Chapter 23

The worst part is the tests. A nurse who looks like a stereotypical Jersey girl with big lacquered hair and thickly layered make up sits with me in a private examination room. She asks me a clipboard full of probing questions. What do your meals look like daily? How much exercise do you get? Do you feel uncomfortable in your body? I tell the truth. Well, the physical truth. I don't eat much; I honestly can't stomach most foods. I used to exercise everyday when I was on the soccer team, but now I rarely do anything more strenuous than a jog.

Her scrubs have a pattern of kittens on a leopard skin backdrop and they keep meowing.

"So I understand you are a triplet?" she asks, looking up from her clipboard. Her pen has been spruced up with ribbons and colorful tassles, making it look like a technicolor palm tree. It doesn't sing.

"Yes, I have two brothers," I answer quietly, yanking my gaze away from her pen to her half-lidded eyes, heavy with mascara and glitter.

"How sweet! What are their names?"

"Mercutio and Romeo."

She makes a squawk of a gasp, smiling. "Like the play?"

I nod quietly. She's overtly nice and normally I'd appreciate it, but today I find it annoying.

"I have an older brother named Tybalt," I mutter, to keep it on that topic.

"The prince of cats?" she says in such a way that I'm convinced she's proud of herself for remembering the detail. I faintly smile and nod.

She itches her cheek with bright pink and zebra print acrylic nails. They sing in a five part harmony. It's in Italian though. I don't see how she can function with a canoe paddle on each finger. But I don't question it too much, since she's writing down my answers in a rather pretty and elaborate cursive, dotting the I's with stars.

"Alright, Ben, I think that is all for now. Again, my name is Claire," she smiles and taps her name tag, which is bedazzled with glittery stickers. Despite her meowing and singing adornments, she has a rather nice voice.

She stands up and leads me out to my appointed room. I carry my things with me, tight against my chest. I wanted my own room, but Rosaline said he wouldn't pull strings for me.

Claire raps the door jamb and says in a singsong voice, "Takashi, you have a new roomie!"

I peek into the dorm-sized room at the bed that isn't empty. A young man is sitting up against the wall, holding a book of sheet music. He peeks over the top of it with a flat stare.

"Takashi here is the only other male at the facility at this time," Claire says. "We don't do co-ed rooms and space is limited, so you boys will be sharing a room."

The boy had wispy red hair that is blackened at the roots. His expression is carefully blank, almond eyes a bit sunk into darkened lids. He assesses me coolly and drops his gaze back to his sheet music.

"Hey," Takashi mutters.

Claire titters something about 'getting better acquainted' and slides out of the room, kittens meowing.

I set my bag down on the bed and start to unpack slowly, hoping nothing starts screaming. Thus far the only thing that isn't quiet in the room is the book the other is holding. It's humming to itself some tune I don't recognize. Takashi continues to ignore me as I fold up my duffel bag and stick it under my bed beside my slippers. They are in awe of the immaculately clean floor underneath the bed. That done, I am at a loss. What now?

I look back to Takashi and he's watching me. Despite the softness of his face and body, his eyes are hard and bright. Guess he still has a fighting spirit, thought its obvious he hasn't eaten a decent meal in awhile. His shoulders are straight and thin, his white t-shirt hanging off them sharply. He looked more like a paper doll than a real person.

"Let me guess," he drawls, looking me up and down. "Needs to puke out a few pounds to make weight for wrestling and got caught?"

I look down at myself. I don't look that much like a jock, do I? I guess despite my withering away, I still had a decent body from soccer.

"No, wasn't that sort of athlete," I reply, sitting down. "Just one big misunderstanding that I'm willing to do time for just to get past it."

He looks me over once more and goes back to his reading. I rub my tongue over my front teeth as a nervous tic and sit down on the bed. Then I got up and went to go brush my teeth because I noticed my teeth felt fuzzy. Takashi didn't move.

" are you reading?" I ask timidly. He flicks his eyes up then back down on the page.

"Lyrics," he mumbles. I raise an eyebrow quizzically and he sighs. "I'm trying to memorize the lyrics to this song."

"What song? Is it a folk song or modern?" I jump all over the distraction of talking. He fidgets a bit and the collar of his limp shirt reveals more papery skin. There are thin red lines going along his collarbone, but I can't tell what they are from this distance. He sets down the music sheets and stretches, all his joints crackling like a log falling apart in a fire.

"What was your name again?" he asks, ignoring my questions.

"Benvolio, but I prefer Ben," I say sheepishly. "Claire forgot to mention it."

"Ben," he says, trying it out on his tongue before nodding. "Takashi. No Tak, Taka, or Shi or Kashi or whatever else. It's Takashi."

"I'll keep that in mind," I say.

And that is the extent of our conversation. He excuses himself to go out somewhere and I have a sinking feeling that we might not get along. I want to, but already I felt like I'm an unwanted visitor. All the more reason to call home and beg my sentence be shortened.

I fall back onto the bed and wonder what Laguna is doing.

I saw him right before I was admitted. In the week following my fainting spell, he had only come to see me once or twice. I chalked it up to work and school. But the more that time passed, the more I wondered if he still liked me as much as I liked him. Or used to like him. Sure, he made things quiet, but there was something off about him recently. I couldn't put my finger on it. Maybe I am just imagining things. Does he even miss me? Or was I so nauseatingly attracted to his charms and quiet that I honestly don't know what he's really like?

My thoughts are scattered into the winds as Claire comes to the door with her scrubs meowing and a canoe-paddle finger pointing at me.

"Lunch is being served and I got all your paperwork in with the nutritionist. Come on now!" she says cheerfully.

I gulp, stand, and follow her to my first meal in at White Rose Eating Disorder Treatment Center.

My stomach did a somersault in paranoid fear.


A/N: I just want to say beforehand that all this rehab stuff is based on entertainment sources, such as movies and books, and very surface-scratching online research. I have never been to an anorexia-bulimia rehab facility, and thankfully I don't think I ever will. I didn't want to do intense research at this point in time, because quite frankly this is a fictionpress story. But I do want to keep it as realistic as possible. Not to exploit my readership, but if any of you have firsthand experience and wouldn't mind speaking with me, I would love to improve the realism for the next few chapters.

That said, sorry it's short...again. Ngh.

Takashi is based off a character in Band by Rachelmorph. She stole away Ben (Yasu in her story) for a bit and thought it was only fair we AU each other. ...and I honestly can't think of a good title anymore. Ideas?