feel her nail break the skin. She gasped. “Mommy,” She could see her daughter standing in front of her. “Daddy made my pee pee hurt.” Ruth closed her eyes. But the figure of her daughter remained. “My daughter is as strong as I am.” She breathed. The entity chuckled. “This is not about your daughter, child.” She watched her daughter begin to cry. “Mommy, don’t you love me anymore? You let the evil people take me away.” “No,” Ruth whispered. “I fought for you until the very last, baby.” The entity chuckled. “You’ve proven my point.” “Shut the fuck up.” Ruth yelled. “You do whatever you like to me. I’ll survive like I always have. I’m stronger than you. I’ve proven it.” The entity hissed. She reached out her hand her fingers like claws, and cut Ruth from neck to waist. “You’ll die here.” Ruth smiled even as she felt the blood flowing from her wounds, her body weakening. “You first.” Then darkness took her.

Hirozaki heard his phone ring, when he answered it, doctor was on the other end. “Professor, you need to get here as soon as possible. Please bring your priest.” When Hirosaki and Miro finally arrived, they were only able to see Ruth through the window of the ICU. She was bandaged from her neck to her waist. The color drained from his face. Miro put his hand on his friends shoulder. “I’ll talk to the doctor, we need to put an end to this.” Miro went to find the doctor and talk to him. When he returned to Hirozaki’s side, he remained silent. “Well?” “The doctor is going to allow us to remain with her. We’re having her moved to the temple on the hospital premises. This may give her some protection.” “There must be something that I can do.” He breathed. Miro thought for a moment. “There is.” Hirozaki looked at him waiting. “But it’s dangerous.” “No more than watching her be torn apart.” Hirozaki growled. Miro nodded. “The only power you would have would be to give her strength due to your presence. No matter what, only she can defeat this entity. Ruth can’t deny you entrance completely. You two were married and the consummation of that marriage guarantees you some rights on the spiritual plane.” Hirozaki sat down. He would never dream of doing something against Ruth’s wishes. Even a violation of this degree. Miro seemed to read his friends mind. “You’re protecting her. She will forgive you.”

They had to wait nearly six weeks for her wounds to heal completely before they could even move her. With both Miro and Hirozaki there, Ruth suffered no more wounds. They followed the nurses and doctors as they moved Ruth into the temple. Hirosaki ran to her side when he saw her spasm. The doctor shook his head, she was alright. Her vitals hadn’t changed. Miro had a few of his students help Hirozaki dress in a ceremonial gown and sit in a circle of candles. He proceeded to set up burning incense around Ruth. Then he took a bottle of oil and marked her forehead praying softly. When Ruth’s body stiffened, Miro nodded to his students. One of them touched the top of Hirosaki’s head. In a moment, Hirozaki fell forward, unconscious.

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