Kaneki Ken was tired. Tired was all he was. A hyperbolic assessment of his current physical state.
That was everyone expected to hear.
That was what they all thought.
Yet, that was not the case.
At least not this time.
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Waking up in the hospital was a surprise, for me it was surprising because of the part where I woke up. Waking up was never part of the plan. For only the hero was supposed to wake up, especially after fighting desperately till the end. Me? I was the lamb, I live to ensure others don’t die. That was always the belief I held for myself. The bitter end. That was supposed to be it.
Undoubtedly an unpleasant end, filled to the brim with intimidating white men and blood thirsty companions. Yet it was an end that I faced with courage…
The courage of a life time that I had gathered for that one moment of true significance! I was denied. Once more.
Ken himself was distraught, yet in his confusion and rage, he failed to notice a key that was missing from the scene.
His pain was gone.
This realisation was astoundingly simple, and it was abruptly interrupted.
It was frustrating.
That was what Rize thought to herself upon entering the room and seeing Kaneki in such a state. That was undoubtedly an annoying sentimentality, one that a powerful ghoul such as Rize often thought was beneath her, for there was always a certain image to maintain. Yet she allowed herself this opportunity to get annoyed, because the colossal stupidity that Kaneki possessed was simply beyond her.
A human, after a ghoul attack not too long ago, goes back to a dark alley during the night. That lack of self preservation was paradoxical and odd, and frustrating, considering her personal investment in the safety of this particular human. Along with an annoying manager’s…
“Hi.” a sickly sweet tone permeated the hospital room, almost cancelling the smell of the antiseptic.
“Giving me the cold shoulder isn’t the smartest thing, considering how easily I get annoyed.” the tone not so sweet this time.
He was really trying her nerves. The underlying annoyance was also laced with some concern. Worry would be putting too much emphasis. Yes, concern.
Exasperated, she sat down next to the young man, continuously looking at him with a stare that would have pierced his heart.
“Rize-san, what are you doing here?” he said, in the most calm and collected voice that he could muster given his current condition. During this point in time, Rize, well she did not know whether or not annoyance was tangible when it was reaching critical levels, controlled herself from indulging in anymore violence.
“I know I messed up, I hope the manager knows that I am truly sorry for the massive problems that I have caused.” This self criticality was exasperating and perhaps even baffling. The desire to scream at him was increasing with each passing second.
“Do you know how much trouble I went through to visit you in this hospital? How about the explanation I had to give to each doctor and nurse. If I truly wanted to. I would have screamed at you upon entering the room!” this outburst was quiet in volume, loud in expression.
His facial features were shocked. To anyone else it seemed like he was deathly afraid. Yet to her she could see the surprise on his features after her outburst.
“The manager would come to see you himself, but unfortunately the amount of doves in the ward increased massively since this little accident…”
The concern everyone showed for his wellbeing was unusual for the hospitalised and injury laden Kaneki, no one except for Hide cared about what happened to him. This was something that he was religiously convinced of time and time again.
“I would thank him in person, but I doubt my presence would be good for Anteiku considering the attack,” smart. Thinking ahead and the logic behind the process impressed the femme fatale. Yet, there was something odd about his logic, not the logic itself, but the presence of it in such controlled state.
Humans are fragile creatures, this can usually be said for their physical prowess and state, yet despite the supposed mental fortitude of the human race, a general assumption that Rize made throughout her life time was that: ghouls and humans are equally mentally handicapped.
Trauma, anger, sadness, happiness, excitement and fear. These emotions, at least in her own humble opinion, were part of both races. No matter how much anyone tried to deny it of course.
Yet something was off, there was another ghoul in the vicinity. Not that it was unusual of course, the permeation of ghouls within society being quite complete and unnoticed by most. This of course did not mean that she would drop her guard, quite the opposite, other ghouls needed to be observed. Especially, with her upbringing. One can never know who is a friend or foe.
Yet the more she stayed, the stronger the presence of this ghoul grew, it was as if he was coming closer. That was the justification she gave for the increasing smell, yet the growing pit in her stomach would dictate that something was wrong. Incredibly so.
‘Rize-san’ he uttered in a small voice. Bereft of the earlier confidence. Fear took its place.
‘Why can I smell the nurse? Why does she smell so good?’ he continued, terrified.
The food she had brought her human companion as a get well gift suddenly took on an entirely new purpose.
‘Kaneki-kun, I have a theory.’ of course she did, and despite her outward calm, this situation excited and terrified her.
‘I want you to eat this. Slowly, chewing and tasting every bite.’ the swift motion in which she gave the young man some random irrelevant pastry was not the key detail.
He retched. He absolutely retched. No doubt about that in her mind existed. Yet, this wasn’t enough. Not to prove something this insurmountably insane.
The unthinkable was the only thing that would be enough.
She would need a human. From where? How? What about suspicion? She is supposed to be on the run.
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“Rize-san, you may be a ghoul, but buying bread isn’t that difficult” he chuckled, attempting to lighten the atmosphere. It failed. He did however notice that her expression was forced, making him feel uncertain about what to expect from this beautiful creature.
‘Kaneki.’ her use of his full name made him realise the gravity of this situation. ‘Don’t panic no matter what happens in the next fifteen or twenty minutes’ she stated icily.
‘Promise me’ this reiteration was what sunk the final nail into the proverbial coffin of Kaneki’s last day of normality.