He didn't believe in fairytales and never had.
It was foolish to believe in them, he decided, especially when you're a young boy surrounded by people ready to judge and mock and throw their odds against you with every move you make. He wasn't bitter about it, that's how things worked in this world after all. He didn't want to think about rabbits in the moon or princesses with skin softer than morning dew.
Hatori didn't want to give anyone any more reasons to isolate him.
That was why, maybe, he had turned to science. Practical, reasonable. Theories that could be proved with tests and microscopes rather than word of mouth and sprawling ink. Cells, scalpels, lab coats, and patients taking the place of children's magic beans and damsel-saving knights with shining armor and gleaming sword. A process of replacing one thing for the other in the mind, something that he used when he was younger with a set determination but learned to loathe as he grew older and somewhat wiser.
It was his part to play in the family, his role in the little zodiac trio he unwittingly found himself a part of. Keeping the other two out of any serious trouble was a difficult job on their best of days. And exhausting at first. But you learn to adjust to such things, like everything else. It was the reasonable thing to do.
"Saaaa...look at all this work? It's going to kill me before the week is out and I'll die a virgin. How horrible," Shigure had whined the first day of their second year in high school. "I'll die in /shame/. Aaayaaaaa!"
"Ah, Gure-kun, I swear now that such a horrible occurrence will not take place while I, Ayame, am here to prevent it!" Ayame had immediately returned, turning a few heads with his loud proclamation but not caring in the least. Why should he care? In the end, it was not his job to.
"He can't die from a week of moderate class work. It's physically impossible," Hatori remembered telling them. "And it would not be a shame."
And Ayame had turned, hair fanning about him in a silver-white wave, eyes flashing. "Nonsense!" his voice boomed. "A life without knowing love, why, what kind of life is that? Great kingdoms are built on love and romance, tragedy warring with the fluttering of the human heart, deep desires coursing from one soul to another like the rays of the sun at high noon in the glorious spring-a season of blooming flowers and walks in the sun with the person you love. Why, to die without knowing such things! A tragedy to rival Romeo and his Juliet-"
"Such love! Such triumph! Such waste!" Shigure had chorused in the background, always encouraging, using Ayame's loud declarations to make his own point without putting in the actual effort himself.
"-Othello and Desdemona! Cathy and Heathcliff! Scarlet and Rhett!"
Hatori had felt the need to point out that none of those people actually existed. "They aren't real. They're just stories."
And Aya had laughed and looked at him with the single-minded focus he seemed to save for Hatori alone. "Ohohohohohoho...my dear Tori-san, our lives will be the base for stories yet to rise."
"They're tragedies." The point had changed, sharply and suddenly, but that was how the trio's conversations always flowed. "The greatest romances, you say, and they end in sorrow."
"There is life after love sometimes." Shigure had produced a fan seemingly out of nowhere and tapped it against his shoulder. "And sometimes love after love. But alas, que sera sera," he sang as he always did.
That had been years ago, more than it seemed and yet fewer still when compared to how old he felt now. He had loved and lost, the tragic path he had no one to blame for but himself. It would be easy, after Kana's wedding, to shut down. Close not only the chapter, but the book itself.
But they were both here with him, faces older but the look in their eyes the same.
"Ha'ri, have I ever told you how much I like writing sequels?" Shigure said from where he lounged on the couch in his office. "All the characters are there, the ones you know, and it all comes together easier than in the first book."
Aya stood with his hands on his hips, chin lifted high. "A continuation of greatness! That is what sequels are. They provide another chance to explain. To set things right in a wonderful flash of light and perfection, truly worthy of a person such as myself! Wouldn't agree? Yes, I too prefer sequels, as is only natural."
Haroti looked at them, looked at them, read between the lines and realized there were no schemes or games. Just them, as there always had been.
He blinked. "But it's..."
"Quite logical, ne, Aya-kun?"
"Logical yet satisfying the necessary elements of fantasy."
The doctor chuckled, a deep sound from the center of his chest. "Aya, come sit down with us then."
Which the snake happily did.
Ask anyone in the main house and they'd tell you he didn't believe in fairytales.
But of course, they didn't know that sometimes he tried.
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