( Tezuka held his breath, waiting for another sign. )
“You're the remedy I'm searching hard to find
To fix the puzzle that I see inside
Painting all my dreams the color of your smile
When I find you it will be alright”
The beeping sound was there but the pulse rate barely registered. Tezuka reviewed the charts and checked the IV inserts, the IV bags, electrode links, the catheters, to make sure everything was in its proper place. The oxygen level was low, despite the oxygen mask, his lungs were alright but his body was not responding normally.
Tezuka watched him closely, holding his hand and brushed his silky hair off his face, cupping his cheek and smiling.
“How long are you going to stay asleep, Syuusuke?” Tezuka asked.
His right hand was crushed and now secured with cement brace, both his legs were dislocated and had to be pulled into place but hairline fractures were found close to his ankles and both his legs cast in cement as well to prevent further damage. His head suffered minor concussion but swelling occurred due to internal bleeding There were cuts and scrapes, a huge bruise on his left cheek and his upper body was marked with black and blues, internal functions were deemed at a normal state and his spine was intact.
But Fuji was still asleep. The doctors believe it had something to do with the internal bleeding which they were able to take care of. The doctors assured Tezuka he will eventually wake up.
“How soon?” Tezuka inquired and the doctor shrugged in reply.
The group of Chinese medics finally left the room and Tezuka was alone with his sleeping Fuji. He refused to acknowledge it, but reality eventually settled in, he’s faced with Fuji in a coma.
The morning of his return to Tokyo, Atobe arranged his immediate flight to Beijing using his private plane. Tezuka didn’t argue for once and took his friend’s kind offer, accompanied by Atobe himself and Mizuki. The few hours of his flight, Tezuka forced himself to rest, knowing he needed his strength once they landed in Beijing.
They have not located Fuji and his crew as of yet and it has been a couple days since the devastation hit the country. The news agency assured him that they were working diligently to find the group but without any success.
The chief editor apologized for allowing Fuji to convince him to stay in China and cover the devastation, his crew was scheduled to leave for Tokyo but Fuji wanted to take photos and cover the news. It made sense then to the chief editor since his crew was in Beijing, they could easily travel to Chengdu and cover the events in Sichuan, figuring it will not be too much of a risk. But the news agency head did not think of the dangerous aftershocks that followed and the weakened structures of buildings that eventually befallen on Fuji himself.
It was hard to deal with the roller coaster of emotions overwhelming his exhausted state, he was angry at the news agency for being careless, he was angry at Fuji for being careless as well, he was angry at himself for not taking the time from his work and just be with Fuji. His eyes started to blur due to the welling tears he fought to hold at bay. But Tezuka was too exhausted to fight his despair and his tears quietly flowed as he slowly gave in to sleep.
When they landed in Beijing, they received news that Fuji and his crew were located in Sichuan and Fuji as well but his state was quite complicated. The GPS locator zeroed in a pile of rubble. After two hours of searching through the pile of devastation, Fuji was eventually dug out, protecting an infant in his arms. He was unconscious and barely breathing, the baby, his body protected underneath his wrapped left arm, was unharmed, quietly nestled and sleeping.
Tezuka held steadfast and fought with his emotions, he was going to be strong for Fuji and bravely face what he needed to deal with. First he needed to be with Fuji. The rest of Fuji’s crew escaped with very little threat in their lives, in fact without any threat at all and they walked out of the ruins unscathed. They were the primary contact now, giving Tezuka and his friends the minute to minute news on Fuji. The local medics were attending to Fuji as much as they possibly could but he was not the only one injured.
Atobe immediately was on the phone once again arranging for an immediate airlift for them to Chengdu and Mizuki with his excellent mastery of foreign languages, specially Manadarin, arranged a bed in Beijing’s state of the art hospital for Fuji.
By the end of the day, Fuji was in Beijing, with Tezuka working with the local doctors attending to his injuries and getting him out of danger.
It’s been seventy-two hours since this mayhem began, now he sits on a chair next to Fuji’s bed, waiting. Tezuka barely slept a wink, but he was used to the long hours even days without sleep and this time, he simply just wouldn’t close his eyes. He wanted to stay awake while he waited for his Syuusuke to come back to him.
Carefully caressing Fuji’s bruised cheek, his silver filigree ring glinted when it caught some light reminding him of Fuji’s ring. Without delay he fished his wallet from his pocket and retrieved the matching ring from its secured place. He reached for his partner’s left hand and slipped the ring back on Fuji’s finger.
he felt Fuji’s fingers move.
Tezuka held his breath, waiting for another sign.
He looked at the monitor, his pulse rate climbed a bit, Fuji’s eyes where moving underneath the closed lids. Then suddenly, spasmodic movements seem to jolt Fuji’s body. His heart rate jumped too fast. Tezuka searched for the emergency button, suspecting what could be a possible cardiac anomaly. He pressed the button frantically, losing his patience, he pressed some more while he watched the rising activity on the echo-monitor.
Tezuka was getting very worried.
“Don’t leave me Syuusuke,” he begged him, fighting off the tears betraying his resolve to stay strong.
He was floating, which he thought was strange because he was walking.
It was dark, and a light source can be seen far ahead, but it was bright despite the distance and he couldn’t open his eyes, even if he tried. He saw his memories flashing before him, of events that happened in the past week between him and Tezuka. He watched it vividly and felt the emotions he had during those moments. They were happy for so many years but the past two years have been nothing but constant quarrels that made both men sad and hurting. He remembered being in a hotel room crying alone watching Tezuka’s face – smiling.
Then there was chaos, the earth was shaking violently and people running scared, screaming. The buildings around him were shaking, windows shattering and falling from above him, then walls were collapsing and masses of people were buried. He remembered running, helping men, women and children to keep them moving to safer ground.
He heard a scream for help and a faint crying of a baby. He searched the pile of rubble, the crying was more audible, he was getting closer and underneath a huge piece of wall, a woman was stuck in between a pile of heavy rubble.
“Save my baby please? Anyone please help her.” The woman cried desperately.
Fuji located her and in a tiny opening he called for her to calm down. The baby was crying but not hurt, the woman said and asked him to take her child and save her. Fuji looked around and yelled for help but the madness and fear was everywhere. His media crew was nowhere to be found and no one stopped to help.
It must be a desperate surge of adrenalin that made Fuji lift the heavy piece of rubble that crushed the woman underneath. He yelled for her to move but it was no use, her lower body was crushed by another piece of a wall, her upper body protecting her baby. She begged him to take her child, kissing her before stretching her hands as far as she could before she died.
Fuji’s arms was getting tired and his muscles starting to tingle. Eyeing at the angle of the wall, he pushed with one Herculean breath and moved the threatening rubble away from the child and let go. Quick as lightning he picked up the baby but his step was not quick enough. As if death arms held him, the earth underneath shook violently once more and the building before him started to collapse and then it was dark.
Fuji stopped walking and stared at his hands.
He had the baby in his arms, he tried to save her. He protected the child from the falling rubble with his body, just like her mother did. Tears welled in his eyes and slowly trickled down his cheeks. He failed to save the baby and himself. His breathing hitched and pain shot from his legs and right hand, it burned. He lost his balance and he fell on his knees after coming to a realization, he died. As if he was losing oxygen, he began panting vehemently and grasp for air, he needed to breathe but the pain was excruciating. There was an annoying beeping somewhere that incessantly blared in his ears and he couldn’t stand it. He was dead and the tears flooded his cheeks as he sobbed out his grief. Then suddenly the pain was gone and he was floating again.
“Calm down Syuusuke!” He wiped away the tears and waited.
He closed his eyes and took slow deep breaths and slowly exhaled to calm himself. The annoying beeping in his ears slowly turned into a soothing staccato beat and it helped relieve his nerves. He didn’t know where he was. But the current dark surrounding creped him out, especially since he has been perusing romance vampire novels lately, to keep him occupied and not miss Tezuka. It didn’t help his current mental state to imagine vampires and werewolves jumping out of nowhere.
“I must be dreaming. I am sleep walking and having a bad dream. I need to wake up. Or am I really dead?” His mind continued to wonder.
He recalled reading something about this. Could he be lost in between life and death? He finally reached the end where the light was much closer and warmer. It felt peaceful and nice. There were colorful hues of dancing lights, almost like the aurora borealis that adorns the northern hemisphere skies, a phenomenon he enjoyed capturing in film. There was mellow music, something jazz like, guitars strumming just like Earl Klugh. It’s such a beautiful feeling and he wished Tezuka was with him. He felt warmth slowly spread his cheeks, it felt just like Tezuka’s hand warming his cheeks.
He can’t be dead, he hoped not. He can’t leave Tezuka now. He refused to believe the possibility at all and concentrated on the idea that he was stuck in his dream.
“It’s the drug, they are giving me so much of it and I am losing it! At least I know I can never be a drug addict since getting high means having this kind of nightmare.”
Fuji smiled and shook his head. He realized how weird he was just sounding now. But he needed to concentrate on waking up. He was supposed to return to Tokyo and wait for Tezuka return from his tour. He already planned it out in his head, a surprise dinner with their families and close friends. They would talk and make things right again, after that he will make sure Tezuka will have the best make-up sex ever.
He can’t be dead. He loved Tezuka way too much to let go. He is his soul and he has his heart.
“Damn it Syuusuke! Wake the hell up!”
For a second, he imagined hearing Tezuka saying the same thing but he knew his mind was running like crazy and he’s mind was talking to him.
“Okay if I walked back, will I wake up?” Fuji turned against the dancing shades of lights and looked at the darkness.
He felt trepidation, a pang of pain threatened to shoot from his chest but he inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled, it seemed to relieve him of the pain.
He took as couple of steps into the darkness he turned to stare at the warm colorful lights again. Somewhere distant, he heard voices, very familiar voices. He scanned the dancing lights and noticed something moving towards him, two men busily arguing with one another were walking towards him. They were mere shadows, he couldn’t see their faces, but the voices were so familiar, specially the one from the petite man, Fuji felt somewhat annoyed. When the two men finally were close enough to discern their identities, Fuji’s eyes shot open in surprise.
Eyes wide opened, he couldn’t believe it and he succumbed to the possibility that he was indeed dead.
“Fuji.” Both men called out to him.
Fuji could only stare at them. “You got to be kidding me! The two of you, it had to be the two of you! Of all the people I know, why the two of you?” Fuji exclaimed.
He never thought he’d ever see these men in his dreams and the more he worried about his current predicament.
“Is this some kind of a joke? Of all people, I have to meet in my after life, it had to be the two of you!” Fuji was frantic and the more he wished he was just having some kind of a nightmare. Once again, wondering how much drugs his body was exposed to.
“I guess I am not going to heaven after all.” He sighed, resigned to the idea of an eternity in hell. He watched the two men look at him with wonder, before they turned and looked at each other.
“Well you’re not exactly angel material. Why would you assume such things?” The dark haired man smirked.
“Mizuki! Be nice to Fuji. He’s not that bad. He’s actually quite awesome to have kept Tezuka next to him all these years.” The taller man pompously declared.
“Atobe, you have not changed one bit, irritating as ever.” Fuji interjected. “Why exactly are you here, in my dream or nightmare. Am I dead? Who are you people?” Fuji was confused.
“Fuji, Fuji, Fuji.” Atobe sighed. “Mizuki and I came because we were worried about you. We’re here to bring you back home.”
“You’re Guardian angels?” Fuji exclaimed. “No way, you guys were more evil than me!” Fuji turned to address each man. “Atobe, you hurt Tezuka and you!”
He turned towards Mizuki, “You almost maimed my brother and had the audacity to lure him to make you his lover.” Fuji began to massage his temples, feeling the searing pain slowly throb all over his body.
“This is not fair! I was going to make things right for Tezuka and I end up with the two of you as my guardian angels. Why not Inui or even Echizen? They’re more credible compared to the two of you?” Fuji’s glared at the two men, he didn’t understand the situation he was in and he was getting very annoyed.
“I need to wake up. Please get me out of this dream now. Kunimitsu! Where are you?” Fuji screamed.
He was hyperventilating again. He needed air, he couldn’t breathe and the blaring beep was inside his ears once again.
The two men held Fuji firmly, each of them were at his side. “Come on Fuji, we’re only trying to help you. Don’t give up. Tezuka needs you and Yuuta will be devastated if you give up. Please don’t make him sad.” Mizuki was sincere with his pleading and Fuji didn’t know what to say.
Atobe smiled. “You see Mizuki isn’t that bad. But he’ll keep Yuuta company full-time though, if you decide to stay here… and Tezuka will be free for the taking.” The taller man sighed, faking his sadness over the matter relating to his partner.
Fuji smirked at Atobe, amused at his friend’s statement. “Atobe, why are you haunting me in my dream, now when I am so defenseless? Kunimitsu will never be yours to take. You forget he’s married to me!” Fuji raised his left hand to show Atobe his wedding ring. But his ring finger was bare, he frowned worriedly.
“Well nice slim fingers you got there Fuji, but I don’t see a ring anymore.” Atobe stated.
Fuji was cold and scared. He stared at Mizuki and then Atobe. He convinced himself,
“I am dreaming, wake up Syuusuke. I am dreaming! I’m not dead! I’m not dead!”
He screamed inside his mind. But the more he screamed the words, the less confidence he had in believing it. He closed his eyes and wished, more like prayed, he was alive.
He felt the stab of pain once again, it was excruciating and he felt it everywhere, the ground moved once again, shaking and he was seeing the buildings collapsing, he could hear the screams and a loud thudding noise, like some kind of helicopter. It was so loud and he felt cold but he couldn’t move. He shook his head, he wanted to open his eyes but he couldn’t he wanted to live for Tezuka.
He was shaking his head violently, the noise was too much. “Is this how it is when you die?”
Atobe and Mizuki were nowhere around.
He yelled at himself.
He heard his voice but there were no words coming out of his mouth. It was getting darker and colder and slowly he was drifting away again, floating once more. The blaring noise was gone, just a steady hum and he felt like being cradled to calm down. The tears continued to flow, somehow he knew he needed to accept and submit to the reality of his fate.
He called out his name and he was sure he uttered the words. He felt his eyes fluttering. He saw a distant light and a face, his face with a smile.
Fuji heard his name, he heard Tezuka’s voice.
“Kunimitsu…I love you.”
Tears were dulling his vision as he felt his body floating and slowly his eyes were getting heavy. He fought to keep his eyes open. He wanted to see him, before he left. He wanted to see Tezuka before it was too late.
“Take care… my heart, my soul?” Fuji finally told him. “I’m sorry.”
Everything went dark once more then, he slowly floated away.