Tachibana Kippei did not just burst into the hospital lobby - he crashed in.

The young receptionist gulped when his dark eyes turned to her, and rightfully so, for the blond teen was the farthest thing from calm. The worry and fear and frustration and everything that could drive a person over the edge were written on his face and heard in the steps he took toward the front desk.

"Yanagi Renji," he demanded. "Where is he?"

"He's..."

"Which room!?"

"A-are you family, Sir?"

His eyes closed and he took a calming breath. Of course only family would be allowed in the emergency room. But wasn't he just as important? After all, he was Yanagi's... he was Renji's....

"Yes I am." He opened his eyes and fixed the girl with a look. "I'm his brother, ok."

"R-room 318," she said nervously. "Third floor."

He did say "thank you," but if the girl heard the words he spoke as he ran off to the elevator, he didn't know. Didn't much care, either. All he could think of was that this person he'd come to care for so much was hurt, and he had to be there. He had to go to him and kiss the pain away.

The wing of the hospital he'd come to was quiet, and grew even more so when he entered Yanagi's room - that's when his heart stopped.

The other teen lay on the hospital bed; he seemed to be sleeping, but he could very well have been dead with how still he was. There was an oxygen tube leading into his nose and his right arm was in a sling, a cast over his entire hand. Every plane of skin that wasn't bandaged was black and blue with bruises, broken up by the occasional glaring red cut or scratch.

Tachibana was silent as he entered the room, making extra sure to not disturb the patient. But he soon learned it didn't matter when Yanagi's amber eyes slowly opened, showing he was awake after all, and his mouth curved into a weak smile.

"Hi..." he said in an even weaker voice.

Hearing the fragility in the other's normally convicted voice struck a cord in Tachibana, and he rushed over to the bedside. "Renji, my Gods..."

There was a pained chuckle. "So it's 'Renji' now?" Even once they'd started seeing each other in their third year of middle-school, continuing on into high school, they still seemed to stay at a last-name basis. 'Yanagi-san' and 'Tachibana-kun', they were used to it that way. And though Yanagi eventually shortened the name to simply 'Tachi', Tachibana never changed terms as their relationship changed from friends to more than. Perhaps because he wanted to keep their relationship discreet - that had been important to him given the nature of their affair. So the sudden switch to first-name was notable, as if something had changed between them.

Tachibana didn't respond, but instead asked "who did this to you?"

"There was some...ah...rather heated discussion in class today...creationism versus evolution.." He winced, though whether in pain or at the memory was unknown. "One thing led to another and some things came out..... like me..." Another weak smile. "I don't mind, but I guess some of my more Neanderthalic peers do.."

"They hurt you because you're-"

Yanagi cut him off with a nod. "They jumped me after school. Beat me-"

"Gods.."

"If it's any consolation..." He indicated his right arm with a shrug of the shoulder. "..I broke my hand during the incident."

"You..." The implication dawned on Tachibana, and he gently put a hand to the other's cheek. "You fought back." Ah, that was his stupid genius; not one to just lie down. He leaned in and kissed him, softly so not to disturb any of his lover's injuries. And he didn't even care when the nurse came in, saw their position, and quickly left. Discreet or whatever; he didn't care anymore if everyone in the world knew they were together. If Yanagi could get put in the hospital standing up for who he was, what did that say about him? So he decided from that point on, he wanted to be that strong too.

They gazed at each other through lowered eyelids when they broke apart, faces mere inches from one another. And Yanagi could read something in Tachibana's face. The tightened jaw line, pursed lips, eyebrows drawn together in a scowl.. Tachibana was mad. "... Tachi," he spoke in a warning voice.

"I'll get them back."

"Don't-"

That violent streak flashed. "I will." In junior high school, Tachibana had attacked and beaten a teacher who had been abusing his power - going after a bunch of punks who'd put his lover in the hospital was not beyond him in the very least.

But it frightened Yanagi as to how far he would go. He lifted his left hand slowly, and took Tachibana by the shoulder, curling his fingers to grip the fabric of his shirt. "Please don't. Violence will only beget more violence...and I don't want anything to happen to you."

Tachibana paused, and then his eyes softened. "Ok.." He petted his lover, gently stroking his hair soothingly. If it meant that much to him, he would comply...for now. "Alright. I'll just stay right here, by your side."

And Yanagi leaned into the touch. "Thank you.."

 

 

He stayed until his battered lover fell asleep - not a long wait, considering all the pain medications channeling through an IV line into his veins. When he was sure the other teen was resting soundly, he kissed him gently on the head, then slipped out the hospital room door.

And caught the first bus to Rikkai Dai Fuzoku.