Yuki flung open the door to his brothers shop, storming inside and slamming it shut, already yelling.

"Where are you, you stupid snake?"

The only reply was a yelp, and he turned in time to see a startled Ayame starting to fall as the step ladder he was standing on overbalanced when Yuki's violent entry made him jump.

Before Yuki could take a single step in his direction, Ayame and the ladder had both come crashing to the floor.

"Ayame?" Yuki hurried over, expecting to see his brother pouting at him, overplaying it for all he was worth. Instead, Ayame lay perfectly still, the ladder lying across his legs, his brilliant hair spread across the floor.

"Ayame?" Yuki took a step closer, still receiving no response, and now Yuki could see a trail of blood starting to taint the silver white of his hair.

Yuki hurried for the counter, pulling the phone out from underneath and frantically dialing with shaking fingers.

"Sohma Hatori." The phone was finally answered after what felt like entirely too many rings.

"Hatori-san, it….it's…..'nii-san. He, he fell."

"Yuki-chan, calm down. Take a deep breath, and tell me, SLOWLY."

"At the shop, I… I startled him, he fell from the ladder. He….. he isn't moving."

In his office, Hatori winced at the thought of the damage a fall from any kind of height could do to the fragile snake.

"Is he breathing all right?"

"I… I think so."

"Call an ambulance, and stay with him. Don't let them give him any drugs, tell them that I am his physician and that they are to wait for me. I'll meet you at the hospital." Hatori ordered him.

"Right." Yuki pressed the disconnect, and then dialed for the ambulance.

Hatori looked at the last of Ayame's x-rays and sighed, the snake had been lucky it seemed, no fractures. The CAT scan had shown a little swelling inside the skull, under the narrow gash in his temple, but there were no hints it was going to cause a problem.

He moved over to the still, quiet figure in the bed, frowning. It was decidedly unnatural seeing Ayame either still, or quiet. The hebi looked small, frail and fragile in the hospital bed, the white gown making him seem ghostly. The only touch of color anywhere was the dried blood in the silver hair, and the darkening bruise, peeping around the edges of the dressing on his temple.

"Come on, Aaya, time to wake up," he said quietly, taking the cool hand in his own.

He wanted to hear Ayame complaining about the blood in his hair, and how awful the color of the hospital gowns was, and how terrible the décor of the room was. He wanted Ayame to be his usual brash, vibrant self. Even sleeping, the snake usually fidgeted, and this total stillness was frightening.

There was a soft moan, and the hand that rested in his flexed slightly.

"Oooh, my head." Ayame groaned, his free hand rising toward the offending area. Hatori caught the hand, pressing it back to the covers.

"Stay still Aaya-chan, you've had a nasty knock."

Long eyelashes fluttered, and ochre eyes slowly opened.

"Tori-san." There was a note of panic in the baritone voice.

Yuki looked up when Hatori headed slowly down the corridor to where he had left him waiting, and he saw Shigure and Tohru sitting in the chairs on the other side of the boy.

"Is he all right?" Yuki asked, jumping to his feet.

"No broken bones, and he regained consciousness," Hatori said, unsure how to say the next bit.

"I here a but there," Shigure said dryly, moving to stand beside Yuki.

"Yeah. Uh, there is some swelling, inside his skull from where he hit his head, and, he's blind." Hatori said bluntly.