Black Cherry

Like Eating Glass

Chapter Nineteen: Like Eating Glass:

Another heart attack, uncomfortable trust, recycled realizations, difficult coping; at the end of the path is an island.

The Surprise

October 15th, 2009.

"Can I open my eyes now?" Anna asked. Tsuzuki led her down the hall of Kimoto Manor. He smiled and shook his head.

"Not yet," he answered. They took further steps to her room. Tsuzuki held her warm, small hand the whole time. They came to her room. The shinigami turned to his beloved.

"Wait here," he whispered. He opened the door and went into the room. However, when he had turned his back, another attack flared up. Anna grabbed onto her chest and cried out in pain.

"Ow!" she screamed. "Ow! Ow! Ow!" She sank down to her knees. Tsuzuki raced back to his girlfriend.

"Anna-chan!" he cried. The woman looked up at him, still in pain.

"A-sa-to-ku-n…" she whimpered." Help…me…" He rushed her to the hospital in Meifu. Tsuzuki waited in the hall. He knew this would happen, but it still hurt. The merger had started to pick up. Anna may be strong, but even the strongest have their limits. He didn't want to see her on this course. Tsuzuki shook his head as he trembled.

This can't go on, he thought, clenching his fists. I have to stop this! Right then, the OR door opened and Tsuzuki leapt to attention. A nurse walked over to him.

"How is she?" he asked. The nurse breathed out.

"She's fine," she said. "We managed to ease the wave of the merger." The shinigami relaxed, but the nurse held up her hand.

"However," she said. "Kimoto-san can't keep on like this. Take the stone out now!" Tsuzuki lowered his eyes.

"I can't…" he mumbled. The nurse scowled at him.

"That's not an option," she said. "If this keeps on, Kimoto-san will die. Take the stone out." Tsuzuki's heart sank.

"Alright," he murmured. "I'll do it." The nurse drew back.

"Good," she said. "She'll be out in a couple of moments." Tsuzuki nodded with a stiff upper lip.

"Thank you," he said. He took a seat in his chair. Close to noon, Anna was discharged from the hospital. Neither one spoke on the way home. Tsuzuki let her into Kimoto Manor. In the dining room, he couldn't take it anymore.

"I'm sorry, Anna-chan," he broke down. "I have no other choice." Anna looked on at him.

"What are you talking about?" she asked. Tsuzuki didn't answer. Instead, he turned and reached out to take away the Heaven Stone. His hand came within inches of her chest.

Whack! Anna shut her eyes as she slapped his hand away. Tsuzuki drew back, blinking.

"Anna-chan?" he asked. She looked deep into his eyes.

"No," she said.

"I can't do this to you," Tsuzuki said.

"I can take it."

"No, you can't! Don't you get it? I have killed you."

"Asato-kun…"

"No, listen! I have made your situation worse! I ended up shortening your life!" Tsuzuki fought back his tears. "I was being selfish. I didn't think about how it would affect you. I… I… I'm so sorry!"

"It's okay."

"No, it's not! Stop saying that." Tsuzuki sank down onto the floor near the kitchen doorway. He sighed aloud and buried his head in his hands. "Just don't."

Anna sat down next to him. She tried to rub his shoulders, but he flinched away. She leaned in to him.

"What did you want to show me?" she asked. Tsuzuki shook his head.

"What's the point? You're going to die!" he wailed.

"No, I won't!"

"Will you stop saying that?"

Anna closed her mouth and sat back. Tsuzuki choked back a sob. What was the point? There would be no marriage. He had planned to propose to her today. That had been put on hold on the way to the hospital. What was the point now? She could die at any time.

Sudden warmth drew him back to reality. Tsuzuki looked up. A small hand wrapped around his. Gentle, hope-filled greenish-brown eyes stared into his desperate violet ones.

"I won't say it's okay," she said. The woman placed her other hand over his. "But," Anna went on. "I'm not going to give up fighting, and neither will you. We might not have a shot at winning, but we won't know until we see this through. So, no waving the white flag yet, understand?" Tsuzuki didn't say a word. He leaned his head against her chest and sighed.

"I'm tired."

Anna slowly stroked his short, brown hair. "I know, baby. I know." She kissed him on the forehead.

Secret Friend

"Now the kitchen," Saito said as he picked up with his house plan, "Has to be really big. Mother loves good cooking."

"Really?" Hotaru asked.

"Oh yes."

The loli demon smiled. "One of my neighbors has daughter and she is a good cook."

Saito looked up at her, puzzled. "Really?"

Hotaru nodded. "Yeah." She forced herself to smile. She didn't know why she was telling him this. The woman barely knew the guy. She had come to find something off about him. Hotaru couldn't explain what, however.

When she was with Saito, thoughts of her former lover filled her mind. She had much practice repressing them. Why were they leaking out now? Hotaru glanced at Saito. Is it because him?

It happened again: the memory of day-old sake, bottled flower petals, and cigarettes filled her head. This time, something else came with it. His hands were warm, big and warm like a father's. Oh, that's right; he requested that she call him daddy. He called her his daughter in return. Looking back, they did have a sort of twisted relationship. Yet, he looked like an angel. Oh, he was an angel, alright, an angel of death.

"Hotaru-san," a voice spoke up. The loli demon came back to earth. Saito stared on at her.

"You okay?" he asked. "What's on your mind?" Hotaru forced herself to smile as she shook her head.

"Yeah," she lied. "Nothing much."

Her friend blinked. "You sure?"

Hotaru nodded. "Yeah, will you have a live-in chef with you?" Her friend took a moment to think.

"Maybe…" he said at last.

Hey, it wasn't much, but it dulled the discomfort Hotaru felt at home for now.

Catch-Up Work

Hisoka sat in front of his paperwork. So much work to do, by himself this morning, no less. The boy sighed. This was Anna's fault. Hisoka shut his eyes.

Stop that! You're doing it again. Tsuzuki's with her now, let it go already. Hisoka opened his mouth and drew another breath.

"Right," he said to himself. "I have to work." He began to force himself into it. That's how it had become lately. When alone, Hisoka used extra work as an excuse to not think at all. Otherwise, it would just hurt once again.

Hisoka signed the first paper. That was it. He tired of the pain. He tired of the loneliness. He tired of feeling left out. He tired of everything in this situation right now.

If paperwork would help him escape, okay then. Paperwork it is.

Rough Coping

Tatsumi and Watari sat outside in the court yard with their green tea. The scientist looked over at the secretary.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

"Hm?" The secretary turned to him. "He knows she'll die soon anyway. So why put both her and himself through this mess?"

Watari smiled. "Love."

The other man sneered. "More like stupidity."

Watari tried not to laugh. Tatsumi frowned. "It's not funny! I'm serious!"

Watari gave him a goofy smile. "It can't be helped."

"So… what? I'm supposed to let them be together?"

"I'm saying get used to it."

Tatsumi sighed. This wasn't working, but better than nothing, yeah?

The paths may be long and thorny to walk, but there is an island at the very end. An island called solace for them all to rest, recollect, and recover.

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