Jun stood in the hospital room door, trying her best to will herself to approach the dark haired man sitting at her brother’s bedside, but somehow, even just the lines of his back terrified her, made her want to run.
In the end she settled for a quick knock on the door frame, unable to stop the sigh of relief when the eyes that turned her way were the usual soft violet of the Ken she had known for years and loved like a brother.
“Hey,” she questioned softly, “How’s he doing?”
Ken turned back to Daisuke, “Better,” Ken informed her even as he resumed his gentle squeezing of Daisuke’s hand.
“I can feel him in there,” Ken smiled, “It’s almost as if he’s always just about to wake up.”
Jun sighed, weaving her way around to the other side of her brother’s bed, careful to avoid upsetting any of the equipment responsible for keeping her brother alive.
Or at least, mostly alive.
“I spoke with his doctor.” She had not meant for it to sound like an accusation, but somehow it still did. Jun tried to make up for her tone by offering Ken a small smile even as she reached up to pet the patch of dark red fuzz that was starting to grow back along the edge of Daisuke’s bandaged head.
Ken sighed, “I know what he thinks,” he told Jun, “but he’s wrong. Daisuke’s getting better.” They had had this conversation every day for the last week.
“Ken...” she began carefully, trying yet again, “We have to start thinking about—“
“Jun! Enough!” She flinched at his tone. That harsher side of Ken that had always seemed to amuse her brother had only ever troubled Jun. It left her wondering who the real Ken actually was.
And without Daisuke here, Ken seemed like he was becoming less and less like his usual self, the Ken she knew, the Ken she trusted, and more like this severe, almost cruel person she did not know or trust with every single day that passed.
It was strange how her loud mouthed, high energy little brother had always had such a mellowing affect on the other man, but he had. Somehow, Daisuke had always been the one that kept Ken centered. Jun found herself wondering how much longer Ken could go without her brother and still be the person everyone knew as “Ken.”
“Sorry.” It was muttered and barely audible and in all honesty, Jun wasn’t even sure if it was meant for her or for her brother, but, regardless, she offered Ken a small smile of forgiveness. She pulled a chair close and sat down, taking her brother’s free hand in her own. It was limp and unresponsive. For the longest time, the only sound in the room was quiet beeping of the machine that kept Daisuke breathing.
After what she hoped was sufficient time for Ken to be back to his usual mellow self, Jun offered, “I’ll stay for a while. You know, if you want to go home, get a shower, maybe get something to eat,” she smiled, “You must be tired of hospital food.” But Ken only shook his head.
“I promise I won’t take any pictures of him in any compromising positions, start any internet rumors while you’re gone,” she promised, happy when that at least got the tiniest of smiles, but again, Ken only shook his head no.
“Can I at least go get you something from the cafeteria?” Jun tried for a third time. After all, Ken was starting to look even more emaciated than her brother who was at least getting some nutrition through his IV.
“I don’t want to eat.” At least that was a little more honest that his usual, “I’m not hungry,” Jun thought with a sigh.
Jun didn’t know how much more of this she could take. She didn’t know how much more Ken could take. The doctor had been clear. The operation had succeeded in that the swelling in Daisuke’s brain had decreased. Unfortunately that had allowed them to better judge the damage that had already been done and that news wasn’t good.
Daisuke was gone. While his brain had not totally ceased functioning, it was beyond repair. Daisuke, at least the Daisuke she had always known, has passed a week ago, probably not long after the blood vessel in his brain burst and blood began compressing and destroying the delicate enclosed tissue.
Technically, Daisuke was still alive, but truly… The energy, the emotion, the humor that was Daisuke was already gone.
But even that particular distinction would most likely be a moot point soon, despite what Ken insisted. Daisuke was no longer breathing on his own. The doctor said they had had to start supplementing his blood pressure with continuous medication, and this morning, his kidneys had begun shutting down.
Her baby brother was dying.
No. Her baby brother was already dead.
But now his body was failing, too.
Jun glanced over at Ken, doing her best to blink back the tears that threatened to overcome her and watched as he continued to squeeze Daisuke’s hand, to whisper words she couldn’t hear, and didn’t really want to hear because she knew that they weren’t meant for her. Ken must have felt her eyes on him because he looked over at her and offered her an encouraging smile.
“Squeeze his hand,” Ken urged her, “Squeeze his hand and he’ll squeeze yours back.”
Jun did as she’d been asked. But there was no movement. Not even a flicker under his eyelids that might suggest dreaming. Despite what Ken seemed to desperately want to believe, the truth was all too painfully obvious.
Daisuke was already gone.
And he would never return.
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