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The Nightingale

Chapter Text


Jogging up the subway steps and lifting his wrist to look once more at his watch, fifteen minutes to spare before his shift began. Contemplating coffee as he pulled his jacket tighter around his shoulders, inwardly complaining over the early chill in the air tonight. Ears perking at the familiar sound of an ambulance siren in the distance, casting a quick glance over his shoulder in the direction of the sound, trying gauge the distance and wondering if they were low on staff again tonight. Turning his brisk walk into a jog he rounded the corner and hurried to the entrance of Musashino Hospital.


“There’s an ambulance right behind me,” he knew they knew it was coming, but knowing just how close it was would perhaps help a little.


Ducking into the staff room and tearing off his coat, revealing his pale blue scrubs in full. Tossing his jacket into his locker and slamming the door before turning to the sink to sanitize his hands and arms up to the elbow. He dared to take a look at himself, noting that his light brown hair was only mildly windblown and the circles beneath his emerald eyes weren’t horribly dark or deep yet. Lips were a bit on the chapped side but he could put some balm on that later. Not enough time for vanity now, he quickly rushed from the room snapping up a pair of latex gloves along the way.


The voice of Ryoto-sensei called him over, quick to get to work and assess the damage of their patient and listen to the instructions of the doctor as they rolled the man at a quickened pace towards the OR. Ritsu had bolstered himself for anything, because working in this field, well, there could be just about any horrific calamity that would come to them for help. But this man, with thick and messy dark brown, nearly raven hair looked as if he was moments from dying. What part of unbattered skin that could be seen was so pale white that it was translucent from blood loss  The paramedics had cut away his shirt but left the knife in his chest where the handle pulsed in time with the man’s heart. Either it was really close to his heart or worse, in it. And, oh the blood. There was so much of it, most from the lacerations on his face and leaking from his obviously broken nose and most alarmingly it looked like it was pooling behind his slightly parted lips. He tried to do as the doctor commanded but suddenly he found his left hand latched onto with a steel-like grip that would not give. Doing as much as he could with a single hand, “He’s got my left hand in a vice grip Sensei...shit…” he cursed softly under his breath as the blood spattered out of the patient’s mouth, mopping it away with a gauze pad, ripping it free of one of the many packets he carried in his scrub pockets, as they continued to rush the man into operation. Though he seemed to have just lost consciousness, his grip did not slacken in the slightest.



Pain wracked his body, mostly in his upper chest and his face. His breath wheezing, no bubbling with every ragged gasp he was able to take. Dimly he heard the paramedics shouting over the sound the the siren over his condition.


“ETA!?” one of them shouted loud enough to make it past his pain fogged mind. He still couldn’t comprehend what the hell had just happened. But, the memory was still very vivid to him of what had occurred just a short time ago, Haitani had lost his Gods damned mind!


Masamune was finishing up his last day at Shuudansha, all the months of drama had finally taken its toll and he decided to take his friend Yokozawa’s advice and make the move to Marukawa. Luckily there was a position there for him to fill, apparently their Shoujo magazine was in the shitter and they wanted him to fish it out and make it shine. While not his preferred genre it was a good opportunity with an advancement in his position to Editor-in-Chief as well as a hefty raise in salary. Not to mention the benefits weren’t anything to scoff at either.


He was the last to leave the Weekly Earth office, or so he’d believed, after he’d packed up the rest of his belongings. Hefting up the box of various tools and mugs that he’d bought with his own money, his briefcase stuffed into it sideways, he made his way out of the office. Well when he was coming up to the hall that would take him to the elevators where he’d get the hell out of this place, go home and suffer through some leftovers for a late dinner and then take a long hot shower before he’d flop down on his bed and sleep for a week. Woe betide the idiot that would deny him that brief reprieve!


Before he was able to fully turn the corner and make his simple wish come true, he was taken fully off guard by a sudden flash of movement that blurred into his line of sight. Blinding pain speared through his head as Haitani used an ancient laptop to bludgeon him on the head, in the face. Hearing a bang as he dropped his box of belongings to lift his hands in an attempt to defend himself. But, Haitani seemed to have gained incredible strength in his bout of insanity, “Son of a bitch!” the crazed man snarled at him, slamming the laptop across his face harshly. The successive blows had made a wave of dizziness overtake him and sent him toppling to the ground where he managed to crack his skull against the floor hard as Haitani leapt onto his chest, trying to pin down his arms, getting the left but missing the right in the process. He saw the manic gleam to Haitani’s gaze as he lifted the bloodied laptop over his head with a twisted grin on his face, “think you and leave me, bastard!?” the next he saw through blood hazed eyes the descent of the laptop as it connected and he felt and heard the sickening crunch as he nose broke and blood gushed forth, twinging his tongue with the metallic taste. The guy was trying to kill him, he was sure of it. He wasn’t just trying to kick his ass, he was literally trying to murder him!


Finding the strength to fight back, he blindly lashed out with a fist and felt it connect with something hard. The bastard had been using the laptop as a shield. But it went flying across the room with the blow and Masamune drew back to try and land another. A piercing feminine screaming ricocheted through the hall and the clacking heeled shoes against the tiled floor bringing a dark chuckle from his attacker, “Looks like fun time’s nearly over. Ahhh, I was looking forward to dragging this out… Our special last time together my dear Masamune.” he felt a hand cup his battered cheek, making it flare in pain, “Why couldn’t you just see that we were meant to be together? For someone so Gods damned smart you are incredibly blind to the obvious truth.” It was the strangest sensation, as Haitani drew the knife out of his back pocket and then plunged it into Masamane’s chest, “I’m the only one worthy of you, why couldn’t you see it!? WHY?! Grk!!…” Using all of his strength as he felt Haitani’s lips ghosting over his own, he didn’t have time to register the revulsion, he was in survival mode now. He wrapped his long fingered right hand around his assailants throat, digging his thumb viciously into his windpipe and squeezing with every last bit of energy and rage left within him.


He didn’t hear the shouts of the paramedics and police that ripped them apart, or the shrieking of the woman that had walked in on the attack in progress trying to explain through the tears, the crime that she had witnessed. It took four officers to pull the two men apart, three of which were trying to pry Masamune’s hand out from around Haitani’s neck. Snarling curses at the man blindly he felt himself hoisted onto a gurney and then strapped down for all his struggles, not wanting him to hurt himself anymore than he already possibly had.


Haitani gasped and sputtered for breath as he was tackled to the ground and cuffed even before the paramedics had begun their rush to help Masamune and get him to the hospital. The trip down the elevator and being loaded into the back of the ambulance was a blur to him, he may have lost consciousness a time or two. But, he was constantly brought back from the verge by the strident sirens and the professional, yet very loud voices, of his caretakers.

Now, here he was, after going through the memories of all that had happened to him that night, feeling himself being jostled slightly with sharp jolts of pain as they dispatched from the ambulance, rushing him into the emergency room of whatever hospital they’d brought him to. Struggling to breathe as a sudden brightness of the overhead lights filled his vision, making him flinch. Out of all the frantic voices that surrounded him there was one that stabbed through his clouded mind like a gunshot, “Ritsu! I need you here!...” trying to blink the blood out of his eyes and attempting to look around. It was a habit, whenever he heard that name, to seek out the one who owned it in endless and hopeless need. Everything was blurred but suddenly there was a face over his, wide concerned and achingly familiar forest eyes looked over his battered form, soft wind tousled hair that looked golden brown with hints of red in the fluorescent lights. “You…” he tried to say but blood burbled from his lips instead. A trembling hand reached for the phantom of his past and found very real and warm flesh, sliding down to a smaller hand encased in latex, gripping onto it with tenacity of a man too long denied. It was him , him, him….him…. And thus darkness finally filled his eyes and mind, but his grasp did not waver nor did his memory of green eyes.

Chapter Text

After the patient lost consciousness and his grip did not slacken, Ritsu had little choice in the matter, as they rolled the man down the hallway towards the operating rooms. Turning his hand, feeling that his fingers were probably turning purple and his bones were grinding together painfully as he ran his thumb down the center point below the elbow, feeling his way down until he found the median nerve and then gripped the patient and pressed his thumb into the nerve hard. He knew it would hurt, but the guy wasn’t letting go and he had to recover the use of both of his hands. Grimacing slightly as he felt a couple of the bones in his hands popping uncomfortably while the fingers of the patient eventually started to relax.


Ritsu got his hand free at last, shaking it out to get the blood flow going and tilted the man’s head back and used a suction tube to clear blood out of way while another pair of nurses were preparing his left inner elbow for a saline drip through an IV, stabilizing it with a splint. All the while, Ritsu kept an eye on the man’s breathing, “Left side of his chest isn’t rising,” he informed the Doctor when they passed through the doors to the Operating room. Green eyes darted to the newest to join their little posse of caretakers, the anesthesiologist was drawing fluid into a syringe that he fed into the IV. Ritsu noted that the patient’s breathing was getting feathery and brought it to the Doctor’s attention. A few barked orders later, a breathing tube was being inserted through his mouth and down his throat and guided into the right bronchial passage. They sidled up to the table and everyone got into position to move the patient, one of the other nurses started to count down to the moment that would shift  the patient onto his side onto the table right next to them. The nurse held the patient’s arm in place and put the other under the man’s back and shoulders as far as he could for the transfer to the operating table.


There was a simultaneous grunt as they all heaved his surprisingly heavy body into position. Ritsu grasped his left wrist and started to carefully remove his shirt as he moved the patient’s arm to rest over his head properly. Spotting a lump in the back pocket of the guys jeans he dipped his fingers into the slot and pulled out a well worn leather wallet, finding his ID tucked behind a screened pocket he read out, “Takano, Masamune, Age: 25, DoB: December 24th, 19XX, Blood Type: A Positive.”


Passing the card to a medical assistant for a search of his information that may be stored on their computers and slipping the wallet into a bag for patients belongings and handing it off to another assistant that was taking care of removing any jewelry or trinkets visible. He turned to go and scrub up again in preparation for the surgery that was about to take place, asking Ryoto-Sensei, “Am I with you tonight? I didn’t have time to check.” quickly going through the sanitization process the Doctor replied, “yeah, you’re in ICU after this with me unless we get another emergency surgery case.” Ritsu gave a nod of his head and allowed his arms to be dried by assistants and then in a flurry his was garbed in a smock, new gloves, goggles, cap and mask, stepping into booties then following after the Doctor.


The room had cleared out considerably, the patient still on his side, now he had gained two sterile coverings, one to shield his head and the other to cover the rest of his body save for a rectangle that exposed from mid-chest to mid-back on the side of his injury. Ritsu pulled the screen to the camera over next to the heart monitor, where the Doctor could see it easily and then began to assemble all the tools from clean storage they may need onto a portable tray, listening to the steady beep of the heart monitor. Hopefully they wouldn’t need to go with an open lung surgery, but that was for the Doctor to decide after he took a look at the internal damage with the camera. Ritsu started to paint the area where they would be working with iodine to sterilize and disinfect. This was the beginning of a very long 5 hours and 48 minutes to repair the damage a maniac had done. Ritsu worked alongside the rest of the five person team, not taking a single break or taking a trade off.


Yokozawa rushed into the Emergency Room and immediately started to bombard the poor woman behind the reception desk with questions. His tone and general appearance, he belatedly thought maybe he should have at least brushed his hair before running out the door after the call, because he scared her into a stuttering mess and she was unable to give him anymore information besides the fact that his friend was currently in surgery. “S.s..s...Sir, are h..his cc….contact. C...could you p..please f...fill out these f….forms…” she squeaked at him in the meekest of tones.


Growling, the Grumpy Bear snatched the clipboard from her trembling fingertips and proceed to stalk over to the row of chairs in the waiting room. Sitting down with a nerve-wracked huff he scrubbed a hand back through his sleep tossed raven hair and glared at the forms in contempt. He’d received a call an hour ago, informing him or little else besides the fact that Masamune had been injured and was currently under the care of the staff of Musashino Hospital. He’d wanted to know more then, but no answers came. Now, he’d basically been told to sit down, shut up and wait. Or that was the way he perceived it at least. Glowering over the page, he started to fill out the information that he knew on the papers, growling in fury when he came upon something he didn’t know about man that he loved. They’d have to remedy that before he killed him for scaring him like this, unless he…. NO! He put an abrupt halt to any of those kinds of thoughts viciously.


It didn’t take him too long to get through the paperwork, he was used to filling out forms in his day job, but the blank spaces rankled horribly. Stalking back up to the desk, he could already see the woman fidgeting nervously and checked his tone. It still came across gruff but the woman did not fear for her life….as much. “I couldn’t answer all of them, but I got most of it…” the woman took the paperwork and gave a tremulous smile, “it’s alright, I’m trying to get in contact with his next of kin,” Yokozawa snorted, making the young lady jump, “Good luck with that…” he nearly turned back, but thought to ask, “Oi, can you tell me what happened?” she shook her head sadly and apologized, “I’m sorry sir, but there is no information on his current condition yet added to the records, it’s been a bit hectic tonight. But your friend is receiving the best care under one of our top surgeons. Someone should be out soon enough to give you what details they can.”


He paced the waiting room for thirty minutes and then flopped back down into the chair he’d taken up before with a hefty sigh. It was painful not knowing anything, though when the Police Officer walked in and went to the desk to talk to the young lady, Yokozawa started to get a very bad feeling. As she directed the officer towards him and the man approached, his apprehension only grew. “You are the victim’s contact?” Yokozawa gave a nod and the officer brought out a pen and pad, “There was an attack on one, Takano, Masamune at approximately 22:30 according to a witness statement. Takano-San suffered several blows to the head and face. He also suffered a stab wound to the chest before emergency services arrived to break up the altercation and the alleged was taken into custody and the victim was brought here by ambulance.” the officer lifted his eyes to look at Yokozawa and paused, “Do you know of anyone Takano-San has been having issues with?” There wasn’t even a beat of a pause, “Haitani, Shin…” he knew his face must be sheet white and Yokozawa felt as if his heart had been stopped and then tripped up to frantic pace. That was the only person that Masamune was having any sort of issues with.


The officer gave a nod of his head and asked, “Can you explain to the best of your knowledge the relationship between these two men?” Yokozawa frowned, “Well, they were co-workers. Masamune’s a private kind of guy so he didn’t go into great detail about what was happening. Just that Haitani was making working there impossible, sabotaging his work and messing with his authors or any of their mutual in office friends. Causing a rift in the department and basically being a pain in the ass. I know they both seriously disliked each other, anything more than that, I don’t know.” he didn’t know things between the two men were this hostile, he would have never guessed that the tension was enough to lead to this level of violence. The officer jotted down all the information that Yokozawa had given him and returned the pen and pad to his pocket while withdrawing a card from another on his chest. “Thank you for your help, please contact the station if you have any more information.” Yokozawa took the card and just felt blank as the officer left, stopping by the front desk to speak to her in low tones that he could not hear.


Yokozawa leaned forward with his elbows on his knees, hands drooping listlessly as his steel blue eyes stared vacantly at the floor. Fully in shock over the knowledge of what had happened to his best friend, the man he was in love with. Why? It seemed so cruel, so senseless! He was leaving the company so why couldn’t that bastard let him go and be happy about it? Haitani was lucky he was locked up right now, or maybe it was Yokozawa was lucky because he’d definitely had done something that would have landed him with the same damn charges. Gripping his fists together, the card the officer gave him digging into his palm as he grit his teeth in frustration. Masamune better make it through this or by Gods, he would kill Haitani with his own two hands!

Chapter Text

Ritsu had to take a shower in the staff room after picking up a fresh set of light green scrubs from the supply room and dumping the soiled ones in a hamper bound for laundry. Going to one of the shower stalls and turning the hot water on full blast he stepped into it and groaned in contentment.  Stretching out his stiff limbs from hours of holding surgical implements steady as the Doctor operated on the patient. It had turned out to be a very long night indeed, but he was so very relieved that things had gone so well with the operation and then the setting of the man’s broken nose.


Nails scratching pleasantly into his scalp as he washed his hair. He didn’t realize just what a mess he’d been due to the fact that the guy that was pretty damn close to being killed tonight had turned his head towards him when he’d rushed to the side of the gurney to aid Ryoto-Sensei and spewed blood a bit further than he’d thought. At the time things had been too hectic to care about such things, time was not something that could be wasted when dealing with those sorts of injuries. Not that Sensei had looked much better, luckily he’d found out after the grueling hours in the OR that the ICU was pretty well staffed tonight so they could take the time to fix themselves up to look less nightmarish.  


That didn’t mean that Ritsu took his time, in and out of the shower with a five minute scrub down under the steaming stream he stepped out with a towel wrapped about his slender waist, rubbing at his light brown hair with a towel as he moved towards the new scrubs. Drying off quickly and garbing himself into the slightly stiff material of his uniform. Sitting on the bench to tiet his walkers back on his feet and getting a good whiff of the outfit he wore.


“Ugh, I hate whatever they use to wash the gear here, I smell like a lab experiment.” Wrinkling his nose as he teased fingers through his hair to get it to somewhat look presentable as Ryoto-Sensei stepped out of another shower chuckling at him, “That’s probably because it was made in the lab to cut corners… Good job in there Ritsu.” the Doctor smiled at him and Ritsu glanced back at him through the mirror, smiling brightly at the praise.


It always felt so good to be appreciated. It even made the tense muscles in his shoulders loosen and a light blush dust his cheeks, “It’s always amazing working with you Ryoto-Sensei, Takano-San was lucky you were on staff tonight. Excellent work tonight.” Ritsu spoke with the utmost respect, receiving a boisterous laugh from Ryoto-Sensei, “There you go again Ritsu, trying to steal a happily married man from his wife.”


Ritsu’s face became inflamed and he sputtered under the teasing, “S--Sensei!...” snatching up his towels to toss them in the hamper over his dirty scrubs, “you’re terrible…” pouting as he shuffled over to the counter to pick up his slim red notebook and powered it up. Sensei frowned at him, not over what he said but the fact that it seemed his subordinate was about to forgo a meal again. “You! Cafeteria, Food! Now, young man!”


The nurse visibly cringed, looking as if he wanted to shrink down into the smallest little pile of Ritsu possible, “Yes Sensei, let me just check a few things and I promise I’ll go have dinner…. Or, er...breakfast.” his emerald eyes widening as he took note of the time in the bottom corner of his notebook, “Ah, I wanted to check on the patient and make sure he was treated with cold compresses first though, so I’ll go do that then nip off for a bite!” he zipped out the door before the Doctor could scold him more. Ignoring the muffled ‘Oi!’ from behind him he walked with quick steps towards the ICU, notebook tucked snug under his arm as he wove through the stream of medical staff.


Entering the ICU he smiled at a familiar face with a nod of his head before turning into Room 3 to observe the patient still under the effects of anesthesia. Checking over his vitals quickly and testing the compress behind his head and the one draped over his eyes and nose to make sure they were suitably cold. Satisfied he moved down the cot and took the patient’s hand, “Give me a squeeze if you can hear me sir…” since both of his eyes were sealed shut, puffed up, black and blue he couldn’t see if he’d tried to open them when he’d briefly lifted the compress. Plus he had a tube and oxygen mask affixed to his nose and mouth, making it impossible to speak. They’d be removing the tube down his throat soon, seeing that the left side of his chest was rising and falling at a much more promising rhythm. There was a twitch but no squeeze, he’d be waking soon but right now he was still under the effect of the anesthesia.


Ritsu was no Doctor, but it seemed to him that Takano-San, while needing time, would make a full recovery. Quicker than it would have taken if they had to have done an open lung surgery. Luckily the Doctor had been able to repair the damage using the robotic surgeon instead of the far more invasive procedure.  Though Ritsu had worried at first because that knife, now bagged for the police, had only been a few millimeters off from the man’s heart. No major arteries or veins had been hit, while the punctured and collapsed lung was bad enough, he knew it could have been so much worse.


All things considered, he figured the guy had gotten lucky, remembering that it usually took about 4 to 6 weeks for a body to recover from the surgery, he’d probably be held in observation for a couple days and released with orders to take it easy. Hopefully he lived with someone that could take the strain off of him and give him a hand if anything happened. If not, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check his insurance to see if it covered a home nurse. Letting go of the man’s hand and opening his notebook to do a quick look up.


“Ritsu…” Ryoto-Sensei spoke in a warning tone just as the nurse had been about to bring up the patient’s information. Ritsu’s shoulders hunched and he cast a green-eyed glance over his shoulder at the frowning Doctor. Giving a nervous laugh, “Yeah, let’s go have breakfast Sensei!... Hahahaaa..ha…..erm….” ducking out of the room and having his warden following hot on his heels to the elevator, “Oh!” Ritsu exclaimed, turning to the Doctor, “do you know if his family and friends have been notified? OW!” he earned himself a cuff upside the head for his concern,


“I’m doing that now boy, you just get your butt in there. For God’s sake, you have classes in two hours! You need to worry about your own health more or we’ll be picking you up off the floor, again !” the Doctor grasped him by the upper arm and drug him into the now open elevator and punched the buttons for the ground level and B1 where the cafeteria was located, “You’d best be eating by the time I get down there or I swear, I’ll haul you before the wife so she can fret and coddle over how skinny you are young man!...” That threat was enough to get a meek nod from the nurse as they rode the car down.


Ryoto-Sensei left the car when the doors opened on the first floor, trusting that Ritsu knew he’d make good on his promise, not just a threat, and made his way to the waiting room and scanned over the small gathering of patients and loved ones. “Those waiting on Takano, Masamune?” his clear voice rang through the room hoping the man had a least someone to show up for him in his time of need.



It felt like days, not hours, since Yokozawa had started this excruciating wait to see if Masamune would be okay. So when he heard that voice a part of him wanted to cry out in joy, or in horror for it had seemed to take way too long. He leapt from his uncomfortable plastic seat and felt his body protest viciously over the action. He was stiff and sore with a pounding stress headache, most definitely not a happy bear. “Yes! Here!...” he wobbled forward to the middle-aged Doctor and tried to read his expression. But the man was a professional and thus, he could read nothing. Until a small comforting smile graced his lips.


“The surgery was a complete success, your friend, with recovery and care, will be just fine….” Yokozawa bristled inwardly over being relegated to a mere friend. He wished for more, but he took what he could get until the stubborn man gave up on that ghost of the past. “When can I see him?” he wanted to be at his side now, clenching his hands at his side with anxious energy. The Doctor gave him a pat on the shoulder, understanding his concern, “In short order, he’s in post-op in the ICU at the moment. He should be moved to a room soon as he’s conscious. The effects of the anesthesia should be wearing off ere long. “


The Doctor saw that the man didn’t care for that answer, his concern overly evident. “Let me check for you quickly.” Yokozawa followed behind the Doctor as he warned, “Now, he doesn’t look good, so prepare yourself. But I assure you, he’s a strong lad, just be prepared. He is very battered and bruised with a splint on his nose. Though the cold compresses will be covering it, don’t be shocked when the nurses come in to refresh them.” Ryoto-Sensei leaned against the wall and spoke to the receptionist, “I need to to find out if they have reserved a room for Takano, Masamune please.” she smiled up at the pair tremulously, having been terrorized by Yokozawa for the past several hours. Fingers flying over the keyboard to bring up the needed information. There was no new information so she glanced up at the scowling figure, suppressing the shudder as she hit refresh in pure hope. “Ah! Yes, he’s being moved to Room 518…” she barely got number out of her mouth before the Grumpy Bear was finally gone, leaving the poor woman in peace. She dropped her head to the desk with a thunk and let loose a shuddering sigh… “Problem?” Ryoto-Sensei asked with an arched brow, mumbling against the desk she replied, “Oh… just peachy…now.”

Chapter Text

Ritsu sat down with a sizable breakfast of baked fish (bland), white rice (overcooked), miso soup (super bland) and coffee (akin to tar). But he still wolfed it down as if it were the most delicious cuisine he’d ever allowed to touch his tongue. After his first bite the hunger pains had kicked in and by the time Ryoto-Sensei had sat down with his own meal, Ritsu was nearly finished and going over his last tasks of the day. Applying new dressing to the wounds of one of the patients in ICU and changing the drip bag for the IV on the next. He was surprised that the patient that he’d seen a few minutes before was already conscious and set up in a room on the fifth floor.


Taking a sip of his bitter brew his eyes flicked up to the Doctor as he sat down and gave him a timid smile, as if to say, ‘look, I’ve been a good boy.’ before he cleared his throat. “Surprised that Takano-San is awake already, must be the stress of the trauma of what he went through neh? You know what happened to him?”


Ryoto-sensei gave a shake of his head and tucked into his meal, “Other than he was attacked, no I really don’t know the details. But you know how the police can be. All need to know and so we just had to patch him up. Of course if there’s a trial, I may be called on as a witness to the injuries he suffered. The young man’s lucky, despite the hell he went through.” he looked at Ritsu, “I’ll probably go up there after breakfast and inform his visitor that as soon as he’s clear enough of mind to inform the nurses station to call the police so the patient can give an account of what happened.” noting the nervous look on his subordinates face he assured him, “if the person that did that to him was still on the loose there would have been a guard set up Ritsu, he’s going to be fine. Just need to keep him on a regime of antibiotics, pain relievers and anti-blood clot meds.” sipping at his tea, which Ritsu knew tasted a lot better than the sludge he was drinking, but it just didn’t have enough of a kick for his worn out system. “Classes and work again tonight?” the Doctor queried.


Ritsu gave a nod, “Yeah, I have two classes today… Well, one’s a lecture.” he started to clean up his area, dabbing off his mouth just in case he made a mess of himself. “Should be home around 14:30, depending on the trains. I should be able to get in a full 8 hours of sleep today if I’m lucky. I’ll be back here at 23:00 again, but I’m working a double, Rina-San needed the day off for some family business so…” “Of course you volunteered.” Ryoto-Sensei chuckled at him, “I don’t see why you even bother to leave Ritsu, between here and the University, I’m surprised you can even make it home.”


Ritsu snorted softly, “I like my job, no...I love it,” giving a soft smile. Even though his days were filled endlessly, he’d never felt so free before. “Plus, if I want to get out of that apartment, I need all the extra hours I can get,” murmuring off-handedly, “if I get the year end bonus in December that will help even more.” Ryoto-Sensei frowned, yet nodded his head in agreement, “Yes, the sooner you’re out of there the better. That’s not a very safe neighborhood, shame that’s all you could afford. I’m glad the higher ups decided to raise your salary. And I can assure you if your bonus was up to me, you’d get it.” They both rose to clear their trays of trash, Ryoto-Sensei giving Ritsu a clap on the shoulder as he passed, “See you tonight.” the Nurse smiled at his back as the Doctor tossed him a wave over his shoulder, “Later Sensei, take care.”


Giving a yawn and considering one more cup of sludge before dismissing it, he could grab an espresso from the Moonbucks on the way to his advanced nursing courses. Leaving the cafeteria he headed down the hall towards the rows of elevators and punched the up button and waited, checking his watch again. Looks like he was only going to go over by maybe a half hour today, not too bad considering all that had happened.




Up in room 518, Yokozawa had the supreme pleasure of getting more and more annoyed as Masamune was half out of it and muttering, calling and nearly whining for that damn brat. Everytime Masamune said that accursed name Yokozawa would answer in an irate tone with either, “Nope” “Try again,” “Dammit Masamune, I thought you were over this.” letting out an explosive sigh as he scowled at the man in the bed. Not that he could see him with that big blue cold pack over his eyes and nose.


Then Masamune insisted that he could hear Sorata meowing, purring and doing things he just could not be doing because the cat was not there. “What the hell they got you on eh?” The man was so loopy, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to handle it. It was giving him terrible flashbacks of their College days. “That would be the Morphine.” The Doctor that had told him where to find Masamune answered his question as he stepped into the room, “and the residual effects of the anesthetic.” he picked up the chart at the end of the bed and started to thumb through it, seeing that he had just been given doses of all his needed medication.


“Auditory and Visual hallucinations are common right after a major surgery, especially when Morphine is involved.” he cast a smile over at Yokozawa and then went to the head of the bed to remove the cold compress to check the swelling, making a soft hmm, sound as the patient’s eyes still could not be seen due to the pair of black eyes. “Does he live with anyone?” the Doctor looked over at the man’s friend who gave a shake of his head, “No, he lives alone.” Yokozawa frowned in concern, “but if needed I can stay with him, we’ve been friends a long time so it’s no problem.”


Ryoto-Sensei nodded his head, “Yes, that would be for the best. He’ll need to refrain from any heavy lifting or strenuous activity for the first couple weeks so he doesn’t reopen his stitches.” placing the compress back over his eyes gently, “also, he’s to stay away from smoking and smokers while he’s recovering. He needs to put the least amount of strain on his lung as possible. Though he will still need to keep up with mild exercise, like walking.” arching a brow as Masamune started to mutter about Ritsu. “Well, it looks like he’s going to be incapacitated for a while. But as soon as it is that he’s regained his senses I need you to contact the nurses station, the police would like to have a word with him.” snapping off his latex gloves he tossed them into the recycling bin and then proceeded to wash his hands at a station in the room, putting on a fresh pair after his hands were thoroughly dried.


“You’re going to have to step out for a moment while I check his bandages and see if they need to be changed.” Yokozawa gave a brief nod and got up, suppressing a growl as he heard Masamune call for Ritsu again . Leaning back against the wall outside the door he closed his eyes and proceeded to bump his head against the drywall. This was so frustrating, he didn’t know if he’d be able to handle five more minutes of that named being called out, much less the whole day without succumbing to the urge to choke the life out of the guy.


The only times he heard that name anymore was in his own mind, in the form of curses and out of Masamune when he was drunk off his ass. Well, since he was drugged up, maybe this counted just as much as those times. Sighing heartily he truly wondered, not for the first time, if Masamune would ever be able to let the boy from his past go. Gods knew the kid didn’t need this level of devotion, or maybe it was obsession. It was hard to tell, but Yokozawa was beginning to think it was the later. Perhaps it was time to broach the subject of therapy again. He had just nearly been murdered, surely he would see reason in getting help for that. If it banished the demon of Ritsu as well, then it would be all the better for him in all honesty and Masamune would be able to see the one, right there, ready and waiting to love him like he deserves. Hell, maybe he was the one that was obsessed, he just really couldn’t get over the guy, thought he’d insisted that they could be nothing more than friends.


“You can go back in now.” Ryoto-sensei came striding out of the room with a smile, “everything is looking good so far.” Yokozawa gave a nod of his head and pivoted on his heel to go back to his friend’s, who he wanted so much more from, side and stay there until he started to make some damn sense. Or, he strangled him over his looney talk over the past and a cat the wasn’t anywhere near the hospital. He’d stay until they kicked him out when visiting hours were over, already having called work to tell them he’d had an emergency and taking to Isaka-San about what had happened to Masamune. Looks like his new job at Marukawa would be delayed until he got the Doctor’s okay, but Isaka-San seemed understanding enough. He knew the new Editor-in-Chief would be worth the wait.

Chapter Text

The rest of his shift went by quickly, the two patients were resting peacefully and he was able to tend to them without rousing them or causing undue pain to the one that needed her dressings changed. She would probably be moved out of the ICU soon, her condition was improving rapidly. Though it wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye on her a bit longer. Making a few notes on the chart and then entering some of the information into his laptop, he left the ICU and headed to the locker room so he could get ready for for classes.


Stripping and then pulling on his street clothes, a pair of faded light blue jeans, a plain gray tee-shirt and a zip up hoodie in dark green with gold letters MMU emblazoned across the left breast and the image of a snarling gold and green bearded dragon on the back. Throwing on his light jacket over this and finally getting his brown loafers on before heading out the door with his messenger bag with all his school supplies slung over his shoulder. “Off to class, see you tomorrow!” he called out to the morning shift workers who had just gotten in a bit a ago and giving a wave to them as they bid him to have a good day and good work.


Coffee, coffee, coffee… his body and brain chanted insistently, the back of his tongue feeling sticky with the nasty taste of the hospital’s coffee. Turning into the Moonbucks the smell of rich, delicious coffee smacked him in the face happily and he felt the jitters starting even before he put in his order for the largest size of an iced caramel and an iced mocha latte. He sucked down the caramel one so fast that he was able to chuck it in the trash on the way out of the shop and had to rub his forehead and hiss over the acute case of brain freeze he’d just given himself. But it did the trick and he could feel the fresh rush of caffeine through his veins. Added bonus, the foul taste was gone as well. With a lot more pep in his step he made his way to the front entrance of Musashino Medical University.


The rest of his day was spent taking notes and recording the lecture on Measurement of Nursing Phenomena and stuffing his brain with his course in Quantitative Research Design and Methods. His mocha latte long gone, he was practically bouncing wall to wall through the University corridors as he staggered his way out. His hair practically standing on end from all the times he’d run his hand through it when trying to concentrate as the effects of caffeine wore off and the subsequent crash was incoming hard.


Dozing on the train with his bag clutched to his lap. He wondered if he should maybe just get a bento on the way home from the convenience store. His stomach growled at him angrily and his face twisted in displeasure, happy for the loud clanking sound of the train on the tracks under them to mask the sound. No, he just wanted to go home. To keep himself awake he took his day planner out of his bag and started to flip through it to see what the week held. After tonight, or tomorrow if one was to go by Ritsu’s day cycle, he had a day off school and work. Which meant he’d have time to write up that paper in what they’d discussed in MNP and he could work on the homework for his QRDM coursework. Next week was wonderful, he started his vacation at Uni so all he’d have to worry about was work and maybe an unfinished classwork and possibly get a start on his term papers.


Stuffing his day planner back into his bag as he heard his station called and getting to his feet to exit the car. Glad that his apartment was close by. It took him only five minutes to make it to his tiny flat where he quickly locked and dead bolted the door. Going as far and engaging the chain, one couldn’t be too cautious. Stripping off his coat to hang it on a peg, his hoodie as well and leaving his shoes by the door. He took off his pants and chucked them into a hamper in the corner.


Toasting up a bagel and frying an egg to make a sandwich he wandered the room in his boxers and tee. Not wasting time he guzzled down a glass of milk and started on the dishes. Bugs were a thing here, he learned to his horror, so he couldn’t just leave things laying around or all sorts of problems would start to skitter around. After he was done with his meal he used the bathroom and then washed his face after brushing his teeth. Setting his phone alarm for 10 pm he was at last able to crash into his unmade futon and cocoon himself in his soft sheets and duvet, falling asleep before his head hit the pillow.



“What’s with this overwhelming sense of danger radiating from right there?” Masamune questioned in a rough voice. His eyes were still covered so he couldn’t see but he still managed to point directly at Yokozawa who growled back at the wounded man, “Oh I don’t know, lack of sleep, thinking my best friend was about to die for hours on end and then there was the idiotic rambling about cats and people best forgotten for several more hours I had to go through. Take your damn pick.” Arms folded over his chest, the Bear continued his solo glaring contest.


Masamune chuckled softly, though he regretted it immediately. His head still hurt like hell and his chest was on a whole other level of agony. They’d been lowering his doses of Morphine and were going to switch him to something that was safer, “Go easy on me, I’m hurt man…” dropping his hand back to the bed. He’d been propped up into a half sitting position by a nurse earlier who’d come in to change his bandages after cleaning his wounds. She’d also made him walk to the bathroom to use it and them forced him to hobble down the hall on jelly legs as soon as he started to regain his senses.


He’d also given his report to the police and hell yes, he was pressing charges against Haitani. Talking about all that shit had made his heart rate speed up and blood pressure rise. An attending nurse had asked the officers to leave once he’d started to show signs of distress. Apparently it wasn’t good for him to get upset, or smoke...Gods he needed a smoke! The patch on his upper arm wasn’t helping to reduce the anxious feeling in his gut. “How long I gotta stay here again?” he muttered darkly to his friend.


“As long as they damn well want you to, idiot.” the Bear growled and narrowed his eyes at the man in the bed, “and the Doctor already told me there are to be no cigarettes for you, so don’t even think about it. I’m going to be watching you like a hawk for two weeks so don’t bitch about it, you won’t be suffering alone, he said I can’t smoke around you either.” He widened his eyes at the pained groan that came from Masamune, thinking something was wrong. But the man just whined, “Haven’t I been through enough?! Why are they insisting on torture!...” his fingers twitching for a smoke.


“Don’t do that shit! I thought something was wrong with you!” Yokozawa barked and clenched his fingers into his upper arms. Must not strangle the man, must not. “Be a little grateful you're alive and cut the baby act!” snarling under his breath, frowning at his friend that frowned right back as if he could feel it. “Hey, I’m grateful enough, I just fucking hurt, can’t see and the drugs are wearing off.” Yokozawa gave a sigh and leaned his head on the back of the chair, “Should I get a Doctor? If your hurting it’s probably time for your meds.”, “Yeah, don’t know if it’s supposed to hurt this much. My head and chest are killing me. The cold packs aren’t cold enough anymore too, I want to be able to open my damn eyes already. I’m so booooooored.” Yokozawa arched a brow at him and then heaved himself up from his chair. “I’ll be right back,” smirking as he jibbed, “don’t go anywhere.” chuckling softly as he got called an asshole, he went out in search of help.


Grateful, oh yes, he was grateful alright. He was certain of it, he knew his mind didn’t play tricks on him. Masamune would know those soft, concerned green eyes anywhere. The only worrying thing was he hadn’t seen or heard from the man since he’d been dragged into this place on death’s door. The fingers on his right hand clenched into the sheets beneath him. He had so much to ask him, first and foremost why , why had he kicked him and just vanished the day after. But he was afraid as well, he couldn’t grab him and keep him here if he wanted to bolt again. He didn’t want to take the risk of losing him before his questions were answered, hell...he wasn’t sure if he would be willing to let him go at all to be honest.


Then there was the problem of Yokozawa, he reflected on all the horrible outcomes that could come to pass if the over-protective grizzly knew that he’d found Ritsu again. He could have any number of reactions and none of them were in any way good. He had to keep this from him for now, hell from both of them. He was too weak to protect Ritsu from the wrath of Yokozawa and simultaneously keep Ritsu from dropping off the face of the Earth again. This stress and the pain was nearly driving him up the walls in frustration and helplessness.


Just then, Yokozawa returned with the Doctor who greeted him with a slightly elderly sounding voice, “Hello, I’m Hashimoto-Sensei, I hear you’re having pain issues Takano-San?” she moved over to his side and he could feel her poking and prodding him with tiny, child-like hands. While he couldn’t see her, Yokozawa had seen the woman with steel gray hair pulled back into a tight bun with sharp dark eyes. She couldn’t be over 152cm and maybe  36kg if someone breathed on her. He would have thought she was a patient if not for the white coat and brisk, authoritative air about her. Masamune suffered through her ministrations and was relieved when she told him she’d be giving him something for the pain. “This is going to make you sleepy,” she informed him as she injected the medicine into his IV, “but visiting hours are over anyway. The nurse call button is right here if you need anything in the middle of the night.” she’d attached it to the side of his bed on the rail she raised, lifting his right hand to show him where it was. She tossed the syringe into a sharps container and then proceeded to drag Yokozawa out by the sleeve of his coat, “I’ll be back tomorrow Masamune, if there’s anything you need have them give me a call.” Masamune called back drowsily, “yes, yes… Bring good food, food here sucks.” giving a yawn that was far too shallow to satisfy, "Goodnight Yokozawa.”

Chapter Text

Ritsu woke to the blare of his alarm, staring at the light of his phone that read the time in blurry numbers that it had been set for. Groaning and reaching for the phone while he curled deeper into the futon, unwilling to leave the blissful warmth. Yawning heartily as he flipped off the alarm and checked for messages. There was a single one, which was surprising, he hardly ever got messages unless it was from the hospital asking him to come in early or An-Chan asking how he was doing. This time it was the later, wanting to know if he wanted to grab a meal with her when he had time. He quickly typed out a reply that he could meet her next week in the morning for breakfast one day if she was up for it.


Stretching with a loud groan he rolled himself out of bed and staggered his way to the small coffee pot, getting it ready to brew him up a couple cups while he was in the shower.  The heavenly scent filled the small space as he exited the tiny bathroom that steamed from the shower. Hair still damp and dressed in a pair of peach colored scrubs. Wandering over to the pot he poured himself a giant cup of black coffee and set it to the side to let it cool a bit.


In the process of his morning routine he found out to his dismay that his stove wouldn’t turn on, the oil in the pan just sitting there dormantly as he scowled at the appliance. “Crap…” Another thing he’d have to bring up to his horrid landlord. Running frustrated fingers through his hair he decided to just make himself a sandwich and also thought it might be a good idea to pick up a hot plate with how reliable his landlord was. Thank God he’d be out of here soon, well… 5 months was better than the 5 years he’d lived here.


Checking the time, he quickly ate his ‘breakfast’ and drank his coffee. Putting the last of the coffee into a travel mug he washed the few dishes and rushed to brush his teeth. Making certain everything was off before he left the apartment after pulling on his walkers, light jacket and messenger bag that he’d packed a change of clothes in. Locking up tight and staying alert, he made his way to the station at a brisk pace. Steering clear of anyone else he saw on the street, hands clenched into fists within the pockets of his jacket. Allowing himself a breath of relief as he made it onto the train in time and unmolested.


The rest of the way to the hospital he didn’t have any issues and just sipped his coffee until it was time for him to get off and make the short trek to his place of work. The nurse stowed his gear and set about to find what his duties would be for the night and also checked Rina-San’s schedule since he’d be having a super long day with her shift today. He wasn’t surprised to see that he was working with Ryoto-Sensei again today, the doctor had mentioned something about it before.


He was in his final year of Surgical Observation, luckily Ryoto-Sensei had seemed to have taken a shine to him. He almost always assisted him in any emergency surgeries that came in the middle of the night. Tonight, he and the doctor had a young girl that had to have an appendectomy and an elderly gentleman that needed a triple bypass. He was able to grab a bite to eat between the surgeries, literally a bite of udon before Ryoto-Sensei’s beeper went off and he was being dragged off to help him with the second patient.


The skill of the surgeons he worked with never ceased to amaze Ritsu, sure he had been present when a patient was lost. Not everyone could be saved even by the most talented of men. But, without their hard work and determination the patients would never even have a chance. He was very proud to work beside the Doctor, even if the work was gruesome and a stomach made of steel was something one had to acquire to make it in this field. But, seeing those hopeless cases make it, and live long, happy lives after was simply amazing to him. He didn’t regret his choice of profession for a moment.


Though it did wear him out, trying to balance a full-time job and university. It left him little opportunity for anything other then sleep. He was really looking forward to finishing his schooling, but it would be years until he was at a point in his education where he would feel secure in his future. He tried to banish worrying thoughts of all the stress he was putting his body through by working so hard to make a life for himself. He was happy, he had to remember that during the toughest times. It would all be well worth it, in the end.


Finishing up a quick breakfast as he ate alone at a table by a small speaker playing classical music, sipping on his second cup of coffee he scanned through his notebook for today’s tasks. Seemed like he’d be able to see how the stab victim was doing, he was on his list of patients. The wounded man was probably being forced to eat the blandest of hospital fare. Well, soon he’d probably be released to go home if he had someone to watch over him at home from the looks of things. The way the doctor’s that had been attending him so far it seemed like he’d be out as early as tomorrow.


Reviewing the care that each patient had received the day before and his own he’d be expected to fulfill today. Not too bad, even though he was more comfortable in the operating room than with the day to day care of patients, it was something he was very familiar with. Well, it was time to get to work, so he picked up his tray and popped a couple cinnamints so he wouldn’t gross out his patients with coffee breath. Tossing his trash and leaving the tray atop the others, stacked high from the breakfast rush. Ritsu made his way to the elevators and rushed into one that was about to close, heading up to the fifth floor with the others in the car.


When the doors dinged open he smiled and approached the nurses station, “Good Morning!” he called to the other nurses milling about with their own tasks in mind. He received a chorus of greetings and bright smiles in return. Going behind the station and digging through the drawers he found what he needed, a stethoscope, digital thermometer with a small pack of disposable covers and a blood pressure cuff. He put the stethoscope about his neck and tucked the other gear into the deep pockets of his scrubs. Next he checked his first patient, finding the man needed to have his catheter bag changed. Hair brushed, teeth brushed he went on to check his vitals after finding out he didn’t need to use the bedpan. Many of the patients on this floor were bedridden, those that weren’t he helped them get to their feet and took them to the bathroom if they needed it and took them for a short walk down the hall and back. Smiling for them, speaking in a reassuring voice of how good they were doing, even if a couple of them were being cranky and persnickety.

He’d come to the last patient on this floor assigned to him on this floor. He’d be cycling though them over and over until his shift was done. Flipping through his notebook as he breezed into the room and casting a bright smile that the other wouldn’t see due to the compress back over his eyes after breakfast, “Good Morning, Takano-San. I’m Ritsu, I’ll be your nurse today so please depend on me!” setting his notebook on top of the cabinet he wandered over to the side of the patient’s bed to test the coolness of the pack over his eyes and behind his head, “how’s that knot by the way...ah, it’s almost gone! That’s good.” he spoke in a happy tone as he’d swept his fingers behind the head, that he’d gently shifted away from the compress with his other hand as support, testing the tender area through thick, dark hair with gentle fingers. Lifting the other compress over the patient's eyes and giving a wince as he saw the horrid bruising around his eyes and nose. “Do you need to use the bathroom? Also, it’s time for you to walk around a bit. Hmm, and I’m supposed to bathe you.” pausing for a moment, the man wasn’t saying anything. For a few beats he gave him time to process what he’d said before he started his other checks. Taking his temperature, which was normal, he BP, which was a touch high and his pulse rate which was rather high, “Um… if you have a problem with a man assisting you I can ask to switch off with one of the female nurses…” Ritsu looked down at Takano-San with worry, was the man even breathing?!



He wasn’t breathing, he’d only noticed because of the wave of dizziness that washed over him. Swallowing thickly and clearing his throat to speak in a gravelly voice, “Ah, no… I’m fine with a man…” lies, all lies as his heart felt like it was about to thunder out of his chest. All morning had been boring. Boring food, boring silence, boring Doctors and now suddenly, Ritsu. He was there and touching him, stealing his breath as he was being so attentive to him. “It’s no problem at all.” he answered gruffly. Gods, he was going to die.


Ritsu offered him a sip of water from the bedside table through a straw, wetting his now thoroughly parched throat he muttered a quiet thanks. “Well, let’s get to work then!” he heard Ritsu chirrup in a bright voice above him as he moved to the other side of the bed. He pulled down the sheet and thin blanket to free his legs, seeing his delicate hand tap him on the side of the knee, “swing your legs over this way and get your footing.” he saw the nurse shift to the side to give him room so he could do as he asked, “ah, here…” he knelt in front of his so he could see the crown of his golden brown head bent over his feet that he was putting a pair of slippers on. “That’s better, the floor is cold.” he heard Ritsu chuckle and he felt his heart give another painful thud. “Don’t want to risk you getting sick on top of hurt huh?” he started to lift his head to look at him and Masamune made sure to hide his eyes behind his bangs, “no, that would suck…” he answered nurse’s question with a crooked grin.


Ritsu stood to the side, tapping the IV stand, “You know where to hold this right? Don’t lift your left arm too high or put too much weight on that side, use me like a crutch if you need to.” Masamune gave a nod, “Gonna need that crutch then.” Ritsu moved into a position where he could crouch slightly, lifting Masamune’s right arm over his narrow shoulders and holding it in place with a hand while the other hand. He secured his left arm around the larger man’s lower back, his hand gripping securely at his waist, “Ready?” he really did hear him ask that, really he did. But his brain wasn’t working at the moment and well…. His arm was around Ritsu’s shoulders and it was almost like they were embracing and he was going to die, definitely going to die! “Takano-San?” he could hear the concern in Ritsu’s voice, “Yeah, sorry, had a bit of a dizzy spell.” He could see Ritsu give him a reassuring smile from the corner of his eye. “Take as long as you need, it’s common to get a bit dizzy after everything your body has been through. Just let me know when your ready, I won’t let you fall, you can trust me on that.” Too late. He’d fallen a long, long time ago.

Chapter Text

Ritsu was completely oblivious to the true reasons behind the inner turmoil of his patient. He merely thought it was due to the fact he was recovering from a surgical procedure and the attack itself. The pain was probably nothing to scoff at either. “I know it seems like a lot to ask for, but there’s a reason why we need you to move around after a surgery. It promotes your healing as well as helping to prevent certain complications arising.” he spoke in his most soothing tone, which sort of worked on Masamune’s nerve wracked brain. “Come on,” he coaxed in that soft voice, “you can do this Takano-San." Masamune evened out his breathing and gripped on to Ritsu’s shoulder, giving a nod of his head. “Alright, on three then, one, two, three!”


Ritsu grunted as he bore a lot of Masamune’s weight as the patient got to his feet and they stood there a moment. Masamune trying to see if his legs were doing better today than they had yesterday and Ritsu sort of in shock over how tall the guy was. He wasn’t short, but this guy made him feel as if he was. “How are you doing big guy?” probably feeling ridiculous in his hospital gown and slippers, “better than yesterday?” Masamune chuckled softly and answered, “Yeah, I don’t feel like my legs are made out of jelly anymore.” Ritsu beamed a smile that outshone the Sun, “that’s great! Do you think you can handle a bit more independence or do you feel more comfortable with this amount of support?” he didn’t want to say ‘with your arm slung around a guy,’ but he knew the other was probably not comfortable with it, he seemed very stubborn and self-reliant and Ritsu could usually read a patient quickly, but he was in for a bit of a shock, “Let’s...stay like this for a while.” Masamune wasn’t ready to lose the closeness of their bodies, his pride taking backseat to something else entirely.


They left the room at a slow and steady pace, “Can you see well enough? I know you’re having trouble opening your eyes, but it said on your chart that you wear prescription eyeglasses.” Masamune peered around through bruise squinted eyes, “Everything is blurry as hell, unless it’s right in front of my face,” he remembered something that happened in high school and had to hold back a laugh, but he couldn’t hold back the smile, “just don’t go leading me into any walls and that’d be great.” Ritsu felt a bit of heat rise to his cheeks, he did do that sometimes. He’d get distracted or absorbed in something and ‘ wham! ‘ faceplant. “Don’t worry, I’m a bit more conscious of my surroundings when someone else's welfare is on the line.” he muttered under his breath so lowly that Masamune nearly didn’t catch it. He almost blurted out, ‘You still do that?!’ but was able to stop himself and merely state with a hint of sarcasm, “That’s not very reassuring.” so, he could still be an airhead, how freaking adorable.


Ritsu blushed a bit hotter under that remark but didn’t say anything, he was keeping an eye on the patient’s legs and feet. Making sure he seemed to be regaining strength and not getting unsteady or wobbly. Looking at his chest to check his breathing and finally his face to make certain his wasn’t showing signs of excess strain. They got to the stop point by one of the many windows and Ritsu had him take hold of the railing, “I need to check your pulse, too much stress is bad for you and while it’s good to push yourself, we don’t want you to push yourself too hard.”


Masamune was supposed to be enjoying the view out the window, but he was enjoying the view of Ritsu,, staring at his watch while he had his fingers pressed to the pulse point in Masamune’s wrist, he only looked away when Ritsu drew his fingers away from his wrist, “Okay, much better than earlier. Normal for a bit of exercise but not concerning.” he took hold of his patient’s right hand with his own and supported his elbow with his left. “Want to try walking like this on the way back? It’s time for your shower then I’ll leave you be for a while to relax.” it was a good thing for Masamune that Ritsu didn’t check his pulse now! He’d managed to calm it until he heard the word ‘shower’ drop from Ritsu’s lips. His earlier thoughts of dying came back full force, yet all he could do was nod dumbly at the nurse and be led back down the hall at an old man’s pace.


Once they got back and into the bathroom, Ritsu leaned him up against the wall where he could grip the rail for support as the nurse went over and clicked on the heat lamp. Crouching down to the cabinet to grab two new large gowns, towels and a washrag. Going into one of the upper cupboard he pulled out a box of waterproof bandage covers and a roll of the same kind of tape, “How hot do you like your showers?” he asked the patient as he was pulling on his plastic smock,, which was like putting on a raincoat backwards, grinning when he heard “Boiling of course.” “Well, we can’t go that hot, but we’ll do our best!” He turned to the shower, it had a bench in it where the patient would sit, and twisted the handle almost all the way to hot. Water started to stream out of the detachable shower wand as Ritsu tucked his hair under a shower cap, “You wanted your hair washed right?” Masamune didn’t trust his voice, so he just nodded. Ritsu leaned against the sink and used it for balance as he slipped on his waterproof booties over his shoes, it almost felt as if he were going in for a surgical procedure.


When he was done preparing himself he grabbed the shampoo and a fresh bar of soap and put them with the washrag in the shower. “Ah, almost forgot!” he bent down and grabbed up a mid sized towel and slung it over his shoulder, “for modesty of course.” things weren’t clicking right in Masamune’s head, frankly he was surprised he was still on his feet as Ritsu started to undress him. Kneeling to take off his slippers, one after the other and set to the side for later. Knots untied and Velcro closed shoulder on his gown torn open on both of them. He had on two, one forward and the other backwards so his ass didn’t hang out. Well, they were both gone all of a sudden and he was in full naked glory in front of Ritsu who it didn’t seem to be phased in the slightest, save for the bit of pink on the tips of his ears. “It’s crutch time again, grab hold of my shoulder and we’ll move to the shower.” holding the towel to hide the patient’s nether regions, impressive as they were, and leading him over to the shower.


Masamune was sitting with the towel over his junk and Ritsu fussing with something over by the sink, before he knew what was going on. It was as if his brain kept merrily skipping out on him from time to time. He had to get it together! Mentally berating himself, at least he was really good at hiding his nerves outwardly if he wanted to. Breathing slowly he waited, trying like hell to act normal, as if none of this was bugging him at all. But oh, it was getting to him, the anticipation even if he knew he couldn’t let the other realise just who he was, it would ruin everything. His heart thudded as Ritsu came back towards him, holding the plastic coverings for his bandages. Ritsu secured the cover to his chest with the tape with an expert hand, “Tilt your head back for me please.” He started to brush his hair back from the bandaged wound on his forehead, “Can you hold your hair back for me, with your right hand please, thanks.” Masamune was almost robotically following orders now, trying not to dwell on the fact that Ritsu’s slender fingers had just been running through his hair. The nurse applied the last covering and began to explain how this was going to go. “I’m going to wash your hair, then your back and your right side to about your hip, since you have to keep your arm with the IV out of the shower, but your right hand is good so you’ll be able to get everything else. I’ll be in the room the whole time, but I’ll turn my back to give you privacy. Even though your wounds are covered, don’t spray them directly with the shower head, I’ll be cleaning those properly as soon as we’re done in here.” Ritsu regarded him for a moment, the patient seemed to be taking this exceeding well, if not a bit silently. Perhaps that’s how he dealt with things? “Keep your head tilted back further, I’m going to wash your hair now.”


Masamune was totally blissed out beyond nearly all comprehension, he vaguely remembered being asked to test the waters temperature before things got really interesting. Slender fingers scrubbed his hair and scratched pleasantly at his scalp. He must have groaned in pleasure, due to the soft chuckle that came from the nurse. “Yeah, one of life’s greatest luxuries, having your hair washed by someone else. We all know that’s the real reason people go to barber and beauty shops, eh?” To Masamune, this was on a whole other level of pleasure. So much so that he felt the stirring of heat in the pit of his belly. He tried to ignore it and hoped Ritsu would do the same.


Ritsu of course was unaware of his patient’s plight as he diligently soaped up the rag and proceeded to wash Takano-San’s back and then his right side. It was when he got to his hip that he gave pause at the impressive towel tent that was being presented before him. Normally, he’d just let the patient take care of the problem, or if the patient was unable to, he’d have to give a literal hand. But, Takano-San may be able to take care of it well enough on his own, the problem was he shouldn’t be doing things like that right now. His lung would get too stressed. So, Ritsu went with his only other option and stated in a very calm voice, “Naked Grandma’s, naked Grandpa’s….” “Huh?” If Masamune’s eyes were open he would have blinked, Ritsu continued his mental assault, “Naked Mom, naked Dad.” “OI!” if his cheeks weren’t bruised he may have flushed a bit at that, Ritsu merely chuckled, “Sorry about that, you can take over…” He pressed the soapy rag into Takano-San’s hand and stepped out of the shower, mission accomplished, monster erection defeated.


Ritsu had his back turned to him, it took a moment for him to realize why he’d said what he did. He was still shuddering slightly with the mental images racing through his head. Only when he took note of his deflated hard-on did he fully understand, “Asshole.” he muttered and though he couldn’t see it, he could hear the grin on Ritsu’s lips as he replied, “Yup!” his hands clasped behind his back and rocking on his heels as he waited for his patient to finish up. Masamune was quick to comply, grumbling under his breath every now and then, trying not to chuckle at the absurdity of it all. Ritsu before probably would have freaked out on him, no, he would have freaked out on him. Seems his Ritsu was a little more comfortable around him, of course, he should take in to account that he didn’t even know who he was right now. Once he was done he let the nurse know so he could come over and help him rinse off.


Masamune’s sodden ‘modesty’ towel was replaced by a large, dry one as Ritsu started to dry his hair. Something else that he enjoyed a little too much but was careful to keep himself in check or suffer through another mental assault. Ritsu helped him to dry all the places he couldn’t reach and was sure to dry up the floor in the path they would be taking out of the bathroom before he started to help Takano-San get back into his gowns,  leaving the plastic covers on for now in the steamy bathroom. Tucking his feet back into his slippers, it was time for the nurse to start taking off his own protective gear. He put all the used rags and towels over by the discarded gowns for when he had Takano-San put to bed properly with his wounds cleaned. He’d drop them off in a hamper in the hall on his way back to go through the cycle again. He allowed the patient to put his arm over his shoulder, securing his own at his waist to guide him out of the bath, “You’re probably exhausted. You’ve done really well today. You’re probably going to pass out ‘til lunch.” helping him to lower himself slowly on to the bed.


Slipping out from under his arm he knelt down to take off his slippers and then helped the patient swing his legs back onto the bed and got him tucked under the covers to his belly. “I think we can leave the cold compress off the back of your head, it doesn’t hurt anymore does it? I noticed in the shower it’s going down on it’s own now.” The nurse started to take off the upper parts of the gown so he could get at the bandages to clean them with antiseptic. Ritsu’s touch was so tender and careful, like the brush of a feather against the hurts Haitani had caused. He was so tired, he knew it was a bad idea, but after everything, his mind wasn’t working right. His large, shower warmed right hand moved to brush over his nurse’s light hair, “Ritsu...why?” his voice sounded pained, even to him. Green eyes lifted from the last piece of tape he had to apply on his chest wound. When his bright, confused eyes of green connected with slightly opened amber and Masamune slid his hand down to cup Ritsu’s cheek, he knew he’d fucked up royally.


Because along with confusion there was a hint of something that quickly became a startled recognition when Masamune had whispered his name in such a voice. Then there was pure, unadulterated shock, his mouth dropping open slightly with a whisper of, “ Senpai? ” Masamune afraid that he was going to run moved his hand to the back of his head, trying to drag him closer, bringing their lips so close together he was breathing in Ritsu’s frantic cinnamon flavored breath. They were so engrossed with one another that they didn’t hear the other person open the door and as in a displeased tone, “What in the World are you doing to Oda-kun?” Doctor Hashimoto stood at the other side of the bed, scowling in disapproval as she could see quite well what the patient was trying to do to the young nurse, when suddenly there was a brutal and highly pissed off roar,



Chapter Text

Panic infused the room, Hashimoto-Sensei turned to the open doorway at the sound of the shout, her dark eyes wide and promptly began to shout, “ CODE BLACK, ROOM 518! ” Moving to the patient’s side, attempting to pry off the arm that now desperately clung to the nurse. His fingers were tangled into Ritsu’s hair and the nurse found, his face suddenly smashed against Takano-San’s shoulder, right over the chest wound he’d suffered. Ritsu’s hands were fluttering lightly, trying to press away from the other as he felt himself squashed more into the man from his past.


Yokozawa had heard that name and it was like something was released in him. He stormed into the room of the man he loved, and what was it that he saw? That little bastard looked, to his own jealous mind, like he was clinging to Masamune. Instead of trying to gently get away from patient without allowing him to injure himself further. All he saw was -that- boy, cuddled up against the other and whatever had been released now roared free as he surged forward to remove the source of all of Masamune’s pain and problems for all the time that he’d known and loved the man.


He heard the Doctor cry out and the sound of other voices repeating the message down the hall and into the distance, help would arrive but it would be too late and he was too scared to move because he was right over the newly sealed chest wound and frantically trying to talk Takano-San out of his death grip, “Takano-San, you’re going to hurt yourself, please let go!” he hissed in desperation at the same time Masamune was shouting through the searing pain in his lung, “ Yokozawa, don’t you dare! ” amber eyes flashed with worry at the sight of the look on his friend’s face. Yes, he’d made a grave error in judgement during a moment of profound weakness.


Ritsu felt a large hand that felt more like a paw land on his back, twisting into the fabric of his scrub top and he was violently jerked up and away from the patient so hard that his feet left the ground and he found his light body flying backwards. A shriek escaped him as he touched down, reeling against the strength of the man who was attacking him. His sneakers squeaking against the linoleum as he was forced a few staggering steps to catch his balance and take a good look at what he was up against. Two words slammed into his mind, just as a beefy fist connected with his jaw before he could recover. ‘Pissed Boyfriend’. Now the very angry man had Ritsu by the collar and was drawing back to punch him in the face again.


Heart pounding and a horrid pain in his chest, Masamune struggled to get up. But trying to keep hold of Ritsu as he’d fought him and then Yokozawa tearing him away from his grasp, leaving locks of light brown hair between his fingers that were still clenched tight. Then to his horror he watched as his friend’s fist connected with Ritsu’s delicate jaw, he thought his heart would stop and struggled more to sit up, but the old doctor next to him had pulled out a restraint and strapped him to the side of the bed. He didn’t notice the blood on his chest or the red streaming from his arm where is IV had been ripped free from where it had gotten tangled up with Ritsu when Masamune had hastily clung to him. Though he did taste iron as he started to cough violently.


Ritsu did see the telltale sight of blood, “Idiot!” just who he was shrieking at was anyone’s guess.  He blocked the incoming punch this time by swinging up his arm to brush it harmlessly past his head as he drew back his left hand, fingers curled and palm flat, he thrust hard at the elbow joint of the arm that had hold of his collar, bending the joint inward with a sickening crack that made the enraged man howl in pain and his fingers snap free their grip on the nurse. Yokozawa didn’t have time to process what was happening as the shorter man started to turn and the heel of his foot connected with his knee violently, spreading his stance and causing him to be put off balance. Ritsu grasped hold of Yokozawa’s wrist and shoulder using both hands, not knowing if he’d broken the man’s arm or not, and hauled him over his hip in a toss that sent the big man crashing to the ground at his feet with a loud whump . He snatched up the wrist on the other arm and twisted upwards violently, forcing the man to his belly, “Do NOT try to move!” holding the crazed man in place as he looked over to the bed, inwardly cursing over what he saw there. His chest heaving and pupils blown so wide his usual green eyes looked black with the effects of the adrenaline rush.


The doctor had picked up the in room phone and got through to security, things were going from bad to worse in here! “Code Blue and Code Black, Room 518!” slamming the phone down but leaving it off the hook so the person on the other line could keep tabs on what was going on as she tried to tend to Takano-San while havoc was wrecked across from her. Tearing open a gauze packet with her teeth she slapped it to the new wound on the patient’s inner elbow and gripped it there with surprising strength. Her other hand pressed firmly to the chest wound to apply pressure to slow the flow of blood as the patient continued to choke and wheeze. Shouting out the symptoms of the wounded man and then, taking note of Ritsu’s position over the other she informed the line that the assailant seemed to be restrained, but to hurry and get the cavalry here now.


The time that had passed had been mere seconds, but the damage had been done and no one knew the extent of any of it. Both physical and mental had taken their toll in the few brief moments since Ritsu was enlightened to the identity of the man in the bed, that appeared to have severely worsened his condition. Now everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, minutes dragged by for a seeming eternity. The only sounds, the haggard breaths of the ‘pissed boyfriend’ and the ‘former boyfriend’. The patient’s labored and alarmingly wet sound of breathing, but his eyes were wide and locked on Ritsu, as if he couldn’t believe what he’d just witnessed. Even with all the pain he was in, he couldn’t help but stare in shock at the small man holding down the much larger one.


Ritsu tore his eyes away from Takano-San to pin his gaze on the back of the head belonging to the man that had attacked him. Watching him for any sudden movements. Thoughts of being in trouble or the possibility of losing his job had yet to come to mind. He’d just seen the blood and had to incapacitate the man as soon as possible so help could arrive for the patient. ‘Where were they?!’ he mentally screamed about five seconds before the guards came rushing into the room. Ritsu snapped his hands away from the lunatic on floor and took a few quick steps back until he was pressed against the wall, “His arm may be broken…” was all he could manage weakly before he started to slide slowly down, like a wilting flower, and hit the floor on his behind with a soft thud as the shock set in and a wave of dizziness swam through his brain.


The hurts of his body weren’t letting themselves be felt yet. Ritsu had no idea that he had blood dripping down his chin and spattering against the peach colored uniform top. Nor, did he feel the sting on his scalp where a couple locks of his soft brown hair had been ripped free just ask he’d been from Takano-San’s grasp. Blood slinking under the hair and down the back of his neck to stain his collar as he stared vacantly ahead. Pupils once wide were now pin-prick tight, hidden within an ocean of endless, yet empty green. His jaw swollen and red, throbbing with every beat of his heart, which seemed more like a fluttering, wild thing in his chest.


Yokozawa yelped as his hands were twisted behind his back despite the warning from the nurse about his arm. He felt cold metal clamped around both wrists, clicking and locking his hands in place. Tears stung his eyes as he was hoisted from under the armpits, sending a venomous glare back at the man now sitting on the floor, looking like a living, bleeding doll, “Stay the hell away from Masamune!” he spat out viciously as he was hoisted to his feet, his knee giving out under his weight with a shock of pain that made him cry out. He cast a steely eyed look at Masamune as he was about to yell at him to ‘get his head out of his ass’ and ‘remember what that little prick did to you!’ before all words died on the tip of his tongue. The look he received from the man he loved was nothing short of thunderous. Bloodied and looking like absolute shit, Masamune still looked at him as if he would get up and kick his ass in a hot minute if given the chance. It was then, with that look and the sight of his friend’s condition, that he realized just how much he may have threatened their friendship, much less the possibility of having his true feelings returned. Just one look from Masamune and Yokozawa turned his head away in shame as he was drug bodily from the room.


Doctors and nurses flooded into the room, rushing to the aid of the two men left behind. Masamune wanted to shout as Ristu’s still unresponsive form was put on a stretcher to be tended to elsewhere, but no words would come. He was in too much pain and too many not yet healed wounds had been further aggravated. It was then that he noticed a tickle against his knuckles and saw the light strands of Ritsu’s hair still caught in his fist. Blinking several times in shock, his hand snapped open reflexively allowing the tufts of hair to float down like feathers to the floor. His hand shaking in horror as a sting pierced his arm and he turned his gaze upon the dark eyed Hashimoto-Sensei who was pulling away the syringe that had just delivered a calming drug that left him feeling a fake sense of peace.

Chapter Text

Ritsu was aware, and yet he wasn’t, he was right on the cusp of disassociating and while that thought was frightening it was in a strange way, comforting. Escape seemed like a good idea right now, with that man’s vicious words, warning him away from…. Masamune. Something deep within his chest gave a painful twinge and he felt himself slip further, the things happening, people speaking, it all sounded muffled as the world blurred around him. His shock riddled mind just could not handle all that it needed to process at the moment, so in a moment of protecting the fragile human psyche, it seemed to just shut down. His eyes fully blank as the doctor asked questions that he was no longer -there- to answer.


His mind had picked up this trick a long time ago when having to deal with his less than loving Mother. True, he remembered that things had happened that hurt him physically but it was as if as soon as the threat made itself apparent to the young mind of the man, he’d just shut down like it did now. Knowing that something had happened from the bruises and welts, but not exactly what and just knowing his mother was the cause. It was always due to him not following her orders to become the perfect heir to Onodera Publishing.


From his unwillingness to commit to the thought of actually having to run an entire company when he was grown. All the extra courses and skills he was forced to learn from a young age. Compounded on the fact that he was basically isolated from other children his own age until his father had decided it would do his son good to get some ‘real world experience’ by going to a commoners school during his adolescent and teen years. The only friend he’d ever had was An-Chan, and that had nearly been ruined due to an engagement that he absolutely did not want.


His Mother couldn’t seem to understand that he didn’t have those sort of feelings for his best friend, hell, she was like his little sister and the thought of having to marry her was horrific. Not because An-Chan was gross or anything, it was just he just knew somehow that he’d never be able to make her happy and if anyone deserved happiness in his opinion, it was his dear friend. That just made things so much worse between him and his Mother, though the bruises and outward marks were replaced by longer lasting ones on his young mind.


Her verbal assaults against him were legendary among the staff of the mansion he’d grown up in. What made it worse is that no one would help him, the staff didn’t speak about it, other than in whispers to one another and his father wasn’t around enough to notice what was happening to his son. If Ritsu’s father had known, he’d never shown any hint of doing anything to stop it.


His relationship with his Father had been distant but still pleasant, he had a warm smile and an encouraging word when he saw his son’s reports over the progress in various studies. Always, whenever he saw his Father, he’d give him a new book and pat him on the head fondly, before he had to rush off for ‘work’. Perhaps that was why he was so reluctant to take over the company, it had been the source of the loss of his only comfort during his younger years.


The past was the past, but somehow his mind had flung him back there and suddenly he saw that old school library during his first year as a shy and panic filled youth in Junior High. He’d spent the day, being basically ignored because he was just too damn shy to try and start up any conversations or even attempt to make a friend or two. So he’d gone to one of the places that represented safety to him. While it wasn’t nearly as impressive as the library he had at home, it still seemed to have books he had yet to read. He’d found one up on a higher shelf that his tiny self couldn’t quite reach. Straining and stretching for naught toward the object of his interest, he didn’t hear the approach of footsteps behind him. But he certainly felt the presence when he lost his balance and stumbled back like the true klutz he was and bumped lightly into the boy behind him. He whirled about, so embarrassed and was about to apologize, just like he had that day. But when he turned, the memory changed to one of absolute horror as the past collided with the present.


There he stood, broken and bleeding, with a knife jutting out of his chest and falling forward into Ritsu’s arms. The thrum of the blade pulsing with a deadly rhythm as blood poured from Senpai’s mouth, ‘No, no,, no, NO, NO … Oh Gods! Senpai! No!’ he shrieked in his head as blood covered his hands where he tried to staunch the flow without disturbing the blade. Tears burned in his eyes as he looked into the amber orbs that slowly started to dull and lose the light of life that was so precious to him.


Ritsu sat up with a jolt and a savage gasp, mossy green eyes wide with fright as his hands lifted, ‘no blood, no blood, he didn’t die…’ Then he gave a strangled cry as he ripped the covers back on the hospital bed he’d been lain in, swung his bare feet over the edge and hit the ground running. Sprinting from the room, there were a few startled cries and shouts from nurses and other attendants but he paid them no mind. His mind was set on one person, someone who had been in a precarious state the last time he’d seen him, the same man that he’d seen in his ‘dream’ of the past. He had to get to him, now, now, now!


Ritsu flew mindlessly through the halls, up staircases since he wasn’t about to wait for an elevator. Everyone that tried to stop his didn’t have the heart to just tackle him to the ground, due to the stricken look on his face. It wasn’t as if he was a stranger either, he was one of them and friend to many. Though a call was indeed made as soon as he was spotted sprinting out of his room by the first group that he’d passed. So, by the time he tore open the door to the fifth floor and dashed down the hall to 518, someone was there waiting for him.


To say Ryoto-Sensei was both wary and concerned was an understatement. He’d come to treat the young man more like a son then a colleague, taking a deep breath and readying himself to face the nurse. Part of him praying Ritsu would just stop, instead of the very real chance that he’d end up getting his ass stomped on by the frantic man. Luck was on his side, he didn’t get attacked in a brutal manner, but rather Ritsu merely grasped the Doctor by the upper arms and stared at him in such a helpless manner it nearly broke Ryoto’s heart. Ritsu was blabbering, not making any sense, so the Doctor took hold of his wrists gently and looked into those panicked green eyes and soothed, “He’s alive, he’s going to be just fine Ritsu. Now please, breathe...calm down...It’s going to be okay.”


Kind words, reassuring words and yet he was still trembling like a leaf as his hands were removed from Ryoto-Sensei’s arms and returned to his sides. The Doctor then resting his own hands on the young man’s shoulders as Ritsu’s lower lip started to tremble and his vivid eyes flooded with tears. Before he knew it, the boy was crying and clinging to him, rambling incoherently, “Breathe Ritsu, calm down…” shushing him quietly and just hugging him there in the hallway. Their co-workers giving the duo some space, knowing that Ritsu was going to be humiliated by his breakdown as soon as he got himself together. There was so much he needed to talk to the nurse about and he wasn’t sure if he’d be in any sort of condition to hear about it. But, it was something that couldn’t wait until he fully was prepared. So he started with the easiest thing.


“He was asking for you, by the way.” he spoke softly, still trying to soothe the man. “So when you pull yourself together and we have a little talk, you can go on in. Though he’s sleeping right now, it's the best thing for him actually.” well, technically they’d had to tranquilize him because as soon as he’d regained consciousness he’d started to struggle against the restraints and nearly started to panic when he didn’t immediately see Ritsu there. It was obvious that there was something between these two men, just what, he could hazard a guess since Ritsu had confided in him a while back. He wasn’t going to ask any questions though, not that Ritsu’s answers would make much sense in his current state.


It took him a while to calm down but finally, he pulled away from Ryoto-Sensei and dried his eyes with his head hanging low. How humiliating! He hiccuped softly and sniffled as the Doctor handed him a handkerchief. “, w.what did you,” hiccup, “need to talk to me about?” he had a horrible feeling, that didn’t abate when he glanced up at the Sensei. Ryoto let out a harsh breath, “Ritsu, the man who attacked you, his arm was broken when you subdued him.” Ritsu visibly winced, “there’s going to be an investigation and until this is resolved you’re going to be put on leave.” Yokozawa's kneecap had also been dislocated but that had been repaired easily, if not painfully before he was barred from hospital grounds for attacking a staff member.


Ritsu looked up at him with horrified eyes, “Oh my God…” he felt sick that he’d actually hurt the man, he didn’t mean to! “I didn’t mean to do that! I swear Sensei! Oh God I can’t lose my job, this is all I have!” his voice was hushed and it cracked in several places. His hands shaking as he lifted them to cover his face, taking shuddering gasps that rippled the handkerchief like a banner as the Doctor laid a hand atop his head, “I know that Ritsu, and you were defending yourself along with a patient in distress and his attending Physician. This is all standard procedure, it does not mean your going to lose your job, it just means there’s going to be a lot of paperwork and a possible lawsuit. You may even be paid back pay if they find you not at fault.” Ritsu shuddered at the thought of a lawsuit happening. If the man sued, he would definitely lose his job!


Ryoto-Sensei sighed and gave his hair a ruffle, “Don’t worry, Hashimoto-Sensei gave her statement and made it clear that you were not at fault in her eyes. She has a lot of pull here so it’s good that she was there to witness what happened. Not to mention, you were hurt too… I don’t think it will go as far as you losing your position here Ritsu, try not to worry about it too much.” with that, Ritsu gave a bitter little laugh, worrying was what he did best though. He felt as if his heart was located somewhere near his feet and his stomach was all the way up at the top of his throat. Ryoto-Sensei dropped his hand and watched as the young man shivered, he was wearing only a hospital gown, not even a pair of slippers on his feet. “Come on,” he led Ritsu into Room 518 with the slumbering man. Ritsu of course stared at him, swallowed thickly and followed Ryoto obediently. The Doctor led him to the other bed in the room and motioned to him, “you being here may keep him calm.” it might keep them both calm to be frank, but he wasn’t about to embarrass the nurse. “You can leave in the morning. For now, I’ll go down to your locker to get your street clothes.” his scrubs had been taken to try to get the blood stains out.


Ritsu had the inside of his cheek torn open on his teeth from the punch Yokozawa had landed and somehow he had several small bald and bloodied spots on the back of his head from where his hair had been ripped out. It was all cataloged for the investigation but it wasn’t even registering in Ritsu’s mind, no… that was just a jumbled mess at the moment. “Get some rest Ritsu, we’ll talk more in a couple hours.” The nurse nodded bleakly and stared across at the man that had been the reason he’d had such a horrific nightmare.


For the first time he truly understood why it was against hospital regulations to have the staff care for patients they were friends or family with. Or in his case, ex-lovers, Gods, he didn’t think he’d react like this if he’d ever see his first love again. Of course, he’d hardly expected that he’d be reunited while the man had nearly been killed, or assist in saving his life. He hadn’t known it at the time, but now it was probably going to haunt him for a long time, especially if he didn’t get better or worse yet, died due to complications. Yes, he’d been mad at him, hurt terribly, but he’d never wanted him to get hurt or die! Ritsu shuddered as he laid there, staring through the darkness as Ryoto-Sensei left the room to tend to his duties and Ritsu to deal with his turbulent mind.

Chapter Text

In the early morning hours, the sedative was finally starting to wear off and Masamune’s bleary eyes drifted open. Staring at the ceiling for a few mindlessly confused moments as he willed his vision to clear. Of course it wouldn’t, due to the fact that he wasn’t wearing his glasses and his eyesight sucked, it just did more so from just waking. A few things registered to his fogged mind, he was hurting, his chest, face and arm on the left side the most. Next, he couldn’t lift his hands, he’d been restrained. Lastly he took note of the soft snores coming from the bed next to his.


Turning his head in that direction, he could make out the vague sleeping form of another person. He couldn’t clearly see any details due to his sight and the lack of good lighting in the dawning morning, but he could hope so he asked, “Ritsu?” his voice barely above a whisper and really rough, he had to try again after clearing his throat, “Ritsu?” The blob started to move, groaning more and giving a soft whimper that sounded pained. Masamune winced as the form started to rise from the covers slowly and shift about, “Nggh? Wuh?”


The nurse sat up in bed and blinked his sleepy green eyes several times to get the sand out. Rubbing at them with his hand he as he yawned and winced in pain, his jaw giving a throb in protest. He tested the aching flesh with his fingertips while looking for what it was that had woken him up. He heard a sleep roughed voice call out softly, “Gotta take a leak and need a drink…” Ritsu yawned again and answered in a half-asleep stupor, “Then go?” His voice a bit raspy and confused, not processing things well was always one of his weaknesses after just rising. He needed coffee stat.


Masamune rolled his eyes, “Sorta tied up here,” “huh?” “Ritsu, I.Am.Strapped.To.The.Bed.” he spoke slowly for the ‘not-so-morning-person’ trying to drag himself from the bed across the way, “Oh….s’right…” He saw the figure stand and bend towards one of the lamps in the room to click it on, they both winced at the soft light. “Call the nurse, button is right there.” he saw the small man motion to his right hand, Masamune frowned, “Aren’t you a nurse?” He couldn’t make out the pained expression on Ritsu’s face but heard him mutter, “Not at the moment, I can get you a drink though… just push the call button Takano-San.” he started to pour the patient a glass of water, popping a straw into the cup before taking it to him.


“What, no more Senpai?” he heard the teasing tone of voice and wanted to dump the contents of the cup on the man’s head, “Just drink Takano-San .” pushing the button to move Takano into a more upright position. His mind cleared up enough to remember the things he needed to say, so he started in a serious tone, “We need to talk, I know that, but I’m going to suggest that it wait until you’ve healed from your injuries more.” slipping the straw between Takano’s lips when he opened his mouth to probably argue over that, “Listen to me, your recovery is more important than something that happened over 8 years ago, so just humor me this until your condition isn’t so precarious.” waiting while that man got his fill of water, when he stopped drinking he asked, “Agreed?”


“Yeah, just don’t run off on me.” Ritsu really wanted to hit him, but he held himself at bay. It wasn’t as if he could defend himself and Ritsu was feeling generous at the moment. It was hard not to when Takano looked like Hell warmed over, “I’m here aren't I? Anyway, I’ve found myself with a surplus of free time and from what I had noticed, your boyfriend is the only one that visits you, right?” Takano looked supremely surprised, “Boyfriend? Yokozawa? No, he’s just a friend… but yeah, he’s supposed to take me home today.”


Ritsu cleared his throat and turned to put the cup on the bedside table, “Does he know that? Because that was the most obvious jealous rage I’ve ever seen anyone fly into. Also, I don’t think you’re going to be getting out today, because you aggravated your injuries yesterday. You’ll have to talk to whichever Doctor comes to see you today to find out your new release date.” backing away from the bed he went to sit in the chair beside it. He started to lean his head to rest on the back, but stopped with a jerk when he remembered his head, “Nurse is coming.” His keen ears picked up the squeak of shoes on linoleum just before the door opened and another nurse walked in,


“Good Morning Himari-San, can you take this gentleman to the restroom, he hasn’t shown signs of acting out again. Has he been cleared to have his restraints removed yet?” thrumming his fingers on the armrests as Himari looked at the patient with an unsure gaze, “Well no, not yet, um...I could assist you with a urinal. Unless you feel like you can wait until I get permission to release you from Ryoto-Sensei?” Masamune looked from the nurse to Ritsu, “He can help with that.” and there it was, Ritsu’s cheeks burst into flames that even his horrid sight could see, “No, I can’t help with that, Takano-San, I am not currently working and it would go against protocol so no … Himari is very professional and is more than capable of assisting you with your bodily needs.” “But I don’t wa…” Ritsu leapt up from the chair and blabbered, “I’m going to find Ryoto-Sensei!” and out the door he jetted.


Masamune laid his head back against the pillow chuckling softly as he watched Ritsu’s quick departure, “I’ll wait for the Doctor, but tell me if Ritsu had a cloud of steam following in his wake. That blush looked intense...” Himari had been watching Ritsu fumble out of the room, without his slippers on, “Just about… poor thing is going to get a cold if he keeps running around without slippers on.” She hurried over to the dresser and pulled out a pair and called out the door in a low but carrying tone, “Ritsu, put some slippers on, you silly thing!” giggling softly as she watched those narrow shoulders slump and he turned about to scurry back and nab them from her with a quietly muttered thanks, then going in search of the Doctor.


Himari pouted at the receding back, ‘Such a shame, he was adorable but untouchable’. Turning back into the room to the man that didn’t see her look for his poor sight, but seemed to have nearly a dreamy expression on his face, uh oh. “Ehem, shouldn’t be long now, Ritsu knows Ryoto-Sensei’s usual route when he’s out of surgery.” the look Takano’s face darkened, a bigger uh oh! “What, are they dating or something?” The question shocked the nurse so much that she yelped, “What?! Of course not, he’s a happily married man!” then clapping a hand over her mouth at her outburst, but the damage seemed to have been done, her patient paling even further than he was already.


“Ritsu’s... married ?” His chest ached as his heart stopped and started to crumble, he couldn’t help the utterance that was filled with a pain that the nurse couldn’t possibly understand. But she just looked at him in confusion, “No, uh… Ryoto-Sensei is. But please don’t say anything, I’m not supposed to discuss the personal lives of my co-workers!” she sounded worried and had every right to be, “Okay, I won’t tell anyone, if you tell me if Ritsu is dating anyone.” Himari cursed internally, she’d sort of backed herself into a corner there, “No, he’s not, but don’t get your hopes up. He doesn’t date anyone . Plus you could get him in even more trouble if you try, shit!” she needed to gag herself when it came to Hospital gossip. “Please, don’t ask anymore questions and just keep what I let slip to yourself please, please, please !”


She sounded so near to tears that Masamune decided to ease her concerns rather than tease like he’d prefer. Plus, it was far more fun to tease Ritsu, “Lips sealed, I’d zip them if my hands were free.” The nurse gave a sigh of relief and then started to check over the patient. Quickly cleaning and replacing the bandages on his wounds while they waited for Ritsu to return with the Doctor in tow. She was just finishing up the last of his check up as they came through the door, Ryoto-Sensei with a bemused look on his face and Ritsu looking as if he’d been through a ringer or three.


Ritsu dropped himself back into the visitor’s chair with his bag clutched to his chest, he’d caught Ryoto-Sensei when he was on the way to drop off his stuff. Then the Doctor had started to tease him about his bed-head good naturedly to get his mind off all the troubles that were no doubt chasing each other through his subordinate’s head.  He’d succeeded but now Ritsu was a muttering, blushing mess. “So, do you plan on behaving yourself and not worsening your condition Takano-San?” the Doctor came to the side of the bed and peered down at the injured man. “Yeah, I promise, I’ll be a good boy Sensei.” and then they heard the most shocking and to be honest, quite melodious sound that had Masamune’s heart stuttering in his chest.


“Pfffffft!” a snort and then Ritsu started to laugh, really laugh . So unknown was the sound to all but one, a silence save for that laughter took over the room. Ritsu’s eyes started to tear and he doubled over his bag, clamping a hand over his lips to stifle the gales, hurting his jaw a bit in the process but it wasn’t enough to stop him from snorting again. He giggled and shook with the force of trying to hold back. “S-Sorry!” The sound of his laughter had brought smiles to all three of the other faces in the room as he tried to control himself… “M’sorry, dunno…” gasp and giggle, “why I found that so funny…” yes he did and both he and Masamune knew it.


Ryoto-Sensei chuckled, “Whatever you say Ritsu, whatever you say…” Himari was starting to wonder about certain things but couldn’t wipe the grin off her face as she helped the Doctor remove the restraints on the man and then assist him to the bathroom. Masamune muttered, “Still would rather have Ritsu help me with this.” She merely scoffed, “You’re hurting my feelings here, plus, I don’t think Ritsu can even help himself right now.” Leading him into the room where he could take care of his ‘business’ and giving the other nurse time to calm down under the watchful eye of Ryoto-Sensei.

Chapter Text

When Masamune was finished in the bathroom, he and Nurse Himari came out and saw Ritsu and Dr. Ryoto talking in low tones as Ritsu was going over a paper held in his hands. He couldn’t be sure but it seemed as if Ritsu was shaking, he did note that he lifted his hand to rub at his temple before looking up from the paper to where he and Himari were making their way back to the bed. She was helping to support him as he shuffled along and then sat down carefully on the edge of the bed, “Let’s take this out into the hall…” he heard the nurse whisper to the Doctor before he turned to Takano-San and gave him a tremulous, yet blurry to the patient, smile, “Hey, good news, you get to try solid food for breakfast today.”


He walked over to his bag and took out a pen, “You’ve been to Panda-San’s right?” Panda-San sounded so much better to Masamune than the slop they’d been feeding him thus far, “Yeah, sounds great actually. Can I have coffee yet?” The Doctor answered for Ritsu, “No, with your elevated heart rate it’s not a good idea,” Well, Ritsu had his suspicions of why his heart rate had been so erratic the last day, but he kept his lips zipped, “also choose something with lower sugar. No pancakes or the like. Eggs, meats, vegetables and a bit of dairy should be fine.”


“Ginger tea may be a good choice, it’ll help calm your stomach if the food proves too much.” Ritsu suggested before he headed towards the door with the Doctor, “I’ll be back in a sec Takano-San,” Ryoto-Sensei had been talking to Ritsu while they were in the bathroom and what he’d said made sense and yet the nurse turned on him as soon as they were in the hall, “I’m sorry Sensei, but you’re nuts. He -is- not having panic attacks over me being out of his sight, that’s just absurd.” Ritsu scoffed as he put his signature on the form that he needed to hand in to the investigative team, “He’s just been through a lot, he nearly died the other day and that’s why he’s having these episodes, anyone would.” he spoke in a low tone.


Ryoto-sensei just looked at the dense man with sympathy, “Ritsu, when he first saw you during his admittance he grabbed a hold of you and did not release his grip even when he went unconscious.” the nurse just shook his head and passed the signed document to the doctor, “Coincidence, he had just been stabbed and he was rightfully scared.” He spoke with certainty. So Ryoto asked, “And the way he had a hold of you again when the incident with Yokozawa-San happened? Panicking and trying to get the man to stop attacking you before you subdued him? How about when  he woke up and went into another panic when you weren’t right in sight? I’ve seen the reports and I’ve seen it for myself. Your presence is a comfort to him, this morning proves it. Heart rate fine, no panic, you right in front of him. Seems pretty cut and dry to me.”


The King of Denial continued to do as he did best, “He was tired both times!” whispering hotly, “he just had that walk and a shower, it wore him out!” he started to blush hotly, trying to suppress the memory of a very happy Takano-San in the shower, that could have happened with any nurse, it had nothing to do with him! “And then there’s the drugs he’s been on, they’re bound to make him act a bit off, it’s not as if he ever really felt anything other than annoyance or disgust for me!…” turning his head, cutting himself off at the lance of pain through his heart that came with the  memory. Tears burning behind his eyes as he took a deep breath, trying to control his emotions. He never should have told Sensei about Senpai! Now he was reading all kinds of impossible things into the man’s behavior.


“What about calling out for you while he was unconscious Ritsu?” he dead-panned, staring down at the young man with a frown, “I was there, it was right after you’d left him in the ICU and he was transferred into this room. It was driving that guy that attacked you crazy. I didn’t think anything of it at first, thinking it was just a coincidence as well, but there have been too many episodes for it to merely be that anymore. Don’t believe me? Wait out here for ten minutes and we’ll see what happens.”


Ritsu worked his mouth as if there was a meaning, a rational one, behind the way the patient was acting. It could not be because of -him-, his lips pressed into a thin line and then he glanced to the clock in the hall with a defiant cross of his arms, “Fine, ten minutes.” trying to ignore the warning bells going off in his own mind, his instincts as a nurse, flaring to agree with the doctor. But, the stubborn man that he was just couldn’t believe his presence could have any impact at all on the man that he was sure, didn’t give a damn about him.


It didn’t take ten minutes, it took five and they could hear Himari give a shout, “Hey! Lay down you! Where do you think you’re going?!” The two men burst into the room just as Takano-San was about to break away from the nurse, “Need to find...Ritsu,” he’d stammered out the last as he turned his head and saw Ritsu there with a shocked look on his face which morphed into a glare that he shot at the doctor, who held his hands up in surrender, leaving the ‘told ya’ unspoken. Ritsu turned to the patient and jabbed his finger at the bed, “, Takano-San, if you want that breakfast!”


Masamune moved to sit down obediently, as Ritsu moved to his bag, practically stomping as he snapped at Ryoto peevishly, “I’ll do it sir, but no pay, it wouldn’t be right.” clutching his bag to this chest and softening his gaze as he looked down at Takano-San, he had to be nice, it was his job after all, “I’m going to order us food, take a shower and then go pick it up from the front desk.” at that Ryoto-Sensei put in, “Nah, you just take it easy in here after your shower Ritsu, you’ve been through, a lot. The least I can do is get you breakfast, why don’t you text that friend to see if they’ll drop off your class notes and assignments from later today so you can just take the needed break?” Ryoto smiled jovially at the disgruntled employee.


Ritsu bowed  his head and took another calming breath, “How thoughtful of you Sensei, thank you so much.” the young nurse got Takano’s food preference before placing the order for the both of them, omurice with gravy and a two large ginger teas. He just couldn’t drink coffee in front of another obvious drinker, he wasn’t into torture even if he was doing a lot of this against his better judgement. “They said thirty minutes Sensei.” Ritsu muttered before he vanished from the room and the shower started to run on the other side of the wall beside Masamune, knowing he was right there kept him calm as the Doctor dismissed the female nurse, Himari giving a soft, confused smile before leaving the patient with the older man.


“Well then, Takano-San, allow me to explain what is going on.” Ryoto-Sensei pulled a wheeled stool up next to the bed to sit by him as he continued, “Ritsu has decided to make you an offer of assistance for when you are released from the hospital tomorrow. And seeing that he is feeling guilty over what happened during the altercation with your former caretaker. Since his arm has been broken he will be unable to tend to you during your time of need, Ritsu has stepped forward to take his place to give you homecare for the required two weeks. But, he will not allow financial dispensation, since you two know one another personally.” Ryoto-Sensei smiled at the stunned looking patient, “Does this arrangement seem agreeable to you?” He smiled wider as Masamune could only nod his head. Having Ritsu right there, with him… until he got stronger, basically ordered by his boss to do so… Yes, he found that more than agreeable, they had so much to talk about and now he was being given the chance to make sure he didn’t up and disappear on him.


The doctor lifted a finger, “There are a few conditions though,” He was doing this for the boy’s own good afterall, “First, do your best to make it clear to Yokozawa-San not to attempt litigation against Ritsu or the hospital, we don’t want Ritsu to lose his job here and move off to Gods know where in search of employment, right?” The doctor noted the look of worry that crossed the man’s features, “as well, if you could keep the two of them apart while Ritsu is your in home nurse, that would be perfect.” Again, Masamune nodded his head and actually started to reach for the phone, intent on called Yokozawa now if he had to, “ah, one last thing…” Ryoto-Sensei lowered his voice, “Don’t hurt him or overstep any boundaries, I will be keeping in contact with Ritsu…” he rose up from the stool, staring down at the now frozen Masamune, “that boy is like a son to me.” there was something in the way that he said that, that made Masamune concerned over a possibly reversed surgery on him, if he dare step out of line. “Yes Sir, of course and I am grateful.”


He waited for Ryoto-Sensei to leave the room and then made sure the shower was still running. Biting his lip as he dialed the number to someone he wasn’t planning on speaking to for a long, long time. But this opportunity was too good to pass up. He waited while listening to the sound of the shower, feeling apprehensive because Yokozawa was usually anything but cooperative, hopefully the fact that things were rocky between them and perhaps the guy still wanted to be friends, he’d listen to Masamune for once. He still couldn’t comprehend how Ritsu could think there was anything between them, he’d made if very clear to Yokozawa that they could be nothing more than friends. The nurse had to be seeing a hopeful lover where there was just an overprotective friend. Finally, the man he was thinking about answered, “Yokozawa…” he grit his teeth, the fury he felt over what his friend had done to Ritsu resurfacing at the sound of his voice over the line, but he had to keep himself in check if he wanted everything to run smoothly, “you want to try and fix the mess  you made of things yesterday and stay friends, yeah?” He growled into the phone, “While I appreciate everything you’ve done for me in the past and I value you as a friend, you took things way too far yesterday and I want you to -not- press charges against Ritsu or the Hospital and give me time to calm down.” he paused, listening, “I have a nurse that will be taking care of that, just stay away for right now, I can’t handle getting upset, Doctor’s orders, at least two weeks for the lung to heal, then we’ll talk. Got that?” He listened to the Bear agree and apologize, “Good, you should be.” He hung up just as the shower turned off in the next room.

Chapter Text

Ritsu came out of the bathroom with a towel around his shoulders and his hair still in little spikes that jutted into his face. Fluffy from being towel dried, he flopped down into the chair next to Takano-San’s bed. Locking eyes with the other man, he frowned slightly at the puffy and bruised area about the amber orbs. “When’s the last time they put a cold pack on your eyes? We don’t want the swelling to go up more, it could mess with the setting of your nose.” he leaned forward to take a closer look at the area around Takano-San’s nose, his face daringly close to the patient’s as he palpated the flesh about the wound gently. “Mnn… don’t like the way it’s looking, Himari-San should have applied the compress before leaving..” and suddenly he was gone and Masamune could breathe again.


He watched as the smaller man now dressed in well worn, almost ratty jeans and a vintage dark grey tee-shirt with a white triangle in the center of his chest. A rainbow bent through the triangle, thicker on one side then the other, actually it looked like a light bending through glass to form the rainbow. Something was written above and below the triangle, but he couldn’t read it, English he was pretty sure but he’d never learned the language. Ritsu wore plain white socks with the slippers he’d been scolded into earlier on his feet, going up on tip-toes as he reached into an upper cabinet. Masamune really wished he was wearing his glasses about right now, the view was probably amazing as the tee rode high and the jeans were obviously tight. It was a shame his vision was so impaired, he had yet to get a really good look at Ritsu since being reunited with him. Not that Ritsu really had the chance to see him all that well with his face all bruised up and his nose in a splint.


Not that Ritsu was even interested in anything like that, he planned on doing his job and that would be that. He didn’t have any weird theories like the doctor did nor did he even consider the possibility that this could have been some big misunderstanding, as according to Ryoto-Sensei. He’d said that people that didn’t give a damn or have darker ulterior motives do the things that Takano had been doing, especially when he was unconscious or drugged out of his head on Morphine. None of that could matter to Ritsu, he just couldn’t allow himself to hope for a relationship, partly because of the man in the bed and of course, there was a huge problem that he -really- did not want to think about, that had consequences for anyone that had the misfortune of being interested in him in ‘that’ way.


The blue package hidden within the towel like sleeve protector, cracked a few times as Ritsu bent it to get to two sides to combine and form a cold and slushy mixture inside that he draped with utmost care over Takano-San’s eyes, “We’ll keep that on until breakfast gets here.” He put that on him partly for the reason he gave, and the other reason was that the man would not stop staring at him as if he were a freaking unicorn. He shook his head and went back to the cupboard to grab the disinfectant wipes and sat back down in the chair beside the bed, “So, I take it Yoko….uh zawa-San was it? He brought you a change of clothes to wear home before he decided to go psycho on me right?” After psycho he mentally put ‘boyfriend’. Not that he cared, well, yeah he did a little, he didn’t want anyone with a lunatic, even if it was the guy that shattered his heart into a billion pieces. Anyway, it was not his business, he scolded himself in his head, frowning and hissing softly as he found the wounds on the back of his head and proceeded to clean them.


“Yeah, should be in a duffel in the bottom of wardrobe…” Masamune stiffened when he heard Ritsu hiss of pain, his hand whipping out, reaching for the source and accidentally clipping him in the wounded jaw with the tips of his fingers and making man yelp, “Damn it Takano-San!” Ritsu jerked back in the chair, out of reach, “I’m just cleaning the tears in my scalp, it’s gonna sting a bit and I’m a baby so, yeah… calm down.” “Well warn a guy before you do shit like that, it’s not like I’m in any position to help you if you hurt yourself!” Masamune huffed and drew back, not realizing he’d grazed Ritsu’s injured jaw. “I’m not the one that needs taking care of, I believe we’ve already established that sir , now please, calm down.” The slight argument had distracted him from the pain enough that he was able to clean the rest of them without making any noise save for his snarky comments to Takano-San. Part of him wanted to ask why he was so jumpy about anything about him, another part of him wanted to steer as far away from that topic as possible. The latter won out as Ryoto-Sensei entered with their breakfast.


“Everything taken care of Takano-San?”  Sensei asked the patient which made the nurse frown, what was he talking about? Ritsu narrowed his eyes and looked between Ryoto and Takano with suspicion. “Yeah, it’s all good.” Masamune answered and Ritsu stood to remove the compress from his eyes. The elder soon found himself face to face with a disgruntled looking angel with green eyes, “What’s all good?” Masamune was so shocked, Ritsu never used to be able to hold eye contact with him for more than a few milliseconds and here he’d found himself in an honest to goodness stare down with the man, “Uh, everything….. Everything’s all good?” Ritsu narrowed his eyes at the man, lifting a finger between their faces, “This better not be about paying me, seriously I won’t accept it, it’s not professional and I refuse.” he finally stood up and looked at Ryoto with distrust, “I’m going to be fine Sensei.” the only reason he got so close to Takano-San was to make sure he saw how serious he was with his eyesight being so bad.


Masamune shrugged, he didn’t know what the big deal was, last he’d known, Ritsu came from a wealthy family and well, money shouldn’t be a problem for him. But he glanced up as Ritsu rolled his tray with delicious smelling food into place before him. He took note of the disturbed and worried look behind his green eyes, before he could stop himself he reached out and took his hand, “You’re gonna be okay right?” the flash of pain as he pulled away to press a pair of chopsticks into his hand was all the answer he needed, “Of course.” Ritsu answered and Masamune knew instantly that he wasn’t telling the whole truth, just what was going on, besides the potential of him losing his job?


There wouldn’t be any answers, Masamune knew that. Ritsu had made it more than clear that any discussion over anything personal was out of bounds, “Oh, Ryoto-Sensei, can you ask a nurse to talk to a dietician for Takano-San? I need a list of all the meals best for a prompt healing and then we can go over that tonight, foods you like best from what is recommended.” Chattering away as he dug into his breakfast, trying to smoothly change the subject as both men stared at him in worry, so Ritsu merely refused to look at them, “I’m going to need to go shopping to stock Takano-san’s place, I’m also going to need a futon and my clothes, can a medi-transport van be arranged?” Ritsu hated this, he could tell he was being looked at, but he knew only one of them knew what the hell was going on in his life, and he’d rather keep it that way. “For the first week I won’t have school, but I have to go three days during your second week of recovery. My longest day is like, six hours of lessons, I’ll give you my number so you can ring me if you need anything, but if it’s an emergency you know to call 119…” he was babbling, so he just started to stuff his face with egg and rice, sipping on his ginger tea and aching for coffee. “Eat your food before it gets cold.”


He may as well have told Masamune that whatever was on his mind and what was going on in his life was none of his business from his tone of voice. Even though this angered him, he kept silent, the doctor was right there and he could take back his offer of having Ritsu be his personal nurse off the table over any infraction. He had a feeling that he was being watched as much as the nurse was. It was killing him not knowing, but it would be so much worse if he couldn’t have the opportunity to get the man back into his life again, after a few important questions were answered though.


He’d always thought that Ritsu had played him, used him like the curious, spoiled little rich Prince that he believed him to be. But now, even though he had only been around him again for a couple days, it was starting to seem that little dark voice inside himself had been right, and the was Masamune himself that had done something wrong. He hadn’t had the kindest of thoughts about his kohai in the beginning.  Perhaps he’d been a victim of ‘Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it’. It made a hell of a lot more sense then what he’d tried to convince himself in order to forget the green-eyed boy while he was in his darkest of college days. If his suspicions were correct, could he win him back? He glanced at the blur that was Ritsu, eating his meal in silence, the doctor leaning down to speak to him lowly about taking care of what he’d asked for. He had to try at least, if what happened was his fault, he’d try… if he failed, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to put that man behind him. Sighing softly, he tucked into his meal and found it just as good as it smelled. Having no trouble at all finishing off his food this morning. The tea was not coffee but hopefully he’d get that restriction lifted soon. Speaking of restricted things, “Hey, how long til I can have a cigarette?... This is… killing… me ...”


Ritsu’s head had snapped up when he heard the word ‘cigarette’, Takano-San’s voice, drifting off as the nurse shoved his now empty tray to the side and put his face in front of the patient’s again with a deadly stare aimed right at him. Then, he smiled the most beautiful and terrifying smile ever, “I’m sorry! I don’t think I heard you correctly!” Now Ritsu was going to have to go through all of his belongings and destroy and trace of tobacco he found. Inside he was seething, smoking was so irresponsible! Not only were you slowly killing yourself, you were killing everyone around you slowly, “You said coffee, right? Yeah, it had to be coffee!” chuckling with a dangerous edge to the tone, “but, if it was what I thought you may have foolishly asked me, not as long as I’m around.” straightening slowly and gazing down at his stunned patient, he shouldn’t care so much that he smoked, but damn it, that had sent a bolt of fear though him, imagining the man in a few short years suffering from stage four lung cancer. “We’ll keep track of your heart rate today and tomorrow, if it looks like it’s stabilizing I’ll lift the ban.” he softened his tone, “sorry about that… I’ve just, seen horrible things, due to smoking...” shaking his head as he went to the wardrobe and started to hang up the clothing in the bag, he moved to hang up the shirt in the bathroom so the steam would smooth out the wrinkles, “one of the first losses I witnessed as a surgical nurse was a little boy, only 7-years-old… he got it from his parents, they both smoked.” he spoke lowly as he sat back down next to Takano-San.


Masamune sat in stunned silence, “Oh…” were there tears in Ritsu’s eyes?,, “you’ve probably seen a lot of death, huh?” he just didn’t know what to say and what he did felt so lame. At first he’d been surprised by the nurse’s reaction, then offended that he would tell him what to do. Then, when he heard the reason, he felt bad. That had to be hard, no wonder he reacted so negatively. Ritsu gave a short nod of his head, “Yeah, even more so since I work the graveyard shift, literally. It’s not a job for everyone, that’s for sure. Death is pretty much an everyday thing.” he gave a watery smile as he gazed off towards the window. “You don’t get used to it, or at least, I don’t. Though, some cases are harder to take than others. Some will be with me always, like that child… like your surgery, ugh! I need to take a walk, come on Takano-San.” He rose up from his seat and extended his hand out to the patient, “Let’s see how much stronger you are today.” before he started sobbing like a baby. “Say, when you take your nap today, I may head over to my apartment to grab the stuff I’ll need while taking care of you.” Pulling the man up to stand towering over him, “I’ll leave my cell number, just in case you need something.” Saying that instead of, ‘so you don’t freak out’. Masamune was pacified with the promise of a cell number so he gave an agreeable nod.


Giving the patient the minimum of support during the little walk. He was pretty sure that he could handle it since he’d gotten up on his own earlier, “Hopefully where you live, there are good places to walk to. I’ll need to map out the area…” a sudden spark entered his eyes, “is there a library nearby?...” and then he blushed and turned his head away, remembering just who it was that he was rambling to. Ritsu had a bit of a hiccup in his chest, nothing to worry about, that was just a really soft hiccup, it wasn’t a skip of his heart at the thought of Takano-San and libraries, nope, it couldn’t be. “Yep, filled with old books you can’t find in stores anymore. I go there a lot.” he noted the blush and the slight curl to Ritsu’s lips, “I just go to the school library, I hardly have time to read for fun anymore…” grimacing as he caught himself talking about personal things again, this was going to be hard. Masamune chuckled softly, “I’m surprised you can get your nose out of a book. Me, I do have time to read for fun, but most of my reading is editing and correcting storyboards.” Ritsu froze, his features paling, “Editing? Where do you work?” the younger was staring at the floor, Masamune frowning at him, “Marukawa Books, Editor-in Chief of Emerald, the Shoujo manga section. You know, I’m surprised you’re not an editor honestly.”  On top of looking pale, Ritsu looked a little green on top of it, “No, not an editor…” clearing his throat, oh things just got so much more complicated now, “good for you though, Editor-in-Chief, that’s amazing actually. Even if it is Shoujo Manga...” he chuckled at the sound of displeasure Takano-San made, continuing to walk and trying to get a hold of himself. ‘At least it wasn’t Onodera Publishing’ he thought over and over to himself. He shouldn’t worry, there wouldn’t be any trouble for Takano-San as long as things were kept professional. “Well, lets get you healthy again so you can get back to work, eh?” giving him a wobbly smile that made Masamune itch to ask him what was wrong, but Ritsu cut that off with his next statement, “let’s cut the personal talk, we have to get you well enough to go home tomorrow.” his smile strengthened as he pushed the panic back into the little box that could hardly contain it, and continued the walk with Takano-San with a troubled mind.

Chapter Text

Takano-San was set to be released at 10am the next day, so after breakfast and the usual morning routine that his nurse would be responsible for. Ritsu, in the time that he had to wait decided that he would get some of the things needed done. 2 weeks he’d be away from his apartment and he was more than worried for his belongings. While Takano-San was getting his shower he was talking about his concerns with Ryoto-Sensei. “It’s not a question of if there will be a break in, it’s when .” Ritsu sighed and rubbed at his temple. He didn’t trust his neighbors, or those in the neighborhood to be frank. “I hate to ask Sensei, but since I have the feeling that a big part of the reason you’ve suggested this whole thing is  because you don’t want me to be staying there full-time for a week.” Ritsu eyed the doctor but he didn’t get any argument out of the man, “so, since that’s the case, can I keep some of my stuff in your garage that I don’t want to get trashed?” He didn’t want Takano-San to get the impression that he was moving in or something, that would be crazy!


He hadn’t heard the shower turn off nor did he realise his conversation had a pair of evesdroppers, “Why does he think Sensei wouldn’t want him to stay at his home for such a short time?…” Masamune asked in a whisper, turning to look down at Himari-San whose teeth were worrying her lower lip. “They go on about this all the time, Really Takano-San, this isn’t proper…” she whispered back, “you can’t let him know you’re hearing this, Ritsu-San will be very upset.” She went to reach for the knob but he grasped her wrist to stop her, not roughly, “I’m worried about him now, where is he living Himari-San?” she shook her head and pulled out of his light hold, “You’ll have to ask him, I’ve said too much as it is.” She led him out of the bathroom and Ritsu jumped slightly in surprise. His emerald eyes, so expressive, Masamune was close enough to see the worry there and the unasked question of how much he’d heard. “Why don’t you just bring it over to my place? I have a spare room and a nice sized storage closet. It would be no problem at all.” Masamune held himself back from revealing that he knew any more than Ritsu needed a place to store some belongings. Though he was beyond curious of where the guy lived if everyone was so worried about him and his things. Wasn’t Ritsu a rich kid? It was starting to look like that was most definitely not the case.


Ritsu could see the questions in the patient’s eyes, all of this seemed like such a -bad- idea. “No… that’s alright, I sort of want to get this taken care of all in one go. I don’t want to drag you all over the place tomorrow,” Not to where he lived, that was for damn sure. He was embarrassed of his rundown home and the area itself, it was way too dangerous for a medivan with his patient in it, waiting for him to pack up his things. “Then take my keys,” he nodded towards the small dresser in the room, “you could take care of that and the shopping and even bring my car here and we can just take that in the morning.” Ritsu blushed up to his ears and looked away, “I um...don’t drive, I always take the subway.” and when he was younger he was driven in a car, but he didn’t bring that up, “and you’re not supposed to be driving for as long as you’re on your pain medication. So we’d have to find someone to drive and they’d be stranded too, Medivan is the best option.” Masamune grinned, “Great, it’s all set. I’ll take a nap, you go get your stuff, stow it at my place and prepare everything for tomorrow.” He let loose a light yawn and shuffled for the bed, “So tired, don’t forget to leave your number Ritsu, you promised.”


Ritsu stood there silently for a moment, just blinking his big forest hued eyes, how did that happen? Somehow he was now moving his stuff into his patient’s home and he’d been maneuvered into worrying about other things before he’d even had the chance to object, “I believe the Matsua brothers are about to get off their shift Ritsu, and they have a truck and could easily give you a hand,” Ritsu’s head whipped about to look at Ryoto-Sensei, who seemed to become ‘oh so helpful’ with his life suggestions for Ritsu lately, “But what about Yokozawa-San, what if he’s there?” Takano-San grunted from the bed, it sounded like he’d tried to snort but the splint on his nose had prevented it. “He won’t be, you won’t be seeing him at all for as long as your my nurse.” Masamune saw the horrible bruise on Ritsu’s jaw and felt his own clench, he didn’t know if he’d ever be able to speak the the man again without repaying him for doing that. Ritsu looked confused, furrowed brows and a frown. People had been deciding things behind his back, not that he wanted to see the current lover of his ex, he just thought it was weird that for two-weeks, the guy wouldn’t be around at all.


“Okay, fine.” He walked over to the chair by the bed and picked up his bag to rifle around in it for a notebook and pen. He wrote out his cell number in big blocky characters, putting a bit of his frustration behind his scrawl. “Can you see this?” he turned the page with the giant numbers on in to Takano-San who was now starting to slip off in a doze, but his eyes flickered to the page and he gave a small smirk, “Yeah, just tease a guy while he’s already down.” grumbled in that gravelly tone that used to send shivers down Ritsu’s spine, not anymore, nope, no effect. His heart was perfectly fine and not fluttering. “Just leave it by the phone.” His hand didn’t tremble in the slightest when he set the paper down on the table, his cheeks were not on fire with a blush, they absolutely were not ! “Don’t call unless you have to, I won’t be back until later because there’s more stuff to do now. So please,” he lifted himself from the chair, “try to behave yourself and I’ll pick up something for dinner for us tonight on the way back.” he thought the time between now and then would be enough to pack up his things, grocery shop and then get them something to eat on the trip back to the hospital. He’d have to remember to check the front desk to see if his classwork was dropped off when he returned. He went to the drawer and found Takano’s keys, “Take the yen in the wallet Ritsu, for the groceries and dinner.” came the muffled words from the bed, taking the money out of the wallet, “I’ll bring back receipts and change.” counting it out quickly and then adding it to his wallet before he gave a nod to Sensei and Himari-San went to the guard station on the first floor to find the burly brothers.


It was true, the two Matsua’s were indeed about to have their shift end and assured him that they wouldn’t mind taking him to get his things and drop him off at his patient’s home. Ritsu had a sneaking suspicion that Ryoto-Sensei had already had a talk with the men. They followed him to shipping and receiving to collect a few boxes and then they drove him to his apartment. Both men flanked him like a pair of honor guards and Ritsu had to suppress a chuckle. He’d come home by himself countless times and with the way the guys were acting it was as if they were guarding some precious, priceless treasure from all the miscreants of the world. Really, it was way over the top and while Ritsu got their worry, he was used to dealing with the people that lived here. Honestly it was probably due to his own presence than that of his two body guards that any would be thugs were steering clear, but he didn’t tell the boys that. They were here for grunt work, most of what he wanted to save were books and with their builds they would have an easier time moving the heavy objects around they he would. Letting the one brother into his apartment, the other stayed by the truck to make sure no one messed with it. “Thank you again, I really appreciate it Matsuda-San.” Ritsu kicked off his shoes and entered the sparse space. Rummaging around in one of the drawers and came up with some packing tape. “Just grab all the books, I’ll start working on the clothes and breakables” he wrote on each box to label what he held and the guys got to work. The brothers taking turns watching the truck as the other would go up to pack another box of books up. They teased him of course, most of them were from school but a lot were from his personal collection that he was starting to rebuild. There was only one that he’d kept from the old days, and it was hidden in the bottom of one of his dresser drawers. A dusty tome that was old when he had swapped it out of his old school library for a newer edition. The title, “Queen’s Circus” the cause of the affliction that had left him in ruin at such a tender age. He was older now, smarter… But, he still packed the book carefully in with his clothing instead of with the other books anyway.


He took the last box he was planning on taking to the truck down, he’d even packed up his futon to make sure he had a place to sleep since he didn’t know if Takano-San had anywhere for him to sleep comfortably, “that’ll be it, thank you so much...guys… hey guys!” He watched with a slack jaw as the brothers moved as a unit back toward his apartment, “Watch the truck, will ya?” one of them flashed a grin over his should as Ritsu just stood there stunned. The brought down his dresser, his table, his pots and pans, all his dinnerware, plates, cups, bowls and towels. Everything !! “Ryoto-Sensei says that you can pay rent here as long as you wanna, but you will be moving when this job is done. He didn’t tell ya there was a murder here last night and that’s the last straw for a lot of us Ritsu-Kun. Do us all a big favor and un-stubborn yourself for just this ‘kay?” Ritsu’s ability to breathe seemed to have escaped him. There was a murder, here?! As in, in his complex?! He swallowed thickly and rasped out, “Where? I don’t see any police,” of course, one would roll by just as he said that and pull in on the opposite side of the building, behind Ritsu’s apartment. Well, that would explain why he didn’t see any tape and why the guys were sticking close to him at all times, “Fine, I’ll… figure something out.” he scrubbed a hand back through his light hair and squeezed his eyes shut.


He was silent on the ride over to Takano-San’s apartment, looking a bit on the pale side after having heard that news. He jumped a bit as his phone buzzed in his pocket. He took it out and looked at the screen, ‘Musashino Hospital’ groaning he pressed accept, “Ritsu here.” There was a grumpy voice on the other side, “I thought you’d be back by now.” Ritsu, who was currently squished between the two brothers groaned, “Something came up, just now on the way to your place to drop off my stuff. Any good sushi places around your house? That may be best for dinner tonight.” rubbing his fingers around his temple, just above his aching jaw. “Yeah, there’s actually one next to Queen’s Kuma where you’ll probably go shopping, that would work out fine. How long do you think you’ll be?” Ritsu sighed softly and did a little calculating, “Another 2 hours probably? If you’re too hungry you can just eat what they have for dinner at the hospital tonight.” Takano sounded offended and Ritsu had to suppress a smile, “No, I’m having dinner with you, don’t make me eat any more of what they try to pass off as food here.” Ritsu chuckled softly, “You’re expecting me to get you breakfast too then? You’re not being discharged until 10am.” “No, I’m expecting to starve until I get home.” He spoke so firmly that Ritsu almost believed him. “Yeah, anyway, gonna go now.” He wanted to get this over with, it felt as if he’d been drained of life. The news was hitting him harder than he thought, or maybe it was just everything. Gods, he’d have to go and see his therapist early at this rate.


The guys helped him move all but the largest objects into Takano-San’s apartment. Apparently Ryoto-Sensei had rented a storage unit as soon as he’d heard the news about what had occurred so close to Ritsu’s home. He was surprised An-Chan hadn’t called him, ugh, who was he kidding, knowing his self-appointed father, he’d already talked to his best friend to assure her everything was okay. The rest of the evening slipped by quickly, the grocery shopping taking less time then packing. Picking up an assortment of sushi for two people he headed back to the hospital. Blinking as his phone started to buzz again as he exited the subway, “Ritsu here, Takano-San if that’s you I’m dumping this sushi in the bin outside the hospital and I’m going to bring you up a big bowl of the hospital’s mystery udon and sugar-free jello.” frowning as he looked up at the hospital in front of him, rustling the bag in his hand as if he’d seriously do it. There was a click and then a second later a dial tone, shaking his head he pushed end and stuffed the cell back in his pocket and took the food up to the man that seemed to have an unhealthy tendency to need to know his every movement. “Guy needs therapy.”

Chapter Text

Of course, Takano-San wanted breakfast after waking up early the next day. His pleading amber eyes, nearly hidden by the darkness of his bruises was enough to soften Ritsu’s irritation of having to go out after just getting up. He really needed to get his sleep schedule back to what it was before he came back to work, if he could come back to work. Sighing dejectedly over his western omelet , he was getting strange looks from the man in the bed across from him. “Hey, what are you eating, it smells weird.” Ritsu smirked as Takano asked the question, “It’s a Southwest US breakfast food, an omelet with ham, peppers, onions, cheese and salsa.” scooping another bite into his mouth, chewing it thoughtfully and swallowing before he spoke, “saw they had it as a limited offer and decided to try it. It’s pretty good, want to try it?” He used his chopsticks to slice off a bite sized piece and took it over to Takano-San to plop it into his take out box that was filled with a traditional Japanese breakfast of grilled fish, rolled omelet and rice with a cup of miso soup on the side.


Masamune was sort of hoping that Ritsu would have fed it to him, but he supposed his luck was all used up in managing to get the smaller man to go out and get them food without getting himself strangled. For it certainly looked as if he was about to when he first whined about his growing hunger and the horrid food they had here. He was pleasantly surprised by the taste and nearly raised his brows but remembered his head wound. Another surprise, the cut on his forehead didn’t even twinge, “Not bad, wouldn’t mind having this if they keep selling it. So, you like Western food?” Ritsu nodded his head and answered, “Mmhmm, I actually cook it better too.” giving a weak smile so he wouldn’t hurt his jaw, “you’re lucky it’s not four or five years ago, I was more likely to get myself sick than fed…” chuckling softly, “took me a while to learn what a meat thermometer was. Plus, the likelihood of me burning your kitchen down is not as great, I was pretty hopeless when I started to have to cook for myself.”


Masamune pretended that he wasn’t gaining past information about the man, it seemed he’d divulge little bits and pieces about himself in their time apart if he was tired or distracted and right now he was suffering from both. “So, when did that start? Freshman year of Uni?” Ritsu nodded his head, “yeah, but I basically was cooking on a hotplate and in the microwave, not the tastiest meals. Not that I’m the greatest cook, but at least you won’t choke and gag on it.” he gave a bit of wry smile as he finished up his breakfast. Tossing all the containers into the bin when Takano-san finished his breakfast as well, “Thanks a lot Ritsu, I appreciate you getting breakfast.” Ritsu couldn’t help the light pink dusting on his cheeks, “no problem, the better you eat, the faster you’ll heal and the easier my job will be. How is your pain anyway Takano-san?” Ritsu couldn’t check him over himself until he was off hospital grounds due to his suspension. Masamune grunted, “My forehead feels a lot better but my eyes and nose are still in pain. My chest still stings but it’s getting easier to breathe.” Ritsu warned, “just be careful, don’t take too deep of breaths, lung tissue is very delicate and it’s going to take a while for you to feel at 100%.” Masamune pulled the best disgruntled face he could under the circumstances, “there’s one more thing, I’ve had constant eye strain because I haven’t been able to wear my glasses. I’d like to be able to see soon.” Ritsu looked over at him for a moment, thrumming his fingers on his thigh, “Hrm.. well, we could try balancing your glasses on top of your splint. The swelling around your eyes is down enough, it may work. Do you want to give it a try?” Masamune nodded and Ritsu walked over to the patients belongings and rifled around until he found the plain black frames, not exactly what he was expecting, walking back over to Takano-san he murmured, “Look up, okay if it’s too heavy and you feel pain let me know and we’ll take them off.” he started to carefully put on his glasses, they were a bit wobbly but they were now perched on the man’s nose. Ritsu grinned because he thought Takano-san looked a bit comical, “how’s that?”


Masamune was awestruck for a few moments, Ritsu had become so beautiful, he was finding it hard to speak, hell, to even speak! His features seemed even more feminine and soft with his hair tousled forward like that. His pert little nose and full lips with those wide green eyes made his heart stagger in his chest. This was the first really good look he’d had of the man since finding him again and he was not disappointed. He could still see the boy he’d once been but the man he was, well in just a word, was gorgeous. He’d lost his gangly, geeky look from high school. Now, he was lean muscled and yes a bit underweight but not nearly as skinny as he’d been over 8 years ago… “Hello? You’re creeping me out here.” Ritsu canted his head to the side and arched a brow, “at least blink…” Masamune snapped out of it and gave a slow shake of his head.. Still a little shocked he muttered lowly, his voice a bit rough, “Sorry, I just wasn’t expecting you to be so pretty.” Ritsu furrowed his brows, but his cheeks flamed up, “Hey, guys don’t like to be called pretty.” Or at least he didn’t, even though he got it a lot. He was freaking shy and didn’t want the attention from anyone. “Though I can honestly say you look like shit.” He gave a smirk and reached into the bedside table for a hand mirror to show him just what he was talking about. “Ugh,” Masamune pushed the mirror out of his face, “it was bad enough blurry, I did not need to see that.” Ritsu chuckled softly and put the mirror back.


Checking his watch, the nurse should be here any minute, “I’m going to go and pack the van and get your scripts.” Ritsu turned and gave his body a stretch with his arms over his head, Masamune swallowed thickly at the lovely view he was given as the petite man strolled across the room. “Your nurse should be here really soon to get you ready for discharge. That way we can get the hell out of here and I can get to work. I’ve felt useless the past couple days and it’s driving me nuts.” Masamune didn’t know how that was possible with all the running around the guy was doing, just how much did Ritsu usually do in a day? He watched as Ritsu started to gather up all their belongings, minus the clothing he’d be wearing after his shower and his wallet with all the information he’d need during the outgoing paperwork. “You’re doing a lot better on getting up and down on your own now, right? If you’re feeling you may need a bit of extra help I can grab a few mobility aids while I grab you a shower chair and an attachment for your shower.” He had his little notebook out, flipping through the screens. “If you have any questions for the Doctor you may want to tell me now so I can let whoever is on duty know before we go.” Ritsu looked up from the screen to see that Takano-san was studying him, he’d have to stop by the mirror to make sure he didn’t have anything on his face. If not well, Takano-san was staring at him a bit more than he was comfortable with. He tried to just ignore it, figuring the guy had been through a lot and was just spacing out. “No, I’m good, no walkers or canes please. I know I have to come back in two weeks to make sure everything is healing as it should be and you can remove my stitches when they’re ready, right?” Ritsu nodded and turned towards the bathroom to go and check his face, his luck he had a glob of salsa on him or something, “yeah, two days for the sutures on your forehead and about another week and a half to two weeks for the ones on your chest.” he came out of the bathroom after finding nothing on his face,  “I’ll probably be in outpatient before you, I don’t think you’ll need too much gear and your prescriptions should be good to go.” He powered down his notebook and tucked it into his bag. Hefting up the other baggage that the patient needed, “See ya downstairs.” he gave Takano-san an encouraging smile before turning to leave to get everything ready for the trip back to his home. “Don’t give the nurse a problem about the wheelchair you have to stay in until you’re out of the hospital, it’s procedure and you seem stubborn!” he called over his shoulder as Masamune groaned. Yeah, just what he wanted, to feel even more like an invalid.


Checking out and taking care of his bill was a monotonous affair, though true to his word Ritsu was down there and talking to a tall, blonde haired doctor, who far too good looking in his opinion, that had a smile that Masamune didn’t like at all. What he liked even less was the discomfort on Ritsu’s face and the fake smile he had plastered to his lips. When his unknown doctor took a step closer, invading Ritsu’s personal space, it was clear to see the tension in the younger man’s shoulders. The nurse that was with Masamune made a clicking sound with her tongue and called out to Ritsu, “That man, I swear…” she muttered under her breath as she rolled her patient up to the desk so he could start going through the paperwork. 


Ritsu internally cheered as Rina-San called out to him, giving a shallow bow to Tsumori-sensei before quickly going to join the others, “I still think you should go out with me sometime Ritsu! You go out with the girls all the time, why not give me a chance, I can be a fun guy.” Ritsu would have hurled, but something Rina-san said, “Yeah, super fun like a colonoscopy.” she growled and Ritsu choked on a laugh. Masamune felt the strangest sense of possessiveness rise within him out of nowhere. Glaring darkly at the doctor that seemed content in ignoring all the glares being sent his way by the dark haired male and the irate nurse that stood with her arms folded over her chest. “Don’t worry Rina-san,” he said lowly, “he’s just persistent because he likes ‘challenges’ or whatever he told me once.” plus, he didn’t date anyone, much less the most notorious playboy in the hospital. “That man has no class, I can’t believe some of the staff still fall for his pretty words. Ugh, what a pest.” Ritsu smile wanely at Rina-san, “they should warn new employees during orientation about him, seriously, I don’t know how he gets away with being such a...a… never mind.” he stopped himself from saying something derogatory about one of his superiors, even if he didn’t directly work under the guy, he still ranked above him. Leaning over Takano-san’s wheelchair he noted he was just getting started, “the van’s all front, we’re all set when you’re done here Takano-san.” The patient started to work through all the needed information quickly, through something was bugging him and it wasn’t just the doctor that had obviously been hitting on Ritsu. It was the comment of him going out with girls that got him feeling very uneasy with a lot of questions he wanted to ask his former kouhai about. He held it all in and just finished up the paperwork and paying his bill.


Rina-san pushed the chair and Ritsu strolled along beside her, “Speaking of going out, we’re going to be going to karaoke on Friday, think you can make it?” Masamune’s ears perked at this, Ritsu and karaoke? That may be interesting and if that’s what was meant by going out with the girls, perhaps he should calm down. “No thank you, last time I went half the group got drunk and it was like herding cats getting everyone home safe.”  Ritsu made a face and waved his hands in negation as Rina-san giggled, “yeah, sorry about that kiddo. You looked strung out for days afterwards.” pulling the wheelchair up to the side of a van with the hospital’s logo and name emblazoned on it Ritsu pulled open the sliding door as Rina-san helped Takano-san out of the chair and into the vehicle. Once he was all settled, Ritsu hopped in the front passenger seat and fastened his seat belt, looking back at Takano-san, “You’re probably happy to be going back home huh?”  Masamune smiled and gave a nod, “yeah, I think I’ve had my fill of being hospitalized for the rest of my life.” Ritsu smiled and turned to their driver, giving him the address of Takano-san’s apartment so he could put it into the GPS and they were on their way.

Chapter Text

It didn’t take them long at all to reach Tankano-San’s apartment, Ritsu, lost in thought over what had happened at his own apartment complex barely noticed the people and buildings passing outside the window. Biting his lower lip and scratching lightly at his chin as he wondered just how he was going to afford a new place and pay the remaining 5 months left on his lease. Furrowing his brows in constermation, he knew the people he worked with would help him at the drop of a pin, but he hated asking and usually refused help. Because of this it seemed a few of the more proactive of his colleagues had decided to take matters into  their own hands. He wouldn’t be too surprised if it was that his rent had been paid for in full already, hell he wouldn’t be surprised if by the time his job here was over they had another place for him to live in already furnished with his things moved in and all they had to do was give him a key as they shoved him through the front door. 


He felt a tugging at his hair and realized he was pulling it in frustration, focusing on his breathing he slowly forced himself to loosen his grip on the delicate strands. He didn’t need anymore bald spots, that was for sure. He took note of the driver giving him the side eye and he felt a soft tapping on his shoulder from the back from the patient.


Masamune had been brooding in  the back seat, zoned out and wandering about in his own dark thoughts. Seeing Ritsu being so uncomfortable while that doctor was flirting with him, not to overlook the fact that someone had been flirting with Ritsu in the first place, had brought about something dark and ugly inside of him. Jealousy, even if the man didn’t realize it yet, had reared its head and was making him think of all sorts of different and violent scenarios and involved that pretty boy doctor. His fist clenched and he’d glanced at the object of his affection and was about to look at the driver to  make sure that guy wasn’t checking out Ritsu as well, when he took note of Ritsu’s posture, tense shoulders, fingers dug into and pulling at his beautiful hair. He couldn’t stop himself from reaching forward and tapping the man lightly on the shoulder and asking with concern, “Hey, what’s wrong?” his envy melting away as bright green eyes turned to look at him from the front.


Ritsu by now had forgotten completely about Tsumori-sensei and what a flirt he was. He had more important things to think about and the playboy doctor was nothing but a passing nuisance to him. He looked into concerned hazelnut toned eyes, forcing his hands down into his lap as he didn’t like that look on one of his patients. “Sorry, just a little stressed out.” he looked over to the driver, wondering if he knew the situation he was in. did Takano-san know? He could have overheard it from one of the nurses while he was out yesterday. But, he hadn’t said anything last night over dinner, or this morning when they ate breakfast. Of course, Ryoto-sensei, Himari-san or Rina-san could have asked him not to say anything. Sighing softly he was about to explain when the medivan rolled to a stop. Snapping Ritsu out of it and making him take note of their surroundings, “Oh, we’re here… that was quick.” he gave a half hearted chuckled and got out of the van, shutting the passenger door softly and sliding open Takano’s door, he reached out a slender hand in offering his assistance.


He stared at that small hand for a moment, before wrapping his longer fingers around it. Using it to angle himself out of the van without putting pressure on his left arm and coming to stand beside Ritsu. He wasn’t sure what he was about to say, but to say it was stress had been obvious. He wanted to know what was causing the stress though. Was it worry over his job? Over what had happened to Yokozawa? Even though Masamune thought that Yokozawa’s actions had made him deserving of the injuries he’d gotten in the scuffle, he knew what a gentle soul Ritsu was and hurting someone, even if he’d been in danger and was hurt too, was something he couldn’t be handling well. Or, was it that he had to take care of Masamune? Was he worried about staying by his side basically morning, noon and night for two weeks? While Masamune was thrilled with this opportunity, he was worried that Ritsu would bolt the first chance he got. “You know, if you want to talk about it, you can. I mean, I know about all the things going on in your life right now and it has to be overwhelming.” he kept hold of Ritsu’s hand as the driver had gone to gather baggage from the back of the van.


Ritsu didn’t seem to put too much into the fact that Takano-san was still holding his hand, figuring he was doing it for an added sense of stability. The man was still weak after all. “Thanks, maybe I will once we have you settled in your apartment.” Turning his gaze to the driver, watching him unfold a portable cart, Ritsu walked to the back of the van and helped unload on to the rolling trolley the bags in the back. Looking up at Takano-San as the last of the baggage and equipment was loaded and ready to roll to elevator. “You may feel more secure if you take hold of my shoulder,” blinking his huge malachite eyes as Takano-San’s arm wrapped around his shoulders instead of just resting on the closest one like he’d meant, “You must be tired, sorry I wasn’t even thinking about that.” He slipped his arm around Takano-San’s waist to stabilize his back. “Is that better?” when Takano gave him a nod he turned to the driver and started to walk slowly with the patient towards the elevator bay. The driver was going to bring the luggage up to the apartment and Ritsu had the key to Takano-San’s apartment in his bag still. Entering the elevator the three men took it up to the twelfth floor in silence.


Nirvana, it did exist and Masamune had found it. Holding Ritsu close like this, he knew he was abusing his injuries and perhaps making it seem as if he were a tad bit weaker than he actually was. But damn it, if it meant that he could walk around like lovers with Ritsu he was going to abuse the shit out of it! Ritsu’s small body had a surprising amount of strength in it as he kept him stable all the way up to his floor and took most of his weight as he led him to the front door to his apartment, He felt himself pulled even closer as Ritsu reached into his pocket to get a tip for the driver, passing him a 2000 yen note and thanking him with a nod of his head instead of a shallow bow like he would normally. The driver left with that, after putting all of their belongings on the floor outside the door, giving a more respectful bow with the generous tip as Ritsu started to dig around in his bag, still doing his best to give Masamune the most support he could. He should feel awful, really bad about what he was doing. But he just couldn’t bring himself to give a damn, as a matter of fact he was more disappointed when Ritsu found the key and slid it into the lock to let them into the apartment.


They both took off their shoes in the genkan, Ritsu had been about to help Takano-san but the patient managed to kick them off himself. True he was a bit suspicious since it did feel like the other was pulling him closer and closer, but he chalked it up to his own nerves and the fact that the guy was tired. Speaking of which, “Bed or chair?” he nearly started to laugh as he saw the mini-war going on behind Takano-san’s eyes. “Bed then, sleep promotes healing and I have a lot of unpacking and set up to do.” shaking his head as he led the other to the bedroom off the long hall that opened into the living area. “I know you’re probably sick of sleeping, but it really is the best thing for you now.” pulling down the covers on the bed, he was careful to help Takano-san into a comfortable spot before he’d finally be able to detach himself from the man.


Masamune’s side felt so cold now without having the smaller man’s form pressed in close. He had indeed been having a little war inside his head over whether to get Ritsu into his bedroom or go to the living room where he’d be able to be close to Ritsu for a dozen or so steps more. The nurse would miss the dejected look on his face, well it was hard for any expression to be made out past his bruising and wounds, add that to the darkness of the room, as he sat on the edge of his bed watching the other man leave to grab their things. “I’m not really all that tired, I sort of wanted to talk about what was bugging you in the van earlier.” he called after Ritsu who was out of sight so therefore his heart was beating faster until he heard the sound of his voice.


“Yeah, I suppose it may help to talk about it.” and it wasn’t about the past, he didn’t think anything would upset Takano-san since he’d said he’d known about everything. “It’s just, everything.” he brought in a load of luggage and equipment, placing a large memory foam wedge against the headboard so Takano-san could sit up in bed comfortably. Flipping the light on, since Takano said he wasn’t tired he continued to talk as he left to bring in more stuff, “There’s running into you and all the things we still need to talk about running through my head. The fact that I broke a guy’s arm on accident and I feel terrible about it, even if he was an asshole and would have probably happily strangled me or just beat me to a bloody pulp from the death glare he was giving me.” grabbing the last of their things and moving it into the hallway before shutting and locking the front door and deadbolting it out of habit. Continuing to ramble on, “Not to mention that on top of the fact that I may be losing my job, I found out one of my neighbor’s was murdered in my apartment complex the night before last.” He barely got the last few words out before he was interrupted with a loud shout.


“Your neighbor was what in your where?!” Masamune had bellowed, leaping up to his feet so fast that a wave of dizziness crashed into him and he started to topple forward. What happened next did so fast, strong lean arms wrapped around his torso as Ritsu drove himself into the right side of his body and lifted him at the same time as best as he could. They both fell back onto the bed, Masamune on the bottom lying flat on his back and Ritsu splayed inelegantly over him. Masamune felt a hand clapped over his mouth as Ritsu pushed himself up and off of him, sitting beside him now on the bed.


“I thought you knew! I wasn’t even there, calm down!” Ritsu’s eyes were blown as wide as Takano’s as he removed his hand to quickly unbutton the man’s shirt to check his chest wound. Not liking the fact that the chest in question was heaving up and down too fast and too deep to be healthy for his lung. Though the wound looked fine Ritsu was still concerned with good reason. Taking Takano-san’s face between his hands he looked him in the eyes, “Everything is fine, breathe slow, calm down.” he tried to keep his voice steady while maintaining eye contact. “That’s right, slow down, everything is okay.” he had to get his stethoscope. Gods, he hoped that they didn’t have to go all the way back to the hospital already! “Now, be still, stay right there and don’t move.”


Masamune was of the opinion that Ritsu’s eyes were magic. He couldn’t stop himself from obeying him. Or maybe it was his small palms so gently cupping his face, mindful of the bruises even as the nurse seemed to be telling himself just as much as Masamune to calm down after that. After getting told to stay, he stayed even after those small hands slipped away leaving him feeling bereft. Staring at Ritsu’s back as he was hunched on the floor going through one of the bags. “Everything is not okay, where the hell were you living that someone would get killed there?” he tried to keep his voice steady but was having a bit of difficulty.


“No talking!” Ritsu barked over his shoulder as his hand finally curled around the cord of his stethoscope. Rising he came back to Takano-san’s side and plugged in the ear pieces. “Calm breaths, no talking” pressing the cold, round yet padded diaphragm to his chest just below the wound. Listening intently to the whoosh of air as it entered and exited the lung, closing his eyes to attune his sense of hearing. After a few moments of no rasping, wet sounds, Ritsu finally let out a sigh of relief, “You’re a freaking lucky guy Takano-san,” removing the eartips and hanging the instrument around his neck as he leaned forward, putting his elbows onto his knees and burying his face in his hands, “You’re going to give me a heart attack.”


Masamune thought it may be okay to move now, lifting himself up on his right elbow carefully, “I’m going to give you one? You never answered my question. Where the hell are you living that a person would be murdered there?” he didn’t raise his voice but it could be heard that he was upset.


“I thought you knew! You said you knew everything, well sheesh, guess not!’ Ritsu ran hands back through his hair and turned to look at Takano-san. It looked as if the nurse may push him back down for a moment there but decided to allow him in his half upright position. As long as he wasn’t straining his wound and he didn’t reopen any injuries he should allow it. “And ‘lived’, I don’t live there now. When Ryoto-sensei heard about it, he contacted half of my co-workers and decided it was time that I move out and they all agreed with him. That’s why it took so long yesterday. Nearly all my stuff is crammed into your spare room and storage closet. The rest of it is in storage unit Ryoto-sensei rented out until I find a new place.”


When Ritsu finally did say where he lived Masamune’s eyes widened further than they’d been able to since he’d been attacked, “Why the hell were you living there of all places?!” he quieted down and calmed down when Ritsu sent him a warning look that promised a quick trip back to the ER. The spoiled rich boy, that pampered little prince that he knew once upon a time was living in one of the hottest districts in Tokyo for violent crime?! What the hell had happened to him?!


Ritsu really hated talking about this and he really didn’t want to talk about this now, “It’s all I could afford. Okay?” letting out a huge sigh he stared at the floor and came to a decision, “Alright, one thing from the past, but I’m not going into detail, it doesn’t have anything to do with you anyway.” well, it did in a manner but he wasn’t going to inform the injured man of that, “I was disowned by my family and I only had so much of my own money on hand.” he spoke of the past in a low voice, still staring at the floor, “I had just enough money to pay for a year’s tuition and well, that apartment was the only thing cheap enough without putting me on the streets, I figured it was better than that.” looking back at Takano-san’s shocked eyes, “I went into nursing because I wouldn’t be able to get a job in anything that involved my parents publishing company or anything connected to the name Onodera.” lacing his fingers together in his lap and giving a soft shrug of his shoulders, noting the look of confusion on Takano’s face but not understanding why he was confused, “That’s why I’m Oda now, I discarded the name of the family that didn’t accept me, tried to control every aspect of my life and took on another name that came to me as I was filling out the legal forms.” Again, a look of confusion from the man on the bed behind him, “I’m happy where I am, I’m living my own life and even if it was a bad place, that apartment, it was still my place and no one can tell me what I have to do anymore.” his brow furrowed at the look in those amber eyes, “what is it Takano-san?” he had the weirdest look on his face.

Chapter Text

He really didn’t know what to say to the man perched on the edge of his bed, looking at him with the utmost concern. His mind was in overdrive and all the thoughts flinging themselves about inside his head that he couldn’t grasp one to fling out in the open. At least he was able to blink finally, take in a breath and open his mouth as if the say something but closing it again as the war in his head continued. He’d gained so much information in the past few minutes he just didn’t know what to do with it all. On top of this, Ritsu was beginning to look more and more disconcerted. Asking over and over again if he was okay. “Yeah…” he managed before the smaller man would have leapt up to call an ambulance.


“Do you want to lie down?” Ritsu fussed and lifted himself from his spot on the bed, trying to maneuver Takano-san back into the memory foam wedge. But he was so stiff that he wasn’t having any success.  He ran his fingers through his hair, looking once more at Takano-san and then turning to go get him a glass of water. His throat could be sore from raising his voice.


“So, you were never Oda?” Ritsu froze in the doorway, turning to look back at him with confusion clear in his emerald eyes. Masamune stared at him, “that’s why I couldn’t find Oda Ritsu anywhere.” now it was Ritsu’s turn to have a weird look on his face, this time though it seemed he thought Masamune may have gone mad and wasn’t just confused, “it’s what you wrote in the check out cards under my name, Oda, Ritsu!” 


The memory hit Ritsu like a physical slap and he backed into the door jamb with a horrified look on his face. He remembered, he didn’t want to be found out, but still wanted to read all the books that his Senpai did. So, instead of leaving his name, Onodera, he wrote Oda Ritsu on the line instead, “Oh!” and now he thought, while it was bad that he’d done that back then like a little stalker creep that he was, he did it now subconsciously! What the hell is wrong with him? “I forgot about that, oh my god, I totally forgot! I swear! I didn’t mean to… oh my god, this seems so weird and freaky I’m creeping myself out!”  he wanted to run and hide under a rock for the rest of his life, or get swallowed up by the earth, anything would be better than this! “Wait, you looked for me? Why?”


He was going to say something about Ritsu having been a stalker automatically made him a bit creepy, but decided to keep that to himself. “It doesn’t matter if you meant to or not, you did, so you must have been thinking of me and back then a lot huh?” he felt a small smile tug at his lips, so he wasn’t alone in his memories of those days, even if the man still seemed to be a bit scatter-brained, forgetting a name that he had written hundreds of times. “And of course I looked for you, I could never forget you, no matter where I was or who I was with.” he shifted to sit up in the bed, moving back to the edge.


The full glory of Ritsu’s blush lit up his face, he stood in stockstill shocked silence as he gawked at the man on the bed. There were so many implications in the words that Takano-san had just said and he was terrified of the possible consequences of opening up that topic of discussion. He had to take charge here, change the subject and leave the past in the past where it belonged, for now at least. “Listen, I know we have a lot to talk about, but now is not the time. You’re still recovering and this is an upsetting topic so we need to shelf this until you’re better.” shelf it forever if he had his way to be honest. But he was starting to get the feeling that Takano-san wasn’t one to let things go so easily, hopefully he would give him this at least.


Masamune wanted to keep talking about this, but he could see that skittish nature of Ritsu’s as a threat. He didn’t want to take the chance of him running off before he was able to even have a chance of winning him back. Well, after he got his questions answered and the past was put behind them, a future with Ritsu seemed to be just a little more possible now then it had been before. Especially if he wasn’t dating anyone like his coworkers and all that Masamune had seen with his own eyes were the truth. “Okay, well then if we can’t talk about that, I am curious about something that happened today.” Ritsu looked over at him curiously and arched a slender brow, “what was with that doctor at the hospital and why did you look so uncomfortable around him?” oh, there was that blush again, he really and truly loved just how easy it was to bring that beautiful hue to the man’s cheeks.


Ritsu covered his eyes with his hand and then slowly ran the hand down his face, wishing he could wipe the stupid blush away, “Tsumori-sensei, he works in a different department than I do but, ugh…” shaking his head at the memory of the man, “he’s a notorious playboy at the hospital, there isn’t a female nurse that he’s not tried to bed… I don’t know why he comes after me, I don’t even think the man’s really bisexual… I mean, there are rumors that he flirts shamelessly with one of the doctor’s in a committed relationship that works in Pediatrics with him. But, I’ve never seen him actually dating a guy so I think he’s just messing around because he knows it bugs me. I’ve seen the trail of broken hearted girls he’s left in his wake, so there’s no way in hell he’d ever have a chance with me.” Not that anyone would, but him, especially not. He could not stand guys that just played carelessly with the hearts of others. He had experience with that, or at least he thought he did. But with Takano-san searching for him, did that mean… no, he couldn't think about that right now. “Listen, I need to start setting things up and getting food prepped for lunch and dinner. Do you want a book or something since you can wear your glasses now?” Even if they were lopsided, he should be able to see well enough to read.


Masamune felt highly uncomfortable with Ritsu’s description of the doctor, as well a little concerned for himself as it was clear that Ritsu didn’t seem to appreciate men that ‘got around’. While he didn’t feel that the doctor was a true threat or rival for Ritsu, he didn’t trust the guy because he could see a million reasons of why he’d be interested in the green-eyed man. He was just too damn lovely for his own good. But now, he had to worry about his own less than pure past, true, he hadn’t been serious about any of them, he was starting to realize that Ritsu wouldn’t take that well. He wasn’t sure if he’d left a ‘trail of broken hearts’ as the nurse had put it, but he’d been with over a fair share of men and women both and had been considered a playboy as well. True worry started to gnaw at his gut, surely Ritsu had been with a few people since they’d been together…hadn’t he? “Sure, just, anything from the worn shelf in the living room, those are my favorites.” but hadn’t Himari-san said something about him not dating anyone? Oh God… he couldn’t lie to the man about his past, but how the hell was he supposed to tell him if it would make him seem undesirable in Ritsu’s eyes?


Unaware of Takano-san’s inner battle, Ritsu went to fetch a book from the slightly worn out shelf in the other room. He smiled as he noticed that a lot of the titles in there were some of his favorites too and others he hadn’t had the chance to read yet. Giving a slightly unhappy sigh at his lack of recreational reading time he chose one of the older Sumi novels and took it in to Takano-san who was turning to sit up against the cushion he set up for him. “Don’t you think it’s funny how he seems to name all his novels after food or cooking methods or implements? I’m starting to suspect he’s a secret chef.” Some of the names could be downright silly but the quality of the content was always of the highest grade, truly a master of his art.


Masamune gave a soft laugh, “I’ve thought the same thing myself, but his books are always so good. I’ve never read a novel of his that I didn’t like.” smiling as he took the book from Ritsu, it was one that they had read in high school so it was an older volume, well loved with many read throughs and about to have another. It was actually one that he’d had at his home, when his mother had still been with the man that he’d thought had been his father, “I remember when you read this to me,” he mused softly as he opened to the first page and smiled fondly at the memory.


He certainly did smile a lot more now, it sort of broke his heart that he didn’t get to see it more back then. Then with his murmured words, he felt his face heat up and he quickly got to work putting things away, trying to push the memory back out of reflex, of being cuddled up to his Senpai and reading from the book one warm Spring afternoon. Reading had calmed him enough that he didn’t freak out at the closeness of the other. But he stopped himself in time before he banished the memory again. He knew this coping mechanism wasn’t healthy and he was doing his best to stop trying to suppress all the memories of things that had hurt him in the past. Working quickly and silently he was able to unpack the supplies and then set up the temporary railing in the shower and put together the chair that would be used there as well. After he’d cleared the floor he took one last look around the room to make sure he got everything, noting that Takano-san was lost in his book, another wave of nostalgia hit him and he felt his eyes burn, “okay then, I’m going to the kitchen, call me if you need anything.” holding up the battery operated call button that would set off the pager in his pocket and set it on the bedside table right next to the patient.


Masamune nodded, but as soon as Ritsu left he frowned in disappointment. He didn’t like not having the man right there where he could covertly watch him over the edge of the book. Gods, how roles had been reversed! Now he was the one sneaking looks instead of the other way around. Sighing softly as he tried to focus on the book, another one of Sumi’s classic Mystery/Love Stories. Soon he heard the sounds of chopping and then frying. He lasted about 10 minutes before he laid the book down with his page marked on the bedside table. Getting to his feet he shuffled his way down the hall and through the living room to peek into the kitchen where he saw the most adorable thing in his life.


Ritsu had tied on a red apron to protect his clothing and a red bandana was tied into a do-rag on his head to keep his hair out of his eyes and out of the food as well. He was currently stirring the miso soup and peering at the sliced pork while the rice steamed off in the cooker. Catching movement out of the corner of his eye he glance and there was Takano, There Was Takano!!! “Aaaarrghh!!” chopsticks flew up into the air and clattered to the floor at his feet as his hand pressed to his apron clad chest, “What the hell Takano-san!? Are you seriously trying for a heart attack cuz that almost did it!?” he stomped past the man to grab one of the dining chairs and dragging it into the kitchen before forcing the hurt man into it, he was propped on the wall and laughing softly when he’d returned so his ire just rose all the more, “It’s not funny! Why didn’t you just page me, I would have come to see what you needed, don’t move around on your own like that! What if you fell?! What is wrong with you!?” bending to pick up the chopsticks and sending a few glares over at the snickering man.


“I was bored…” he got out between chuckles. He could tell that Ritsu was pissed, but Gods, it was worth it! The look on his face as he jumped a mile, priceless. “I’m fine now, really…”


“Well I’m NOT!” he howled down at the man, oh, he so wanted to strangle him! Going back to the pot and grumbling angrily as he washed off the chopsticks and continued in what he’d been doing before he’d been so rudely interrupted, “I’m serious, no walking around on your own, at least for another day or two… Jeez, what am I gonna do with you, can’t leave you alone for a minute, you’re like a freaking toddler!” the more he ranted, the more it seemed to make the other man crack up. He.Would.Kill.Him...

Chapter Text

The following days didn’t seem to make Takano-san’s odd, clingy behavior any better, even if his stitches in his forehead were now removed and his body was becoming healthier, his mind was another thing entiredly. If anything it was getting worse and worse by the day and seriously, Ritsu was at his wits end on how to deal with it. As someone who had been through a trauma it was perfectly natural for Takano to show elevated levels of fear and anxiety. But instead of it easing with time, it just seemed to escalate. Thankfully Ritsu was used to dealing with difficult patients that had just come out of surgery and were half drugged out of their minds. So, this shouldn’t be that big a deal, except that it was, it really, really was.


It was due to the fact that they had a history and well, it made it difficult for the young man to deal with the older’s constant need to be attached to his hip. The chair he’d set up in the kitchen for when he was cooking the first time Takano had scared the daylights out of him, stayed there. Takano was still easily worn out and it wasn’t surprising that he needed to sit down after shuffling his way into the room and then after the commotion he’d caused.


Ritsu would just have to get used to it, until he was able to convince Takano to see a therapist over his trauma induced fear and anxiety. But, there were just some things that went just a tad too far for him that he would not budge on no matter how much the wounded man whined. “Come on! I won’t look, I swear!” he sounded like such a petulant child, Ritsu really wanted to spank him! “There is NO way! I refuse! Takano-san, there are limits to the lengths I will go through for your comfort and ease of mind, and this is a BIG NO!”


He heard the door rattle again and he glared from where he was lounging in the bathtub, sliding down until his mouth was covered and blowing bubbles into the hot water. Seriously, he needed privacy and this was just way too far.


Masamune leaned against the door, he knew he was being unreasonable and yes, he sort of understood why Ritsu was so intent on him seeing a therapist. But that didn’t change the fact that he was dealing with this rising anxiety from not being able to see the man and just hearing his voice wasn’t cutting it. “Come on, you see me naked all the time, it’s no big deal!”


“What the hell!” Ritsu shot up and shrieked at the door, “you -need- help and I have to be there to make certain you don’t fall and hurt yourself. It’s part of my job. This, THIS is not part of my job description!” He dunked himself under the water and then pulled himself up, letting out the water and drying himself off. “Plus, you keep dropping your privacy towel, you’re doing it on purpose! I know you are!” he blushed hotly as he remembered earlier, having to bend and scoop up the towel they had lain over the other’s lap to afford him modesty, “you’re just trying to embarrass me or something!” Not only was he clingy as hell, he loved to tease Ritsu and it was just so frustrating. The first week wasn’t even over and Ritsu still wanted to strangle the man.


“No, no! It just slipped! I swear! Having my hair washed is a weakness and I just get so relaxed I lose my hold on it, that’s all!” He could hear the violent movements and sloshing inside and started to calm down, knowing the light haired brunette was about to rejoin him.


“Three...times...Takano-san. Three times !” by the end of this, he’d have to be checked into a ward, he was sure of it. Sliding on a tee and a pair of sweats he came stomping out of the bathroom with a billow of steam floating out behind him, glaring up at the taller man, “and you’re walking around again, what did I tell you! Don’t do this unless I am with you!” he took the man’s arm and led him into the living area, moving him on to the couch and trying to ignore the pathetic puppy look on his face. “Stay, I have work I have to do.” he pointed at the low table in the living room, right in front of the couch where Takano was sitting, “I will be right here so just stop and be quiet so I can get some work done, alright?” he practically begged.


Masamune could tell the other was reaching the end of his rope, but it was more the heady scent of ginger and vanilla that did wonders for his nerves. Whatever shampoo Ritsu used, it was perfect. Spicy and sweet at the same time, a lot like the nurse himself. “I’ll try… can I have my book? I left it in the bedroom, then I promise, quiet as a mouse.” he made a cross over his heart, very lightly due to the bandaged wound there and Ritsu stormed off with a huff again to go and get his book and gather his school materials. He was truly surprised that the nurse didn’t chuck his book at his head and instead just handed it to him, before flopping down in front of him and scattering his books, paperwork and laptop out on the table in front of him. “What are you going to school for anyway, don’t you work full time?”


Ritsu was making little growling noises under his breath which Masamune found adorable, “I’m getting my Doctorate in Nursing Science.” the younger muttered under his breath as he powered on his laptop and started to sift through the papers, “still have about six years of schooling to go before I can either take over the nursing department in a hospital, go into research and development or take up an instructors position if that’s what I decide when I’m older.” frowning as he scanned over one of the pages of notes his friend had left for him the other day. Looks like there was going to be a test in Nursing Policy and Politics, rubbing at a temple… He still had a few days before he had to go back to school, more than enough time to study up. Digging through his bag until he found the large tome and drug it out to start thumbing through the chapters that they would be tested on.


Masamune was impressed, Ristu, a Doctor. He could see him in any of those positions that he’d mentioned off had easily. He seemed so sure of himself and so confident in his work. It was a little disconcerted since he used to be such a stuttering and clumsy mess. Now he was a man that seemed to have a handle on his life, even if he knew that wasn’t absolutely true with all his former boyfriend had been through lately, at least he knew what he wanted and went after it with that same zealous determination that he did recognize from his younger self. “Wow, that is really impressive Ritsu.” he saw the stain of red on the tips of his ears and smiled fondly, 


“S...shush, I told you quiet.” Ritsu felt a little flip flop of his heart in his chest as he had to read the sentence he’d just gone over, all over again. His hand fishing around in his bag and pulling out a pack of strawberry pocky. Opening a fresh packet he stuck a piece in his mouth and started to absent-mindedly suck off the sweet icing. Twirling his tongue around the end before he’d bite off the bare biscuit and suck more into his mouth to start the process again. Not having any clue to the torture he’d started to make the other endure before he had the sudden insight that he was being rude. Lifting the packet and turning to Takano-san, he made a soft grunting sound past the treat and offered the other his pick from the pack in his hand.


That wasn’t the one that he wanted of course, his warm brown eyes had darkened watching the nurse working his magic over the sweets. When Ritsu turned to him he’d started to lean forward and grasped him by the chin. Watching as Ritsu’s eyes got huge as he closed in and bit off the end of the pocky stick, close enough that the heat of the other’s lips could be felt. Not to mention the head of that blush that decorated his lovely cheeks. “Sorry, got jealous…” crunching down on the biscuit and enjoying the look of utter bafflement on the younger’s face.


“W.w.w.what the hell Takano-san!” he sputtered and whipped back around to bury his face in his book. Hell he wanted to bury his whole body in it and never resurface again, “you make no sense.” growling as he tossed the packet to the side, no longer in the mood or too afraid to have a repeat of what had just happened. Just what was this guy thinking?!


Masamune knew he was pushing it, and sooner or later he’d crack and jump the smaller man. But it was so fun teasing him, he just couldn’t help himself. But he knew if he kept it up, it would only drive the other further away and he was bound and determined not to do that. Sitting back and allowing the other that peace and quiet he’d asked for so he could admire him unknown over the edge of his book. With the bruising going down, he was struck more and more by the day just how beautiful the nurse had grown over the years. It just made his heart give painful longing throbs in his chest. He had to win him back, he just had to.




Ritsu’s futon was set up in Takano’s room on the floor. He’d learned his lesson the first night when he’d been woken several times during the night by an overly anxious Takano. So, for the best sleep, he bunked down each night next to his bed to get him that little extra peace of mind that he needed. Until now, all had gone well, nothing strange or untowards. But, little did he know that was all to end tonight.


Masamune was having another nightmare, which wasn’t uncommon since his encounter with Haitani. But this time, it had been Ritsu that had been brutalized at that was enough to wake him with a pounding heart and ragged breaths. He really couldn’t help himself, he needed this, needed the comfort of knowing that they softly snoring man on the floor was okay and just hearing him and having the knowledge he was there just wasn’t enough.


It didn’t take much for him to drop his pillows on the futon next to Ritsu and then slide himself stealthily off the edge of his bed and onto the floor and into the futon. Slipping under the covers, he’d just sleep next to him, that was it. Just a little added comfort. Maybe he’d allow himself to link his fingers with Ritsu’s small hand. There, that was all, the soft puff of Ritsu’s snores against his arm was more than enough to lull him into a deep and dreamless sleep.


Ritsu felt as if he were encased in the warmest cocoon of safety and he had a hard time willing himself awake when dawn’s light started to filter into the room and cast light to the shadows of the night. Wait, was this a warm cocoon or was it ropes, binding him tightly to something warm? He groaned softly and tried to wriggle but found he was unable to move. Steel bands then? What the hell?! He opened bleary green eyes and blinked the sleep free. What he saw he really couldn’t drive it home to his brain for a few good minutes.


His face was squished into Takano’s sternum, thank Gods it wasn’t disrupting his bandage. But he felt his arms locked between their bodies and numb from lack of blood flow. Takano’s arm was under his neck and wrapped all the way around his slender back to this arm. His other arm was slung over his hip and cupping under the opposite side, holding him flush against his lean muscled form. His leg was tossed over his knees, locking him in place. He really couldn’t move, hell he couldn’t even breathe right now as he felt his own morning ‘issue’ bidding a very bright and cheerful g’day to Takano’s. “Ta...Ta...Ta…” he stuttered out softly as the larger man grunted and wriggled even closer somehow, bringing a whimpering moan from Ritsu. It was understandable that he had no clue what the hell to do in this situation! How had this happened and what the hell was he going to do now?!

Chapter Text

He tried to use his hands to push away from the broad chest he was being snuggled into. But his arms were numb and he was getting nowhere. On top of that, any slight movement from him seemed to make Takano cling to him even more, drawing him closer and gently rocking his hips against him slowly. It was tortuous and unbelievably wrong due to his traitorous’ body’s reaction to the sleeping man’s achingly sedate movements. He pleaded with the other mentally to ~ Please wake up! Please wake up !~ but his silent entreaties were going unanswered. If anything, it was getting worse for every lethargic thrust from Takano, Ritsu’s body answered with an uncontrolled hip jolt of his own. Adding to the friction and his overall tormented arousal.


Biting into his lower lip hard, Ritsu tried to hold back his whimpering moans with little success, his breath escaping him in pants while his cheeks heated and his body temperature rose with every movement. He felt Takano’s hand on his hip grip a little tighter with his rocking motions, soft grunts and groans tousling his hair as he clenched his eyes shut and tried to ignore the sensations wracking his body with absolutely zero success. Hearing another groan above his head and hoping that was a sign that the other was waking up, he lifted his head slightly and started to try and call out to him in an overly shaky voice, “Ta! Ta!” but his voice was muffled when Takano’s head lowered and his lips started to lightly caress and nuzzle against his own in an unconscious kiss that sent electricity zinging through his veins.


When he started to feel heat coiling low in his belly, he could hold back his hysteria no more. He started to wriggle and thrash against the other, true he was still careful of the bandage on his chest but he was sorely tempted to sink his teeth harshly into the lips that were brushing softly against his own, “W..wake up! Gods, please w..wake umph!” he moaned as a shudder rippled through his body and his eyes teared up in frustration and need as Takano’s tongue slid languidly into the warm confines of his mouth. He started to kick his feet as best he could with his limited movement. It was little more than a pattering against the other’s shins. But thankfully it seemed to be enough to start to rouse Takano-san as Ristu tried with all his might to hold back the tears that wanted to flow freely from his eyes.


He hadn’t slept so well in such a long time, he felt warm, comfortable and so very content. The only odd thing was how turned on he was even though he wasn’t aware of having any dreams that could have made him that way. But, as he slowly roused from the stuttering pleas against his mouth, felt the soft warm body pressed tightly to his own. ‘Oh...shit…’ was his first thought as eyes of amber flicked open to see a shocked looking Ritsu as he literally vibrated from his trembling in his arms. He unconsciously tightened his grip, “don’t run, please don’t run…” whispering in a rush, he couldn’t hide the panic in his voice as Ritsu started to kick his feet feebly against his shins once again.


“Erk!” he felt his ribs creak in protest as the larger man’s grip tightened on him. Eyes wide and staring… “Ta ...Ta...Ta!” Ritsu stammered weakly, wriggling about, trying to back his hips off the other while his heart trembled rapidly in his chest. It felt as if his entire body had been inflamed by a brilliant blush that could outdo the heat of the sun. “Tak… a… no… San!” his voice was a weak whine, breathless from what he’d been put through this early morning.


Masamune slowly started to loosen his grip, “I didn’t mean to… I really didn’t mean to do...what I think I did to you Ritsu.” Frantic green eyes shot up to pin him with a tearful gaze, his lower lip trembled and Masamune felt something in his heart give a painful twist. Lifting the hand off his hip and trying to soothe the other by petting his soft brown hair, “please, please believe me…”


As soon as Takano’s hand left his hip he scooted and wriggled back as far as he could so their most sensitive areas were no longer pressed so snuggly together. He could see in his eyes that he was freaked out about this too, but still, “W..why are you in my futon!?” he stammered out as a few tears slipped free. He could feel the rapid beats of both of their hearts pounding against each other and tried to take a staggering deep breath, willing his eyes to dry so he didn’t feel so pathetic in front of the other. The long fingers in his hair was a strange mix of calming and anxiety inducing, it was as if his poor flustered brain didn’t know how the hell to react.


The older man was so uneasy now, believing if he let go of Ritsu the tearful man would dash off to parts unknown, never to be seen again. So he answered honestly, “I had a nightmare that the man that hurt me, hurt you Ritsu.” he didn’t have control of his hand that drifted down to cup the confused nurse’s soft cheek, “it scared me, so I just came down here to sleep next to you, just hold your hand, that’s all, I swear.”


Takano’s movements, his eyes and his voice, so loving and by Gods he would swear sincere! He didn’t know whether to give a hysterical laugh or go bolting for the hills. But a bigger part of him understood the man’s fear, because didn’t he have a similar reaction when he’d found out who the other was after he broke out of his fugue state? He’d torn through the hospital and nearly bowled over several of his co-workers in an attempt to get to him. The only reason he probably didn’t climb into the hospital bed and cling to him was because Ryoto-sensei had caught him and calmed him down before he made an ass out of himself. Though he highly doubted he would have had whatever dream Takano was having and molest him as he slept. On top of that, the idiot could have hurt his nose on top of the fact that he’d been way too forward as he’d slept.


Takano didn’t have a soothing voice to wash away his anxieties and he’d been through so much more than he had been. “I… believe you. Just please, don’t do that again.” he whispered hoarsely as he lowered his eyes as the other continued to softly pet his face. The touch was sending off warning signals, red flags waving violently in his brain, but he ignored them. Partly because he knew Takano couldn’t help himself and if he was to be honest with himself, he liked it. “Can you let me go, I can’t feel my arms Takano-san…” he murmured in low tones and kept his eyes averted. “I won’t run, or anything.”


He wanted to kiss him again so badly this time fully conscious so he could enjoy it, looking at that beautiful shy face, the bashful blushing and the stuttered words. He almost blurted out that he wanted, no, needed to be given another chance. But he stopped himself as the thought tried to form into hasty words. Honestly, he would be lucky if Ritsu didn’t kick his ass as soon as he released him. His heart rate calming along with Ritsu’s as it seemed he accepted his reasons for the stupid things he had done. “I’m so sorry, really I am…” he couldn’t stand seeing the other so upset, those tears were killing him, “please don’t cry.” whispering softly as he started to detach himself from the younger.


Ritsu sat up next to him, rubbing his face with a trembling hand, “It’s not a big deal, I’m emotional,” he gave a short chuckle and dragged a pillow into his lap, doubling over it breathing in and out deeply through his nose to calm down. “I’ve never been able to control it… But, do me a favor next time when you have a nightmare.” his eyes got a touch of hardness in them, “wake my ass up so this doesn’t happen again. I don’t mind reading to you or something until you fall back to sleep. This was not a position I was even remotely prepared to wake up in.” rolling up to his feet he held the pillow to his groin with a fierce blush on his cheeks. Grateful he was wearing sleep pants but when he saw Takano sit up and the blankets pool around his waist, his eyes widened. “Oh GOD, you did not sleep naked did you!?”


The elder blinked up at him with a confused look on his face, looking down to lift the covers to look. “Well… shit… um, you may want to wash these blankets.” Ritsu let out a squawk and spun towards the wardrobe. He had jerked it open and started flinging boxers and sleep pants next to him as his face continued to flame.


“Really Takano-san! You don’t have a modest bone in your body do you?!” shaking a finger at him in consternation, “If I’m going to have to sleep in here with you, the least you can do is have freaking pants on!.” snatching up the tissues off the side table and tossing them down beside the man, “clean yourself up a least, I’m going to the bathroom!” he started to stomp out of the room but thought of one more important thing, “and we’re going to make you an appointment to see a therapist today! No more hesitation over this, it’s obviously needed and it’s nothing to be ashamed of! I’ve been seeing one for years!”


Masamune blinked and looked up at Ritsu, that was the first he’d heard that, “Years?” Ritsu looked away at the question, but gave a firm nod of his head, Masamune was a bit surprised and asked, “But why?” and oh, the look Ritsu gave him made him flinch as it screamed ‘YOU’ even if he didn’t come right out and say it, it was clear in the fiery gaze he shot at him.


“It’s hard being a surgical nurse, dealing with death is not easy. I think I’ve mentioned this before but just didn’t say I see a therapist. There’s also the thing with my family disowning me and… other things.” looking away, “Listen, I didn’t deal with things too well in the past, I’d just close it all off in the back of my mind where it would fester and turn me into a bitter, poisonous person to be around. True, I still have issues,” Like with trust, his biggest obstacle, “but, I don’t need antidepressants anymore and I can deal with things in a much healthier manner.” smirking softly, “and I don’t do what you seem convinced I’m going to do. I don’t run away anymore Takano-san, I know we have things to talk about, things to settle so we can both, I don’t know, at least find closure and peace with the past. But for right now, I need to get back to school in a few days and you needing me constantly in sight is going to be a huge problem when that time comes.” running a hand through his hair, “maybe we can ask Ryoto-sensei if you can go back to work for the hours that I have to be in school, just as long as you take it easy. Because I’m pretty sure I can’t get you a pass to my classes and I definitely won't miss any school.” Regarding him for a moment he took a minute to think, “is there anything you can think of that may make you feel a little better where you can spend a bit of time on your own?”


“I know it’s unreasonable, really I do…” the darker haired male sighed, “I just can’t help it, I’ve never had this problem before.” well, that wasn’t exactly true as he pulled the blankets more comfortably around himself. Since Ritsu opened up a bit on how he dealt with things, he felt obligated to share one of his own coping mechanisms, “I used to drink, when things were too much to handle… and yeah, I know, not a good way of dealing with it.” he saw the disapproving look from the emerald eyed man, “I don’t plan on going back to that… I guess, I just need some form of reassurance that you’re not going to disappear on me.” again, was left unsaid, but hung in the air between the pair.


Sighing softly in frustration, Ristu leaned against the door frame, “Nearly all my stuff is here Takano-san. To be honest I can’t afford to up and leave all my stuff behind. All my clothes, books and a bunch of personal stuff that I just can’t part with.” Looking at the man with a steady gaze, “I’m not going to up and leave someone that needs my help just because we have a less than ideal past. Honestly, I’m used to having trauma victims latch on to me, maybe not as fiercely, but I’m not a stranger to it.” crossing his arms over his chest, “You have my belongings, my phone number, my place of employment and my school. Just try to think about that and try to have a little faith in me, that I’m not a heartless bastard that will leave you high and dry with no one to take care of you in your time of need okay?” With that,  he turned to go to the bathroom and clean up a bit while Takano would hopefully take care of his own clean up.

Chapter Text

He shuffled out of Takano’s bedroom and down the hall to the guest room. He felt sticky and uncomfortable, his heart still beat erratically in his chest and the burning in his eyes did not abate but just got worse. “Damn it all…” he muttered under his breath as he snapped up his clothes for today, raising his voice a little, “Taking a shower!” calling out to the other before he cloistered himself away for some much needed alone time.


As the door closed he lifted a shaking hand to his face, trying to control his breathing. Clenching his eyes tight, feeling a few hot tears slip free as he tried in vain to hold back the surge of emotions that were overwhelming him. He wasn’t lying, he wasn’t going to run. But that didn’t mean that he didn’t want to. Oh, he so badly wanted to hide away until all these unwanted feelings just went the hell away and left him alone for the rest of his life.


He had too much to do, work and school, that was all that he had time for in his life. Maybe a quick trip to the therapist once a week, but this, no he did not have time for racing hearts and salty tears. He did not have the need to wake up in the arms of the dark haired man he’d given his heart to so long ago that he’d so carelessly broken but a few weeks after they’d started dating. 


Maybe if he’d only loved him for that long it wouldn’t have hurt him so badly, but three years, three long years he’d been watching his ‘sempai’ in secret yet devoted adoration. So, it had been devastating to his young heart. He thought that he was moving past it, learning to live without dwelling on those feelings. But since they’d been thrust back into one another’s life, it was getting harder and harder for him to keep up is professional front and just see him as another patient. Gods, now that his bruises were fading and he could more clearly see those eyes, that had once been so cold and uncaring most of the time. Filled with so many emotions that rioted for dominance behind that honeyed chocolate gaze. It was doing things to him that he hadn’t expected and really didn’t want, couldn’t dare to want and in all honesty did not need.


Walking to the sink he turned on the cold water and splashed it against his burning eyes and cheeks. Pressing one of the fluffy towels to his face and breathing in the clean linen scent, trying to calm down. Collect himself and put his work face back on or he’d end up doing something stupid, like bawl his eyes out in front of the guy that did not need to be seeing something as pathetic as that.




Masamune heard the shower start to run and decided it was time to clean himself up a bit and slip into clothing before he screwed things up even more that he potentially had already. He would be lying if he claimed not to enjoy what he’d woken up to this morning, but the look on Ritsu’s face and the real fear that had pulsed through him was enough to take any of the joy of waking up with the other man in his arms had brought. He called himself every kind of idiot as he put on his boxers and then the sleep pants that had been chucked at him in haste.


He angled himself up to his feet by using the bed and his right side to handle most of his weight. Sitting there shirtless, knowing from routine that the nurse would come out of the shower to hustle him in for his own. Usually he’d be taken care of first, but his impromptu and unconscious makeout session had obviously thrown Ritsu off. He was a mess as well, his heart thumping hard in his chest as he remembered the feel of his lithe body and the taste of his lips still on his tongue, Gods how he wished he’d been awake for that! Yet, if he had been he didn’t think the other would have forgiven him quite so easily.


That he’d been forgiven at all gave him so much hope and yet he was still filled with this unbearable fear. He found himself on his feet and slipping down the hall to the bathroom door. Standing outside quietly as the shower suddenly turned off and he could hear Ritsu moving around inside. Worrying a thumbnail between his teeth his eyes locked onto the door as he waited out each second that went by like minutes to his trauma frazzled mind. Yeah, he probably did need to talk to someone before he drove Ritsu away from him for good.




Stepping out of the bathroom he was not surprised to see Takano there, “A little better, at least you were quiet this time.” he gave a weak smile and moved past him to head back towards Takano’s room, checking over his shoulder to make sure he was being followed. “Sorry about that, I tried to make it as quick as possible as soon as I realised I messed up the order.” Rubbing the back of his head in a nervous gesture that he’d been doing most of his life. “After we get you taken care of and some laundry in the wash, why don’t we go out to breakfast this morning and maybe take a walk or something. We’re both going a bit stir crazy being shut up in here.” Sure, they’d taken short walks around the floor itself but they hadn’t really left and Ritsu could take a break from cooking.


Masamune liked the sound of that, it sounded a lot like a date to him, though he wouldn’t say it out loud or he’d end up spooking the younger man. It looked as if he’d calmed himself down in the shower and he had no intention of ruining it. “Sure, there’s a little cafe on the corner and the park is nice this time of year, even if it is a bit chilly. But I’m paying for it, alright?” if he could get Ritsu to hold his hand again, that would make it all the better. He knew he shouldn’t spend so much time pretending, but damn it he didn’t really know if he had a chance, no matter how badly he wanted it.


Ritsu smiled over his shoulder at Takano and proceeded to choose out his clothes for the day. They were both going to be dressed simply, though he had to admit that Takano’s clothing was of better quality than his own. “Sounds good to me, though you don’t need to pay for me, we can get separate checks.” the look Takano gave him made him pause, “okay, you can pay for me, sheesh, quit with the puppy eyes... “ when the hell did he learn to do that crap?!


Takano felt a moment of triumph in the moment as he’d be allowed to pay for the other’s meal with little fuss. He’d have to remember that look worked on Ritsu, it could come in handy later.


The shower was a bit more awkward than normal, due to what had happened that morning. Ritsu seemed extra professional and Masamune didn’t allow his privacy towel to drop as he normally would to tease the nurse. Ritsu got him cleaned up and ready to go in silence, making sure that both of their hairs were dried thoroughly so they wouldn’t catch cold in the chilly wind. Masamune didn’t like the sight of Ritsu’s coat, it wasn’t a good one for the wintery weather, though the nurse did wear a hoodie and scarf as well so he decided not to say anything.


He didn’t have to wait too long for Ritsu to take hold of his arm to give him support, it seemed as if he didn’t trust him to ask for help if he needed it. Which he didn’t at the moment but he wasn’t about to complain. Even though their breakfast was a silent affair, neither seeming to know how to break the uncomfortable silence that had developed between them. Masamune silent out of guilt and Ritsu silent out of embarrassment. So Masamune just contented himself with watching the bashful brunette enjoy his pancakes and Ritsu would take furtive glances at the other as he devoured his steak and eggs.


Once they got to the park, full bellies and resting side by side on a bench that sat before the central pond. The mood seemed to relax between them as they both watched the ducks skimming over the water, dunking their heads under with legs kicked up as they searched the bottom for their own breakfasts. Watching the leaves that had long fallen from the trees roll across the ground or spin in mini twisters about them. “You were right, this park is nice.” Ritsu turned to smile at Takano, it finally reached his brilliant eyes that time.  


Masamune’s breath caught in his throat at the sight, autumn, or rather early winter, did suit Ritsu with his vibrant green eyes and russet hair. Just as he was about to say something, he heard the buzzing of a phone but didn’t feel his own going off where it sat in his pocket. It was obviously Ritsu’s as he fumbled for it in his own pocket and pulled it out, he saw a soft smile but concern in his eyes when he checked the caller id.


“Just a second,” he looked at Masamune in apology and answered the call, “Hey An-chan, sorry I haven’t gotten back to you… ah… yeaaaaah. Um, sorta going to be busy for a couple more weeks but… wait, hold on. OH! What about Rei and Ame? Oh, just Rei? Okay, yeah let me ask.” He turned to Takano with a slightly worried expression, “I don’t want to put you out, but I promised my friend that I’d have coffee with her this week and er, she’s got a little time today and with all that has happened she’s worried about me. Would it be okay to invite her to your place for coffee and uh, her baby too?”


Of all the things he could have been asked by the other, that was something he wasn’t expecting, “Uh, fine by me?” blinking slowly as if asking himself if he was truly okay with this. An uncomfortable prickling had started in his gut at the familiarity with which Ritsu had greeted the other with, and a baby? He was not used to kids, being an only child an all. But then Ritsu had to go and smile at him like that and make him feel all warm inside at making him happy as he returned to tell his friend where to find them before hustling Masamune up off the bench to head back to the apartment.


The more Masamune thought of it, the more uncomfortable he got. Even though Ritsu seemed to practically be skipping with his arm linked in his own as a modicum of support. Blabbering on how he and this An-chan had been friends since they were children and on and on. As he continued on with his high praises of his ‘best and oldest’ friend, Masamune couldn’t stop himself from asking, “So, is she your fiance?” he regretted it as soon as Ritsu turned around to stare at him with wide, shocked eyes.


“EH?!” Ritsu stammered over his words for a few seconds as Takano’s countenance seemed to darken tenfold. Ritsu had a million questions running through his mind, “how did you know about that?!” fingers balling into fists as they stood in the middle of the sidewalk, nearly back to Takano’s home. The hurt on Takano’s face was enough to knock the wind out of Ritsu’s lungs. Staring after the man in shock as he strode past him towards his building, intent it seemed on leaving him behind… “Wait!” stumbling after him in his hasty retreat.


“Should have known it was true…” Masamune muttered to himself, feeling hurt and betrayed. Leaving Ritsu to scramble after him as he slammed a finger into the elevator call button, “who starts dating someone when they have a fiance??” growling as he boarded the elevator and hit 12 and door close without waiting for Ritsu.


“Hold on I said!” he shot out a hand and wriggled into the elevator, panting and glaring at the other, “I have the keys to your apartment you know!?” looking at Takano’s outstretched hand as he made a gesture for him to hand them over, like hell. “Listen, I wasn’t engaged to her when we started dating, not that -I- knew of anyway. It was a shock to me too! Apparently my parents and hers arranged that whole idiotic and archaic thing shortly after we were a couple years old.” crossing his arms and turning his glare away as the elevator continued on its way up. “When I found out, I said NO, she was like a little sister to me for crying out loud! Then she goes and confesses to me shortly after and I thought I’d have a bigger heart attack! I told her I couldn’t love her like that because I was already in love with someone else and when she asked who I blabbed that it was a guy, my sempai! You know how I couldn’t control my mouth back then..UMPH!” and suddenly he was having the life squeezed out of him in a hug, Gods when did this guy get back his strength?! “Gonna… hurt… yourself… mah… ribs… breathe… can’t!” thumping his hand against the man’s back.

Chapter Text

‘Okay, this is getting ridiculous’ Ritsu thought to himself as he struggled to breathe and break free of Takano’s iron grip. Finally gaining some purchase in the middle of the other’s chest he finally shoved him back and off of him, gasping for breath and leaning against the elevator wall he kept a wary eye on the man. He was going to have bruising later, he was sure of it. Never mind the fact that he bruised like a peach it was the principle of the thing. “We need, boundaries… now.” he panted out and ran the back of his hand across his mouth while glaring at the other, “or this is not going to work out.” he could put up with a lot, but he was well and truly at the end of his tolerance for these sorts of shenanigans. 


Masamune had his eyes on the ground, hidden behind his thick, dark bangs. He was really happy, he wanted to grab hold of Ritsu again, but the words and body language of the other told him that if he wanted him to stay around he’d best give him some space. Shifting to lean against the back wall of the elevator he schooled his features before he dared to even look up at the very pissed off nurse. There were so many things he wanted to say, many of which would probably make Ritsu drop kick him like back in high school, but still they raced through his head. He instead, pressed his lips into a thin line and gave Ritsu a nod to let him know he was listening while he tried to regain his composure on the inside.


The nurse wasn’t sure what to make of the sudden calm expression, other than he knew it was a facade and he wasn’t about to let his guard down. “No grabbing, unless you’re falling down. And I know you weren’t then so even try to get me to believe that bull.” he was still trying to catch his breath, really that guy had been pretending to be weaker than he actually was and Ritsu was having all sorts of issues with him right about now. “Not only is it a breach of my personal space, you’re hurt and you could rip a stitch.” cursing under his breath as he realized he’d have to check the guy’s wound again to make sure he didn’t do just that. What the hell was going through Takano’s head?! “No climbing into my futon or eating food out of my mouth like you did that pocky yesterday!” just remember that as he was on a roll, listing out his complaints. His face was heating up as he went over the list in his head again and over the actions of the other over the time that they’d been brought back together. It couldn’t be that he… NO! He would not even think about that. Ritsu knew he could be pretty dense when it came to things like this but he wasn’t completely oblivious either. Plus, he’d already got his answer to that question over 8 years ago, didn’t he? Oh...Gods…


Masamune just gave a nod with each order that he’d been given, blinking when he took note of the adorable blush that was suffusing the nurse’s cheeks and ears. Looks like the gears were turning finally, damn it. He was hoping to hide the way that he felt until it was that he was better and could properly pursue Ritsu, if he started getting all shy around him now it would put a damper on his plans and really he couldn’t deal with the thought of the man vanishing from his life now that he knew that the younger had indeed been in love with him back then. That had been one of the most painful questions that he had, he’d wondered if the boy had just used him out of curiosity and then dumped him as soon as those ‘curiosities’ had been filled. Knowing that he loved him and that he’d never agreed to the engagement had put a huge balm on his wounded heart. He wanted so badly to hold him, to kiss him, to ask him why he left. That last bit first of course, oh wait, he’d done those already so it was really last. Gods he was so messing things up but he couldn’t help it, Ritsu had loved him! It all hadn’t been some sort of horrible joke or a lie. The elevator doors finally dinged and opened on his floor, pushing off the back he allowed Ritsu off first to open his door. He knew the other man wanted to say more, but he kept stopping himself. Masamune knew the feeling, he was doing the same thing right now.


Ritsu trembled a bit as he slid the key into the lock and opened the door to 1201, a bevy of questions bouncing around in his head that he didn’t dare ask. Like, did you really love me back then and do you have feelings for me now? But he stilled his tongue and merely looked at the man a couple times in concern and confusion. There was a new tension in the air, a tangible vibration of -something- that he did not want to define as sexual. Nope, he couldn’t deal with that now, hell he couldn’t deal with it ever! He’d had these inklings before but not as strong as they were right now. “Do you want some coffee, I want coffee, I’m making coffee.” he blabbered while kicking off his shoes in the genkan and then took off with hurried steps towards the kitchen with Takano’s presence looming behind him all the way. He got the coffee going and then made a soft “Ah!” sound before he came back to quickly check Takano’s wound, finding it fine. He then took off to his ‘room’ rummaging around in one of the fragile boxes he found his English tea set and got it all together on a tray and took it to the kitchen to wash and put on some hot water for the Yunnan tea that An-chan preferred. “Will you want tea Takano-san?” he looked over at the man that was watching him curiously.


He knew the man was preparing to make tea, but it wasn’t a sort that he was familiar with, “Yeah, I’ll try some.” While the tea service was different from what he was used to seeing, he knew what it was of course, he wasn’t stupid. Plus, focusing on this seemed to be calming the other down so he just let him go, sitting in his ‘spot’ and watching Ritsu clean another one of the small, blue cups that belonged with his tea set. “This is how they do it in England, yeah?” he asked as Ritsu was drying out the inside of the pot.


“Yep, and in wealthy households in Japan too. Though I prefer traditional Japanese teas and coffee of course, An-chan likes this Yunnan tea, it’s pretty strong and good for a morning pick me up if you don’t have any coffee around.” He finished drying off all the dishes and went to set up the pot. The doorbell rang and he bolted from the room after turning off the kettle that had just begun a rolling boil. Flinging open the door he smiled at his friend and gave her a quick hug and a peck on the cheek before diving for the baby carrier she held in her hands. Peeling back the blanket and revealing a winter bundled up, slumbering toddler that was drooling slightly onto his bib. Clicking his tongue in disappointment he took the carrier from An-chan and spoke in a low voice, “I’m in the middle of making tea for us, my patient, Takano-san is in the kitchen too. Why don’t you and Rei sit here at the dining table and we’ll bring you out some tea.” he scrunched up his nose as he spoke next, “He’s getting so big! Isn’t his first Birthday next month, oh Gods, did I miss his first step?!” he set the baby down next to the chair that she had settled herself into primly.


“It’s this month Ricchan, on the 28th. You’ve been so busy lately and no, you haven’t missed it but it should have happened already. I’m sure he’s going to be one of those babies that takes his first step and then makes a run for it!” she giggled softly into her hand and looked down at the boy with adoration, “you know how he uses furniture to walk, he’s practically running already. I just think he’s being a little scaredy pants.” she used the edge of the bib to dry the drool, glancing over at the doorway to the kitchen where Takano stood watching them, “Good Morning Takano-san, I’m Kohinata An, thank you for allowing us into your home to visit Ricchan.” Giving him a smile and a half bow from her seat by her son.


“It’s no problem Kohinata-san,” he gave her a bow in return and tried to push back his immediate thoughts of how pretty she was and how perfect she and Ritsu had looked together bent over the child like a couple of doting parents, “Ritsu told me that you are his oldest and dearest friend, it didn’t seem right to refuse with how big of a favor he’s doing for me.” Returning her smile with his showman’s smile that made both her and Ritsu stop and blink, probably not as effective with his battered face and broken nose.


Ritsu gave him a look and then bustled back into the kitchen to make the tea. Setting up the service he didn’t notice that Takano had wandered over to An and the baby Rei. By the time he had the tea steeping he turned to say something to Takano only to see that he wasn’t there. Giving a soft frown he picked up the tray with the tea set, complete with milk and sugar and headed to the dining table to see Takano examining little Rei who still slumbered on.


There was something in the way that Takano’s eyes followed Ritsu that made An pause and fold her hands in her lap. He liked Ritsu, she could clearly see that since she knew what it was like to feel that way and oh, the longing looks, she remembered well. “So, I haven’t heard much about you Takano-san, what do you do for a living?” she allowed him his nervous examination of her son, smiling softly, it was obvious he was new to babies. It sort of reminded her of how cautious Ricchan had been at first.


Masamune backed away from the child, having had a good enough look at the drooling thing, “I’m the Editor-in-chief of the Monthly Emerald at Marukawa.” now what was that look of pity she was giving him? He was in a highly paid and respected position, it didn’t make sense that she’d look at him like that. “Though, I won’t be starting until next week at the soonest, Ritsu said he needed to clear it with the Doctor first.” turning his head and watching Ritsu come to the table with the tea set and put it in the center of the table. Though the coffee brewing in the other room was a heady scent on the air, there was also a strong aroma coming from the pot to mingle with it as Ritsu went to get the extra chair out of the kitchen for him to sit in.


All three of them were sitting around the table now, Ritsu poured the tea straight from the pot into a strainer over each cup in a sort of elegant ceremony. Listening to the two talk he was oblivious to the looks that were passing between the two, “So, how are you all doing? Ame and Katsuro are well I hope?” he added a little milk to his tea and stirred it as he turned his attention to An.


“Ame is in preschool, as you know. She is doing fine but she’s going to throw a fit when she finds out we came to see you today.” sighing at the thought of the tantrum as Ricchan shook his head, “She’s so headstrong, I swear she gets it from Katsuro.” and with the look of disbelief Ricchan sent her she pouted and unknowingly proved his point. “Anyway, Katsuro is doing very well working for Father, he just got a raise not too long ago.” smiling wistfully as she spoke of her husband. “Though he works far too much! Just like you Ricchan, you’re both impossible to pin down and have a proper talk to.” she gave a little sulk as Rei started to stir in his sleep and everyone went still and silent for a few breathless moments until he settled back down, finally she took a sip of her sweetened tea, giving an approving nod. “I’m going to take Rei to have lunch with Daddy today, so I won’t be long here.”


Masamune noted that Ritsu looked very disappointed with her last statement, he himself was pretty pleased with everything that he’d heard thus far. She was married and was going to be out of his home soon so he could be alone with Ritsu. It all sounded good to him. He still didn’t like that look she’d given him, as if he were some abandoned puppy or something. Taking a sip of his tea he was pleased with the taste, surprised that he liked it. He could get used to this stuff, it packed a punch. Giving a soft hum of approval at the flavor when Ritsu arched a brow at him when he’d taken a second drink, “It’s good, first tea I really like.”


Ritsu knew he was smiling like an idiot, but he was happy. He really didn’t have many ‘friends' that he could just sit around and talk to, this was like a normal friendly get together right? “Too bad we don’t have any tea cakes or scones to go with this, sorry for being so ill prepared.” he ducked his head at the look An sent him, but then he noticed Rei was staring at him with big dark blue eyes, “Ah! Hi there sweetie!” and he quickly unfastened the baby from the carrier and scooped him up, flinging off the little knit cap that hid his raven dark hair, stripping him of his little coat and setting him on his feet by the couch in the living room.


An gave a sigh, “When are you going to get over your habit of apologizing for everything Ricchan?…” and then in a blink, Ricchan and her son were way over in the living room with Ritsu chasing him along the couch and trying to get Rei to come to him away from the furniture, “oh well, we’ve lost him…” she sighed and took another sip of tea, turning her gaze on Takano-san, “Ricchan really is the best Godfather, if not the best host, eh Takano-San?” giving the man across from her a playful smile, “so, Ricchan told me in a text he was taking care of a friend, but I’ve never heard of you Takano-san. How did you meet, if I can ask?” gently setting down her china cup.

Chapter Text

`Oh, he was my boyfriend in high school.’ was what he wanted to say, but he didn’t really want to suffer the wrath of the nurse for divulging too much information. Ritsu was starting to get even more jumpy around him, he didn’t need to give him any more of a reason to distance himself from him. “We were friends in high school.” he smiled as he turned his gaze from the lady across from him to the object of his affection currently acting the complete adorable fool. The nurse was trying everything in his power to get the kid to walk to him, it was so cute and made his heart flip flop about in his chest.


An arched both of her delicately shaped brows, “You went to the Boy’s Academy in England with him?” Takano wasn’t a name she was familiar with in any of the influential families in Japan. Ritsu hadn’t even made it a full semester in his commoner school here in Japan, so it only made sense that the man had to be a friend from England. Yet, she couldn’t remember Ritsu ever mentioning a Takano-san before last week. Perhaps he was a scholarship, a gifted child?


“Ah, no…we went to the high school off the XX Line, right here in Tokyo.” he finished off his tea as he continued to watch Ritsu dancing around his living table and trying so very hard to tempt the child away from the safety of his hand holds. He was rewarded with the boy dropping down to crawl after him at a furious pace that made him chuckle while Ritsu yelped and scooped the kid up to blow raspberries on his tummy. Not noting the silence from the other side of the table, since he was so enthralled with watching his love.


An was so very silent, staring at the man across from her in shock. Her tea left forgotten and even the sounds of play across the room faded into the background as she remembered the rejection she’d received back then. She was so surprised that Ricchan would have anything to do with the man, if he was indeed who she thought he may be. She wasn’t hurt by it anymore, she’d come to accept that she’d just had a terrible crush on her friend and came to find her own love with Katsuro when she’d gone to University. Watching Takano, she could see the soft look in his eyes and it was a bit confusing to her. Didn’t Ricchan tell her that his senpai had been using him? Was this another boy that she’d never heard of? No, there was no way. It was one of the many things that Ritsu had confided in her when they’d been so young and foolish. He didn’t have friends because of the fact that he was a little rich boy in a commoner’s school, his mother had made sure of that. There was only one person that he’d gotten close to, and she knew that closeness wasn’t as a platonic friendship, but her best friend’s first love. His only love really, he’d never gotten over the heartbreak and she knew it. She felt the urge to lash out at the man, or to plead with him not to hurt her dear friend again. Swallowing thickly she returned her attention to her tea, taking a sip to clear the bitterness from her throat. It wasn’t any of her business, it wasn’t! But, she just couldn’t help it, lifting her eyes and looking at the older man with a determined gleam to her light brown eyes, “Takano-san,” she waited until he looked at her, he seemed shocked that she was even there, like he’d forgotten that she was sitting right across from him. She spoke in a low voice, only for Takano’s ears, “if you hurt him again, I will never forgive you. I may not even forgive you for what you put him through in the first place. But Ritsu is a grown man and can make his own choices so I won’t presume to think I know what is best for him.” she teared up slightly, remembering how horrible the first few years had been for Ricchan, how much he’d changed and how close he’d come to losing himself forever to the heartache. Dabbing at her eyes with a kerchief she rose to her feet, maybe Ritsu was just doing this out of the kindness of his heart or maybe it was something more. But, it wasn’t any of her business unless Ricchan made it so and so far he’d not confided in her about what she’d learned today. 


Masamune watched the woman in shock, he was floored that she seemed to know who he was just from the little bit of information that he’d given her. But he didn’t deny it, he was far too confused to put up any sort of defense against her words. Ritsu had been hurt? So he did do something to drive him off? He didn’t try to tell her that he’d suffered too because he was pretty sure her answer to that, from the look in her eyes, would have been ‘Good!’ Such was the protective venom in her voice, but she seemed to think that it wasn’t her place to interfere or try to sway Ritsu in his choices. Honestly he was glad for that because he had a feeling that this woman was one of the few people in Ritsu’s life that held any form of sway. He stood up with her as she gathered up her things, gaining Ritsu’s attention who pouted as he cuddled Rei close.


“Already?” Ritsu was disappointed that An and Rei couldn’t stay longer, but as he looked between his oldest friend and his former lover he sensed something a bit off between them. But An just smiled at him and started to put Rei’s coat and hat on as he held Rei still for her, “is everything okay An-chan?” looking a bit concerned, just what had they been talking about over there?!


An pressed a button on her phone and smiled at Ritsu, while talking to someone on the other end of the call, “Could you bring the car around, we’ll be headed downtown now. Thank you.” putting her phone in her purse and taking her son from Ricchan, “Yes, everything is fine Ricchan, I told you we’re having lunch with Katsuro, time to go Rei!” fastening the boy into his carrier.


“Here, let me carry him for you…” Ritsu insisted and lifted up the carrier with the child in it and followed An-chan to the front door where she put on her coat and shoes. Ritsu did the same and he wasn’t surprised when Takano-San put his shoes on too. “Why don’t you stay up here Takano-san, it will only take me a few minutes to help An and Rei into their car and I’ll be right back.” he spoke the last firmly, looking the man straight in the eye, this constant need to follow him about like a duckling had to stop. Plus, it would be good for building up some trust in the man when he did come right back. Maybe he could have a few moments of peace if they did this every now and then in the meantime before his therapy started.


Masamune did -not- like the idea of staying here and leaving the two of them alone. It wasn’t because he was jealous, no this time he was afraid. “Maybe I’ll just… stay by the doors inside.” his anxiety must have been showing because both of the light haired brunettes looked at him with worried expressions. He really hated this feeling but it just wouldn’t go away. He followed the trio to the elevator and boarded with them. “It was nice to meet you Kohinata-san. If you want to visit Ritsu while he’s staying here again, it would be a pleasure to have you.” he didn’t really mean it, but he felt he needed to give some sort of peace offering between them. Maybe if he could convince her that he had no intention of hurting Ritsu it would help him win back the nurse quicker.


An studied Takano for a moment before giving a slight bow, “It was a pleasure to meet you as well Takano-san, perhaps I will come back when I have a bit of time.” giving Ritsu a look, “and maybe you can try to play a proper host and we can talk about where you’re going to be living next. Thank Goodness for Ryoto-sensei, he was kind enough to let me know that you were okay when I heard about the murder, though I do want to find out why someone would attack you in the hospital of all places.” with this she looked at Takano-san, wondering if it had something to do with him. But he held her gaze steadily so it was difficult to tell, it seemed the anxiousness he felt earlier was either hidden or gone. She wasn’t sure what that was about but she knew she’d not get any answers from Ritsu, he may not be getting paid for this but he did keep his patient’s condition confidential.


The elevator doors dinged open on the ground floor as Ritsu carted along the child and felt weird caught between An-chan and Takano-san. Was it his imagination or did it seem as if there was a silent war being waged between the pair? “Ahhaha, sorry about that An-chan, but Rei wanted to play, didn’t you buddy?” he spoke down to the baby in the carrier that squealed and chanted “RiNii! RiNii!” when Ritsu had started talking to him, it made the nurse smile and coo at the baby, slowing down his steps to the front doors, beyond an expensive black foreign car waited with the driver standing at the ready and opening the door for the lady and her son.


An took hold of her childhood friend by the shoulders, causing him to look up at her in surprise, “Seriously Ricchan, I’m so glad you’re okay.” her fingers lightly brushing over the bruise on his jaw with a frown, “No more fights and no more dangerous neighborhoods. You’re not a college student anymore so no excuses!” though she softened her words with a smile, “Well, not -just- a college student anymore. You’re paid enough to live in a better neighborhood.” Taking her son from him and passing him to the driver so he could put him in his carseat. Giving Ritsu a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek, she wiped off the bit of pink left by her lipstick before turning to bow to Takano-san, “I’ll see you around!” she called in farewell to both of them before having the driver open the car door for her to get in, “take care!” she called before the door shut and the driver turned to bow to the both of them before returning to the driver's seat.


Ritsu bowed to his friend, “Take care, see you soon!” before rising to wave at them as the car pulled away and took off down the road. Heaving a sigh he looked over at Takano-san, “I thought you were going to stay by the doors?” turning on his heel and getting the idiot back inside before he caught a chill.


Masamune hadn’t even realised he’d followed them out the door and didn’t even notice the chill until Ritsu pointed it out. Shivering as he followed the other inside, “I wanted to get a closer look at that car, it was nice.” he offered lamely. True he liked cars but he’d been too stunned by the hug and kiss between the friends to even notice the make and model of the thing. Even if they were long time friends, it seemed a bit much to him. “What’s with all the hugging and kissing anyway, that’s not very Japanese of either of you.” he frowned when Ritsu snorted and covered his nose with his hand.


“Ah, neither of us are full Japanese, An-chan’s mother is French, she actually goes there a lot to visit family. It’s just something she picked up over there.” and then he pointed towards his own eyes, “I got these from a Scottish ancestor, my…” frowning softly and hitting the button on the elevator, “I have some English ancestry too.” his voice taking on a more somber tone, rubbing the back of his head and neck in that nervous way of his. “It’s just the way it’s always been, it’s quite common over there with family and close friends, to show more affection.”


This was obviously hard for him to talk about, he knew about the disownment from his family. Perhaps it hurt a bit more after seeing his friend? “You don’t have to talk about it, I don’t like talking about my family either.” putting a hand on his shoulder and earning a small yet sad smile in return.


“I don’t know, it’s just seeing An-chan, her family.” shrugging his shoulders, “I sort of wish I could have had a warm and loving family like that. It’s bad isn’t it, to be jealous of your friend’s happiness.” chuckling bitterly, “makes me feel like an awful person, but really I’m happy for her.”


Masamune’s eyes went wide, hearing something that could have been a lighter mirror of his own thoughts when he was a teen and just getting to know Ritsu, “Hey, it’s nothing to feel that bad about, I mean isn’t it normal to want to be happy and loved by your family?” he looked away, feeling a deep sense of guilt so he admitted, “I was actually jealous of you at first, back in school. I thought you had that warm loving family and there was mine falling apart. But no, I find out much later you had your own problems and knowing you, you didn’t say anything because you knew I was going through a lot of crap.” he glanced at the nurse, the blush on his cheeks was answer enough.


Ritsu ducked his head, “We really shouldn’t talk about the past, yet we keep coming right back to it.” he gave the other a sad smile, “but you are right, I didn’t say anything because you seemed to be having a harder time with everything than I did. I just got really good and pretending everything was okay you know? Plus, you don’t really want to talk about your problems when you don’t even understand them yourself at that age, hell,” he chuckled, “I had a hard enough time stringing a sentence together when trying to talk to you, unless it was about books of course. Gah!” slashing his hand through the air, “enough of this, we have to talk to sensei and see about getting you in to see a therapist.” there were enough problems they had to deal with in the here and now. Regardless of all the things in the past that needed to be talked about but were best left to rest for now. It was a bit disturbing how easy it was to slip into talk of the past, he’d have to be careful what he said in the future, until they were both ready to deal with the ghosts that haunted them.

Chapter Text

After they got back up in the apartment, Ritsu prepped some beef stew to have for dinner and then got to work setting up an appointment for Takano-san.  The problem was, there weren’t any openings close enough for his peace of mind. Rubbing at his forehead and leaning on his elbow against the living room table he frowned in displeasure, “Are there any other therapists that you could recommend that have openings in less then two weeks?” green eyes flicking over to the man that was still following him around, this wasn’t good. 


If he didn’t get the man in to see a professional the chances of Ryoto-sensei allowing him to go back to work got slimmer. Flopping his head back on the couch behind him and squeezing his eyes closed in exasperation. “Seriously?” sighing as he looked up at the ceiling, suddenly having an idea, “Hey, what if I give him my appointment, I have one on Friday with Emiko-sensei…” tapping his bottom lip as the lady on the other end spoke, “Yeah, sure transfer me, that’s fine, thank you very much.” 


Waiting as the call was transferred, waiting and hoping that they therapist would pick up and smacking a palm to his forehead when he got her answering service, “Hello, Emiko-sensei. This is Oda Ritsu and I have an appointment with you this Friday at 14:00. I have a patient that recently suffered a trauma that has given him severe anxiety and panic. It is imperative that he is able to see someone as soon as possible and I was wondering if he could have my appointment and I can take the later one. Please return my call at your earliest convenience,” he left his contact number and thanked her for her trouble before hanging up.


Masamune watched him in silence as he tried to pull strings to get him in to get help as soon as possible. Something about it was making him even more anxious. He knew that he’d have to go in and talk to this person by himself but that meant he wouldn’t have Ritsu with him and the thought of that made his heart race uncomfortably in his chest. He tried to hide this fact, looking from the nurse to the window and closing his eyes. It was true, he couldn’t allow this fear to rule him, but damn it he was pretty damn sure he had every right to be afraid. Ritsu may decide to just take off on him like he did last time. Gods, he couldn’t live through that again.


Ritsu noted the stiffness in the other’s shoulders, “Listen, talking to someone will really help and I can tell you that Emiko is a really nice person and has done a lot to help me. It’s not going to get better over-night Takano-san but she can get you some medication that may help to take the edge off while we try to get you accustomed to being more independent again.” he pushed himself up from his seat on the floor to sit on the couch instead, leaning his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together he looked at the elder intently. “You have your job to think about and I’m sure that they wouldn’t appreciate you dragging me around with you everywhere.” not to mention that he had his own responsibilities to keep up with. 


The phone on the table started to vibrate and the younger was quick to pick it up and answer, “Ritsu here… Yes, hello Emiko-sensei. Mmmhmm, yes… Alright, thank goodness. Okay that won’t be a problem. I’ll set up a new appointment and we’ll be there to fill out the intake forms a half hour before the appointment. Yes, I’m sure… Thank you so much, talk to you later.” Ritsu sent a bright smile to Takano, ending the call. “Guess it’s a good thing I’m a long time patient there, she’s willing to see you Friday, we just need to go in early to fill out some paperwork and you’ll be all set. I’m going to call Ryoto-sensei now.” Or well, his answering service anyway. He was able to leave a message for his superior with his plan on how he would be able to go back to school and informed him about the sessions that Takano would be starting in just a couple days.


The older of the pair thought that Ritsu looked far too pleased with himself. Was he trying to get rid of him? Masamune sat there and stared out the window with a gloomy look on his face, not wanted to look at the nurse because his feelings were all a jumbled mess and he didn’t want to say anything that he may regret. He was a bit surprised to feel a warm hand on his shoulder. Golden brown eyes sliding up to connect with the pair of green that were intently taking in his expression. He looked away again, hiding his eyes between his dark bangs.


“You’re overthinking things.” Ritsu came to the conclusion as he caught a glimpse of that helpless and hopeless look in Takano’s eyes. “You think I’m going to make a run for it aren’t you? Takano-san, I have a full year of Uni paid for and I haven’t lost my job yet. I’m not going anywhere, well I will have to when I go to work and school. As well as when I find a place to live after you’re able to take full care of yourself again.” he felt Takano’s large hand reach up and squeeze his own. “I’m not going to be moving far, I haven’t even started looking yet because I don’t want to freak you out.” which by the grip on his hand it seemed that he’d done it anyway. Sitting on the end of the low table and giving a sigh, “Look at me.” he ordered, Takano was reluctant to lift his gaze back to him, but when he finally did Ritsu told him with firmness to his tone, “I am not going -anywhere-, I swear to you I will not vanish on you, I won’t suddenly up and move to the other side of Japan or the World for that matter. I give you my word, I will help you through this and we will resolve what happened in the past. Please, stop looking at me like that or I swear I will put myself on a GPS program on your phone and make you the freaking stalker, got it?” Offering up a smile, trying to make a joke and lift the other man’s spirits.


Takano tilted his head to the side and actually had the audacity to say, “You know, that’s not a bad idea…” watching as the green eyes peering into his own got wider and wider in shock, it was a funny expression but he was being totally serious.


“You… cannot be serious…” but the look in the elder’s eyes told him that he was indeed not joking about this. “Takano-san! It was a joke! A joke!” Ritsu squeaked out in his surprise that the man was actually willing to go that far.


He gave a wry smile, though he was still being completely honest, “If I could chip you I would.” chuckling with Ritsu squealed out a rather loud disapproval of that plan.


“Yeah, the sooner we get you into therapy the better,” the nurse muttered under his breath. This topic had become incredibly uncomfortable and did nothing more than start to put more proof to his suspicions. His phone buzzed and he leaned back to scoop it off the table to answer the call, “Ritsu here, ah Ryoto-sensei I’m glad you got back to me so quickly, eh?” blinking slowly and then his face broke out into a huge grin, “Really!? That’s great! Oh, okay yeah that shouldn’t be a problem, my sleep schedules all messed up anyway so a change in shifts shouldn’t be a problem.” he gave Takano a thumbs up with a wide grin and was practically bouncing on the balls of his feet from the good news. “Okay, yeah. We can stop by on Friday after his appointment to pick up the forms, Yeah, three days a week, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, latest class gets out at 14:00. I’m not sure, hold on.” He turned his attention to Takano-san, “Hey, what hours are you going to be working at Marukawa?”


Takano thought for a moment, “It really varies, since it’s a new position for me I’ll probably have to go in around 09:00 to start getting everything settled, meet my subordinates and get a game plan going on how to save the Magazine.” making a face, “one of the things I’m not looking forward to is having to see Yokozawa again, still pissed at him.”


Ritsu made a face and asked, “Okay, that works for me, I can sit in the lounge or something ‘til I have to go to class and come to pick you up when I’m done. Though, if you could arrange it so I don’t have to see that man, I’d be happy. Half days should be fine to start out with right? Ryoto-sensei has cleared you until 15:00” 


“Yeah, they’ll probably just be glad that I can start doing something. I’ll give Isaka-san a call to see, just to be sure but it should be fine. Don’t worry about Yokozawa.” if he had anything to say about it, the man would not be laying eyes on Ritsu again. Just because he had to work with the man didn’t mean that he’d trust his once friend around Ritsu again.


The nurse spoke to the doctor for a bit longer and when he finally hung up he turned to Takano-san with a huge smile on his face, “I get to go back to work after I’m done with this job!” he was so relieved, it practically radiated off the young man, “I was so worried, oh thank the Gods!” Flopping down on the couch and resting his head against the back, “I was worried I’d never be able to find another job in nursing again, oh!” tilting his head to look at Takano-san, “and I don’t have to work the overnight shift anymore, I’m going to second shift so I’ll be able to actually sleep at night like a human.” chuckling softly with a wide grin still plastered across his lips, “I’m so glad…”


This news made Masamune happy too, it meant that Ritsu wasn’t going to have to move to find a job elsewhere and would be staying right here in Tokyo. “We should celebrate, I’m not on heavy medication so a few beers should be okay right?” He watched as Ritsu’s face twisted up into a grimace, he had to wonder what the problem was.


“Ah, you probably don’t want me to have any drinks.” though to be honest it would be nice to have a couple of beers and there was some in the fridge. “I’m a terrible drunk and a really, really lightweight on top of it.” he looked so unsure but at the same time sorely tempted to just have maybe a cold one to commemorate the fact that  he still had a job.


Masamune gave a snort, “Oh come on, you can’t be that bad, and a couple beers shouldn’t affect you that much right?” trying to coax the man into having a cold one or two with him. Ritsu still seemed on the ledge about the whole thing, so Masamune rolled his eyes and got up from his chair and went to get the six pack out of the fridge. Popping the tabs on two he passed one to Ritsu, “Come on, it’ll be good to loosen up a bit.” Truthfully he hadn’t had a drink in a long time either so he would do well to not get carried away.  “Kanpai!”


Ritsu lifted his own can and tapped it to Takano-san’s, maybe this was a bad idea. Nah, just one or two, he should be fine. “Kanpai!”

Chapter Text

Two beers would have been fine, Ritsu was just a bit more giggly and talked a lot more when he had a slight buzz. The ‘Change’ occurred when he downed the third can and popped the fourth right after it, “Oi, Ritsu maybe you should slow down.” Masamune held his third can in his hand as Ritsu chugged back on the fourth and slammed the can on the table, making it fizz and splash though the opening.


“Dun tell meeee wha t’do, yer not tha boss of meeee!” he jabbed a finger towards Takano-san, beer in hand, sending more of the amber liquid sloshing over the edge. “M’tha boss! Got that! Meee! Ya hafta listen ta me cuz Imm da boss!” and an inelegant hiccup topped off the end of his slurred rant, “baaaaakaaaaa…” hiccuping and growling as his body swayed slightly, his emerald eyes a haze as he looked for another can since he’d spilled most of the one in his hand all over the table, “Look wha you made mee doo!” sliding a hand through the liquid and giggling as he traced a smiley face with lopsided devil horns out of the drizzle. “S’youuuuuu!” and then he started to cackle madly, falling to his side and letting the snorts in his laughter free.


Masamune simply arched a brow at his companion’s antics, fully able to appreciate the truth of what the other had warned him of before they’d started drinking. “So, I’m the devil eh?” he chuckled softly. Surreptitiously taking the rest of the beer and hiding it under the chair that he was leaning against, trusting the upholstery to keep it hidden from the drunk, “not the worst I’ve been called, but I thought we were getting along, almost like friends y’know?” quickly drinking the rest of his beer so Ritsu wouldn’t get his hands on it.


“Mmm… yeah, cept yer weird… so, so weird. Lot nicer ta meee but weeeeirrrrd...” the nurse drawled out as he tried to push himself up into a sitting position. It wasn’t going well for him so he just sorta leaned against his hands and looked over his shoulder with a bleary gaze. Crawling the distance between them and peering into his eyes that were still as lovely as he remembered, even if he had the darkness of bruises fading around them, “makin’ me crazy. Not leavin’ me alone…” he poked at the corner of Takano-san’s mouth now, “An, you smile sooo much more now.” tilting his head, “stupid Takano should haf smiled back den like dis… uh huh.” flopping down next to the man on his back, still peering up at him, “yer eyes aren’t all blargh an sad either,” furrowing his brows in confusion, “why ya such an ashhole huh? Ya were a big fat jerkface in school ya know?!” practically screaming that last part at him before he was cut off by another hiccup. “Nah haf a boyfrud, haf a boyFIEND… ya, dat’s what ya were!” giggling madly as he landed a sloppy and weak punch against the other’s upper arm.


The elder didn’t know if he should be offended or laughing right now, chuckling softly as the smaller man rolled around next to him, hoping he didn’t find the stash of beer. “Yeah, I was a stupid brat in school.” though he supposed he hadn’t treated Ritsu all that kindly back then and in the beginning his thoughts about the boy had been anything but well intentioned. But still, he’d really fallen in love with him in the end before everything went to shit. “I don’t remember being a ‘big fat jerkface’ though…” he trailed off, trying to think of what the other could have meant by saying that. Surely Ritsu didn’t know of his truly dark thoughts in the beginning, but that was before he’d gotten to know the boy and fell for him hard.


“Well ya weeeree!” Ritsu sniffed and looked away, muttering, “an if ya dun ‘member it yer just gonna haff ta think about it cuz I’m not gonna tell ya…” a big yawn popped his jaw as the alcohol buzzed through his veins… “ah gotta stew the stir…” he mumbled under his breath, trying to lift himself up on his feet but wobbling and plopping right back down to where he’d been before, weak as a newborn colt. “Waaah! S’gunna buuuuuurn!” tears gathering in the corners of his mossy toned eyes, “save da steeeeeew!” he looked at the one he was supposed to be taking care of imploringly.


The tawny eyed male frowned, not liking that even in his inebriated state his kouhai wasn’t forthcoming with any answers, the stubborn little git. “It’s easier to just tell a person when there’s something wrong instead of being all elusive with your complaints.” he pushed himself up to his feet, “fine, fine. I’ll go save the stew. Food will probably help your drunk ass.”


“M’ Na Drunk!... HiC!” a wild screech tore from Ritsu’s throat, making the guy on the floor wince, “kay, meebee a lil..” struggling to sit up again. Flailing and rolling along the floor trying to push himself up once he got on his belly again.


“So noisy,” the elder muttered and made a note to keep alcohol away from the nurse until he was fully healed and able to wrangle him better. “Yeah, just a little Ritsu.” he snorted as he sauntered into the kitchen and went to stir the stew instead of whatever it was that Ritsu had suggested he do. “This is done, want some?”


“Yaaaaaaa!” he cheered from his hands and knees, trying to angle himself up and over to plop on his butt and flop forward on the beer soaked table, “Ugh…” wiggling about to take off his shirt and use it to mop up the mess he had made clumsily. “Taaakanooo shannnn! I haf beer all ova mah faaaaaace!” he whimpered and looked around for something to mop the drink off his face, shrugging and unbuttoning his pants.


“I’ll bring out a towel, keep your pants on, sheesh…” he’d said it as a turn of phrase, not realising that the other was truly about to shuck his jeans in the other room. He used the tray that Ritsu had used to serve the tea and got two big steamy bowls of delicious smelling beef stew, a couple large slices of crusty bread and two cups of black coffee before grabbing the towel and picking up the tray in his right hand. Balancing it as he headed back into the living room but halting in his tracks and he stared with wide eyes at a half naked Ritsu using his shirt to clean off the table. “What the hell are you doing?!” Were his pants undone?!


He looked up at Takano with hazy drunken eyes, “Cleanin’ off da table, duh…” the tiny hiccup lifting his slender shoulders and making his lithe frame rock.


Masamune stood there, drinking in the sight of that lean muscled torso. Beer dripping down from his angelic face to drizzle down his toned chest, finely chiseled abs rippled with another hiccup. He found himself swallowing thickly as he observed those pert rosy nipples that were pebbling from the chill of the room.


Ritsu leaned towards the man that seemed to be frozen in place, “Huh? Wha’s wrong? Did you hurt yourself!?” that seemed to sober him considerably as he staggered to his feet and hurried over to Takano to take the tray from him and set it on the table, his head was merely buzzing now, but fear had cleared away some of the drunken haze. But not enough for him to realize what the issue was or the fact that he didn’t button his jeans back up so they were slung low and barely hanging on to his squared hips, showing off the fine arches of his hip bones as nimble fingers worked the buttons of Takano’s shirt to check his wound. Frowning when he saw all was fine he jerked his gaze up to the taller man, “Are you in pain?”


Hell yes he was in pain, his smouldering amber gaze drinking in the sight before him, feeling a tightness in his jeans as his breathing picked up in pace. Fingers reaching out to brush up the other’s naked chest, over his collarbone to his neck, collecting droplets of beer along the way. Ritsu’s face burst into flames that went all the way down his pale chest in a heated blush as those fingers ghosted over his chin to his lower lip before he drew his hand  away to put his fingers into his mouth to suck them clean. Paralyzed, staring into one another’s eyes as his heart pounded heavily in his chest.


Green eyes got wider and wider during the slow trek of those long fingers. Highly conscious of the blazing path they left in their wake. His throat felt as if it had closed up and he was pretty sure he’d forgotten how to breathe. He stood there, stupidly stunned as he watched the other suck his fingers clean. A staggering breath finally raked into his lungs, he wasn’t sure if he was about to scream but was supremely mortified when all that escaped his lips was a sort of pathetic mewl. Heart beating frantically in his chest as he felt fingers blazing over his cheeks to sink into his hair feeling Takano’s hot panting breaths against his lips as the other dipped slowly closer and closer to capture. Every instinct told him to run but his body stubbornly refused to obey. “Ahhh…” he was trying to say that this wasn’t a good idea, but then suddenly their lips were meshed together in a slow and agonizing kiss that made his toes curl and his limbs to turn to jelly. Against his will his fingers curled into Takano’s shirt as his lips parted at the insistent tongue that begged entry at the seam of his mouth. He was shaking, fingers trembling against the soft fabric of the button down that was half opened from his checking of the wound a few moments before. His mind spun out of control as this sweet kiss was the only thing that was and ever would be for a few breathless moments before the rude return of reality.


He still had that same sweetness of years past and gods, he was hungry for it. His lips slowly devouring the smaller man’s, holding him in place and just relishing in the feel of his silken hair and his soft as satin mouth. Moving his mouth to his cheeks to kiss up the drops of liquid left behind, feather light brushes of the tongue as he worked his way over his chin to the other side to ‘clean’ his other cheek. Listening to those rasping breaths as one hand wandered down from his hair  to his shoulder, pulling at him, bringing his body closer and closer until they were sharing heat, pulling him flush against his taller frame, unable to resist anymore he started to drop wet kisses onto the smooth expanse of Ritsu’s slender neck. Suckling on that tender and sweetened flesh with a soft groan.


He couldn’t think straight, if he could this would have never even begun. Forest eyes rolling back as lips trailed in a fiery path down his neck to the delicate curve of his collar bone. “Takano-san” his got out huskily. His arms had somehow wrapped around the other’s  waist of their own accord, clinging to the man so he didn’t fall to the floor like a fumbling fool. If his clinical mind was working he would have been concerned for the other, that part of himself was struggling with the baser part of himself that hadn’t felt anything like this in years, 8 and a half to be exact. “Ah!...” a sharp gasp as his back arched when Takano’s hot mouth closed over his left nipple, circling the bud with his tongue. Ritsu’s fingers clenched and dug into the larger man’s back, pressing crescents into the flesh even through the fabric, “Takano-san!...” feeling the man’s thigh move between his legs as his body gave a jerk and suddenly causing the other to hiss out in pain as his splinted nose was lightly bumped.


He didn’t want to, but the pain made him jerk back from that sweet skin he’d missed so much. He felt a throb and lifted his fingers to his nose, eyes burning from the pain. “Shit…” and Ritsu had been -letting- him touch him. Returning his kiss and holding him close! GOD DAMN HAITANI!!! His mind screamed as he felt Ritsu guiding him to sit on the dining chair. His eyes clenched closed as Ritsu pried his hand away from his nose to take a closer look.


Ritsu was frantic, beside himself on the inside. But on the outside he seemed calm and collected as he inspected Takano’s nose. The splint was still in place, it hadn’t shifted or become dislodged from the bump. There was no blood and his nose still seemed straight, “Do you feel a continuous pinching or a stabbing pain or is it fading?”


His nose still throbbed, but if felt as if it were starting to go away, “Fading..” blinking his eyes a few times to clear the burn and seeing Ritsu right there in front of him. So beautiful, an angel, his eyes filled with concern as he examined his nose and then turned those worried eyes up to him and freezing when he saw him studying him. He saw his adam's apple bob as he swallowed and hurriedly got to his feet.


“I..idiot. You’re lucky you didn’t ruin all the healing you’ve done so far... “ he rubbed his fingers back through his hair in nervousness. “You… you broke the personal space rule… like, by a lot!..” but then, he didn’t push him away… damn it, this wasn’t good. There was no doubt about it now, there was ‘something' that the man felt for him, the depths of which he wasn’t sure and didn’t know if he really wanted to be enlightened. “I’m going to wash my face and put on a shirt.” Rushing with hurried steps from him he didn’t notice that Takano had reached for him as he was scurrying away, but the man’s hand missed and he escaped to his room to grab a shirt and then he closed himself in the bathroom, breathing heavily as clarity started to return and the gravity of the situation was becoming more and more clear, what the hell was he supposed to do?!

Chapter Text

He’d turned on the cold water in the tub and in the sink, wanting to bring himself to full sobriety as soon as humanly possible. Why had he agreed to drink, he always did the dumbest things when he got a couple cold ones brewing in his belly. Taking off his shirt like that and his pants! He’d nearly taken off his pants! Looking at himself in the mirror, kiss swollen lips and hazy lust filled eyes. He even had a kiss mark below his collar bone where Takano had gotten a little too attentive. His jeans slung so low his boxers were showing as the pants were about to fall to the floor. What the hell was wrong with him under the effects of alcohol?!


He noted with not a whiff of surprise that his hands were shaking as he cupped them under the icy stream from the faucet. Splashing it into his face and gasping at the shock of cold he did it over and over again until the tub was filled. Trying to take the blush from his cheeks and reduce the puffiness of his lips. He turned off the faucet when he felt a little better and tottered over to the tub.  Looking at the rippling surface with trepidation, honestly he was feeling much more clear of mind now, but he had another problem that needed to be abolished before he could show his face again.


Shucking off the rest of his clothing and trying to ignore the sensitivity of his body, gods he was on fire from just a little kissing! His cheeks still flamed red as he quickly stepped into the tub and gasped at the coldness of it. Oh this was going to suck so hard. He clenched his eyes closed and quickly lowered himself into the frigid water until he was completely submerged. Plugging his nose with pinched fingers and feeling like he was going to turn into a block of ice in record time, damn the water ran cold in this complex!


Masamune had moved to the door, worried of course because of all the running water and all the splashing sounds coming from beyond. Licking his lips, god he could still taste him there. Pressing his palm flat against the bulge in his jeans. He cursed his weakness but at the same time he was grateful for the chance to at least hold Ritsu for the small amount of time that he’d been allowed. He just hoped the man didn’t come bursting from the bathroom and make for the front door, leaving him behind yet again. So of course his panic had urged him to put himself between Ritsu and escape.


He blinked at the sound of sloshing water and a choked gasp that turned into a hacking cough, “Oi! Ritsu are you okay in there?!”  The coughing and hacking continued but there were the telltale sounds of sloshing water and the squeak of feet and hands against the walls of the tub as he could picture the other dragging himself out of the bath. Trying really hard not to think about Ritsu naked and failing miserably at it. Letting out a low groaning growl as he forced himself to thrust the image from his mind. He took slow breaths to get himself under control, Ritsu didn’t need him pouncing him as soon as he stepped out the door.


Ritsu laid on the cold tiles, shivering violently and coughing with just as much vigor. Okay, maybe he’d stayed under for a little too long… His body jerking as he expelled more water, gasping in a rattle of air, “Fine!” he wheezed, okay he didn’t sound fine but that was because he’d shocked his system and inhaled a bit of water or maybe a liter. “I’m fine, just a sec!..” gods, he was such a mess. Rubbing a hand over his face, noting the numb feeling in the tips of his fingers and wondering if his lips were blue. He needed to get dressed quickly or he’d make himself sick.


Coughing into his fist he got to his feet shakily started to dry off his body with a soft towel, shivering all the while. Well at least he didn’t have that ‘problem’ down below anymore, if anything it, along with his balls, were hiding somewhere around his kidneys now. They probably wouldn’t dare show themselves for a while. Nor did he have the issue of his body being on fire, the bath had cure him quite thoroughly of both dilemmas. “Do you need to use the bathroom Takano-san?” he queried then cleared his throat, finally able to breathe freely again.


The dark haired man frowned, “No, you were just making a lot of noise in there…” forcing a small smile on his face when Ritsu opened the door and looked up at him with his drenched hair dripping into his bright, beautiful eyes, though his lips did look a little blue, making him slightly concerned even though it was obvious what he’d done to make them that way, “you look like a drowned rat…” the elder quipped. Maybe he’d just forget about everything, he was giving him the option to drop it and pretend nothing happened.


Ritsu snorted softly and moved past him, towel drying his hair as he went, “Sorry about the noise, just needed to sober up quick.” Dressed back up completely as if that were a bit of armor against the eyes of the other man. He saw the food and coffee on the dining table, turning his head he took note of the mess he’d made in the living room and sighed. “I’ll take care of that after we eat.” Looking over his shoulder at the elder as he allowed the towel to rest around his neck, motioning for the other to come join him.


Masamune waited until Ritsu finally sat down at the table and continued to look at him until he went over to join him. The furrow in the younger’s brows clued him into the fact that he must be behaving strangely in his ‘guarding’ of the front door. He sat down across from Ritsu, looking down at one of his favorite meals and then back up towards the young man studying him from across the table.


His former senpai had his features schooled, making him difficult to read to most people. But Ritsu had been around him long enough to know that he was a nervous wreck underneath that calm facade. “I’m not going anywhere, I promised you that…” he said with a hint of annoyance, even if he had every reason to run to protect himself, he just couldn’t leave Takano when he needed his help still. Plus, they had so much that they needed to talk about past events to put behind them. Clapping his hands together in a quick prayer, Takano doing the same, before he slowly stirred his stew with his spoon, “So, what exactly do you want from me Takano-san?” Green eyes flicked up to pin the other in question that he wished he could have asked with a bit more elegance.


Masamune had been about to dig into his meal, thinking that Ritsu was going to drop his indiscretion earlier. Staring at those intense green eyes that seemed to delve into his wounded soul, “I want you back, I want another chance.” he may as well be honest though saying it outloud made his heart pound, “I could never forget you, never move past you or find anyone that made me feel the way you do… I…” he was cut off by Ritsu’s hand held up between them, it was shaking and the younger looked angry and that made Masamune’s heart throb painfully.


Years ago, hearing this, he could have died happy. But now, it just filled him with anger that he had to tamp down on because Takano could not handle a lot of stress right now. Just how much stress had he been putting himself through already due to how he obviously felt. Going back over the last week that he’d been back in the life of the other man he remembers all the times his pulse raced when he was measuring it. How his body reacted to him when he’d helped him in the shower. Finding him in his futon this morning that seemed so long ago. Him getting crushed in the elevator by that hug, the pocky incident and countless other things that made it clear the other had at least wanted him sexually. 


He’d been trying to deny it the whole time due to the fact that the man had suffered a trauma and latched onto him with a need now that was easy to explain. Sighing softly as he started to eat his supper. “Still not running, but I can’t give you what you want Takano-san.” he was unable to look at the other at the moment due to his racing heart and the desire to give him a tongue lashing over something he should have said years and years ago. “I’m your nurse and that’s all it can ever be.”


Frowning as he listened to the other speak, he knew that Ritsu was trying really hard not to get mad at him from his tense posture. “I know I don’t deserve it, I don’t know what I did that finally made you kick me and leave like that. But I do know that I wasn’t the best boyfriend in the world. But if you do give me another chance I would treat you like the precious thing that you are.” oh, look at that blush! He finally dug into his meal too in the silence that ensued after his declaration. He wasn’t going to give up just because Ritsu’s first answer had been no. He’d waited for him for too long and he was not about to let this opportunity slip away from him.


Ritsu was sorely tempted to go back into the bathroom for another ice cold bath as his cheeks heated with a fierce blush with the words Takano said to him. “We don’t even know each other anymore, really. It has been eight and a half years, we’ve both changed a lot since we were kids Takano-san…” drinking down his coffee and going to fetch the carafe from the kitchen, sitting down and pouring himself another cup before continuing his meal.


“You haven’t changed that much, you’re still sweet and caring. You’re strong, sensitive and smart. If anything you’ve become even more beautiful now than ever before because of your selfless profession.” Masamune spoke without hesitation, Ritsu had slowly looked up at him, blushing all the while as he’d sung his praises. “It’s true we don’t know everything about one another, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn Ritsu.”


Was it possible for him to glow any brighter? He didn’t think so from how hot he felt from the inferno that his face had become. He lowered his head to hide his face behind his bangs, “But, you don’t understand, even if everything you say is true.” swallowing thickly and tightening his grip on his spoon, “Nothing can happen between us… I’m poison to your profession. Because of who I am, there’s a chance, no...a certainty that my family would do something to make sure you can't work in the editing industry ever again.”

Chapter Text

Takano stared at Ritsu in stunned silence for a few moments after he got done with his warnings. Were the Onodera’s really that vindictive that they would ruin their son’s chance at finding happiness all because they don’t agree with the way that he was born ? From the way that Ritsu had his head bowed in shame or embarrassment, Masamune believe that the younger believed his claims to be completely true. Ritsu wasn’t even looking at him, he had his head lowered, hiding his beautiful eyes from view but he could still see the vivid pink on his cheeks left behind from the confession he’d given the man just before he tried to deny him again, this time in warning over losing his job.


Setting down his spoon beside the bowl of half eaten stew, he rose from his seat and walked the short distance between the two. Ristu looked up at him with a hint of shock as he stood over him, looking down and then dropping to his knees before him, gripping on to the hands that Ristu held clasped in his lap. It was an uncomfortable position since Ritsu was facing the table with his legs underneath. But Masamune wanted to touch him, as if it would help to convey his feelings, his honesty and desire just from the simple contact.


Gazing up into those startled emerald orbs he spoke in a low tone with certainty, “I don’t care, I can find another job.” lifting his right hand to cup Ritsu’s flushed cheek, “but there is not another you , Ritsu.” he’d learned that the hard way. Years of loneliness and pain. Trying to gain comfort through alcohol or through meaningless trysts that did nothing but make everything so much worse. “They can try and take my job or my home. They can try and shame me before the world but I don’t give a damn, if what I get out of all that is you Ritsu, it’s more than worth it.” brushing away the tears that were streaming from that lovely jade eye and staining his silken cheek. 


“I would go through anything just to have one more chance to be with the only person I have ever loved.” whispering softly and trying like hell not to cry himself because he felt as if so much rested on how successful he was on convincing Ritsu of his sincerity. “I can’t live in a world without you in it ever again Ritsu, a piece of me left with you that day, because of something stupid I did I’m sure. But it’s back now, it’s here because you are and I have a chance to feel complete again. Please Ritsu, please… give me the chance to tell you that I love you every single day of your life.” He rested his head against the younger man’s arm, feeling him shaking in the seat from the emotions that were no doubt roiling within him, “Please, I want to hear you say that you love me again. Anything, I would do anything to have that back.” his voice sounded too rough, too emotional for his own ears so he knew Ritsu would pick up on the fact that he was nearly in tears himself.


The poor nurse was stunned into silence, his only contribution to all those beautiful and heart-rending words was the constant flow of tears from his wide eyes. Part of him couldn’t believe that the quiet closed off boy that he’d fallen in love with so very long ago was on his knees beside him as a full grown man, begging him for another chance. Part of him was panicking, okay a lot of him was panicking right now because of his trust issues. He didn’t know what the hell to say to all of that and felt that anything that he did manage to say just wouldn’t be right. The other part of him that wasn’t panicking wanted to throw himself upon the man that used to be the boy at the center of his world and never let go. Right now, those two sides of him were warring as Takano pressed his forehead to his upper arm, no doubt feeling the tremble that was vibrating through his entire form.


It was unfair really, that he could be so open now where before when he’d needed him to be open with him he hadn’t been able to give him the reassurances that he had needed. But, it’s true at the time that Takano was going through a lot. His family had been going through a bitter divorce and he could tell his senpai wasn’t getting the attention that he’d needed, the comfort of a family that should have been there for him. Oh yes, Ritsu understood that feeling fully and knew how much it hurt, especially where his mother was concerned. “I…” his voice was too high and choked, tearing one of his hands free to cover his mouth with trembling fingers, his voice muffled, “I’m afraid.” he whispered lowly. Turning his gaze away from Takano, hiding again behind the fall of his long bangs, “I don’t want to be hurt like that again… it nearly destroyed me Takano-san.” eyes leaking as he closed them against the pain. “I turned ugly, my personality. I lashed out at everyone that tried to befriend me and even said hurtful things to An-chan who’d been my closest friend since I was a child.”


Taking in a ragged breath and speaking in a hushed tone, “I couldn’t survive loving like that, and losing it again. I had been insecure because of what you said to me in the library that one day. You’d asked me if I was mad when you called me annoying and gross...” He shook his head sadly, “but I wasn’t mad, I was hurt, so hurt. And when I finally got the courage to ask you if we were really going out, if you felt anything at all for me… You snorted in laughter so I thought that I’d been nothing but a joke, a plaything...” it had made him into a jaded soul. Without love or care for anyone else because he’d come to believe that was just what it was really like in the world once his ‘blinders of youth and innocence had been stripped away. It left him bare and raw to all the ugliness in those around him. Yet abrasive to people that had truly cared about him, instead of dealing with his pain in healthy ways.


Masamune’s heart ached, knowing that he’d caused so much harm to the young and trusting soul that Ritsu had been once upon a time. Oh, if he could go back, he would have told him every moment of every precious day they had been together that he loved him with all of his heart. “I’m so, so sorry Ritsu. I was a stupid kid. A brat I know, I know I messed up.” more than ever now he knew it. “It’s no excuse, maybe I was nervous when you asked, I wasn’t great at sharing my feelings. But I have changed, being without you made me realize how much I loved you and needed you. I thought I lost you forever, but Ritsu, you’re back and I just can’t accept that it’s a coincidence.” gently, he tried to make Ritsu look at him again, “it has to be fate that you were there when I needed you so desperately.” staring into those gorgeous eyes, that beautiful face all pink and streaked with tears he wished would be of the happy sort and not the pain that he knew the younger was going through. “You being there gave me a will to live just to see you again and even if you didn’t know it was me, I’m sure that you did everything in your power to help save my life.” stroking his cheek with such tender affection that warmed his amber eyes as he looked up at the man staring down at him. “Even now, with all that I’d done and probably being very annoying on top of everything else during my convalescence, your making sure I recover from my injuries properly. I am so grateful for all that you’ve done and all that you’re doing for me, but I guess I’m selfish. I want you back Ritsu, let me protect you, let me fight for you...for us, please?” searching that green eyed gaze, putting his heart on the line. Just knowing he was worth it and so much more, it wasn’t that hard to do.


Ritsu was struck dumb again, was Takano trying to kill him because from what his heart was doing it certainly felt so! He continued to try and hide his face behind his hand but Takano kept pulling it away so he could look at him with that pleading gaze that begged him to believe that he was speaking the truth. That he meant every sweet word that he said. But could he believe him? Staring at him, being down there like that had to be hurting him but he didn’t seem like he was intent on moving anytime soon. Gods, Ritsu was having the hardest time denying him even if he was terrified! He felt so weak against Takano’s emotional attack that was tearing down walls left and right. Walls that had been made of steel when his wounds were fresh, but now, after years of working through his pain with Emiko-sensei and Ryoto-sensei too. All his new friends at work, they’d all helped him to recover and a part of him knew that Takano hadn’t had the same level or experienced help that he’d had. Maybe ...maybe he could start him on the road to healing too? He dropped his hand to the top of Takano’s head and stroked the silky dark strands gently, “I… want to give you another chance.” when Takano seemed to surge for him Ritsu yelped and put his hands firmly on his shoulders, “but… let’s go slowly okay? I’m still in shock I think…” he gave the elder a watery smile, “you did kind of take me by surprise Takano-san, I don’t know what I was expecting when we did talk about this but I thought it would be you having a hard time dealing with it, not me. That’s why I insisted we put it off. But you seem fine…” he let out a small hiccup from all the emotional turmoil he’d just gone through.


Masamune smiled, his heart feeling so much lighter and the weight of all the time apart left his chest, allowing him to take a deep breath, “I am fine, better than fine…” he wrapped his good arm around Ritsu and leaned his forehead into his arm again, squeezing his eyes shut tight and not quite succeeding in holding back the tears of relief as he clung to the younger man, “thank you,” he was choking up as he felt Ritsu’s delicate fingers soothing through his hair, “for giving me another chance…” nuzzling his forehead against his arm, careful of his nose after learning that harsh lesson, “we can go slow, I can do that... it may not be easy because damn Ritsu, you grew up hot…” he chuckled as he heard the sputtering above him of the most definitely blushing man. Feeling content and at peace for the first time in eight and a half years.

Chapter Text

While he’d agreed to give the man a chance he couldn’t help but immediately want to take it back. He should have known better, he shouldn’t have gotten caught up in the moment and let those sweet words sway him. Ritsu had always, well since his first break up with this very man, been able to turn away anyone interested in him with a sad smile and a shake of the head. A few words of apology that he wasn’t available, he was always sure to be polite about it, never wanting to hurt any feelings of course.


Not that he was always successful in saving the other person’s feelings but he did try his very best to let them down gently. But, when it was Takano-san seemingly pouring out his heart and soul to him it was as if all the ability to resist was flung to the wind and left to fly far away. He was even allowing the person that hurt him the most to hold him in a one armed hug. Letting him rest his forehead against him and what was Ritsu doing? He was stroking Takano’s soft locks, had he completely lost his mind?? Even as he ran trembling fingers through the dark mane he couldn’t help but ask himself over and over, ‘What have I done?!’ Maybe he could blame it all on the alcohol and pretend none of this happened tomorrow.


Oh, that was an awful thought! So cruel and he hated himself a little for even coming up with the desperate plot. But he couldn’t stop that ugly little part of himself that kept whispering that Takano was just going to hurt him, use him all over again. Even if he did believe he’d been telling him the truth when he’d said all those things he’d wished he’d heard years ago, he couldn’t stop that darker part of his psyche that tried to rear up and ruin the tender moment. That cautious part of himself trying to take back everything he’d said, deny the truth he’d felt in the other man’s gaze and in his words.


Plus there was his nervousness over other things, intimate things. His first and only times with a man had been with this one currently cuddling up to him and doing a number on his heart rate. It had - hurt -, quite a lot in fact. True they’d both been kids and they didn’t know what the hell they were doing. To be honest Ritsu still didn’t know what the hell he was doing and it didn’t help that Takano had just said he was hot. Yeah he was hot alright, the blush that formed threatened to melt him where he sat. Then another little dark part of himself rose to add its own venom, ‘He just wants to do you and dump you again’ it hissed within his mind. Making him feel less and less sure of himself and Takano by the moment. He was about to pull away from the man, deny what he’d said and say he needed more time. But then the most surprising and extraordinary thing happened.


Suddenly he felt the dampness soaking through the fabric of his tee-shirt to wet his upper arm. Blinking in surprise at the feeling he stared at Takano in shock. “Are you okay?” Ritsu asked in a soft, awed tone. His own tears drying slowly on his cheeks as his fingers got more steady and he started to smooth down the ruffled dark strands that he’d mussed up, in effect petting the other. It was one thing for him to cry but Takano, he’d always been so aloof, as if he were apart from the rest of the world somehow.


Masamune tightened his arm around Ritsu’s waist, “Just so glad, so happy.” his voice rough with emotion, “I missed you so much…” he slowly lifted his face to look up into the shocked emerald eyes. Ritsu didn’t look as if he could believe what he was seeing, Masamune had to chuckle.


Now he felt guilty over having second thoughts, Takano was -crying-. Of all the things he’d never expected to witness in his life, he’d seen several of them today. He smiled softly and started brush away the tears with a napkin that had been on the table, “I missed you too, you’re going to make me cry again if you don’t cut it out Takano-san…” he set the napkin aside after taking care of his own tears and started to lift himself from the seat, “now let’s get you somewhere more comfortable before I have to drag you because you’re legs fell asleep.”


As Ritsu helped him off the ground, Masamune asked, “Why don’t you call me by my given name, it’s only right if you’re my boyfriend and I already call you Ritsu.” he had to grin at the bright flush that glowed on the younger man’s cheeks as his head ducked to try and hide the proof of it from his vision. The younger couldn’t even seem to form a coherent sentence at first, sputtering and stuttering a bunch of nonsense.


Ritsu mumbled when he finally got control of his voice while he guided Takano to the couch, “I don’t think I feel comfortable with that. I’m still your nurse and I’d like to remain professional right now.” he didn’t see the displeased look on Takano’s face. He was too busy hiding his flaming cheeks from view, not that he was doing a good job of it.


“I’m not paying you, can’t you make an exception and just be a bit casual with me?” he frowned up at Ritsu as he sat down on the couch, he snatched Ritsu’s hand and pulled him down to sit next to him, earning a startled yelp from the younger as Ritsu was forced to plop down beside him. Looking up at Masamune with wide jade eyes and the most gorgeous of blushes suffusing his cheeks. He had to touch it, that flaming cheek he stroked over tenderly with his thumb, “It’s just my name Ritsu,” he murmured softly. Feeling the smaller man shiver with the sound of his own name on his lips. “Give it a try.” he could feel his own heart thumping against his ribs. He could tell that Ritsu was struggling, trying to look away from him. His shy nature was both adorable and exasperating. “Come on, it’s not a big deal…” he lifted Ritsu’s fingers to his lips and kissed the tips while giving him the best puppy dog look that he could and then bust out laughing when Ritsu’s jaw dropped at the action, sputtering all over again.


He wanted to hit Takano so bad he had to sit on his other hand to keep himself from lashing out at him to smack him upside the head or punch him in the arm. While he could place it where it wouldn’t really hurt the man he had too many wounds on him and Ritsu didn’t want to take any chances, “You’re horrible…” he muttered lowly. Trying to snatch his hand away from the other’s grip but Takano held fast. “Stop teasing me Takano-san!” this guy, he was going to make it impossible to take care of him if he kept it up. The puppy look may have worked if he hadn’t shocked Ritsu so much by kissing his fingers like that. He stilled himself when Takano dipped his head to kiss the inside of his wrist against the pulse point.


He felt the flutter against his lips, really Ritsu was too precious for words. “I’m not teasing you,” he spoke softly against the pale skin, “I just really want you to use my name from now on…” he gently opened Ritsu’s hand to cuddle his cheek against the soft palm, looking up at the man he adored. He could swear he saw steam coming out of the other’s ears. “Please?..” holding the palm to his cheek, loving the feel of contact that he’d been denied for so long. Gods, he just wanted to grab him to himself and hold him tight to his chest. Kissing him all over, tasting every part of him and hearing his breathless moans and whimpers. He wondered if he was still vocal in bed and of course felt the stirrings of longing within him. Something must have given him away, hinting at his not so pure thoughts because Ristu leapt to his feet and finally managed to get away from him. Masamune flopped onto his back with a groan of disappointment as the nurse started to clean up the mess he’d made earlier.


“F..fine, but you need to get a hold of yourself and stop looking at me like I’m a choice cut of s.steak or something…” Putting away their leftovers and then coming out of the kitchen with a spray bottle of cleaner and a cleaning rag to attack the beer spilled on the table. Glaring at him with furrowed brows as he stuttered out over his name, “M.m.m..tsk… Ma.. Masa… mune…” his voice getting softer and softer as he struggled. Bowing his head as he scrubbed up the mess.


Masamune felt his heart give a little flip when Ritsu finally said his name. A choice cut of steak, he couldn’t help the stupid grin on his face. He gave Ritsu a break from his constant attention. He could tell he was making him uncomfortable and he really didn’t want to make him so uncomfortable that he changed his mind about dating him again. Gods, that thought was terrifying but he just couldn’t help teasing the younger man, he was far too adorable for his own good. Reaching for one of his books to read for a while, or at least make it seem as if he was as Ritsu did a bunch of busy work and calmed himself down.


Giving him plenty of time to get more comfortable, Ritsu had time to get his thoughts in line. Well, if they were going to make this work, how were they going to do it? He didn’t want his family to find out but at the same time he didn’t want Takano to think that he was ashamed of him. But surely he’d understand? Peeking at him as he continued his nightly chores before bed, jumping slightly when he noted the man wasn’t really reading but watching him and using the book as a screen. Oh, Ritsu knew that trick...he should have realised sooner! “You’re so weird…” he sighed, folding up a throw blanket and setting it over the back of the chair he usually sat in and then taking a seat.


“Listen, I think it may be for the best if we keep this a secret for now.” scratching the back of his neck in nervousness, “it wouldn’t look good if I started dating a patient, even if you technically aren’t my patient and I’m doing this voluntarily.” He wouldn’t get in trouble for it per say, but it may reflect poorly on him in the eyes of his coworkers. It would be different if they let their relationship be known about after he moved out of his apartment and he no longer needed him to take care of him. “Plus, I want you to get settled into your job and make a name for yourself. So it would be more detrimental for whoever runs Marukawa to let you go if they are pressured by my parents. I know you said you’d just find a different job. But really it would be difficult starting over from scratch and it might be best to have plans made before we’re forced to act. You know, just in case my parents do decide to try and make your life a misery.”


“You’re really worried about that aren’t you, you’re parents trying to use their influence to hurt us?” Masamune, while he didn’t like the thought of Ritsu’s parents doing something to mess up their lives, he loved using words like ‘Us, we and ours’ it made everything feel so much more real.


“I know my mother would, she tried to cause trouble already with Ryoto sensei and uh, I think she’s got someone watching me.” he looked highly uncomfortable, “Because I was hanging out with a guy once. Just drinks after work, it wasn’t a date or anything. The next day he was suddenly contacted and told that if he liked his apartment and his job he’d stay away from me or… er… bad things would happen to him if he decided to press his luck.” he glanced at Takano and noted the shocked look in his honey eyes, “I told you, my mom for sure is a crazy person! I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have hurt the guy but I don’t doubt that she would have done everything in her power to make him lose his job and his home.” Ritsu’s face fell and his blood ran cold in his veins. He knew this was a bad idea, obviously Takano didn’t know just who he was dealing with here! “Maybe we…”


“NO!..” Masamune was up and sitting at the edge of his seat, “don’t finish that sentence…” he saw that look on the younger man’s face and knew he was trying to give him a way out that he had no intention of taking. “I was just surprised that she’d go after Ryoto-sensei, I mean, he’s a married man…” Ritsu tilted his head and looked at him in confusion.. It was only then that he realised that it had never been brought up before and it wasn’t as if the doctor wore a ring… “er… I was a bit jealous and thought that maybe you two had a thing, so I asked…” and, there went Ritsu’s face, up in flames again.


“W.what? Ryoto-sensei and me?!” he squawked, fingers fisting into his jeans, “what in the world would make you think that?!” he sputtered indignantly.


“Well, you seemed to get along well and…” Takano started out lamely and Ritsu looked even more offended.


“What, you think that if I get along with someone I’d sleep with them?” furrowing his brows and scowling at the other with his weird thoughts, “I’m not like that, believe it or not Takano-san, but I haven’t dated another guy since you!” huffing in irritation and not taking note of the wide eyed look he was getting from his new/old boyfriend.


Masamune felt his heart stagger in his chest, never another man?.. Just before he started getting another stupid grin on his face he had another thought, “what about girls?” he got a bad feeling in his gut at the fierce blush on his former kouhai’s cheeks.


“I dated a couple of girls in high school, but…” blushing furiously as he looked away from the other, “it never lasted long and I never felt anything for them…” it made him feel like such a jerk, “I was just confirming something to myself...that’s all.”


Masamune arched a brow, he just had to ask, “and what were you trying to confirm?”


Ritsu blinked several times as he looked back at Takano, “Uh… that I really was, y’know… gay?” shrugging his shoulders and hiding his face again, “so yeah… I could kiss a girl…” suddenly rising to his feet, “Bedtime! That’s enough humiliation for the day for me! I’m going to sleep g’ni mph!” eyes blown wide and body still as Takano claimed his lips in a fierce kiss that Ritsu was too afraid to return, he didn’t want him to get hurt again and really, the man had zero self control! Gently trying to push him back. Wondering what the hell got into him this time, “Takano…” he spoke in a warning tone...


“Masamune..” said man smiled down at him. Running his fingers through that silky soft hair and giving him a quick peck on the lips… “Goodnight… Honey…”



Chapter Text

The days slipped by and Ritsu started to allow himself to open up more to Takano… Or Masamune as the man was insisting that he use instead of the more polite and professional way he’d been referring to him since their reunion. Oh there were rough patches, it was difficult to remain aloof and unfazed by things that he normally didn’t think twice about. Shower times had turned into a new and anxiety inducing ordeal for the nurse. Basically he was bathing his boyfriend who got a hell of a lot more handsy than Ritsu was able to keep up with. A stolen smooch here and an ass grab there was enough to keep Ritsu a constant blushing mess.


Masamune couldn’t really help himself, he just needed to be closer to the man he loved and the way that he reacted to the small shows of affection were priceless and precious. He had a constant warmth in his chest whenever he earned a smile from the nurse or there was a flailing squawking mess made out of his first love. One of the biggest things he had noticed that had changed from their time in High School was the fact that Ritsu wouldn’t let him call all the shots and if there was anything that really upset him he was sure to let Masamune know the moment that it happened.


For instance he’d allow the quick chaste kisses, but if Masamune tried to take the affection to a more intimate level, which happened more often than not. Ritsu was quick to put a stop to his boyfriend’s amourous assaults as soon as his brain kicked back into gear after the initial surge of desire. There was no denying that there was one hell of a spark between them, but it was lost to Ritsu’s need to not allow him to do anything that would make his condition worse. 


He’d actually angered Ritsu in the shower by trying to give him a handjob and get one in return, that the nurse had turned the shower wand to pure cold and blasted him in the groin with it, effectively killing the mood and threatening to tie him to the shower chair if he didn’t behave himself immediately. Using the reason that he was not ready for that sort of exertion even though Masamune would have argued that it was a bunch of bull. He didn’t want to feel the icy chill on his nether regions again so he bowed to the wisdom and unrelenting spirit of the nurse. Lesson learned he allowed Ritsu to set the pace and it was up to the younger to be the one to show affection until his dangly bits decided to return from their extended vacation from inside his body.


Ritsu, in no uncertain terms, let it be known that they would not be sharing the same bed until much later in this new relationship. Not only for Takano’s sake but for his own since he was still really wary about a physical relationship with the man, not that he let Takano know how terrified he was about having sex.


 He just did not feel ready yet and he was sure he wouldn’t be ready for quite some time. But there was just something about Masamune that would make him forget his fear for a few moments, making him feel as if it wouldn’t take too much once the man was returned to full health and cleared from the only thing that was setting off the protective nursing alarms in his brain. Masamune could muddle his mind with a few touches and kisses and make him forget all about his fear and awaken a strange longing within him that had been dormant for so many years.


Though things did change between them over the course of the next couple days. Ritsu would cuddle up to Masamune on the couch, allowing him to put his arm around his slender shoulders as they sat down in the evenings to watch tv or read a book together. All this contact and acceptance from Ritsu, even if he was denied more pleasurable activities, was enough to calm Masamune down slightly. He didn’t freak out when Ritsu was in the bathroom anymore, just knowing he was there was enough. Even if he couldn’t see him he wasn’t as afraid of him up and vanishing on him again. It wasn’t a complete recovery, he still had to go shopping with the nurse, just a weird fear that he’d get hurt or taken if he wasn’t right there with him. Curled up on the couch to watch him diligently doing his homework or working on one of his term papers. He loved to watch him bent over one of his massive medical tomes, pouring over all the information packed within the pages. It gave him sure a warm, fuzzy nostalgic feeling just watching him as the other had watched him engrossed in a book back in High School.


Ritsu was starting to push him harder too since he was healing. Walking back and forth to the library a few blocks from his complex. Making Masamune help with the preparation of the meals and shocking the younger man with what a talented cook he was. He remembered the first time Ritsu had tried his cooking, the way his vivid malachite eyes had lit up in surprise and pleasure, Gods he wanted so badly just to kiss him all over that beautiful face that glowed in a lovely smile for him. He didn’t want to do anything to ruin this, it felt so perfect and right. But he could tell that Ritsu was scared, a distant look in his eyes every now and then and a worrying of his lower lip with his teeth gave it away. He knew, or at least he was pretty sure he knew what it was that was scaring the nurse so badly. He didn’t want his family to know, Ritsu had spoken of his worries enough to make it clear that it was a big part of his apprehension over this relationship.


So when they were outside Ritsu was sure to never let it seem that he was anything more than Masamune’s caretaker. He never held his hand unless it was along with his arm to help him with stability. But since he was getting stronger he didn’t need the support as much as he wanted it and Ritsu knew this and thus denied him the cherished contact that he’d grown so used to. But he couldn’t be mad at the nurse over it. The man worked so hard that he was developing more and more respect for him and his ethic with his profession. He was always up before him to get breakfast and coffee ready. Just recently allowing him to help out as long as he didn’t put too much stress on his stitches. All the school work and cleaning that he did for him during the day as well as all the things the younger man had to do for him that he was still unable to do. 


It was driving Masamune crazy since he was getting his strength back. Yet at the same time he enjoyed the meals that were prepared for him, the fresh coffee on demand and of course the soothing fingers in his hair as Ritsu washed it everyday. He’d joked about repaying the favor once he was all healed up and thought that his boyfriend had transformed into a tomato from the brightness of his blush.


Though, what he enjoyed most of all were the talks that they had. Talking about their favorite books and authors, even if Ritsu was far behind in that area due to all the time he had to put into University. Ritsu told him that his dating life wasn’t worth talking about since he really didn’t go beyond the kissing and hand holding stage with the girls he’d dated in High School. Of course, even if it was mostly innocent Masamune couldn’t help but feel jealous over the fact that others had tasted the sweetness of those lips and the soft touch of his delicate hand. Unreasonable yes, due to his own promiscuous history but he just couldn’t help it.


Ritsu didn’t mention the fact that An-chan had offered to kiss him to see if being friends would make it any better. But Ritsu just couldn’t do that to his friend, he knew he was gay by that point and he really didn’t want to hurt his best friend any more than he already had. The girl had been through enough as it was and he didn’t want to ruin the cherished friendship that they already had. Maybe a little selfishly he didn’t want to lose the only person that knew about his sexuality and didn’t condemn him for it, but supported him through the most troubling times of his young life.


Since Ritsu decided that his life was basically boring and filled with nothing but minor relationships and school and work that they would wait to discuss Masamune’s past until after he had a few appointments with his therapist so he would be able to talk to her and calm down a bit. He wanted his boyfriend to feel comfortable enough with him to open up to him without holding back. But he also didn’t want to be told things that didn’t really matter right now, especially if they would be more painful than helpful in the long run. From what little Masamune had shared he knew that his way of dealing with the pain of that awful breakup was the polar opposite of his own.


Friday came and they were sitting on the train going to the therapist’s office for his first appointment, “Is this supposed to make me feel really nervous and uncomfortable?” Masamune mumbled to Ritsu, who was sitting next to him on the train.


The nurse gave a nod of his head, “Yeah, until you’re comfortable with Emiko-sensei you’re going to get anxious over these meetings. It’s hard opening up to someone about the things that have hurt you. It’s easier to take it slow rather than push yourself.” Ritsu turned to look up at him. “Just take your time getting to know each other, talk about things that you enjoy if you want to. You don’t have to go into a full history, the first time you meet your therapist. But it would be best if you tried to talk about the things that have been bothering you the most, or at least the symptoms you’re having so she can help you learn ways to cope with them instead of letting them control you.” Ritsu smiled, “but, I have to admit you’ve been doing so much better lately, I’m not as worried as I was about you going back to work and me going back to school anymore.”


Masamune smiled softly down at him, wanting so badly to brush that light brown fringe out of his beautiful eyes. But he kept himself in check, “You have a lot to do with that Ritsu,” he wanted to reach out and take the younger’s hand, but warnings of him being watched possibly stilled any form of affection in public, just in case. “Just you being here for me has done wonders for me. I haven’t been this happy in oh...say… eight and a half years.” he couldn’t help but playfully bump shoulders with the man.


That comment made Ritsu’s cheeks pink up nicely as he darted his eyes around the car. He was a touch paranoid but he felt he had good reason to be. “Idiot…” he stuttered out the word, “I haven’t done that much… well, er… Okay yeah I’ve been working my butt off 24/7 it feels like, but still I’m glad that I’ve been able to help you Takano-san.” sending the elder a shy smile. They’d agreed in public he would continue to refer to him using honorifics. “I’ve haven’t been this happy either.” he murmured lowly, making the other strain to hear the words. Terrified as well but he didn’t want to worry the man that seemed to have been floating around on cloud 9 or 10 for the past couple of days.

They finally arrived at their stop and walked the rest of the way to Emiko-sensei’s office, “She’s really nice, I’m sure you’ll both get along and um, if you need to talk about things that involve me...I don’t mind.” she was his therapist too. That could be an issue, he wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to have the same therapist as his boyfriend, a therapist that knew all about their past from Ritsu’s point of view. But Emiko-sensei was a professional and he didn’t really worry about any personal feelings that the therapist may have that would skew her judgement and her ability to help his boyfriend. “And don’t worry, if you don’t feel comfortable with her it’s no big deal to request another therapist if you need to, it’s really important that you feel totally at ease with the person that you’re going to be telling all the things that bother you.” Ritsu opened the door to the office building for Masamune before they silently waited in line to check in.

Chapter Text

The office that Ritsu led him into was small yet comfortable with seating for ten people at a time in plush chairs of a dark gray color. There was a round table off to the side of the room that had a stack of children’s puzzles and coloring books along with a large tray of well used crayons. Soft music played, giving the area a soothing atmosphere. 


The flooring was a softer gray toned carpet that gave slightly underfoot. Cream colored walls decorated in landscape paintings with placards under them were tastefully hung in places to give the patients something to lose themselves in as they waited to be seen. There was a glass partition with an area to slip through paperwork and small holes at the receptionist’s head level to allow for easier hearing. Ritsu walked up to the desk and bent down leaning against the ledge to speak softly with the lady behind the barrier as Masamune admired the curve of his backside, completely missing what the receptionist asked him.


Ritsu looked over his shoulder to relay the question and noticed where Takano’s eyes were zero’d in. Of course he blushed with embarrassment and hissed at the pervert, “Hey! She needs your identification and your insurance.” quickly standing straight and turning about to shield his bum from view. His arms crossing over his chest as he prayed to all the gods that the receptionist didn’t pick up on that little display of hungry eyes. He was going to have to ask Ryoto-sensei to have a discussion with the man on when it was appropriate for him to even be thinking about that sort of thing. In his condition he should be more concerned with his own health rather than his backside.


Side-eying Takano as he passed his information to the receptionist and got a clipboard with a sheaf of papers and a pen to fill them out. A sudden thought occurred to him, “Did you remember your glasses?” he recalled seeing them on Takano’s nightstand this morning, but the man wasn’t wearing them now.


Masamune took the clipboard and tucked it under his arm, taking his glasses case out of his jacket pocket, “Of course, I’m not the airhead here remember?” he slid them on over the splint on his nose as the lady behind the desk giggled and Ritsu puffed up like the fish of the same name. He was so fucking adorable it was killing him. He sent the younger a playful smile and ambled his way over to one of the chairs near the windows.


Ritsu fumed quietly as he followed after his new boyfriend, scowling at the back of his raven head. Sitting in the seat next to him and slumping down with a pout he didn’t know was there. “I am -not- an airhead, idiot.” he grumbled in irritation, folding his arms over his chest again.


Masamune grinned and leaned in close to Ritsu’s ear to whisper teasingly, “Don’t worry that pretty little head of your’s, it’s one of the reasons I love my ditzy little Ritsu.” drawing back and admiring the totally contained ball of freakout that was currently sitting next to him. His darling looked as if he wanted to squawk, scream, hit him and explode at the same time but he just sat there and quietly sputtered his discontent.


He was still having aftershocks from Takano’s hot breath feathering over his overly sensitive ear. He felt tingles and chills racing from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. He knew the man liked to rile him up, but seriously, “Stop teasing me Takano-san …” he may as well have called him an asshole from the tone he used, huffing softly he started to go through his bag to get his earbuds and his slim laptop so he could work on his term paper to get his mind off of other things.


Masamune admired Ritsu’s profile for a moment more as the younger put the buds in his ears to listen to music as he did his work. Feeling that warmth swelling in himself even if Ritsu was a little peeved with him at the moment. He really couldn’t help it, Ritsu was still adorable and shy but he had just enough of a bite to make teasing him too tempting to resist. The way his cheeks lit up and that fire flared within his lovely forest eyes… Ah, what a sight to behold. Deciding he had best concentrate on his own work or he’d really upset the man he turned to fill out the forms quickly as Ritsu’s fingers flew over the keyboard on some subject Masamune didn’t even try to understand.


Paperwork was tedious but he was used to filling out forms due to his job. He was done within ten minutes and went to turn it in to the desk, getting back his identification and insurance card from the lady behind the counter that gave him a polite smile and informed him that Emiko would be with him shortly. He tried to return the smile but felt his nerves fraying once again as he returned to his seat next to Ritsu.


Ritsu glanced up as he saw the movement of Takano returning. He had to double take because he caught something in that quick look that he had to put an end to if he could. Taking one of the buds out of his ears he leaned over and gently patted Takano’s hand, a bit surprised but not jerking away when the elder took it in a firm grip. Squeezing back in reassurance, he murmured lowly into the other’s ear, “Don’t worry, if you need me I’m right here and you can ask Emiko-sensei to come get me if you feel like it’s getting to be too much.”


Masamune felt his heart give a mighty thump as that soft breath tickled over his ear. Suppressing a delighted shudder, he closed his eyes and allowed Ritsu’s soothing words to wash over him. Taking a few deep breaths he turned to look at Ritsu with a smile and paused… Oh gods, he wanted to kiss him, that supportive smile on his soft lips, he found himself staring at the small pink bow and desired nothing more than to kiss him senseless right then and there.


Ritsu continued to smile until he noticed that Takano wasn’t looking at his eyes… ‘Oh don’t you dare!’ he thought as he quickly turned back to his laptop but his hand was still caught up in Takano’s larger hand. “” he spoke in a soft but firm voice, trying to remind the giant sack of hormones next to him just where they were right now. Just how the hell they were going to keep this relationship secret when Takano seemed to have a great lack in the self-control department, Ritsu really did not know. It was way too obvious that the golden eyed man wanted nothing more than to pounce on him at every given and not given opportunity and it was doing a number on Ritsu’s nerves. He tried to quell the panicky feeling in his chest by going back to work finally as it seemed Takano had gotten ahold of himself, releasing his hand.


Before Ritsu could put the bud back in his ear and shut him and the rest of the world out, he leaned close and whispered, “I love you, so much…” ah, there was that blush again and the slight watering of the eyes as Ritsu stared at him, his mouth working as if he wanted to say something. But at the same time the door to the offices opened and a tall lady with scarlet hair, obviously colored, and dark eyes that scanned over the room, landing on Ritsu with a small smile of recognition. She looked next to himself, “Takano, Masamune?” he nodded and got to his feet.. Hearing a soft good luck from Ritsu behind him as he followed the lady that was just about as tall as his boyfriend was.


Already, he could feel the tightening of his chest as the door was closed behind him, closing off his view of Ritsu. The lady, Emiko guided him with a beaconing hand, “this way please…” she had a soft, kind voice. Probably in her early thirties and attractive enough. Dressed in a smart burgundy suit and flats, a thin framed pair of glasses perched on top of her slim nose. They moved down the hall past four doors, she stopped before the fifth and opened it, motioned for him to enter. “Take a seat right there please.” she moved to shut the door, there were four chairs in the room besides the one that was situated at the desk with a computer that was powered up on top of it. Files stacked neatly and a large book that looked as if it was used often rested near to her hand when she sat in the swivel chair.


There was a table between the two sets of chairs, a myriad of things cluttered the surface. Puzzle sculptures and stress balls, a small zen garden with a rake and small flat stones of different sizes with tiny plastic greenery decorations. “It helps some to keep their hands busy when they’re feeling anxious. It also helps to focus the mind. Feel free to use any of them if you need too.” she smiled at him, “even if they aren’t needed they can be fun, so if you’re curious, go ahead and give one a try.”


Masamune sat down, feeling highly uncomfortable yet not threatened, or so he told himself. Maybe this was a bad idea, he didn’t feel ready for this and to be honest he was wondering if he even really needed it. Maybe these anxious feelings would go away over time. He heard the lady clicking at her mouse to bring up what was in his file already, probably what he’d filled out in the waiting room. “So….” he started to say and then cleared his throat, “I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” he knew that Ritsu had talked to him about this but all that talk just flew out the window now that he was here.


“Well Takano-san, why don’t we start with an introduction?” she turned towards him leaning forward as she rested her elbows on her crossed knees. “My name is Ito, Emiko but I prefer to be called Emiko by my clients. How would you like me to address you?” Masamune thought about it for a while, “Takano works, you don’t need to use the honorifics. It’s bad enough that I can’t get Ritsu to stop it.” she chuckled softly and replied back, “Ah yes! Such a polite young man, even though I insist he still calls me sensei. Now that we have that out of the way, is there anything in particular you would like to discuss?”


Masamune had so many things rushing through his head but honestly, “I… don’t think so.” he just didn’t feel ready, he didn’t know if he would ever feel ready.


“Mmm… would it be okay with you if I asked you a few questions then?” she asked him as she sat back up and rested her hands on the arms of her chair.


“Sure, I don’t have any problem..” why was he having such a hard time looking at her? Why did he feel like he was being judged? Why did he feel like he was failing in some way by not opening up? Emiko’s soft voice did soothe though and she only asked the most benign of questions, like how old he was and what he did for a living. Things that he knew he had filled out the paperwork, maybe she’d not had time to read through it? It was when she got to more private questions that he felt his guard going back up.


Asking about any thoughts that he had of harming himself, which he didn’t have. Though he did admit that in college he’d been very self destructive and turned to alcohol and other things, Quick to clear up that it was sex and not drugs that he’d turned to, to quell the pain of a very bad breakup. He’d said it before he’d realized and now he wondered if she’d look at him in disgust. But he found nothing but understanding in her dark eyes, “Sometimes when we can’t deal with things we turn to vices that do more harm than good.” she explained, “it’s called self medication.” 


She asked him a few more questions like if he was still having drinking problems. He shook his head in answer to that and to the one asking if he was still recklessly promiscuous. When she got to the question of how his relationships were going now he had to pause… well, Ritsu had said that it was okay to talk to her about things… 


“Actually, about that really bad breakup that messed me up in high school… I uh, found him.” she looked surprised and asked him to explain. “It was Ritsu.” there was silence for a few moments as she looked at him and he looked at her, she leaned forward again, asking if they were able to come to a mutual understanding. “Yeah, we realized that it had all been a horrible misunderstanding and we talked it out. I apologized for what an idiot I was and he was sorry for running off without allowing me a chance to make my feelings clearer to him.” 


She asked how things were going between them now. “Well, he forgave me and… we’re dating again.” he took note of the slight surprise that quickly vanished from her dark eyes, “but, he won’t let me touch him or get too close to him. I understand while, it’s because my body is still healing from the attack. But it’s just frustrating. All I want to do is hold him, wake up with him, kiss him, be close to him again you know?… But he’s always pulling away from me and I’m really afraid that he’s only doing this out of pity or something because I almost died.” he spoke in a dejected tone, casting his gaze to the floor.


“Maybe he doesn’t want you to get too worked up because of your surgery. Ritsu is first and foremost a nurse and your health will come before anything else I’m sure.” canting her head to the side she regarded him for a moment, “but, I will have to make a suggestion. Since you both have had a relationship in the past that was broken up by a misunderstanding, it may be best for you both to have couples counseling in order to put any past demons either of you have to rest. If you’re both serious about this and want to have the best chance at a future together, it’s just an idea that may help.” she gave him a small sad smile, “unfortunately, since you are a same sex couple, insurance will not cover the cost.  But, I have no problem if every now and then if you or Ritsu have an appointment if you want to come in together to discuss any issues you two may have. But we’ll have to just keep that between ourselves.”


He thought about it and gave a slow nod of his head, “I’ll talk to Ritsu about it. If it will help us, I’d really do anything to make sure I don’t lose him ever again.” He’d thought for sure that she would have been judgemental, having only heard Ritsu’s side of the story and when asked she merely smiled and said that there were two sides of every story and one did not make the other any less valid or true. He found himself feeling more comfortable with her after that. He was able to open up more about how he was feeling, how he was so afraid of Ritsu leaving again. 


For the most part she only listened, offering him advice that he never thought off and ways to cope with his feelings of anxiety. Most of all she encouraged him to continue to talk to Ritsu and speak to him about anything that was bothering him since they were partners now.  “The best relationships are equal partnerships with the lines of communication always open.” she quipt at the end of the session as she wrote him out two prescriptions for his panic and anxiety. Explaining how each worked and when to take the anti-panic since it was a take as needed and of a low dose. 


He set up another appointment with her in a week to see how things were progressing and as she saw him out she glanced at Ritsu with a smile, “I hope you made any appointment Ritsu!” she spoke in a louder tone to get past the music in his ears, the guy jerked in surprise, looking to her with wide green eyes, “Oh crap! I forgot, sorry Sensei!” he then leapt to his feet to scramble to the receptionist’s desk to make an appointment for himself. The pair by the door chuckled through their goodbyes and Masamune went to join his boyfriend, who truly was the most lovable of airheads at times.

Chapter Text

Together they walked the few blocks together between Emiko-sensei’s office to Musashino Hospital. The sunlight bouncing off of Ritsu’s hair causing flares of gold and red highlights in his tawny locks to shine through. Masamune was yet again struck by the smaller man’s beauty as he lifted his chin to let the cool breeze wash over his face before those startling green eyes were turned upon him and he was given a smile that crinkled the corners of the younger’s eyes and caused them to light up and steal his breath away. How was it possible for the man to make him feel so damn weak and yet so protective at the same time? He wanted so badly to hold his hand, to let the world know, that by some miracle, Ritsu was his and his alone.


Ritsu saw the soft look in amber eyes and felt his cheeks brighten up to a rosy hue. Takano was healing and the bruises were fading, so for the first time he was starting to see what a handsome man he had become. While it was never his looks that had attracted the young man, but some unexplainable kinship with his lonely looking senpai that shared his love of literature, it certainly had an effect on him too. Not knowing that their thoughts were on a similar path, he ran a delicate hand through his hair to keep it from blowing into his eyes. “So, how did you like Emiko-sensei?” he asked in a soft tone, wanting to keep their conversation private. Trying to drag his gaze from Takano so he didn’t run into something and make a fool out of himself.


Masamune finally looked ahead as he thought of his recent session. It hadn’t been easy to open up but he had to admit that he felt a bit better if not a little sleepy. “Mmm, she seems nice enough. She made me feel comfortable enough to talk a bit about things that have been bugging me. She’s a lot more understanding than I thought she would be.” he cast a wry smile at Ritsu with a light chuckle, “I was sure that since she’s your therapist too that she’d, like… I don’t know, beat me with one of those massive books in her office for all the crap we went through back in high school.” gods knew he beat himself up over it ever since being told what it was that had made the man run in the first place. If only he hadn’t laughed they could have saved themselves a world of pain and they’d never have broken up, he was sure of it.


Takano admitting that made him laugh, yet he felt relieved because the man was finally getting help. “I’m sure she was surprised, but she’s never struck me as the violent sort.” glancing at the taller man, he had so many questions he wanted to ask but knew that it was something that the other would need to decide to share with him. “She’s a good person, I’m so glad you two get along. And if you want to, I’m here to talk to if you need to...” He was his boyfriend after all...bumping shoulders into the elder with a smirk, “though to be honest I’m surprised Ryoto-sensei didn’t say something to you. Because he knows about our history too.” with the grimace that Takano gave him, it made Ritsu’s eyes widen in surprise, “oh my gods, he said something to you didn’t he?” damn it, the man was way too protective sometimes!


Giving a hearty sigh and a groan, “I’m not looking forward to seeing him actually, I’m sure he’d reverse the surgery on me if he knew that I’d been less than a gentleman to you over the past week.” rubbing his face with his hand as he fretted internally over it. It wasn’t that the man scared him, okay the man scared him… “So, if you could maybe not tell him about all the times you lost your temper with me for not being able to control myself, I’d appreciate it…” the look he got from Ritsu was not all that reassuring.


Oh no, that was not going to happen because that was a major problem with Ritsu because it dealt with Takano’s recovery! “I’ve told you how many times that you were supposed to be behaving yourself and you knew the whole time that it would tick your doctor off?” sighing softly and shaking his head, “well, it was nice having a boyfriend for a couple days…” his voice trailing off at the end.


“Oh come on, you’re just too damn cute and...and… sexy, I can’t help myself!” Masamune whined and tried to give the man with flaming cheeks puppy dog eyes.


“I am -not- cute…, you’re just a giant pervert that can’t keep his hands to himself.” he always saw himself as geeky and awkward so it was hard to accept anyone would see him in such a way. Thankful that there weren’t many people on the sidewalks out today so no one could overhear them talking about such embarrassing things. But they were coming up on the hospital so he warned Takano, “hush now, we are in public after all.”


“Yeah, I’m a pervert, I’m a man after all. But if you’re going to say that you’re not cute and sexy we’re going to have a fight over it, so give up now unless you want me to shout it to anyone close enough to hear.” at the adorable huffing and sputtering of his boyfriend he smiled, “and I know everyone would agree with me so this isn’t a fight you’re going to win.” he just adored that beautiful blush that stained his love’s cheeks.


“Being a man isn’t a prerequisite or an excuse for being a pervert Takano-san…” but he did drop it for now, he didn’t want the guy to start shouting embarrassing things, he was sure he would if he pushed it. Takano seemed to be the sort of guy with zero shame when it came to such topics. Gods, it was going to be impossible to keep this relationship a secret if the elder kept it up. “Now let’s go drop off your prescriptions so we can pick them up after you’re done talking to Ryoto-sensei.”


They entered the hospital and went to the pharmacy first, since Takano had been a patient here they didn’t have to fill out anything and could just drop them off. Though as Ritsu led them to the elevator Masamune asked in an uneasy tone, having a bad feeling about this, “I thought I was just picking up paperwork for going back to work next week, why would Ryoto-sensei need to speak to me?”


Pressing the 8th floor button and casting a glance at the taller man, “Because someone needs to be reminded by his doctor, since he refuses to listen to me, that it’s not in his best interests for a speedy recovery to constantly be trying to put the moves on his nurse?” Ritsu had to smirk at the stricken look that flashed across Takano’s face.


“Oh… please don’t, I promise I’ll be good.” he gave Ritsu a pleading look to which he earned a narrow eyed gaze. Groaning in agony, “he’s going to kill me…” memories of the warnings given to him by the doctor flashing through his head.


“Well, kill is sort of extreme but I’m pretty sure he won’t be breaking his Hippocratic Oath.” Ritsu stood there rubbing his chin thoughtfully as he was considering it for a moment, “pretty sure, not positive though. You have been quite insufferable if I’m going to be completely honest.” he drawled out as the elder continued to groan and lament.


Ritsu didn’t keep his word of course, informing the doctor when they arrived at the office of all the things that Takano had been up to during his recovery would be far too embarrassing. But somehow, probably from years of experience and his knowledge of Ritsu’s ‘tells’ he was able to pick up on it himself. To say the doctor was displeased would be an understatement. Masamune was subjected to a lecture that it would be at least another two or up to three weeks before he was able to even think about sexual activity of any sort. “If you can go up two flights, no, for you four flights of stairs without getting shortness of breath then you can go ahead and have intimate relations…” the doctor glared down at him, looking ten feet tall as Ritsu stood off to the side looking through a medical jounal seeming like he’d very much like to crawl within the pages and disappear.


Masamune cringed at the requirements, “Why four for me??” he could tell right away that whining or pleading wouldn’t work with this man. At the look he earned from the doctor he had to shift to a different topic, “what about sleeping in the same bed?” Ritsu whipped a look at him over his shoulder in warning, but it was too late from the look on Ryoto-sensei’s face. He was obviously starting to suspect if he didn’t already know there was something going on between the two of them.


“Because, you did not listen to your doctor as a good patient should.” Ryoto-sensei growled and turned back to his desk after looming over the man during his verbal lashing. “As for sharing a bed, if you can behave yourself, which I honestly doubt, after you get the stitches in your chest out. But, with your history I would not recommend it.” Grabbing up a sheaf of papers he passed them to Masamune, “and Ritsu, you should have called me and informed me of his indiscretions.” he shot a ‘look’ over at the nurse that made him hunch his shoulders and gaze over at the doctor with a repentant look on his face.


“Sorry sensei…” Ritsu spoke in a meek tone and averted his eyes when the doctor kept looking at him in that intimidating way. Well, he should have known that the sensei would be disappointed in him for not informing him of this little hiccup. “I’ll be sure to let you know right away if it happens again.” he mumbled but was still heard by the doctor that gave a sharp nod and went to sit behind his desk after passing off the papers to Takano.


Masamune wanted to laugh as Ritsu got reprimanded too but decided it was best for his health and relationship to look as regretful as possible. It was just so hard to resist the younger now that they were together again! Four flights of stairs, ugh… well he knew that he’d be taking the stairs at work then to hopefully speed his recovery so he could finally get his hands on Ritsu. Gods, he sounded so hopeless but he wanted nothing more than to be as close to Ritsu as he possibly could again as quickly as possible. “So, instead of just walking and taking the elevator should I be using stairs now?” both the doctor and the nurse looked at him with brows raised. 


Ryoto-sensei turned to Ritsu and asked, “I take it that patience is not one of his virtues?” Ritsu stopped for a moment to think about the past and recent signs of his patient/boyfriend’s overwhelming libido. He shook his head in a decisive ‘no’, Ryoto looked at Masamune with a frown but his eyes seemed to have a bit of a spark to them, as if he were trying not to smile or laugh. “You can take the stairs if you take it easy and stop as needed without overexerting your lung, you are still healing and it will just make it more difficult for you to get to full recovery if you’re pushing yourself too much physically.” He folded his hands together and looked between the pair of them, asking out of nowhere, or so it seemed to Ritsu, but Masamune was not shocked at all, “so I take it you two got back together?” pure discomfort flushed Ritsu’s features and the book in his hands started to tremble at Ryoto’s question.


“Ahhh… ummmm… uhhhh…” the nurse stammered, looking between the doctor and Takano. Ryoto-sensei chuckled and then shot a warning glare at Takano that stated ‘don’t fuck this up’ but spoke instead, “It’s alright Ritsu, your secret’s safe with me.” giving a smirk at the pair of them and softly and waving them off, “We’re done here so you can leave as soon as Ritsu calms himself down.” While he wasn’t sure if with the history between the two, if it was going to last. He was vastly relieved that Ritsu was finally letting someone in. The boy had been alone long enough, though he had to admit to himself that this Takano seemed to be quite the handful and he mentally wished the young man luck.


Ritsu had to sit down for a few minutes because of the fierce blush he was sporting and the slight tremble to his hands. If it was so easy for Ryoto-sensei to pick up on all these things then how easy would it be for others to figure it out? As he was worrying over this he felt a slight pressure against his back that made him jump in surprise. Looking over when he realized that Takano was trying to comfort him by rubbing slow circles on the small of his back. Giving the elder a wane smile and taking a few deep yet slow breaths to help himself calm down quicker and allowing Takano to soothe him, it did feel really nice and left him feeling warm and fuzzy inside.


When they were finally able to leave the sanctuary of the doctor’s office and rode the elevator to the ground floor so they could return to Masamune’s home, the elder just had to ask, “so… when do I get these stitches out?”


Ritsu swiveled his head to look at Takano with disbelief darkening up his emerald eyes. “I can’t believe you, that was awful and now you’re worried about -that-?? That was so embarrassing, ugh!”


Masamune shrugged his shoulders and had to smile a bit at Ritsu’s reaction, “Yeah, it was pretty bad. I finally know what it would have felt taking you to prom. That guy really is protective of you...” tilting his head, regardless he had to admit, “I like him.”


Cue the blush that formed on the younger man’s cheeks at the thought of what it would have been like going to prom with Takano. Of course he didn’t factor in his sexuality or his real parents but used Ryoto-sensei as a model instead. The possibilities just made him blush all the more and a fluttery feeling to attack his poor belly, “A..anyway, about your stitches. They have to stay in for another week but I’m seriously thinking of leaving them in for six weeks.” he gave the elder his fiercest glower that didn’t seem to phase him as much as the threat of leaving the stitches in did. “You got all touchy-feely when you slept with me the other day. I like to think I have a lot of self control but even I have my limits Takano-san.”


Masamune smiled wickedly and leaned in close to Ritsu as they were alone in the elevator right now, whispering hotly into the shell of his ear, “Oooh, so you want me too? There’s no way you’ll hold out for six weeks, stop trying to fool yourself...” he chuckled as Ritsu gave a sudden jerk as if he was jolted by a bolt of electricity.


That wasn’t far from what it had felt like with the man’s sultry words, Ritsu was backed against the wall, holding a hand out to keep the distance between them. “I’m just having a hard time stopping myself from strangling you or smacking up your stupid face Takano-san! At this rate it’ll be two seconds rather two weeks before I succumb to that urge!” that was true, but he would deny the other truth for now. The guy seemed full of himself enough already. “Setting your nose was a pain in the hind end and I wouldn’t want to ruin all that hard work, that’s all!”


Masamune had to snort at that, sure he knew the other had wanted to bop him a good one a couple times. But it was hopeless to try and convince him that he didn’t want to be with him too, he could see it in his eyes and feel it in his kisses before Ritsu regained that damnable control of himself. “Whatever you say Pumpkin…” The doors to the elevator dinged open before the younger could retaliate and Masamune decided to saunter out ahead of him, giving him a view of his backside instead while he smirked, quite content with himself.


Ritsu, followed behind with a groan and rubbed both of his hands over his face in frustration. What was it with this guy and all the pet names? Was he trying to endear himself to Ritsu or just piss him off. With a heavy sigh he dropped his hands and took note of the strutting male before him. It was more than obvious to him that he was doing it on purpose and of course he just had to look at that perfect butt. “Never mind, I think I’ll end up kicking you first.” that rear did make the most attractive of targets and the guy was practically begging for it. “Let’s just get back to your place and start preparing for next week.” Honestly a little break from Takano’s constant affectionate assaults seemed like a blessing but he didn’t want to say anything to him about it for fear of hurting his feelings, even if he pissed him off.

Chapter Text

The door to the second floor stairwell of Marukawa Publishing banged open and a very irate looking Ritsu staggered through with a totally wiped looking Takano hanging off of him as if he was about to die. Dragging the dark haired man over towards a seating area he grumbled and hissed under his breath with every step he had to basically carry the bigger man.


“What the hell did I tell you?? I swear if you die on me I’m gonna resuscitate you just to kill you myself for good!” Snarling the words but his gentleness and care was not hard to miss as he lowered the man to the nearby couch to rest.


Ritsu was fuming, he’d told the man that it was too soon for him to take the stairs, but did he listen to him? No, of course not! “I should have drug you into the elevator by your ear! I can’t believe you Takano-san! Are you trying to prolong your recovery?!” whipping out a hand to silence the other as he tried to gasp in a breath to answer the nurse, “Oh no, don’t you even try talking yet! Breath in through your nose and out of your mouth, in slow… hold, out slow… there, just like that, now gimme your hand.” Ritsu spoke with much snark and began to take the other’s pulse with fingers gripped on his wrist.


During the little spectacle he didn’t notice the group that had come to see what all the fuss was about. Low murmuring in the background didn’t break his laser like focus on the well being of his patient. He didn’t even hear the whisper of his name from one of the mouths of those that belonged to one of the startled watchers. “Pulse way too high…” he cursed lowly and took off the bag that was slung over his shoulders to dig through it to pull out a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope.


The tear of Velcro was loud as he unfolded the device to wrap it around Takano’s upper arm, using the hand pump and placed the eartips into his ears before pressing the diaphragm to Takano’s inner elbow. The air released slowly with a hiss as vivid green eyes were glued to the gauge. “High as well, 152 over 108… here, lie down…” he grasped the man by his shoulders and guided him down to a prone position, picking up his feet to stretch his legs out over the thankfully long couch.


Finally taking note of the sound of voices behind him he spoke in a louder tone, “I’m about to check his wound so if you all would turn around if you have a problem with blood or wounds.” Be nice if they’d give them a little privacy too but he was in full professional mode and knew there would be gawkers no matter what he did. Some of them were kind enough to turn about and some even left due to the fact that they were more than a bit bothered by the sight of blood.


Fingers flew over the buttons of Masamune’s dark dress shirt, enough to slide the material to the side to expose the bandage over his heart. Ritsu hissed at him viciously as he heard the man try to talk again. So of course he remained silent and continued to try and regulate his breathing. 


His lungs felt like they were on fire and it felt as if his heart was about to tear out of his chest. His amber eyes flicking to the small group of people that were standing there still watching. Oh great, there was his boss, Isaka-san with two men standing beside him. One was taller and he believed it was his secretary Asahina. They both looked quite shocked but not as surprised as the man that was standing to the right of the managing director. There was something familiar with his light yet graying brown hair and hazel eyes.


But that guy wasn’t looking at him, his gaze was locked on the man that was currently removing his bandage. Former patient maybe? No, there was something terribly familiar about him that made his stomach give a bit of a twist as he noted the shape of his face and the cast of red and gold in his hair as he took a step closer and whispered Ritsu’s name again. Causing Isaka to look at his companion, “Nah, that’s Takano Masamune, the new head editor of Emerald… Unless you mean…” deep blue eyes widened in surprise as he now looked at the nurse that was busily cleaning the wound on his new hire’s chest. Masamune had a bad feeling about this.


Looking around while Ritsu worked he noted that they were on the Executive Administration level of the Publishing House, so that would explain why his boss had just so happened to be near the stairwell by the elevators. Yeah, today was turning out not to be a very good day. But really, what were the chances that he’d run into his boyfriend’s actual father after having just met his ‘adoptive’ one a little while ago? Because that’s what it was starting to look like the more he looked at the older gentleman. Well dressed, of an age to have a child of about Ritsu’s age and currently looking at the nurse as if he’d seen a ghost.


And to his dread, as Ritsu carefully replaced his bandage after thoroughly cleaning it, his boss looked almost excited by the possibilities that were unfolding before him. As he mentioned before, he had a bad feeling about this! Ritsu was going to be so pissed if his suspicions proved to be true and his stubborn act had not only threatened his heath but also landed him in the same place as his father of all people!


Ritsu placed the cool diaphragm against Takano’s chest to listen to his patient’s breathing. It was much quieter now so he figured their audience had scattered with the mention of blood and wounds. Good, he didn’t need a crowd bugging him with questions that he wouldn’t be able to answer anyway.


Feeling satisfied that the man in his care wasn’t about to keel over and die, he started to put his equipment away, save for the blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. Sighing and shaking his head as he slung the bag over his shoulder again and rose to his feet, taking Takano’s hand again and taking his pulse, after a few moments he could see that it was still high, but not as bad as it had been before. “I’m going to give you another ten minutes and check and see if your BP has gone down. Now if you don’t mind…” he turned to those gathered, “Everything is fine, nothing to…” Forrest eyes blew wide as they set upon smoky hazel, “Papa?” he murmured in a weak voice, feeling all the color drain from his face. Eyes darting around in a panic, looking for another familiar face that struck terror into him and made his body quake where he stood. Slightly swaying as if he was about to faint.


Yeah, bad feeling confirmed with that sad whimper that had escaped his beloved. Yep that was a sound he never wanted to hear again as long as he lived. Masamune, against his better judgement began to sit up and move his legs so he could grip Ritsu by the back of his shirt and give him a light tug that landed him on his bum beside him on the couch. He hated that shell shocked look on his lovely face. When he noted the pure terror in his eyes as he looked everywhere but at the man that stood there in nearly as much shock as Ritsu was. He didn’t have to think too hard on who it was that he was looking for.


Not seeing his mother anywhere he finally drew in a shaky breath and returned his panicked gaze to the man standing there staring at him. He felt highly uncomfortable and truly afraid. He didn’t know his father well, but what he did know of him and remembered from his younger years were all very fond memories. But things had changed and he was sure he didn’t have the right to be calling him ‘Papa’ anymore...He’d just been in such a state of shock at the sight of the man that it has slipped free before he could stop it. He had so many good memories of this man and yet ruined by the one where his mother was shrieking at him in near madness on his eighteenth birthday.


Those recollections of which flooded back to him and caused tears to gather in the corners of his emerald eyes. He turned his head down in shame, breaking eye contact with the man. Jumping when he heard the sound of footsteps and suddenly found his father on his knees in front of him, cupping his cheeks and forcing him to meet his eyes again.


“Ritsu?...” Onodera Tetsuya knew the answer to his question. Though it had been five years since he’d last seen his boy and he’d been helpless to stop the fallout that had torn his family apart at the seams. There was no mistaking this face for the much younger one that would run to him whenever he had the chance to come home early and see the boy, all spindly arms and legs as he’d throw himself into his arms. Face lit up and so excited to see him, filled with such joy as he’d be given a gift of a new book to lose himself in. He jerked the man into his arms and hugged on to him tightly, “my son, my boy…” petting his still baby soft hair as a sob was released from Ritsu’s mouth and much stronger arms from when he had been just a boy, wrapped around him to return the hug.


Masamune and the others watched the reunion in silence. Truthfully, he was in a bit of shock, having expected something terrible to happen as soon as the elder had broken from his seeming shock at seeing his son for the first time in a long while. If his father cared about him so much then why had Ritsu been disowned? Just what the hell was going on here? Well, at least he didn’t have to defend his boyfriend, he wasn’t in any sort of shape to do it anyway. But still, he was terribly confused and it shone brightly in his amber eyes as he watched the pair.


Tetsuya drew back, smiling at his crying son, brushing some of the fallen tears from his cheek. “Ryuichiro, can you go distract Corrine for few minutes? I believe she said she was going to be going to the break room for coffee.” He looked over at his friend, he needed a few moments at least with his son before it was ruined by the appearance of his wife. He felt the boy jolt beneath his hands and looked at his son. Knowing Ritsu was terrified by his mother and just knowing she was in the same building was risking the possibility of him rushing off before he’d have a chance to talk to him.


Ryuichiro was hoping for a bit of fireworks to brighten up his day, but Tetsuya was one of his oldest and best friends, as well as his best golfing buddy. It would be a shame to lose him, “Ah, project distract the ball and chain. I’m on it Tetsuya but, you’re going to owe me one!… Good to see you, uh… well alive I guess Takano…” chuckling as he motioned to Asahina to follow him as he went off in search of a harpy. “Got your taser just in case?” he asked the stoic man beside him who just arched a brow at the question. The pair vanished around the corner, leaving the three men alone.


They sat in silence for a few moments, each not knowing what the hell to say. Ritsu’s father grunted and groaned as he shifted to his feet from his uncomfortable position on the floor. Taking a seat on the couch next to Ritsu as the nurse continued to stare at him with a baffled expression. “I can’t stay long son.” Tetsuya spoke in an undertone, flicking his gaze to Masamune and then back to Ritsu, “is he your…”


“Patient!” Ritsu yelped before the question could be fully voiced. “He’s my patient…” he spoke in a calmer tone, looking over his shoulder with a silent apology to the man that sat behind him since he’d turned more towards his father when he’d come to sit beside him. Just because his father seemed so thrilled to see him didn’t mean that he was going to trust him with that sort of information so easily.


“Ah…” the elder gave a nod to Takano, extending his hand towards him to pass him a business card, “this has to be confusing. I’m Onodera Tetsuya, your nurse’s father… Though, this is a surprise Ritsu.” he looked to the boy, “I thought you worked exclusively in the hospital, I didn’t know you had become a private nurse.”


“Ah, no...this is temporary. Too much to go into now but I will be returning to work in about a week.” he was so confused and conflicted. He didn’t dare to hope that his father had truly missed him, that he really cared about his well being. Yet, the fact that his mother was here was making him all sorts of anxious and desiring to get out of the area to avoid any sort of confrontation with the woman again. “Father, if Mother is here I really should get going. I don’t want any trouble and… seeing her again would be...” horrible was left unsaid.


Masamune slipped the card into his pocket, he didn’t have one of his own to exchange yet but he didn’t want to interrupt the two of them to explain that. Though it hurt to hear Ritsu describe him as a mere patient, he wasn’t about to argue under the circumstances. He wished that he could hold Ritsu’s hand, after that tortured look he’d sent him he wanted to offer what comfort he could. But he was helpless at the moment to provide any form, even one as small as that. Though he could tell by the fidgeting of the brunette that he wanted to get out of here right before he’d voiced the desire to his father.


Tetsuya looked sadly at his son, “I understand… Oh Ritsu, there’s so much I want to speak to you about but there isn’t any time. Just know that I love you and I have never thought of you as anything other than my son.” He lifted his hand, as if to settle it on the younger man’s shoulder but then thought better of it when his son flinched, “I am so sorry Ritsu, truly I am…” he pushed up from his seat and started to walk away before he paused. “Just one thing… are you happy?” he had cast a glance at Ritsu over his shoulder, piercing hazel eyes locked with emerald.


“Yes, I’m very happy father…” Ritsu bowed his head, feeling tears forming in the corners of his eyes again at the overflow of emotion within him. He really didn’t know what to make of all this, swiping under his eyes before he lifted them back to the other with a trembling smile.


Tetsuya gave the boy a weak smile, “I’m glad… Take care of yourself son…” he turned away and began walking again, disappearing around the same corner that the other’s had a few minutes before.


Masamune listened as Ritsu released a shuddering sigh and then leaned with his with his elbows on his knees and his face hidden behind his hands. All he could do was lay one of his hands on the man’s back to remind him that he wasn’t alone and finally able to offer a little comfort at the same time. “You okay?” stupid question but he had to say something to break the silence that had fallen over them.


“Yeah…” no he wasn’t, he felt shaken to the core. But he couldn’t stay here, his mother could be lurking just out of sight. Yet, oddly he was trapped here because he couldn’t leave right now, he still had to check on Takano. That was enough to break him from the shock of seeing his father again and the man actually seeming so happy to see him, was it a trick? A lie to coax him into a false sense of security. The fact that he’d seemed interested in who Takano was didn’t set his mind at ease in the slightest, thinking of which... He turned to him again, offering him a watery smile that was a poor imitation of his true one.


“You’re such a bad liar…” Masamune observed dryly but silenced himself again as Ritsu started to take his pulse once more. Watching the love of his life in such pain was a torture in and of itself. But as the nurse seemed to focus on his work again, that professional mask settled easily into place. Masamune wasn’t sure if that was such a good thing.


He was happy to note that Takano’s pulse had returned to normal and when he checked his blood pressure, that had gone down to normal levels as well. Sighing in relief as he lifted his eyes to gaze into the tawny orbs of his boyfriend. “Everything seems fine, are you feeling strong enough to get to your feet or do you need a hand?”


Masamune was able to get to his feet, though his legs did feel a bit like jelly at the moment, he gave Ritsu an encouraging smile, “You want to go back home? We don’t need to do this right now…” The plan had been to check out the Emerald office and start to set up the things that he’d ordered for when he took over the position as Editor-in-Chief. That was before he’d made the stupid mistake of trying to take the stairs in his eagerness to prove that he was doing better than he obviously was.


“No, staying busy will keep my mind off things… plus, I don’t know if I’m ready to talk about this…” he gave a shake of his head and rubbed the back of his neck as they headed to the elevator, “actually I’m not really sure what to think…” he muttered under his breath as he hit the elevator’s call button. “Let’s just get out of here before my mother shows up.” leaning against the wall next to the elevator doors with his arms crossed over his chest. Staring at the floor until he heard the ding of the lift arriving. Grunting as he pushed off and faced the steel doors that opened to reveal a man with steel blue eyes that widened comically at the sight of the young nurse and his patient. “Fucking are you serious right now?!” Ritsu cried out in frustration at the sight of the man that had his arm in a sling. Out of the frying pan and into the damned pits of hell it would seem!