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Love and Hate
"He was absolutely crazy."
"What made him do it? I mean, I get the fact that he wanted to save her, but . . . there was no possible way for her to live through that and now he's scarred for life, literally."
Tatsuya did not stir when he realized that he was conscious. He kept his eyes closed and listened in silence to the conversation that took place between the two men.
"How bad is the damage?"
"His right arm won't be quite right for the rest of his life. That wire dug deep into his skin, and it was burning. If it does heal, it will take more than a lifetime. He has other severe burns that will be sensitive to heat, and might occasionally hurt, but his arm was the biggest issue."
Taking a deep breath, Tatsuya tested his right arm. It was difficult to move his fingers, and his arm didn't want to bend all the way.
"His parents? Family? Where are they?"
"They want to be told when he wakes up. They find it pointless to visit him while he's asleep."
Tatsuya cast his mind around, trying to remember why he was at a hospital. The flash of a fire and burning pain came to mind before quickly fading to darkness. He couldn't remember why. In frustration, he tightened his left fist, as his right would not respond. His fingers were pricked by some sort of metal. Confused, he lifted the token so his hand was over his face when he slowly opened his eyes.
It was a golden brooch in the shape of a lion's head. Two rubies replaced the eyes and a jet black stone replaced the nose. The detail of the brooch was incredibly accurate; had it not been smaller than the ten year old's fist and a pin was on the other side, it could have been a real lion.
But only word came to Tatsuya's mind. Glistch.
His breath caught in his throat as he held back the tears. He remembered everything, in that small instant.
It was well past midnight. Well past time for Glistch to come in. Tatsuya sat up straight, anxious. It was not the fight that had occurred between Glistch and Dolly, his stepmother, that took place earlier that day. It was what he had told Dolly a week early.
"She's a much better mother than you!"
Just as Tatsuya was ready to leave and find Glistch himself, his door was quietly opened and Glistch entered. Seeing him so alert and attentive, she gave him a small smile.
"There's not much to talk about tonight, Darkness," she said quietly, sitting on the bed.
"What happened?" Tatsuya asked in an urgent whisper. "What took you so long? Where were you?"
She held up a hand. "I cannot stay long. I'm to be gone by morning."
"Yes," she sighed. "Your father fired me."
"But he can't!" Tatsuya said angrily.
She gave him another small, sad smile and brushed an unruly lock of his black hair out of his eyes. "He can and he has. He is, after all, the master of the house, and all Dolly has to do to get her way is to complain to him."
"He isn't a master; he's a monster," Tatsuya snapped.
"I wouldn't talk that way. After all, you're to become the master of the house after he's gone."
"And when he's gone, I'll rehire you," Tatsuya said determinedly.
Glistch chuckled. "As what? I may be too old to work as a proper maid by then."
"Then you'll be the governess for my children," he said, "just like you were for me."
"You're definitely a stubborn one, I'll give you that," Glistch said. This time her smile was a hopeful one. "I can only imagine the things that you'll do." Sighing heavily, she stood up. "But I must get going."
Tatsuya's determined face melted into sadness, tears blurring his vision. "She doesn't want you gone because of the trouble you caused," he choked.
Glistch looked at him with an eyebrow raised.
"Dolly wants you gone because I love you more as a mother than I do her," he said, quickly looking at the floor.
There was a silence.
"She doesn't want me gone because she doesn't have your love," Glistch corrected. "She wants me gone because I'm someone you love. She doesn't want you to love."
He looked up at her in surprise. "Why?!"
Glistch shrugged. "If you don't love, who would love you back? I believe that's her reasoning. I think we can both agree that she holds nothing for you, and as you are the heir to your father's everything, she wants to displace you so that your sisters can be the heirs. And if you neither love, nor are loved, who's to respect you as master of the Shosnede fortune? Her daughters would look very favorable as heirs to the inheritance." She paused, then reached into her pocket and pulled out a glinting object. She handed it to him, saying, "I do not know when I'll see you next, but I think that you should have this."
Tatsuya caught the object as it fell, and looked at it. It was a golden lion brooch.
"Good night, Darkness," she whispered. He looked up just as the door clicked shut.
"Ah, you're awake!" a surprised voice said, dragging Tatsuya out of his reverie.
He blinked, dropping his arm and looking over at the doctor.
"Good," the doctor said with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Your parents will be happy to know."
Tatsuya bit back his retort as the doctor walked out. The doctor did not need to know that Dolly despised him and that his father would do anything Dolly asked of him . . . even share the same emotion she had for his son.
The longing for Glistch hit him like a wave and he found that he also needed to bite his tongue in order to keep back the fresh wave of tears that threatened to spill.
Two whole weeks since he had last seen Glistch. He made no mention of her as went about each day, but he had been lucky enough to obtain her address. However, he was not lucky enough to escape Dolly's ever watching eye. He knew that she was watching for him to take off, and he had no desire to find out what she would do if she caught him trying.
But that night was different. Dolly had come home extremely tired, and wanted nothing more than to collapse into bed. His father never cared about Tatsuya's doings, as long as it didn't interfere with him, and so Tatsuya was not concerned about him. His biggest concern was that Dolly would hear him leave, or if one of his sisters would catch and try to goad him into playing a card game.
He managed to arrive at the door with no more than an occasional squeak of a board. Once the door closed behind him, everything was a blur. He was racing as fast as he could, trying to arrive at Glistch's home before anyone realized that he was gone.
His heart was in his throat.
Was that someone chasing him?
Maybe he didn't have to return.
Was someone running his fireplace this late at night.
Glistch's house was in flames. Only the porch had not yet been touched by the conflagration. Tatsuya stopped dead, his heart having stopped beating. Despite the heat, he felt as if he had been frozen.
Then an indescribable loathing rose up within him. He knew exactly who the arsonist was. He knew exactly why he would do it.
Even though he had run quite a distance, adrenaline pushed him forward, into the burning building. He was vaguely aware of calling out to Glistch, vaguely aware of the fire licking him, vaguely aware of the burning wire that wrapped itself around his arm, vaguely aware of sirens sounding in the distance. He only cared that Glistch was in the building and something gripped him tightly, holding him back.
Everything melted into flames, yells, and struggles before completely fading to black. And then nothing could be remembered, except the dampness on his cheeks as he was released and he collapsed.
“So, you’re awake,” his father’s voice came to him. Amin leaned closer to his ear and whispered, “That fire was an accident, nothing more. If you’re looking for someone to blame, blame yourself. Understood?”
Tatsuya paused before nodding. As his father conversed with the doctor, pain and anger fueled the fire of abhorrence in Tatsuya’s heart. Dolly had taken love away from him, leaving him with the opposite of love: Hate.
Love gave pain to the one who loved; but hate gave pain to the one hated.