Author's Note: This one-shot is dedicated to one of my closest friends and my biggest supporter, SakiHanajima1! I hope you're feeling better!
Taking A Sick Day
Deciding to move back to Human World at eighteen wasn't that hard of a decision, because Yusuke had actually missed all the people he'd had to leave behind. Even Kuwabara's ugly mug. So he came back and those first few weeks were amazing. He spent most of his free time with Keiko, getting to know each other all over again. He'd even stopped by Atsuko's after meeting up with everyone on Genkai's beach, and his mom had cried as she hugged him so hard that his spine had made a popping sound. Then she started to celebrate his return.
For about a year, things were great. Probably because he wasn't paying attention to all of the little things that were slowly building up into bigger things. For example, his and Keiko's arguments. They'd always argued before, but their new arguments had a new tone to them. Yusuke had learned how to accept both halves of himself, human and demon, but Keiko struggled with the demon part. Not that Yusuke could blame her, because the demon side of him caused him to regularly break things if he didn't reign in his strength. There was also the fact that he'd skipped all of high school to go to Demon World, and Keiko was moving on with her life.
They tried to make it work, they both really did, but they decided to split a little over a year after he came back. They separated as friends, and Keiko transferred to a better college farther away. Around that same time, Kuwabara moved into an apartment of his own to be closer to the college he was attending. He asked Yusuke to be his roommate, since Yusuke had set up his own ramen stand and was making decent enough money, and Yusuke agreed because Kuwabara wouldn't have been able to afford the apartment without him. He made some money by working at the college's library, but Yusuke's extra income definitely helped.
Yusuke spent that year in a kind of repetitive daze. He went to work, he went home at night to the apartment he shared with Kuwabara, and woke up to the do the same thing. On Wednesday nights, he stopped by Atsuko's and cooked his mom dinner. She was normally sober on those nights, and she always seemed happy to see him. Weekends differed. If Kuwabara didn't have his nose stuck in a book, he was out with Yukina. Yusuke didn't like sitting in the apartment alone, but he didn't go to his mom's house on the weekends because he knew she wouldn't be there. Most weekends he went up to Genkai's, and his teacher let him hang around for a couple of days before kicking him out for being too annoying.
It was a long and repetitive year, but Yusuke was content with his life for once. No fighting, no wars, no death threats…just living a normal life. Then the second Demon World Tournament rolled around, and he got to let loose for the first time since returning to Human World. It was good seeing all of his old friends, and Kuwabara had even come along. Kokou won in the end, which meant that Enki was really serving as King for a second time, and they all stayed to celebrate for about a week before going their separate ways again. Hiei went back with Mukuro, Kurama left to go be with his human mother and family, and Kuwabara and Yusuke went back to their apartment.
It was the Wednesday after that, when he'd gone to Atsuko's to feed her, when Yusuke realized something wasn't right. He'd found his mom puking in the bathroom, which wasn't all that uncommon, but Yusuke's enhanced senses had been able to smell something else under all the other nastiness. Some kind of sickness. So he'd talked Atsuko into going to a doctor, he even paid for the visit and everything, and that's how they found out she had liver cancer. The doctors told her that she had a good chance since it'd been caught so early, but Yusuke had listened to everything in a fog.
The only thing Yusuke clearly remembered about the doctor visit was a small hand on his shoulder and a soft voice telling him that everything would be okay. He'd looked up at the young woman who was smiling kindly down at him, and he'd felt himself relax for the first time since the doctor given them the news. He was pretty sure he'd thanked her, but someone had called her name and she'd disappeared before he could say anything else.
Two days later, Yusuke saw her again. He'd been standing right outside of his apartment door, locking up so that he could hightail it to work, and he'd looked over when he heard quiet muttering. His neighbor had dropped her keys, and she was struggling to pick them up while balancing several things in her arms. Looked like a giant coffee thermos, some kind of small breakfast in a napkin, a large bag filled with who-knows-what, and a stack of folders that was threatening to spill. Yusuke had called out before stepping over, since she lived in the apartment right next to the one he shared with Kuwabara, and he bent down to quickly scoop up the keys. They'd straightened up at the same time, and Yusuke realized that she'd recognized him when her eyes widened. It was the same girl who's spoken to him at the doctor's office, and she'd apparently recognized him just like he'd recognized her.
"I'm not stalking you or anything! I just live next door," he'd explained quickly and pointed over his shoulder. The woman looked around him at where his keys were still hanging from the doorknob, and she'd looked up at him with an amused smile.
"Nice to meet you, neighbor. Can I have my keys back now?" He'd still been holding her keys, and he'd sheepishly smiled back as he passed them over. Her door locked with an audible click, and she twisted to look up at him again. Like she was waiting for something. Right! He'd never introduced himself.
"I'm Yusuke, and the giant ginger you'll see coming and going is my friend Kuwabara." Her smile was small but really brightened her eyes, and she nodded her head a little before spinning on her heel to walk away. "Wait! What's your name?!"
"Tasha!" she called over her shoulder and then disappeared.
A year after Atsuko was diagnosed, everything changed without anything really changing at all. He still went to his mom's on Wednesday nights and cooked her dinner, but there was never any booze in the house. Genkai still let him hang around for a couple of days at least once a month before kicking him out, and he always left her temple feeling a little more centered. Yusuke still worked at his ramen stand, and Kuwabara still went to classes and spent his free time with Yukina. Really, there were only two big differences.
The first difference was that demons became a known thing. Spirit World decided that it was time for humans to know the truth, and the final barrier between Human World and Demon World was dropped. Everyone reacted differently to the news, of course. Some humans completely freaked, some thought it was amazing, and others didn't care either way. Still, it wasn't uncommon for him to turn around to take a customer's order and see a tail or horns.
The second big difference was Tasha. Yeah, they were neighbors, so it made sense that their paths would cross from time to time. But their paths just kept crossing until they became friends, and they started spending most of their evenings together. They complained about the people they had to deal with at work, they took turns cooking dinner for each other, and they watched TV together if neither of them had to get up early the next day. Tasha got along with Kuwabara because they were both very relaxed people, and Yukina had become Tasha's best friend. Tasha loved teaching Yukina about Human World, and Yukina loved telling Tasha stories from Demon World. So it was a friendship that worked out for everybody. The key word there? Friendship. Yusuke wasn't sure how, or when, but he was sure that he'd developed some kind of crush on his neighbor who was now one of his closest friends.
It was just a small crush though, and crushes always went away. Right?
"Urameshi!" Yusuke groaned as a large fist slammed against his bedroom door hard enough to make it shake, and he popped just his head out from under his blanket. His eyes squinted as he tried to make out the numbers on his clock, and he had to bite back a growl when he saw what time it was.
"This better be good, Kuwabara!" he yelled as he stumbled out of his blanket. He stomped over to his bedroom door and threw it open before Kuwabara broke it down, and the big guy was already glaring down at him. "I've still got three hours before I have to be at work!"
"It's Tasha! She's sick, and she's still trying to go to work! I tried to stop her, but I've got a test in…twenty minutes!" Kuwabara was staring at his watch with panicked eyes, and Yusuke groaned as he ran a hand over his face. Tasha was smart, definitely smarter than him, but she never looked after her own health when she got sick.
"I'll take care of it. Go take your test," Yusuke said and waved him off. Kuwabara yelled out a thank-you as he ran through the apartment, and Yusuke heard the apartment door slam a few moments later.
Alright, time to get ready for the day. He yanked on an old pair of jeans, pulled a white tee shirt over his head, and finally located his white sneakers hiding under the foot of his bed. Almost absentmindedly, he grabbed an old thick green jacket and pulled it on before walking through the apartment. His keys were hanging next to the front door, and he was yawning a little as he locked the apartment door. Then he took a few steps to the left and used his key to unlock Tasha's door. He could hear loud coughing before he even took one step inside the door, and he sighed as he closed Tasha's front door loud enough to let her know that someone was over.
"I told you—" cough "that I'm completely—" cough-wheeze-cough "fine, Kuwabara!"
"I'm not Kuwabara, and you are not completely fine. C'mere." Tasha was standing in her bedroom doorway, and she looked like she'd started to get ready for her workday. She was wearing black slacks and shiny shoes, but she was still wearing her dark blue pajama top. Unless she was planning on going into work with a loose tank top that said are you kitten me right meow inside the black silhouette of a cat. Wait, he was pretty sure that Kuwabara got her that for Christmas.
"I'm not that sick," she grumbled as she shuffled over towards him. Once she was close enough, Yusuke reached up with one hand to push hair away from her face and then lifted his left arm. While his right hand held her back hair, his left wrist pressed against her forehead. Yusuke's body temperature was naturally higher than most humans' now, but Tasha's skin still felt hot. Which meant she had a high fever.
"Fever, check. Coughing, check. Anything else you wanna add?"
"No," she said and then immediately sniffled. Yeah, she was definitely sick. Now that she was closer, Yusuke could see that her bare arms were broke out in goosebumps and that she was shivering a little.
"You're hopeless. Put this on and go put your pajama pants back on," Yusuke said as he shrugged out of his jacket. He draped the thick green material over Tasha's shoulders, and she looked away from his face as she wiggled around to pull her arms through the sleeves. "Outta the work clothes, now!"
"I can't just not go in," she pointed out even as she turned around.
"I'll take care of it!" He heard her say something before her bedroom door slammed shut, and Yusuke walked over to where her phone was sitting on a table.
He knew her work number, because he'd called it before when he'd locked his keys in the house and Kuwabara wasn't around, and he tapped a foot as he listened to it ring. (It was a good thing they'd exchanged house keys. It made coming over easier, and Yusuke locked himself out at least once a month so there was that too.) When the call finally connected, Yusuke raised his voice to make it sound a little higher and started speaking fast like he was panicking. He told them how sick Tasha was and that he was afraid he might even have to take her to the hospital, and the woman on the line finally relented and told him that Tasha could have the day off.
Success! He did a quick fist pump after hanging up and then he called a second number, one that he knew by heart. He told Kurama all of Tasha's symptoms, and the fox said he had something that would do the trick. They agreed to meet at his ramen stand, because he needed to put up a "closed for the day" sign, and Yusuke was hanging up when he heard Tasha's bedroom door open. She shuffled out in baggy dark blue pants that matched her tank top, there were little kitten faces all over the pants, and she was wearing a pair of fuzzy purple socks. His jacket was still bundled around her too, and she stopped in front of the couch to glare over at him.
"Your boss said you could have the day off. Now, you are going to sit on this couch and not move while I run a few errands," he said as sternly as possible while pointing at the couch. Her eyes flicked down to the couch before looking up at him again, and she raised a brow in question.
"What kind of errands? You're too lazy to do errands." Her eyes were narrowed in suspicion, and she did have a point. Yusuke hated running errands. He even had a deal with Kuwabara that he'd cook and clean the dishes as long as Kuwabara did all of the shopping.
"I'm putting up a closed sign on the stand and meeting Kurama," he admitted.
"I don't need—" He walked around the couch and grabbed her shoulders before she could continue protesting, and he knew that she really must be sick because she didn't even struggle a little as he pushed her to sit on the couch. She curled up in one corner with a petulant look on her face, and Yusuke rolled his eyes before grabbing the large quilt draped over the back of the couch. (Yukina gave it to her for Christmas.)
"Sit, relax, and wait for me to get back," he instructed as he draped the quilt over her. He didn't miss the way she seemed to burrow under the warmth, but her eyes still glared up at him.
"'m not a baby." Her voice was muffled by the thick quilt in front of her mouth, and Yusuke smiled as he straightened up in front of her.
"No, you're just a stubborn adult that doesn't know how to take care of herself." He ruffled her hair and easily dodged her weak swing, and he called out for her to behave before leaving the apartment.
It didn't take him long to reach the place where his ramen stand was set up, and he grabbed his large "closed" sign to stick to the front of it. The sign just said that he'd be closed for the day, and all of the punks in the area knew better than to try and mess with his stuff while he was away so he didn't really have anything to worry about. He'd just finished putting the sign up when Kurama joined him, and he relaxed against the side of the stand as he smiled at his old friend.
"It seems this cold has been going around, Mother had it last week, so I had some medicine left over." There was a small glint in Kurama's eyes, so Yusuke knew that the medicine wasn't something that could just be picked up at any store. The fox handed over a large thermos, and Yusuke held it up to see if the thing was full. "She needs to drink the whole thing. I added honey to help with her sore throat and to mask the taste."
"I owe ya one, Kurama," Yusuke said and smiled his thanks.
"Careful, Yusuke, or I might hold you to that." Yusuke laughed as Kurama started to walk away, because the human-demon hybrid had changed a lot over the years. His human family was his main priority these days, so Yusuke knew he didn't have anything to worry about.
Yusuke kept the thermos cradled in one arm as he walked back towards his apartment building, like he was worried that he'd drop it or someone would try to steal it, and he didn't really feel like taking a deep breath until he'd reached the apartment. He dug his keys out of his pocket and let himself into Tasha's apartment, and he could hear the TV as he quickly toed his sneakers off. He could just make out the top of Tasha's head over the back of the couch, so she'd done as he asked. That was good.
"Back so soon?" Tasha asked as he walked around the couch. Her soft voice was hoarse, probably from all of the coughing, and Yusuke held the thermos out towards her.
"Kurama said you had to drink it all." Her eyes narrowed a little as a hand slipped out from under the quilt, and Yusuke unscrewed the top while she held the thermos steady. Once she had a good grip on the thermos, Yusuke carefully lowered himself down to sit next to her on the couch.
She pulled it closer to her face and took a quick sniff first, and it must not have smelled that bad because she just shrugged before taking a tentative sip. Her nose scrunched up a little at first, and Yusuke watched as she took in a long exhale before raising the thermos again. This time she kept the rim pressed against her lips until all of the liquid was gone, and she blew out a long breath as she lowered the thermos. She passed it back to him while smacking her lips, and Yusuke twisted the top back onto it without taking his eyes off of her.
"Tasted like honey," she said when she finally looked over at him. Yusuke rolled his eyes as he placed the empty thermos on the little table in front of them, and he sighed as he leaned back against the couch and then looked over at where Tasha was still curled up.
She was still shivering despite the thick quilt wrapped around her, as well as his old jacket, and Yusuke raised an arm in invitation. She knew that he was a demon, knew and didn't care, and she also knew that his body temperature was higher than average which made him like a human furnace. (Demon furnace? Whatever. The point was that his body seemed to radiate heat, and she was freezing.) She bit her lip for a moment as she thought it over, but another shiver helped her decide. Yusuke held still as she tilted to the side until she was nestled in against his ribs, and he wrapped his arm around her shoulders to pull her closer. Her cheek dropped to rest on the top of his chest, and they both turned to look at the TV.
"Inuyasha? Really?" Like there weren't enough demons in the world? She wanted to watch shows about them too?
"I love it, and it relaxes me. So suck it up." He felt a sharp poke against his ribs, and he grumbled as he held her closer to him. If she wanted to watch a dumb show about demons, then he wouldn't argue. Just this once. After she was feeling better, he'd have a few things to say.
Time seemed to pass slowly after that. Yusuke dozed in and out as he sprawled on the couch with Tasha tucked against his side, and he had a feeling that she did too. Whatever Kurama gave her must have been working too, because her coughs were smaller and more spaced out. He thought her fever was going down too, but she still shivered every once in a while. Whenever that happened, Yusuke just tightened his arm around her and raised his energy a little to keep her warmer. Several episodes later, Yusuke had tipped over so that he was lying on his back on the couch and Tasha was laying across his torso while still being completely wrapped up like a burrito in her quilt. Her cheek was pressing against his chest so she could still see the TV, and he had both arms wrapped around her back to hold her steady.
"Why don't you have fluffy ears? Or a tail?" Tasha asked out of the blue. Yusuke looked away from the screen, which he'd mostly been looking through as he spaced out, and he focused his eyes as he looked down at Tasha. Her chin was propped on his chest now so she could meet his eyes, and he shrugged at her questioning gaze.
"Not that kind of demon. You want ears and a tail, go find Kurama." Well, not the Kurama that they knew. The other Kurama, Youko, had ears and a tail like the demon on TV though.
"I'd rather be here with you." A tiny squeak came out of Tasha after that admission, like she hadn't meant to say that out loud, and Yusuke had a feeling that the pink color in her cheeks wasn't from the fever. The fever felt like it'd burned itself out, so the slight flush was because she was embarrassed. Maybe his crush wasn't as one-sided as he thought.
"I'd rather be here too," he said with a slow smile. It'd been a long time since he'd felt happy, not just content, and he knew that Tasha was the reason why he felt this way. Kuwabara was doing well in school and dating Yukina, Atsuko's liver cancer was in remission, Genkai was still alive, Keiko had moved on and was happy, his friends were living the lives they wanted, and he'd spent the whole day with the one person who made him smile just by thinking about her. And she'd admitted that she'd rather be with him than anyone else.
"Well, yeah, because you like skipping out on work." Her lips pulled down into a pout, and Yusuke lifted one hand off her back and carefully ran his fingers through the back of her hair.
"No, because I like spending time with you. Even if it means I have to watch dumb TV shows." Tasha slowly started to smile at that, the kind of smile that caused her eyes to brighten and her cheeks to flush, and it was a good look on her. He wanted to keep making her smile like that.
"So, you like me like me, huh?" Her grin was teasing, but Yusuke could hear a little bit of nervousness hiding in her tone.
"Horrible taste in TV shows aside, yeah. I like you like you," he answered with a grin of his own. Tasha's smile turned a little smug as she turned to press her cheek against his chest again, so she could see the TV, but he could still see the edge of her bright smile.
"Maybe I should take sick days more often," Tasha mused aloud. Yusuke laughed just loud enough to make her body rock along with his, and he was still smiling when he stretched to press a quick kiss against the top of her head.
"Maybe you should."
Ending Note: The end! It's just a cute little one-shot, and I hope you enjoyed it!
One little thing, I know that Inuyasha wouldn't have been a show at this point in the timeline, but I love Inuyasha so that's what they're watching.