Killing Me Slowly

It had been six years since the defeat of Deep Blue, and the Cyniclons hadn't returned. Ichigo, Lettuce, and Pudding were sad about that, but now they were also sad about something bigger.

About a month ago, Ichigo had noticed she was having chest pains and an irregular heartbeat. She went to her doctor, and had some tests done. The news was bad; she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and the doctors didn't think she had much more than a year left to live.

Her friends and family were devastated, but Ichigo wasn't. She was sorry for her friends and family, but she had had enough of life; it had been one bad thing after another, ever since the Mew Project started, and even after it ended. Her time as a Mew had been hard, but after it ended, things got worse. Aoyama dumped her, Ryou tormented her to the point where she quit Café Mew Mew, and Kisshu never came back.

Lettuce, knowing how sad Ichigo felt about losing Kisshu, and knowing that he was still alive, went to Café Mew Mew soon after she learned about Ichigo's diagnosis. She had decided to contact Kisshu, and if Ryou didn't like it, tough.

Reaching the building, she took out the key she had kept after she quit, and unlocked the doors. She went in, and found the main room empty, but heard noises from the kitchen. Going in, she found Ryou in there, eating what looked like a cookie of some sort. "Lettuce? Why are you here?" he asked.

"I'm here to tell you that I need to contact Kisshu," Lettuce said.

"Are you insane?" Ryou asked incredulously. "Why do you want to contact those freaks?"

"They aren't freaks, and I want to contact them because Ichigo's dying," Lettuce said. "I know she loves Kisshu, and I thought I'd do this for her before she dies."

"Is Ichigo really dying?" Ryou asked skeptically.

Lettuce had had it, and brought her knee up, nailing Ryou hard in the spot where the sun doesn't shine. He crumpled to the floor with a cry of pain, and Lettuce said, "You're going to die if you try to harm Kisshu." Then she went to the basement, leaving Ryou on the floor.

Lettuce went to the room with the big screen, and looked around. She spun when she heard from behind her, "Lettuce?"

Looking at Keiichiro, Lettuce said, "I need to contact Kisshu."

"What happened?" Keiichiro asked worriedly. "You look grim."

"Ichigo was diagnosed with congestive heart failure," Lettuce said sadly. "The doctors don't think she's got much longer than a year left."

Keiichiro looked horrified. He came into the room, closing and locking the door, and went over to the screen, then typed a number into the keypad next to it. The screen flickered for a bit, and then cleared to show Pai's face. "Keiichiro? And Lettuce?" he asked, startled. "Is something wrong?"

"Yes," Lettuce said sadly. "Ichigo's dying, and she wants to see Kisshu."

"Ichigo's dying?" Pai asked, shocked. "What's wrong with her?"

"Congestive heart failure," Lettuce said. "There's no cure for it, and the doctors don't think she has much time left."

Pai sighed, then said, "There's a Cyniclon cure for it, but it takes more power than I have. I'm getting Kisshu and my dad; we'll be there in two to four hours."

"Thanks," Lettuce said. Pai nodded and cut the connection.

Keiichiro sighed and asked, "Where's Ryou?"

"In the kitchen, I kicked him," Lettuce said. "He didn't believe me when I told him Ichigo was dying, which is why I came down here to look for you."

"I'll go tie him up," Keiichiro said. "You should go inform Ichigo's family of this."

"Alright," Lettuce said. "Can you send them to Ichigo's house when they get here? I know Kisshu knows where it is."

"Sure," Keiichiro said. "Call me if they decide to go straight there."

"I will," Lettuce said, and ran upstairs, then out the Café doors, and back to Ichigo's house. She knocked on the front door, and heard footsteps a few minutes later. Sakura opened the door, looking like she had been crying, and said, "Hi Lettuce, what's up?"

"I have good news; can I come in?" Lettuce asked.

"Of course," Sakura said. "Ichigo's sleeping, so we can tell her when she wakes up."

"Okay," Lettuce said. She took her shoes off and followed Sakura to the living room, where Shintaro was trying to read the paper. "So what's the good news?" Sakura asked as they all settled down.

"I contacted Pai," Lettuce said. "He says he'll bring Kisshu and his dad."

"Why his dad?" Shintaro asked, puzzled.

"Pai said there's a Cyniclon cure for Ichigo's heart disease," Lettuce said softly. "But it takes more power than he has, so I assume he's bringing Kisshu and his dad so they can help him. They should be here in a few hours."

"There's a way to save Ichigo?" Sakura asked, hope filling her eyes.

"Yes," Lettuce said. "I trust Pai; I believe he can help Ichigo."

Sakura hugged Lettuce, and Shintaro came over and did the same. "Thank you, Lettuce," Sakura said.

"It was the least I could do, after everything Ichigo's done for me," Lettuce said, hugging back.

Sakura and Shintaro let her go after a minute, and they settled down to wait.

Two hours later, they heard the doorbell ring, and Lettuce ran to get it. She opened the door as Sakura and Shintaro came out, and found Pai, Kisshu, and a middle-aged man who looked like Pai standing outside. "Come in," she said, letting them in.

"Thanks," Pai said. "This is my father, Hayako."

"It's nice to meet you," Lettuce said. "I'm Lettuce, and these are Ichigo's parents, Sakura and Shintaro."

"Welcome," Sakura said.

"Thanks," Hayako said. "Pai informed me your daughter has congestive heart failure, is that right?"

"Yes," Sakura said sadly.

"I'm a healer," Hayako said. "Pai is too, and we're willing to cure Ichigo. She did so much for our planet, it's the least we can do. Can you show us where she is?"

"Of course," Sakura said. "Come with me."

The others followed her upstairs, and to Ichigo's closed door. Sakura knocked on the door softly, and they heard a sleepy, "Yeah?"

"Ichigo, you've got some visitors," Sakura said. "Can we come in?"

"Sure," Ichigo said.

Sakura opened the door, and let the others in. Ichigo's eyes widened, and she whispered, "Kisshu?"

"Hi Koneko-chan," Kisshu said softly.

"You're here?" Ichigo asked. "Or am I dreaming again?"

"You're not dreaming," Kisshu said softly. He went over and put a hand on her cheek. "I heard you're not doing so well," he said.

"Not so much," Ichigo said. "But I'm glad I got to see you again."

"Kisshu, we should start," Hayako said gently.

"Right, sorry," Kisshu said.

Ichigo looked at them, puzzled, and Pai said, "Ichigo, there's a Cyniclon cure for the disease you have, and it would completely heal your heart. You'd still need to rest for a while, but if we use it, you won't die. Or at least, you won't die until you're like 100 years old."

"You'd do that?" Ichigo asked.

"You saved our planet, it's the least we can do," Hayako said. "I'm Hayako, by the way; Pai's father and Kisshu's uncle."

"It's nice to meet you," Ichigo said.

Hayako smiled, and said, "We need to put you to sleep, okay?"

"Okay," Ichigo said. "Can Kisshu stay?"

"Yes, we might need him anyways," Pai said. He looked at Ichigo's parents, and said, "The three of us probably won't be able to teleport after this; can we stay here?"

"Of course," Sakura said. "Shintaro and I will set up the guest room and put the spare futon in there; Kisshu can stay with Ichigo in here."

"Alright," Pai said. "I'll let you know when we're done; we need to concentrate, so please don't come in unless we call."

"Alright," Shintaro said. He, Sakura, and Lettuce left, closing the door behind them, and Kisshu closed his eyes, then snapped his fingers. "The room is soundproofed," he said.

"Thanks," Hayako said. "Ichigo, can you lie back down?"

"Sure," Ichigo said. She laid back on the bed, and Pai put a hand on her forehead, putting her to sleep with his powers.

"Ready?" Hayako asked softly.

"Yep," Pai said. "Kisshu, stay quiet until we need you."

"Understood," Kisshu said. He settled down on the floor, resting his elbows on his knees.

Meanwhile, Hayako put his hand on Ichigo's heart, concentrating, and then said, "The disease isn't too far along; this won't be as hard as I thought. Put your hand on mine, Pai."

Pai obeyed, and they started healing Ichigo's heart.

Forty-five minutes later, the glow around their combined hands began to flicker, and Pai said, "Kisshu, we need your power. Come put your hand on mine."

Kisshu immediately obeyed, and felt Pai pull his power out. The glow flared a bit, then steadied out.

Half an hour later, Hayako sighed, and said, "You can stop now." Kisshu and Pai took their hands away, and Hayako concentrated, then said, "Her heart is fully healed, and she shouldn't have any more heart problems unless she starts taking drugs, drinking, or smoking, which from what you told me, won't be happening. Her body is still weak, though, so she needs to rest for the next three days. Kisshu, you should stay with her; Pai and I will go talk to her parents about caring for her. Try to stay awake at least until we come back."

"I'll be fine; you only took a little over half my power," Kisshu said.

"I always forget that you have more power than most of us," Hayako commented. "Come on, Pai." Pai nodded and followed him out of the room as Kisshu settled down next to Ichigo.

Pai and Hayako went to the living room, and found Lettuce, Sakura, and Shintaro sitting in there. They looked up, and Sakura immediately asked, "How is she?"

"She'll be fine," Pai said. "She needs to rest for the next three days, to get over the treatment and because her body is still weak, but she'll be fine, and she won't have any more heart problems."

"Thank God…." Sakura whispered. "Thank you both so much. Is there anything we need to do for her?"

"Just keep her calm and quiet, and I'm sure Kisshu can handle that, since he's staying with her," Hayako said. "Pai and I will both be back to full strength by tomorrow afternoon if we rest, and then I can see if there's any other treatment she needs."

"Alright," Shintaro said. "We set up the guest room for you, and you can stay as long as you want; we can never thank you enough."

"We were happy to help," Pai said. He yawned, and Sakura smiled. "You both should get some rest," she said. "The guest room is diagonal from Ichigo's; do you need me to show you?"

"No, we'll be fine," Hayako said. He and Pai went back upstairs, and back to Ichigo's room. Kisshu was still sitting next to Ichigo, and he looked up. "Kisshu, we're going to bed; you should do the same," Hayako said.

Kisshu was getting tired, and just nodded, then slid under the covers with Ichigo. Pai and Hayako left, closing the door, and went to the guest room as Ichigo snuggled against Kisshu. He gently put an arm over her, and fell asleep.

He didn't wake up till noon the next day, but when he woke up, he noticed Ichigo was still asleep, and hugging him. He tried to sit up, but she whimpered slightly and pulled him closer in her sleep. She didn't relax until he settled back down. Kisshu gently stroked Ichigo's hair, and she relaxed, purring happily.

About an hour later, Hayako and Pai came in, and Hayako asked, "Kisshu, are you okay?"

"I'm fine, but Ichigo doesn't seem to like it when I try to get up," Kisshu said.

Pai came over and gently tapped Ichigo's forehead. She stirred, then opened her eyes sleepily. "Ohayou…." she said sleepily.

"Are you feeling better?" Kisshu asked.

Ichigo looked at him, and said, "Yeah, actually. I still feel weak, but other than that, I feel better than I have in months."

"Good," Pai said. "We ensured that you won't have more heart problems, but just so you know, you can't drink alcohol; it could hurt you. And so can smoking and drugs."

"It's good I don't like any of that," Ichigo said. "Thank you for saving me."

"It's the least we could do, since you saved us," Hayako said. He looked at Kisshu, and asked, "Are you staying?"

"Yes," Kisshu replied. "I'm never going to leave Koneko-chan again."

"Pai is staying too, after he brings me back," Hayako said. "And Taruto's coming back when Pai comes back, since I don't trust Pai to fly a ship by himself."

Ichigo giggled. "Pai, are you irresponsible?" she asked.

"No," Pai said grouchily.

"He just has common sense deficiency disorder," Kisshu said.

"You just made that up, didn't you?" Pai asked wearily.

"Yeah, but you really don't have any common sense to speak of," Kisshu said. "Remember the time you found Uncle Hayako's- mmph!"

Pai had put a hand on Kisshu's mouth, and Ichigo was curious. "What did you find, Pai?" she asked.

"He found my alcohol stash when he was eleven, and drank a whole bottle of something in there, and then turned into a perverted menace," Hayako said. "And Kisshu was the one who found out, so he knocked Pai out and dragged him back home, then asked me why Pai was drunk."

Ichigo looked at Pai, who looked grouchy, and asked, "Why did you do that?"

"It smelled like vanilla, so I thought it was vanilla," Pai said gloomily.

"No wonder you were acting like that," Hayako said dryly. "It sounds like you found your mother's vanilla extract stash. That extract is made with alcohol. I guess now we know what you drank…."

"Mmph," Pai said. "That was over ten years ago, and I've STILL never heard the end of it!"

"With good reason," Kisshu said. "You might forget that you have no common sense, and then I'd have to save your skin again."

"You're not required to bail me out of the many messes that I've gotten into," Pai said grouchily.

"You're my best friend; that comes with being best friends," Kisshu said. "Helping each other out."

Pai stopped looking grouchy and sighed. Deciding to change the subject, Kisshu asked, "Is there anything to eat? I'm starving."

"I'm kind of hungry too," Ichigo said. "Can I have something to eat?"

"Sure," Pai said. "We'll go ask your parents what there is, and we can figure out from there what's best for you to eat right now. Kisshu can stay up here, though."

"Okay," Ichigo said. "Thanks."

"Sure," Hayako said, and he and Pai left.

"Kisshu?" Ichigo asked.

"Yeah?" Kisshu asked softly.

"Why didn't you come back sooner?" Ichigo asked sadly.

Kisshu sighed, and said, "I wanted you to be happy, and I thought you would be, since you seemed so happy with the Treehugger after I left."

"He dumped me a month later," Ichigo said sadly. "And by that point, he was a total jerk. Maybe saving him wasn't one of my better ideas…."

"Do you love me?" Kisshu asked.

"Yes," Ichigo said. "That's why I wasn't as devastated as my family and friends when I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I didn't really have anything left to live for, since it was pretty obvious you weren't coming back anytime soon."

Kisshu suddenly pulled her into his arms and hugged her, burying his face in her shoulder as she hugged back. "I'm sorry," he said softly. "I should have come back right after we healed the planet."

"You didn't know," Ichigo said softly. "There was no way you could have known that I was sad; I was mean to you for so long, I wouldn't have blamed you if you never came back."

Kisshu pulled back, looking at her. She smiled at him, but he noticed she looked tired. "You look tired, are you okay?" he asked.

"I am kind of tired," Ichigo said. "I don't think I can sit up on my own, either."

Kisshu gently helped her lie back down, and tucked her in. Then he settled down next to her, and stroked her hair.

Hayako and Pai came back in a while later, and Pai asked telepathically, Ichigo's asleep?

Yeah, I think talking about why I didn't come back tired her out, Kisshu replied. I should have come back sooner…

Try not to get depressed; it'll affect Ichigo too, Hayako said. Sakura's making some kind of noodle dish, so it should be ready soon. For now, we should let Ichigo sleep.

Okay, Kisshu said. He went back to petting Ichigo as Hayako and Pai left.

Three days later, Ichigo was back to full strength, much to everyone's relief. Kisshu had moved in with her, and Pai was taking Hayako back, and then bringing Taruto back. He and Lettuce were going to live together, since she was living on her own now.

Before Pai and Hayako left, Ichigo, Sakura, and Shintaro all went to thank him. "We can never thank you enough," Shintaro said. "If there's anything we can do to repay you, please just let us know."

"Just take good care of Kisshu and Ichigo; that's all the thanks I need," Hayako said with a smile. "Maybe I'll come visit sometime, and you can meet my wife; I think you'd like her."

"We'd be thrilled to have you," Sakura said. "Thank you so much."

"Thanks for saving me," Ichigo said. "I guess I'll get to thank Pai more often, but I'm really grateful to you for coming all this way to save my life."

Hayako hugged her and said, "You did so much for our planet; I didn't mind at all. And we'll be your in-laws someday if Kisshu has his say."

"I'd like that," Ichigo said, hugging back.

Pai and Kisshu came in as they broke apart, and Pai asked, "Dad, are you ready?"

"I'm ready," Hayako said. He looked at Ichigo and her family, and said, "Till next time, take care."

"We will, and thank you," Shintaro said. Hayako smiled, and along with Pai, teleported out. Kisshu came over and hugged Ichigo, and her parents came over and hugged them both. "We're really happy you're better, Ichigo," Sakura said softly.

"Thanks Mom," Ichigo replied. "I'm glad I'm going to live."

"So am I," Kisshu said. "I think if you died, I'd die too."

Ichigo smiled and said, "Well, I guess it's good that we'll both live, then. Do I get a kiss?"

Kisshu smiled and kissed her.

Another sorry excuse for an ending… but I though the rest of it went well, so please tell me what you thought. I'll try to get the next chapter of From the Beginning out as soon as possible. Review!