Title: Strawberry Syrup Author: Me Rating: PG-13 Warning: Spoilers for ep. 132, yaoi, slight language Summary: Hitsugaya-taishou's gigai somehow manages to catch the seasonal virus going around. Ichigo attempts to give him medicine, but the kid-genious is, like every other kid, fussy with the flavor.

A/N: I am really late with this. It was supposed to be for bloodgem, but it's like... a year late. XD I'm so sorry. I won't bother with excuses. I posted this on the Ichihitsu community a couple of weeks ago, but umm... -pokes it- I've only gotten one response... o.O I wonder if it'll pick up when the second movie gets released in subbed form on the net... Oh well, until then... -Bows- Please enjoy.

"Ichi-kun!"

Ichigo was vaguely perturbed as he recognized the voice that sang out his name. It was unlike the way his father yelled every morning to get him out of bed - and less violent. This time it was a woman. And looking up from the conversation he was having with an old lady regular, he was able to identify her as one Matsumoto Rangiku. She waved at him from where she stood by the entrance, a pleased smile on her face. Ichigo knew that look. He was sure Hitsugaya Toshiro - who stood to her right - knew that look. She wanted something from him. He could see a secret in her eyes, and he was afraid. That secret no doubt involved him, that was for sure.

Rangiku wouldn't be here unless he was either of some use to her or to confirm certain suspiscions through trial and error. Usually, he would watch Toshiro berate her for doing such things. He wasn't doing anything right now; he was just standing there, one wrist captured in his fukutaichou's hand, and slightly dazed. Ichigo's gaze narrowed. He seemed to be too distracted by spacing out. That or he'd already let her have it but had been forced to come anyway.

Bowing and apologizing to the old lady for the interruption, being forgiven with a pat on the head, he stood from his kneeling and walked to the others. What could they possibly want from him? Aizen was defeated, Hueco Mundo reduced in threat, and hollows ran around like they normally did. Rukia took care of that, often stationed here on patrol like she was when he first met her.

They would also train together. With her consent, the Hyougoku was returned to her body, and she confessed to Ichigo that she wanted to grow stronger in order to better protect that powerful jewel. Karakura life had grown dull since Aizen's fall from heaven, leaving little to no action in the way of fighting with full strength. Although her brother wouldn't permit it, she wanted a seated position, and after seeing her newest additions - 4th and 5th dances - Ichigo believed she deserved it.

He drew them away from the door, to the other corner of the room. It was fairly empty, now. The old woman he'd been talking to was lead to one of the back rooms. There weren't any other patients in the room. Only Karin was at the front desk, lazily lookng around for something to do. He swore to whatever god higher than soul society that girl was like Jackle and Hyde. In a nurse's outfit and confronted with sick people, she was a totally different person. It was scary.

Making sure they were tolerably secluded from Karin's ears, he knew she'd want to eavesdrop, Ichigo started up the conversation first. He didn't bother with idle chitchat like "nice to see you," or "how's the weather in Seireitei." If he did that, then Rangiku would rant on about how life is so boring and he should go there to have a drink with her. He'd already made the mistake of doing that during the new year. Why was it, whenever drinking with Matsumoto, one always ended up in their underwear?

"Rangiku-san. Toshiro." He hid a smirk at the usual retort from the captain. He was so easy. "Is this visit for pleasure, or business?"

She grinned. "Both. Are you free to talk?" They both looked around. There were still no walk-ins, and he was sure that the next appointment set up wasn't until for another hour. Yuzu had joined Karin at the desk. He should be okay, so he nodded his consent. "Good, but first..." She shoved a small body into his. "Treat him?"

Toshiro rubbed his nose, which had been flattened roughly against his stomach, and muttered obscenities at her. Ichigo lifted an eyebrow at the deadly words, but furrowed in concentration a second later in Nurse Mode. The kid's voice was hoarse and slightly stuffy from the congestion in his nose. The muttering turning into light coughing, getting worse by the second until it was almost continuous from deep within his throat.

When it ceased, he let his hand touch the shinigami's forehead, then his cheek. Toshiro felt unusually warm. It was strange, considering the diminutive number of times they've been around each other, the air around him wasn't warm at all. He didn't know shinigamis could get sick in the human world.

Ichigo's smirk turned that icy stare on him. "Quite simply, your sick." The dark glare he received didn't make it falter.

"I know I'm sick," he rasped out. "Your job is to make me better."

Confused, Ichigo crossed his arms, still looking down at the captain. "Bow how did you get sick? I thought gigais weren't prone to any viruses... At least, that's what I gathered when Hat-and-Clogs explained it. Did you go see him yet?"

Rangiku giggled. "We did. Unfortunately, Urahara-san can't study it until taichou takes it off."

"Why not just ditch the body, then?" That sounded slightly suspicious to the woman who'd just walked by to the door. She stared at the three, the choice of words making her pause and narrow her eyes. Ichigo stared back, until she finaly gave up and just walked out, muttering something.

"We tried that, too," She said, admiring a neatly arranged flower vase on the nearby glass table. "It won't let him. He hadn't even used any souma fixers, so we're thinking it's reacting strangely, sensitively, to the cold. So we figured, treat him first and he can get out of the gigai." She smirked down at her taichou. "Then you can yell at Urahara-san all you like."

Ichigo went over to the table and started straightening things out of habit and checked the watch on his wrist. "Sure. I'll do it once my shift is over. We aren't that busy, and we'll be closing soon; it's nearly five. Where are you staying?" They didn't answer.

He blinked at the silence and looked over at them. Toshiro kept quiet and Rangiku was scratching her cheek. They looked... hesitant? Nervous? Guilty. Ichigo crossed his arms. "Spill it."

"Well, nowhere, currently." She raised a knowledgable finger. "We got to Urahara's this morning, went out long enough for Hitsugaya-taichou to get sick, then went back to yell at him only to have him direct us here."

He sighed, a hand on his hip. He had no choice. "Then I suppose you'll want to-"

"-Stay with us!!"

All three of them looked over to see Yuzu and Mr. Kurosaki standing near them. No doubt, Yuzu had better hearing than Ichigo thought and went to go get back up. Both of them had tears in their eyes, and Isshin was on his knees. Ichigo sweatdropped. Yuzu had those puppy-dog eyes that he could never resist and made her look all cute and stuff. His father still had his white coat on, which usually made him look slightly dignified. But when he was on his knees begging like that, it just made him look like a total dork. Not to mention the 10th division's higher-ups were witnessing this.

Embarressed, he turned to them, hands spread out in a "they're wierd, but family" sort of way. Karin was still at the desk, nail file in her hands as she rolled her eyes, muttering, "here we go again." She looked as indifferent as always, but Ichigo caught her curious glances over at Toshiro and Rangiku.

Judging from thier responses, he knew that was what Rangiku was getting at. She smiled brightly, and even Toshiro let his posture relax a little. There was still somehing else that was tugging at the corners of his brain, but he could ask the captain about that later.

His father and Yuzu seemed pleased with this, and quickly swept away to prepare cots in their rooms.

He turned back to his friends, nodding his head in the direction of the hallway. "Put him in my bed and make sure he's covered neck to toe with a thick blanket or two. I want to try sweating that cold out of him." He pointed. "Extra blankets are in the hall closet on your right side."

Rangiku nodded and bowed. "Thanks a lot, Ichi-kun!" Then she headed off, calling for her taichou to hurry up.

Ichigo looked down at the taichou, who was glaring at his second-in-command. It was a few seconds before he noticed the ryoka's stare. He stared back. Ichigo waited for him to talk, but it wasn't happening. Sighing, he sat on the edge of a chair. "What?"

He saw him glance over at the desk, where Yuzu was asking Karin for some help. With one last glance in their direction, they both went off, leaving the two shinigamis along. Odd, Karin wasn't one to usually volunteer hard labor, especially for stories from strangers she didn't believe. It made him slightly curious, but not as curious as he was now, with Toshiro.

Toshiro looked back down at him, and his throat strained with words. "Matsumoto is as impolite and informal as you are sometimes, so I guess I shouldn't apologize for her behavior."

He shrugged. "It's fine. I should apologize for my family, though. They are a bit weird. You should see my dad at parent/teacher confrences. He's so embarrassing."

The genious shook his head. "I don't remember when it was like when I had a mother and father. Momo and I grew up with a grandmother, though." Ichigo could see a little self-guilt. "I had to leave because I was killing her."

Ichigo was well aware of what it felt like to be the reason of a loved-one's sickness or death. "Well, there's no helping that, dwelling on the past and all. Rukia literally knocked that into me." He stood up, poking the taichou's shoulder. "Off to bed with you. Get some sleep. I'll be up with some medicine that might help with your symptoms."

Hitsugaya scruntched his face up in dislike. "I don't need primitive, human pharmaceuticals to recover. It might not suit well with the gigai."

Ichigo rolled his eyes and urged him harder with his hand to budge. "That's why you came to me in the first place, right? Well, part of the reason we humans get better is because of the medication. And that gigai was made to stand up to human viruses, but it looks like it's faulty, so maybe all it needs is a little help?"

Toshiro grumbled, and he knew he had finaly won their little argument. "Just make sure I'll be able to stand it." And with that he walked away. The orange-top smirked, having a fairly good idea of how to do just that.

He set about cleaning the waiting area up, locking the door to the clinic, and straightening certain items. It was half an hour later, five-thrity, closing time. Finally, he thought. It seemed to have dragged on, and nothing had happened to make it go faster. Well, apart from that goth teenager who insisted he be the one to do her physical.

Ichigo walked into the hallway, on his way to his room to check up on Toshiro like he'd promised. He'd just put everything away in the closet and was ascending the stairs when he saw Karin waiting for him near the top. Strange, she didn't wait around like that normally.

"What's up, Karin?" he asked, rubbing his neck lightly. He must've sprained it or something when that girl wrapped her arms around her neck in order to get him to stay with her. Seriously, people these days...

Karin didn't say anything, merely glancing toward his bedroom door. She must still be curious about who those people were. "They're friends of yours, right?"

Ichigo nodded. "Yes. I should help them out."

Karin was still looking over that way. Ichigo sighed. He knew she could sense their reiatsu, sense that they were strong people, and that strong people didn't get colds. He could almost see wheels of thought rotating in her head. Just what was this girl thinking?

"I didn't know shinigamis could get colds..."

Ichigo froze. She knew they were shinigami? But they were in gigai form! How could she tell? He decided to ask, but before he could, she moved her gaze to him again. "Tell Toshiro to get well soon!" And with that, she was off to her own room she shared with Yuzu.

The orange-top decided that encounter was kinda freaky and pretty much ignored it. He could ask Toshiro later what she'd meant by that.

He went to the bathroom and dug around in the medicine cabinet. There were tablets, syrup, gell caps... Ichigo "hmmed" and "hawed" over the contents before settling on the bottle near the top-right corner. It covered everything the taichou had, from stuffy nose to sore throat. Satisfied, he put everything back and went to his room.

The lights were off, the room bathed in nothing but darkness. There was an extra cot next to his bed, no doubt where he was to sleep. He didn't know where Rangiku was, but he was unconcerned. She was probably either with the girls or sleeping in the den.

Toshiro was in his bed, just as he'd ordered. Several blankets were piled onto him, his head cushioned between several pillows, and a damp cloth on his forhead. But Toshiro wasn't asleep, if his miserable gaze was anything to go by. Ichigo had to admit, the sight was adorable. He looked vunerable, and Ichigo knew he hated that, but he was quite sure the captain was aware that if he didn't resign himself to bed, he wouldn't get any better. There was a time and place for stubborness, and the sick bed wasn't one of them.

He pulled his desk chair out, turning it to face Toshiro and gracefully plopped down on it. Heset the medicine down on his desk, and took the rag from that pale forhead. The rag was damp, but still warm. He dropped it into the bowl and leaned over to tough the other's face. It was still hot. He didn't say anything. Toshiro didn't want to talk, by the look of it, and the least he could do was try not to be annoying for once.

Toshiro's face was getting hotter by the minute. Ichigo's hand burned from the touch, and his face was almost as red as his hair. Sighing, he pulled off the cup that came with the bottle and unscrewed the cap. "This should reduce your symptoms and help you sleep, at least for tonight so you'll have a better chance to break your fever."

He poured in a generous enough amount, but making sure not enough to overdose. He motioned for the shinigami to sit up, who was looking at the cup with disdain. Ichigo was ready for his attitude, and reached out for the other to take the cup.

"Come on, It'll make you feel better, just give it time to work." He swirled the little cup around. "Besides, it's strawberry, a very popular flavor. I'm sure you'll like it."

The kid genious still had his eyes narrowed in contempt, lips downturned in a frown at the smell, before closing his eyes and rubbing his temple. He seemed to be thinking it over, as if whether or not he could trust his words. He as sure the other had a headache, now. He was just going to get himself sicker if he kept doing that.

Ichigo roled his eyes. He had hoped he would have to resort to his secret weapon. Even though it might be the cause of a punch to the jaw, he couldn't help the slightly giddy feeling he was getting. It was a good way to cover up what he really felt, so there shouldn't be any problems, right? His wish would actually come true.

Ichigo toss the syrup into his mouth, but didn't swallow, and let some of it lingure on his lips. Then he threaded his hands through Toshiro's hair, gripping it near the scalp. The captain barely had time to shoot him a glare before he connected their lips.

Toshiro's fever made him warm. His constant coughing made them chapped. Ichigo couldn't find it in him to complain, though. He would kiss him any time of any day, even risk getting sick like this.

Toshiro was frozen with surprise. Ichigo wasn't fazed. He was expecting that. He continued to try and pry those lips apart. He'd hoped he would gasp and leave himself open, bu the taichou was on his gaurd even in his bed. That only made Ichigo try harder, kiss fiercer, and his hand tightening its hold while tilting the head back. He sucked and nibbled and licked, but the boy's mouth stood shut.

He came to the realization that maybe he had scared him as well as surprised him. He mentally sighed. Well, there was his answer. He was just about to pull away with two small, but calloused hands gripped his shirt, pulling him back down, and pressing their lips together more firmly. Toshiro was kissing him back, and not only that, licking the syrup off his lips!

Astounded that the captain even gave thought to resonding to him, Ichigo let himself loose. He nudged Toshiro's lips apart, shocked the other let him, and let the sweet taste of the medicine flow from his mouth to the other.

They kept kissing, even when Ichigo was sure that he'd swallowed every drop he gave him, he delved into his mouth for more, sucking on his tongue in such a sinful way that made him groan with pleasure. Pale arms were now around his neck, while one of his hands snaked around the smaller boy's waist. Their noses bumped a couple of times, but that only resulted in a furious haste to reconnect their lips.

When Ichigo needed air, and there was no trace of strawberry left in either mouth, they reluctanty let each other's lips go with a soft smacking noise. He was almost sitting on the other, they were so close. Their breathes mixed as they panted with exertion, the only sound in the silence.

That fushed face mere inches from him, he could help but want to force the entire bottle down his throat, if it would mean they could keep kissing.

Right at that moment, Hitsugaya's head spun away, and he quickly covered his mouth as another fit of rough coughs racked his small frame. Ichigo frown. How could he think like this when Toshiro was at his weakest? Berating himself for his selfishness and carelessness, he lowered the coughing boy down, covering him up with the blankets. That was enough for tonight.

He grabbed the washcloth floating in the basin of cool water, ung it out, and placed it once more on his forehead. With the cool touch of the cloth, the warmth of the blankets, and his throat and nose feeling a little better, he closed his eyes, felling drousy enough to get back to sleep. He didn't miss the little kiss Ichigo gave him on his nose.

"G'nigh.." was all he could murmur before sleep took him.

Over the course of the next few days, Toshiro continued to refuse to take his medicine. When Rangiku gave up, Ichigo had to step in and give it to him by force. Each and every time, it ended up as a make-out session. They would grope each other in their hair or their body; they'd lick each other on the neck and ears. Nothing really kept them back. They lost themselves in physical pleasure.

Ichigo even gave the other a small massage with a lotion to sooth his body aches. That turned out quite raunchy. It was just his back and arms at first, but the way Toshiro leaned into his touch made him curious just how far he could go.

Lotion made wonderful lubrication.

After an entire week, and the day after their raunchy sex, Toshiro was feeling good enough to get out of his gigai. Ichigo was walking home from college to find both shinigamis looking down at him from the roof of another building. They jumped down next to him. Rangiku her usually bubbly self, Toshiro quiet, but had a smallblush on his face.

"Ichi-kun! Thanks to you, we can leave for soul society." She hugged him, pressing his face into her bossom. "You took such wonderful care of my taichou!"

When Ichigo was released, he waved her off, struggling to catch his breath. "Do... don't mention it."

She giggled. "Well, I'm off to prepare to open a gate!" She hen whispered soething to Toshiro, whose blush intensified. Ichigo was exremely curious, now, just what did the redhead say to him? She waved at him and was off in a flash with shunpo.

So it was just him and Hitsugaya-taichou now. Both of them felt a little awkward because they didn't know what to say in order to break the silence. It was uncomfortable, but they felt they needed to.

Ichigo racked his brain for something to say. What was he supposed to say in these situations? This was the first time he'd had a lover, or anything close to it. Were they over now that they were going about their own lives? Did Toshiro feel the same way that he did, that he didn't want this to end?

There were so many questions in his head, and he couldn't settle on a single one to ask first. One question lead to another, which just confused him even more. Should he chance a relationship with a dead guy? Was that considered necrophilia? What they did in his room last night was playing on repeat in his head. He could only imagine what experimentation with the fozen captain could produce.

The thought made a drop of blood trickle out of his nose, just enough for Toshiro to see. Ichigo was brought out of his thoughts to see Toshiro smirking and slightly chuckling. Seeing the perplexed expression on his face, Toshiro uncrossed his arms, stood down from his seemingly defensive stance, and walked over to him. Ichigo followed him, lowering himself when Toshiro's finger gestured for him to do so. The white-haired oy didn't say anything, merely wrapped his hand around his neck and pulled the both of them in for a sweet kiss.

Ichigo tried the best he could to keep it from getting too hot, though. This was a tough good-bye, already.

They backed away from each other, and eventually, Toshiro flitted off, probably going to check on Matsumoto and how senki gate was coming along. Ichigo stayed standing, thinking to himself. Was that it? What was going to happen the next time they saw each other? Is this where their "sort of" relationship ended?

"Kurosaki!"

Ichigo lifted he head to see Hitsugaya standing on that same roof. "Huh?" was his intelligent reply.

"You have orders."

He lifted an eyebrow. "What kind of orders?"

"You are to report hollow activity once a week. Apparently, there have been news of some new ones in town causing trouble. We think they're working for someone higher up, maybe even in Hueco Mundo."

He blinked. This ust be the reason why he'd been here in the first place, only to get interrupted with that cold. "To who?"

He caught Toshiro's smirk, and couldn't help it spreading over his own face. "Report directly to me. Understood?"

Ichigo gave a salut. "Hai, Hitsugaya-taighou!"

With that, Toshiro left. Ichigo couldn't be any happier. He was getting good grades in college, There was a badass he could go beat up, and Toshiro just personally invited him over to his place in Seireitei. Things couldn't get any better.

He nodded to his sister in the living room on his way to his room; one of them smiling and waving with a ladle in her hands, the other smirking knowingly, as if... Wait! He forgot to ask Toshiro about Karin! ANd he knew Karin to be too stubborn to volunteer that information herself. Damn.

Ichigo closed his bedroom door, leaning and sliding against it until he reached the floor, a goofy grin on his face. Well, there was a next time, in a week. He made his way to his bed, about ready to pass out. The blankets and pillows were still there. The basin was empty, clean, and on his desk. The cot was gone. He'd rerganized everything later. Right now, all he wanted to do was sleep, and dream, maybe think of ways to get into Toshiro's shihakusho, and then what to do with him.

He let out a small sneeze. Someone must be thinking about him.

Finished! What do you think? Let me know! -waves-