Stronger than Pride

"We're lost," the black haired male stated from the driver's seat. "And it's raining…great."

The lighter haired male in the passenger seat grumbled. "What was your first clue? And we're not lost, Nowaki."

The blue eyed one called Nowaki looked over at his short-tempered partner. They'd decided (Nowaki begged) to go camping and take a break from work.

"You sure you can read that, Hiro-san?"

"Of course I can read a map!" Hiro began freaking out.

"Easy, I was only kiddi -"

"Turn! Turn right here!"

Despite the rain and dirt road, Nowaki smoothly turned the car on the very short notice.

"Can I see that map?"

"No you drive, I navigate!"

"Sorry, I forgot you don't like cars, Hiro-san."

He tried to get a peek at the map anyway.

"WATCH OUT!"

Before Nowaki even saw the rocks ahead, he found an airbag explode in his face and an awful crunch when the car hit the boulders.

'God my head hurts…what happened.' Nowaki thought. He saw the rocks and crushed front of the car, not to mention smashed windshield as he came to. The still falling rain had soaked through his pants.

"Hiro-san!"

Nowaki struggled out of his seat belt and shoved the deflating airbag aside to see his precious Hiroki.

How long have I been out? Is Hiro-san okay…even alive?

Hiroki sat quite still in the passenger seat, eyes closed. Cuts and scratches covered his arms. He must have tried to protect his face with his arms. Even so, a nasty bruise began to form on his jaw.

Nowaki put his ear to Hiro's chest.

He's still breathing.

Breathing a sigh of relief, he checked Hiro's other vitals while talking to him.

"Hiro-san, can you hear me? Can you open your eyes or say something?" He stroked Hiro-san's brown hair gently,

Nowaki slipped out his cell phone and dialed 911.

After a bunch of questions the operator fired off, Nowaki hung up. This far out the ambulance would take at least half an hour. Nowaki would have to take care of Hiro himself till it arrived.

"Oww…what – Nowaki, the car! It –are you – oww…" Hiro-san's chest fluttered up and down in panic and his brown eyes zoomed around the wrecked car.

Nowaki took Hiro-san's face gently between his hands. "Shh, I'm here, I'm okay. Calm down, okay? Breathe slowly."

Watching Nowaki's sapphire blue eyes calmed Hiroki somewhat, but also scared him. He'd never seen fear like that in Nowaki's eyes.

"Nowaki…it hurts…"

Nowaki's warm hand kept stroking his hair.

"What hurts, Hiro-san? Where?"

"Everywhere…." He shut his eyes against the pain, wanting to curl up in Nowaki's arms and make it all go away.

"Hiro-san, you gotta stay with me here. Does your shoulder hurt?"

He nodded tightly, trying to hold his breath.

"Breathe Hiro-san, just take small slow breaths. It'll be okay, I'll make it okay." He gently took Hiro's hand from his shoulder, but held onto it.

"Your shoulder's knocked out of the socket. I can put it back, but it'll hurt."

"Just do it then, please."

"Okay, ready." Nowaki got an idea. He pushed his lips against Hiro-sans, totally distracting him, while he wrenched Hiro's shoulder back in place. Hiro did cry out and accidently bit Nowaki's lip in the process. Then he let his head fall on Nowaki's shoulder.

"Sorry, that distraction didn't work as well as I hoped. Are you still awake, Hiro-san? Do you hurt anywhere else?"

"My foot…" Hiro mumbled.

Nowaki looked down at Hiro's feet. His left foot was bent oddly and very swollen at the ankle.

Holy Lord Mother…it had to be broken in at least three places.

"I'm sorry, Hiro-san, but stay there a minute. I'm gonna move you to the back seat. You'll be warmer there too."

"No-"

"Don't worry, I'll be with you, I promise, but you have to stay awake for me, okay?"

Nowaki shoved the driver's side door open and forced open Hiro's door. Being very cautious of his foot, he lifted Hiro, as gently but as quickly as he could in his arms and placed him gently in the back seat of the car. Once he'd done that, he pushed the front seats all the way forward to allow more room in the back. All he could do now was wrap the ankle. He climbed in opposite side of Hiro and very gently and slowly tried to slide off Hiro's shoe.

"Hiro-san, I'm gonna wrap your ankle, it's pretty badly broken," the medical intern explained.

"Don't go all doctor on me, just do it and get over here already, it's freezing." Hiro shivered quite violently now.

He's probably going into shock from pain…I'd better hurry with this.

He used his own shirt to wrap the very flared, broken ankle. He made his hands work gently but he still heard Hiro-san's sudden gasps of pain a few times.

Nowaki wasted no time getting to Hiro, he looked about to pass out. He wrapped his arms around Hiro-san and held him close against his chest. He stroked Hiroki's hair slowly. Hiro let his head rest against Nowaki's chest, tucked under his chin.

"Nowaki, could talk to me so I don't fall asleep?"

The dark haired man nodded and began talking about random things, anything to keep the man he loved more than anything with him, not to lose him to blackness. Hiroki only half listened, concentrating on Nowaki's warm hand stroking his hair and bruised face.

Finally after fifteen minutes of pointless stories and talk, an ambulance arrived.

Upon arriving at the hospital, Hiroki was taken to OR while Nowaki waited and worried. He had to wait and worry for almost a week while Hiroki remained asleep. Still, Nowaki went to see him everyday.

"Now concentrate on your mom for me, sweetheart, and I promise you won't even feel the needle," Nowaki assured the small girl before him. She still looked doubtful but looked to her mother sitting near anyway.

"That wasn't so bad was it?"

"Your done already?" the girl squealed.

Nowaki smiled. "Yep, all done."

"Ishi Nowaki?" A nurse he didn't recognize popped her head in the door.

"If your finished, I have great news."

"Yes, I'm done. What is it?"

She smiled. "Your friend, from the car wreck, he's woken."

Nowaki's eyes must've lit as bright as fireworks.

"I'm sorry, really, but this person is very important to me. Can you see yourselves out?" he asked the mother.

"Of course, don't worry about us. Go to your friend."

"Arigato."

Nowaki hurried upstairs to the hospital part of the building.

Hiroki sat up in the hospital bed flipping through TV channels.

"Hiro-san!" Nowaki came in the door.

"Nowaki! Took you long enough. Why are you panting like a puppy?"

"Sorry, I had a patient. How do you feel?" he asked, walking over to the bed.

"Hungry. But the stupid nurses won't let me eat. I feel like a haven't eaten in a week!"

"You've been asleep the whole week, Hiro-san."

"Really? But my job, work! What -" He felt Nowaki's hand on his hair.

"I've already talked to Professor Miyagi. He came to see how you were."

"Hey, Nowaki, did I ever tell you you're like a big warm gentle polar bear?"

If he thinks I'm going to let him work when he's this hyped up on painkillers, he's insane.

Nowaki pulled up a chair and sat by Hiroki's bed.

"Hiro-san, could you listen for a minute? Do you remember in the car, when I wrapped your ankle?"

"Yeah, you took your shirt off, amazing!"he said in a sing song tone.

"Hiro-san, I hate to tell you this, but your ankle…it was nearly completely smashed in the car wreck." He reached for the x-ray taken just before Hiroki had gone into OR. It showed the ankle bone snapped and splintered with a nasty jagged edge. Some chips of bone scattered around the main part of the joint.

"You went into surgery as soon as we got here. They did what they could but it won't ever heal properly."

Hiroki was listening now, the trembling of Nowaki's voice getting his attention. "So what then?" he asked.

"You'll have to relearn how to walk with the ankle's condition. Even then, you'll limp the rest of your life."

An awkward silence settled between them. Nowaki put his hand over Hiroki's.

"This is all my fault. You should hate me now –"

"I won't hate you ever, Nowaki. You stayed there with me, when I needed you most. I thought that pain would kill me, but just being that close to you, Nowaki, your voice, it chased the pain away."

"You have no idea how scared I was, Hiro-san, terrified I might lose you. I should at least pay for the therapy to help you walk again. No matter how you look at it, I did this to you."

"Stop blaming yourself already! The rocks did this to me. And you won't pay for any therapy because I refuse therapy."

"But, Hiro-san -"

"Nowaki, if I'm gonna relearn to walk, it can't be anyone but you teaching me, I won't trust anyone but you. I won't let go of my pride for anyone else."

Nowaki smiled, gently ruffling Hiro-san's hair. "Hiro-san, I'll do it. I'll help you walk again and I'll never let you fall."

"This is probably the drugs making me say this aloud, but…I love you, Nowaki."

Nowaki smiled even wider, bending to kiss Hiro-san's hair.

"Probably is good enough for me."

"Don't push it. By the way, if you ever suggest camping again, I'll kill you."

"Fair enough, no camping."

Only one thing exists stronger than pride…love, and to that, no limit exists.