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Mother's touch

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Not quite as acrid as the gunpowder in his bombs, the stench of antiseptic still burns the lining of Gokudera’s nostrils with each breath he takes. It reminds him of hospitals, sterile instruments, and cold, emotionless doctors, not the heat of the kitchen, the worn wood of the chair where he is seated, or the ingredients for sugar cookies strewn forgotten across the countertops.

When Gokudera presses a palm to his face in an attempt to block out the smell, his hand also holds in any whimpers or whines that threaten to escape his lips as Nana gently dabs away the dirt from the gash along his shin, which is just as well because how is he supposed to show weakness in front of the mother of the boy he has sworn to follow and protect? It’s bad enough that he’s injured in the first place, but the squirms and twitches add an entirely new dimension to his embarrassment. If he were to actually cry out in pain, he’d die of utter humiliation.

What must she think of him, this dumb punk who hangs onto her son like a leech with nothing to offer but his loyalty and non-existent strength? Does she laugh at him when he’s not there? Or does she mock him for his recklessness like Shamal used to when they were in this same situation back in Italy? He’s starting to get a stomach ache that probably can’t be blamed on the medicine hanging in the air.

Nana just smiles softly when he hisses as she pats the wound dry and reaches for the gauze on the table. With angel-soft hands, she slowly winds the roll around Gokudera’s leg, loose enough not to cut off circulation or cause pressure wounds, tight enough to staunch the bleeding and keep out debris. When she’s done, she leans down to press her lips over the off-white cotton.

“A kiss to make it better,” she says like a lullaby, and Gokudera wonders if this is what having a mother is like. He’s glad she’s already shooing him back outside so she can’t see how his chin trembles at that.