Art by @KeouChuu on Twitter
“What is he doing here?”
Asami was peering outside, her eyes fixed on the alpha standing outside of the window as he peered in.
His gaze danced around, never even for a second settling on me and I took a deep breath as I recalled the last seconds of what happened as I saw him last.
“Don’t come closer, Alpha”
Most of it was instinct. I wasn’t in my right mind, but I also don’t regret setting a clear boundary. It’s hard enough for me to accept any help from anyone. Even Asami has trouble getting through to me at times. If I don’t want to let someone in on my problems, I won’t.
At that second, where the pain was too much to bear, the ringing in my ears immobilizing more than the aching in my muscles and the strong scents clouding my brain, Osamu couldn’t have helped me anyway.
I wasn’t even sure what happened at all.
Those guys were beating me up, and suddenly they weren’t. My eyes were swollen and it was hard to see, and as they stopped I could smell the distorted scent of burnt sandalwood coming closer and closer.
I basically told him to leave, and he did.
Was he ashamed? Would he come back to grovel?
Is he going to tell me I should’ve let him help?
What would have changed?
The reality is the following: I got assaulted by some idiots because I didn’t want to soothe them. I remembered they seemed drunk or high. Wasn’t it my right to decide whom I can help? Especially when it came to the expense of my own health?
What a joke.
A beta deciding to prioritise their own health, huh.
My unbandaged eyes darted to my left where Asami was sitting.
“I saw him as I was waiting on the ambulance”, she whispered as her eyes tore away from the alpha outside and she looked at me, “if he did anything to you, you know me. I will believe whatever you say. And there’s nothing to be asham-”
“Stop talking”, I groaned and held an arm over my face to make the lights from the room less annoying on my eyes.
As if she understood immediately, Asami stood up and dimmed the lighting to a minimum.
In the darker room, Osamu’s peering figure looked even more intimidating.
Asami pressed something squishy in my hands, and as I took a look I found a pair of beeswax earplugs. Those would dull any sound, but still make conversations perfectly manageable.
With a heavy arm, I moved to press the small yellow plugs into my ears, the beeping of the machines sounding less annoying and my headaches dissipating slowly.
She fell quiet next to me, but I could practically feel her questions oozing out of her.
“You know what”, I snapped and she hummed and turned towards me, “go outside and ask him what happened. And you feel like you’re okay with it after listening to him, tell him to come in”.
“Okay?”, she asked with a tone of slight irritation, but she stood up and her footsteps resounded on the floor as she opened the heavy door and let it close behind her with a thud.
I watched Osamu turn around and look at her with guilt all over his features. Somewhere in his gaze, I found something close enough to pity that I had to press my fingers into my palm to not lose it then and there.
Asami was squinting her eyes, gesturing a little as she talked, her head tilting in question and as I kept watching, I saw her face change from interest, to fondness to a bitter look.
I asked myself where that fondness came from initially. Was it because we talked easily in the class we had together? Or because he took a second longer than others and had a little more patience?
Nevertheless, the fondness distorted into her eyelids dropping and her mouth pressing into a thin line. Her weight shifted, her arms crossed over her chest. Bitterness oozed from her.
So bitter in fact, that Osamu initially took a small step back and let his head drop.
I could only see that Osamu’s mouth was still moving as Asami listened, and that went on for a while until her features cleared from the scowl and cold gaze and turned fond again. She took a step closer and said something, to which Osamu’s head popped up, shocked and pain displayed on his eyes.
What did she say?
Asami kept talking, her hands gesticulating wildly, her eyes dancing around as she got more and more heated and then stopped with a smile on her face.
What did he say?!
Osamu was now slightly smiling too, but his smile fell when he looked to his side and directly at me.
I stood still and stared back at him until he looked for a cue from Asami and she opened the door to let him in.
I guess something implored her to let him in.
Why did I even give her the choice?
Of course she would get weak if a nice man talked to her, of course she would buckle and let him in if he told her some sob story about how we ‘initially wanted to help me but couldn’t because he felt too ashamed’ or some other crap excuse.
The door squeaked as she opened it and she stood at its side when Osamu came in.
He took a couple of steps but kept his distance, staying away at least a couple of meters as his hands hung loosely at his sides.
I had nothing to say.
I felt like there was nothing, even remotely comforting someone like him could say.
At least in my mind.
But I guess something in my head was leaning towards compassion, maybe it’s my damned beta nature.
I might as well listen to his stupid excuse.
His arms drew up towards his face, but he interrupted himself and let his palm fall down again to rest at his hips.
I followed them with a tired gaze, slowly bit surely as the relatively big hands full of old scratches and calloused knuckles shimmered red.
Red like the liquid that poured out of my nose as I lay on that ground, beat up and abandoned, red as the bloodshot eyes of that alpha that I still saw before he hit my eye shut.
Crimson scratches and fresh blood still shimmered on his knuckles, and for maybe one or even two seconds my mind stopped to think.
Why is he injured?
Why the hell is he injured?
My eyes shot back up at Osamu, who was now looking at the ceiling and then suddenly took three steps forward to me with a sort of determination in his eyes that almost scared me.
“I have no excuse. I can’t apologize fer somethin that I can’t change, but I can apologize fer not doin better. An I apologize fer leaving ya alone. I had no idea. I had no idea the kind of pressure and circumstances y’all love under. I never-”
He stopped himself again, looking away, then looking at Asami who was looking at me.
” I’m sorry for resortin to violence in the middle of what ya were goin through”.
“Violence?”, I asked with a hoarse voice.
“I wasn’t in control, I saw ya gettin beat up I was- I was getting involved emotionally t’was a personal thing that uhm-“, he stopped again, very upset and overwhelmed for his naturally very quiet attitude, “I tried to help, but s’ still no excuse. M’sorry”.
He took a step back, clearly still upset, and as much as I hated to tap into information, I sensed his scent pattern almost retreating into himself as he left only the scent of something burnt.
“Kiyo”, I snapped my head over to Asami, who came closer than Osamu did and she touched not my hand but the bedsheets close to it, “He beat up the alphas. The ones that assaulted you. And he called an ambulance before I did. When I called, they had said a similar call had already been made and I thought you managed to call them. I found out it was him”.
My eyes looked back down to find Osamu’s bloodied knuckles. Then I looked at Asami’s contorted face.
“Okay”, I managed to get out with a strain, all of the pain of it coming back to haunt me.
So I was actually under protection.
The protection of two people who actually cared?
And I still got into this situation.
I was perfectly prepared.
I made it easy for myself, for anyone else to take care of me. I wore my mask. My blockers. My earplugs.
And I found a sincere friend.
And I still sit here.
In a hospital bed.
“Get out”, my voice snapped and I could see from the corner of my blurry vision that Asami first wanted to step toward me but then in a flash of understanding hit her eyes, she pivoted and left without a word.
Osamu, still with his head hung low, took the request quicker, and was already at the door.
Somehow they were smart enough to close the blinds to the window before leaving.
And as the door made its signature thud, and the first sob cracked through my chest, I cried like I have never ever before.