Helping Hand


Yamato exited the bar and jumped back, blinking. Sai stood in front of him. At two in the morning. Outside his usual bar. "What're you doing here?"

"Yamato-taichou, you are drunk," Sai said.

"I know," Yamato said.

"Would you like some help sobering up?" Sai asked. "I have read about various methods to help friends sober up after they have been drinking too much."

"That would be great," Yamato said.

Sai slapped him.

Yamato twisted with it, but not enough. He toppled over on the sidewalk. The sidewalk was wet and cold.

"Are you sober?" Sai asked. "I could slap you again."

Yamato whined. "Sai…Ow."

Sai considered this response seriously. "Is that a yes or a no?"

"No," Yamato said. "No." He stumbled to his feet, rubbing his cheek. "That hurt. A lot. A looooot. Why did you slap me? I thought you said you were going to help me."

"A slap is guaranteed to sober someone up," Sai said. "I read about it. A slap is the quickest and most effective method of sobering a friend. So I did it." He considered Yamato's reddened cheek and Yamato's hurt expression. "Was I wrong to employ this method of sobering you up?"

"Yes!" Yamato exclaimed.

Sai looked at him blankly. "I am sorry." Then he put on his bright smile.

Yamato sniffled. "S'okay. Take me home, will you, Sai? I feel ill."

"Okay, Taichou." Sai grabbed him and teleported them to the kitchen of Yamato's apartment.

Yamato tripped over his own feet on the way to the kitchen sink and grabbed the edge of the sink with both hands. He threw up, and then turned the faucet on, washing his vomit away. "I didn't mean to teleport me. I was sick to my stomach already."

"I'm sorry," Sai said.

"Forget it," Yamato muttered.

"I do not think I can keep myself from remembering," Sai said.

"No, I mean – " Yamato sighed. "It's fine."

Sai stepped in front of him. "I beg to differ, Yamato-taichou. It is not fine. You are upset." He smiled again. "Would you like to hit me? Primitive forms of retaliation are sometimes satisfying in these situations where one cannot forget, and cannot forgive. I will allow you to take revenge upon me."

Yamato stared at him for a moment, then wrapped him in a tight hug. "I'm sorry, Sai. I shouldn't have snapped at you."

"Snapped?" Sai intoned, sounding confused.

"Spoken harshly," Yamato said. "Been a pain. I'm always a pain." He sniffled and hugged Sai tighter, resting his head on Sai's shoulder. "I love you."

"Okay," Sai said.

Yamato snorted, and then started to laugh. "You don't know what I'm talking about, do you?"

"Do you want to go to bed?" Sai asked. "It seems as though you require rest before becoming fully sober."

"Yes," Yamato said. "Yes, I would like to rest. Very much."

"Do you require assistance to travel to the bedroom?" Sai asked.

Yamato considered things the best he could when his head was swimming and light seemed to travel in slow motion. "Probably."

"I will carry you." Sai picked him up effortlessly and carried him across the apartment, into his bedroom, and set him down on his bed.

Yamato looked up at him. "Sai?"

"Yes, Yamato-taichou?" Sai asked, looking at him attentively. "Is there something else you require to facilitate your full recovery?"

"Do you love me?" Yamato asked.

"It depends," Sai said. "What is your definition of the word love?"

Yamato furrowed his brow, overtaxed by the question. "When you like someone. You feel personally motivated to…help them and stuff. Even when they don't seem to like it; and you still feel happy whenever they're around, even if you don't know if they love you back."

"Hmm," Sai said. "I think so. That would describe the behaviors I feel compelled to carry out when I am around you, Taichou."

Yamato smiled at him weakly. "That's all. You can get some sleep."
Sai bowed. "Thank you, Yamato-taichou."

"And, Sai?"

Sai straightened. "Yes, Yamato-taichou?"

"Thank you for all your help," Yamato said. "I really appreciate it."

Sai beamed. "You're welcome. I will slap you any time you want."

Yamato laughed. "Good night."

"Good night," Sai said politely. He disappeared with a flicker, no doubt teleporting to his own residence.

Yamato smiled, even as he rubbed the sore spot on his cheek that was bruising in the shape of Sai's hand.