Shingo hated hospitals.
He hated the white everywhere (the absence of color, the absence of life; funeral dresses in some countries). He hated the smell (disinfectant - a reminder that not even germs could survive there). He hated the lights (all fluorescent and far too bright; he always saw people reaching for it like there was an angel urging them to throw themselves into the light fixtures). He hated the overwhelming cloud of gloom that hung over them at all times (though his mother claimed he brought that with him).
He didn't want to be there. He didn't want to be trapped in that place. He felt claustrophobic, like there were too many memories squeezed between the walls and there was no room for him. It was stifling him, choking him, making him think about the number of times he had been in the hospital. The number of people he had lost or almost lost.
He didn't want to think about how his grandparents had died there. How this is where his mother had gone when her tummy went away but his baby brother/sister hadn't come home. How this was where they'd taken Mamoru when he'd had his motorcycle accident. Minako and her car accident. Ami and the sting rays. Mika and her cancer.
So many tragedies, big and small, had happened in that very hospital. It's probably what had given him White Coat Hypertension. What made him walk past the buildings just a bit faster, as if all of the misery contained within could leak out the windows and drag him inside, trapping him forever.
Mamoru emerged from another room, his mask still on his face. There was blood. Shingo thought in panic that it was everywhere. He thought he was going to faint and then he thought how embarrassing that would be and then he thought of how that didn't matter because something horrible had happened so he was entitled to faint. Then he thought he might throw up instead. It seemed manlier.
But when Mamoru took off his mask, he was smiling. This made no sense to Shingo.
"It's a girl," he said happily, looking like he might cry.
There was a rather ridiculous whoop from the crowd. Ikuko and Kenji had thrown their arms around each other. Minako had leapt up to hug Mamoru, and then thought better of it when she remembered the blood. She patted him on a clean patch of his arm instead. Ami, Makoto, and Rei quickly followed to offer their more subdued congratulations. The other three women and the guy whose names he didn't know hung back, keeping respectful distance. Though Shingo could tell that the guy especially was anxious.
"How's Usagi?" Shingo asked loudly, wondering if the tremble in his voice was obvious. If it wasn't his hands would certainly give it away.
"Dead apparently," Minako answered, her voice very grave. Shingo's stomach lurched, but she started laughing before anything terrible could happen. "She's fine, silly! Mamoru wouldn't be giddy if Usagi was bleeding herself into an early grave. Look at him. He's practically skipping."
Mamoru seemed to take some offense at this, good-natured of course. Conversations continued that Shingo didn't take part in. Finally, he slipped away to get some coffee. He took a wrong turn and headed for the nursery. He wanted to be certain of this for himself, and he wanted to see it alone.
He was rewarded quickly, finding the little pink card that said TSUKINO USAGI with ease. And then Shingo allowed his shoulders to sag in relief.
"Finally," he muttered, leaning his forehead against the glass. "A happy memory."