Title: Help Elsewhere
Author: Proverbial Pumpkin
Rating: T for language
Summary: Tohma's instrument is one of his few joys in life. K stumbles into a closer relationship with Tohma and when an accident renders the keyboardist unable to play, K is there.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Now, on to the fic!
Seguchi Tohma didn't get sick. That just wasn't in the nature of the universe, which of course Tohma himself owned. We'd all seen him tired, moody, callous, and irritable, but physically fit through it all. It was like he had a force field of sterile air around him, and even when the rest of us were hacking up vital organs and frightening small children with our zombie-like appearances, he carried on as if he thrived on the malevolent germs we breathed into his office every day.
The man was a machine. A very feminine but perfectly healthy machine. So when I walked into his office one morning in March, I expected to see him at his desk, relentlessly fulfilling his presidential duties as always.
"Seguchi-san, I'd like to discuss your programming assignment for-"
I looked up to see his empty chair. No Tohma. From the doorway I could see several open files and a coffee mug on his desk, so I knew he was at least lurking about the studio somewhere, and probably nearby. I turned and headed back the way I came, and it wasn't until then that I saw him. Or at least the top of his head.
He'd laid himself on his side on that giant sofa of his, and was by all appearances asleep. Unusual. I shut the door and walked around the couch, squatting down in front of him. He was fully clothed except for that damn hat, and was almost curled up into himself, with one hand beneath his chin and the other resting lightly on the sofa. It looked highly unnatural, Tohma scrunched up on his couch in a jacket and dress slacks. I suppose if pressed, I would have envisioned Tohma sleeping on his back, with his arms crossed over his chest. In a coffin perhaps.
From the corner of my eyes I noticed a small flashing light. Several. It was Tohma's phone on his desk, with three or four missed calls from the looks of things. How long had he been there? I'd suspected before that he slept in his office, but I'd certainly never seen him asleep at the studio. And definitely not during working hours.
Needless to say a dozen rather inconsiderate pranks flew into my mind, but I'd come here on behalf of Bad Luck. "Seguchi-san?... Seguchi-san?" Please wake up without me having to touch you, I thought. Tohma was not a man to be touched. "Seguchi-san," I said, more urgently. He didn't move, except for the irregular rise and fall of his shoulder as he breathed.
It was. His breathing was jagged. How had I not noticed that before? His breaths came out labored, even as he slept. So I finally shook his shoulder, just a little bit. "Seguchi-san, you've got to get up. It's almost twelve o'clock."
"What?" His eyes fluttered open, still cloudy from sleep. His voice had come out raspy and hoarse, but it was a response.
"He lives!" I smiled at him, watching as he pulled himself upright with a soft moan, rubbing at his eyes. "Seguchi-san, I was thinking we could discuss your- Seguchi-san?"
Sometimes I think I'd prefer fist to face contact over conversation with Tohma. The little platinum bastard wasn't even listening. Instead, he was bent over with his elbows on his knees and his palm against his forehead, shaking.
"S-Seguchi-san? What's the matter with you?"
I'd meant it as a legitimate question, but it came out sounding rather unfeeling. So I guess I deserved the glare I got. "I'm fine, K-san. Why are you here?" he demanded, sounding angry. Oh yes, the authoritative voice. He was attempting to maintain an intimidating demeanor. But the shakiness in his voice undermined him and besides, I'd just seen him sprawled out asleep on his couch. He'd have to work harder than that to regain his dignity on this meeting.
"It looks like I should be asking you the same thing. You look terrible." He really did, too. His eyes looked strained and dull, and his face was pale. Tohma was an attractive and occasionally fashionable man, but not even he could pull off the dead-man-walking look with much flair.
He didn't answer me. He simply kept his hand on his forehead and closed his eyes, trying to steady his breathing. Still shivering.
Seguchi Tohma the Infallible was sick, and I was here to witness him in his rare –perhaps only- vulnerability. I would have gloated upon the realization…had I not, despite myself and my best efforts, felt just a little bit sorry for him.
"Why don't you go home?"
He shook his head and gave me a You'd-like-that-wouldn't-you look. "I can't. I've got too much work to do. It's probably good that you came in, K-san. I've got to get up."
I watched him try. He carefully pushed himself up from the couch and then promptly swayed on the spot, holding his hands out slightly in an attempt to maintain his balance. Then, with a weak sound of surprise, he fell back down onto the sofa.
The fact that it was Tohma made it all the more pitiful and fascinating to watch. He looked down at himself, and then up to me with a helpless and startled expression that I very nearly laughed at. "Are you gonna try that again, or would you like some help?" I said, raising an eyebrow.
He started to scowl at me, I think, but ended up letting himself fall back on his side and closing his eyes again. I looked at him bemusedly. "Seguchi Tohma, you are a sick man." I'd wanted to saw that for a long time, of course. He murmured something unintelligible back at me, already falling asleep.
I started shoving at his shoulder, trying to jostle him back into consciousness. "You should go home."
"I can't go home feeling like this," he slurred.
I shrugged. "Generally people don't try to work when they can't even sit up to do it, but whatever you say." None of my nevermind, after all.
He cracked his eyes open. I could tell he was trying to focus on mine. "I can't drive."
"….Oh." Right. Of course. I supposed this is where a considerate person would offer to drive him home. But I've never been accused of being particularly considerate and besides, I didn't want to.
"You can go now, K-san."
"Oh, right. I'll just…okay." For the record, I did feel guilty about leaving him there like that. I even hesitated on my way out, and saw to it that the door shut quietly behind me.
"Sick? Seguchi-san got sick?" Hiro looked moderately interested.
I nodded. "Yep."
"I was surprised too. He doesn't generally-"
"Oh, I almost forgot. Shuichi, tell me what you think of this for the intro to our new song."
And he broke into a riff as if I hadn't said anything more at all.
I don't know why it irritated me. Members of the Bad Luck family ignore each other all the time, and Hiro wasn't widely reputed for his boundless compassion when it came to anyone other than Shuichi and that chick with the god-awful headband. I turned to our vocalist instead. "He looked bad, though. Like he'd been hit over the head and then held underwater for a few hours."
Shuichi looked thoughtful. "That's terrible."
"I know. I might call Mika and ask her to-"
"You can't just switch keys in the middle of the beginning. It sounds like you changed your mind about something."
"Lots of famous composers do it!" Hiro answered indignantly.
"Only the dead ones, and their music didn't have to sound good, as long as it was hard to play. And you're not a famous composer anyway. Experiment on your own songs, damn it."
Cold-blooded cretins. I watched them bicker for a while, then flipped out my phone. Razor thin, you know, and ideal for being broken or lost.
"Hello Mika, this is K-san. Sorry to bother you, but Seguchi-san is unconscious and seems to be …rapidly expiring. Maybe you should come get him."
"Come…what?" She sounded less than pleased to hear from me. Shuichi and Hiro were still bickering next to me, and I covered my other ear with my palm.
"Your husband. He's sick and can't drive. Come get him."
"Oh. Oh, um….. that's awful… but I really- I really can't right now." Then she hee-hawed some excuse at me, that she was stranded without a taxi somewhere. She was flustered about something. I'd called Tohma's home number.
So in other words, she'd already planned out her day, and it didn't include taking care of her husband. And she was confident Tohma could handle himself.
Well, he probably could, but still. Bitch.
Okay, okay. So I went back and checked on him later that afternoon. I didn't have much choice, did I? And anyway, it turned out to be a good thing I'm so charitably-minded. I flatter myself in that I saved the life of at least one man when I showed up at Tohma's office around four. Ryuichi was holding Tohma hostage at his own desk, forcing him to serve as an audience of one to a floppy ritual Kumagarou was performing less than a foot away from Tohma's nose. Tohma had a dizzied, bewildered expression that told me if I hadn't made my grand appearance then, Tohma would have either passed out or snapped and slaughtered Ryuichi with the letter opener on his desk.
As it was I, in my selfless martyrdom, became Kumagarou's new victim within seconds.
"K-san! Kumagarou says hello!" Ryuichi shouted, plopping the ridiculous thing onto my head. It fell sideways off my shoulder and hit the floor.
Unlike Tohma, however, I do not have infinite patience with the hyperactive man-child, and simply picked it up and shoved it back into Ryuichi's loving arms. "Shuichi's looking for you, Sakuma-san," I said, irritated on behalf of Tohma, who for the first time ever actually looked genuinely happy to see me.
Ryuichi couldn't have been more delighted to hear this. Before he could bound through the door, I caught the back of his collar. "I'm not sure where he is, though. If I were you, I'd start on the first floor and check every stairwell of every level until I found him. If he's not there, then call his phone." Ryuichi seemed to consider this, but not for long enough to determine that it made no sense whatsoever. He was gone as soon as I released him, waving Kumagarou over his head like a Golden Ticket as he went.
I turned back to Tohma. He'd put his head down on his desk, his cheek flat against a small stack of papers and his arms bent in front of him. "Thank you," he mumbled appreciatively.
There was a thermometer lying next to his arm. So he'd finally taken some interest in his fever. Not bothering to brush his bangs aside, I bent down and pressed the back of my hand against his forehead. He sat up, blinking at me and waiting for an explanation.
The heat of his skin shocked me. "Seguchi-san, you're burning up!"
"I am not," he grumbled, pushing my hand away and feeling his own forehead.
"Then what's this for?" I said, snatching up the thermometer.
"Ryuichi brought it in here. I don't need it."
I waggled it at him. "Let's just see, then."
"It won't hurt anything."
"Oh, honestly, Tohma. A man of your age."
Tohma pursed his lips together and glared defiantly at me. "My temperature has nothing to do with anything. We don't need a quantitative measurement to determine whether or not I'm sick."
I jabbed the thermometer under the blonde's nose again. "No, but if you're over 100, you should go home."
"Would you please quit speaking to me like a child? This is my office and you work for me. Now get that useless instrument away from me and leave." To punctuate his demand, Tohma stood up abruptly and authoritatively for effect, sending his chair rolling back towards the window. Smart move. He suddenly looked light-headed and dizzy, and his eyes briefly lost their focus. "Ohhh," Tohma groaned, leaning over his desk onto his elbows and putting his head in his hands. He groped clumsily behind him and brought his chair forward again, collapsing ungracefully back into it.
I'd seen enough. "Alright," I said, striding around his desk. "Up you get. You're going home now."
"I can't," he said, swatting feebly at my arms as I heaved him out of his chair. "Don't touch me."
I rolled my eyes. "Don't worry, I'm driving. Get whatever junk you need if you think you'll be working at home tomorrow."
"No, K," Tohma insisted, pulling out of my grasp and stumbling away from me. "I can't go home."
"Well, why the hell not?" I demanded. "You're not getting anything done here, and I'm sick of watching you be pathetic."
He paused and looked to the side. "Mika's not expecting me."
"Who cares? She's your wife. She can't hold it against you if you come home early."
Tohma didn't answer at first. Then he looked back at me with an expression I hadn't expected. "She might have… other plans this evening."
Ah. It took me a moment, but I got it. He didn't want to risk walking in on anything Mika didn't want him to see. Anything he didn't want to have to deal with. I felt sorry for pressing. He avoided my eyes, and I was glad he did. I'd never considered myself Tohma's number one sympathizer before, but this was a bit pitiful. A disappointing reminder that even people like Seguchi Tohma have personal lives.
More color than I'd seen in Tohma's face all day had rushed to his cheeks- he was embarrassed at having to admit to someone like me just how dysfunctional that personal life really was. I felt kind of awkward myself, and this seemed like a good topic to abandon. "Well, then, I guess that means you're coming home with me," I said cheerfully, surprised that I didn't sound as annoyed as I thought I should.
Even more surprisingly, he didn't look all that annoyed either. He actually looked me in the eyes and gave me a tired but very real smile. "I appreciate that, K-san. But I really do need to stay. I think I just need to get out of this room for a while." He dragged himself up cautiously, and then nodded to himself, before stumbling towards the door like a drunkard.
"Now where are you going?" I asked incredulously.
"If Ryuichi needs me, please have him call me before making him search the stairwells. If anyone else needs me, I'm nowhere. Thank you, K-san."
Author's Note: I know, I know. There was pretty much no mention of Tohma's instrument in this chapter. But I've already got some of the next chapter written, and I promise the plot moves along. If you liked this or have any thoughts, please comment :-)