Fear is the Heart of Love

Chapter 16

The last five days had been some of the calmest and strangely happiest of my life. Not one negative thought swarmed my mind and the world seemed brighter because of it. I never realized how beautiful life was before; I had been so blind. Colors and sounds exploded around me. Laughter, smiles, and love was all I wanted to see. My perspective on life had changed, and all for the better.

Masamune was different as well. Even at work, people noticed he was calmer and gentler. He was still the demon king, but something about his attitude had changed, if only slightly. His eyes weren’t as heavy and he didn’t throw insults at everyone who passed. His heart was lighter.

Today though, I couldn’t help but think of nothing but death.

Today I was having my appointment with Dr. Yukue. Masamune decided to come with me despite me disagreeing. Whatever news I got, in case bad news, could he handle it? Could I handle it?

Though the biggest obstacle in our relationship and my disease so far had just passed only five days ago, we had managed to overcome it and be happier just the next day. I didn’t want to ruin that. But telling Masamune myself after the appointment was worse, so I decided it would be better for him to come.

That afternoon, we headed out using Masamune’s car. I held his hand tightly with one hand during the car ride, drumming my fingers of my other hand on my knee. To say I was nervous was the understatement of the year. I was petrified.

When the car parked in front of the doctor’s office, Masamune reached over and cupped my cheek. He turned my face towards him and kissed me softly on the lips, reassuringly.

“It’s going to be okay,” Masamune comforted me.

“What if it’s not? What if we get bad news?” I turned my eyes to my lap, my voice cracking a little.

“We’ll get through it. We’ve been doing it so far, right?” Masamune replied. I just shrugged, squirming in my seat.

“Ritsu, no matter what, just remember I’ll be here for you,” Masamune kissed my cheek, squeezing my hand reassuringly. I nodded my head, turning my face and kissing him lightly.

“Thank you,” I managed a small smile. He smiled back and we finally left the car.

We walked in to see Dr. Yukue talking to a nurse. He saw me, turning and smiling. He approached, shaking my hand.

“How are you Onodera-san? Did you recover well?” He asked kindly.

“I did, thank you. I’ve been fine, just a little scared of this appointment,” I gave a short laugh, more dark than humorous. He tried to smile nervously, but it seemed more scared.

“It’ll be quick,” He replied.

“Oh, this is Takano Masamune,” I introduced, “He’s my…boyfriend,” I finished awkwardly, blushing a little. Dr. Yukue showed no reaction to it though, shaking Masamune’s hand kindheartedly.

“I’m Dr. Yukue. I’ve been Onodera-san’s doctor for a few years now. It’s nice to meet you,” He said with a smile. Masamune returned it, replying, “You too.”

“Well, let’s proceed,” Dr. Yukue led the way to our usual examination room. I sat obediently on the examination table as usual, Masamune taking a seat next to it.

As usual, Dr. Yukue drew blood and sent it to the lab. He asked a few questions on my recovery and I told him of my incident with my father which ended me in the hospital after collapsing. He seemed saddened and slightly frightened by this, warning me to be careful. I didn’t know if he meant around my father or people in general.

After about twenty minutes, the questions were over and he said the results should be ready.

“You may wait in my office,” Dr. Yukue said as he walked out. I led the way to his office, taking a seat in one of the puffed-up leather chairs. Masamune sat next to me, taking a hold of my hand. Only a few minutes passed before Dr. Yukue entered again. I saw it wasn’t good.

He looked the same as he did when he told me I had a year left. His mouth in a tight line, his face forlorn and eyes heavy. He approached his desk slowly, easing himself in his chair. As soon as he sat, I blurted, “Just tell me.”

He paused a moment, before saying, “Are you sure you want him to hear?” He indicated Masamune.

“Yes,” I replied simply.

He paused again, taking his glasses off and setting them down gingerly.

“Just let me say this is my fault. I should have watched you more closely,” He stopped, rubbing his forehead uneasily.

“The surgery and collapses have taken a tremendous toll on your body. Your immune system broke down during that time and allowed the virus to spread. The virus spread quickly and angrily, and is weakening your body every day. You may not feel it now, but soon you will. You’ll get sicker and sicker. Your immune system is almost shot and there’s no saving it,” Dr. Yukue took a deep breath before continuing, “Your body is now almost eighty-eight percent infected. That’s an eight percent increase from a month ago.”

I didn’t say anything. I just squeezed Masamune’s hand. I couldn’t look at Masamune and see his reaction.

After clearing my throat weakly a few times, I croaked, “Now how long do I have?”

“….I’d be surprised if you lived past six months.”

I gasped. My hand flew to my mouth. I could feel the blood drain from my face. My time had been cut in half, just like that.

“I’m so sorry, both of you. There isn’t much more that I can do. If you want, I can schedule you to stay in the hospital in your last few weeks. There might be something they can do for you in your last days and it’d be safer-” Dr. Yukue explained but I interrupted, blurting out, “No.”

Dr. Yukue looked at me with surprise and I felt Masamune turn to me in surprise too.

“No. I don’t want to spend my days in a hospital. I just want to enjoy them with the ones I love,” I said, squeezing Masamune’s hand, “Can’t I do that?”

Dr. Yukue pressed his mouth into a tight line, his eyes sympathetic. He sighed deeply, nodding his lightly and smiling sadly, “Yes. Yes you can, Onodera-san.”

I don’t know why, but his words gave me great relief. Such great relief, that I started crying. It was slow at first as I nodded my head gratefully, but they fell heavier as I let quiet whimpers escape. Dr. Yukue sat there, not knowing what to do, but Masamune soon was in front me, enveloping me in his arms. I stood up, falling into him and hugging him impossibly tight.

Dr. Yukue rose, whispering, “I’ll give you a few minutes.”

Once the door shut behind him, my whimpers turned into howling. I bawled, my face buried into Masamune’s shoulder. This was Monday all over again.

I felt drops on my shoulder, much slower than mine, but just as heavy. As I bawled, Masamune silently cried. I didn’t how long passed, but I couldn’t comprehend anything that happened afterwards. It was all a silent and colorless blur. I was blind again. All the color and sounds of life diminished. Just the sounds of grief, sadness, and death swirled around me. My perspective had shattered all over again, the same as the day I found out about my disease.

My ears buzzed. My head throbbed. My heart broke. I didn’t understand anything that happened.

I finally stopped crying. Masamune said something and we left. We drove home and I immediately went to bed. I stared at the wall. I didn’t even comprehend Masamune lying next to me, pulling me close. Silently comforting me. Silently crying.

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