Author/Artist: chromatic_coma @ animusia
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Greece/Japan, England
Rating: PG (PG13 for talk of mental illness)
Genres: Romance, slight Angst
Warnings: Human Names, Mental Illness, Asylum setting, YMMV on the exact mental conditions these characters are conflicted with (more in the Notes)
Summary: Japan and Greece are mental patients in an asylum. for edenjean.
Notes: I tried my best to stay close to the true symptoms of the mental disorders I used. In this fic Japan has Aspergers' Syndrome, and Greece has some form of a childhood trauma and anxiety disorder. I hope that no one who ails from any mental disorder finds my descriptions of them offensive; I personally do not have, nor do I know anyone who has, either mental condition.
Crazy in Love
The first time Kiku went out to eat his lunch with the other patients, the problem of where to sit was very present on the forefront of his mind. All of the tables were occupied, some by groups that were happily talking, and others by individuals who were eating in silence, but there was no place for him to sit anywhere. The thought of perhaps having to join one of occupied tables with an empty seat made him want to drop his tray and flee the room, but he knew that he was supposed to be trying to get better.
Also, he was sure his therapist would be standing in front of his bedroom door, lest he tried to rush back to his dorm.
Panic started to seize Kiku, making his arms quaver as he gripped his tray. He wanted to go back to his room. He liked it in his room; it was small, but it had enough room for all his things, and he was even allowed to hang his posters on the wall. It took him a while to adjust, but now it was his room, and his safe haven in this strange place.
And now he was in the loud, busy cafeteria, and his senses were being assaulted and he really did not want to sit with anybody. Instant relief came in the form of an empty table in the back, and Kiku hurried himself over too it, dropping his tray on the tabletop at once.
Kiku looked down at his slice of reheated pizza, not especially hungry, and his fingers itched instead for his Nintendo DS. He busied himself with his slice instead, trying not to worry too much about the Water Temple and getting through it even though he could not get his mind off it.
He was only roused from his mental map of the temple when the chair next to him make a sharp noise against the linoleum floor. He looked up from his half-eaten food, and saw a man. The man was taller than he was, and bigger. He also had pizza in his tray, but unlike Kiku he tore into it instantly.
Kiku ignored him, and went back to this plotting out the game. It shouldn’t take him more than three more hours to get past the level. Maybe they’d let him have the DS long enough to finish it tonight.
Kiku realized he’d forgotten one of the treasure chests in the third room of the temple. There was nothing for it, he needed to go back and get it. After all, he’d learned young that there was no pride in finishing a Zelda game if there were tasks left undone and trunks left unopened-
It frustrated Kiku that they took his DS away from him every night, and only returned it for a few hours a day.
“Can you hear me?”
It wasn’t dangerous or anything. None of the other patients could use it to harm someone.
Of course, maybe he would stay up playing. He really didn’t understand why it was harmful, though; his staying up to play wasn’t going to hurt anyone—
Kiku was roused from his mental ramblings when a heavy hand rested on his shoulder. He made a soft noise of displeasure, and his body jumped back, the chair making an awful skidding noise across the floor.
“Please do not put your hand on me!”
The man blinked. Kiku’s hand started groping at the table for his tray, so that he could take it and leave, but he couldn’t take hold of it. His mind was elsewhere, too.
The man looked unusual; he was too pretty. To Kiku’s mind it felt like the man had been lifted out of a painting, as if he was some sort of immortal God who’d gotten lost and ended up in the Hetalyan Institute for Mental Services in a bizarre accident.
“Hello,” he said. “My name is Herakles.”
He looked so… harmless. It was strange because he was large, and Kiku often found bulky men intimidating and dangerous, but looking at Herakles he couldn’t imagine this man doing anything threatening.
Herakles leaned in a little. “Do you have a name?”
“Kiku,” he answered in spite of himself. He was shifting his chair further way from the man, from Herakles, but he no longer felt like moving from the table. He could handle one person. His therapist would be proud of him, even, and then he could probably ask for more DS time.
And, if Kiku really did manage to make a friend in Herakles, he might actually manage to be proud of himself, too.
“I’m a cat.”
Kiku was unused to most social situations; growing up, his policy on socializing was, if I do not talk to anyone or look at anyone, perhaps no one will look at or talk to me. For the most part, it worked, and his own awkwardness was enough to turn those who were more stubborn away.
But he was definitely sure that this was not normal by any sort of standards.
“A cat,” Herakles repeated, smiling softly. He made a strange purring noise that did sound rather kittenish, but Kiku was reeling.
For a long time, neither of them spoke. Kiku was having trouble figuring out what was appropriate to say to a man who believed himself to be a cat, and his mind was vying for a return to its default mode: say nothing.
“But I was a bad cat,” Herakles continued after the beat. He had spent the past few days’ lunches with Kiku, and whenever things started getting quiet he always found something to say. “So they put me in a man’s body to punish me.”
“Who did?” Kiku offered, not looking up from his tray of cool pasta.
“God and the Fates,” Herakles replied. “But it’s okay, because in this body I can drink milk without getting sick. I love milk.”
“I like cats.”
Kiku looked up from his food in time to see Herakles’ little happy smile.
If Kiku was going to be making any friends at Hetalyan, it made sense that his friend would be a cat-man. Kiku liked cats since he was a child, because cats did not have special nuisances in their purrs or societal norms that they expected him to understand without ever having been taught them. They only demanded attention, which he was willing to give.
And then his old cat passed away, and suddenly he did not want to have a cat anymore.
Herakles was sitting beside him on the couch in the recreation room, watching as Kiku faced a pig battle in The World Ends With You. He was quiet, so much so that Kiku forgot he was there at all.
Until Herakles’ head was suddenly on Kiku’s shoulder, and he was purring into his ear. Kiku clutched his DS to his chest as he jumped.
The cat person tilted his head.
“Please remove yourself from me.”
Frowning, Herakles did as told. “Sorry,” he murmured. “Kitten instincts.”
He settled back into the couch a little way from Kiku, and looked adorably ashamed of himself.
Despite his modest leanings, Kiku could not help but lean in and ruffle Herakles’ hair gently, the way his own cat used to like it, before he turned back to his game.
“Hm,” Kiku hummed, waiting as his DS started up. The previous week, he had gotten very angry with the nurse who tried to take the system away from him before he could finish the level he was playing. Because of the ensuing crisis, Kiku had not been allowed to play at all until he agreed to play a game that would not steal all of his attention. So, Cooking Mama was loading in the handheld.
“I think I would very much like to kiss you.”
The DS fell out of Kiku’s hands.
“E-excuse me?” he stuttered, grabbing for it to busy his hands. He wished that he could have Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, a game that would make it easy to deny the strangeness of his new friend. But, all he had was Cooking Mama and it was failing to keep him distant.
“I want to kiss you.”
“But… you’re a cat.”
Herakles hummed. “But, I have the heart of a man, even though I am a cat. Cats can fall in love too.”
The word ‘love’ made Kiku want to bolt, but at the same time it made him so stiff he couldn’t even hold the stylus. When he was a little boy he sometimes heard his mother talk about love, as it pertained to him. When he was in high school, everyone seemed preoccupied with it; sometimes he did wonder if someone as strange as him could have something like the ‘love’ people talked about, even though he wasn’t truly able to grasp all that it seemed to encompass.
“That is forbidden by the rules here,” he said finally, turning his attention fully to the celery that needed chopping. Slice, slice, slice…
In doing so, Kiku missed just how far Herakles’ face fell. By the time he has finished the recipe, the couch beside him was empty.
Kiku was unsure of his feelings for Herakles anymore. Once upon a time, he was certain that the cat-man was nothing more than his friend, if not an unconventional one. But since the night with the kiss conversation, which played itself many times on loop in Kiku’s memory, he could not identify the other as his friend without an adverse feeling boiling up in him.
Kissing might not be such a bad thing anymore; in many anime and dating sims, dating was a good way of resolving internal turmoil over conflicting feelings. But, the thought of trying to initiate the gesture made him freeze up in the worst way. And there was no chance Herakles would try it again after having gotten turned down the previous time.
“I see…” Doctor Kirkland hummed. “So, you’re having feelings for another patient here, and now you’re unsure of what to do about it.”
“Honestly, I find this an improvement, Kiku, at the very least in some ways. You are opening yourself to someone, even in very subtle ways. Unfortunately, as you just said, there are rules against forging romantic relationships here, because many patients start to worry more about their partner’s health than their own, and become less receptive to treatment.”
Kiku’s fingers started to twitch; he knew it was just a stupid pipe dream, perhaps it would have been better if he had just kept it to himself.
“But, these are still important feelings you’re having. Ignoring them would not an advisable solution… What if you tried writing this person a letter, explaining your feelings?”
Doctor Kirkland nodded, “You wouldn’t have to send it, of course. But writing things out is a healthy was of dealing with your emotions and reconciling them so that you can control them.”
“Will I have to show you?”
When Kiku returned from the bathroom, he saw the sheet of paper in Herakles’ hand. His blood instantly ran cold.
Dear Herakles, he knew the paper read; knew it because he’d spent so much time writing it until it was exactly what felt right.
I fear I have a lot to apologize for. I have been very dishonest with you, and cold towards you as well. Though I do enjoy the company of cats, your particular boldness as well as your human body made me uncomfortable. In such an uncomfortable mode, I brushed you off many a time, and insisted that you keep your distance from me. While it is true that I value my personal space perhaps more than the average human does, and while I outwardly rejected your kittenish affections time and time again, the truth is I… appear to have fallen for you. That is, my feelings for you have become… more than those of simple friendship.
My mind is constantly dredging up the memory of the occasion on which you asked my permission to kiss me. I wonder what would have come of it if I’d said ‘yes’ instead…
Herakles put the paper back down on the desk and turned around to face Kiku, who not for the first time was frustrated with his inability to read people’s expressions. He had no idea what to expect.
“I’m sorry,” Herakles murmured. “Curiosity killed the cat. Or, maybe just got it into a lot of trouble. I saw my name at the top and had to read it. I’m sorry.”
“…W-why are you apologizing so profusely?”
“Because, you look like you just saw a ghost. Like you’re scared of me. Please don’t be scared.” Herakles continued softly, padding almost silently across the floor. He was, as he so often was, barefoot, and Kiku could not find an explanation as to why that was as endearing as it was.
“I… I am not.”
Herakles was standing only 50 centimeters away. Part of Kiku yearned to reach out, and the other was screaming for him to bolt. Even though he had horrible intuition when it came to other people, he was certain of what was going to happen next. Herakles was going to say,
“I think I would very much like to kiss you.”
And Kiku was going to answer,
“I think… I would very much like to be kissed by you.”
And so they did.
A/N: I hope you all enjoyed the story despite these dark themes. Happy Holidays to all my readers, but especially edenjean.