My Mother's Daughter

Chapter One

"Whaddaya mean we can't see her!?" Kyou yelled.

"I'm very sorry sir," the nurse said, not sounding very sorry at all, "immediate family only."

"But she doesn't *have* any immediate family!" he howled.

"Sir, please keep your voice down, this is a hospital."

Kyou stalked over to the wastebasket next to the hard orange plastic bench and gave it a sharp kick, leaving a huge dent in it. He glared at it as if considering whether to kick it again. It didn't vent his feelings as much as he hoped it would.

Seeing that the direct approach failed Yuki stepped up to the plate to try his princely charm. "Nurse." he looked at the tag on her uniform, "Nurse Yoshikawa, Honda-san is a very dear friend to us, practically like family. As her own family can't be here, can't you see fit to let us sea her instead? We promise to be very quiet and not disturb her.even that stupid one over there."

"What was that!?"

Yuki ignored him, "So please, out of the goodness of your heart, won't you give us just a few moments to see how Honda-san is for ourselves?" and he smiled his sunniest fake smile for her. Only Honda-san saw his true smiles.

But the nurse was implacable. Luckily for them, Hatori rounded the corner, holding a clipboard.

"Souma-sensei.these boys."

"It's all right Yoshikawa. They won't do anything to impede Honda-kun's healing, and I expect seeing them will actually help her a great deal." The nurse looked dubious.

His eyes flicked to Yuki, "Where's Shigure?"

"At the Honke, dealing with Akito."

"Sensei," Yoshikawa broke in, "I'd like a word with you in private, if you would?"

Hatori nodded solemnly and opened the door for Yuki and Kyou. "She's not awake yet. Be quiet and don't bother her," he said firmly and turned back to the nurse with one raised eyebrow.

The nurse frowned. "This is probably none of my business, sensei, but.did that girl really fall down the stairs? I've looked through the records. There have been a lot of serious injuries coming from your household. Are you sure that it wouldn't be best to notify the authorities?"

Hatori gave her as icy a stare as he could manage. A stare that usually made Shigure shut his mouth. "The Souma household is quite large, I assure you. Less like a family, and more like a small village. It is not unusual to see this amount of incidents in a population of its size."

Because no matter what he did, no one could touch Akito, no one could curb him. The police could not be drawn into it no matter what the cost.

It didn't matter what he wanted to do personally. It hurt, to the core of him, to live with this perversion of his oath. Not to protect life and ease suffering where he found it, but to clean up Akito's messes and try and patch people back together again. People that never should have been broken. And even then, it did nothing to heal their wounds inside.

He dreaded seeing Honda-kun's spirit broken the way so many others were.

Hatori remembered rushing out of the room, hearing raised voices.then Momiji screaming for him. //Not again, not again.//

He didn't know what he was expecting, but it was not seeing Honda Tohru lying in a crumpled heap at the foot of the stairs. Akito still stood with his arms stretched, a blank look of shock on his face.

For all the times he cursed being a part of the Juunishi, he was grateful for it now. It helped still the urge to move the girl, to pull her up off the floor and run to the nearest hospital. But that moment of hesitation was all he needed to snap him back into reality, to remember that he shouldn't move her with a possible spinal injury.

"Momiji, I need you to go dial 119 and tell them she fell down the stairs. Akito, go back to your house, I'll deal with this." It was rare for Akito to accept orders, but he did so now and gratefully.

"Hari.Hari, is she.?"

Honda-kun's breathing was slow and even, her pulse was normal. "She'll be all right," he told the boy.

Momiji closed his eyes for a moment and let out a shaky breath. Then he ran to find the telephone.

Hatori hated the fluttery feel of panic in his stomach. He was a doctor, and the coldest of the Juunishi. He should be able to handle anything and anyone for the family's sake. But as Momiji made the call he found himself praying that he hadn't lied, that Honda-kun *would* be all right.

He squeezed her hand, "Hold on, Honda-kun, there are a lot of people here who need you."

* * *

"I should have brought flowers. Honda-san likes flowers."

"We were a little busy for that!"

"She would like it if she woke up and there were flowers."

"Then go get flowers! Nobody's stopping you now..Damn Rat."

"Shh. Be quiet. You'll wake her."

"Me!? You're the one that."

There were voices arguing. Tohru knew that under most circumstances this would upset her, but this quiet bickering seemed normal, almost comforting. Waking up was hard. Her body didn't want to do anything she told it to. The clearer things became, the more things hurt. Like her whole body was one giant bruise. And she hadn't felt this tired since the time her tent almost blew away.

But the voices sounded worried, and she wanted to help, if she could.

Tohru blinked her eyes open. "Yuki-kun? Kyou-kun?"

"You're awake!" Both boys shouted at once. The happiness on their faces was surprising.

She was in a bed, in a very beige room that smelled strongly of antiseptic. It wasn't home. Even She never cleaned that thoroughly. She looked down to see her arm in a cast, a sling hung carefully around her neck. "What happened?"

"Akito pushed you down the stairs." Yuki's expression was especially grave, and Kyou had his hackles raised. "Honda-san, are you all right? How do you feel?"

Tohru tried to sit up, but that was a mistake. It made her head swim, and a sharp pain shoot across her middle.

Before she could answer him, the door opened and Hatori stepped in. "You're awake?" His tone was neutral, but he favored her with a rare smile.

He pulled a pen light out of his doctor coat's pocket and shone it briefly in her eyes, making her wince a little. "Eyes are dilating normally, that's good."

"Hatori-san, what.?"

"Oi! Can't that wait? She just woke up!" Kyou growled.

Hatori fixed him with a stern look. "You want to know how she is, don't you?"

"Now, can you move your feet for me? Good." He scribbled a few notes on his clipboard. He still looked serious, but a great deal of stress went out of his shoulders. "You're going to have to spend the night here, just to make sure you're all right. But there's no reason you can't go home after that.

"I know it's customary to sugar coat things and just tell you to take your medicine and you'll be fine. But I think it's better for you to know everything about your situation. Your left wrist is broken, and you cracked a rib when you fell. The concussion should heal soon, but I'm sure it's making you dizzy and nauseous at the moment.

"As I said, I'm confident you can go home tomorrow, but I want you to stay in bed and take things as easy as possible. As frightening as it is, you'll have to make these two help out around the house. Shigure too for that matter."

"But.." her head was swimming and she felt like she was on the verge of tears. "What about school? And work?"

He frowned. "I want you to rest at least until your ribs have healed."

"Don't worry, Honda-san," Yuki said leaning forward and taking her right hand. "I'll copy my notes for you and tutor you to make sure you don't fall behind. I'm sure Sensei will do her best to help you too."

"Yeah, don't forget what you said when the damned mouse got sick that time. Even you said that getting better's more important than school."

Tohru nodded miserably.

Kyou scratched behind his head uncomfortably. She looked like she was going to cry. He hated it when she did that. It made him feel totally helpless. Not, he thought, that he wasn't completely helpless now. He wanted to go pound Akito's face in, but he couldn't even do that. He cleared his throat.

"Well, if you've gotta be here, you may as well be comfortable. Can we get you anything from home? I know you'll want that picture of your Mom.but anything else?"

"What?" Tohru blinked.

Yuki picked up on Kyou's idea. "Clothes for tomorrow, better pajamas than the ones here.anything like that? We want to make sure that Honda-san has the best."

"That.that would be very kind. But I would want you to go to any trouble just for me. I mean, you've already come all the way here. I'm sure you don't want to go home and come back and go home again."

"Who the hell said anything about going home again? I'm staying here!" He gave Hatori a furious look that just begged the doctor to pick a fight with him about this. Hatori wisely ignored the comment.

Then Tohru really did start to cry.

"Honda-san, what's wrong?"

"Kyou-kun, Yuki-kun, and Hatori-san are being so kind to me. I'm always depending on their hospitality."

"There, there, don't cry. You're a very important person to us. Of course we want to do anything we can for you. You'd do the same for us, wouldn't you? Don't cry." Yuki felt very frustrated. It was clear that Honda-san needed a hug very badly, and there was no one here who could give her one.

He glanced over at Kyou. "You go home and get Honda-san's things."

"Me? What are you going to do?"

"I have to go make a phone call," he said with a princely and mysterious smile as he stepped out of the room.

Kyou looked at Yuki's retreating back, then he looked over at Tohru. He looked at Yuki again, then back at Tohru. "Aaahhhhhhh!" he growled and stalked down the hallway towards the exit.

Tohru watched them go, a mix of emotions on her face. Hatori could see that the negative emotions were starting to win. "Um..Hatori-san..?"

"Yes?"

"I.I." Tears were starting to pool in her eyes again. "I only have a part time job.so I..I don't have health insurance..I don't know how I can afford to stay in the hos-hospital like this." She hiccupped as she started to cry in earnest.

"Don't worry about it. The Souma's will take care of it. After all, it's our fault that you're in this situation to begin with."

"But."

Hatori reached forward and pulled up Tohru's chin to make her look at him. "Momiji told me what Akito said. Please believe that no matter what happens, whatever you do, you will not be a burden on our family."

She blushed and looked down at her hands. "I don't-I don't know what I'm supposed to do now. I don't understand what I've done to make Akito-san dislike me so much. Mother..Mother taught me not to judge people to quickly, to look for the best in them. But.but she also taught me that I wasn't supposed to let anyone hurt me like that."

Hatori was silent, but his hand unconsciously touched his blind eye.

"Mother told me that if anyone ever hit me, I was supposed to tell her, and she would go find her bouzouki motorcycle friends, and that they would take care of it. But.but.but I can't do that anymore." Her hands curled in the blankets as she cried, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do."

And Hatori didn't know what to tell her.

* * *

Meanwhile Shigure found Akito looking after his bird, checking the water and food, making sure that the cage was cleaned. It wasn't surprising. Akito always went through this after his more violent episodes.like he was trying to make up for his behavior, or prove to himself that he was a good and caring person.

"Akito. I've come to visit."

Akito didn't turn to look at him, only pulled the sleeve of his outer kimono back up over his shoulder. "So?"

Shigure sat down at a small table, the picture of ease. "Ha-san says she'll be fine. Nothing to worry about."

"Ah."

"Akito. Your bird has enough food. You can stop now."

"Hatori said she'll be fine?" He let go of the cage and turned around.

The Dog shrugged. "Well, she hadn't woken up yet the last I heard, but he doesn't think it's very serious. She's not going to die or anything."

Akito frowned. He wouldn't look at Shigure, so Shigure walked over to him, running a hand through the younger man's soft hair. "You worry too much. Que Sera Sera."

Akito leaned into the curve of Shigure's arm. Closing his eyes. "I didn't mean to," he whispered.

"Of course you didn't."

"I was just so angry. I just wanted her to go away. Just..go away. I didn't mean to hurt her. I didn't know she was standing on the stairs."

"Shh. It's not your fault. You were angry. You didn't mean to. It's only natural for you to be angry. Tohru-kun is the one that *made* you angry, isn't she?"

"Why did she have to come? She's ruining everything. Why won't she just go away?"

Shigure smiled. "You see? It's her fault for making you angry. It was only natural for you to react that way. Anyone would have done the same. Kyou smashed her in the face with a table five minutes after he met her. You can't beat yourself up over a little thing like this."

"It wouldn't have happened if she hadn't been standing there. Bowing and smiling. She's so polite, but I can tell she doesn't mean it." He stood a little straighter, taking strength in the idea. Shigure's smile grew a little wider.

"It IS all her fault. She provoked me into pushing her. You know I never would have done that if she hadn't. You know that, Shigure."

He pushed a long lock of Akito's hair back behind his ear. Shigure thought it was a very important detail that Yuki continued to wear his hair the way Akito did, even as he tried to distance himself from the head of the house. It was the kind of detail he needed to remember when he wrote his next book.

"Of course I know that."

"Honda Tohru ruined everything. They'll all hate me now, and it's all her fault."

"I don't think things are as bad as that." Shigure said. "In fact, I think we can work this to our advantage."

"We? Our?" Akito raised an eyebrow as he stood back. He was back to being head of the Souma clan. A cunning leader instead of an upset and guilty boy.

Shigure was proud. "You know that your cause is mine, Akito. You know that my loyalty is beyond question.

* * *

Kyou thought he would never be as helpless as he was the moment he saw Tohru unconscious in that hospital room. He'd felt the most bizarre urge to yell at her then. Tell her to wake up! He'd back down immediately of course. Tell her not to wake up unless she wanted to. And that's when she would have he knew, that's the way it worked.

Except that things didn't really work that way, and he knew it.

Thank God she did wake up. Thank God that Hatori was right.

He'd never been so helpless.

Or at least that's what he thought then. It was even worse now.

Kyou felt very odd being in Tohru's room. Especially odd when she wasn't in it. Not like the time he made the leek porridge for her. That felt oddly natural. It didn't take long to pack the picture of her Mom, and find that little white crocheted sweater of hers. And it wasn't too bad to tell his conscience to take a hike when he picked out an outfit for her to wear home tomorrow.

He knew from experience what a cracked rib felt like, and how hard it was to get dressed when you were.less than a hundred percent. So that ruled out anything fussy, or with too many buttons. He picked out a white short- sleeved peasant shirt that she could put on with a broken arm easily enough. And a loose orange skirt that he'd always liked.

That's when he ran into real trouble. The Cat stood in front of Tohru's chest of drawers. There were still two things Tohru needed at the hospital, and he was utterly and completely grateful that Shigure was not there to mock him. And he would. Because it was Kyou's job to get her pajamas and underwear.

He slowly, slowly, slowly opened the drawer. Only one eye open. He spotted a set of her pajamas and stuffed them quickly in a bag. Was it possible to overheat from a blush? It had to be, and he was getting damned close.

"Stupid, stupid, stupid." For a split second he thought of calling Kagura, having her come over and do this. Then he knew he was going crazy.

He opened the next drawer. This time with both eyes closed. But feeling around one handed was almost as bad. He grabbed something cottony and stuffed it in the bag. Then his hand strayed across something satiny and infinitely soft. His eyes would have crossed if they were open.

With a muttered curse he stuffed it in the bag with everything else and zipped it shut with a muttered curse. She'd better be happy, he decided, after all the trauma she's put him through today.

* * *

Uotani reacted about as Yuki expected her to. The words "There was an accident" were barely past his lips before she was demanding to know what hospital they were at, how Honda-san was and the extent of her injuries. Yuki reassured her that she would be fine. There was a long pause at the other end of the line. Then Uotani laughed, "Thanks for the heads up, Prince. I'll be right there."

Hanajima on the other hand surprised him completely. Though in retrospect he didn't know why. The phone picked up on the first ring. "Souma-kun?"

"Ah, yes?"

Her voice was as quiet as ever, but its traditional disinterest was gone. "What's happened to Tohru-kun?"

"How did you..? Never mind. Honda-san is all right. She.fell down the stairs and broke her wrist. Hatori, I think you met him at the school festival, he's a doctor and he said she'll be fine."

"I'll be there as soon as I can. Thank you for calling. And Souma-kun?"

"Yes?"

"You and I are going to have to have a talk." And she hung up.

Yuki didn't question how she knew were to go. She's probably just follow the 'Tohru denpa' all the way to the hospital.

Deciding that it wouldn't do him much good to worry about the confrontation with Hanajima before it happened. So instead he walked down to the flower shop that was across from the hospital. There was a gift shop inside, but he knew from experience that they didn't have anything very special in it. Enough for the average person, but not for Honda-san.

It was hard to find something really perfect for her. Roses were romantic, and hardly appropriate in this situation. Carnations in his opinion were for people that couldn't afford anything better. Daisies, while they suited Honda-san's sweetness and sincerity, fell under the same category as the carnations. Live flowers were definitely out. As much as she would appreciate flowers to look after, he didn't want to give the wrong impression. Maybe he would get some later for them to grow in the secret base.

Finally he found exactly what he was looking for. Pale pink flowers with wide petals, like little bells along the stalk. Moth Orchids. Perfect.

With his prize he made his way back into the hospital, carefully avoiding the disapproving stare of Nurse Yoshikawa.

"Honda-san? I brought you flowers."

Both she and Hatori looked up. Hatori looked relieved to see the Rat. It was obvious that Honda-san had been crying, and Hatori was never a person to turn to for comfort.

"Uwaa! They're so beautiful!" Tohru blinked away her tears and blushed brightly. "You didn't have to go to all this trouble, Yuki-kun."

He smiled a princely smile. "Because it was for you, it was a pleasure."

"Very smooth," Hanajima declared from the doorway and Uotani gave a woot of approval beside her. Uotani looked disheveled and out of breath, but very relieved to see Tohru awake and alert. Hanajima, as usual, looked cool, calm, and like she'd just come from a funeral.

Yuki blushed a little. His reputation as the Prince was well known, but he didn't like to show his special affection for Honda-san in front of others. Especially not others that would tease him mercilessly.

"Uo-chan! Hana-chan!" Tohru blinked in surprise.

The two girls were drawn to her like a needle to north. "Are you all right? Souma-kun said you fell down the stairs." Hanajima said as Uotani made distressed sounds over the state of Honda-san's arm.

"Oh.ah, Yes!" A shadow crossed her face and Yuki wondered if he did the right thing after all. Honda-san couldn't tell them the truth, and she hated to lie about anything. "I was so clumsy.thank goodness Hatori-san was there."

Both girls made soothing noises and curled loosely on either side of Tohru in their typical pose of 'Tohru Love.' She leaned into the hug and closed her eyes. The expression on her face told Yuki that he made the right choice after all. She opened her eyes and looked over at him. His own smile must have given him away, because she smiled warmly at him. She knew what she did. Her smile was all the reward he could ask for.

Tohru talked to Uotani and Hanajima, assuring them that she would be okay. Hatori backed her up quietly but firmly, filling in any gaps in her story. Uotani gave her a light squeeze around the shoulders. "Don't worry, Tohru. We'll all take real good care of you."

"I just wish I wasn't missing school."

Hanajima smiled beatifically, "Don't worry. I'm sure the teachers will make it very easy for you to catch up. Remember how easy those make-up exams were? Ahh.I almost wish I broke something as well.we have a history test coming up."

Tohru laughed a little.

Hatori checked his watch. "It's time for your medication. The pain killers will be wearing off soon. It will most likely make you fall asleep. I'm sorry to cut your visit with your friends short like this."

Uotani grinned, "Nah, Tohru needs her beauty sleep. Besides, I remember what it feels like being all beat up like that, and whoo! Those meds are a doozy."

Tohru accepted the powder that Hatori stirred up for her in a glass of water. She managed to get almost all of it down without a grimace. Then she settled back into the bed sheets. The medicine worked fast, her eyes were already glazed and sleepy.

"I'm glad.you came," she said as Uotani and Hanajima sat next to the bed to watch her fall asleep. "I'm so lucky.to have friends like you."

"We'll always be here for you, Tohru-kun."

"Damn straight."

Her eyelids fluttered shut. Both girls waited until her breathing was deep and even before they moved. "I-I'll be right back," Uotani said and rushed out of the room quickly.

Hanajima watched Tohru sleep for a moment before turning to look at Yuki. "Perhaps now would be a good time for our.talk." She cast a pointed look at Hatori.

Even Hatori bowed before her pointed look. "I'll be back to check on her later." He in turn gave Yuki a look that said very clearly, 'don't do anything foolish.'

Hanajima turned back to Tohru and brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face, curling it back behind her ear. Yuki envied her casual physicality. "I would like to know what really happened to Tohru-kun," she said quietly, "and who's responsible."

Yuki tried not to flinch. "She fell," he said lamely.

"Your denpa say you're lying," she paused, "I know you have a secret, Souma- kun. Most of the school knows, it's part of your allure."

He crossed his arms in front of his chest. This was going to be very, very difficult. He might need Hatori's help in dealing with her, but he wasn't sure that would even work on the psychic.

"Tohru-kun knows what it is, and it put her in danger, didn't it?"

Again Yuki remained silent.

"That is unacceptable. You could tell me what's going on.or things could become.uncomfortable for you. I could even get my brother to help, he can curse someone by only knowing their name, you know."

That made Yuki smile. "I doubt your brother's curse could have any worse effect." Hanajima raised an eyebrow, this was the first time she'd seen the cold, bitter side of him.

Yuki thought a moment, balancing what was safe to tell her. "I don't know exactly what happened." not completely a lie, "Honda-san went to the Souma family home, where the other's live. The head of the household doesn't care for her.or the rest of us for that matter. I didn't even know she'd ever been there before."

"Why would she go, if it were so dangerous?"

Yuki sighed, "To visit Momiji and Haru, among others. They're sick."

Hanajima nodded, "So she went on a get well visit. That's very like her."

"Yeah."

She walked over to the window, looking out at the sunset. "When I was younger, I couldn't control my denpa. It was.painful. School especially was a horror. They teased me and tortured me until I couldn't take it anymore." She turned to look at him. "I put a boy in the hospital with a thought, Souma-kun, just a thought. And I swore that I would never do anything like it again.

"Tohru-kun and Arisa were the first people that didn't judge me, weren't afraid of me. They were the first people that made me feel like it was worth trying to live in the real world.

"I swore that I'd never use my denpa like that again.but knowing that someone exists who would deliberately hurt Tohru-kun makes me reconsider."

"Hanajima-san. If I thought it would do you any good, that it would help at all, I'd tell you to do it and good riddance to him. But things are complicated."

Yuki closed his eyes and remembered the dark room and an upraised hand that promised violence. He could not suffer a friend, even a casual one like this girl, to go through any of that. She didn't know what Akito was capable of. She didn't know enough to be afraid.

"I promise you that we won't allow any more harm to come to Honda-san."

Hanajima sighed, looking suddenly sad and weary. "I would like to believe you, Souma-kun."

* * *

By the time Kyou made it to the hospital his blush finally faded and he put the items in the bag out of his head. Well.almost. But if he consciously thought about it any more he was gonna flare up again.

He looked up to see a familiar figure, a head of long blond hair leaning up against the side of the building. Uotani took a long drag off of a cigarette and let a mouthful of smoke curl up into the darkening sky.

"Oi. Didn't know you smoked." He wasn't surprised to see her. That must have been what the DamnRat's phone call was all about.Wish he'd thought of that.

"I quit," she said without looking at him, "Tohru and Kyoko-san both said it was bad for me. Hounded me until I stopped. But hell if I don't need one right now."

Kyou didn't know what she needed, but agreed she needed *something.* The ex-gang member was looking pretty ragged. She looked how he felt, to be honest. He must have looked it too, because she passed him the cigarette, "You want?"

He looked at the cigarette and then looked at her. "Seems pretty stupid to worry about her by doin' something she wouldn't like."

Uotani looked annoyed at him. "Dammit. Why do you have to bring logic into this?" she sighed, "I don't even like these things anyway. It was just all part of the gang image, you know? But boy I caught hell when Kyoko-san caught me at it. You know what she said?"

"No, what?"

"She said. 'Uo-chan, smoking's just another good way to die young, and I thought you gave that up.'"

Kyou snorted, "Sounds like a smart woman."

"She was. So of course she goes and dies young in a car wreck. Fucking loser falls asleep at the wheel and Tohru's mom bites the big one. If it weren't for Tohru I don't know what I would have done."

The red-head raised an eyebrow, "I'm not sure I follow."

Uotani gestured with her cigarette. "If Kyoko-san.who was good, nice, and totally kickass, gets shafted by karma like that, then what's the point of it all? Why *not* smoke and drink and all that shit if none of it matters in the end anyway? Kyoko-san is dead, Tohru's an orphan.and her jerk family lives in luxury. You tell me."

Kyou tilted his head back, looking up at the stars that were just starting to show through the dusk, the sky fading from purple to navy blue. When he spoke his voice was a growl. "Because that's just giving up."

Uotani looked over at him in surprise. She only meant it as a rhetorical question.

He continued, either not noticing or ignoring the look. "You let fate take a crap all over your life, and you don't even do shit to fight back.then that's your own fault. When karma messes with you, you gotta fight back. *She* knows what I mean." And there was no doubting who "she" was.

"Yeah, I know, I know. I can't believe all the rotten stuff that's happened to her. And a few minutes ago she was all like, 'I'm so lucky.' I don't know how she can say that. Before.I would've thought she was so stupid to act like that. But now..she's strong. I don't know that I could be strong like that in the same situation."

"Well, you're not gonna have to. I'll protect her."

Uotani snorted, "Yeah, you did such a good job this time, didn't you. And don't give me some shit about a slip and fall. She's a klutz, but she's not that much of a klutz."

"I wasn't even there!" Kyou bristled.

She sighed. "I almost wish I never quit the gang. They'd help me cream anyone that'd do something like that. After they stopped laughing, I guess."

"Yeah well, if the opportunity comes up I'll let you help kick a little ass." She smirked at his words. "Not that there's gonna be much ass left to kick when I'm done, you know."

Uotani nodded firmly and tossed the cigarette into the street. The tip burned bright orange in the coming night, and the two of them watched it in solemn silence for a moment. Like they were making a vow. Then she turned back to him, trying to break the silence, "So, uh.what's in the bag?"

Kyou shrugged, "Stuff for her. You know, clothes and stuff."

"Clothes, huh." A sly smile crept across her face.

He blushed and hated himself for it. "Yes, clothes!" he snapped.

She reached for the bag. Kyou tried to dodge, but it was either let the gang girl have the bag, or let her touch him. And *that* was the last thing they needed to deal with tonight. So he let her have it.

Uotani rummaged through the bag. "Boring, boring, boring. Oh! What do we have here?" she started to snicker. Then she started to laugh. The blond laughed so hard that she had to lean back against the brick wall to support herself.

"What's so damn funny!?!?"

"This!" she wheezed and held up a bright pink.a bright.pink, very pink.

Uotani guffawed. "You grabbed her bikini top!"

Kyou grew even redder.

"What'd you do, dig through the drawer with your eyes closed? You did! Oh my god! I can't wait to tell Hanajima."

"Why you!"

She put it back into the bag and started walking back into the hospital. She dried her eyes. "Thanks Tangerine-Head, I needed that." And something about her face said she meant more than the laugh.

They were still mock-bickering quietly when they got back to Tohru's room. Yuki and Hanajima were looking tense and uncomfortable. Or at least Yuki looked tense and uncomfortable. Hanajima looked as poker faced as ever.

Uotani laughed again. "Yo, Hanajima. Wait till you see what Tangerine- Head."

"Shut up!"

Yuki raised an eyebrow and Kyou glowered at him. "Don't give me that look. It was an honest mistake."

The blonde shrugged, "I wouldn't sweat it. With her rib and all she'll probably just go without. It's not like she's big enough it'll really matter *that* much."

Kyou clapped both hands over his ears. "Shut up! I don't wanna hear about things like that!!"

"Arisa, we should get going. It's getting dark."

"Aa. My old man's probably whining for his dinner. Thanks for calling us Prince, it's good to know she'll be okay."

Yuki nodded serenely and smiled, "I knew Honda-san would want to see you."

* * *

Shigure found Hatori in his office, staring blankly out into the middle of nowhere. "Haa-san! My but you're up late." He said cheerily and slid into the seat across the desk. Hatori's tea he noticed had long gone cold.

Hatori shook himself out of whatever he was lost in and gave him an irritated look. "What are you doing here? I thought you were with Akito."

The Dog shrugged loosely, "I was. But he's better now so I thought I'd see how our little flower was doing. I only know what you told Momicchi."

"I should go check on her again, I suppose you could come with me."

Hatori filled him in on the girl's injuries, and what he'd be expected to do to help her around the house as she healed. The Dragon made it very clear that any non-compliance on Shigure's part would bring severe retribution.

He opened the door to her room, casting a yellow bar of light into the room. Tohru was asleep, her dark hair fanned out on the pillow. Both boys were asleep too. Kyou was curled in what looked like a very uncomfortable position on a plastic chair. Yuki was also in a chair, but he slumped forward, his arms folded on Tohru's bed, making a pillow.

Shigure grinned a little at Kyou. "I guess it's true that Cats can sleep anywhere."

The photo of Tohru's mother stood guard next to Yuki's flowers. The Dog picked it up. "Now I wonder what you would think of all this," he said with a smile.

"I wish you'd stop making jokes about this. It isn't funny."

Shigure tsked at him. "Humor is an important self-defense mechanism you know. I'm surprised with all your education a little psychology didn't seep in *somewhere*"

Hatori ignored him. "How is Akito?"

"Fine, fine. It took a little persuasion for him to see things in the right light. But everything's all right now. Now I just have to make sure the rest of my ducks are lined up in a row."

Hatori sighed, watching Tohru sleep. "I promised not to get in your way, but I wish you'd give this up. These people aren't your toys, and if they break they can't be put back together with a little glue. This isn't a game."

"On the contrary, it's the only game worth playing. Don't get me wrong, Haa-san. I like Tohru, she's a sweet girl and I hardly want to see her get hurt..but when the perfect tool falls in your lap you can't ignore it just because it's too 'nice.'"

He looked over at Hatori, and his eyes briefly shone copper with reflected light, like an animal's. "This is for everyone's greater good. This is my dream, and I'm not letting anything stop me."

Hatori nodded weakly. He was supposed to be the dragon. Strong and resolute. But most often he felt like a seahorse, drifting where the current took him, too weak to stand up for himself.

* * *

At some point during the night, Tohru woke up. It was dark and quiet. For a moment she felt a wave of cold fear wash over her. Where was she? What happened? Then she remembered. But the fear didn't fade away.

But then she noticed something. In the dim light from the hallway she could see Yuki-kun and Kyou-kun asleep. She couldn't even begin to express how comforting it felt. Ever since her mother died she tried her best to depend only on herself. She wanted so desperately to be strong.

But seeing those two sleeping boys.it made her feel safe. Protected.

And she felt safe going back to sleep.

Author's Notes: Hmm. I'll try hard to go in order. Try not to be too hard on Nurse Yoshikawa, honestly, would *you* let a squabbling Yuki and Kyou in? I hope I haven't done anything too horrible for Tohru, see? She'll be just fine.

Anything I got wrong about the hospital and injuries..this goes for the future too you know.I apologize. Try and ignore it please. I thought about researching it.but, it's fanfic, and I don't think the mangaka would have researched it either. So please just turn a blind eye to any factual mistakes. Yes, Shigure and Akito. I have no idea what Shigure's up to. He really is working for good, I think. His good. I think. This could all change the next chapter. So, yes again. Hanajima threatens Yuki and Uotani and Kyou have deep philosophical discussions. I think that's funny. Thanks very much for reading. I'm not sure where it's going, but I've had more fun writing this than anything in awhile. Critiques and comments welcome!