Author’s note: The following is a series of Jakotsu-centric challenge fics written from a list my dear friend and writing partner, Vega-chan, came up with for me. It’s is based on Killa Kay’s awesome collection of Gravitation short stories called “A to Z.” (You can find them in my favorite stories section.) Due to the nature of the word given, they can either be what I call “canon timeline” which is set before their first deaths or AU which is set in modern times and will be set in the “world” I created in my story, “Homecoming.”
“X” is for X-ray
Author’s notes: Special thanks to Vega-chan for helping me out with the “technical” stuff. She’s an x-ray technician in training and I have been picking her brains for this one. Thanks you again, Vega-chan! Glomps you!
FYI: Believe it or not the x-ray machine you stand next to for a chest X-ray is called a “wall bucky.”
“Shichinin no Samurai” is a famous Akira Kurosawa film about seven samurai who help a village defend themselves against bandits. It was later remade into the western “The Magnificent Seven,” as well as several other films and the anime “Samurai 7.”
Jakotsu lay there propped up with pillows, on the sofa in their apartment. He was coughing so much his chest felt like it was on fire. “Stupid chest cold...” he said to himself as he waited for Bankotsu to come back with a cup of tea and some cough medicine.
“Here you go,” Bankotsu said as he set down the tray on the coffee table. Picking up the cough mixture and a spoon, he poured a dose into it and held it close to his lover’s mouth. “Drink up,” he said as the cross-dresser complied.
“Gagh! That stuff tastes like shit.” Jakotsu started coughing again.
Bankotsu handed him the cup of tea.
The cross-dresser took it and somehow managed to sip enough to quiet his cough. “Thanks.”
“You really should go see your friend Sui about your cough.”
“It’s just a chest cold, my lil dumpling,” the cross-dresser said saucily. He was trying hard not to cough, and his lover was clearly not amused.
“I’m serious, Jak. Chest colds don’t make you sleep practically sitting up, make you hack up a lung, or leave you so weak you can barely drag yourself out of bed. All I can say is thank goodness you’re on hiatus.”
“Yeah.” Jakotsu sighed. “Although, I have to admit, I do miss the work.”
Bankotsu rolled his eyes. “Oh really? And who was it who was whining two weeks ago about having too much work to do? Hmmm?”
Jakotsu coughed. “Me,” he said contritely.
Bankotsu shook his head and heaved a long suffering sigh. “I’m serious, Sweetness, I think you should go see your friend about this. You’re coughing up way too much green shit for it to be a chest cold. Promise me you’ll call him today.”
“Okay...” the cross-dresser said airily.
“I mean it.”
“I know. Now you’d better go before you’re late for work.”
Bankotsu sighed again. Leaning over, he kissed the top of his lover’s head. “I’ll see you later. And don’t forget to call Sui and if you need me, call me on my cell phone instead of going through reception. You’ll be able reach me that way as I’ll be in a meeting this morning. I’ll call you at lunch.”
Jakotsu nodded. “Have fun!” He smiled impishly as he waved good-bye to his lover.
“Jakotsu,” Bankotsu drawled. “I swear if you don’t start behaving, I’ll call your mother and have her come over and baby-sit.”
The cross-dresser coughed. Gasping for breath, he wheezed, “You wouldn’t dare!”
“You win, I’ll call Sui.”
“Good.” Bankotsu handed his lover his cell phone. He stood there waiting patiently as he dialed.
“Hello? It’s Sato-san...Yes... Is Hirata-sensei in? Thank you...” Jakotsu tried to discretely cough. “Sorry, Sui... Yeah... My chest is a bit sore. Yeah... Nothing; just a chest cold. What? Can I? Uh-hunh... Bye.” The cross-dresser hung up. “He wants me to come in in an hour.”
“Okay... Want me to send the car around?”
“Okay.” Bankotsu gave him another kiss, this time on Jakotsu’s forehead, before leaving. “Later, Sweetness.”
Jakotsu lay back against the seat in the back of the car, a box of tissues and a plastic bag sitting on the seat next to him. Closing his eyes, he gave the driver directions to the clinic his friend Suikotsu worked in. The ride went quickly, even though he slept fitfully thanks to the coughing fit he had had minutes after they pulled away from the curb. It seemed every time he drifted off, he had the urge to cough his brains out.
The car pulled into the clinic’s parking lot, the driver parking in front of the door. Getting out, he walked over to Jakotsu and opened the car door for him.
“Thank you,” the cross-dresser said as he dragged himself out of the car. “Please wait here until I come out, thanks.” He smiled weakly at the driver before disappearing inside.
“Sato-san?” The nurse said as she walked over to where Jakotsu sat in the clinic’s waiting room, trying hard not to cough as the place was full of children. Some looked just as sick as he felt, while others played with each other on the waiting room floor.
“I’m sorry, Hirata-sensei can’t see you right now as he’s short-staffed. He did say to go next door and get a chest x-ray.” She handed him a piece of paper. “Just hand that to the receptionist and she’ll see to it you are taken care of promptly.”
“Thanks...” Jakotsu glanced at the paper, stuffing it into his coat pocket as he stood up to leave. “Tell Hirata-sensei I’ll call him later.”
Jakotsu handed the prescription to the receptionist and minutes later the x-ray technologist came out and led Jak to the x-ray room. “Sato-san, I just need you to remove everything from the waist up. I promise I’ll get this done as quickly as I can for you.”
“Okay...” Jakotsu said as the technologist shut the door. He shivered as he removed his coat and hung it up on the hook. He was dreading removing his sweater, but he figured the quicker he was about it, the quicker he would be on his way home. At least he was allowed to keep his own pants on.
The whole “ordeal” could not have lasted more than ten minutes for which he was grateful. First they had him stand facing the wall bucky and a lead apron was wrapped around his waist. Once they had the bucky set at the correct height, all Jakotsu had to do was stand there without moving, something he found difficult to do because the cool temperate of the room made him want to cough. He was asked to inhale as deeply as he could then hold while the technologist disappeared behind a wall and activated the x-ray. After a soft hum and a beep the RadTech called out for him to breathe normally. She came back and repositioned him, so that he was standing sideways next to the bucky. After doing the same breathing routine as before, he told he was free to put his sweater and coat back on and go.
Never had a cashmere sweater felt so good in all his life as when he slipped it back over his head and pulled it down. The technologist lead him back to the waiting room and explained that the images would be sent directly to the physician for viewing, and that Jak would probably receive a call about it later that day. Jak nodded and thanked the technologist, before leaving the clinic.
“We’ll kick it off with a few dates in Osaka, then head up to Nagoya, Yokohama, ending up back home in Tokyo. We’re also going to play a few smaller venues along the way. Then it’s a month off in mid-December to mid-January, before heading out on the European leg of the tour. That should take us right through to April. Too bad we’re going to miss the cherry blossoms.” Bankotsu grinned and looked down at his notes. “We’ll have a couple of months off before the start of the American summer tour. If all goes well, I figure we can add a few South American and Canadian dates next year.” The young music producer frowned when he felt his cell phone vibrating in his pocket. Taking it out, he put it on the conference table. It danced across it for a few seconds, before stopping. Ignoring it, Bankotsu asked, “Any questions?” He looked around at the assembled band mates, who were also his friends. “No?”
The phone vibrated again, sliding across the smooth polished surface of the conference table.
“I have one,” Sesshomaru said.
“Aren’t you going to answer that?” the blond guitarist deadpanned.
“What if it’s important?”
“Important...?” Bankotsu said softly when it hit him and he lunged for the phone. “Hello?!”
“This is Hirata-san, is Jak there with you?”
“Sui? No, he’s not. I’m at work. Is everything okay?”
“I wish it were, Ban. I’ve been trying to get a hold of Jak as he needs to get to a hospital asap!”
“What?! I thought he had bronchitis, or as he likes to put it, ‘a chest cold.’”
“I wish it were just a simple chest cold, but he’s got a full blown case of pneumonia. He has a pleural effusion, fluid in the lung, and that’s why he needs to get to the hospital and quickly.”
Bankotsu swallowed hard at the serious, almost frantic tone to Suikotsu’s voice.
“Hang on a minute, Sui,” he took the phone away from his ear. “Sessh, go down the hall and ask Tanaka-san if the driver’s back yet and if he is, have him come here.” He waved the guitarist away. “I sent someone to see if the driver’s back yet and where they went.”
“Okay. Do you want me to come and get you?”
“No, that’s okay; I’m on my way out.”
“Fine.” Suikotsu hung up as Bankotsu followed suit.
“Where the hell is he?” Bankotsu grumbled to himself.
“Everything okay, Ban?” Miroku asked the question that was on all their minds.
“Yeah... I just need to get home so I can strangle my partner.” Bankotsu laughed humorlessly.
“I think we’ve got everything under control here,” Inuyasha added.
“All we need are those tour dates and we can end this,” Kouga said.
“Right.” Bankotsu picked up his notes. “Today’s the twenty third; the tour kicks off on the thirty first.”
“We’re good to go!” Inuyasha said as everyone stood up to leave.
Just then, Sesshomaru returned, Naraku in tow. “The driver said he’s home, Ban.”
“Thanks Sessh. Nice of you to join us, Naraku, but you missed all the fun and free donuts,” Bankotsu said as he left the room.
“What was that all about?” Naraku asked.
“Nothing to get excited over, Narie-pooh,” Sesshomaru smirked. “Jak just went AWOL, that’s all.”
“He went off on a shopping spree and Ban can’t find him,” Inuyasha said as he glared at his older brother.
“Oh, if that’s all it is...” Naraku shrugged.
“Yeah, anyway tell Kikyou to start packing, we’re leaving in a week.”
“Sure thing,” Naraku said as he reached for the last donut.
Bankotsu sat in the car silently fuming and, mentally cursing the traffic. He could not wait to get home as Suikotsu had him worried. Taking his cell phone out of his jacket pocket, he dialed home again. Come on, Jak, pick up!
When he still did not get an answer after dialing a few more times, Bankotsu felt an icy dread pierce his heart. Suikotsu’s frantic call combined with Jakotsu’s lack of a response was starting to give him waking nightmares. Please be okay when I get there, Sweetness.
He was staring blankly out the window, trying to get his worried thoughts in order, when the phone rang. Filling it open, he placed it at his ear in one fluid motion. “Sweetness?”
“No, it’s me, Sessh. Everyone wants to know if you’ve found him yet?”
“Well, I’m nearly home and he’s not picking up the phone. I thought maybe you were him.” Bankotsu sighed.
“I figured as much as not even Rin calls me ‘Sweetness.’ Maybe he’s asleep and that’s why he’s not picking up.”
“I don’t think so, Sessh. Jak’s a very light sleeper when it comes to the phone. Sometimes it barely has time to get a half a ring out before he’s picked it up.”
“Oh. Maybe the bronchitis just has him wiped.”
“Maybe, but his friend Sui, who’s a doctor, said that the bronchitis is really pneumonia.”
“Yeah, look, Sessh, I have to cut this short.”
“It’s okay. Call me when you find him and let me know where he is. I want to go kick that boney lil ass of his for scaring the shit out of you like that.”
Bankotsu laughed in spite of his fears. “Will do, Sessh.”
Bankotsu hung up his phone. He was about to call home one last time when he realized they were there. After thanking the driver, he got out of the car and hurried towards the apartment building. Once inside he dashed over to the elevator, thanking his lucky stars when the door immediately opened upon pressing the button. That simple trip upstairs was the longest elevator ride in his life.
The minute Bankotsu stepped through his apartment door time seemed to speed up and slow down at the same time. So much so, that he had no memory later on of locking the door behind him and, hanging up his coat. Kicking off his shoes, he dashed up the entry way’s step and headed towards the living room, drawn by the sound of the TV.
“Sweetness?!” he called out when he spotted his lover asleep on the sofa.
Jakotsu had dragged the comforter off their bed along with his pillows. He lay back, wrapped in its soft downy confines, propping himself up with several pillows. He had the TV tuned into the movie channel, which happened to have on one of their favorite movies, Shichinin no samurai. The cross-dresser looked pale and drawn, his breathing shallow and raspy.
“Sweetness?” Bankotsu said softly as he gently shook his lover, trying to wake him up.
Jakotsu’s eyes briefly flickered open.
“Come on, wake up,” the younger man said, shaking his lover a little bit harder. “Sweetness...”
The phone rang, startling Bankotsu. He answered it. “Hello?”
“Did you find him?”
“How is he?”
“He won’t wake up, Sui. He’s pale and kind of bluish around his mouth and his breathing sounds funny.”
“Damn it! Did you call an ambulance?”
“Okay. Ban, I’ll have one sent over and I’ll meet you at the hospital,” Suikotsu said as he motioned for a nurse to call an ambulance. Bankotsu heard him tell her where to send it. “Don’t worry, he’ll be fine.”
“I hope so, Sui.”
“The ambulance is on its way. Ban, does Jak look blue around his lips?”
“Because of the pneumonia, Jak has some fluid built up in his lungs. That made the one collapse. He’s pale and looks blue because he’s not getting enough oxygen. I’ve gotta go now, so I can drive there. He’ll be fine, Ban, once he’s admitted they’ll put a tube in and drain the fluid. That’ll make it easier for him to breathe.” Bankotsu heard him disarm his car and get in. “The ambulance should be there any minute now. I’ll see you in emergency. I’ve called ahead so he can be admitted under ‘Sato’ with no problems.”
No sooner had the pediatrician hung up, but the ambulance arrived. Several tense minutes later, they were on their way to the hospital.
“Why can’t I see him, Sui?”
“They’re working on him, Ban.” At the recorder producer’s questioning look, he added, “They’re putting a chest tube in to help drain the fluid. He’s going to be in ICU for a few days.”
“I should have stayed home with him, Sui. Hell, I should have insisted he went to see you days ago,” Bankotsu berated himself.
“Look, before you start beating yourself up over this, Jak’s a big boy, Ban. And while he’s never been one to look after himself, I think in this case he was afraid.”
“Yeah, afraid of losing you.”
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, Sui.”
“I know. But you’ve got to look at it from Jak’s point of view: no one’s ever stayed with him for the long haul; I don’t count because we’re friends. And judging by the look on your face, he never told you about the guy who kicked him out when he came down with the flu.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“I wish I was, but that was the start of the AIDS epidemic...” Suikotsu trailed off knowingly.
“And that bastard was afraid,” Bankotsu finished.
“In that respect, he takes very good care of himself especially after the walking disaster known as-”
“Naraku,” they finished together.
“Look, I know Kikyou has her faults, Sui. And I know about your history together, but she’s been the best thing for him and, as a result, the band. Without her to straighten him out, I think he’d had killed himself off a long time ago, if you know what I mean.” Bankotsu chuckled. “He’s so clean now he squeaks.”
Suikotsu laughed. “That’s because Kikyou is a force to be reckoned with. Hold on a second, Ban,” Suikotsu said as a nurse approached them. “Ban, have you called his parents?”
“No, why? Is it that serious?”
“His condition hasn’t changed, but I think they’d like to be here.”
“And it’ll give me something to do while you go check on him?”
Suikotsu smiled as he nodded, before walking away with the nurse.
“His parents are on their way, Sui.”
“That’s good. Come, I’ll take you to see him.”
“Thanks, Sui, but what about his parents?”
“I have someone I can trust who’ll look out for them. Anyway, I have something I want to show you.” They walked into an empty examination room. Suikotsu walked over to a light box hanging on the wall and switch it on. Sticking Jak’s x-rays on it, he started to explain to his worried lover exactly what was wrong with the cross-dresser.
“I’m sorry, Ban. I can only give you five minutes alone with him and that’s a lot as you’re not even family.”
“I know. I’ll make it quick. You’ll let his parents have longer?”
“Yes, but only a few minutes longer. He needs his rest, Ban.”
Bankotsu nodded and without another word, he slipped into Jakotsu’s room. The room was quiet except for the soft hum of machinery and Jakotsu’s raspy breathing. He walked as softly as he could over to the bed. “Sweetness...” he whispered.
Jakotsu’s eyes briefly fluttered open.
“You idiot!” Bankotsu said softly. “You scared the hell out of me.”
The cross-dresser coughed and Bankotsu winced as it looked painful judging by the way Jakotsu frowned.
“Ssh...” the younger man soothed. “Sui said your lung collapsed and that you’ll be fine Because they’ve got a tube in you to drain out the fluid. You’re feeling exhausted because you weren’t getting enough oxygen. Anyway, when you feel up to it ask him to show you the x-rays. They’re pretty cool looking. You can actually see the fluid clouding your lung. Ummm, I don’t have much time; Sui’s only giving me five minutes. So ummm, your parents are on their way; Sui said to call them. I hope they’re not too upset and don’t worry; I’ll look after them for you. Just get better, okay, because I’m going to miss not having you around. And I’ll be here and sneaking in whenever I can, okay,” Bankotsu’s words came out in a hurried rush. “And umm... I love you. And I’m sorry I can’t kiss you, but there’s an oxygen tent in the way and a fierce looking nurse just outside the door, so you’ll have to settle for this.” He kissed his finger tips and gently brushed them against the plastic separating them. “I’ll be back later tonight, I promise.”
Bankotsu, tired of pacing the ER’s waiting room, walked over to an empty seat and sat down. He leaned back and closed his eyes.
“Excuse me. I’m sorry to bother you, but was that man you were talking to a doctor?”
“Hunh?” Bankotsu looked over towards his left. Sitting next to him, was a man with his hand wrapped in a bloody towel.
“I’m sorry. It’s just that I’ve been sitting here for twenty minutes and I’m either going to stop bleeding on my own or I’m going to bleed to death if I don’t get my hand stitched up.”
“Oh... I’m sorry; I wasn’t paying attention. My friend was just admitted and those are his parents talking to the doctor.” Bankotsu sighed.
The man nodded. “Is it serious?”
Bankotsu shrugged. “I’m not sure.”
“By the way, I’m Sugita Renkotsu-san.”
“Oh.” Bankotsu frowned. “Sorry, I’m Kusao Bankotsu-san.” He grinned. “And yes, I’m the record producer.”
“Yeah?” The man seemed surprised.
Bankotsu nodded. “Yeah, although I would appreciate it if you kept that quiet.”
“So ummm, what did you do to yourself that you’re bleeding to death?”
Renkotsu laughed. “I was test fitting a section of the frame of the bike I’m working on when it slipped and I cut my hand.”
“Damn. Hey, my friend’s friend is back. He’s a doctor. I’ll ask him to take a look at your hand while I sneak back up into ICU. That way we both win, eh?”
“Okay, but I don’t want to get special treatment or anything, nor do I want to be the cause of you getting in trouble.”
Bankotsu gave him a long appraising look and grinned. “Don’t worry about it, Sugita-san.”
“Yeah. Besides, I need to talk to my friend’s parents. I promised him I’d look after them.”
“That’s nice of you. And thank you, Kusao-san.”
“It’s nothing.” Bankotsu got up and walked over to Suikotsu. “Sui, I’ve got another patient for you.”
“That guy sitting over there, I think he needs a couple of stitches and a tetanus shot.” Bankotsu nodded towards where Renkotsu sat.
“You don’t say, Sensei,” Suikotsu said, his eyes twinkling with amusement he looked over at Renkotsu and back. “If you hurry, you can sneak in before they chase Jak’s parents out. I think you should take them out for a something to eat. They’re really shook up about this.”
“I imagine they would be.”
Suikotsu shook his head at the younger man. “I’ll make arrangements for all of you to come back later to see him for a few minutes.”
“Thanks.” Bankotsu hurried off.
Suikotsu walked over to man Bankotsu had pointed out. “I’m Hirata-san.”
“I’m Sugita Renkotsu-san.”
Suikotsu smiled. “I’m a doctor affiliated with this hospital. What seems to be the problem?”
“I cut my hand; I think I need stitches or something.”
“Follow me, Sugita-san, we’ll go to room two and I’ll take a look at it for you.”
Suikotsu nodded. As they walked towards to the room, he asked a nurse for the necessary paperwork before continuing on their way.
“Jak, can you see it?” Suikotsu asked as held up an x-ray so the room’s overhead light would make the image visible.
“Yeah...” the cross-dresser rasped in between coughs.
“This was why Ban was so insistent you come see me.” Suikotsu pointed to a cloudy area. “And why you wound up in here. This grey area is fluid.” He traced the cloudy area with the end of his pen. “Your lungs should be clear like this one.” He pointed to the other lung. “Now, this is the x-ray we took this morning. It’s still cloudy, but the area’s not as big and that’s good.”
“I... getting... better...?” Jakotsu said; each word punctuated by a cough.
“Believe it or not you are. Now when your lungs look like this,” Suikotsu said as he held up an x-ray used for teaching purposes. “We can move you out of ICU as long you don’t have a fever or any other complications.”
The cross-dresser nodded weakly.
“Why don’t you get some rest? I’ll be back later.”
Jakotsu coughed in reply and closed his eyes.
After fussing with Jakotsu’s IV and making some adjustments to the oxygen rate going into the oxygen tent, Suikotsu slipped out of the room...
Author’s end note: Next up is “Y” is for Yes!