Akihito opened his eyes in the darkened hospital room.The curtains next to the bed were drawn on his right side. It was quiet, in the middle of the night. He could hear the reassuring beeping monitoring his heart rate. His entire body hurt and his head felt strange and heavy. He tried to turn it because he knew Asami was there but the movement brought tears to his eyes from the hard, unyielding pain in his neck. He focused just his eyes towards him.
Asami was asleep in the chair next to his bed and looked older than Akihito had ever seen him. This beautiful man who dominated every space he was in seemed ragged and torn but still steadfast. He didn’t try to wake him. Instead, he watched him sleep, letting the feeling of having come home wash over him again. He’d come home to Asami, to his feelings, and to his place in this world. He knew no matter what happened they would always be together. There was no need to fight or run anymore. With this thought, Akihito closed his eyes and went back to sleep.
When he next woke, Asami was awake sitting slumped in the chair and watching him, his hand on his chin. Akihito found he was able to turn his head a little towards him now. His neck still hurt but the pain seemed to be blunted. There was a dull ache in his right leg, just below the knee. The men watched each other, much like they had on the couch. The silence was as it was before, comfortable and ordinary.
“I…” said Akihito after a while. He couldn’t swallow. His throat felt closed.
“You don’t need to talk,” said Asami sitting up straight.
“I want to,” he said, his voice hoarse, “Can I please have some water?”
Asami reached for the water pitcher on the side table and poured him a glass, then carefully sat down on the bed to help him drink it.
“Thanks,” Akihito said. His throat felt better and he could swallow now. Asami put the glass down and leaned over him again. Akihito reached out and touched Asami’s face. Asami laid his bandaged hand on top of his. The first finger was splintered and bandaged to the second finger.
“Are you all right? Is your hand going to be all right?” Akihito asked.
“Yes, of course. I shouldn’t have any problems with it. How are you feeling?” Akihito could see blood stains on Asami’s rumpled white shirt, particularly on the collar. A couple of the buttons were missing from when he ripped it open. He blushed at the memory.
“Groggy and my head feels strange. It doesn’t hurt, though. What happened?”
“Ravi, he…he shot you in the head,” said Asami. His voice wavered for a moment then he swallowed. “The bullet hit your head at an angle and went around the back instead of penetrating your skull. You were very lucky,” said Asami, then he lowered his voice, “I was lucky.”
Akihito’s eyes opened wide. “I survived getting shot in the head?! Wow! How often does that happen?”
“Not often,” said Asami, kissing Akihito’s palm. “I’ve never been more afraid in my entire life. I thought I’d lost you,” Asami paused for a moment then continued, “The important thing is there’s no permanent damage though you have a plate in your skull and might get headaches from time to time.” He squeezed Akihito’s fingers gently.
They said nothing more for a time. Akihito felt there was no need to hurry or rush anything. It was quiet. He hadn’t realized it at first but he was in a private hospital room. The window curtains were drawn but he could see the slivers of sunlight outside. Above his head was a long row of outlets on the wall.
“Your parents will be back later this morning to see you. I sent them home after the surgery,” said Asami.
“Wha…? Y-You met them?” Akihito sat up suddenly and he felt a rush of dizziness. He lay back down. He frowned at Asami, worried. Asami and his parents met?!
“Yes, of course. I called them when we got to the hospital.”
“Did you tell them what happened? What did you say?”
“I told them it was a terrible accident and it was best not to ask questions. They seemed fine with it.” Asami stood up and went to the window, pulling the curtain aside for a moment. A shaft of bright morning sunlight lit a long triangle across the hospital bed. He let the curtain fall back into place then pulled out his pack of Dunhills, looked at them for a moment, and put them away again.
“What happened to Ravi? Did you send him back to his men?”
Asami returned to the chair and sat down. “He’s dead. Kirishima killed him.” He delivered this news with his usual matter-of-fact coldness.
Akihito let the information sink in then he thought for a moment. “How did your men know to come to the penthouse?”
“The penthouse has a silent alarm system. If a shot is fired inside or the alarm is triggered, my men are to come right away.”
Akihito reached for the water glass. Asami poured him more water and handed it to him. “Won’t this cause problems with his organization?” asked Akihito after drinking half the glass.
Asami leaned forward in his chair, smiling slightly, “You don’t have to worry about that. We’re taking care of the situation even now.”
“I don’t want anything to happen to you, not when everything has changed,” said Akihito. He realized he wanted to touch Asami, he wanted to be in his arms again. He pushed this thought away even though the longing remained.
“Nothing will happen to me. Ravi was known for doing things like this before. He’s killed one or two prominent family members of other organizations for no good reason other than to satisfy his twisted sense of ‘theater.’ His father has always managed to smooth things over for him; doing business with his organization is very lucrative. His men accompanied him everywhere to protect him from assassination. It was only a matter of time before someone killed him.”
Akihito frowned. “He said you were besotted with him.”
“That’s not true. I was impressed with his beauty but it only took a short time to see what kind of person he was. I wasn’t involved with him for long in spite of the impression he gave you.”
Akihito searched Asami’s eyes before asking the next question. “Who was Jin and what happened to him?”
Asami breathed out. He stood up and walked to the window again, facing the curtains, but didn’t pull them open.
“Jin was my lover. A yakuza boss kidnapped and tortured him,” said Asami. He still had his back to Akihito. He seemed to be focused on the window sill. “I didn’t kill him even if Ravi said I did.”
“How did he die?” He saw Asami grip the curtain, morning light dappled briefly into the room, and then he released the fabric.
“He shot himself…After I got him back…he wasn’t the same,” Asami stopped speaking and Akihito saw his shoulders slump just slightly. He waited for him to continue. “I couldn’t save him. He…No matter what I did, I couldn’t save him.”
“Why was he kidnapped?” asked Akihito. He hated putting Asami through this pain but he had to ask his questions.
“It was a ransom situation. I brought everything the man wanted to the table but it didn’t matter,” said Asami. His voice had dropped its volume though Akihito could still hear him. He could feel the tension in Asami even from across the room. He wanted to reach out and slip his arms around him, to keep the bad memories at bay.
“I killed the yakuza boss, most of his subordinates, and destroyed his organization,” Asami continued. He was back to his matter-of-fact coldness. “The organization wasn’t a large one so it wasn’t as difficult as you might think. I made it very clear that if I had just gotten Jin back safely without any problems I wouldn’t have resorted to such a bloodbath. That was six years ago.” Asami turned towards him. “And yes, Akihito, if the same thing had happened to you in Hong Kong I would have retaliated the same way against Feilong and Mikhail, or died trying.”
Akihito looked down at the IV in his arm. He wondered why he wasn’t more alarmed. After all, the man was a murderer and the head of a yakuza organization. He reached up to touch the bandaged wound on his head. He heard Asami walking back to the bedside. No, he thought to himself, none of that mattered anymore. He’d come home completely to Asami with all his heart and soul. Asami had never tried to hide his true nature from him so he knew what kind of man he was going to spend the rest of his life with.
“Akihito, I hope you’re not going to tell me we can’t be together now. The idea is completely impossible,” said Asami. He was standing next to his bed, looking down on him, his hands in his pockets.
“I’m not going to say that. As I said before, everything has changed. I’m sorry I had to ask you about Jin but it was necessary for me to know,” Akihito said, looking up at him. “There are a lot of things I need to learn about you.”
Asami sat down in the chair. It seemed too small for him. “Yes, I know. I haven’t told you much about myself,” he leaned forward again, “You said ‘everything has changed.’ What do you mean?”
Akihito took a deep breath. Why wait? It might as well be now, he thought. He looked at Asami in earnest, his eyes and heart clear and true. “I love you, Ryuichi. You are everything to me. You are my whole world.”
Asami closed his eyes at Akihito’s words. When he opened them again, he blinked away soft tears. He sat on the hospital bed taking Akihito’s hand, “You asked me in the car why I wanted to cage you? It’s because I can no longer live without you, Akihito. You are mine.” Asami leaned over him and kissed him gently. “You will always be mine. There will never be another.”
Asami laid his head on Akihito’s chest. They didn’t say anything more for a while. Akihito knew the sound of his heartbeat was enough for now.