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January 2011
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trivialaffair [userpic]


Title: Sleep
Pairing: Ryo x Shige
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 3600+
Notes: AU. Angst. Death. What if Shige really did have Narcolepsy? This is for the ryoshige_thon in response to prompt #1: Shige is sick and Ryo decides to be his medicine.
Summary: Ryo discovers the sickness that Shige tries desperately to hide.


The first time Shige collapses in front of NEWS, no one pays much attention.

They are in the dressing, all harmlessly self-absorbed in their actions. Massu discusses dinner plans with his mother, Yamapi takes a catnap with limbs falling off the couch, and Tegoshi and Koyama haven’t yet arrived. Only Ryo witnesses the fall and cheerfully ambles over to Shige, who thankfully hit nothing as he went down.

Ryo never really knew there were sleeping disorders until he met Shige, and even after five years of working with him, he still doesn’t really understand it. Mainly because it doesn’t make sense in its complete and utter randomness.

It is a rare event, but every now and then, Shige just stops what he’s doing and crashes.

In a way, it could make sense. Sleep, or lack of it, can really fuck a person up. Ryo knows; if anyone understands the feeling of being exhausted to the point of a constant hum of dizziness thrumming through his skull, it would be him. He works himself to the bone, to marrow even, and often wishes he could sleep on site for even an hour’s worth of rest.

What he doesn’t understand is that Shige actually has the gall to do so, to actually fall asleep in the middle of a job, and people think it is okay because it’s Narcolepsy.

If that’s even a real disease.

He is about to kick Shige to wake him up when, after closer inspection, Ryo realizes that Shige is actually awake and that it wasn’t a narcoleptic attack this time. Shige’s breath is shallow, eyes fluttering madly under their lids, and as Shige groans, Ryo starts to feel panic set in. He kneels down and helps Shige up, who sways violently upon his standing.

Shige raises a hand to his temple and grimaces, “Thanks, Nishikido-kun.” Before Ryo can say anything, Koyama and Tegoshi walk in the door with ice cream for everyone. Shige grins and takes the ice cream gleefully, refusing to look Ryo in the eye.

Koyama pokes Shige and he stumbles, Tegoshi laughs loudly and Shige winces, and Ryo can only stare as Shige pretends like nothing had happened and he hadn’t just collapsed moments before.

Ryo thinks that Shige is a horrible actor.

That day at practice, Shige does absolutely awful. Everyone groans good-naturedly and tries to help Shige along, but they aren’t too worried because Shige usually sucks at practice. It appears that only Ryo notices the extra hesitation in Shige’s steps, the shakiness of his legs as they hold him in contorted positions, the excess sheen of sweat covering Shige’s pale face.

As they are changing and getting ready to go, Ryo finds Shige sitting with his head between his legs. With a sigh, he offers to drive Shige home. Shige looks at him blankly, before nodding and standing up slowly.

The ride to Shige’s house is silent, but not uncomfortably so. Both are perfectly at ease not saying a word to each other, but as Ryo pulls up to the curb besides Shige’s house, he pauses, swallows, “Are you okay?”

Shige looks him straight in the eye, and though they both know he is lying, he says “Yes.”

The next time Shige drops, it is in the bathroom and Ryo just happens to have to pee.

He walks in just as Shige crashes to the ground. Shige coughs and coughs and Ryo can only hold on tight to his shoulders in an attempt to stop the shudders that wrack Shige’s body. Eventually, Shige’s body stops shaking, and Ryo hands Shige a paper towel. As Shige’s coughs subside and he pulls the paper away, Ryo sees alarming specks of blood littered on the sheet.

And Ryo snaps.

He’s sick of being subtle, not that he was ever good at it in the first place. Mostly though, he’s beginning to get really scared. “What the hell, man? What the hell?”

Shige shrugs and stands up with quivering legs. He fishes out eye drops from his bag and calmly begins to clear the harsh redness that has infiltrated the creamy white of his eyes. He does it with practiced ease, as if this is commonplace, happens every day.

Ryo realizes with a start that maybe it does, and it’s just that no one knows about it.

Shige sighs with quivering breath, “I’m sorry you had to see that. Don’t worry about me, though. I’m fine.”

Ryo stares.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” he snarls. Frankly, Ryo has had enough of Shige avoiding the obvious.

Shige’s voice raises a few notches, pitch a frantic mess, “Nothing!”

Ryo grits his teeth, “Shut up,” he says darkly. “I know you’re lying!”

“Why do you care anyway?” Shige swallows.

The pair glares at each other, both perfectly still, their breathing harsh, angry, and disconcerted. Ryo is about to answer but then he thinks.

“Because you’re my…” He can’t say friend, because really, they were never friends to begin with, and they both know it. “We’re in the same group. I care about whoever’s in the group,” Ryo manages.

A pause, before Shige scoffs angrily. “Right, of course. I know. I can’t let the group down,” he deadpans. He storms out of the bathroom in disgust and leaves Ryo standing in the middle of bathroom shock still.

In disappointment in his answers, Ryo swears as he kicks the trashcan violently. It topples over and Shige’s blood-spotted tissue tumbles out.

A week passes since their fateful encounter in the bathroom, and neither of them has said anything about it. After worrying about it for a couple of days, Ryo comes to the conclusion that if Shige doesn’t want to talk about it, then that’s his problem. And really, since when did Ryo ever care?

So it is an early Saturday morning and for once, Ryo finds that he doesn’t have anything planned that day. He is just about to call his mother in Osaka to ask if his family is free to spend time together when his phone rings.

The phone registers Shige’s name, and Ryo picks it up hesitantly after the third ring, “What do you want?”

A pause, as if Shige is surprised that Ryo answers, and then out comes a rush of stilted, forced words.

“Something came up so my parents had to go and I can’t drive. Can you take me to the doctor’s?”

When Ryo picks Shige up, he is a little surprised to see that though it has only been a week, Shige looks a little thinner. His cheekbones are a little more pronounced, his arms have lost some muscle. Shige apologizes for not having a license; Ryo vaguely remembers Shige telling the group that he couldn’t get one due to his narcolepsy.

The office itself is a pasty, disconcerting white, and the atmosphere is utterly abysmal. Ryo and Shige sit in the waiting room, both trying to ignore the nurse that cannot take her eyes of off Ryo’s face. When the doctor walks in, even he is surprised to find Ryo there, and as the doctor asks the nurse to prep Shige, Ryo can also hear him admonish her for staring at him.

Usually, having people ogle him makes him feel like the king of the world, but today he just feels queasy.

It feels like time stops as he waits for Shige’s examination to be over. Ryo picks up a magazine in a rack and flips through it casually. He looks over Jin’s spread and stores things to make fun of, and then his fingers pause on a photo shoot of NEWS. The six of them are beaming, laughing, and Ryo notes that Shige’s face is brighter and healthier. With a sigh, Ryo looks back at the office door. His throat closes up and he starts to let worry seep into his skin.

After what feels like an eternity and a half, the doctor and Shige walk out of the room. As Ryo’s eyes take in the doctor’s apologetic face and downcast glance, it is clear to him that something is definitely, horribly wrong.

Later, at a café eating a mediocre lunch, Ryo watches as Shige rips the napkin in his trembling hands to shreds, waits for him to say something. After Shige wads the shreds into a ball and throws it at the garbage can (he misses), Shige finally speaks.

“I’m sick.”

“…Well, no shit.”

Ryo is about to ask what Shige has when Shige mutters, “I’ve already talked to Johnny-san about it.” Ryo frowns, that sounds even more ominous. If he had to talk to Johnny about it, then…that meant something bad was going to happen.

“I’m leaving NEWS.”

At first the words don’t even register in Ryo’s brain. They are just words and not a phrase and they don’t make any sense. Except Shige is looking at him with the most serious expression Ryo has ever seen, and Ryo can’t think of anything to say in response. So Shige continues.

“Johnny-san is planning a three day Tokyo Dome gig to be held three months from now, and the next day it will go public that I am leaving NEWS.”

At that, Ryo starts, “Why three months? Why so soon? Oh wait, if you’re that sick, shouldn’t you leave now? Reserve your strength?” He takes a deep breath and looks down; he clenches his fists, forces himself to stop rambling.

Shige shakes his head adamantly. “No,” he says loudly, “just resting at home isn’t going to do anything for me. I would just be cheating death that way.” He pauses and looks Ryo straight in the eye, “And I’m the one that pushed for those three months, for that last concert. Nishikido-kun, it’ll be fine. I know I’ll be okay for at least three months, and honestly, I want to go out with a bang. The concert is going to be my last one, so I want to make it really special.”

Ryo can only nod dumbly as they sit in the café. Coffee grows cold and bread turns soft before Shige’s voice rings aloud once more, “Oh, and don’t tell anyone. I don’t want them to worry as we prepare for the concert.”

Ryo knows he shouldn’t agree to this, but something in the back of his mind tells him that if he were in a similar situation, he probably would have done the exact same thing. So really, he supposes he can’t fault Shige for his decision.

Either way, it is at that moment that Ryo decides that if Shige is not going to take care of himself for the next three months, then Ryo will do it for him.

Though Ryo has been in a drama with a terminal illness, he has never dealt with it firsthand, so at first, Ryo has no idea what to do in order to help Shige.

So he starts with the little things.

Ryi makes sure that there is always a bottle of water for Shige, and tells everyone to shut up whenever Shige needs to study or rest. Everyone notices the change, but they figure that Ryo is just being a good senpai and that he has been altered by their universal member love (that or they don’t really care), and leave Ryo’s change of heart alone.

In the meantime, Ryo tries to imagine a NEWS without Shige, and even though he tries and tries and tries, he just can’t do it. As much as they make fun of him all the time, Shige adds to the group what no one else could: a sarcastic humor, a comforting wit, a unique personable characteristic. And especially after three people already leaving the group, he’s not sure if their group can handle a fourth.

One night, when Ryo finds out that Koyama is planning a Karaoke night with Tegoshi, Massu and Shige, Ryo confronts him outside of the dressing room, “I saw you stumbling during practice today. Are you going to be okay tonight? I can take you home, if you want.”

Shige smiles tiredly and rubs the back of his neck, “Nishikido-kun, thanks for looking out for me, but considering how I don’t have much time left, I want to spend as much of that time with my friends while I can.”

Ryo starts. He knows he isn’t really Shige’s friend and that he was never in that group of guys anyway. By all means, he shouldn’t really be offended. But Shige’s words sting anyway and his body reacts before he can think of a suitable reply, turning away from Shige’s now upset face.

As they are getting changed and about to head home, Ryo overhears Shige turning Koyama down. Even then, Ryo doesn’t feel much better. He goes home in a depressed state, and wonders whether he’ll actually show.

Later that night, Shige shows up at Ryo’s apartment with a bag of canned soups and a six pack of beer.

“Just to let you know, I consider you my friend. You’ve been there for me and helped me out more than you know. I really appreciate it.” He holds up the bag and smiles with nervous crinkled eyes, “Want some soup?”

It is past midnight and the two of them are drunk drunk drunk. Scores of empty cans of beer and soup lay strewn across Ryo’s apartment. Ryo flips on the TV with a giggle and it cuts to a hospital scene. A beautiful girl lies on her death bed as her boyfriend cries beside her, holding her hand tightly.

It’s horribly ironic and it makes Ryo want to throw up, but when Ryo realizes that’s the alcohol speaking, he runs to the bathroom in a dizzied panic. When he comes back to the living room, he finds Shige numbly watching as the girl cries out to her lover, “I feel so broken inside.”

And then Shige lets out a drunken, scratchy howl.

Shige always cries when they drink, but this time is monumentally different. His voice is hoarse and his words angry, so angry, “I’M BROKEN.”

Ryo thinks it’s the ugliest sight he’s ever seen, Shige bawling, tears smearing his face and collecting in Shige’s matted lashes. He wishes he could stop the shuddering gasps of air that Shige takes as he regains himself, so Ryo sits down next to him, “Let me—let me help.”

“YOU CAN’T FIX EVERYTHING, RYO,” Shige convulses as he weeps, and Ryo watches with morbid fascination as all of Shige’s mental blocks and fronts come crumbling down. “SOME THINGS CAN’T BE FIXED.”

Like Shige.

Ryo grabs Shige into a bear hug, and holds him as tightly as he can. Eventually, Ryo can feel Shige’s heart rate return to normal and his sniffles start to subside. He hiccups, and his next words are just a tired, high-pitched whisper.

“I don’t want to die.”

Shige’s eyelashes flutter closed, glittering with angry tears.

The next morning, Shige remembers nothing of their conversation, and Ryo just hands him an aspirin when Shige asks what happened.

Ryo watches Shige start to break down, like a ragdoll that is becoming a little too ragged.

He gets weaker and weaker, takes longer to get things done, is quieter in everyday conversation. It’s a little surprising to Ryo that no one else notices anything out of the ordinary, but with the upcoming concert, everyone is so stressed with their own thing that no one has the energy to ruminate on Shige. Instead, they just freak out that Shige still hasn’t gotten the rhythm to the songs right, that he’s out of breath more, that he still has trouble with his pitch.

Shige takes each criticism, each challenge, in stride, and later, when Ryo asks about it, Shige smiles wearily, “I’m just glad to be here.”

And Ryo knows he means every word.

To both Ryo and Shige’s dismay, three months pass quickly and it feels like their last concert day comes upon them before they can blink. The day is filled with utter chaos, with costumes that suddenly need repairs and last minute choreography that needs to be changed. To Ryo, everything goes by in a blur and all he can see is Shige beaming from ear to ear.

They can hear the cheers of the audience from backstage, and as the tension builds and the excitement grows, Ryo can see everyone grinning with nervousness and elation. Ryo nudges Shige gently in the side and Shige smiles.

Before they head on stage, Yamapi gathers NEWS together, “Okay, everyone. We are going to make the Tokyo Dome cheer like they never have before. Let’s make it our best performance ever!”

They cheer and as they run up the stairs, Shige leans towards Ryo, “Good luck,” before flying past him in a blur of glitter and sparkle. Ryo straightens, tells himself to suck it up, and runs with everything he has, ignoring the glaring fact that this will be their last concert together.

The end of the concert comes soon enough, and after three encores, NEWS finally trudges back to the dressing room in satisfaction. With the exception of Ryo, they all tease Shige, who, during the MC, said goodbye to the fans in such a serious tone that everyone joked that maybe he was leaving them. There are smiles everywhere and blindingly so, and Ryo wonders when Shige is going to tell them about the disease.

Ryo finds Shige later that night, saying goodbye to Massu and Yamapi, who both appear to be in relatively good moods. After they leave, Shige gives Ryo a rueful smile, “They looked so happy. I didn’t want to ruin their cheer.”

It’s obvious to them both that Shige is just trying to stall.

Shige sighs, “I’ll tell them tomorrow, before the press conference.” The others in NEWS still think that the conference is for their Tokyo Dome concert. Ryo and Shige know otherwise.

The next morning, Ryo plods into a somber room and sees everyone in tears. Koyama and Tegoshi are clawing at each other, bawling their eyes out, while Yamapi is in the corner rocking back and forth; Massu sits on the couch, tears streaming down his cheeks.

He then sees his manager sitting with his head in his hands, and is surprised to find even Johnny in the room. He prepares himself for the inevitable, and then stops, “Where’s Shige?”

If possible, the crying in the room increases at Shige’s name, and Ryo feels his heart fall splat to his feet.

Their manager stands up shakily and addresses Ryo, “Nishikido-kun, Kato-kun passed away this morning, on his way to the Jimusho.”

A pause.

“But—I don’t understand. He was supposed to—“ And then he slips down to the floor. It doesn’t make any sense.

Johnny coughs into his fist, voice harsh and serious. There are no funny intonations this time, no odd manners of speech. His words are slow and professionally calm, “Apparently he was walking up some stairs when he was hit with a narcoleptic spell and fell backwards. He fell down a huge flight of stairs, broke his neck upon impact, and was proclaimed dead on the scene.”

Words echo in his ears and it all just feels like a really horrible joke. Ryo has been preparing himself for such a day ever since Shige told him, but the reality of the situation is suffocating and Ryo gasps for air. Shige told him he should have had at least six feeble months more after the concert. Six months to get themselves together and to cope, to be with Shige one last time.

And now that chance was gone.

It is the biggest press conference Ryo has ever attended, and to Ryo, it’s absolutely disgusting.

The room is packed with curious newscasters and journalists, all itching to get their hands on the latest tragedy of the boy band. They are like wolves, these people, none of them who give a shit about Shige, actually care. In a way, Ryo wants to scoff.

It is ironic that in the end, narcolepsy was Shige’s downfall after all. He remembers making fun of Shige about it and that was that. It makes Ryo a little indignant. Why did Shige have to suffer so much before the concert if this was going to be the way he ended up?

Then again, Ryo also wonders if Shige would’ve wanted it this way. If he could choose which way to die, which one would he? Ryo doesn’t really know.

During the press conference, he contemplates these matters and fills his mind with Shige; Ryo’s face is completely blank throughout and he doesn’t cry. Later, he hears that some call him stoic, others call him heartless, but Ryo finds that he doesn’t care either way.

The members sit in a row, and each talk about how much Shige meant to them and how much they loved him. It irks Ryo to hear them talk about Shige in past tense; it doesn’t compute in his mind.

Everyone has tears in their eyes and says very sentimental, emotional things, but when it gets to Ryo’s turn, he blanks. He has never had words for this anyway. He doesn’t remember what he says, but he is pretty sure his words amount to nothing.

What happened has happened. There was nothing to be said for that.

In the months after Shige’s death, NEWS disbands. It is a quiet but momentous affair, and no one is too upset that they do. The group knows that they wouldn’t be able to function without Shige, without him haunting their songs and TV shows and stage. It is only in this way, in getting rid of NEWS, that they could begin to cope with their loss.

Ryo is contacted by Shige’s parents, who plead with him not to divulge information about Shige’s illness. Shige’s parents are aware of just how much Shige wanted to keep it all a secret, and think it would be for the best if no one else knew.

And Ryo agrees. When he thinks about Shige and the way he went about his illness, he knows Shige would rather the world think that he died of narcolepsy and have no idea about his disease.

So Ryo never lets on what he knows about Shige. He watches as specials about narcolepsy overtake the TV channels, and starts looking at apartments in Osaka to work closer with Kanjani8. In these ways, as the NEWS members move out and forward, the public begins to forget Shige, to forget the pain NEWS went through, forget that Shige even existed in their hearts and minds.

But sometimes when Ryo sees someone sleep, he can’t help but think, That is what killed Kato Shigeaki. He knows it is a useless thought; sleeping is essential to living after all. However, after Shige’s death, it just doesn’t make sense anymore, sleeping.

And Ryo can’t do it anymore. Nights get longer and his sleeping hours get shorter, because he can’t shake off the cold hard fact that Shige is now sleeping forever and won’t ever be able to wake up.

Eventually, Ryo is diagnosed with insomnia.

He is told that like narcolepsy, it is a crippling sleeping disorder that can affect his daily living drastically.

He isn’t too worried about it though, because it is just another connection to the one person he will never forget.

Ryo decides that he will handle this burden, this reminder of Shige, for the rest of his life.

AN: Based off the rumors that Shige has narcolepsy. Now, I don’t think it’s true, but it makes for a great what-if scenario, doesn’t it?

misticloud wrote a lovely remix here.


Triiiiiiiiiv. So freaking sad. :'( In a really beautiful way. I love how well you keep them in character (or at least the way they seem to be.) I...cried, heh. Thank you for such an interesting piece of work.

Aww thank you. It was very...interesting writing this, and...yeah. Hahaha my first attempt at angsty angst. Good times :D

::wipes away tears:: Thank you for reading, dear!

::hands you a tissue:: I'm sorry you're crying, but thank you for reading and for the compliment :D

/tumbles in.

... why do you do this to me. ; -;

::catches you tumbling in::

I'm. I'm sorry D: I get that a lot though haha. Thanks for reading!

this was written really sweet and simple in between the mixed feelings of dislike and tension. shige's death caught me by surprise and was delivered with impact. great piece :)♥

Thank you, both for your comments and for reading. I'm happy you think so. :DDDDDDDD

you're not nice! you made me really sad! bt its okay because this was just lovely and heart wrenching and i was ind of hoping for a just kidding at the end of the whole thing but then it wouldnt have been as effective of an angst would iT?

THIS WAS SUPER GOOD! and the slight nishikato was sweet when it happens and even just their friendship was sweet. im kinda sad tho that noone in news other than ryo paid attention to shige and his problems when they're all about member-ai.

D: I'm sorry about that, but I'm happy that even though it made you sad, you still thought it was okay :DDD Thanks for reading!

Omg, that was one of the sadest things I have ever read!
I almost cried, I got all misty-eyed... >.<
You're to amazing

awww really? i'm sorry, but thank you for reading :)

Wow, so heartbreaking and I love the way this story about narcolepsy turned. That's so right I think but still sad.

That's was so long ago... Could you tell what were about the rumors?

what were the rumors about, of course, shame on me

first off, thanks so much for reading! the rumors waaaay back when were that shige had sleep issues and was maybe narcoleptic. but he's not, i'm pretty sure :)

oh god! shige died! TT_TT

though its just s fic, you made it seem so real.

yeah...i'm kind of mean that way :P

thank you so much for the comment :DDD

I want to cry. this is so sad T_T

aw please don't cry :( but still, thank you so much for reading and commenting :)

I was in my Chemistry class when I was reading this.
FCUK. This made me cry.~

aww that's probably not the greatest place to read this fic D: sorry i made you cry in class. thanks for reading and commenting anyway :DDDD