Bouleversement by stormy1x2
Summary: When Kamio is in an accident, Kirihara has to rise up to the challenge of keeping the Kamio family secret just that - a secret. Co-written with Mayoki.
Categories: Yaoi Characters: *Kamio Akira, Kirihara Akaya
Genres: Drama
Warnings: None
Series: None
Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes Word count: 25499 Read: 85715 Published: 10/10/08 Updated: 10/10/08
Story Notes:
Notes: Takes place in the LGO world about six or so months after Kamio and Akaya become a couple. Mildly spoilerish for LGO, but if you haven't read that, this really won't make much sense. See this profile for links. Sachiko and Michiko are my creation, as is Kamio Yukio, unfortunately. Makamoto-san and Minigawa-san are also mine. The doctor, Hiawatari-san, is Mayoki's creation. Everything you recognize from PoT belongs to Konomi-sensei.

Mayoki's Notes: This is my first (of hopefully many!) fanfiction collaboration with Stormy, and it was so much fun to write! I want to thank her again for letting me play with her characters and in her timeline, it really was an honour so thank you! This fic is of a pairing I’ve loved forever, but only just got into rabidly now that I have someone to help fuel my addiction. Here’s to many more KiriKam fics, and many more collaborations!

Stormy's Notes: Obviously, this fic could not have been done without Mayoki. She is the first person I've ever Rp'd with, and she made it so easy for this fic to just keep going and going. A brilliant author in her own right, she took on Michiko and Sachiko as if they were her own and made them shine. Awesome work Mayoki! We HAVE to do this again!

1. Chapter 1 by stormy1x2

2. Chapter 2 by stormy1x2

3. Chapter 3 by stormy1x2

Chapter 1 by stormy1x2
Glancing once again at his watch, Kamio growled and sped up a bit, almost to a jog. He almost groaned as he came to a set of lights just as they turned red and waited impatiently, crossing the second that they changed. Sparing yet another glance at his watch as he made it to the other side, he looked up just in time to avoid colliding with a man in a suit hurrying in the opposite direction.

"No, that's okay, feel free to walk right into me," he muttered under his breath, watching the man stride away. It wasn't like he was in a hurry, or anything. Of course not. With a final glare at the departing figure, he took a deep breath and continued on his way, winding through the side streets with practiced ease. With a bit of luck, he'd make it home only a little later than his usual time. His track coach, Pete Andersen, had kept him back after practice to discuss an upcoming meet. Even though he knew Kirihara wouldn't mind the extra time, he knew he'd feel guilty if he didn't make it back in time to put the girls to bed. Michiko was a master at playing on his guilt trips. With that thought in his mind, he intentionally sped up again, almost flying down a long stone staircase. He grabbed the end of the handrail, and used the momentum from his speed to spin himself so that he could carry on half-jogging down the street without pausing. He could see another road coming up that he had to cross, and the pedestrian light was still on green. Silently thanking any and all gods he could think of, he finally broke into a jog.

The light was blinking as he made it to the edge of the crosswalk, but he still had time to make it. Nearly halfway across, he heard a shout come from behind him. Before he could turn to see what the fuss was about, something struck him in the side, sending him flying through the air. 'A car' he thought hazily, just before his body hit the unforgiving cement. He could hear more shouts start up, and dimly he was aware of feet running towards him, but then the darkness tugging on the corners of his eyes swept over him, taking him down into oblivion.

o0o o0o o0o o0o o0o

"Why the heck do they have you learning this stuff at your age for?" Kirihara groused. He glared at Sachiko's math book and poked it gingerly. "I think I could add and subtract at your age. Nine-year-olds don't need to know freaking fractions."

Sachiko giggled and wiggled her pen between her fingers playfully. “Akira-nii never complains that it’s too hard.” She let the comment hang for a few seconds as her face split into a grin. “Maybe you’d like me to help you with your math, too, Akaya-nii?”

Kirihara growled and swatted playfully at her. "Shut up, bratling. It's bad enough I take this abuse from your brother. I don't need to be picked on by you too."

In answer, Sachiko smiled innocently, before returning to her math book. Kirihara watched for a few minutes to make sure she didn't need any help - not like he could do much if she did - before calling out to the living room to check on the youngest member of the Kamio clan. "Yo, Michi!"

"Ears," Sachiko reminded him. Kirihara groaned, and pushed himself away from the table, heading into the living room.

Michiko had been diagnosed with a hearing disability when she was very young, but Kirihara kept forgetting that. It was easy to do, particularly when Michiko seemed to be able to predict when anyone would need her for something. But Akaya had stuck her in the living room with her Card Captor tapes, which meant nothing less then an act of Kami himself would break her concentration. Somewhat immune to the sugar-coated anime show, Kirihara kept his eyes away from the screen and instantly zoomed in on Michiko, who was sitting cross legged on the sofa, totally absorbed in her program. Waving a hand to obscure her view and capture her attention, Kirihara offered a grin and repeated himself. “Yo, everything okay?”

It obviously had been until he arrived, as he received a slight pout from the small girl at having her show interrupted – no doubt at a crucial plot twist as was always the case. "Kero's gonna change now," she said, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. Her eyes slid back to the television.

"Yeah... I knew that." Kirihara rolled his eyes. Apparently all was well in the world of Kamio Michiko. Glancing at the TV, he noticed the time on the VHS machine. It was telling him that Kamio should have been home half an hour ago. Giving Michiko a gentle pat on the head, making her squirm silently in protest, Kirihara moved away from the noise of the cartoon and pulled out his cell phone. Akira was on his speed dial; he pressed the number and waited. A recorded voice told him the caller could not be reached. Akaya rolled his eyes in exasperation. No doubt Kamio had forgotten to put more time on his phone again.

Putting the phone away, he headed back into the kitchen. "Sachi?"

“Uh-huh?” Sachiko asked, finishing off a line of writing and pulling her pen back with a satisfied smile. She finally lifted her head up and blinked; Kirihara had his mobile phone in his hand. The situation clicked in her head, and her eyes darted to the clock on the kitchen wall. She frowned and shook her head. “Kira-nii is late; he should have called us.” She said in a slightly put out tone, badly concealing a pout

"Well, you know your brother," Akaya told her. "Has to stay extra time to make up for being such a slow runner, and all that.” He smirked at the glare Sachi sent his way. "Take Michi upstairs and put your pajamas on. Akira's probably almost home as it is, and he'll be pisse--er, angry if you guys aren't ready for bed when he gets here. The last thing I want is another lecture about how important sleep cycles are."

Sachiko giggled at the almost-swearword, but nodded obediently and gathered her math books into a neat pile. “Leave it to me!” She assured him, heading off towards the living room to try and pry her sister away from the television and up to get ready for bed.

Kirihara smiled faintly. Kamio's sisters really were good kids. He was glad they seemed to like him as much as he did them. Thinking some hot chocolate before bed would be just the thing, he moved towards the counters where the mugs were. He was scooping out the first mounds of cocoa powder when the phone rang. Assuming it was Kamio calling to say he was late - like they didn't already know that - Akaya reached for the phone. "Hello?"

There was a slight pause on the other end of the line, the only sound being dull background conversation and keyboard tapping, before a woman’s voice rang through the line. “Hello? I have this number listed as a point of emergency contact for a ‘Kamio Akira’? I’m looking for a member of his immediate family.”

Emergency contact? Kirihara was the first to admit - in limited company - that he wasn't the brightest bulb in the box, but even he could think quickly when he needed to. "I'm his cousin, Kamio Akaya," he lied smoothly, feeling a shiver run down his spine when he said his name with Kamio's. He liked the way it sounded. "Is Akira alright?"

There was another pause, and a sigh on the other end of the line before the woman spoke again. “I’m afraid your cousin has been involved in an accident, and is currently receiving hospital treatment. I’m sorry, is there somebody else I can speak with? One of his parents, perhaps?”

"His dad's dead, and his mom ain't here," Kirihara responded automatically. An accident? Kamio had been in an accident? "Is he gonna be okay? How bad is he hurt?"

“I’m afraid I can’t give details over the phone, and I’m only given the basic information myself. All that I can tell you that he was taken to Tokyo General Hospital. Are you sure that there’s nobody else I can talk to? Or perhaps a contact number for his mother?”

Kirihara growled. "I don't have a number for his mother - she went out for the night. Look lady, you call me and tell me my...cousin was in an accident, and now you wanna leave me hanging?" His throat tightened at the sudden though that crossed his mind, but he forced the words out anyway. "Is he dying or what?"

There was the sound of rustling paper, and a hushed conversation, before the woman came back on the line. “I only have the paramedic crew report to go by - the emergency room doctors still haven’t finished with him. It wouldn’t seem that his condition is life threatening, but he has suffered a head injury that has the potential to bring about complications. The ER doctors will be doing a thorough exam to make sure that no injuries get missed. That’s all I know, I’m afraid.”

Kirihara's fingers dug into the plastic handle of the phone. "I doubt I'll be able to get a hold of his mother any time soon." Thinking quickly, he ran through the procedures Akira had once gone over with him in case of just such an emergency. "But if his--our grandmother can get there, can the docs talk to her?"

“Yes, a grandparent would be able to speak with the doctors in charge; there would be no problem with that. Would you like me to call your grandmother?”

"I'll call her," Akaya hastened to say. "I gotta find the number anyway. So you said Tokyo General, right?"

“Very well. Yes, Tokyo General Hospital. He should be out of the ER fairly soon, and then they’ll be able to give out more information about his condition.”

"Thanks." Kirihara hung up the phone and stood there for a minute, his heart racing. He had to figure out what to do next, what he was supposed to do with... the girls. His heart sank, and he turned around to see Sachiko standing in the doorway, her eyes wide. "Sachi..."

“Who was that…?” She asked hesitantly, not liking the atmosphere. She’d only caught the tail end of Kirihara’s side of the conversation, and the confusion was clear in her eyes. “Who are you going to call? Who’s at the hospital?”

Shit. Kirihara motioned for her to come over and sit down. She did so, eying him warily, and he sighed. "Sachiko, I need you to listen and be a big girl, okay? I mean, I know you're a big girl, but I need to tell you something and you need to stay calm, all right?" He almost let a hysterical laugh go at the word 'calm' - who was going to calm him? "Can you do that for me?"

She blinked and bit her lip, nodding slowly. “Okay. What’s wrong, Akaya-nii?”

"That was a lady at the hospital calling. She said Akira was in an accident." He froze as Sachi gasped, tears welling up in her eyes. "Sachi, they said it didn't look life-threatening. You know your brother - he's not gonna get out of raising you two brats any time soon, right?" He smiled reassuringly at the little girl, who wiped at her eyes with her fist. "Sachi?"

She sniffled and nodded. “H-he’s going to be okay? Akira-nii…’Kira-nii is okay?” She asked, pleading watery eyes turning to Kirihara.

"'Course he is," he said quickly, hoping he was going to be right. He had to be right. The other alternative was unthinkable. "Sachi, go get Michi. Put your shoes and a jacket on, okay? We need to go next door and see Makamoto-san."

Sachiko accepted his reassurance and nodded with a mumbled ‘okay’. She drew her sleeve across her eyes and pushed herself off the chair to go and get her sister.

Kirihara checked that he had his wallet and the house keys as he stepped into his own sneakers. Sachiko had done as he'd asked, putting Michiko's windbreaker on, and was pulling on her own. Akaya knelt down and let Michiko come over, wrapping his arms around her. She looked scared, and Akaya gave Sachiko a questioning look.

Sachiko guiltily bit her lip and drew her hands up into her sleeves, balling her hands in the material. “She wanted to know what was wrong so I told her there was an accident. I told her that you said Akira-nii would be okay!” Sachiko promised quickly. “Are we going to see him now?” She asked hopefully, moving to stand next to her sister.

Kirihara groaned, wishing Sachiko had left out the 'okay' part. Now he had to hope he hadn't made the both of them liars. "No, now we're going to see Makamoto-san, remember? The doctors won't tell me anything because I don't look a thing like your mother, and I doubt I could pass for your father." He won a small smile from both girls at that, and he sighed in relief. He really wasn't any good at dealing with emotional girls. He moved them both through the front door, down to the gate and over to Makamoto's house. He could see through the window that her living room lights were on. He knocked sharply on the door.

o0o o0o o0o o0o o0o

Makamoto had just settled down for an evening of game show repeats, Ling Ling dozing lightly in her lap, when she heard the knock at her door. Gently gathering the dog into her arms, Makamoto made her way to the front door and brushed the curtain obscuring the glass aside. Opening the door, she offered a smile to the three to mask her confusion. “Good evening.” She recognized the handsome young man instantly. Akira had introduced him to her several weeks ago as his 'good friend', and he'd taken over her former task of watching the girls on Thursday nights. She still saw the girls on Tuesdays however, and Sachiko and Michiko obviously adored him, chattering on and on about how cool their Akaya-nii was. "Kirihara-kun, isn't it? What can I do for you?"

She watched as Kirihara paused for a second, obviously organizing his thoughts. She took the time to glance down to the girls and noticed they were wearing their pajamas underneath their jackets; this trip had obviously been a split second decision. “Makamoto-san, I need your help; Akira was in an accident and they can only talk to a family member…they’re expecting his grandmother any minute.” Kirihara finished with a shaky smile.

Makamoto gasped. "Oh dear," she breathed. She wanted to ask how badly Akira had been hurt, but she had not missed the subtle cues Kirihara-kun had been aiming at her. "Were they able to tell you anything else?"

Kirihara tightened his grip on the girls hands. “Not much, just that they’re getting him fixed up in the ER and they’ll be able to tell us more when they’ve finished. Well, they’ll be able to tell a family member more,” he hinted, meeting Makamoto’s gaze.

Makamoto nodded briskly. She'd been called in to do this before. Three years prior, Michiko had fallen off the slide at her preschool and fractured her arm. Kamio had been unable to get a hold of his mother, and had to come to her in a panic. Acting as his grandmother, she had signed the paper work and Michiko had been returned to them, none the worse for wear. Makamoto had told Kamio if he ever required her help again in such a capacity, he needed only to ask.

It certainly wasn't as though they could rely on that mother of theirs. Makamoto shook her head sadly at the thought, and focused back on the teenager. "Come in, dear. It's cold out there, and I need to make a phone call before we go to the hospital." She stepped aside to let them in, and showed them to the living room as she set Ling Ling down on the floor. Picking up the phone, she dialed a familiar number and sighed as she waited for the connection. “Hello, Minagawa-san? I’m afraid a rather complicated situation has arisen. Is there any chance that you could possibly look after Sachiko and Michiko Kamio for the evening?”

Minagawa Junko was obviously surprised - Makamoto could hear the concern coming right over the phone lines. "Of course. Is everything all right? Where is Akira?"

Makamoto sighed and looked down at Ling Ling who was nuzzling at her slipper. “It would seem Akira has been in an accident. Kirihara-kun was minding the girls this evening and took the call. I’m going down to the hospital to get things sorted out, but we can’t really risk taking the girls, you see.”

Junko inhaled sharply. "Oh god, that poor boy." As an afterthought, she registered Makamoto's other words. "And yes, of course I understand. I assume I'll be taking them for the entire night?"

“It’s a good possibility; I’m sorry to put this on you at such short notice. They couldn’t tell much to Kirihara-kun over the phone, so I don’t know how long we're going to be there. I think it would probably be best for the girls to stay for the night, rather than have to be woken up and moved, anyway.” Ling Ling lay down, claws gently pawing at the tassel on Makamoto’s slipper.

"My husband is home, so I'll come to pick up the girls. We'll go to the house and get their things for tomorrow while you're out." Minagawa's voice softened. "That poor boy. I'm on my way now."

“Thank you very much, Junko-san. I know Akira will appreciate this.” Makamoto smiled sadly. “I’ll be getting ready to leave; the front door is unlocked so just let yourself in. The girls are in the living room with Kirihara-kun.”

Makamoto hung up the phone and turned around, checking on the girls. Kirihara was sitting on one of her high-backed chairs, Michiko cuddled up on his lap. Sachiko was perched on the arm, sticking close. "I need to run upstairs and get my bag, Kirihara-kun. We'll leave as soon as Minigawa-san arrives."

Kirhara smiled faintly. "Thanks."

She nodded, offering them a warm, hopeful smile. Kirihara's eyes brightened a bit, and she knew her silent message had been received. Then, she turned and hurried upstairs. Makamoto hurried to find the mobile phone her daughter insisted she keep for emergencies, and put it into her handbag. She checked her purse was there, and her reading glasses, before zipping it closed. She was descending the stairs as the door opened, and she exchanged a worried smile with Junko as she passed the woman to collect her coat from the stand by the front door. Exchanging her slippers for her outdoor shoes, she followed Junko into the living room.

At the sight of the younger woman, Sachiko let out a small cry and ran to her. Junko wrapped her arms around the girl, smoothing her hair, offering whatver reassurance she could. Michiko stayed with Kirihara, but her eyes sought out Junko's, and Makamoto saw that the young mother could easily see the same fear there that had gripped her sister. Sachiko clung to her coat, and Junko leaned back enough to look her in the face. "Calm down, Sachiko," she said gently, but firmly. "You know how strong your brother is. Don't go borrowing trouble, okay?"

Sachiko bit her lip, but nodded. She still clung to the woman’s coat. “Akira-nii will be okay.” She said in a wobbly voice, echoing what she had heard Kirihara say earlier. She trusted the words enough to believe them, and clung to them mentally as much as she did the coat physically.

Junko nodded encouragingly. "That's right. He knows better than to scare you girls like that." She stood up, patting Sachiko on the head one last time, before reaching out to Michi. "Come here dear. The sooner I get you two bundled off to my place, the sooner Makamoto-san and Kirihara-kun can go see your brother. And the sooner they do that, the sooner we get the news."

Sachiko watched her sister slowly uncurl from her position in Kirihara’s lap, and wander over, reaching up for Junko’s hand.

“Okay then, Kirihara-kun, I think we’re all set now. Junko-san, would you like me to call you in the morning when we’ve heard more?” Makamoto asked, herding the group towards the front door and grabbing her car keys from a hook on the wall.

"Of course. And if you're able to get any information tonight, call as late as you need to. I have a feeling no one is going to get much sleep tonight unless you do."

Makamoto nodded and looked over at Kirihara. "Are you ready, dear?"

Kirihara was following behind Junko, who was holding both the girls hands. He looked ready, yet he also looked like he was half afraid to go. This was such a complicated situation; one wrong word could destroy the family Kamio had worked so hard to preserve. Makamoto's heart wrenched in sympathy. The boy stuffed his hands in his pockets and took a deep breath, nodding his head once. “Yeah, I’m ready.”

The two groups parted on the path that led to the sidewalk in front of the house. Kirihara waved goodbye and then Makamoto led the way around the side to the small driveway that held her 1996 Volkswagon. Despite being nearly twelve years old, it still ran as smoothly as the day she'd bought it. Her daughter was constantly urging her to trade it in for a newer model, but her husband had helped her pick it out, and she was reluctant to lose yet another connection to the memories of her dearly departed husband.

Unlocking the doors, the two of them got in. The engine turned over instantly when she turned the key, eliciting a faint look of surprise from Kirihara. "Never underestimate a person - or a car's - age," she said, coaxing a small grin from the boy. Then she was backing out of the driveway and heading to the hospital, where hopefully they would learn the fate of one Kamio Akira without too much trouble.

o0o o0o o0o o0o o0o

Kirihara’s stomach twisted as Makamoto pulled into a parking space and cut the engine. He slowly opened the door and let it slam shut, while Makamoto locked up. She offered him a reassuring smile and motioned for him to follow towards the hospital. He swallowed and nodded, falling into step, eyes fixed on the huge building. As they stepped through the automatic doors the smell of disinfectant and sounds of coughing and chattering hit them hard. Kirihara swallowed again as they made their way to one of the receptionists at the front desk, hoping that any second Kamio would rise from a seat in the waiting area and call out to them that he was okay, and it was just a misunderstanding. It was a bit overwhelming, though he was no stranger to hospitals. When Yukimura had been hospitalized, the whole team had visited him almost every day. But he'd had his teammates with him then, and they'd known exactly where to go. This time, he was flying blind.

Then he looked over to see Makamoto-san striding confidently towards the administrative desk, and remembered he wasn't alone after all.

"I'm looking for my grandson, Kamio Akira," her voice rang out stridently. Kirihara grinned at the way the receptionist seemed to cower slightly in the face of the elderly woman.

The woman had blinked up disinterestedly from her computer screen, then visibly flinched and rolled her chair backwards a little as she caught sight of Makamoto’s expression. Her fingers flew over the keyboard, the screen reflected in her glasses as she read. “We had a Kamio Akira admitted earlier on from a car accident,” more tapping, then she moved her hand to her mouse and clicked a few times. “He’s out of the ER now; they moved him to a ward a few minutes ago.” More clicking. “Floor five, room five-twelve. Right now visitors are restricted to family only.” Her gaze flickered to Kirihara, who had yet to be introduced to her. “And I’m going to need you to fill out some paperwork for him.”

Makamoto-san sighed huffily, as if to imply the paperwork was a plot to keep her from her 'grandson.' "Very well," she said, holding out her hand for the papers. "But I insist you let this young man - his cousin, and also my grandson - go upstairs directly. I won't have that boy alone any longer than necessary, and you certainly don't need Akaya for paperwork.”

Still looking rather intimidated by Makamoto, the receptionist smiled and nodded to Kirihara. “O-of course, the lifts are just over there; room five-twelve.” She reminded Kamio’s ‘cousin’. Then she dug out a folder of forms and began choosing different sheets which she handed to Makamoto. “All of these need to be filled out.” She obviously remembered the tone the lady had given her but shakily continued. “I’m afraid it’s hospital policy and I must insist.”

“Of course,” Makamoto said soothingly, doing an abrupt one-eighty in tone. The switch was obviously meant to throw the lady off-kilter even more, and Kirihara stifled a grin. "Get going, Akaya. Go and see Akira, and make sure someone with competence is tending to him."

Akaya grinned, liking the elderly woman more and more. "Will do, 'Grandma'," he said with a sly wink, and made for the elevator. He heard Makamoto stifle a chuckle as he left, but he was more interested in the lift. He broke into a quick jog, and a man in a suit set his briefcase down and pressed a button to hold the doors for him. Kirihara nodded in thanks as he got in and the doors closed. He pressed for floor five and leaned against the railing, chanting the room number in his mind. The man got off with a nod to him on the third floor, and he traveled alone to the fifth. Stepping into the sterilized white corridor, he made his way down the hallway, checking the number on the door nearest to him.

Five-eight... five-ten... five-twelve. Kirihara came to a halt outside Kamio's room, and gently put one hand on the door. He took a deep breath to steady himself - he had no idea what shape Kamio was in, or what to expect. 'Hope for the best, prepare for the worst' went through his mind almost absently, and then he shook himself, straightening his back and grimly pushing the door open.

Akaya stepped inside the door, slowly raising his gaze to the bed. He only just realized that he was holding his breath. He stood perfectly still for a long moment, fingers lightly resting on the door handle as he scanned the figure on the bed. Kamio was asleep (he preferred to use that term rather than unconscious), and seemed calm enough if the steady beep of his heart monitor was anything to go by. Tentatively stepping forwards Kirihara was able to see the bruises marring the pale skin. There were a few bandages wrapped around his arms, fixing pads into place. The biggest bandage was around his forehead, partly obstructing Kamio’s right eye. Any other injuries were hidden by the blankets.

Moving closer, he swallowed hard. The bruises were darker up close, and a hint of red that could not be attributed to Kamio's natural hair color was barely visible in the dim light. Reaching out, he let his fingers slowly touch Kamio's arm, carefully avoiding the worst of the bruising. Kamio's skin was warm, and a wave of relief rushed through him so quickly his knees threatened to buckle.

He had expected a cold touch - really, Kamio looked pale enough to be a friggin' corpse - but the heat under his fingers told the truth, and he smiled shakily at the unconscious boy. "You're going to be okay, Akira," he said quietly. Looking around, he spotted a stool by the wall, and he dragged it over. Sitting himself down, he reached out again, this time twining his fingers gently with Kamio's. The continued touch, and feeling of warmth, was enough to keep him somewhat composed. He followed the IV line into Kamio’s right arm and a small smile twitched at his lips. Kamio’s arm was bruised to hell, but there was no cast, which was a big relief.

Kamio was going to be okay, and he was going to be able to do everything that he used to do. Kirihara kept thinking this, over and over, as he bit his lip and tried to work out just how everything was going to be okay. It didn’t look like Kamio was just going to get up and walk out of here tomorrow; things were going to have to change for a while and Kamio sure as hell wasn’t going to get any help from his mother. As he thought things through the fingers in his hand twitched ever so slightly.

"Akira?" he breathed. He tightened his grip slightly, and leaned over. "Are you awake?"

"I doubt it, young man," said a stern voice from behind him. "Who are you, and what are you doing in here?"

Kirihara froze; sure that he felt a slight grip on his fingers in response to his voice but unable to act upon it at the moment. Thinking fast, he forced the irritation from his voice and turned to the doorway where a nurse was frowning at him. “I’m his cousin, Kamio Akaya; my grandmother is filling out paperwork downstairs and the receptionist said it was okay for me to visit him. I am family, after all.” He stressed, the lie flowing even more smoothly the more he told it.

The nurse frowned, but seemed to accept his explanation. "The doctor will want to speak to your grandmother," was all she said.

Kirihara glanced back at Kamio. "How is he? No one's really told us much of anything. I can tell his head's hurt, and he's got all these bruises and stuff..." his voice trailed off, and he looked back up the nurse pleadingly, his eyes wide. Niou-sempai had always told him his puppy-dog look was absolutely deadly, and it seemed the Trickster was right; he could see the nurse softening in the face of the Green Eyes of Doom.

She sighed and looked out into the corridor, before turning back to him. “He’s got a pretty bad concussion, so even if he did wake up you wouldn't get much out of him. He’s broken three ribs, so it’s probably for the best that he’s asleep anyway, they’re going to be painful. I’ve got the x-rays back on his ankle and it’s not broken, so he won’t need a cast. It’s up to him how well he does, and the doctors decision, how long he’ll have to stay here I’m afraid. When your grandmother comes up here, please let her know she’ll need to meet with the doctor in charge, if he doesn’t find her first.”

Kirihara's heart rate had quickened as he listened to the nurse count off Kamio's injuries. "What the hell hit him - a tank?" he demanded to know. "And where the hell is the other driver?"

The nurse checked her notes, but shook her head. "I'm sorry, I don't have that information. The police will be by in the morning to see if he's awake and able to give a statement about what happened. All we really know is that someone found him lying on the ground and called for an ambulance."

The irritation resurfaced, and his puppy dog eyes narrowed dangerously. “You mean someone hit him and then left him?” He demanded, standing up and moving towards the nurse. “Bastard!” He spat, only just refraining from kicking the stool he had been sitting on. He forced himself to calm down; if he kept this up the nurse would have no problem with kicking him out. He sat down again, avoiding the nurses gaze. Taking a few deep breaths, he felt calm enough to ask, “Do you think that he’ll be awake by tomorrow?”

"I can't really say," the nurse told him honestly. "Head injuries are tricky business. When the doctor comes in, he'll be able to give you more detailed information. Now, I've got rounds to finish, but I'll stop by in a little bit to see if your grandmother is here. You can stay as long as you don't disturb him."

Kirihara nodded dumbly as the nurse started down the hall, and he turned back to Kamio. Resting his hand on Kamio’s, he watched the red head breathing for a few minutes, thinking over what the nurse had said. They didn’t know when he was going to wake up, and Kamio looked so still and peaceful that he could sleep forever. Swallowing, Kirihara let his thumb gently brush against the back of Kamio’s hand, trying to dispel any thoughts of that kind.

He hadn't thought about this part of a relationship. He hadn't thought about caring so much about someone else that the idea of them not being around anymore was scarier then anything he'd ever dreamed of in his life. A small part of him wanted to back away, right then and there - distance himself, before he became so hopelessly entangled in Kamio that he'd never be able to get free again. But another part of him, larger than the first, was telling him that leaving Kamio, especially like this, would hurt even more. "So that means you have to wake up," he whispered harshly, tightening his free hand into a fist. "You hear me, Kamio? You don't get a choice in this."

The heart monitor beeped steadily, filling the void where he had hoped some response from Kamio would be. Another twitch of the fingers – if that was even what it had been. A groan. A flutter of the eyelids. For him to sit up and grin. This wasn’t like a soap opera, Kirihara thought bitterly, where the lover could say a few choice words and have their boyfriend wake up instantly coherent enough for a romantic heart-stopping kiss.

Though he wouldn't really complain if that was what it took, either.

Ten minutes later, his ears picked up the sound of footsteps coming down the hallway. Devoid of the detectable squeak of rubber-soled nursing shoes, yet possessing too much of a tell-tale 'clickity clack' sound to be a doctor, he had a good idea of who it was. He let a small smile out just as Makamoto-san entered the room. "Finish filling everything out in triplicate?"

"I do believe hospitals level one square mile of forest for every patient that enters their domain," she declared in exasperation. Her eyes fell on Kamio, and she pressed one hand to her chest. "Oh... they never told me the extent of his injuries downstairs." Her eyes lingered on the white bandages encasing Kamio's head. "Has anyone come by to speak to you?"

Kirihara nodded, surreptitiously slipping his hand free from Kamio’s. “There was a nurse a few minutes ago. She had a bit more information; apparent he’s got a concussion and some broken ribs. She said the doctor would be able to tell us more. Tell you more,” he corrected himself. “Apparently the doctor should be looking to speak to you soon.”

“A fine lot, these doctors today,” she muttered, moving into the room and joining Akaya. He immediately offered her his stool, which she accepted gratefully. "Thank you dear. That silly girl downstairs made me fill out the forms right there at the counter. I'm sure she'll feel differently about the matter when she gets to be my age." Settling her purse down, she reached out and imitated Akaya's former action, grasping Akira's hand with frail-looking fingers that Kirihara was sure were stronger than they looked. "Why don't you step outside dear, and see if you can get someone official in here?" Her blue-black eyes twinkled behind her glasses. "Akira has told me that you are quite good at... getting things accomplished, when you need to."

Kirihara grinned and nodded before turning and starting out into the hallway. As he walked through the corridor, he briefly wondered just what else Kamio had told Makamoto-san, and exactly how he had phrased it for her to be so sure of his ability.

At the end of the corridor was a semi-circular nurses station where several women were chatting to each other or on phones. A few doctors seemed to be milling around; one checking a chart the others talking to nurses. Kirihara cleared his throat loudly as he stepped up to the desk, but nobody paid him any attention. However one of the younger nurses giggled in response to her phone conversation.

"Excuse me?" He waved his hand. The nurses and doctors surrounding the chart looked like they were dealing with something important. They were frowning, and pointing things out. However, the girl on the phone, who was whispering loudly in between even more giggles, was fair game. Kirihara leaned over the counter and snapped his fingers loudly in front of her face.

The nurse jumped back in shock. The smile slipped away and she scowled blackly at him. Kirihara let out one of his old grins, the one that showed off his eerily sharp eyeteeth, and narrowed his eyes predatorily at her. The aura he projected in her direction was so effective that she visibly tensed, her eyes widening with a faint hint of fear. “Sorry to disturb you," he purred, knowing his eyes were glinting in the light from the fluorescent bulbs. He leaned closer, watching with amusement as she steeled herself in her rolling chair, obviously determined not to be pushed over by a young teenager, but failing to hide her discomfort. "I've been waiting for a doctor to come and talk to me about a patient of yours and I'm getting a little... impatient."

She swallowed and flipped her phone shut – a mobile, not the brightly coloured plastic ones sitting on the desks – and slipped it into her pocket before they attracted the attention from anyone else. With just a hint of anger (the fear was still evidently vying to be the controlling emotion) she pulled a stack of files closer to her and looked up, hesitantly meeting Kirihara’s gaze. “Um…w-what was the patients name?”

"Kamio Akira," he said smoothly. "I'm his cousin, Akaya. His grandmother - poor, frail woman, so scared for her grandson, you see - is sitting in that room, wondering why no one will come and tell her what's going on with him." He shook his head in mock-sadness. "Makes a person feel like they should be writing up complaints, ya know?"

Her eyes opened a little wider, and flickered to the group of nurses still conversing with each other. She nodded quickly and speed-flicked through the charts, almost sighing in relief when she found the one she wanted. “Here we are, Kamio-san…” She scanned the page briefly. “His attending doctor is Hiwatari–sensei, he’s just over there.” She pointed to a tall, middle aged man who was writing something on a chart. He slipped it onto the desk and pocketed his pen as he turned to walk back down the corridor in the opposite direction of Kamio’s room.

Kirihara flashed a genuine smile at her - his 'special' smile, the one Marui said brought out his dimples and set all the hearts of the fan girls who came to their practices to fluttering. The nurse was thrown by it, he could tell - her jaw fell open as suddenly Kirihara dropped off the 'threat' radar and ran headlong into the 'adorable' category. Akaya couldn't help but grin to himself as he headed after the doctor – even after all this time as a taken guy, he hadn't lost his touch.

"Sensei! Yo, Sensei!" Kirihara jogged up behind the man as he turned around. "The nurse said you were Hiwatari-sensei."

The man stopped walking and turned to Kirihara, regarding him curiously. “I’m Hiwatari.” He confirmed. “Is there something that I can help you with?” He asked politely.

"You can come and talk to Kamio-san about her grandson's condition," Kirihara said coolly. "She's waiting for you in his room."

The man looked blank for a few seconds, before the patients name apparently registered in his mind as one of his own. “Ah yes, Kamio-san. I was about to try and find her now.” He assured Kirihara smoothly with a smile. “She’s in her grandson’s room now?”

"No, I just said that to be funny," Kirihara muttered. "C'mon Sensei, it's not polite to keep an old lady waiting."

“Of course.” The doctor replied shortly, following Kirihara down the corridor and to Kamio’s room. He plastered on a smile as Makamoto turned to him and offered her a slight bow, switching the papers on the clipboard in his hand so that Kamio’s was on top for prompts.

“Kamio-san, sorry to keep you waiting.” His eyes flickered over the information in his hand. “The results from the x-rays confirmed no break in his ankle; however three of his right ribs are broken and will need to be kept bound until they’re healed. He’s suffered a nasty concussion, but we won’t know the extent of any possible brain injuries until he’s awake. We’ll conduct tests once he has regained consciousness.” He assured them. “He’s got a lot of deep bruising, which will be painful for a while but will heal on its own. If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them, and if you need me you can ask one of the nurses at the station to page me.” His eyes flicked back to Kirihara. “I’m sure you won’t hesitate to.”

Kirihara looked at him innocently.

"When are you expecting him to wake up?" Makamoto-san asked quietly.

The doctor moved over to the bed, and read the newest update on Kirihara's chart the nurse had made earlier. "Well, it all depends on Akira-kun here. Talk to him. I'm one of the doctors that believes people who are unconscious can hear what we say. Keep it positive, keep it going, and watch him for signs of movement. If you detect anything at all, press the button -" he indicated a flat 'call' button on the remote control for the bed. "- and the nurse will send for me right away."

"His hand moved," Kirihara offered instantly. "Twice."

The doctor looked up from the chart, and moved around to the head of the bed, pulling a thin metal object from his top pocket. He leaned down and gently pulled one of Kamio’s eyelids back. He shone the light into the eye and ‘hmm’-ed.

“Nothing at the moment, but he may be responding to your voice. Just keep talking to him, try and bring him round. Small touches sometimes help; just be careful of his injuries.”

Kirihara immediately reclaimed his stool and Kamio's hand, tuning out the adults as Makamoto-san led the doctor outside the room, no doubt to talk about things they didn't want children to overhear. Kirihara snorted - like there was anything worse they could possibly mention? Swinging his legs up to sit cross-legged on the stool, he cupped his chin in his free hand, balancing his elbow on his knee, and gazed down at Kamio.

Talk to him? About what? "I'm guessing me talking about finding the driver of the car that did this to you, making dozens of cuts on him - at least two to match every one of yours - and then dropping him headfirst into the piranha pond at the Tokyo zoo isn't exactly the kind of 'positive talk' the doctor wanted me to stick to." He squeezed Kamio's hand gently. "You know, every minute you stay here is one more minute your two sisters are at home, wondering what's going on. You're Super-Oniichan, remember? Worrying your sisters is not something big brothers are supposed to do." Kirihara paused, and swore he felt a slight movement, and then realized with a sinking feeling that it was just his own hand twitching. He bit his lip and continued. “They’re waiting to hear that you’re okay; I promised them that you would be. You don’t want to make me a liar, now, do you? And disappoint them?”

The guilt trip tactic always worked when Kamio’s sisters were using it, after all, and since effectively joining Kamio’s family he’d been subjected to it his own fair share of times. He never thought he’d be using it himself on the oldest Kamio, and could almost picture the roll of deep blue eyes as Kamio relented and gave in to his sisters wishes. There was no roll of the eyes this time. Kirihara's eyes strayed to the hospital room phone on the small table next to the bed. Someone had to call Minagawa-san and tell her what was going on. "See that? I'm gonna call the girls, Akira. I'm gonna call 'em and tell them their brother is being a lazy ass, refusing to wake up. See if I don't."

Another twitch in his hand; this time it wasn't his own. Kirihara's eyes widened, and he snapped a quick look at Kamio's face. The red read shifted on the bed, a movement so slight he might have missed it had he not been so hyper-aware of the other boy. His eyelids twitched, lashes fluttering, and Kirihara caught a brief glimpse of vivid blue darting back and forth beneath mostly-closed lids.

Kirihara could feel his heart beat racing, and couldn’t help the grin splitting his face. He gently shook the hand he was holding and tried again. “Akira? Come on, Akira, its way past time to wake up! I’ll send the girls in to come and jump on you if you don’t open your eyes right now.” For a second his blood ran cold as there was no more movement. Then, ever so slowly, Kamio’s eyes half opened. They were open just enough to see the blue underneath, but Kamio wasn’t moving or doing anything. After a few seconds, they started to blink closed again.

"Oh no you don't." Kirihara squeezed his hand again and leaned forward, gently touching one hand to Kamio's cheek. A small smile spread across his face as Kamio unconsciously turned into it, nuzzling his palm, soft as baby's breath. "I saw those baby blues. You can't fool me. C'mon, 'Kira." His voice grew a bit more pleading, willing to sacrifice a bit of his dignity if all it took for Kamio to wake up was a bit of begging. His idea must have struck a chord with a higher power, because Kamio's eyes fluttered open again. They were hazy and unfocused, but they were open.

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End Part 1

To be immediately continued..
Chapter 2 by stormy1x2

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Kamio lay still for a few seconds, wanting to groan in pain. Every part of his body ached, and his chest was tight making it difficult to breathe. Now that his eyes were open, the light was serving to intensify his headache, and the room was refusing to stay still. He could feel something pressed against his cheek, and he moved further into it, as he adjusted to being awake. Finally he shakily looked around. Even though his gaze was fuzzy and swimming in and out, he was able to home in on Kirihara and he couldn’t help but smile weakly. “Ow,” he managed, and even then his voice sounded faint.

"You wimp." Kamio blinked fuzzily at Kirihara. Were those tears? "What's the big idea of trying to get out of paying me for babysitting?"

Kamio was confused. The room was still spinning in a swirl of colors, and it wasn't helping. "Wha.... hap'n?" he asked painfully. His throat was dry and scratchy. As though sensing his discomfort, Kirihara reached over to the table by the bed and picked something out of a container.

"Open up."

Obeying blindly, Kamio was pleasantly surprised when something cool and wet touched his tongue.

"Ice chips," Kirihara said quietly, studying him carefully. "What do you remember?"

Kamio remained silent for a few moments, letting the ice chips melt on his tongue and soothe his throat. He tried to get his jumbled thoughts in order, which was hard enough, without having to them vocalize them. “Late…” He said, frowning. “Was late. Try’n get h’me.” His voice cracked a little as he spoke. Memories flickered through his mind, scattered and twisting away, no matter how hard he tried to grab on to them. All except for one thing... "Red," he murmured, eyes unfocusing again. "...was red..."

"The car?"

Kirihara's voice sounded like it was coming from miles away, getting all blurry and garbled as though he were listening to it underwater. The black haze around him was warm and comforting, and he just wanted to fall into it, away from the pain of his aching body. "Red..." Kamio repeated, closing his eyes and sinking back into the darkness.

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Kirihara was about to try and pull him back to consciousness when the door opened behind him. Makamoto started to speak but Kirihara spun round, glad to see that the doctor was still with them. He jumped up from his seat and started towards them.

“He woke up. He was awake, and talking. Kind of.” Kirihara realized how fast he was talking by the slightly confused look the doctor was giving him. Apparently it had been enough to tip him off, though.

“He was lucid?” the doctor asked, moving to the bed to check on Kamio. “Did he mention being in pain? Did he recognize you?”

"Yeah. He said he was trying to get home." Akaya was aware of the tears building up in his eyes but sheer stubbornness refused to let them fall. "I asked him if he knew what happened, and all he said was, 'it was red.'"

The doctor nodded absently, pulling Kamio's eyelids up to check the pupil reaction with a small penlight. "That's a good sign," he commented. "If he was awake and showing awareness, then there's an excellent chance that he'll be just fine." He looked over at Makamoto-san. "Of course, we'll still want to keep him here for a day or two of observation. When he returns home, he'll need complete bed rest for a few days, to give those ribs a chance to knit. We can go over all of the details before he's released though." He straightened up. "As he's now sleeping and not merely unconscious, I'd say it'd be a good idea for you two to go home and get some sleep yourself. He's most likely going to sleep through the night. If he does wake up, he'll likely be in a fair bit of pain, and anything we give him will make him too groggy to appreciate visitors anyway."

Makamoto nodded, and turned to Kirihara who was trying to see Kamio past the doctor. “Thank you, Hiawatari-sensei, we’ll do that. Akaya.” She started, careful again to use his given name and not his surname. “Are you ready? We can come back and visit him in the morning; but right now he needs his rest.”

Kirihara shot her a disbelieving glance. “I’m not leaving him,” he said defiantly.

Makamoto shot him a stern look that froze him where he stood. After waiting a minute - no doubt to see if he'd argue against her again - she turned back to the doctor and smiled. "Sensei, could you give my grandson and I a moment alone? I promise we won't disturb Akira, and we'll both leave and come back in the morning." She stressed the word 'both' with another hard look at Akaya who fumed silently, but didn't say anything.

“Of course, but please try not to wake him.” The doctor nodded to them both and left.

Kirihara toned his glare down, but held her gaze. “I’m sorry, but I can’t leave him here like this. I don’t care if he doesn’t wake up. I don’t care if he does and doesn’t even recognize me! I just want to…” He sighed and looked away, his stomach doing a somersault as his gaze fixed on Kamio lying perfectly still and pale. “I want to be here in case anything happens.”

Makamoto smiled gently. "I know that, Akaya. But I'm afraid no matter how adept you are at getting your own way, hospitals still have rules, and the security guards will show you they are just as good at enforcing them." She reached out and lay a hand on his shoulder. Kirihara stiffened slightly at the touch, unused to such familiar gestures, before slowly relaxing. "Besides, young man, you have things to do anyway."

He glowered. "Like what?"

Makamoto arched an eyebrow in his direction. "Well, for one thing, there are two little girls whom I suspect would be happy to receive an update."

Kirihara clamped his mouth shut. He knew he was fortunate to be here; unlike Kamio’s sisters who were probably sitting up awake at Minagawa’s waiting to know if their brother was even alive.

The anger fought to resurface; he wanted to stay here, dammit, but he knew that even the best tricks he knew wouldn’t make the security guards let him stay. He finally nodded reluctantly, and walked over to the bed, gently letting one hand fall to cover Kamio’s. "I gotta go, Akira," he muttered roughly. "I don't have a say in the matter. I have to tell your sisters their bonehead brother is still alive and kicking. But I'll be back. And you'd better be awake when I am." Brushing his thumb across Akira's knuckles, he finally stepped back from the bed, and turned to Makamoto. "Okay."

She nodded. "A wise decision, my dear," she told him. "And after we speak to Sachiko and Michiko, I suspect you have a few calls of your own to make."

Kirihara shrugged. There was nothing that couldn't wait really, but he could give his mom a call and let her know what was up. She knew about their relationship - when she had the time to think about it, that is - and would probably want to offer some kind of condolences, even if it was just over the phone. Nothing short of Akaya's own impending demise would get her out of the office and down to the hospital though, and even then, she'd probably have her secretary send a card in her stead. "I guess."

Makamoto nodded and smiled softly, motioning for him to follow her out of the room. She sent a final glance over to Kamio, and sighed as she began down the corridor and into the lift. Kirihara walked beside her as she fished car keys from her purse. He watched the hospital as she opened the doors for them; the large building lit up brightly against the inky black sky. He swallowed hard, and got in as Makamoto started the engine and drove them back.

The lights were still on in the living room at Minagawa's home. Kirihara blinked, and glanced over at the clock displayed on the CD player - it was nearing eleven-thirty. They'd only been at the hospital for just over an hour before being asked to leave. That surprised him - he felt as though he'd been put through a mental wringer, and an hour just didn't seem long enough to wear him down this much.

Makamoto drove past Minigawa's home, down the street to her own driveway and pulled in. As they got out of the car, Kirihara paused, unsure of what to do.


"Should I go over? Call?" Kirihara shook his head tiredly. "Would it be wrong of me to just call to give them an update tonight, and see them tomorrow? Hell, I don't even know what I'm doing yet tomorrow." His mind whirled with all the sudden details of daily life he'd forgotten about, ever since receiving that initial phone call from the hospital.

Makamoto offered him a comforting smile. “It’s okay if you want to call them. Tonight has been very stressful.”

Kirihara snorted, and shook his head. “Yeah. But…what about tomorrow? I don’t really trust anyone enough to take over tennis practice, but he’s going to wake up. I don’t want him to be alone. And what about the day after? And the day after that?” He bit his lip and swallowed hard. “What’s he going to do? He can’t look after the girls like this. And his mother isn’t going to. What’s going to happen to them? To him? I don’t know…” The night caught up with him and he slunk back in his chair, closing his eyes and trying to swallow back his fears .

"I'm going to borrow a phrase Minigawa-san used earlier," Makamoto said calmly. "'Don't go about borrowing trouble.' Think about what needs to be done, and do it one step at a time - keeping in mind, both Junko and myself are here to help as well."

Kirihara nodded slowly. "I figured as much," he said quietly giving her a small look of gratitude. "Okay... I gotta call the girls tonight, but they can stay with Junko--I mean, Minagawa-san tonight. Do you think she'd mind bringing them over in the morning to get their things for school before taking them in? That way, I can go back to the hospital and see how Kamio's doing. My vice-captain is a twit, but he should be able to handle morning practice, and if Kamio's doing better, I can sneak back to run the afternoon one."

Makamoto nodded. “That sounds like a good plan to me, I’m sure Minagawa-san won’t mind at all. She did tell me that they would get the girls things for the morning, so I assume that's already been handled.” She paused. “Kamio is also captain of his tennis team, isn’t he? Perhaps in the morning you could call his vice captain to let him know what’s going on.”

Kirihara slapped his forehead. "Damn, I forgot all about Sakurai." He chuckled wryly. "Not that it's a hard thing to do."

Makamoto's eyes twinkled. "That's not very charitable of you."

Kirihara shrugged. "I'm with... I'm friends with Kamio, not his whole team." Which was true enough. The team may have grudgingly accepted him on the basis that Kamio - and An-chan, of all people - had vouched for him, but there were still a few people on the team who were convinced Kirihara was biding his time like a snake in the grass, waiting for the right time to strike. Sakurai had been sure that he'd been targeting Kamio - which in a way, was absolutely true. Kirihara smirked slightly. It was too bad Sakurai just didn't know back then exactly 'how' he'd targeted the Fudomine Captain. The look on his face when Kamio told them of the status change in their relationship had been utterly priceless. “Really, I’ll let him know, though.” Kirihara promised, already dreading the conversation. He paused for a few seconds, savoring the sanctuary of the car. He finally opened the door and nodded to Makamoto. “I better get going, then. Thank you…seriously thank you for everything.”

He trailed off, feeling as thought something simple as saying it wasn’t enough. Makamoto smiled and shook her head, locking the car up. “I don’t mind at all. You’ve still got his house key?”

"I do." Kirihara turned to head for the Kamio household, but then something struck him, and he turned back. "Makamoto-san..."

She waited patiently, a curious look on her kind and worn face.

"How often... I mean, how many times has this come up?" Kirihara asked slowly. He'd known that this would happen - Akira had sat him down one day and gone over in great detail what Akaya was to do should Kamio ever wind up in the hospital. Makamoto-san had all the information, Kamio said. She would help. Minagawa-san would help with the girls. Call Makamoto-san. Don't call the police. That last part had been repeated several times. Kirihara knew that if Child Services ever knew the truth behind the Kamio household, the girls and Kamio would have been taken away so fast their heads would spin; they'd be split up and and put in foster homes, a fate Kirihara knew Kamio considered worse than death. "Why don't you tell anyone?"

"What would you have me do, Akaya?" Makamoto-san asked quietly. "How long do you think those three would survive without each other to hold on to?"

Kirihara already knew the answer: not long at all. And worse, Kamio would blame himself entirely should that happen, thinking that he’d somehow slipped up. He’d spent a lot of effort on getting routines set up, and implementing fail safes in case anything should go wrong…he needed this to work. He decided not to answer her question. “But this isn’t the first time something like this has come up…right?” He repeated, with a sinking feeling.

"I think you know the answer to that," was all she said.

He did. And in a way, he understood. If she were to actually come out and state emphatically that yes, she knew what was going on, and in true detail, then she could probably be held criminally liable for failing to report...something, to the police. Abuse, or neglect, or whatever Child Services could whip up and serve to her. As though reading his mind, she nodded.

"I do what I can," she said. "Kamio's a good boy. He takes on too much, but I do whatever he'll allow me to do to help. Junko does the same. But you, of all people, should know just how reluctant Kamio is to let others know of his particular situation. He's even worse at allowing others to help." She smiled suddenly. "I think you've been very good for him, Akaya."

Kirihara coughed a little, and a slight smile flickered across his face as his cheeks coloured slightly. “I don’t know. I try…you know. I want to help but sometimes it’s hard to know what you can do.” He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Well, I know what I can do now. Make phone calls. Thank you again, Makamoto-san.”

She waved him off. "Go on," she said. "You have many things to do before you'll get any sleep tonight. Will you be accompanying me to the hospital tomorrow morning, or will you go another time?" She winked mischievously at him. "It wouldn't do to have the doctors wondering where Akira's 'grandmother' disappeared to, after all."

Kirihara smiled and nodded. “I want to go tomorrow morning. I want to see how he’s doing, and make sure the doctors are keeping an eye on him.” His eyes sparkled as he said it.

"Naturally," she agreed. "Very well then. Meet me here at 9:00 sharp."

Kirihara nodded and waited until the elderly woman made it safely inside her home. He was surprised by how much he was coming to like and respect the spunky old lady. He'd seen her so many times in passing, and once he'd even helped Kamio to clean out the gutters on her roof, but he'd never had an actual conversation with her. Despite her age, she was obviously still sharp as a tack, and compassionate as hell about Kamio's situation. Kirihara was glad Kamio seemed to have such reliable allies in his sometimes-overwhelming life.

Flicking the keyring around his finger, Kirihara headed for the front door of Kamio's house, determined to get the calls over and done with as fast as possible. After all, the sooner he got to sleep, the sooner he'd wake up, and be back at the hospital with Akira.

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Sakurai was brushing his teeth and getting ready for bed when the phone rang. He waited for a few moments before sighing, rinsing his mouth out and storming out of the bathroom. “Geez, don’t all rush at once to get it,” he muttered, as his sister shot behind him and ran into the bathroom. He growled again – it had taken him ages to get time in the bathroom and now it was lost.

He picked up the phone irritably, but composed his voice. “Hello? Sakurai residence.” He shot a glare at the closed door as he heard his sister moving around.

"Hey, mighty Fukou-Buchou," came a familiar, grating voice. "Sorry to be calling so late."

"Kirihara?" Sakurai was stunned. What on earth was Kirihara doing calling him? "You're damn lucky my dad's working the night shift. What do you want?"

"I said I was sorry. Do you really think I'd be calling you if it wasn't an emergency?"

Sakurai paused. Kirihara's voice was still flippant, but there was an underlying note of stress that he could easily pick out. Sighing hard, he decided to give the troublemaker the benefit of the doubt. "What's wrong?"

“He was in an accident.” Then there was silence on the other end of the line.

Sakurai gripped the phone tightly, already knowing the answer to his next question. “Kamio?” He frowned and took a deep breath. “Is he okay? I mean…he is okay, right?” Sakurai was starting to panic at the lack of details Kirihara had provided.

"Chill out, Sakurai. Do you think I'd be talking to you like this if he wasn't?"

Sakurai abruptly realized that was true. Still... "Kirihara..." The other boy didn't need to be a jerk.

"He's got a nasty bump on the head, some broken ribs, an assortment of cuts and bruises, and a partridge in a pear tree," Kirihara rattled off. Sakurai could all but hear the grin he knew the other boy had to be wearing. "He woke up tonight while I was in there. The doc said he was gonna keep him for a day or two, but he's gonna be out of commission as far as tennis practice goes for a couple of weeks."

Sakurai found himself automatically running through lists in his head; mental tallies of things he'd have to do, practices and chores he'd have to switch, as a result of this information. He fumbled through the desk drawer for a pencil and a scrap piece of paper. "Where's he staying?"

Kirihara gave him the name of the hospital, the room number, and a stern warning not to show up without calling him first. Sakurai resisted the urge to stick out his tongue at the receiver. "Anything else?"

“I’m sure he’d appreciate a gift,” Kirihara said sarcastically. “Pitch in and buy him something nice.”

Sakurai rolled his eyes in agitation and finished writing down the information. “You said he woke up…did he say much? I mean…head injuries are nasty business. Did he seem okay?” His worry for his friend was currently enough to risk setting himself up for yet another sarcastic reply. But he wanted some solid facts, and hopefully a spark of good news, for when he had to relay this to the rest of the team tomorrow.

Luckily for him, Kirihara seemed to sense that, and for once, reigned in his sarcasm. "Yeah, he was lucid enough. Didn't remember much about what happened though. All he could remember was that he'd been on his way home. Well, that and the color 'red'. The nurse said someone found him on the side of the road and called an ambulance."

“He was just left?” Sakurai felt anger building up inside him. He just bit back a yelled curse in time, knowing that his mother was a light sleeper, and instead gripped the phone tighter. “Shit, the poor guy never gets any breaks…” He sighed and shook his head. “Look, thanks for letting me know. I’ll come and visit him.”

"Call first," Kirihara repeated firmly.

"Yeah, yeah." Sakurai listened to the dial tone after Kirihara hung up on him without saying goodbye. Not that Kirihara wasn't usually abrupt, but Sakurai figured this time he could cut the guy a break. No matter what his personal feelings towards the Rikkai player were, he was dating Kamio, and helping him out a lot with the girls. That went a long way towards redeeming himself in Sakurai's eyes, even more then the reports An-chan and Akira had made back during the past Senbatsu Camp, which were all hearsay. This had to be rough on him.

Reading through the details on the paper in his hand, Sakurai ran a hand through his hair and shook his head. How the hell was he going to tell the team this? A million scenarios played through his head, each one worse than the other. He wandered back into his room and collapsed onto the bed, letting an arm fall across his eyes. He was still awake several hours later.

o0o o0o o0o o0o o0o

Kirihara hung up the phone and then lifted the receiver again. He felt a little bit guilty about calling Sakurai before the girls, but he had a feeling this conversation was going to be a little longer, and he'd wanted the other one out of the way. It'd be worse if he had to cut Sachi or Michi off on the pretense of having to talk to someone else. He dialed the number, and within seconds Minigawa’s voice came on the line. “Hello? This is the Minigawa residence.”

Kirihara swallowed; his voice was shaky with anticipation. She probably knew it was him, considering the circumstances and how late it was, but he introduced himself anyway. “Minigawa-san, its Kirihara. We’re back from the hospital.”

"I thought it might be you," Minagawa replied quietly. "The girls are in the living room with Hana-chan. I let them have a slumber party downstairs to cheer them up a bit. How's Akira?"

Kirihara took a deep breath and rubbed at his eyes, relaying Kamio’s injuries again. As he spoke he pictured Kamio lying in the hospital bed, and had to remind himself that the boy was okay; he’d woken up after all. He wasn’t going to win any awards for a prolific and inspiring speech, but he’d recognized Kirihara and had been fairly lucid. “I’m going back first thing tomorrow morning to check up on him,” Akaya finished.

"I thought you might. I brought the girls by to pick up their things for school tomorrow, so don't you worry about them. I'll tell the girls how their brother's doing while you get some sleep." Minagawa paused. "Akaya, don't you have school tomorrow yourself?"

“I…” Kirihara trailed off, quickly trying to verbalize the thoughts in his head. “I’ll see how he’s doing tomorrow. I’ll decide what’s going to happen then.” He knew, and several people had pointed out, that head injuries were risky. If he got there tomorrow and Kamio had taken a turn for the worse, school was going to be the last thing on his mind. His hand unconsciously gripped the phone at the thought.

“Akira wouldn't want you to neglect yourself, or get into trouble over him," Minagawa said gently. "Remember that, okay?"

Kirihara nodded even though he knew she couldn't see it. "Sure."

"All right then. I'll pass the news on to the girls. You get some sleep, young man. Tomorrow will come soon enough, and I don't want to see dark circles when you visit the girls after your hospital visit tomorrow."

“Thank you.” Kirihara repeated, a slight smile tugging at the corner of his lips. He knew well that Kamio worried too much about other people, and never enough about himself. He could almost hear the red head admonishing him now, telling him to go to bed. “I’m going to get some sleep now; tell the girls that their brother will be angry if they don’t do the same.”

"I will. Take care, Akaya-kun."

Kirihara hung up the phone, feeling accomplished in a weary way. He could put off calling his own Vice Captain until the morning - provided he remembered to set the alarm on his phone early enough - and everything was handled for the moment. A hot shower sounded like the best idea he'd ever come up with, and then he'd try and get some sleep before everything started up again in the morning. Morning. He shook his head, half-resigned and half-hopeful. Everything would look better in the morning.

o0o o0o o0o o0o o0o

Kirihara woke to the sound of his mobile phone alarm, and groggily fumbled to turn the annoying tune off. He rested an arm over his eyes and let his mind clear; something was nagging at him. Something important…Kamio. He shot up, racing to get himself dressed and ready to meet with Makamoto. As he got ready, he managed to get a hold of his Vice Captain and give him instructions for morning practice. He held off on the afternoon one though – if Kamio was doing better, he'd go and run the practice himself. If not, he could always call later.

He stuck some bread in the toaster, and ran back upstairs to brush his hair. It felt strange to be here alone; the house felt horribly empty. He raced back down in time for the toast to pop up, and quickly spread butter on it and ate as he hopped around trying to get socks on. As he was doing so, he heard the front door slam. "Sachi?" He called out automatically. Wondering if Minagawa had brought the girls over to say good morning and get some extra reassurance before going to school, Akaya stuck his head into the living room.

Kamio Yuriko stood in the front door entryway, leaning heavily on the door frame, half bent over to try and pry her laced-up boots off. They were tied on tight, and as Akaya watched, she nearly fell over trying to remove it. Her long red hair was tangled, hanging in front of her face as she swore at the offending footwear. Her clothes were tight and revealing enough that if Akaya hadn't been gayer than a forest full of faeries, he might have had serious difficulties walking out. Kamio Yuriko was as old as his own mother, but she certainly didn't look it. Cleaned up, she'd probably be a knockout. As it was, Akaya could only see a cheap-looking woman coming home after a night all over the town.

He swallowed hard, and watched as she finally managed to remove her boots. She stood upright and staggered a little down the corridor, before realizing that Kirihara was watching her. “Who’re you?” She drawled, wrinkling her nose. She made a wild grab for the wall as she nearly tipped over, but kept her eyes on him.

Akaya managed to keep himself from rolling his eyes. "Kirhara Akaya," he said as patiently as he could. "We've met... a couple of times." Not that she ever seemed to remember, of course. He didn't make a move to go anywhere within her reach - twice in the past she'd tried to grope him, thinking he was a dancer at the club she frequented, and once she'd thrown up next to his bag, missing his shoes by mere inches. As far as he could remember, he'd never met her when she wasn't under the influence of something. "I'm friends with your son. And your daughters," he added as an afterthought.

“Oh,” she said, scanning him with a disinterested look. Judging by the paleness of her skin, and the deep circles under her eyes, apparently she’d partied herself to exhaustion. No doubt she was looking for the fastest way to get to her bed.

Not a single flicker of recognition sparked in her mind at the boy. “Why’re ya here?” she asked, feeling her way along the wall to the stairs. She didn't look remotely interested, but even to her fogged brain, it had to have seemed strange that she was being greeted by him and not one of her children.

Kirihara watched with disgust as she wobbled across the floor. Upon being first confronted by her, the back of his mind had been buzzing with ways to break the news to her gently. But the more he watched her, the more he realized that nothing short of a blunt, clue-by-four upside the head would get her attention. With that, he cleared his throat. "Your son was hit by a car last night... on the off-chance that you actually care."

Kirihara watched her reach the stairs and collapse onto the bottom one, turning her gaze up to him. “Son…?” A brief flash of confusion rippled through her eyes. “’Kira? Really?” She seemed to think about this for a few moments as pale fingers worked at a tangle in her hair. “Is he dead?”

"He's alive." Kirihara waited, but no more emotion seemed forthcoming from the older woman. She seemed to become ever more confused, tilting her head as though she'd only partially understood what he'd told her. "He's in the hospital though."

"Not my 'Kira," she said stubbornly, shaking her head and nearly falling over. "Knows better. Hospitals cost lossa money ya know. 'Kira hates hosp'als."

Kirihara was losing patience fast, and he didn’t have a lot of time left before he had to meet Makamoto. “Yeah, well he didn’t really have much of a choice in the matter. He was knocked unconscious and just left there. Somebody thought it might be an idea to call an ambulance and see if the nice doctors couldn’t try and save his life.” He spat angrily.

Yuriko smiled enticingly at him. “Yer cute when yer angry, sweetie,” she cooed. She gripped the banister railing and pulled herself up slowly. “Need a drink... where's 'Kira?”

The idea that she could just disregard what he'd told her about her child... Akaya shook with fury and suddenly found himself storming over to her. He slammed his hand down on the railing, making it shake, and Yuriko jump, her eyes darting nervously from his face to his hand and back.

“You have got to be kidding me!” he yelled. “He’s not some slave to get you drinks or whatever you need; and don’t you think you’ve had enough?” His eyes narrowed dangerously, the feeling so similar to that of when he used to crush players with sickening ease. “And what part of this is failing to register? Your son nearly died! Where the hell do you think he is? Right now, cost or...or anything, doesn’t matter.”

Yuriko scowled at him. "You're lying!" she accused him hotly. "Akira wou'nt go to a hospital. Wou'nt leave the other two." She paused. "Where are they?"

Akaya fought to keep his temper under control. "They're at Minagwa-san's house," he said, stressing the honorific. In her current state, she probably wouldn't understand the insult, but it made him feel slightly better. "She's watching them until Akira gets back."

Yuriko snorted. "Minagawa," she said mockingly. "F'king nosy bitch... what the hell's 'Kira thinking?" She turned around and started making her way upstairs, ignoring a completely bewildered and infuriated Kirihara at the foot of the stairs.

"Christ," he breathed, one hand still on the banister in a white-knuckled grip. He'd known it was bad, but not quite to this extent. "Fuck, Akira, why didn't you tell me?" He shook his head and sent a disgusted glare at her back. He didn’t have time for this. As much as it hurt to admit it, she really didn’t seem to care about her sons welfare.

But he did. He grabbed his trainers from by the door and put them on before finishing getting ready. Making as much noise as possible in an attempt to deprive Kamio’s mother a few more minutes of sleep, he was finally ready to go. He locked the front door behind him and jogged over to Makamoto’s front garden. As he headed up the path to her door, it opened, and Ling Ling raced out, barking wildly. Kirihara grinned at the familiar ball of fluff, reaching down to let Ling Ling sniff his hand, getting reacquainted with him, before giving her a scratch behind the ears. Makamoto stepped outside and smiled at him.

"Good morning, Akaya-kun," she said. Then she winked. "Or should I say, 'grandson'?"

Akaya smirked. "Whatever works," he said. "Ready to go?"

Makamoto gestured to Ling Ling, who was circling the yard in search of the perfect spot. "As soon as the little miss does her business," she said.

Kirihara laughed softly and nodded, watching Ling Ling sniff and reject a patch of flowers. His eyes flickered to Makamoto and he considered asking her about Kamio’s mother. But the question of what exactly to ask held him back. ‘When exactly did she become a psychopath?’ seemed a bit too forward. But he really wanted to know what could a drive a mother to that.

Ling Ling finally trotted over, having finished her business, and Makamoto picked her up, giving her a quick nuzzle and a kiss on the head. "You be a good girl," she said, pulling the door closed. As she turned around, keys in hand, she shrugged wryly. "This is what happens when you have Empty Nest Syndrome," she told Akaya. She unlocked the car door. "I've had at least one or two animals in the house at any given time since my daughter moved away and got married." She smiled softly. "Ling Ling is special though. I found her - or rather, she found me - soon after my husband passed away. She gave me something to live for." Her eyes met Akaya's, holding them captive for a minute before they flicked over to the Kamio household, aimed at one window in particular. Akaya suddenly realized that Makamoto must have seen Kamio Yukio return home. "I sometimes wonder what I would have done if I couldn't find comfort in Ling Ling, or in my daughter, when my husband passed away."

Akaya scowled at the obvious hint, and turned away, staring out his window. Frankly he didn't care about Kamio Yukio's excuses. As far as he was concerned, no reason could possibly be good enough. “She has three kids.” He said evenly, thinking of Yukio's window, even as he refused to look at it. The curtains had been drawn, and she probably wouldn’t wake until late afternoon. “If it hadn’t have been for Akira…” He trailed off. He had no doubt that she’d be dead if it wasn’t for her son. The way she’d wanted Kamio to get her a drink, it was obvious Kamio took care of her in addition to his sisters. Which raised the question; would she survive his hospital stay? It was all starting to piece together just how much Kamio had to do at home, without everything else that he burdened himself with.

The hospital car park was busier in the morning, and they had to park further away from the building this time. Kirihara closed the car door and waited for Makamoto to lock up, his stomach flip-flopping as he looked to the hospital. When he’d left Kamio had been thoroughly battered, but with a good prognosis. Was he still okay? They’d have called if anything drastic had happened…right?

Makamoto locked her car and followed behind him. Just before they entered, she called Akaya's name. He turned, raising an eyebrow in question.

"She's aware of how many children she has," she said quietly, referring to his earlier statement. "Painfully aware. She deserves no sympathy, no pity for what she has done to them, to herself. But she wasn't always like this. Some people in life want different paths from what they're given. Some can handle the disappointment with grace and dignity. Others... can't. It was Kamio's father who desperately wanted children. And Yukio loved him enough to give him what he wanted, even though it wasn't necessarily what she wanted."

Akaya didn't say anything for a long minute. "Does Akira know this?"

Makamoto shot him a Look, and Akaya mentally smacked himself for asking such a stupid question. Of course, Akira knew. It was painfully obvious in the way his mother cared only for herself, how Akira had been promoted from the role of 'big brother' to a combination of 'mother and father'. Makamoto given him a lot to consider, and he was silent as he trailed behind her into the hospital. Makamoto smiled to the woman on the reception desk; it was the same person as yesterday, who regarded her with a wary smile. She still obviously didn’t know quite what to make of the woman. Kirihara followed Makamoto into the lift and then down the corridor.

Watching a nurse leave room five-ten, he wondered how many times Akira had been disturbed during the night. He remembered that the nurses had been notorious for coming into Yukimura's room at all hours, day or night, with precious little regard for the residents privacy when it came to getting those stupid little charts updated. Renji claimed it had been pure hatred of the nursing staff that had propelled Yukimura through each vigorous rehabilitation session to an early release from the hospital. Kirihara was working under the assumption that nurses were the same everywhere.

Aiming a glare at the nurses back, he followed Makamoto into Kamio’s room. Kamio was asleep, and Kirihara instantly veered towards the bed, letting Makamoto take the seat. Whether the nurses had woken him regularly Kirihara wasn’t sure, but Kamio didn’t look particularly well-rested. He was still pale, and the bruises looked painfully dark in the light of the morning. He looked thin and tired, and in his sleep his hand curled then relaxed.

"Hey lazy," he said quietly. He sat down on the edge of the bed and played with the stark white sheet, tugging on it absently. "You know, if it were me in this situation, Sanada would be pounding down my door, insisting I wasn't really hurt, and that I had three seconds to get my ass on the court." He chuckled softly at the image in his head.

"Good thing he's got no say in anything I do," came a tired voice.

Akaya looked up to see Kamio smiling wearily at him. "'Bout time you woke up," he teased gently, thrilled to see him aware.

Kamio weakly brought a hand up to rub at his eyes, and then seemed to lose the strength so let his hand flop back to the bed. “How could I not with you complaining so loudly?” Kamio countered, trying to force his gaze to stay steady and meet Kirihara’s.

"I figure I have the right to complain," Akaya said staunchly. Happiness and relief were spreading through his body, warming him from the inside out. "I mean, making me babysit was one thing, but then you had to go and get hit by a car, and make me worry about your sorry rear end all freaking night, and - hell, I had to voluntarily talk to Sakurai. Sakurai!"

Kamio's eyes glowed, and his mouth curved upwards in a soft smile.

"What's that look for?" Kirihara looked at him warily.

"I think that's the first time you've ever admitted that you were worried about me," Kamio told him. He reached out with one hand and Kirihara met him halfway with his. "I'm sorry I scared you."

"Who the hell said anything about being scared?" Kirihar could feel the weight slipping off his shoulders as they bantered back and forth. All the tension seemed to drain from him, and he was about to lean forward to greet his boyfriend properly, when a discrete cough caught his attention. His face flamed as he realized both of them had forgotten about Makamoto-san.

“I’m glad to see that you’re doing a better than last night, Akira.” She was smiling as both boys turned to look at her. “I’m sure that I can go and find a doctor for a proper update if you need to have a few minutes alone.” She finish, her eyes shining slightly as she switched her gaze between them.

Kirihara froze in mute horror, but Kamio laughed weakly and waved her out. As soon as the door closed, Kirihara whirled around, pointing a finger at his boyfriend. "What have you told her about us?" he hissed wildly. "Does she know?"

Kamio managed a small smirk. It was only half as mischievous as it usually was, but Kirihara still bit back a smile of his own when he saw it. "Come on, 'Kaya. Do you really think we could be together this long and have Makamoto-san not know about us?"

"She did say something about not underestimating old people and what they know," Kirihara mumbled, red-faced. "I just didn't think she was talking about us!"

Kamio laughed softly. “Even if I wanted to keep something like this from her, do you really think I’d stand a chance?”

Kirihara folded his arms and sent another put-out look the door. “I’ll give you that, but still…you could have given me a heads up that she knew!”

Despite lying in bed, bound in bandages and half-drugged, Kamio still managed to give a casual-looking shrug in an attempt to look innocent. "It never came up."

"Just wait until you're feeling better," Akaya muttered. "You're gonna be in so much trouble."

Kamio's eyes held a vague hint of their old sparkle. "Promise?"

Kirihara rolled his eyes and shook his head. “How can you even be thinking that right now?” He was unable to quell his smirk, though.

Kamio took that as a 'yes' and smiled triumphantly. “I’ll be holding you to it.” He finished tiredly, attempting to keep the smile in place.

“Dude, shut up and go back to sleep," Akaya commanded. Kamio's eyes were at half-mast and falling fast. "Before you know it, we'll have you out of here and back to watching the Twin Terrors in no time."

Kamio blinked. Then suddenly, he surged upwards off the bed. "Oh my god - the girls! How are they? Do they know what happened? Who's watching them?"

Oops…was Kirihara’s initial reaction. He had meant it to be an offhand comment to cheer the other up; not to panic him. He was completely at a loss as to whether or not he should try and push him back – the speed at which Kamio had shot up had to have aggravated his ribs at the very least, so actual pushing was probably not a good idea. He did settle for putting out a steadying arm, though. “Whoa, calm down! You really think I’d be here this calm without making sure they were looked after? They’ve been with Minagawa-san, she’s already taken them to school. They’re fine, everything’s fine.”

Kamio's face was white with pain but he fought back against Kirihara's mild attempts at restraining him long enough to search his face thoroughly for any hint of a lie. Finally, after what seemed like hours, but was really only a minute or so, he relaxed back into the soft mattress. "They're okay?"

Kirihara gave him a mild glare filled with exasperation. "Are they the ones in a hospital bed?"

“That’s not the point and you know it.” Kamio shot, and Kirihara winced as he did, watching as pain flared through Kamio's chest, making him gasp. “I can’t believe that I didn’t ask about them. What the hell am I thinking? They…” He trailed off, shaking his head and frowning.

"You might want to give yourself a break, there, 'Kira." Akaya ran his thumb along Kamio's palm, as he'd done the night before when the red head had been unconscious. "You took a hard shot to the head - you're lucky you're still thinking at all."

"I know," Akira said quietly, watching Akaya play with his hand. "It's just... they depend on me, you know? It's scary to think I've been here, and they've been at home, wondering what happened to me." He looked up at his boyfriend. "Can you call Makamoto-san back in here? And a doctor? I want to go home."

Kirihara froze, sending Kamio the most disbelieving look he could muster. “Home?” he repeated. “You were knocked unconscious by a car last night, ‘Kira. I seriously doubt they’ll give the OK for you to be coming home quite yet.”

Kamio bit his lip and half-shrugged, still staring at their hands. “I’m going to ask.”

Kirihara arched an eyebrow. "You in a big rush or something?"

Kamio looked seriously at him. "Actually, yes," he said quietly. "Hospitals are expensive. I've probably stayed too long as it is. Makamoto-san most likely paid the bill up to this point, and I'm gonna have to get the money from mom to pay her back, and that's always fun to do, you know."

Kirihara scowled at the mention of Kamio's mother, but didn't say anything. "I can help."

"I know you can. But I don't want you to." Kamio looked pleadingly at him. "Akaya, please."

Akaya sighed heavily, dropping his head. After a minute, he nodded, and turned to go and get Makamoto.

He started down the hallway and spotted her talking to Kamio’s doctor by the nurses station. He cleared his throat as he walked up to them and they both looked up; it seemed to have been more of a casual conversation. Makamoto smiled to him as he approached. “Kamio wants to see you, er, see you both,” he amended, still not fully liking the idea.

The doctor nodded, and followed the two back down the corridor and into Kamio’s room. Kirihara stood to one side and shot a look at Kamio. Kamio pretended not to notice, instead turning to the doctor with an eager look that was completely pasted on. "So when can I go home?"

Hiawatari-sensei gave him an odd look. "You're rather badly injured, Kamio-kun," he pointed out carefully. "I really think it'd be best if you stayed for a few more days, so we can make sure there's no complications."

"I'm fine," Kamio said stubbornly. "Yeah, I hurt, and yeah, I'm gonna hurt a lot for a long time. But I can recover just as easily in my own bed as I can in a hospital bed."

“I really can’t advise it, though. We can monitor your head injury and be on hand should anything happen.” The doctor looked back to Makamoto.

She forced a smile and shook her head. She’d apparently known this was going to come up – Akaya too, once he'd thought about it, but he had hoped that Kamio would have lasted a little longer before making the request. “Akira, it’s really okay if you stay a day or two more,” she pressed.

"I can rest in my own bed," Kamio repeated, his voice rising slightly. "I'd like the AMA forms, please." He directed his last statement to the doctor.

"What are AMA forms?" Akaya demanded.

"Against Medical Advice," the doctor replied. "Kamio, it's my professional opinion that you stay at least a full twenty-four hours so we can eliminate any possibility of further complications with your concussion. It's barely been thirteen."

“So I'll go home and stay awake until midnight," Kamio said calmly. "You can't deny a patient's request for those forms, sensei. I appreciate what you're trying to do, but I've already made up my mind. May I have them please?"

Hiawatari sighed and looked over at a nurse who had somehow magically appeared in the doorway. "The AMA forms, please."

"Yes, Sensei," she said, and disappeared.

The fact that his boyfriend knew what AMA forms were, and knew to ask for them was slightly disturbing. He watched silently as the nurse returned with the papers and a pen, which she handed to the doctor. Kamio slowly sat himself up, bracing himself against his pillows.

“Akira…” Kirihara pleaded once more, as Kamio was handed the forms. The red head didn’t even bother to answer him this time, or when the doctor reiterated his concerns over the head injury.

Kamio squinted at the text, and Kirihara was convinced that the only reason he could make out the questions was because he was familiar with what they were asking. Soon he was handing it back to the doctor, and smiling up expectantly. “Now can I leave?”

The doctor exchanged a worried look with Makamoto. "Well, technically yes, but--"

"Wonderful." Kamio slowly drew the blanket off, moving gingerly. "Where'd the nurse put my stuff?"

The doctor sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I can see you're not backing down on this, so why don't you stay still a moment longer? The nurse will fetch your things, and there are some things I'll need to go over with you before you leave us."

Kamio glared but Akaya growled, making Akira look at him in surprise. "We get it, 'Kira, you want to go. Fine, you get to go. But you can wait five minutes for us to get the information we might need in case you fall into a fucking coma or something!" He then turned to Makamoto-san and the doctor, bowing quickly. "Excuse my language, please."

The doctor seemed to want to curse himself, and Makamoto simply offered a weary smile and nod to let him know it was okay. The nurse that had brought the forms, hurried off to find Kamio’s personal belongings. Kirihara silently watched Kamio as they waited; his boyfriends face was pinched in pain but he was refusing to meet anyone’s gaze. He seemed to be concentrating on something, though, and Kirihara had a horrible suspicion it wasn’t about resting. This was definitely going to be a battle.

The nurse returned, slightly out of breath, and handed a bag marked ‘Kamio Akira’ to the doctor. “This was everything he had on him when he was admitted. The clothes are a bit dirty and have blood on them, so I don’t know what you want to do with them.” Her eyes flickered to Kamio.

Kamio looked green, and Kirihara snatched the bag. He pulled out the blood-stained clothing and shoved them at the nurse. "Burn 'em," he said flatly. The rest of Kamio's stuff was returned to the bag, and he handed it over to Akira, who gave him startled yet somewhat grateful smile.

The doctor had been going over the release forms with Makamoto. "Keep him awake until at least this evening. Bed rest is essential if he wants those ribs to heal without complications, and any new symptoms should be immediately called in so we can best decide a course of action. Things like blood in the urine, nausea, bloody bile, sharp pains that come and go and keep their intensity level, blurred vision, and shortness or tightness of breath." The doctor fixed a stern eye on Kamio. "I mean it, young man. If you experience any of these symptoms for an extended period of time, or more then one together, you need to come back here. Your life could be at risk. Do you understand?"

Kamio nodded solemnly, and Akaya added his own to the mix. Even if Kamio planned on throwing a hissy fit, Akaya would just drag him in.

The doctor sighed, and looked down at the AMA forms still in his hands. “If this is really what you want, I think that’s everything I can do. I can only reiterate that I strongly discourage your leaving, but since you seem set on it…”

The nurse disappeared and came back a few seconds later with a wheelchair which she pushed to the bed, offering a small smile. “It’s hospital policy. Besides, you’re not going to get very far without it.” Kamio frowned at the wheelchair. Before he could argue, Akaya held out his hand. Kamio looked up at him, sighed audibly, and then reached out, grasping his fingers. Akaya moved in and helped him sit all the way, moving his legs so they swung carefully off the bed with out too much movement. Kamio sucked air in and out harshly, but didn't let a sound escape him. The nurse was on his other side, and she gave them a level look. "Slow and easy, gentlemen."

Kirihara knew only too well how badly Kamio coped with doing anything slowly, especially when he was in pain and particularly agitated. Kirihara made sure he took it slowly, though, easily supporting his boyfriends weight as he helped the nurse to settle him into the wheelchair. However painful it must have been, Kamio didn’t let out a single word. He closed his eyes for a few seconds once he was in, but then forced them open, nodding. “Let’s go.”

Kirihara rolled his eyes. "Yes, your Highness."

Kamio leaned his head back and looked up at him. "If I could hit you, I would."

"Yeah, yeah, sure, sure." Kirihara grinned back. As much as he disagreed with Akira's decision to vacate the premises, he had to admit, seeing him moving under his (well, their) own power, did a great deal for lowering his anxiety levels. "Makamoto-san, what's next?"

"You boys go on outside. It's a nice day out, and I'll be a few minutes handling the last of the paperwork." She led the way out of the room.

"Makamoto-san..." Kamio looked down at his lap, as though he didn't want to meet her eyes.

"Hush, child," she said calmly. "Akaya, I believe I gave you an order."

Kirihara snapped a sarcastic salute with his index finger. Kamio gave a wan smile to Makamoto as she waved them off down the corridor.

“You know, I should charge you for my pushing services.” Kirihara mused, as he pushed Kamio into the lift and worked out how to steer it so they could face the door.

“I didn’t want the chair.” Kamio reminded him. “You want me in here, you push, and you’ll do it with a smile.”

"I must be rubbing off on you," Akaya mused. "I don't recall you being this snarky before. Whatever happened to my fire-spitting ball of repressed rage?"

"You beat it out of me that first day I played on the street court," Kamio replied. "Besides, I get a better reaction from you like this."

"It used to be so fun to rile you up," Akaya complained, a tad wistfully. The elevator doors opened, and Akaya directed the wheelchair at a throng of people lounging about in the hallway. "BEEP BEEP! Out of the way, injured man coming through!"

Kamio turned bright red, and Akaya was positive if his ribs would have allowed it, he would have sunken down as far into the chair as he could go. “What are you doing?” he hissed, and Kirihara noticed with a smirk the poor boy couldn’t even hide behind his fringe as it was pinned back by the bandage wrapped around his head.

“Pushing you with a smile,” he explained, grinning to emphasise the point. “Hey, it’s what you asked me to do. And what Akira wants, Akira gets. Besides, people are getting out of our way so it makes it easier to not bump you into things.”

“They’re getting out of our way because they think we’re insane!” Kamio insisted, closing his eyes and shaking his head; seemingly unsure of whether to throttle the other boy or laugh. Since he was physically incapable of either, Kamio just let himself be pushed out of the automatic doors.

Once outside the doors, Kirihara checked his watch. It was lunchtime at Rikkai, which meant now was the perfect time to call his Vice Captain to inform him that afternoon practice would be canceled. He felt a small surge of glee at the thought of what Sanada would do if he knew - his head would probably explode. Once upon a time, Akaya would have been exploding right along side him. But if he left Akira at his house alone while he went to practice, he'd be distracted the entire time. There was no way Kamio would consent to be being 'babysat' by Makamoto, either. "Hang on a sec, 'Kira." He pulled out his cell phone and dialed. A minute later, his Vice Captain picked up. "Umino?" Umino Matsuoka was twit of the highest order, but he was the only one who blindly obeyed Akaya. Therein lay his uses. "About practice tonight..."

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Onward to the last part!
Chapter 3 by stormy1x2
He’d thought that lying in bed had been painful, but sitting in a car meant wearing a seatbelt. A seatbelt that secured him across the chest and by association, his damaged ribs. He was hyper-sensitive of every slight bump, and almost sighed in relief as Makamoto pulled into the driveway. He battled with his seatbelt catch for a few seconds, and then again with the door handle. Nothing seemed to want to open for him, and though he hadn’t actually done much (Kirihara had pushed him all the way to the car after all), every part of him was tired. Doing anything seemed like a huge effort. Finally the door sprang open, and he began working out the best way to approach getting out of the car.

"Like the nurse told you," Makamoto said sternly. "Slow and easy."

"It's like jumping into a pool," said Akaya cheerfully. "Take a deep breath and get it over with."

"Thank you, Doctor Kirihara," Kamio muttered, but did as the other said, inhaling deeply. Kirihara pulled as he pushed himself up in one smooth motion, and he was gratified that it didn't hurt much. Well... much more.

"Do you boys need my help getting settled?" Makamoto asked, as Akaya helped Akira hobble over to the front door.

"I got it." Akaya scrounged around in his pockets for the key. "But thanks."

"Yeah," Kamio said softly, looking at the older woman pointedly. "Thank you." He didn't say anything, but he knew that sometime in the future, there was going to be a discussion about debts and repayments. Makamoto looked like she was thinking the same thing, because she shook her head.

"Don't start, Akira," she said, wagging her finger at him. "Your first priority is to get well for those girls of yours. Anything else can wait."

Kamio nodded, but didn’t smile. He was already trying to work out how best to approach getting the money from his mother without telling her what it was for. She wouldn’t be pleased to know he’d been in hospital. Leaning heavily on his boyfriend, he waved goodbye to Makamoto and thanked her again, Kirihara doing the same. Kirihara kicked the door shut. “Don’t worry about your shoes, we’ll sort it out once we’re settled. If I try to get them off now, we’ll both fall over.”

“Mmn.” Kamio said softly, noting a pair of boots lying haphazardly by the wall. It looked like his mother was home.

Kirihara followed his gaze - and a black look fell across his face. "Have I told you how much I dislike your mother?"

"Numerous times," Kamio replied as they made their way towards the stairs. "What did she do this time?"

"Well, for one thing, she didn't believe me when I told her you were in the hospital." Akaya helped him navigate the stairs gingerly.

“I'm not surprised," Kamio said, gritting his teeth as pain ratcheted through him at each step. Maybe he should have laid claim to the couch instead. "She didn't believe me when I said I might have to take Michi to the hospital a few months back."

"Why not?"

"Hospitals are last resorts," Kamio explained. "They ask too many questions, and want you to fill out papers, and Kami help you if you come in without a guardian. I think Child Services lies in wait at hospitals, waiting to swoop down on kids and carry them off."

Kirihara didn’t say anything for a long moment. “Sometimes hospitals are necessary, though. You may be 'super' big brother, but right now you should be 'lying in a hospital bed' big brother.”


“And you can’t be expected to look after the girls like that either. If Michi really had needed hospital treatment, you’d have taken her. I’m here now, remember? I’ll help you avoid the questions. And you’ve got granny-Makamoto; you should have seen her with the receptionist last night!”

Kamio grinned. "I can imagine. It's a role she's played before."

"I'll bet. And don't think you're getting away with not telling me more later."

Eventually, amid lots of cursing and adjusting, they managed to get Kamio settled in his bed, a mountain of pillows letting him recline half-vertically, instead of being flat-out horizontal. Getting his shoes off was easy once he was off his feet, but his jeans would have been a bitch to handle. Kirihara never thought he'd be thankful for hospital-issued pajamas, but they were soft and would do for now, until Akira got some rest and felt up to changing. Kirihara let him handle his blankets - real men didn't need 'tucking in' - and then turned to go back down stairs. "I need a drink, and I bet you do too. And you're supposed to take a painkiller about now."

Kamio nodded. "Can you bring up the portable phone? I want to call Sakurai. He's still got a spare period for about fifteen minutes."

Kirihara made a face at Sakurai’s name, but he nodded anyway. “Yeah, I’ve already given him the basics, but he’ll probably be happier to hear it from you. That, and he stills thinks you’re in hospital.” Kirihara finished pointedly, as he left.

Kamio sighed and relaxed into his pillows as he waited. The painkillers sounded really good, as did a nap, but he knew Kirihara wasn’t going to let him sleep anytime soon with his head injury. He also knew that he should be looking out for symptoms, and prayed he wouldn’t have any. It was debatable whether he’d report them to Kirihara even if he did. As he waited he tried to think up ways to talk to Sakurai, and to approach his mother. He was also preparing himself for his sisters return from school. At some point his eyes felt heavy, and he presumed it couldn’t hurt to close his eyes while he thought.

"Wakey, wakey!" Came an irritatingly loud sing-song voice. Kamio opened his to see Kirihara about an inch from his face, glaring at him. "Not allowed to sleep yet, doofus."

“I wasn't sleeping," Kamio protested mildly.

Akaya snorted, shoving a tablet and a bottle of water at him. "Sure you weren't. Take that, and you get the phone."

“Your bedside manner needs work,” Kamio mumbled as he sat himself upright a bit more and weakly gripped the bottle. He swallowed the tablet dry, and then chased it with some water. He wasn’t about to admit how much he missed the constant stream of IV painkillers; they were never allowed time to wear off like the tablet forms. “Phone.” He commanded. “Please.”

Akaya tossed him the phone. "I'll let you talk to Sucker-ai alone," he said. "I'm gonna make a call of my own on my cell. Yell if you need me."

Rolling his eyes at the lame insult to his vice-captain, Kamio nodded, and dialed. He waited on the line for a few seconds, before the call connected and Sakurai’s voice came on the line. “Hello?” The other boy asked, and Kamio could hear the hustle of the Fudoumine corridors in the background, until there was the sound of a door sliding shut, and then everything went silent.

“Hey, Sakurai? Guess I owe you an apology for ditching practice.” Kamio began.

There was a pause, and then a hiss of indrawn breath. "Kamio?"

"The one and only."

"How are you? Kirihara said you'd been hit by a car! Me and the team are coming over after practice tonight," Sakurai babbled.

Kamio listened, smiling, before cutting Sakurai off. "I'm fine, Masaya. I hurt, but I live. And cancel the field trip to the hospital - I just got home."

“You what? You’re at home?” Sakurai asked in disbelief. “I thought Kirihara said you had a head injury? You must be doing really well if they’ve released you already.” The relief was clear in his voice.

“Uh…yeah.” Kamio agreed, suddenly finding the weaving pattern of his blanket fascinating.

Sakurai was quiet for a minute, before a low chuckle escaped him. "You bullied the doctor into letting you go, didn't you?"

Kamio grinned wryly, even though he knew his friend couldn't see it. "Would you expect any different of me?"

"Not in this lifetime, my friend. Hey, look - class is about to begin. I'm guessing you might not want a crowd showing up later, but I have a feeling very little will keep Shinji or An-chan from making an appearance. They're dead set on the hospital trip and once I tell them you're not there--

"--They'll come here instead," Kamio finished. "I know. Tell 'em it's okay. They can bring you an official report on my state of well-being."

“Cool. Seriously, take care of yourself, yeah? You’re going to owe me big time for all these practices I’m running, and I intend to make good on it.”

“Yeah, yeah. Get to class, you slacker.”

There was a laugh on the other end of the line before Sakurai said his goodbyes and hung up. Feeling a little better for talking to his friend, Kamio set the phone on his bedside table and leaned back to wait for Kirihara to return. If he was going to be so insistent on keeping him awake, it should be his job to entertain him after all.”

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Akaya waited until he heard Kamio start speaking before wandering back downstairs. He wasn't lying about needing to make his own phone call - he had barely even thought of his home ever since he'd first gotten the call the night before that Akira had been in the hospital. He'd never gone home the night before, he'd missed classes today, and the way things were going, he was probably going to miss them again tomorrow. At the very least, he needed to call home and see if anyone needed his reassurances that he was still alive.

Pulling out his cell phone, he hit the number for his home and waited.

And waited.

And continued to wait. Nothing.

Sighing, he disconnected and tried his mothers office. He got through before the second ring, and a monotonous voice answered and gave the law firms name before asking how she could help.

“I’d like to speak to my mother. It’s Akaya.” There was a slight pause, in which Kirihara rolled his eyes. Obviously his mother didn’t socialize with the staff. “Kirihara Akaya.” He supplied.

“One moment, I’ll check to see if Kirihara-san is busy.”

“Tell her I-” He was talking to Vivaldi. The ‘calming’ music lasted a few minutes, in which Kirihara angrily shot glares at anything and everything in his line of vision. He shot a glance up the stairs, and was thinking about having a quick check to make sure Kamio was alright when the music stopped.

“Kirihara-san is preparing for a meeting with clients, but she will speak to you. She requests that you keep it brief.” The bored voice disconnected, and there were a few rings on the other line before it was picked up.

“Akaya? What is it?” His mother's voice was brisk, clipped; professional. He could hear the rustle of papers as she went through them. "Is there a problem? Are you sick?"

"What? No mom, I'm fine. I just called about last night--"

"Akaya, I am sorry I didn't make it back last night, but I did tell you this case is a big one. It's certainly not the first time I've left you alone for an all-nighter, and you've never complained before."

"No, mom, that's not what I meant--"

"I promise I'll try to be home for dinner toni--no, I can't. The client wants to have a dinner meeting at-- Akaya? Hold on."

Akaya listened in mute frustration as his mother shouted at one of her assistants to get on the other line and make reservations at an exclusive restaurant in downtown Tokyo before coming back. "Mom?"

"I'm sorry dear, I really can't talk right now. You know what to do if you can't reach me--"

"If it's an emergency, call Chizuru," Kirihara echoed automatically, referring to his mother's other assistant. "I know."

"Wonderful, darling. I love you, gotta run!"

"Bye..." The line went dead before he could even get out the entire syllable. He glared at the phone. Some things just never changed. He set the phone down on the table and shook his head, making his way back up the stairs. He hadn’t expected much, really, but he had at least hoped to be able to explain what had happened to his boyfriend and perhaps get a few words of encouragement, or reassurance.

When he reached the top of the stairs, he shot a sideways glance at the closed door of Kamio’s mothers bedroom. Shaking his head he ignored the anger and instead headed for Kamio’s room.

Kamio grinned at him when he came in. "See? Not sleeping, as promised."

Akaya rolled his eyes. "Congratulations," he drawled. "Now keep it up for about eight or nine more hours."

Kamio's face fell slightly, and Kirihara smirked, pleased at having won that little round. "By the way..."


Kirihara jerked his thumb in the direction of the hallway, and the path that led to Kamio-sans room. "Your mom's home. Want me to bring her in here?"

Akira shook his head. "Don't bother," he said, a trace of disgust flavoring his words. "By now she's in a whiskey coma. It'd take a bomb going off next to her head to get her up now."

“Mmn.” Kirihara agreed, letting his hand fall to his side. He hadn’t wanted the woman in here anyway, and much less wanted to go into her room to wake her up and risk getting groped. But it seemed odd for a son to have been injured badly enough to require hospital treatment, and not want to see his mother.

“What the hell am I going to do for eight hours? I’ve got so much I need to get done, but none of it is exactly concussion and broken rib-friendly,” Kamio sighed, staring up at his ceiling, eyes already threatening to close on him despite his efforts.

"Like what?" Akaya perched himself on the edge of Kamio's bed. "The Gruesome Twosome won't be home for another coupla' hours, and your buddies will be probably be over later - most likely, with homework. Have fun with that, by the way."

Kamio glared at him. "Please, some sympathy for the invalid."

Kirihara suddenly reached out and caught Akira's hand, lowering his head. He squeezed it hard, unable to look the other boy in the face.

"Akaya.." Kamio's voice was soft. Despite the bruising grip, he didn't pull away. "Akaya, what is it?"

Kirihara shook his head, and then finally muttered, "'M glad you're all right," before clearing his throat awkwardly. If Kamio couldn't read between the lines, that was too damn bad.

Slowly a smile tugged at Kamio’s lips as realization dawned on him. He squeezed his boyfriends hand back the best he could for reassurance. “You really think a car could stop me? Though I might pass out from pain if you keep squeezing my hand that tightly-”

Kirihara loosened his grip immediately, with a mumbled ‘sorry’.

“I don’t go down easily, ‘Kaya,” he assured the other boy, with a shaky smile. "You should know that by now."

"I know," Akaya growled. "It's just... that phone call.. and you looked so hurt, 'Kira." It was weird how the sight of people hurting once filled him with glee, but the thought of that person being Akira made him feel sick to hiss stomach. Raising his eyes, he leveled a flat glare at the other. "You do that to me again, and I'll kill you myself."

“Got you,” Kamio told him, wanting to snap a salute but not having the energy to raise his arm. “Though wouldn’t killing me defeat the point? I thought you wanted me not hurt.”

“Oh, shut up,” Kirihara growled, shaking his head.

“Got you,” Kamio told him, wanting to snap a salute but not having the energy to raise his arm. “Though wouldn’t killing me defeat the point? I thought you wanted me not hurt.”

“Better to have me talking than falling asleep,” Kamio pointed out, a ghost of a smirk on his lips.

"I said, shut up." Akaya grabbed one of the pillows that had fallen to the floor - probably the last time Kamio had been in there - and quashed it down on Kamio's face firmly, before standing up and moving away. "You're doped and babbling, and I won't forget to take notes for blackmail purposes."

Kamio pulled the pillow off his face, grinning stupidly. "You like me," he sing-songed. "You wanna take care of me."

Kirihara:had been heading for the door again. He stopped abruptly at Kamio's words, looking back and arching a brow with a rare, real smile. "Yeah, I do," he said, and then moved out the door, whistling cheerfully at having gotten the last word. After a day - and a night - without an appetite, suddenly he was starving. His day was looking up.

o0o o0o o0o o0o o0o

One minute he was talking with Kamio about random things, just to keep the boy responding; the next both their eyes flew open as the front door slammed open, quite possibly taking a chunk of wall with it.

“Well, at least I don’t have to worry about you falling asleep anymore; no way you’ll be able to with the noise.” Kirihara said, getting up, ready to intercept the twin tornadoes. Kamio shot him a weary smile and nodded. “Stay awake while I’m gone!”

Kirihara started down the stairs to find the girls strangely calm, and talking to…Sakurai and An. Kirihara frowned; he hadn’t expected the two of them so early. He reached the bottom of the stairs, and the girls spun around, smiles on their faces.

“Is it true? ‘Kira-nii’s home?” Sachi asked, bounding up to him, closely followed by her sister.

"Yeah, he's home," Akaya confirmed, watching them light up. "Go on upstairs and say hi, but take it easy on him, okay? His ribs are hurt - that means no jumping, Michi." He looked sternly at the little girl, who nodded quickly. "Sachi, I'm counting on you." He made a mental note to call Miniawa-san later to give her the latest update.

Sachiko snapped a salute. "Yessir!" Then they were gone, vanished up the stairs in seconds.

"Wow," Sakurai said after a minute. "For a second, I almost expected one of them to come out with a 'Yes Dad'."

Akaya rolled his eyes. "Whatever, Saki."

"Sakurai," the other corrected him.

"S'what I said." Kirihara waved them in the general direction of the kitchen. "Give the girls a minute with their brother. Have a drink or something."

Sakurai nodded, but didn’t move to make himself comfortable. He made sure to keep his eyes fixed on Kirihara, as if to say that he still completely didn’t trust the other. Sensing the tension An stepped forward, nudging Sakurai gently with her shoulder as she did so, and then stepping on his foot to reinforce the point. “So, how is he?” She asked politely. “Sakurai here,” a look was shot his way from the girl, “wasn’t very forthcoming with information. Almost as if he didn’t trust what he was hearing from you. Odd that.” Another pointed look to Sakurai.

“I told you exactly what he said.” Sakurai mumbled. “And what Kamio told me himself.”

“Kamio would insist he were fine if he’d just had his leg amputated!” An said, rolling her eyes. “So, Kirihara, how is he doing?” She asked again, stepping once again on Sakurai’s foot to shut him up as the boy made to speak again.

Akaya graciously decided not to laugh at Sakurai's misfortunes. It had nothing to do with the fact that he knew full well how much she could make that heel of hers strike in just the right position to make him positive his foot was broken, and everything to do with the fact that he was just a nice guy that way. "He told the truth, more or less. Battered, bruised. Those ribs of his are gonna be a bitch to heal, but overall, the doctors are sure he'll be back to what passes for normal at Fudomine in a few weeks."

"What about his concussion?" Sakurai asked. The Vice- Captain of Fudomine moved easily through the Kamio kitchen, pulling out glasses for everyone and handing them one by one to An, who filled them with water from the tap.

"He's not allowed to sleep until tonight. Other than that, there shouldn't be any complications."

An handed a glass out to Kirihara, and sipped at her own drink. “You’ve still haven't heard anything more on who did it?” she asked, her voice low as she spoke.

Kirihara shook his head, his eyes meeting hers briefly. He was almost taken aback by how dark they were. He unfortunately recognized the look all too well, from when he had encountered her wrath at Senbatsu. When An was angry, she didn’t even try to hide it from you. "Nope. Apparently the cops interviewed him at the hospital before I got there but it's a basic hit and run. No witnesses, and Kamio can only remember that it was a red car. No make, no model, nothing." Kirihara's fingers tightened on the glass. "The odds of them catching the person who did this are about a million to one."

An's face twisted like she was going to cry, but her tone was pure malice. "If I ever find out who did this--”

"You'll get in line," Kirihara finished. The two of them exchanged understanding looks.

Sakurai just looked pained. "Can you two stop with the threats?" he asked plaintively. "An-chan, you're starting to channel your brother."

An shot a mild glare to Sakurai, but sighed and relaxed her grip on her glass before it shattered in her hand. “I’m sure that you wouldn’t mind a swing at them, either,” she muttered darkly, sipping at her water.

“Yeah, well, it’s probably better this way, anyway. The last thing we need is Kamio remembering everything, and having flashbacks or whatever. I saw it on a TV show once,” Sakurai mused, frowning as he tried to think of a title. “It can be worse to remember.”

"Don't bug him about it," Kirihara warned them. "I mean it. He's doing fine. If he remembers, he remembers, but until then, leave it alone." They nodded. Kirihara set his glass down. "C'mon. I need to make sure the little maggots aren't breaking the rest of his ribs."

With that, he led the way back out of the kitchen, laughing silently as a wide-eyed Sakurai mouthed 'maggots?" at a laughing An-chan. They followed him up the stairs, and the sound of giggling could be heard from behind Kamio’s half-closed door. Kirihara nudged it the rest of the way with his foot and folded his arms. “Is this letting him rest?”

Two guilty smiles turned to him; both girls had crawled onto Kamio’s bed and found comfortable spots for themselves where they wouldn’t cause their brother pain, but could still be close to him.

Kamio sighed, a look of mild amusement on his face. “They’re unimpressed with my lack of casts.”

“I wanted to sign something,” Michi explained, her voice actually dipping slightly.

“We can make a card, and sign that for him,” Sachi pointed out. “And it’ll make him feel better, ne?”

“Can I use the glitter glue’s?” Michi asked, her face lighting up. “’Kira-nii likes glitter!” She insisted, nodding her head in agreement with her statement.

"Hell no," Akaya growled. That stuff was a pain to get rid of. "You stay away from that stuff. I thought there was a house-wide ban on glitter glue." He shot a pointed look at Kamio.

"I... may have retracted the ban in a moment of weakness," Kamio confessed sheepishly.

"Tough." Akaya glared at the girls. "Since your dear 'Kira-nii' is confined to bed for the next few days, that means I'm stuck cleaning up the mess."

"We won't make a mess," Sachiko protested.

Akaya snorted. "It's glitter glue. Of course you'll make a mess."

Sakurai had a confused look on his face. "What's going on here?"

Akaya threw him a bored look. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Language," Kamio chided.

“What on earth are you talking about?” Kirihara corrected, stressing the correction and offering a fake bright smile to his boyfriend.

“All good get-well cards need glitter-glue,” An said, nodding wisely and smiling at the two girls.

Before Kirihara could nullify her words, giggling from the bed drew his attention away from the two Fudomine students. “No glitter-glue,” he reiterated, but since his threat seemed to be failing he realized with a sinking feeling Kamio was going to be receiving a very glittery card. And, likely, two very glittery sisters. Possibly a very glittery boyfriend, too.

"You. This." Sakurai gestured to Kamio, the girls and then to Kirihara himself. "You sound like you're part of a married couple, like you're their dad or something."

Akaya's eyes narrowed. He didn't like the way that sounded, with the little hint of outraged disbelief he was picking up from Sakurai's tone. "Got a problem with that?"

Sakurai looked like he wanted to say something, but then he closed his mouth and shook his head. "No." His eyes begged to differ, however, and Kirihara felt a snarl growing in the back of his throat.

"Come on, girls," An said suddenly, clapping her hands together. "Let's go see to that card downstairs." She began herding the two girls out, but paused as she moved between Kirihara and Sakurai ."Work it out," she said quietly. "Nicely. Or I'll come back in here, and I won't be nice about it. Understand?"

The two of them nodded quickly, and she flashed them a sweet smile before following the girls downstairs.

“She’s…tough.” Sakurai coughed, avoiding Kirihara or Kamio’s gaze.

“Masaya…” Kamio began, sighing and lifting a hand to rub at his temples, fighting the pounding in his head that he’d been hiding for the girls. “This is how we do things. Akaya has been fantastic, I seriously don’t know what I’d have done without him…and yeah, we kind of act like ‘a married couple’ but…”

“I don’t mean it like that.” Sakurai began, looking torn between saying something nice for his friend, and obviously wanting to have a snipe at Kirihara. He probably trusted that An would somehow find out, though, so Akaya was glad to see him opt to keep the insults to himself. That didn't mean he had to though.

"Then what do you mean?" Akira asked quietly, before Akaya could say something.

"I just.. it's weird," Sakurai said. He looked at Kirihara searchingly, as though studying him for something only he could see. "I mean... You and I will probably never be best friends, Kirihara."

"And such a loss that will be."


Sakurai rubbed his temple wearily. "This is seriously weird. You guys aren't even fifteen yet, and you look and sound like you're committed to each other or something." He shook his head. "It's just weird."

Akaya raised his eyebrows. "Do you always repeat yourself like this?"

“Only when I’m stressed out!” Sakurai snapped, ignoring the pleading look from Kamio.

“You’re stressed out?” Kirihara snorted and folded his arms. “My apologies then. I didn’t realize that you were so bogged down with responsibility and hardship. You have no fucking idea.”

“Language,” Kamio muttered wearily, out of habit, though no one paid him any attention. The two boys locked in a glaring battle, daring the other to say something next.

"Well, tell me what the heck you get out of this!" Sakurai shot at him furiously. "How is this a healthy thing here? I mean, swearing, yelling, calling the girls 'maggots', for Kami's sake! And after what you did to Tachibana last year--"

"SAKURAI!" Kamio's voice cracked like a whip, stunning the two boys into silence. "What happened back then is over and done with. I've told you this. An-chan's told you this. You've seen Kirihara play numerous times since then. I'm only going to say this one last time - let. It. GO."

Both Kirihara and Sakurai eyed him as he were a bomb, both rather nervous to be the first to speak.

“I-” Sakurai began hesitantly, but got no further.

“This better be you letting it go.” Kamio warned.

“You’re serious, aren’t you? Seeing him play tennis is one thing - I’ll agree,” grudgingly, by the look he shot Kirihara, “that he seems to have cleaned his act up on the court. But he’s not a good role model to have around the girls.”

Kirihara bit his lip hard enough to draw blood. Kamio shot him a quick look though, silently begging to let him handle this. Akaya released his breath slowly, and nodded. Kamio turned back to Sakurai. "What gives you the right to judge that?" He asked softly. "Sakurai, you're my very good friend, and the best vice-captain I could hope for. But you only learned about my situation a few months ago, and even then, I didn't tell you everything. Akaya has been here, knowing the truth - the whole truth - and helping me almost more than anyone else ever has." He sent Kirihara a small smile. "He's practically moved in, for all the time he spends here, and he'd never do a thing to hurt Sachi or Michi." He looked back at his friend steadily. "Are you saying you don't trust my decisions? That you don't trust me?"

“Akira…” Sakurai begged, a pained look on his face as his friend asked him that. Staring at him with those damn blue eyes, bandaged head, and battered body…Sakurai suddenly felt like the villain in this. His eyes flickered to Kirihara and he sighed. “Of course I trust you.” He conceded.

Kamio smiled softly, sparing a quick glance to Kirihara.

"What, I finally get to talk?" Akaya groused.

Kamio rolled his eyes. "'Kaya..."

"Fine." Kirihara turned to Sakurai. "Look, you don't like me, and I ain't exactly your biggest fan either. But the fact of the matter is, I'd never let anyone or anything hurt Akira, Sachiko or Michiko. I'm not telling you my life story, but let's just say I like being here and helping him with the girls. It makes me feel wanted. Accepted. And I don't plan on doing anything to ruin that." He crossed his arms, cocking his head to the side. "Are you gonna drop this? Or are we gonna have to settle this at dawn in the backyard with racquets at twenty paces?"

Sakurai blinked rapidly. Then, suddenly, reluctantly, an amused smile slowly spread across his face. “Nah…it’s cool.” He shrugged, and took a deep breath. “Its just that I’m protective of them too, you know. And I just thought it was a bit quick for the two of you to be this close.”

“What? So I need your approval before 'marrying' into the Kamio family?”

“No, but whatever Akira or An-chan says, I won’t easily forget your match with Tachibana. Sure, you play clean at the moment, but you were fine before you turned during that match,” Sakurai shot back.

“Masaya, how many times are we going to go through this before you believe me?” Kamio asked, resisting the urge to throttle his friend with a pillow, or the bedside table. “Just drop it.”

"Probably at least a dozen more," Sakurai said wth a shrug. "I worry."

"It's okay, Akira," Kirihara spoke up suddenly. "He worries about you. I get that."

"But I don't like that people keep harping on what you did last year when you've changed--"

"Have I?" He shrugged. "Look, I don't care what others think of me. I already know the opinions that matter." He glanced over at Sakurai. "No offense, but yours ain't one of them."

"None taken," Sakurai replied easily.

"But I can't fault him for worrying about you." Akaya suddenly scowled. "And if this is a plot to make me say mushy things, well, I'm on to you and we're ending it here. Bottom line, he's entitled to his own opinion as long as he shuts up about it in my presence. Deal?"

"....Deal," Sakurai agreed warily.

"Wonderful," Kamio said, tiredly. " We're all a bunch of happy campers. Now what's this about maggots?"

“I’ve got a feeling the little ‘maggots’ getting glitter all over your kitchen floor as we speak,” Kirihara said, a pointed glare in his boyfriends direction. “Hence the previous ban on the devil-endorsed stuff.”

“They like it…” Kamio defended weakly, shrugging a shoulder.

“Yeah, well I don’t like cleaning it up.” Kirihara grunted, wincing as a rather loud ‘oops’ floated up the stairs from the kitchen.

Kamio offered a sheepish smile. “…Just leave it. I’ll clean it up tomorrow after I wake up.”

"Yeah, like hell you will," Kirihara muttered. "Bed rest, remember? You can't be that dense. An wanted to play with them, she can do the clean-up. Sounds fair to me."

A slightly mumbled ‘that’s what you think’ preceded Kamio’s answer. “She probably will anyway, she’s not going to let them trash the place. Probably best to check on them, though - that ‘oops’ didn’t sound good…” He admitted worriedly. Suddenly his brow furrowed, and he looked at Sakurai curiously. "I just thought of something. Why aren't you at practice?"

Caught out by the question, Sakurai looked between the two boys – Kamio was eying him questioningly. “Uh…I had to come and see, you know…”

“You didn’t trust me,” Kirihara translated with a smirk.

“We’ve already moved past this, haven’t we?” Kamio pleaded, begging the two not to start another argument in his room. “Who’s in charge of practice?”

“…Shinji.” Sakurai coughed, knowing what Kamio’s reaction would be.

Kamio groaned in anguish and shook his head. “When you’re done here, go back to Fudomine and rescue everyone,” he commanded. “I’m sure he’ll still be there, and the younger years won’t know how to get away without disrespecting him.”

"I will. I just wanted to make sure you were okay." Sakurai looked upset. Akaya didn't begrudge him that one bit. "We were really worried, Akira."

Kamio smiled. "I know. I'm sorry. And I'm going to be fine. But the first years might mutiny if you don't get back there."

Sakurai chuckled. "True. All right, all right, I'm going. Take care of yourself, Buchou. We need you."

“I know,” Kamio sighed, in mock modesty. “Seriously, thanks for coming. An-chan too.”

Kirihara said nothing, but nodded to the other boy.

“Yeah, we’ll probably come again at some point if you’re stuck at home for too long. But don’t worry about a thing; I’ve got practices under control.”

“Fine job you’re doing right now,” Kirihara pointed out, receiving a double glare from both Buchou and Fukou-Buchou.

“See ya, Kamio!” Sakurai called, as he left his friends bedroom and started down the stairs.

An ran back upstairs to say goodbye. "I see there's no bloodshed," she remarked, crossing the room to Kamio's bed. She bent over and lay her arm across his chest, giving him a half-hug, and following up with a quick kiss on the cheek. "Get well soon, Akira. The boys need you around, you know."

"That's what they say," Kamio sad. "I may start believing them."

She grinned, turned and suddenly flung herself at Kirihara, hugging him tightly. "That's for taking good care of one of my boys," she whispered in his ear. "Keep it up."

"I will," he responded, just as quietly. Out loud, he groaned and pushed her away. "Look, I know I'm irresistible, but I'm taken. Hands off the merchandise."

“That’s my present for when I’m able to brush against my ribs without screaming in agony,” Kamio grinned proudly.

An shook her head. “Of course, not my type anyway,” she said, winking at Kamio before slipping off down the stairs with a bit more grace than Sakurai had managed.

Kamio turned to his boyfriend, a slightly worried look in his eyes. “She had glitter in her hair.” He muttered, in a defeated voice. “Any chance you can go and check on the girls?...And the kitchen?”

Kirihara sighed, straighted his back, squared his shoulders, and took a deep breath. "If I don't come back in twenty minutes, avenge my death at the hands of the makers of Crayola," he said, before storming downstairs.

“I’ll be starting a strongly worded letter of complaint.” Kamio answered solemnly. “Might even get a compensatory coupon for money off.”

Kirihara snorted as he left, and cautiously approached the kitchen. The girls were sitting up the kitchen table, pieces of cut out paper and other assorted craft materials surrounding them. They were both working on a separate card, and as Kamio had feared glitter was everywhere.

"'An will clean it up'", Kirihara parroted wryly. "Sure she will." He glared at Sachiko and Michiko. "I hope you're enjoying this, because you'll never see those damn things again."

Michiko held up her card. A dog and a cat sat under a rainbow with little hearts. "I made this for 'Kira-nii!"

Akaya took one look at it and had to fight to keep a straight face. "Straight as pretzels, this entire family," Akaya snorted. "Go on, go show your brother. Sachi, after you show him yours, you get to help me clean this mess up. Got it?"

"Yeah, yeah," Sachiko acknowledged. She grabbed her card and dragged Michiko upstairs.

Kirihara groaned and started picking up the discarded scraps of card and coloured paper, all the time thinking of ways to get his boyfriend back for this. From upstairs he could hear the girls bouncing into Kamio’s room, both excitedly trying to be the first to give their brother their card. He supposed it was sweet, in a gooey, smarmy sort of way. His eyes fell on the discarded - and much hated - glitter glue pens. He grinned - with them upstairs cooing over their brother, he was free to dispose of the evil things, and no one could stop him! With a cheerful whistle, he scooped them up, dumped them in a plastic bag taken from behind the door, tied it off, and shoved it to the bottom of the garbage can. As an added precaution, he dumped the scrap paper on top, and then took it one step further by going to the sink and emptying the catch-all. Then he bundled up the entire trash bag and dragged it out the back door. Perfect. Overkill? Maybe. Who the hell cared? He went back inside.

Sachiko was waiting patiently for him, a smear of blue glitter on the tip of her nose, and a bright smile on her lips. “’Kira-nii liked my card best, I think.” She said proudly, moving to put all the fresh sheets of unused card back in the packet.

“I'm pretty sure he likes both of them,” Akaya told her. “You. Paper towels. Windex. Now.”

By the time everything was cleaned up, he was starving. He sent Sachiko back upstairs to make sure Akira was still in bed and Michiko wasn't plotting to take over the world (she was under oath her next attempt would be made under his supervision). Soup and crackers was a cop-out, but they sounded good to him and they were easy enough to make and carry upstairs. Setting a load of pre-made soup on to heat up, he turned his attention to rummaging through the cupboards for crackers and bowls. Setting everything on a tray, he leaned against the kitchen table and waited for the microwave to finish heating the soup, half-listening to the conversation from Kamio's bedroom.

"It was scary when you didn't come home last night," Sachiko was saying. "I think Akaya-nii didn't want to tell me you were in the hospital. He only did because I heard him on the phone."

"I think he didn't want to scare you before he had more information," Kamio said gently. "He would have told you eventually."

"Why'd someone hit you with a car?" Michiko asked innocently.

“It was an accident, Michi,” Kamio replied, the strain evident in his voice. “I’m sure they didn’t mean to, but I got in the way of their car, and they didn’t have time to stop.”

“Are you going to tell them off?” Sachi asked. “’Kaya-nii could tell them off for you if you don’t feel well.” Kirihara could almost see Michi nodding enthusiastically to that.

“Er…the police would do that,” Kamio assured them. “’Kaya-nii would get into a lot of trouble if he told them off.”

"Like that'd bother me," Akaya said, coming into the room. "Too bad we don't know who it was. Anyway, food."

Food was handed out, consumed, and the empty bowls and spoons left on the floor to be dealt with later. It was getting late enough at night that Akaya didn't need to worry so much about Kamio falling asleep, and judging from the yawns he was trying to stifle, it wouldn't be long.

“Wake up!” Michi chanted, reaching over and tapping her brother lightly on the nose. By the way the two girls giggled it was obvious they’d turned this into some kind of game, that every time their brother started to drift off one of them had to wake him.

Kirihara caught her by the wrist, lightly. "How 'bout we let Kamio get some sleep now?" he suggested. "I see two girls who need to get pajamas on, and brush their teeth and stuff like that."

Clearly upset that their game was coming to an end, the girls nodded and both took turns giving Kamio an awkward hug. “Come on Michi, we can say goodnight after we’re ready for bed,” Sachiko promised her sister, taking her hand and guiding her out of the room. “Leave her to me!” She called as they disappeared into the hallway.

"They're good kids," Akaya commented. "I guess I can't sell 'em on the black market." Kamio smiled, but it was forced. He looked a little down. Akaya peered at him. "Now what?"

"I was just thinking about what Sakurai said earlier," Akira admitted slowly. "I see you with the girls, and how you're still here even after missing classes and not going home, all because of me... I'm just wondering if you're really happy like this. I know it's stressful. I don't want you to be here out of guilt or sheer obligation."

Slightly taken aback, Kirihara blinked and frowned. “What the hell are you running on about? If I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t.” He shrugged and sat down on the edge of the bed.

“You say that now, because you’ve been stuck with us for so long. We don’t exactly have it easy, and it’s only going to get harder for you.” Kamio was adamantly avoiding his gaze, staring down at his hands that were twisting the hem of the blankets.

“First of all, I never run away from a challenge. Don't insult me." Kirihara reached out and pulled Kamio's hands off the blanket. "And look, I've told you a million times - I like being here. I like Sachiko and Michiko treating me like another brother. I like helping you out. I don't get to do this at home. Fuck, there's never anyone AT my home. It's lonely as hell, especially with my old teammates all at High School, and having a team full of brats underneath me. I'm here 'cause I wanna be." He glared at Kamio, daring him to argue. "Do you finally understand? Or do I have to beat it into you? Keeping in mind what state you're in,. A beating would not be a good thing. You're better off caving in somewhat gracefully."

“An would kill you if you laid a finger on me while I’m, like this,” Kamio said softly, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips. “I just didn’t want to make you feel like you had to be here. I want you to be here, but I want you to want to be here…oh god, now I sound like some sappy love song.” He groaned and rubbed at his temple, before finally raising his gaze to meet Kirihara’s. “You don’t need to beat me up. I get it.”

"'Bout fricking time," Kirihara said.

Kamio laughed softly, cutting himself off with a yawn. “Wake up!” The girls chorused with a giggle, catching him in the action. They both hurried over and more hugs were exchanged, along with good night wishes. Finally Sachiko led her sister out, both of them waving as they left.

“Now to put the final Kamio sibling to bed.” Kirihara said, with an exaggerated sigh. He closed the bedroom door and turned to Kamio, noticing the half-closed lids. “You’re the easy one, tonight.”

“Mmn. Not gonna last much longer,” he mumbled.

“I can see that.” Kirihara teased the covers back, and slipped in beside him. Being very careful not to brush against Kamio’s ribs, he drew the boy close and wrapped an arm around his shoulder. Soon Kamio was leaning against his chest, eyes fully closed. “Goodnight, Akira.”

“’Night. And thank you…for everything…” Kamio whispered weakly, nuzzling Kirihara’s chest.

“Nothing to thank me for,” Kirihara answered easily, pressing a gentle kiss to the top of Kamio’s head. The soft even breathing that followed sent a flicker of a smile across Kirihara’s face, and an arm snaked protectively around Kamio’s waist. “Nothing at all.”

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The End
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