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The Price of Ignorance :Previous Chapter«Home»Next Chapter: Hospital Life

Bonds

Keiko remained unconscious until Wednesday of the following week, but visitors, aside from family, were barred from her room for the time being. But by Monday the fact that Kazuto had been arrested, and Keiko had been there when he was, was known by the entire school. The old rumor had escalated that Keiko had taken advantage of Kazuto, when it was really the other way around. The school board and the PTA were most displeased about this and voted to disqualify the girls team from the rest of the tournament, against the protests of the Student Council and the team. Yuki and Saito had tried to spread the truth as much as they could, but no one outside the team seemed to believe them.

Tuesday November 2nd

"Thanks for coming here every day." Ushio said to Yuki and Saito as they walked to Keiko's ICU room after school.

"It's on the way back from school, so it's no problem. Also, Kei-chan regained consciousness days ago. Are we allowed to see her yet?" Yuki asked, carrying a bundle of flowers

"I know this is rough on you both, but there's a reason why only relatives are allowed to see her right now."

"Mom, please." said Saito

Ushio looked in both Yuki and Saito's eyes before responding "It isn't recommendable."

"Ushio-san." said Yuki

"(sigh) Alright. But one at a time." Ushio let Yuki in first.

Yuki walked in and saw her best friend lying in bed just staring at the ceiling. Yuki put down the flowers and sat in the chair next to her before speaking

"Kei-chan? It's me, Yuki." said Yuki, but Keiko didn't respond "Kei-chan?"

"Keiko-chan is fully conscious right now, but the ordeal severely effected her mentally." Ushio told her "The main cause is post-truamatic stress disorder, which Mine-sensei verified. She doesn't respond to her parents or her siblings. I doubt she even knows you're there."

"I see what you mean." said Yuki as she held Keiko's hand "I used to see her eyes shining with some kind of eternal flame. After the festival, that flame seemed to get dimmer and dimmer. Now it's like there's no life in her eyes at all." all of a sudden, the hand Yuki was holding gripped her own and Keiko turned her head to face Yuki, and Yuki took that as a sign that Keiko still had some sense of herself, enough to at least recognize her. Yuki and Keiko looked at each other for nearly ten minutes before Ushio spoke up.

"You've had long enough." said Ushio

"I'll come back later, Kei-chan." said Yuki as she reluctantly let go of Keiko's hand

Yuki was half-way to the door when Ushio called for Saito to come in. The Keiko saw Saito's face, she reacted in a way that nobody could've predicted.

"NOOOOOOOO!" Keiko yelled when she saw Saito's face. She quickly turned the other way, almost pulling her IV out, and pulled the covers over herself "NOOO! Don't look at me! Please don't let him see me!" Keiko yelled

"Kei-chan?! Kei-chan!" Yuki exclaimed with a hand on Keiko's shoulder, trying to calm her best friend down while Ushio mimed for Saito to exit."Kei-chan, it's alright. Saito's not here, he never was here." Yuki reluctantly lied, which calmed Keiko down.

"That's the most life we've seen out of her yet." said Ushio, and Yuki gave her a cold look in reply.

"I betrayed Saito." Keiko sobbed, releasing the covers "I betrayed him. I don't deserve to be with him. I don't deserve to have him look at me."

Ushio and Yuki left Keiko to rest. When they left the room, they found that Kakeru and Nana had arrived.

"What was the yelling about?" Nana inquired as Ushio closed the door

"(sigh) Apparently Keiko-chan feels so guilty about 'betraying' Saito, that just seeing his face will make her react like that." said Ushio "Saito, I'm sorry, but for the time being, I can't let you see Keiko-chan."

Saito collapsed onto the nearby bench and started sobbing into his hands

"She can't stand the sight of me." Saito sobbed while Kakeru put a hand on Saito's shoulder "I couldn't protect the girl I love."

"Hang in there, son." said Kakeru

"Ushio-chan, I know I ask everyday, but how is she?" Nana asked

"Still no change." Ushio replied "The wounds in her vagina aren't healing very fast. Her fever, though it's gone down, is still persisting. The only thing I can say has changed is that her cervix is closing. Though slowly. One major factor about this is that she's not eating as much as she should be. I'm worried that we may have to resort to giving her nutrients through her IV. But who knows how big or small an effect it will have."

"Kon'nichiwa." said a voice to their right. It was Mai, holding a bundle of flowers in one hand and her stomach with the other. Suzuka was with her too "What's all the gloom for?"

"Mai-chan, Suzuka-chan, what are you doing here?" Nana asked

"On behalf of the whole team, we came to see Keiko." said Suzuka as she helped Mai onto the bench Saito was sitting on

"I'm sorry, but Kei-chan's not in any mental state to have visitors." said Yuki

"We thought not, but we wanted to try anyway." said Mai

"Anyway, senpai, I was sure you'd be sulking at home."

"So we lost our spot in the tournament due to this incident. It's all Kazuto's fault, not Keiko's. It's nothing to cry over." Suzuka said that, but a single tear started streaming from her eye "Ah! This is..." Yuki handed her a hanky and Suzuka dabbed her eye "It's nothing really." everyone looked at her worriedly "For real, I'll get over it."

"The damned PTA and School board!" said Yuki "They wouldn't listen to a thing we said."

"I'm sorry Nao-chan and I didn't do anything," said Ushio "But I had to work day and night to make sure Keiko-chan stayed stable, and Nao-chan was busy tracking down anyone else who could testify against Kazuto."

"Don't put any blame on yourself." said Mai "There are times when things happen no matter how much influence you have. Ow!"

"Are you sure you're all right, Mai?" Suzuka asked, returning Yuki her hanky

"My son's just kicking real hard." Mai replied, but Suzuka and the others didn't look convinced

"Mai-chan." said Nana, giving her a suspicious look

"It's nothing. Really."

"What's up?" Kakeru asked

"(sigh) I don't know why, but every so often, since around 7:00 this morning, I've been getting these weird pains in my back." Mai confessed "It's been getting stronger each time. It also seems to be getting a bit more frequent as of late."

Nana and Ushio, both veteran mothers, looked at each other.

"Back pains." said Nana

"Getting stronger and more frequent." said Ushio

"What are you two on about?" Mai asked

"Yeah, don't keep us in suspense." said Yuki

"Mai-chan, has your stomach felt like it's been contracting too?" Ushio inquired

"Now that you mention it, yes." Mai replied

"That settles it." said Ushio as she tried to help Mai to her feet

"Wh-what?"

"Mai Murasaki... you're going into labor." Ushio announced, surprising everyone

Ushio called for Kana and took Mai to the Maternity Ward. Ushio came back less than an hour later.

"Well?" Suzuka asked when Ushio came back

"This is definitely it." Ushio replied "Her contractions are still pretty far apart, but she's already starting to dilate. Her baby will be born sometime tonight."

"But isn't her due date still two weeks away?" Nana asked

"You know as well as I that almost nobody is born on their due date." Ushio replied

"You gave birth to Keiko two weeks early too, remember?" said Kakeru

"Right." Nana replied awkwardly

Nearly four hours passed. Yuki and Suzuka went to the maternity ward with Ushio to be near Mai. Kakeru, Nana and Saito stayed outside Keiko's room.

7:00pm;

"Instead of making Ushio-chan come back to give you a report every half hour, why don't you just go to Mai yourself?" Kakeru asked, but Nana didn't answer "Mai-chan is your best friend, can't you at least act like it in return? Furthermore, you had me, Mito, our parents and Mai when you gave birth to Keiko, but Mai doesn't have anyone, not even her own parents. She's all alone." Nana still wouldn't answer "Is it because of the father of her baby?"

"Y-you knew?" Nana asked, surprised

"Of course I knew. But I'm not sure Mai knows that I know. I found out by accident, when some amateur who didn't know the meaning of 'anonymity' called me to inform me that someone received my donation."

"Donation?" Nana and Saito asked bewildered

"Mai conceived via artificial insemination. And by pure chance received mine."

"How is to that there was one from you in the first place?" Nana asked

"Remember when I went to Austria with the National Team last year?" Nana nodded "Part of the expenses for the trip had to come to of my own pocket, but I was short, so I donated a single sample. Of course Mai-chan never knew about it until three weeks after she had conceived. I'm sure she still thinks I don't know."

"So the biological father of Mai-sensei's baby is..." said Saito

"Me." Kakeru confirmed, before answering Nana's bewildered look "What? Did you think I had some sort of affair with Mai-chan?"

"Well.... Yes." Nana confessed awkwardly

"Mai-chan's just a friend to me, nothing more."

"But why didn't Mai-chan tell me?"

"Maybe you just wouldn't listen." said Ushio, who just turned up pushing an empty wheelchair

"Ushio-chan? What's the chair for?" Nana asked

"It's a longshot, but I think I have an idea on how to help Keiko regain herself: We're gonna let her witness the birth of Mai's son. But, Nana-chan, for Keiko's sake, I'm gonna have to ask you to come along as well."

"Alright."

Kakeru's confession still reverberating through her head, Nana helped Ushio put Keiko in the wheel chair, while Saito hid around the corner so Keiko wouldn't see him. Kakeru and Saito stayed behind.

"Where are you taking me?" Keiko asked weakly on the way to the room Mai was about to give birth in

"To see something even you won't want to miss." said Ushio

"I still don't know about this." said Nana

"Have some faith. And swallow that pride of yours."

The three of them wordlessly passed Yuki and Suzuka, who was telling the team over the phone that Mai was in labor.

"Shirayuki-sensei." said Kana when they arrived "She's fully dilated and the baby is coming now."

"Wh-what?" said Keiko

"I'm sure you've witnessed it before, but this is the beginning of a new life." said Ushio, placing Keiko in a good spot

Nana went over to hold Mai's hand, while Ushio got in position to catch the baby. While Kana and her fellow midwives went about various tasks and encouraged Mai to push, Keiko watched as the head of Mai's baby slowly emerged. Ushio glanced at Keiko every so often and saw that the "light" Yuki mentioned seemed to be coming back into Keiko's eyes. Finally, after twenty exhausting minutes... Mai's son emerged. A new life had begun.

"Well done, Mai-chan! Congratulations!" said Nana as Ushio cut the cord. Then she, her fellow doctors and midwives began doing their next tasks. Then the new baby boy started crying his first cries

Keiko watched everything that was being done, and seemed eager to get a closer look at the baby. Finally, their tasks done and the baby cleaned up, the newborn boy was wrapped in a blanket and given back to Mai.

"No, let Keiko hold him first." said Mai, and her request was carried out

The baby was given to Keiko to hold. Keiko noticed that the new boy's hair was just as blond as Mai's, but his face looked familiar. "Congratulations, Mai." said Keiko, who seemed to be back to normal in the head, after holding the baby for a few minutes. "But why did you let me hold him first?"

"Um... well...."

"Just go ahead and tell her." said Nana "She's got every right to know." Nana lowered her voice and whispered the next sentence to Mai "And Kakeru knows as well."

"(sigh) Alright. Keiko... meet your new baby brother."

"M-my br-brother?" Keiko asked, surprised

"Well, 'half-brother' technically. We'll explain later." said Nana, then whispering to Mai again "I'm so sorry for all the cold treatment in the last several months."

"Don't worry about it." Mai whispered back

"Um... does he have a name yet?" Keiko asked

"I've been wondering as well." said Ushio

"I've got one." Nana perked up "Believe it or not, that little boy actually saved Keiko. He brought back the life in her eyes." Keiko nodded at this "So... how 'bout... Yusha (勇者). For 'Hero'."

"Yusha Murasaki (勇者 群咲). That sounds perfect." said Mai

"Welcome to the world, Yusha." Keiko said to her new brother.

Yusha was given back to Mai and Ushio and Nana took Keiko back to her room, Yuki and Suzuka following. Yuki and Suzuka had overheard and were a little bewildered, but congratulated them nonetheless, and welcomed Keiko back.

When they got back to Keiko's room, Kakeru and Saito were waiting for them, but this time, Keiko didn't react to Saito.

"Keiko?" Saito said uncertainly when they got back

"Saito. I thought I said I didn't want you to see m-" Saito got on his knees and grabbed Keiko around the waist and planted his face in her legs "Saito, what..."

"Don't ever say that I can't see you." Saito said into Keiko's legs "Because I will never let you out of my sight again."

This statement moved Keiko's heart, and she gently grabbed Saito's head "Don't ever let go of me again." said Keiko, tears streaming from her eyes.

"Now that's what I call 'everlasting love'." Yuki whispered to Suzuka

The Price of Ignorance :Previous Chapter«Home»Next Chapter: Hospital Life

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