"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.
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"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.
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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.
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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.
o0o o0o o0o o0o o0o
End Part 1
To be immediately continued..