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Don't try this at home

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The knock on Umi's door wasn't a surprise; she was going out to eat with Hikaru and Fuu, both of whom had turned up at least this early before now. She was, however, surprised to open her door to her neighbour-across-the-hall, who she knew mostly because of the epic snarky arguments he kept having in the corridor with the building manager. Most of them went along the lines of the manager saying "How have you got more plants in here, you're going to flatten the building", and "I know you have a fish tank; I can hear it", and "Seriously, I saw that cat go in through your window, and I know it's not a stray, " being countered with "But my air quality will be far better until that day" and "That's my water cooler. It's rectangular", and "I can't help it if cats walk in through my open window, can I? You can't tell a cat what to do".

Today, he was looking somewhat paler than usual, and a lot less argumentative, and any glimpses of cat, fish, or plants over his shoulder were lost on her because her attention was fixed on the blood-stained tea towel wrapped about his hand while he pressed on it with the other.

"Um" he said, as she stood there staring. "Ryuuzaki Umi, right?"

"What have you done?" Umi demanded, still staring.

"…Lost an argument with a saw," he muttered. Umi stared at him some more. "Look, I just wanted to ask if I could borrow your phone so I can call a taxi to get to the doctor? Mine is - somewhere, I don't really want to, uh, go looking." He waved the bloody towel at her, probably as evidence of why.

Shaking her head, Umi got him by the other shoulder and pulled him into her apartment, shoving him in the direction of a chair so she could go grab her first aid box from under the bed. "You need a hospital, if the amount of blood is anything to go by."

"The doctor will be fine! I'm sure they'll just stitch it, or glue it, or whatever they do these days."

"Sure," Umi drawled, coming back with wound wash and dressings and gauze. "They'll send you straight to A and E. Take that towel off but keep your hand up."

"Do you even know what you're doing?" he snapped at her, even as he held his hand out so she could unwrap the make-shift wadding.

Umi took one look at the cut on his hand, and shook her head. "I do first aid for my fencing group. And my other sword fighting group, where the swords have got an edge." The cut was still bleeding, not terribly but not great, and there was sawdust in it. She set to work with the wound-wash. "What were you even doing with a saw? It's Clef, right?"

"Yeah." He'd gone a fraction paler still. "…I was trying to cut a bit of shelving to fit."

"What, more plants?" she muttered, and he made the most stereotypical 'harrumph' she'd ever heard in her life.

"I don't just have plants! I have some books, too."

"And a water cooler which just happens to have fish in it?" He grinned at her for a moment, bright and unexpected. She cleared her throat, "So, uh, what was this new shelf for?" she asked, looking back at his hand to get the dressing on it in the right place, and started wrapping gauze around to hold it.

"…A couple of plants that have got too big for the hooks I have in the ceiling," he admitted, and Umi snickered as she tied the gauze off. "It could have been books!"

"It wasn't though. Anyway, that should hold you for now, I think. Keep pressure on it? I'll find a scarf and we can make you a sling to keep it up - and here's my phone, so you can let your doctor tell you to go to A and E."

"I do not need the hospital for a little cut!"

Umi handed him the phone and kept her mouth shut, using the pause to grab her laptop and search how to get to the hospital.

By the time he hung up, looking betrayed, Umi had her car keys and her handbag ready. "So, ready to go to the hospital, Mr D.I.Y.?"

"I - you don't have to - I can't drag you out to A and E," Clef protested, staring at the keys. "That's - no! It's Friday evening. Don't you have plans?"

"Yep. I plan on taking you to the hospital." She grinned at him. "No one's let me do any real first aid on them in ages. This is exciting!"

"Exciting isn't the word I'd use," he muttered, but she could see his shoulders folding forwards as he gave in.

She herded him over to his place to grab a bag and sent a quick message to Hikaru and Fuu when he wasn't looking, telling them something had come up and they'd be without her this evening - her neighbour had failed woodwork and needed a bit of help. After that, she was free to be nosy. All around the room were hap-hazardly created bookcases and wonky shelves, plants burbling green foliage out of their pots everywhere. The shelves were mostly bridging the gaps between the bookcases - she'd wondered how he'd got around the 'no drilling in the walls except to fasten back a maximum of five large pieces of furniture' which was in the rules of the building, he'd apparently drilled into his furniture instead - and there wasn't a single right-angle in the whole place.

"You really have no skill at woodwork, do you." She looked about some more, shaking her head. Somehow, en-masse, the disjointed angles seemed… charming.

He pulled a face at her, shoving a bottle of water into his bag and fumbling it closed one-handed. "If I yelled at you, would you get on with your evening and let me call a taxi?"

"Nope!" She smiled at him, reaching out for his bag as soon as he was in range, slinging it over her own shoulder and keeping a wary eye on the way he seemed to be going grey around the edges, with either the blood loss, the adrenaline, or the pain.

Whichever it was, she wasn't going to just pack him off in a taxi and hope he got there okay while she went out and enjoyed herself. It didn't seem the neighbourly thing to do. She hustled him down the stairs, and then down some more when he'd have headed for the door on ground level; she had one of the few, coveted parking places under the building. Probably she had her parents and their money to thank for that; she wasn't arguing with them over that one, there was nothing she hated more than getting soaked dashing between her car and home. Her car was small, but there was plenty of legroom, and she got Clef stowed in the passenger side with his bag tucked behind his legs before pulling carefully out onto the road - and then putting her foot down.

"The hospital's this way, right?" She asked, cheerfully, pulling out onto the main road with only the faintest memory left of the directions she'd looked up, only to glance sideways and see Clef with his eyes closed. "…And you're a terrible passenger, aren't you."

"Maybe," he muttered, which might as well be a full confession. "If I don't look, I can't distract you by yelling instructions you don't want."

"If they were directions, it'd be fine," Umi told him, but he just shook his head. "…Well, there must be signs."

Signs there were, and they pulled into the hospital only to find the drop-off point full of ambulances. Umi turned into the car park instead, in spite of the thin protests from the other seat, and given she'd have to pay anyway she might as well carry his bag over to A and E, which was full of unhappy people, then ushered him up to the desk when the fullness of the waiting room had him hissing impolite things in the doorway, and when he failed to respond to the receptionist - too busy staring in horror at the fact the waiting room went around a now-visible corner and was just as full on the other side, Umi rolled her eyes. "My friend tried to cut his hand off with a saw. By mistake. It's wrapped up but it's still bleeding a fair bit." She pointed at the arm - wrapped in her make-shift scarf-sling - and the bandaged hand sticking out of the top of it. "Cut's on the back of his hand, about six centimetres long, and it's pretty deep. He rang his GP and was told to come straight here."

"I can talk for myself?" Clef said, but he sounded less certain by the moment.

Umi eyed him. "Uhuh. Look, the nice lady's giving you some paperwork and a number, why don't we - go sit over there and you can tell me what to write. Unless you want to try stabilising the clipboard with your elbow?"

"I - no." He looked at her, pulling a face as he gave way. "Thank you."

She stayed, and when they finally escaped - five and a half hours later, with a hand that had been examined three times, cleaned, stitched up, dressed, and put in something like a cross between a splint and a wrist support to try and keep him from moving it, as he'd managed to catch his tendons, but not badly enough they were suggesting surgery unless it didn't heal right. He was still under orders not to use that hand for - well, anything, for several weeks. They'd also stuck him on a drip for a little while, and given him painkillers, and he was now both slightly sluggish and highly morose.

He'd given Umi's scarf back, at least. And he turned out to be a decent conversationalist, when he was trying to distract himself - as long as your idea of a good conversation was an ongoing mild argument, which Umi had to admit she enjoyed.

"Come on," Umi said, taking him by the non-injured arm and steering him out. "Lets get you some actual food and get you home."

"How can I eat? I only have one hand," he told her, mournfully, and she bit down on a laugh. He'd warned her that he didn't always make sense on codeine.

"You have two hands, you just can't use one for now. Anyway. Burger and fries okay with you?" They'd found him a snack bar to eat with the painkillers, but nothing more.

At his nod, Umi turned off the main road, headed for the only all-night drive-through she knew the location of. It wasn't the meal out she'd been planning - sitting in the car-park at one in the morning, helping her neighbour open his bottle of water because he couldn't do it one-handed - but bizarrely, it wasn't the worst evening she'd had.

She eyed the splint, and ignored the grouching from the passenger seat as she pulled back onto the road. Cook, she could not, but she could probably manage making sandwiches, and making sure he had a supply of - soup, or something else easy. As long as he had an electric can opener. And a microwave.

…Or she could just make sure he had access to a handful of take-away menus, but how would she check he was doing okay that way? Plus, she hadn't met the cat yet.

oOo