Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. (dang!)
Pride, Prejudice and Patience
I awoke with a routine yawn and stretch before scrambling out of my bed. The girls' room was empty this morning, only for myself of course. Karin and Yuzu had both gone to Summer Camp for the next four weeks, and Isshin had decided that it was about time he took a vacation. I didn't mind having the room to myself, though I do love spending time with Ichigo's sisters.
Looking at the clock, I heaved a sigh. 8am on a Saturday morning. It was still pretty early, and she expected Ichigo wouldn't be up for at least another hour.
My stomach grumbled in response to such a thought, "Well… if Ichigo wants to lie in, that doesn't mean I'm going to starve."
I had a quick shower, got dressed and headed downstairs. The cupboards and fridge had been fully stocked before the family left, so as not to return to two mal-nourished teenagers I had supposed. I grabbed a bowl and poured myself a large helping of Chappy branded cereal before sitting in front of the TV and watching some Saturday morning cartoons.
At nine-thirty Ichigo still hadn't made an appearance, and I found myself reluctantly worrying. Setting my long-empty bowl in the kitchen sink, I headed upstairs and towards Ichigo's room. Knocking was a rare courtesy for me to show Ichigo, but I felt it somehow necessary this morning. There was no sound from the room, and when I knocked again there was no change from the initial silent that had met me.
I finally pushed open the door, "Ichigo?"
My eyes drifted to his bed.
I felt my brow furrow, Where the hell did he go off to?
I sat in the kitchen for the best part of the morning, sipping tea and staring out the window at the rain as it poured from above, slashing the ground and setting a cold, depressing atmosphere.
Some summer this was turning out to be…
Suddenly the front door flew open.
Setting my cup on the counter, I moved to the sitting room to see that none other than Ichigo had entered. He was shivering and dripping wet.
"Have a nice sleep?"
I suddenly could feel the reiatsu. He had been out hunting hollow, how didn't I realise? The howling wind roared outside, as if to add to my guilt.
"I'm sorry, Ichigo. You should've woken me. You're soaked!"
But, despite this, Ichigo actually smiled through his chattering teeth. I continued to mutter my apologies as I darted around the ground floor, grabbing a towel and putting the kettle on to make another cup of tea. All the while, Ichigo just stood there, looking oddly more passive than usual.
Upon further notice, I saw that his face was flushed, and when I did give him the towel— my hand brushing against his skin— I felt an unhealthy heat coming from him in pulsing waves.
My eyes met his in an instant, "You don't look well, Ichigo." I began stating the obvious. He looked ready to protest, but I cut him off, "Why don't you go upstairs and get dressed while I make you some tea."
After a short pause, he nodded weakly, turned and began to climb upstairs. He moved carefully, the cold making him clumsy.
I watched with a fearful expression until he was out of sight before I went back to making tea. I was sure to put a heaped spoon of sugar in his, in the hopes of restoring some life into the guy.
The tea began to cool. The rumbling upstairs had long since stopped. I stood up from the kitchen chair and walked to the foot of the stairs, "You haven't fallen asleep on me have you, carrot top?" I was met with still silence, and this time I had no trouble in immediately marching up to his room.
Without knocking this tine, I opened the door, "Ichigo?" the tremble in my voice betrayed my worry.
"Ichigo?" I repeated, a little softer this time. I actually felt as if I might startle him if I'm to harsh. When I got no answer I moved in from the door, closing it behind me. The room was the same as I had seen it earlier that morning, except for the man-sized, shivering lump that was huddled underneath the bed-clothes.
I approached slowly and found my eyes widening at the sight of him. A thin sheet of sweat had formed across his brow, his skin chalk white, "I'm okay." He whispered weakly, though clearly he wasn't.
"Crap, Ichigo!" I cursed, placing my hand on his clammy brow. He was hot, but his shivering told me that he must feel very cold. "Don't move, I'll be right back!" I yelped as I ran downstairs. I reached the kitchen and began raiding the cupboards. A hot water bottle, aspirin, chicken soup packets. I'd make due.
I filled the water bottle with trembling hands, poured a glass of water and grabbed the box of aspirin before dashing back up to Ichigo's room. I knelt at his bedside, breathless from the worry. He didn't even open his eyes to acknowledge me, and my heart felt as if it could stop, "Ichigo?"
He twitched, then half opened his eyes, looking out under half lids. This wouldn't do. He struggled against me as I tried to pry the blankets from his hands in order to have him hug the hot water bottle. I noticed that, he was now lying in simply his boxer shorts. Usually I might have flushed, but in the intensity of the moment I just stood up and moved for his drawers, pulling out a jersey and a pair of flannel pants.
"Ichigo…" I muttered, attempting to pull him up enough to help dress him, "We need to warm you up."
He began to fight against me, though weakly. I thought about it before bowing down to his modestly and admitting that maybe, for pride's sake, he'd still want to dress himself. I felt a lump in my throat at the thought that he must have collapsed in bed before he could do it properly the first time.
Once he had pulled on the pants, in an embarrassed manner, Ichigo dropped back under the blankets, now hugging the water bottle for warmth.
I took two aspirin from the bottle, breaking them into halves and passing them to Ichigo with a glass of water. He pushed me away at first, but I was persistent, and he simply was not well enough to argue.
He swallowed the pills and as I was reading the Caution: May cause drowsinessI saw that Ichigo had closed his eyes, his breathing peaceful.
I heaved a sigh of relief, but it was short lived. I knew Ichigo was extremely unwell. Not sick enough to be dying… but still pretty bad. I spent the day running around, trying to keep the cloth on Ichigo's head cool in order to hopefully break his fever, attempting to persuade him to eat something, helping him to and from the bathroom (obviously allowing him to do his own business on his own) and fighting to retain my sanity because every time I looked at Ichigo's pale and weak form I couldn't help but want to slap myself for not waking up!
"I'm sorry." I whispered while he was asleep that night. I had already promised myself I'd stay up to keep an eye on him. I sat in the wardrobe watching Hollow reports and fighting sleep.
I lost that fight.
I woke with a start the next morning. My thoughts immediately went to Ichigo and I jumped out of the wardrobe and dashed to his bedside to check his temperature.
He was half-awake now, and had watched me cross the room. I placed my hand on his brow. He sighed at my cool hand, his head falling back against the pillow.
"How do you feel?" I asked unnecessarily.
His reply was raspy, "Fine."
I shook my head, "Stop taking me for an idiot. I think we should call the doctor…"
He immediately began to shake his head, "No…" he breathed, his weak eyes gave me a pleading look.
"You don't want a doctor?"
He shook his head again.
I didn't know what to do. I was pretty sure he may need a doctor.
But then it came, "Please…"
I sighed, "Alright. No doctors. But if you don't start getting better, it's going to be out of my hands. Got it?"
He nodded sleepily, "Thanks, Rukia."
"Don't mention it…" I ran through the things I needed to know in my head, "Just nod your head if you have any of these…" I began listing symptoms.
Fever… I already knew that.
I also took note of the small rash I could see along his neckline and ran downstairs to the clinic. I switched on the computer and input the symptoms.
It beeped and hummed as I waited my answer.
The result made my eyes widen.
Otherwise known as: The Kissing Disease
Ichigo had the Kissing Disease?
Who the hell was he kissing?!
I was shocked with my own rage. Why did I care who Ichigo was kissing? I didn't! It was his own business! I just thought he would've told me…
I didn't think…
I shook the thoughts from my head. I'd kill him later. I clicked the link for treatments.
It basically told me to continue what I had been already doing. Keep trying to break his fever, give him lots of fluids. It also advised ice cream and milkshakes for the sore throat.
Great… Ichigo gets sick from kissing girls, and as a reward he gets to be fed ice cream!
A thought suddenly entered my head. I could call Inoue! She might be able to heal Ichigo up faster. That way I'd get to kill him sooner. Everybody wins!
I pulled out my cell and dialled the number. I was received by a harsh, raspy deep voice, "Hello?"
"Ah... Hello, is Inoue there?" I wasn't sure what to do. I hoped I wasn't interrupting something, and suddenly felt awkward, "I-if she's busy, it's alright."
"Kuchiki-san?" the voice seemed to brighten a little, and I was taken aback when they said, "It's Inoue. Sorry, my voice is a little raspy… I've been sick for a while."
I gasped silently, "You're sick too?!"
"Yeah… but I'm okay. Why? Are you sick, Kuchiki-san?"
I almost growled. I snapped the phone shut. I felt something wet roll down my cheek.
Oh no! I was not crying! This is insane!
I grabbed the ice cream from the freezer, took a bowl and spoon and headed upstairs.
I knocked before walking in, "Ichigo?"
He groaned in response and I took that as an OK to go inside.
He was still lying in bed. He seemed a little more alert now, though still very pale and fragile looking. Lucky Bastard. I could've pounded him into next week.
I pulled a chair over to his bedside, opening the icecream bucket and scooping some into a bowl. I took a spoonful and reached for him. He shook his head, testing my patience.
"Ichigo, just take the damned ice cream!" I eventually roared.
His brow furrowed, "Go to hell, Rukia." His voice was clear and strong. I wondered how much it pained him to speak in such a tone.
"Ugh! Godammit, Ichigo! Can't you see I'm already there! Mono, Ichigo! You managed to get Mono! I can't even get your precious Inoue to take care of you since she obviously couldn't keep her contagious lips off you! I hope all this was worth a kiss from her!
I slammed the bowl on his desk before stomping out of the room, "Asshole!"
I sat in the kitchen for at least three hours before resigning myself to go back up and check on the stubborn jackass that is Kurosaki Ichigo.
I turned into the hallway only to gasp at the sight of Ichigo making his was shakily downstairs.
I raced up to support him. Together we wobbled down the steps and I brought him into the living room, setting him on the couch. I ran upstairs and dragged down his pillow and covers. Once I had him wrapped up I decided he needed to explain himself.
"What possessed you to come downstairs? You could've fallen, Ichigo!"
He opened his eyes as much as I believed possible, swallowing hard before replying weakly, "I'm sorry…"
I heaved a sigh, "It's fine…"
He shook his head, "No… it's not."
I looked back at him and saw that he had his hand held out, gesturing me to come over. I obliged, kneeling down beside him, he attempted to explain, "You see… my mom used to be the one to take care of me… whenever I was sick…"
He coughed, clearing his throat, and continued in a low but steady voice, "After she went away… I stopped letting people know when I was feeling crappy, weak… sick…"
I wanted to tell him it was alright, but he went on, "Since you came along, I've only started getting used to letting myself relax. I wasn't… prepared for you to be so nice to me when I got sick. I kinda… it just felt like…"
I patted his hand, a small smile there to reassure him, "It's okay, Ichigo. I should've realised."
I ran my hand through his hair without thinking about it, "Don't be. Just get some rest, Okay?"
I stood up and went to the kitchen.
My cellphone was vibrating against the counter, a new message.
I flipped it open and read:
Subject:How are you?
Text:Kuchiki-san, I was just writing to ask if you and Kurosaki were okay.
I recently got a bad case of mono. (Please don't ask)
Is Kurosaki alright? I think I remember him drinking from my water bottle at training the other day. Hope you guys are alright.
My mouth dropped. Ichigo hadn't been kissing Inoue? He got this from some stupid bottle of water!
"Yes!" I cheered quietly.
I then felt guilty for what I said before.
I walked back to him. Sitting myself in the chair opposite where he lay.
He was watching me while I fidgeted.
My head snapped up, "Y-yes?"
He smiled. He actually smiled! I was drawn to that smile, and now I found myself kneeling beside him again, "What you said before… about Inoue and I… I just want you to know; I'm not like that."
I was stumped, "W-what do you…?"
His smile didn't falter, "I mean… that I wouldn't throw away moments like this," he gestured between himself and me, "For anything, Let alone a kiss from Inoue."
My brow furrowed, I really didn't understand.
Ichigo heaved a raspy sigh, "You don't seem to see how beautiful you are. How important you are… to me."
A gasp escaped my lips and I swore I was ready to cry.
I felt his warm hand reach up and touch my cheek, "I don't just feel an attraction for you, Rukia. I feel something much more… and I don't know if you feel it for me… but I need you."
He smiled that crooked smile once more, and spoke the last three words I ever expected to hear from him, but that made my heart swell, "I love you, Rukia."
I was definitely crying now, "I love you too."
His smile, despite any mono, turned into a full grin as he wiped away the stray tears from my cheeks, "Under normal circumstances, this would be where I'd take you in my arms and kiss you senseless."
I smiled down at him, placing a gentle kiss on his forehead, "Some things are worth the wait."
A/N: Hope that was good enough for all you IchiRuki fans out there!
Loved writing this! First IchiRuki Fic! Woot Woot! Please review!