Word count: 1,692
Summary: AU. Forced to marry against their wills, Sho and Ohno embark on a journey to salvage the rest of their lives and their life together.
Authors' notes: So sorry for the delay, but now you get updates two days in row, right? 8D
Sleep is still heavy on his eyelids, weighing down like lead, and all he wants is to fall right back into the arms of sleep. If he is quick enough, he might be able to chase and catch onto the leaving threads of dream that elude him every time he wakes.
But he can’t, he knows, because there is still more to do. It is his duty.
His limbs feel heavier than ever as he forces them to move, but he is startled when he sees Sho sitting in a chair by the window, looking lost in thought.
It is weird that Sho is here in the room that would and should have been theirs, but Ohno really can’t remember if Sho ever has been in here by his own free will.
Sho looks over and his eyebrows rise. “You’re awake.”
Ohno has no energy for other reactions than a nod, and he fervently wishes that Sho would leave so he doesn’t see how Ohno will stagger for proper footing when he leaves the bed. He settles for sitting up, leaning back against the headboard, and now he sees that Sho has brought breakfast in.
Ohno doesn’t feel hungry, but the words die on his lips at Sho’s expression.
Something has shifted behind Sho’s eyes. What, Ohno isn’t sure, but something has. He slowly reaches for the sweet water and it cools his parched and raw throat and vocal chords. He notices that Sho doesn’t look away from him, but he doesn’t say anything – he can’t deny Sho the right.
Sho clears his throat, but Ohno doesn’t dare look up at him.
“When one suddenly realizes that he’s been fighting against the wrong person the entire time, can any apology ever be enough?”
Ohno doesn’t think that Ninomiya has broken his trust, but Ohno isn’t sure he cares at all how Sho has come to find out – whatever and whoever told Sho – Sho knows and that is what matters.
He manages a smile that feels less strained than the ones he has been forcing from his lips for days. “If the heart is set, then a small apology is as good as a big one.”
Sho gets it, Ohno is sure of that – he can see it with how Sho offers him with a tentative smile, and it is pretty. Sho is a different person altogether to lay eyes on when he isn’t angry or highly strung, coiled like a defensive and trapped animal.
Ohno reaches out a hand to Sho and he is pleasantly surprised when Sho rises from his seat by the window and cuts the distance to the bed short – his fingers fall readily into Ohno’s, and Ohno dares to hold on tightly.
“I will stay if you do,” Sho says, and Ohno closes his eyes in relief.
Ohno has been alternating between pinching the bridge of his nose and rubbing his temples for the better part of two hours now, and Sho fights the urge to tell Ohno to go lie down.
For the past hours, they have been more married than they have been since they got married.
Nino is stretched out on his stomach on the floor, skimming documents and running for the needs of the house, but mostly, he cheers them on as they try to find evidence that Sho’s father is innocent.
Sho has taken the seat by the desk. Ohno is at the makeshift table that Nino has set up. The room is filled with companionable silence, punctuated with the determined scribbling of pencils, marking out points and opposition and loopholes.
Nino sometimes stands up to peek over shoulders and asks Sho how a sentence could be better phrased to suit their purposes. Sho tells him, points individual hiragana out and rearranges them in the air with the tip of his pencil.
Ohno’s smile crinkles in his eyes. Sho is handsome when he is patient and focused and giving in the corner of Ohno’s room, in the corner of Ohno’s heart.
They work for the whole day, stopping only for the meals that Nino ventures out of the room to retrieve.
Ohno’s headache returns in the late evening when Sho is still bent over the desk edge, furious scribbling having slowed since noon. The pain claws against the insides of his head and thrums through his body into his toes and back up again. Ohno stumbles into his bed, careful not to trip or fall or give himself away.
The room turns fuzzy around the edges for a moment. Ohno squeezes his eyes shut and holds his head in his hands - so still - in hope that his head would not split apart. Agony beats in time with his heartbeat. Loud loud - too loudly – bambambiddybam.
Ohno gasps as Nino steps back into the room and the door is slammed shut. BANG, it resounds in his head, echoes in every corner and bounces back again and –
“Ohno-san?” Nino’s voice is soft and worried by Ohno’s ear. The mattress of the bed dips slightly. Ohno reaches out blindly. He is met with small cool hands.
“It hurts,” Ohno croaks, voice soft enough not to be carried across the room. Arms wind around him and lower him into yielding sheets.
“I’ll tell Sho-san that you fell asleep.” The weight lifts off Ohno’s bed. Ohno breathes through his nose, the fever rages all throughout his body.
The pain doesn’t let up. Ohno sleeps.
When dinner is served in Ohno’s quarters, Sho inhales and lets the tautness of his shoulders loosen.
Nino is high-strung; he is slow in coming up with witty remarks to the food. There is something in his eyes that Sho has never seen before.
“What’s wrong?” Sho asks him when Sho accidentally trips over a stray edge of the carpet and Nino lets it pass without making a cutting comment about Sho’s clumsiness.
Nino doesn’t answer. His eyes are fixed on the designs of the desk, absentmindedly stirring Sho’s tea with a coffee spoon.
“Nino,” Sho reaches out and shakes Nino’s shoulder gently. Nino jerks up. The cup titters precariously around on its plate.
“What -” There is a tinge of annoyance – so familiarly Nino – that Sho is almost convinced that Nino is fine. But the look in behind his eyes is still, there, lurking with knowledge that Sho has no inkling of.
“What’s wrong?” Sho repeats, stacking the piles of documents into one huge pile while Nino starts to unload their dinner off the tray.
Nino shrugs. Sho is about to probe when the look leaves Nino’s eyes. He follows when Nino turns to look at the bed. For the first time since the morning, Sho notices Ohno sound asleep, wrapped warmly with mountains of blankets although the room is warm with summer.
“Ohno-san fell asleep an hour or two ago,” Nino says matter-of-factly. Sho scowls and makes to shift.
“Are you sure about the amount of blankets? He might suffocate,” Sho stands but is pulled back down again by Nino’s hand on his elbow.
“He was just tired,” Nino’s smile would have been convincing if Sho hadn’t known him for so many years.
“Nino. What’s wrong?” Sho struggles out of Nino’s hold. Nino’s shoulders slacken in defeat. Sweat glistens on Ohno’s neck, but under the blankets, he is shivering.
“Ohno-san, he - ” Nino stammers. Sho dares to touch Ohno with trembling fingers. Sho gasps as realization dawns and inflicts wholly engulfing unease.
“How long has he been sick? He’s burning, has he taken any medicine?” Sho smoothes his palm over the skin of Ohno’s neck gently. Ohno murmurs in his sleep, leaning into Sho’s hand.
“Yesterday morning, he ordered me to tell no one. He has been working himself too hard,” Sho reads anxiety identical to his own, in Nino’s face.
“For two weeks,” Sho breathes. “Get the medicine and a bowl of cool water with a towel.”
Nino wastes no time in barreling out of the room. Sho stands shakily. Even with knowing that Ohno has been standing up for him for two weeks, he cannot grasp how much exactly Ohno has done for him.
Sho throws the windows open and leans out as the night breeze reaches in to sweep the room clean of the musty smell of fear and uncertainty.
Things are different now. Ohno’s chest rises and dips erratically. Sho stands guard.
“You shouldn’t be up,” Sho admonishes when he gets back to the quarters after getting more sweet water. Ohno is perched by the desk again, already leaning over documents that Sho feels that he should manage for himself now.
At least until Ohno’s fever has broken.
Ohno doesn’t look up at him immediately but only when Sho has taken several steps in his direction. Sho can’t believe how he didn’t notice the glazed over look in Ohno’s eyes, the pink tinge around his cheeks and the hazy air.
“You should lie down and take the medicine,” Sho urges and when Ohno glances at him in surprise, he doesn’t back down. “You’ll be of no use to my defence if you’re too weak to stand.”
Ohno doesn’t even look like he is about to protest, but Sho has a lot to say before he loses his feeble courage.
“You’re my husband,” he says, willing himself not to falter, “And it’s my duty to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. You can’t take care of me if you’re not well-rested.”
Ohno is already getting to his feet, and Sho is surprised, because he has been preparing to counter all of Ohno’s attempts at staying away from the bed. But Ohno steps up to him, slowly as to not lose his balance, and he doesn’t wait for explicit permission before he moves and places his arms around Sho.
The body in Sho’s arms is flush and feverish with duty, and Sho feels an odd stab of possessiveness as he feels more than a little bit protective.
For the first time in his life, in two weeks, Sho thinks that he can learn to love him.
Sho holds him tightly.