A Mother's Worry
A/N: This idea has bounced around in my head for several weeks, and it finally got annoying enough to force me to write it down. It was written in little under an hour, so please forgive any mistakes - grammar or otherwise - that I missed. It's late and I couldn't sleep until I got this done. *sighs* I might come back to edit and/or expand this into a larger story, but I really don't know. Any mistakes regarding the Japanese health care system are entirely my own, since I have no idea how it might differ from the American system, which is what I'm familiar with. But I figure red-tape is red-tape, no matter where it is...
Regardless, please do tell me what you think. I'm actually fairly curious to know.
Edit 7/20/10: I went back and fixed my grammar errors, tweaked a few sentences to make the story flow more smoothly, etc. *winces* Late or not, those were really things I should have caught...And just a random FYI for those of you who might not have reviewed but share the sentiments of some of my reviewers: I still don't know if this will become a longer story. It depends on if I can work up A) the motivation to expand this and, B) a coherent storyline to follow. I am thinking of ways it could happen, but I make no promises.
Though I am very flattered to be asked to continue this oneshot. I didn't expect such a spirited response!
Blinking, Tomoko looked up from her computer screen with slightly bleary eyes. She had been inputting patient info into the hospital's computers for nearly ten hours now, covering for a friend and manning the phones that were her technical responsibility at the same time. As a consequence, she was starting to feel the strain. She would need to take a break soon, or she'd make a mistake with someone's information and that could be disastrous.
And her back was starting to twinge again, which meant she'd have to attend to that soon as well…
Tomoko shook herself and half-way rose out of her seat. "Yes, Ayumi-chan? What's wrong?" she asked, curious. Ayumi was a good friend and a very level-headed woman. It was what made her such a good trauma nurse. She rarely sounded as flustered as she did now. Something out of the ordinary must have happened.
"You have to go to now, Tomoko-chan! They just called in! Oh, I'm so sorry-"
"Go where?" Tomoko interrupted, feeling her heart constrict. She wasn't a nurse, the only time she would be drafted to help in a medical fashion was during a state of emergency, and nothing nearly so dire had occurred. She knew that for a fact. "Ayumi-chan, you aren't making sense."
Ayumi drew a deep breath, reweaving her tattered calm. "I was just in Akiyama-san's office and when the phone rang, I answered it, to take a message," she said, still sounding slightly panicky, but under control. "Akiyama-san's been so busy he always misses it when his wife calls and I thought it would be nice for her to leave a message with a person instead of the answering machine for once…" Ayumi shook her head vigorously, forcibly bringing her attention back to the point. "But it wasn't his wife. It was one of the nurses from the emergency care center at Shibuya Station."
"I'm going to go out for a while today, Mom. There's this new book store over in Shibuya I wanted to check out."
Tomoko felt the blood drain from her face. Ayumi looked at her with sad eyes. "It's Kouichi-kun, Tomoko-chan. He's…he's in the care center. They said he fell down the stairs and struck his head. He's awake now, but the doctor still needs you to come down. I'll take the rest of your shift, Tomoko-chan, you go to your son and-"
Tomoko didn't hear the rest. Her son needed her and her shift was covered for. She was leaving the hospital barely five minutes later, already working out the fastest route to Shibuya and its emergency care center.
"Ma'am, can I help you?"
"Yes. My name is Kimura Tomoko, I'm here about my son, Kouichi-"
"He's in room 22, ma'am. Dr. Wakahisa is waiting for you."
And she was making her way to her son's room as quickly as she could. Ayumi-chan had said Kouichi was awake, but there was so much that could still be wrong. Head injuries were always delicate work. Ayumi-chan hated head injuries exactly because of the myriad of complications that could arise…
Wakahisa Akira passed the penlight once more in front of the young boy's eyes and critically examined the way his pupils shifted to accommodate the bright light.
"Hmm…well, young man, despite that impressive tumble down the stairs and the trouble you gave us earlier, you seem remarkably well-recovered."
"I must not have hit my head as hard as everyone thought," Kouichi murmured quietly, holding still as the doctor felt gently around the bruised area behind Kouichi's left ear, where he had struck one of the stairs on the way down. It hurt, but wincing would only make it hurt more.
"Your heart stopped for a moment, Kouichi-kun. And it doesn't matter that you are relatively fine now. Your body is still in shock. You still have a concussion. You are going to rest for the next week or so. No more marathon runs around train stations because you're late to meet your brother. Being late is far preferable to never arriving at all."
"Yes, Dr. Wakahisa," Kouichi conceded quietly, before worry tinted his still slightly unfocused gaze. "You're not going to tell Mom that I-"
"Planned a surprise for her that turned out rather badly?" Akira commented acidly, and immediately regretted it as the young boy flinched at his tone. Scrubbing a hand over his face, Akira sighed. "No, I won't tell your mother just why you were being an idiot and running down several flights of stairs far more quickly than you ought to have. I don't agree with you, but I understand you want to surprise your mother. Just…wait until you've recovered, Kouichi-kun. Your mother doesn't need any more shocks today."
"I'll wait, Dr. Wakahisa. Thank you."
"If you need something, press that button to your right. Even if you just need to use the restroom. I don't want you getting up by yourself until I'm sure you won't fall in the attempt."
Leaving behind a slightly put out patient, Akira exited room 22 and nearly collided with a pale-faced woman who bore a strong resemblance to the boy he had just left behind.
"Kimura-san, I presume?" A slightly flustered looked greeted him and Akira felt a brief stab of pity for this woman who obviously didn't need any more stress in her life.
"Yes…Dr. Wakahisa?" She barely waited for his confirming nod before trying to politely push past him into the room. "Please, is Kouichi…is he…?"
Placing one calming – and restraining – hand on her shoulder, Akira nodded reassuringly. "Yes, Kouichi-kun is fine now. He'll need to be careful for the next week or so. No strenuous activity at all, and I'll give you a list of complications and symptoms that could arise, but he's awake and coherent."
The mother slumped in relief and Akira patiently waited her out, still standing in front of the door to Kouichi-kun's room. It was sometimes hard to deal with the reactions of parents who had their children involved in serious accidents, but he far preferred this limp-boned relief to the other reaction that could just as easily have occurred. Kouichi-kun had almost died, after all.
"Can I see him?"
"In a moment, Kimura-san. I have a few forms you need to sign…" Seeing the crestfallen look on the woman's face made Akira pause, and reconsider his approach. There really was no reason he couldn't let her in now. Kouichi-kun was out of immediate danger and he would have to retrieve the forms for Kimura-san to sign anyway. Shaking his head, he stepped out of the doorway and gestured the woman through with a slight and respectful bow. "It can wait. Go see your son, Kimura-san. I shall return in a few minutes with the forms."
"Thank you," Kimura Tomoko breathed out, bowing low in gratitude, before she vanished behind the door.
Akira smiled and strolled slowly down the corridor. For once, he'd let proper procedure occur slightly out of order. It wouldn't harm anyone, and would very likely give that poor woman some relief.
Briefly, he considered backtracking and listening outside the door to room number 22. He really was curious about what Kouichi-kun would tell his mother in explanation for his unexpected visit to the emergency care center. Akira knew enough to know he hadn't been told everything either, and wondered what the boy would tell his mother without other ears to hear.
"My parents divorced when I was a little kid, Dr. Wakahisa. Kouji and I didn't even know we were twins until recently. I promised to introduce Kouji to Mom and we were going to meet today. I wanted it to be a surprise…"
"I knew Kouichi missed the connection to get him to our meeting point, but it was taking too long for him to show up," Kouji put in, standing firmly by his brother's bedside. "I went looking for him."
"And your friends?" Akira asked sardonically.
"We were worried too," the youngest boy piped up. Tomoki, wasn't it? "So we helped Kouji look!"
The boy with the goggles spoke up then. "We all came cause we wanted to help Kouji and Kouichi. And make the surprise special for Kouichi's…their mom."
"Please, Dr. Wakahisa, can't you keep the secret?" The only girl in the group implored him with wide green eyes. Sighing, Akira shook his head slowly. He knew there was a lie somewhere in what they were telling him – or rather, what they weren't – but he was too tired from the stress of trying to keep Kouichi-kun breathing to figure it out. And he understood the pull of planning surprises and keeping good secrets.
"The five of you had better make yourselves scarce if you don't want Kimura-san to see you," he said firmly, ignoring the looks he received from the five healthy children. "I need to examine Kouichi-kun again, and you can't be in here for that."
"But-" Kouji started. Akira fixed him with a stern look.
"I make no promises, young man. But I am a doctor, not a disciplinarian. What you tell your parents about what you were up to today is not my business."
And it truly wasn't, Akira knew as he brought his wandering attention back to the present. He was a doctor, nothing more and nothing less, and it was enough that the young boy had made it, despite all early indications that he would not pull through. He didn't need to know every detail of his patients' lives. Just enough to help them heal.
And having something positive to look forward to helped the healing process just as much as rest and medication did.
The revelation of a secret like this one would negate a mother's worry soon, and that was well worth his silence.