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Blue on Blue
Chapter Seven: Like Glass, It's an Uneasy Heart
Soundtrack: Yearning of the Heart – A'st1
He'd never seen Hyuuga move so fast in his life. It was amazing to behold, that someone so large – taller and broader than even him – could move like that. As he watched the graceful way his friend moved, choreography started running through his head, but he irritably filed it away for another time.
Right now, there were other fish to fry.
He recognized her, of course, from the shock of fiery hair, beautiful as a sunset, unfitting for such a timid little thing. She should be a little mousy thing, but there she was with that glowing hair and absolutely fascinating eyes. And talent running through her fingers like liquid gold.
He knelt beside her, fitting perfectly into Hyuuga's shadow, protected as she was from any other oncoming traffic. He would have to ask Yamato how exactly he did that.
"I-is she alright?" Eiichi's younger brother voice slid over his shoulder and he turned slightly to take in Eiji's worried look. On his way, he caught a flash of pink from the corner of his eye – the girl's little flip phone, lying abandoned on the ground. He smirked. Flip phone. Little philistine.
He gave Eiji a calming look and nodded toward the thing. "Get that before it gets crushed."
"Little chance of that," Eiji murmured, doing as he was told. "Perhaps we should-," he began, but the ambulance siren cut him off. The younger Ootori took in the scene; his brother checking the poor girl for injuries, Yamato-kun ensuring that enough safe space existed for the paramedics to do their work and keeping curious onlookers at bay.
As the ambulance pulled up and started to deal with the young girl, Eiji considered the display on the phone. She'd dialed a number, he noted. He also noted that she hadn't yet pushed the call button.
Looking up again at the tableau, he considered the way the paramedics were bracing her head in a contraption that kept it from moving, and noticed the bright red splash of blood on Eiichi's hand, the one that had been cradling her head. It didn't take much thought after that.
He pushed the call button.
The next thing she heard was not the ringing of the telephone, but the wail of sirens. The next thing she saw was not the other side of the street but the sky over her head. The last thing she felt was not the joy of talking to her best friend, but a cloud of confusion when a strange man's face appeared over her. No, he wasn't strange, but she couldn't place his name at that moment. His mouth was moving but she couldn't make out what he was saying through the noise both inside her head and out. And oh, goodness, her head hurt. Like piano wire wrapped around her brain, trying to cut it into pieces. She tried, really tried to concentrate on what he was trying to say.
He was asking a question. She only recognized one of the words from the way his mouth moved. Haruka.
For a second she was confused. Was that her name? Oh, yes, it was. She slowly pronounced it, and as the last syllable left her lips, she saw the sun leave the sky and everything turned dark. The cacophony outside her head ceased, while the one inside her head reduced itself to a painful, black buzzing, feedback from a badly wired microphone.
Tomo heard the insistent buzz of her phone as she pulled her tights back over her knees, re-arranged her shirt and willed her legs to stop shaking. Looking in the passenger side where her purse sat, she dug around for her phone. It was Haruka's number shining on the display.
"Is this Tomochika Shibuya?"
The voice was not Haruka, so she answered very cautiously, "Yes, this is she. Who is this?"
It took her a full minute to process what she heard on the other end. After she finally understood what was she was being told, she threw the phone in her purse and looked back into the back seat.
His disheveled head appeared over the seat when he finished tying his shoes. "Eh?"
She repeated everything, quickly and succinctly.
He blinked and opened the door to get to the front seat. "Let's go."
Ringo looked at his phone. The ringtone was the one for generic calls, but something told him to answer nonetheless. An odd chill dripped down his spine as he listened to the voice on the other end. Once he ended the call, he had to take a moment to compose himself, and then he went into action. He spent the time it took him to find the right rehearsal room to call Ryuya.
He burst in on the five men in the room, just as he ended the call and made sure he had their attention before he spoke. Of course, he had their attention; he wasn't in his usual clothing. Then he remembered and snatched the wig cap off his head. Looking around and not finding what he wanted, Ringo only had three words for them: "Where is Masato?"
Ren entered their shared room and quietly shut the door behind him. He found Masato lying on his bottom bunk, eyes closed, forearm across his eyes. He waited until he had the right words situated in his mind and moved to wake his roommate.
"Masato." This was not the time for formality. It took two tries to get him to sit up and look blearily at Ren.
"Eh?" Masato grumbled drowsily.
"Listen to me carefully," Ren began. "And I need you to stay calm."
Masato blinked a few times, then all traces of sleep left him and he sat up fully. "What," he said in a flat voice.
Ren knew he could rely on Masato to hear the seriousness in his voice, but did the guy have to look like he was about to be struck? "There has been an accident." He started again.
Oh. Shit. That probably wasn't the best way to start things. Too late, Masato was staring at him, demanding without words that he continue. "We need to get to the hospital right now," he continued.
"Who-?" Masato began, moving to climb down.
Ren knew better that to keep that information from him. He waited until Masato was on the flat ground before he answered and used his nickname for her to soften the blow. "Kohitsuji-chan."
As Ren watched, Masato grew very still. He wasn't even sure that the man was breathing.
Masato heard Ren, every single word he said. There was an accident; Haruka was involved. A hospital was involved.
He stood in the middle of his room, sure that he looked to Ren like an utter idiot.
In fact, Ren actually leaned toward him, looking into his face. "Masa-,"
Masato held up one hand for silence, commands falling into place inside his head. "Do you know what hospital?"
Ren mentioned a hospital name that he was familiar with, a public hospital. That would not do. Someone would recognize her and all hell would break loose. Staring at the floor, Masato put his brain into order and, in the process, realized one very important thing:
This was not the time to ignore his fame or status. Being the heir of a top-tier financial conglomerate, and an idol, had some advantages. It was time he began to take advantage of them. He picked his cellphone from the desk and went through his contacts, picking a number he rarely used. Someone answered within three rings – company policy.
"This is Hijirikawa Masato," he said. "I need to have you take care of two things for me and I need to have this done now."
Of course, he received no questions, nor arguments.
A large, multi-passenger, black car pulled up to the entrance of the agency, tinted windows glimmering under the sun. Several doors opened and men in dark suits appeared. The one who took point walked up to Masato, who stood with the others at the entrance, his face curiously blank. The dark suited man looked at his watch, and then whispered in Masato's ear that everything he requested was ready. Masato simply nodded and looked at the others.
"Haruka has been moved to a private hospital," he told them, doing everything he could to keep his voice still. "This will take us there." He turned from them, disregarding their wide-eyed looks, and stepped into the car, ignoring the man who held the door. Please don't stand there looking like lost cows, get the fuck in the car! He was surprised that his sensibilities hadn't flinched from the vulgarity; actually, it was starting to feel better to express himself – if just in his head – in such pointed words.
As large as it was, the car was too crowded and too hot to him. The security detail sat on one side of the bank of seats, all blank-faced and none speaking. Ichinose, Jinguji, the others and Ringo had taken over the other bench seat. He sat alone on the end seat. He found that he preferred it that way. He watched from the corner of his eye as Ringo's fingers flew over his phone, trying to distract himself by considering how interesting the teacher looked with his dusky rose hair short and brushing his suddenly sharp jawline. Text messages flew furiously, he knew, as those who knew the needed facts filled Ringo in on any new developments.
Tokiya had already spoken to Otoya, who told him that he and Tomochika were on their way to the hospital. As to how they found out, Otoya told them that Haruka was apparently trying to call Tomochika when the accident occurred. Masato flinched when he heard Haruka's name.
He sat quiet, letting every type of scenario run through his head as he watched the streetlights pass beyond the tinted windows. His driver's voice crackled into an earpiece he'd been given, speaking softly to him, but the words meant nothing. In fact, the man's voice hurt his ears and sounded like nothing more than the buzzing of black flies in his brain, and he longed to turn and tell the man to shut the hell up. As he made out a few of the words, though, he realized that he was being assured that they would get there as quick as they could. The man was only trying to keep him calm. It was a shame that was not the realm of possibility, all things considered.
He tried to remember his last conversation with Haruka. It had been when they finalized the arrangement of the song. She tried to get him to show her the lyrics, but he refused, telling her that it was a surprise. He remembered the light blush on her cheeks and the fact that she was wearing a perfume that smelled slightly of peonies.
His hand tightened into a fist, unbidden, and he clenched his teeth, keeping what he wanted to say behind his teeth. She sprained an ankle, broken an arm. Perhaps received a few cuts for her trouble. Surely, it was nothing more serious than that.
He pointedly ignored the concerned look Ichinose gave him. No, he did not want to talk about it.
The hospital was a private, exclusive one that catered to celebrities and the very wealthy. Well known for its discretion, it was the only hospital his family would use. As soon as they saw him walk through the sliding doors ahead of the others, he was ushered to a private waiting room. Two of his detail stayed at the desk, while the rest followed the group to the room.
Before they could be ushered further into the hospital, he heard her voice. At least he thought it was her voice; he'd never heard Haruka speak so sharply in all the time he'd known her. Turning, he saw the gurney rolling down an opposite hallway, just too far away for him to get to her. He could see that her neck was in a brace and could hear that she was… complaining, asking for, of all things a pillow. And not too please that one was not forthcoming. As her voice faded down the opposite hallway, he shook his head to clear it and turned back the way he had been going. Too soon. He would find out details in a minute. It wouldn't do to lose his calm yet.
Two of the suited men stood outside the door, keeping an eye out for the possible press presence. Masato did what was he was told without comment, knowing that no member of the press would know anything about what went on behind the door.
The group suddenly froze as one unit, and Masato almost tripped over his own feet. Before he could bark at those in his way, he looked up and saw what had caused his companions to pause.
Ichinose said it before he could; "What are you doing here?"
Violet colored eyes, lighter and colder than his own gave the group a once over before the other man rolled his eyes and gave all of his attention to Ichinose. "Apparently the same thing you are doing," Ootori answered.
Masato stepped forward them. "How are you here?" he demanded, knowing that his tone brooked no argument.
"We," and Ootori gestured behind him at the other two flanking him. "Accompanied her to the other hospital. Naturally, we followed her here." He looked around at the lush waiting room. "Impressive," he murmured, "and smart. The media are probably already swarming the other place."
"And just how did you happen to accompany her to the hospital?" Jinguji asked suspiciously.
"We were the unfortunate witnesses to her accident," Ootori answered. Masato wanted to wipe that smirk off the man's face – and take a few teeth with it.
"We wanted to ensure the song bird was well taken care of."
"Well, you see she is in good hands," Kurusu barked, "You can scurry back to your rat hole."
"Hey!" This came from the hulking brute standing behind Ootori's left side. "Watch your mouth, shrimp! If we hadn't been there, you wouldn't have found out anything for hours!"
Of course, Kurusu bristled at the insult. Stepping forward, he growled. "Watch your mouth, Godzilla, before I cut you off at the kneecaps!"
"Enough!" Masato shouted into the din. He did not want unnecessary attention drawn to his group. As he watched the two combatants move off, he turned back to Ootori. "Stay or go as you want," he said shortly, "just stay out of our way. Nanami is my—our responsibility." He swore to himself, hoping that they hadn't caught the slip of his tongue. That certainly was none of their business.
Today was not his lucky day, he thought as he saw Ootori register the slip with a tightening of his eyes. However, the trio said nothing, and moved back toward seats in the waiting room to mutter among themselves.
The others looked at him, but seemed to know better than to speak to him directly. He looked around, his gaze lighting on Tomochika, held in Otoya's arms, shaking with worry and shock. He shook his head and looked away. There was no need for all of that. Haruka probably just scraped her knees. How was it even possible that a car – or anything – could damage her?
A doctor entered, her white jacket reflecting the fluorescent lighting. Seeking him out, she gave him a bow checked her clipboard.
Before she could speak, Ringo stood. "What is her condition please?" he asked after giving Masato a quieting look.
The doctor looked around at the group, her gaze once again ending on Masato. "Mr. Hijirikawa, though I understand that your family sponsors this hospital, and…" she looked at her clipboard again, "has agreed to cover any of the costs incurred, I must ask. How are you related to the patient?"
Masato looked at her stupidly for a moment. Agreed to cover any costs incurred? He hadn't mentioned that, hadn't even begun to think about that. Brain scrambling, he found his voice and, of all things, something to say. Despite who he was, they would not let him near her unless he had a direct and personal connection to her. So…"I am her… fiancé," he simply, succinctly lied. "That information is not public knowledge and I would like it to remain that way." He heard all breathing stop behind him. It sounded like he was standing in a vacuum tube; he could even imagine his ears popping from the change in air pressure.
"I'm sorry for being so strict, sir, but it is a hospital rule," she answered. "Can you follow me please?"
Masato looked back at the others for a second before he gathered his nerve and followed the doctor. Everyone was staring dumbstruck at how the lie had so smoothly fallen from his lips. He doubted they had ever heard him speak such a blatant falsehood before; his skill with it was not something he broadcast, nor was he proud of.
Before one of the men followed him, he stopped them with another gesture.
Just outside the door, the doctor introduced herself as Doctor Kimura. As if he couldn't see the badge attached to her lab coat. He nodded, glad for the neutral tone of her voice as she began the catalog of injuries.
She combined the medical terms with simple explanations, most of which he understood. From all of the physical evidence, she told him, it was apparent that Haruka initially hit the hood of the car before rolling to the ground, striking the back of her head before being pushed by the forward momentum of the small car.
In total, Haruka had suffered several compound fractures, in her arm and her leg. There were contusions and lacerations on her body from the concrete after impact. Her head struck the ground and scrambled her brain. That injury worried the doctor. "The pertinent tests came back negative for any serious injury, Mr. Hijirikawa," she said, "however; we will keep her here at least 48 hours for observation." She waited for his response; he managed to grunt something in her direction. "Fortunately the collision was at a relatively slow speed. The injuries to her arm appear to have been caused when she threw her hand out to stop her fall. It's an instinctive move, and the cuts to the palm of her hand prove it.
"All of her other injuries came from contact with the ground. The worst of those injuries is the grade two concussion."
"What… what does that mean?" he asked, finally able to form an intelligent sentence. "Grade two concussion?"
"When she arrived, Ms. Nanami was able to give us basic information; however, she was a bit groggy and could only remember the last thing she was trying to do." She finally gave him a small smile. "Then we had to calm her; she was a bit annoyed that she couldn't have a pillow."
Masato blinked at the woman.
"That is a good sign, her crankiness," the doctor said. "It shows that she realizes things aren't as they should be. We have sedated her to ensure that her brain activity is stabilized."
Masato closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, his vision was slightly blurred. "May I see her now?"
"Of course. Follow me."
At the door, the doctor stopped and put a hand on Masato's shoulder. The gesture bothered him. It made him want to slap her. "Now, I just need you to know that she is actually in better condition that she appears."
Than she appears? Masato frowned.
"All right? Are you ready?"
He took a deep breath, taking in calming air and breathing out all of the negativity that he was able. When he felt like he could function normally, he nodded. The doctor opened the door for him.
The room was a muted shade of white and the lights were low. It was a private room, with a single hospital bed with no curtain. Just beyond where Haruka lay, was a set of two loveseats around a small table. The drawn curtains at the window kept out any unnecessary light.
After making sure the room met his approval – more stalling than anything else did – he turned to the small form in the big bed.
There was a bruise on the side of her face, right on her cheekbone. It was soft purple in the center, and angry red on one edge. Her left arm was in a cast up to her elbow; her other arm was at her side, studded with a single intravenous tube attached to several medical bags.
He pulled up a chair and sat next to her. For a stretch of time he could not measure, all he did was look at her, so small and pale in the pure white sheets. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he raged, but to the nurses that entered intermittently to check the machines, he presented an eerily calm façade. One of them softly told him where the call button was before turning the main light down. The room fell into even more shadow, with the only source of light hovering over the bed and machines.
After a while, he put his hand under Haruka's, staring at the IV needle in the back of her hand, and rubbing his thumb softly up and down on her wrist. It all the comfort he could offer for the moment.
In the silence that followed, he made some decisions and finalized some plans, all in his mind. As soon as he could, he would put those plans into motion. All advantages aside, he was weary of the chaos currently in his life. There was one thing he had inherited from his father for which he was proud. He would quit wavering and put that streak of determination and that steel spine to good use.
Lastly, all he could do was hope that, wherever she was right then, she could feel his touch and know he was there for her.
Then, Haruka's eyes fluttered opened slowly after the fourth visit from the nurse. She stared up at the ceiling for a moment, and then carefully, cautiously moved her eyes until they landed on his face. She stared, blinking in slight confusion for a moment, then her eyes took light and she smiled slowly.
His name on her lips was more beautiful than any melody he'd ever heard.