Notes: First of all, a big thank you to all who reviewved the last chapter of Dating Problems! I also thought I've improved a bit and it made me happy to hear some of you liked what my brain produced. I've had some problems with my computer for quite some time but it's all in the past now and I managed to scribble the first chapter of this new fic. I hope you will like it. It continues the story from Watching Him and Dating Problems. I thought I would try something new but...the ideas just kept popping into my head so then I thought, what the hell, and went with the flow. Hehe...
Rukawa glared daggers at the tall form lying comfortably on a pile of pillows. A lazy smile was given in return. Rukawa scowled.
"You are seriously starting to piss me off," he spat.
Another smile and a request for Rukawa to turn up the volume.
Rukawa ignored the request and cursed his boyfriend silently for ever befriending this annoying parasite. Rukawa's life would've been near perfect if not for Sendoh's continuous presence. Lately, he hadn't had much free time to begin with since it was consumed by basketball practice, and when he actually did manage to spend the evening home the first thing he saw was Sendoh sprawling on the floor, smiling like a cat over a milk plate. How sad is that?
Rukawa dropped his duffle bag and flung his jacket onto a coffee table which was surprisingly empty of the usual dirty dishes and magazines. Hana must've tidied up. Hopefully not because of Sendoh. He heard a toilet being flushed and then briefly the sound of running water. Sakuragi's idea of washing hands consisted of turning on the faucet, keeping hands under the running water for half a second and then turning the faucet off. That was yet another one of Sakuragi's fascinating habits Rukawa had come to know during the time he had known the redhead.
The bathroom door opened and Sakuragi stepped out. "So it was you," Sakuragi said when he saw Rukawa standing on the living room threshold, "I thought I heard someone coming in. How was practice?"
Sakuragi had been ill for more than a week now and thus unable to attend neither lectures nor practice. He wasn't the best patient one could wish for, for he grew tired and frustrated of being indoors and of the weakness in his body and often took it out on Rukawa.
"Fine," Rukawa answered. He studied Sakuragi carefully. "Has the fever gone down?" he asked although he could see from Sakuragi's scarlet cheeks and too bright eyes that it had not.
"No," Sakuragi answered irritably. He grimaced heartily as he pressed his palm against his burning forehead. "I told you god hates me but you didn't believe me. This is proof of that. How long have I been sick? Ten days? Does a fever usually last that long? No, it doesn't. This is god's way of revenging his loss to this tensai."
"His loss?" Rukawa repeated. After years of studying Sakuragi's behavior and the workings of his mind, Rukawa had come to the conclusion that although the redhead had some basic patterns in his thought process, it was impossible and a complete waste of time and effort to try and guess just what the hell went on in that terribly cute head of his.
"I mean, look at me," Sakuragi said, gesturing to his body. "I can understand why even a god would be jealous."
"Do'aho," Rukawa groaned.
"I totally agree with you, Hanamichi!" Sendoh exclaimed from the floor. He was rewarded by an appreciative look from Sakuragi and spiteful glare from Rukawa.
"Of course," Sakuragi grinned. Then he frowned again. "But this is too much. Giving me such an annoying fever for such a long time!"
"I told you it could be something serious.You should go see a doctor," Rukawa said, as he had said numerous times over the past week, and made his way over to the kitchen.
"Hell no," Sakuragi bluntly rejected the idea. "A talented guy like myself doesn't need a doctor."
"It's got nothing to do with talent," Rukawa mumbled, but knew better than to argue.
Sakuragi dropped down on the bed and crawled under the covers with a stifled moan. His body was aching all over but he managed to prop himself on some pillows so he could see the television. "Hey, Sendoh! Put it back on."
Rukawa heard loud gun shots and assumed Sakuragi and Sendoh were watching a movie. Sakuragi liked action movies above all else and watched them over and over again. During his illness, the redhead had kept watching them for so long that Rukawa had several times gotten fed up with the constant explosions and stupid heroes and optioned to go for a jog rather than to stay inside with him. It appeared Sendoh didn't have similar problems.
"Haha! Did you see that guy's face?" Sendoh laughed. Sakuragi joined him with his obnoxious laughter.
Rukawa made tea and poured it into a mug which had the characters for 'tensai' on its side. Sakuragi had painted the kanjis himself last summer when they had gone to some kind of a science centre. Rukawa still remembered the glee and enthusiasm with which Sakuragi had copied the kanjis Rukawa had drawn for him on a piece of paper. Sakuragi had been incredibly cute, biting his lip in concentration and then laughing out his joy when he had gotten the finished mug into his hands. Rukawa also remembered how Sakuragi had went from one child to another, (the ones painting mugs had been mostly children), telling them not to feel bad even though the tensai's talents were way beyond theirs.
Rukawa added sugar to the tea and then went to Sakuragi and held it out for him. "Here."
"Oh, thanks." Sakuragi accepted the mug and took a careful sip. He gave Rukawa a small smile.
"Hn. I'm going to take a shower." Rukawa turned on his heels to leave the room.
"Why didn't you take a shower at the gym, you stupid kitsune?" Sakuragi asked.
'Cause I wanted to get back to you as soon as possible. "I like it better here," Rukawa answered. He took some clean clothes from a closet and stepped into the bathroom, locking the door behind him. He placed the new clothes on the sink and then took off the ones he was wearing and dropped them on the toilet seat. Their bathroom was really small and very old and sometimes it got on Rukawa's nerves but today he didn't even notice it. He stepped into the bathtub, drew the shower curtain and turned on the shower, sighing in pleasure as the warm water soothed his aching muscels.
Things had gone pretty well for him and Sakuragi after they had settled into this apartment. They both concentrated on basketball, training vigorously to become stronger and to achieve their dream. Evenings passed in the company of their friends. Yohei had actually gotten into a university which had shocked many but not Rukawa who had an inkling that Yohei could succeed very well in school if he only gave it an effort. Yohei's parents had also been surprised that Yohei had wanted to continue his studies and began to hope that their son would get a good job and a secured future. Perhaps their wish would come true some day but the reason for Yohei's sudden effort was a woman.
Rukawa realised the water was getting colder and began to soap himself. He had been pleased to see Yohei and Haruko dating because it had made Sakuragi so tremendously happy. They met the couple almost every day in an ice cream parlour where Noma worked during the evening and chatted away. Well, the others chatted and Rukawa listened. Ookusu and Takamiya often joined them. It had occured to Rukawa after a few evenings, that these people he spent time with actually considered him a friend, that he was part of the group and no longer just 'Hanamichi's boyfriend'. It was kind of nice but not as nice as the evenings he spent alone with Sakuragi.
Rukawa washed the shampoo from his hair and turned the shower off. He reached for a towel, flinching as cool air touched his skin, and began toweling himself dry. He loved nights the best. They spent nights either just sleeping or 'bonding' like Sakuragi said. It felt wonderful being near Sakuragi. But now Sakuragi was ill. This was the first time Rukawa had ever seen Sakuragi sick and it surprised him how strongly he reacted to it. He had never felt so anxious when he himself had been ill nor when his parents had been, and it was kind of freaking him out that Sakuragi's burning forehead had caused such a strong wave of worry and uneasiness. Well, if it was up to him, he would never show it, that was for sure.
Rukawa got dressed and spread his towel to dry before grabbing his dirty clothes and stuffing them into a plastic bag where they kept their laundry. Then he stepped out of the room, running his hand through his hair. Sakuragi and Sendoh were still watching the movie. He sighed.
"Kaede?" Sakuragi tilted his head back to look at Rukawa.
"Could you bring me more tea? My throat hurts." Sakuragi held out his empty mug.
Rukawa reached for the mug and took it but told Sakuragi he would bring ice cream instead. "If your throat hurts it's better to eat something cold."
"Really? Are you sure? It doesn't make any sense."
Rukawa merely shrugged and went to get the ice cream. He also brought Sakuragi some juice, placing the glass on the coffee table. He had dragged the table next to the bed so that Sakuragi could put his things there and wouldn't have to stand up all the time.
Rukawa sat down on the foot of the bed and put his laptop in front of him. His mother had asked him why they had a DVD player, a television, a laptop, a CD player, a digital camera, PS2 and a video camera and still not own a single chair or a carpet. She refused to acknowledge Rukawa's wisdom of getting all the important stuff first. Weird. Who needs a chair anyway? And Rukawa kind of liked the pattern on the floor so carpets were also useless.
The movie ended. Sendoh stretched on the floor, yawning. "That was a great movie," he said.
"Yeah," Sakuragi agreed, his voice a little broken.
Sendoh sat up and studied Sakuragi's appearance carefully.
"What?" Sakuragi asked, bothered by the long look.
Sendoh smiled. "Nothing," he answered and laughed when Sakuragi continued to stare suspiciously at him. "Well, I better get going. I have a date."
"A date?" Sakuragi repeated, surprised.
Sendoh chuckled, stood up and then sat next to Sakuragi, leaning close to the redhead. "Don't worry, Hana-chan. You're still number one for me," he managed to say before he was kicked off the bed. He looked up to meet the glare Rukawa was directing at him. He laughed. "Alright, lover boy. No danger now."
"Danger?" Sakuragi repeated, puzzled. His mind was clouded with fever and he didn't really understand what went on around him.
"Never mind, don't worry about it, Hanamichi," Sendoh said. He took the movie out of the DVD player and got ready to leave. "See you again tomorrow."
"Yeah. Bring the sequel!" Sakuragi reminded.
Sendoh chuckled. "I will. See you!"
The front door opened and closed and silence fell.
Rukawa hmphed. He replaced his laptop on the television and then turned to face Sakuragi. The redhead had slumped into his pillows and closed his eyes. Rukawa reached out to place his fingers on Sakuragi's forehead and was startled by the hotness of it.
"Hana?" he called softly. "Hana, how are you feeling?" He dreaded the sudden change in Sakuragi's behavior.
"I'm fine," came Sakuragi's answer weakly.
Rukawa frowned. "Your forehead is really hot. Have you taken your temperature?"
Rukawa took a thermometer from the table and handed it to Sakuragi. "Then take it now."
Sakuragi shook his head. "I don't want to," he said and turned away from Rukawa, refusing to take the offered item.
"Don't make me do it the hard way."
Sakuragi pouted and continued to defy Rukawa for a few minutes but then he gave in, weakened by the fever. He let Rukawa place the thermometer and lay limply on the bed while Rukawa hovered above him. He barely noticed when Rukawa took it away.
Rukawa peered at the thermometer and gasped. It showed 40.2 which was very bad. He put it away and leaned over Sakuragi. "Do'aho, why didn't you say anything? We should really take you to a hospital."
"No! I'm perfectly fine," Sakuragi insisted stubbornly.
"No, you're not."
"Yes, I am! There's no need to go to a hospital. Just turn off the lights, my eyes hurt."
Rukawa obliged quickly and then he remained standing, looking down at Sakuragi. He didn't know what to do. Should he take Sakuragi to a hospital no matter what the redhead said or should he just let it be? Perhaps it really was just a normal cold. But what if it was something serious? But then again... Rukawa sighed and decided to let it be for now. If Sakuragi's condition got worse, then he would take him to a hospital.
Rukawa spent rest of the evening either in the kitchen, reading a magazine and sipping tea or in the living room, looking over Sakuragi. When night came, he undressed and lay down on the bed. He wrapped his arms around Sakuragi and soon felt Sakuragi's head press on his shoulder. Sakuragi shivered continuously despite the heat Rukawa could feel emitting from his body. Rukawa tightened his hold. He lay awake, listening to Sakuragi's laboured breathing and staring at the ceiling in the dark. He could feel Sakuragi's heart beat against his side and began to count them.
He dozed off at some point but suddenly jerked awake when Sakuragi started coughing dryly. He raised his upper body to see Sakuragi's face and then suddenly jumped when he felt something wet on his chest. He grazed the wetness with his fingers and brough them up to examine them. It was something dark.
"It hurts to breathe," Sakuragi wheezed, grimacing.
"It hurts to..." Sakuragi's features froze and then he rose to his knees. "I feel sick," he gasped and started to sluggishly stumble out of the bed. He barely managed to reach the edge before his ability to hold it in failed and he threw up on the floor.
"H-hey!" Rukawa hurried to support Sakuragi. He was really alarmed now. After Sakuragi calmed down he helped him lay back on the bed and then fumbled for his phone. "That's it. I'm taking you to a hospital." He glanced at Sakuragi. "With force if I have to."
But Sakuragi was too weak to protest and remained unmoving.
A sudden stab of pain pierced Rukawa's chest. He hurried to call a cab and then stood up, careful not to step on vomit, to get his long winter coat and Sakuragi's shoes. He helped Sakuragi to put the coat on and then put on the shoes.
"Kaede," Sakuragi called.
"Hm?" Rukawa turned his head a little to Sakuragi's direction but kept his eyes on his hands. He was tying Sakuragi's shoe laces.
"For causing trouble."
"Do'aho. You always cause trouble. I'm used to it by now," Rukawa said with a slight smile.
Rukawa finished tying the laces and turned completely to Sakuragi, patting his red hair. "What are you babbling about? This is not like you at all."
"I'm serious," Sakuragi said. He looked up at Rukawa, his cheeks colouring with shame. "I even threw up on the floor..."
Rukawa leaned in and placed a kiss on Sakuragi's forehead. "Don't worry about it." He stood up again to put on his trousers, socks and shoes and grabbed his coat before helping Sakuragi up as well. "Let's go. The cab should be here by now."
They stumbled down the stairs and into a cab that was ready and waiting for them. Rukawa told the driver to go to the nearest hospital. Once there, Rukawa paid for their ride and helped Sakuragi out and into the hospital building. They had just stepped in through sliding doors when Sakuragi suddenly moaned and fell limp in Rukawa's arms.
"Hana? Hana?" Rukawa had to kneel down to stop them from falling uncontrollably. Sakuragi was quite heavy. "Hana!"
Nurses came and took Sakuragi away. They asked Rukawa about Sakuragi's condition and gave him a form to fill.
"Are you his friend?" asked a friendly nurse who had brought the form.
"No. He's my boyfriend," Rukawa answered absent-mindedly. He was filling the form and it took quite an effort. He couldn't understand why these forms were made so unorganized and difficult.
"O-oh..." The nurse blushed and remained silent until Rukawa was finished with the form and then gave him a few reassuring words before going back to work.
Rukawa sat in a chair and flipped through magazines during the time Sakuragi was examined. When a doctor approached him, he threw away his magazine and stood up.
"Rukawa Kaede?" the doctor asked.
"Sakuragi-san has a rather bad case of pneumonia. We'll keep him here at least for the night. But don't worry, he'll be fine in no time. You should've brought him here a long time ago, though. Next time don't wait for the disease to worsen."
Rukawa nodded and thanked the doctor. He was relieved to hear it wasn't anything more serious and was already feeling rather embarrassed of his earlier reaction. Luckily no one but Sakuragi had seen him. He went to see Sakuragi but the redhead was sleeping so he only stayed for a little while before heading back home. He would have to clean up quickly before the smell of vomit would become permanent.