[fanfic] Recuperation

Note: I had many requests for a continuation of Awakening that I wrote late last year.  This version is not beta’d so if there’s any errors, please let me know! Thanks for reading!

It was a new day for Kirito. The feeling of being awake and not in a game of death was still surreal to him as he woke more easily than the previous day. He stared at his shaking hands and quickly glanced to his left and sighed in defeat. The concept of reality was foreign to him after being online for two years straight and he’d been hoping that Asuna would be beside him, smiling sweetly. All he found was the metal railing of the hospital bed and the baggy fabric of the hospital issued gown. He struggled to sit up before he saw movement out of the corner of his eye.

“Kirigaya-kun, let me help you,” his nurse offered as an arm wrapped around his shoulders and guided him up the rest of the way. An oversized pillow was propped behind his body that he sank into gratefully despite the frustration that he felt.

His third day awake after Sword Art Online had brought forth many new sensations for the teen. It wasn’t until he had begun his physical therapy that he realized that his hair was considerably longer than he recalled. Add in the fine fuzz growing on his upper lip and chin and the hero resembled a vagabond more than the black swordsman. The therapist began with a series of stretches to loosen up the atrophied muscles before moving on to massaging his body.

To say that the experience was pleasant for Kirito would be a lie as he tried to muffle the painful yelps that escaped his mouth. It was the most physical activity he’d participated in and found himself thanking the powers that be when the session was over. The tired smile on his face was enough indication to the therapist and nurse looking after him that the boy had had enough for that day.

He wasn’t used to feeling this weak and ocassionally swiped his left hand in a downward motion to bring up SAO’s menu. It was an old habit that was going to be difficult to beat, as the therapist eased Kirito into a wheelchair. The boy was ready to protest the wheelchair, insisting that he could walk on his own as he stood up from the wheelchair on quavering limbs. His nurse was quick to shut that idea down after she’d tapped his knees and much to his chagrin, they buckled beneath his too-thin frame. Kirito fell to the floor with a pained and frustrated growl. He begrudgingly let himself be put back in the wheelchair but glared darkly at the nurse who smiled sweetly at her stubborn patient.

“Say…” he said softly after a few minutes.

“What is it Kirigaya-kun?” the nurse asked.

“Could I get a haircut and a shave?” he returned with earnest.

The nurse looked down at her patient over the rims of her spectacles and smiled softly. “After you rest, Kirigaya-kun. Besides, I’m sure your family will want to see you soon.”

Kirito’s eyes widened at the mention of his mother and sister, Suguha. The black swordsman made a mental note to apologize to both of them for causing them so much worry. The sooner he got those apologies out of the way, the sooner his life would go back to normal. He still couldn’t eat anything and his body felt like lead. He’d sooner take on a barrage of orange players attacking him en masse again but getting another massage.

The boy grunted painfully as the therapist helped him back into the gel-based bed before he sank into the coolness and sighed in relief. A pillow was behind his head as his eyes began to close against his will. It hadn’t even been an hour and Kirito couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt so physically exhausted. It wasn’t a bad feeling to know that he’d actually sleep without medication as the nurse pulled a blanket over lower body and stroked his hair while checking his pulse.

“If you need anything Kirigaya-kun –” the nurse cut her thought short as she looked down upon a rare sight.

For the first time in two years, Kazuto Kirigaya was sleeping without the Nerve Gear on his head. There would be no fear of his brain being fried as his body sank into the comfort of the bedding, his breathing slow and even. The nurse quietly pulled the curtains closed to block out some of the light to let her patient rest. He appeared to be at peace for the time being but once the nightmares started, he’d be awake in no time.

Her patient hadn’t spoken about the SAO server yet, but he’d lost much more than she would ever be able to comprehend in those two years. She could see it his eyes even though he tried his best to hide it. The therapists could aid him in working through those issues for the time being.

“Sweet dreams, Kirigaya-kun,” the nurse whispered with a gentle pat to his shoulder.

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