“Oniichan, I get that you’re in pain, but if you don’t let go of my hand you’re going to break my fingers and then we’ll be in this hospital twice as long.”
Taichi released his sister’s hand and grabbed the side of the hospital bed instead. “Thanks for support,” he muttered through clenched teeth. “I appreciate it. Quite the caretaker are you.”
Hikari sat back, rubbing at her knuckles. “Oh, stop. I brought you here. Who was it who said it ‘wasn’t a big deal’ and we could just ‘deal with it tomorrow if it still hurts’?”
“A bookcase had just fallen on top of me, Hikari-chan. I was in shock.”
“You suggested I mop up the blood ‘so no one will notice.’”
“Okay. Fine. Sometimes I make stupid decisions. Are you happy?”
“Can I get that in writing?” Hikari giggled, reaching over to smooth the front of his hair. As her thumb fluttered across what was sure to be a colossal bruise on his forehead, Taichi saw her smile wilt ever so slightly. He sighed.
“You know I’m fine, right?” he asked.
“Aside from the twisted ankle, possible concussion, and pieces of glass protruding from your thigh?”
“ Formerly protruding from my thigh,” Taichi corrected. “That nice nurse removed them. Which only happened because you insisted we come to the hospital, because somehow you turned out smarter than me.”
“Yeah, somehow ,” Hikari said, rolling her eyes. She paused, biting her lip. “You’re sure?”
“That you’re smarter than me? Uh, yes.”
“No. That you’re okay.”
Taichi chuckled, reaching out to tap his sister lightly on the nose. “Yeah. See, now I know not to climb bookcases even when Koushirou has stashed all my cookies at the top.”
“Most people use ladders,” Hikari offered, helpfully. “Or chairs.”
“Yeah. Oh, speaking of Koushirou-san, I called him.” At Taichi’s annoyed look, she pressed on. “I didn’t reach him, but I left a voicemail.”
Taichi groaned. “Seriously? How many people have to know about this?”
“He’s your roommate, Oniichan. And more likely than not, he’s going to be the one who will have to clean up all that blood.”
“It’s bad enough you had to go and blab to Daisuke. OW. Did you just poke my bruise?”
“I didn’t blab to Daisuke-kun,” Hikari snapped. “I called Ichijouji-kun, who as you may recall lives quite near you, to help lift the heavy bookcase off of your prostrate body. Daisuke-kun came too. They are in the waiting room as we speak, worried about you.”
“It’s just, if Daisuke knows…”
“Then everyone knows,” Hikari finished. “Yeah. But I mean, did you really think you would be able to hide this? I’m almost positive when that nurse comes back, she’ll say you have a concussion.”
Taichi grumbled something under his breath, but didn’t argue.
“So,” Hikari ventured, “given that it’s only a matter of time before everyone knows...don’t you think you should give him a call?”
“Oh, come on.”
“We’re, uh, fighting.”
Hikari laughed. “You’re always fighting.”
“Fine, kind of true. But seriously, don’t call him.”
Hikari leaned back in her chair, frowning. “But Yamato-san is your boyfriend.”
Taichi squirmed and instantly regretted it. “Ow. Ow ow. I think I can feel my brain colliding with my skull.”
“He is your boyfriend, isn’t he?”
“No!” Taichi yelped. “He’s not my boyfriend . We don’t buy each other flowers and wear matching ties and cuddle on the couch watching late night television.”
“Well, see, that last one’s just not true.”
“Plus, you do spend nearly all your time together, and are always texting each other, and have been known to make out on your kitchen table.”
Taichi let out a noise disturbingly close to a shriek. “Hikari-chan! How the hell did you know that?”
Hikari shrugged. “Koushirou-san told Miyako-san, who told me. I think the stress of pretending he doesn’t keep catching you guys is getting to him. That plus the blood, you probably owe Koushirou-san some kind of gift by this point.”
Taichi closed his eyes and released a long, low wail.
“You’re sure you don’t want me to call him?” Hikari ventured.
“Why? What would he do here? He’s not a doctor or anything.”
“But wouldn’t you rather he hear about this from you?”
“I would rather he not hear about this from anyone .”
“Yes, but considering that ship has sailed…”
And then, right on cue, the door to the hospital room was flung open to reveal a flushed, heaving, unquestionably furious Yamato.
Silence stretched for a moment before Hikari whispered, just loud enough for Taichi to hear, “Told you.”
In two long strides, Yamato was on the other side of the hospital bed. “Are you okay?” he demanded.
Taichi, still shocked, blinked in response. “Uh…”
“ Are you okay? ” Yamato repeated. He reached out as if to grab the front of Taichi’s hospital gown but, thinking better of it, gripped the bed instead.
Hikari piped up, “He’s alright, Yamato-san. He twisted his ankle and needs some stitches in his leg and we’re waiting to see if he has a concussion, but he’ll be fine.”
Yamato snarled, his eyes tracing the bruise on Taichi’s forehead. “What the hell happened to you?”
“Uh,” Taichi mumbled, “it honestly isn’t that big a deal…”
“Taichi,” Yamato cut him off, “don’t make me beat the shit out of you in your own hospital room. Because I’ll do it.”
Taichi attempted a laugh. “Why are you being so-”
Yamato growled – actually, audibly growled – in response. “I was at band practice when I got the following text from Takeru.” He pulled his phone from his pocket and shoved it towards Taichi’s face.
“ Taichi in hospital ,” Taichi read. “Oh. Yeah, okay, see, I can explain…”
“How did Takeru-kun know?” Hikari wondered aloud. “Oh, wait, I know: Daisuke-kun. He has a hard time keeping things to himself.”
“You can’t just tell me you’re in the hospital, ” Yamato shouted. “You need to give me more information than that!”
“Well, to be fair, I didn’t actually tell you anything,” Taichi pointed out.
“That’s another thing! You have to tell me if you’re in the goddamn hospital!”
“Wait,” Taichi muttered, “I’m confused. Do you want me to tell you, or not tell you? Because I-”
“I had no idea what the hell was going on! You could have been on life support for all I knew!”
Taichi, in a misguided attempt to lighten the tension, grinned. “Aw, were you worried about me?”
“OF COURSE I WAS WORRIED ABOUT YOU.”
This shut Taichi up. Yamato tore his eyes away, staring pointedly at the wall, breath heavy. For a long, slow minute, no one spoke. Out of the boys’ sight, Hikari closed her eyes in a silent plea for strength before plastering a smile to her face and standing up.
“Okay, well, I’m going to go check on Daisuke-kun and Ichijouji-san, let them know things are okay,” she announced, tiptoeing towards the door. The silence lingered on after she left: Yamato glaring at the wall, and Taichi staring, open-mouthed, at Yamato.
“Yamato,” Taichi started, when he thought he couldn’t stand it any longer, “It really wasn’t a big-”
“Don’t tell me it wasn’t a big deal,” Yamato cut him off. “Look at yourself.”
“I’ve looked worse than this after some of our fights,” Taichi laughed, then quickly sobered as Yamato – who was far from laughing – looked back at him. “No, really, though. I’m going to be okay. It’s not like I was in a train accident or something. I was the victim of my own stupidity and luckily Hikari-chan was visiting, so she took care of things. If it had been something terrible, I-”
“Taichi,” Yamato interrupted. “I know what you ate for breakfast this morning, because you sent me a picture of soggy cereal. I know which movie you and Hikari-chan were planning to watch tonight, because you felt the need to ask for my opinion. But when it comes to something actually real, you go radio silent?”
“You never respond to my texts anyways,” Taichi replied, weakly.
“Not the stupid ones about cereal ,” Yamato grit out. “But did you honestly think I wouldn’t want to hear about this?”
Taichi bit the inside of his cheek, deflating. “It’s not that.”
Yamato arched an eyebrow. “Then what?”
“Well first, I injured myself in a spectacularly idiotic way, even for me, and wasn’t like, itching to share that with you.”
“I didn’t…” he sighed, stopped, regrouped. “I didn’t want it to be a thing.”
Yamato opened mouth to speak, but Taichi pressed on. “I didn’t want you to feel like you had to come here and, uh, dote, or whatever. You know. Go out of your way. This doesn’t have to be your problem.”
Someone who knew Yamato less well might have missed his quick exhale or the muscle that suddenly clenched in the side of his jaw. But Taichi didn’t.
“What?” he asked.
“Forget about it, Taichi,” Yamato said, voice flat. “I’ll just go.” As he turned to leave, Taichi reached out and grabbed onto Yamato’s elbow.
“Don’t get all huffy about it,” he grumbled.
Yamato’s shoulders slumped, his back still to Taichi. “What if I want it to be my problem?”
Taichi blinked. “What?”
“When something happens to you, maybe I want to know about it. You do a lot of stupid shit, Taichi. I’m not going to fall all over you every time you hurt yourself. Just tell me next time. I won’t make it a thing.”
Taichi frowned, his grip on Yamato’s elbow softening. “Wait. When I said...when I said I didn’t want to make it a thing, you get that I didn’t mean I didn’t want us to…”
Yamato turned to look at him. Taichi swallowed.
“...be a thing,” he mumbled.
Yamato stared at him.
“Because,” Taichi continued, a bit flustered now, “we’d never really talked about...and I didn’t want it to seem like I had…”
Yamato sighed. “Taichi.”
“Well, I do probably have a concussion.”
Yamato narrowed his eyes for a moment. Then, in one swift motion, he leaned forward and pressed his palm to Taichi’s cheek. Taichi bit his lip to try to hold back a grin.
“Next time I drop a bookcase on myself, I’ll let you know,” he promised.
“That’s how you hurt yourself?”
“You’re an idiot,” Yamato remarked, slowly tracing Taichi’s cheekbone with his thumb.
“So I’ve been told,” he laughed. “So, what now? You gonna nurse me back to health?”
Yamato rolled his eyes. “No, I’m going to go back to band practice.”
“You said so yourself: Hikari-chan’s got it covered.”
“Fine. Well, if it turns out I do have a concussion, I’ll probably have to stay awake all night. Know anyone who can help with that?” Taichi attempted to waggle his eyebrows and quickly grimaced at the sharp pain between his eyes.
“Are you...propositioning me?”
“Was that not clear?”
“I’m not going to reward you for your moronic behavior.”
“You’re no fun at all, you know that?” Taichi pouted.
“I do know that,” Yamato replied. He then leaned in, his nose inches away from Taichi’s, and abruptly pinched his cheek harder than Taichi thought was strictly necessary.
“Ouch,” Taichi yelped.
“Don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone.”
“Let go of my face.”
“And call me later so I know you haven’t died.”
“Fine! Let go of my face!”
Yamato kissed him.
“You know,” Taichi said as Yamato pulled back, “that’s actually kind of the opposite of letting go of my face.”
“You’re the worst.”
Taichi grinned. “I know.”