Akutsu checked his phone for the tenth time in a minute. He was starting to get really irritated. Dan was late and he hadn't even bothered to call with some annoying excuse. "Sorry Akutsu senpai, desu. There was a basket of puppies I needed to rescue from the river, desu!"

He was considering texting the runt to see what the deal was when there was a knock on the door. About time, Akutsu thought. He started to make his way lazily to the door; if Dan made him wait, Dan could wait too. Dan's voice started calling his name. The distress in the small voice on the other side of the door made him close the rest of the distance quickly.

Before he even had the door completely open, Dan had slipped in and slammed it shut, locking it behind him. The kid was breathing hard, his head resting against the door, his hands pressed there too. There was blood on the back of his left hand.

"Taichi!" The only response was more labored breathing. It sounded like he might also be crying.

Akutsu grabbed the boy's small shoulders and whirled him around. There was a mark on his cheek rapidly turning into a bruise and his shirt was noticeably disheveled.

"What happened?" Akutsu demanded, not taking his hands off the shaking shoulders. "Tell me, Taichi."

Dan took a deep breath. "I was almost here, desu," he panted, "when three guys started yelling at me..." Akutsu's grip on him tightened. "One of them said "there goes Akutsu's bitch" desu." Akutsu's heart started pounding. Dan paled at the memory, the mark on his cheek standing out in contrast. "Then one of them grabbed me and started pulling me down an alley, desu. They were all laughing." The tears were really streaming down his face now. Akutsu swallowed hard.

"Taichi," the evenness of his voice surprised him, "what happened?"

"I told him to let me go, desu, but he wouldn't listen. I tried yelling but he hit me and then he picked me up by my shirt desu, so I kicked him. In the balls desu," to Akutsu's surprise he sounded ashamed. "He dropped me but another one grabbed me and then...and then..." Akutsu was having a hard time not shaking the rest of the story out of him, "I broke his nose, desu!" He wailed.

Akutsu stared in disbelief as Dan shook with sobs before he broke out in raucous laughter.

"It's not funny, Akutsu senpai, desu. It looked like it really hurt," Dan was rubbing angrily at his tearful eyes with his clean hand. "Then I ran the rest of the way here, desu."

"Taichi, you're gonna be alright," he ruffled his messy hair, still chuckling with satisfaction to himself. "Come on, let's get you cleaned up."