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A Kiss Like Warm Water

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Chidori's hospital room is dimly-lit and quiet, but Mitsuru catches the blankets shifting out of the corner of her eye as she turns to leave, and a soft, sleepy voice whispers "wait".


"I didn't mean to wake you."


"It's..." A yawn, and then Chidori rolls over, propping herself up on one arm. Somehow, even with tousled hair and her ill-fitting hospital gown slipping down one shoulder, she is beautiful in a way that catches in Mitsuru's chest. "It's all right. I don't mind you waking me up."


The sour note in her voice doesn't escape Mitsuru's notice. By all reports Chidori is not nearly so generous when anyone else tries to wake her, but for Mitsuru she drags herself upright, extricates herself from a tangle of blankets and wires, and even offers the faintest hint of a smile. As accustomed as she is to being the exception to all sorts of rules, Mitsuru is particularly flattered by being Chidori's exception.


She isn't here to visit. She only meant to drop in for a moment - certainly not for long enough to straighten Chidori's blankets, or help free her from the wires that wrapped themselves around her arm in her sleep. Now that she's here, though, it feels wrong to keep her distance. She smooths a wayward electrode back into place, lets her hand linger against Chidori's chest. The jagged lines scrolling across the monitor mean nothing to her, but she can feel the rapid heartbeat they represent thrumming against her fingers and understand all too well the doctors' concern.


How can she not do what little she can to help, knowing that Chidori barely tolerates anyone else's touch - and when it is her word that keeps Chidori here? By all rights Chidori should hate her; that she doesn't is a miracle Mitsuru isn't quite at ease with. The least she can do is offer whatever comfort Chidori will accept.


Chidori squirms a little, a reminder that Mitsuru's touch has lingered for longer than is entirely appropriate. She straightens Chidori's gown, then pulls away. "My apologies."


"Mm." Mitsuru isn't quite sure whether Chidori is displeased, or just too sleepy to hold a conversation. She hasn't been told to leave, though, so she lingers, putting off her real business at the hospital for just a minute or two more.


The quiet stretches out, though the steady beeping of the monitors keeps actual silence at bay. Mitsuru watches them as though she might understand the numbers if she just pretends hard enough; Chidori, she notices out of the corner of her eye, is watching her. "I wasn't expecting you today," Chidori finally says. "Sanada said you have practice on Tuesdays."


"I do." Mitsuru rubs at her wrist, the sharp ache reminding her exactly why she isn't still at school. Athletes get injured; she knows that, she's spent her afternoon being told that, and no doubt she'll hear the same from Akihiko and Makoto this evening, but all the reassurance in the world won't change the fact that she has much more at stake than most athletes. She isn't quite sure what she'll do if her wrist isn't easily fixed. Lingering in Chidori's room is easier than facing the possibility that it won't be. "I hurt my wrist. It's probably just a sprain, but..."


But the thought of finding out for sure is... paralyzing.


She expects - almost wants, as though hearing it from someone else will finally convince her that she's being silly - Chidori to tell her off. What she definitely isn't expecting is for Chidori to reach out to catch Mitsuru's hand in hers. Her fingers lace through Mitsuru's, pleasantly warm against Mitsuru's ice-cold skin.


"Let me see."


Mitsuru only hesitates a moment before obliging - or, more accurately, before not protesting, because Chidori is already unwrapping the bandages. Beneath them her wrist is swollen and beginning to bruise, ugly red and purple spreading up along the side of her hand. Chidori's touch is light, but the warm brush of her fingers practically burns against the bruises, and Mitsuru inhales sharply to keep from crying out.


"Shh." Chidori strokes her thumb along the back of Mitsuru's hand, the intimacy of the gesture catching Mitsuru off guard. She stands frozen and watches Chidori map out the edges of the bruising with her fingertips, focused more intensely on the task than Mitsuru has seen her focus on anything except her drawings.


Mitsuru doesn't recognize the sensation as healing, at first. Healing as she knows it feels like a bucket of ice water dumped over her head, a shiver down her spine as broken skin shoves itself back together; this is heat slowly seeping into her bones, and the soft brush of hair against her arm as Chidori bows her head over her work. It's gentle, kind, in a way that Mitsuru has never associated with Personas.


In only a minute or two the pain and the swelling are gone, and Mitsuru finds herself missing the warmth. Never before has she enjoyed the sensation of healing, rather than just the results. "That was -" she starts, then falters, not sure how to put her feelings into words. Suddenly she's very aware of how close they are, and how Chidori is still cradling Mitsuru's wrist in her hands. "Merci bien, ma chérie."


Chuckling, Chidori lifts Mitsuru's hand to her lips and softly kisses the last lingering bruises. They fade to nothing at the touch, washed away by that wonderful heat. "Now that you don't have to see the doctor," she murmurs, "why don't you stay here?"


Mitsuru finds herself laughing as well. Chidori's devious good mood is apparently contagious. She leans over the bedrail to kiss Chidori on the cheek in a moment of boldness, and quite enjoys the way it makes Chidori blush. "That sounds like an excellent plan."