Authors note: Here is another chapter of 'The Solution'! And though I only have one review for the moment I shall continue on! I will not let this discouraging thought slow me down! I'd like to thank my one reviewer iCheyenne! She deserves a cookie! And I wish I could give her one, but she'd just have to make do with Chapter 2! Hey that rhymed! You meet Sen in this story, Ren's twin… yet another rhyme. I hope you like her as much as I did! Anyway enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, nor do I own Jushiro Ukitake though I wish I did. Because if I did then Ren would have him all to herself!
Ren woke up groggily, her entire body feeling like lead. As soon as she thought that though she realized, she must've had another attack. Her body felt horrible and she had an awful headache, that wasn't accounting the fact that she was literally starving.
She thought back to when she had her attack, trying to figure out how bad this one had been. As her mind supplied the details she froze in shock at what she learned.
She then mentally groaned, of course it had to come while she was in Captain Ukitake's room. She felt like hitting herself, she had probably caused him a lot of problems. 'Stupid body!', She cursed herself.
As she fought to open her eyes she was surprised to find them fight her so stubbornly, it took a full 2 minutes before she could coax them open. Then when she finally managed to get them opened they fell shut again as light assaulted her eyes, making her hiss in pain.
"Dang it," She cursed under her breath as she waited for her eyes to stop hurting so much. As they finally stopped burning she took a deep breath and opened them again. Light burned her eyes again but this time she kept them open, determined to overcome this current obstacle.
It took a few seconds but her eyes finally adjusted to the light, though it was torturous during those few seconds it had taken. As she searched the surrounding room she immediately recognized it, it was one of the more larger rooms in the east side of the 4th division medical facility. Made for the middle ranked shinigami who came in, she recognized it as the one not too far from the room Yumichika used when he had his brief stay.
She then tried her hardest to sit up, fighting her exhausted body. She had just woke up! She shouldn't be this tired already.
As she managed to sit up fully she groaned in pain, her body felt horrible. Looking down she saw an IV stuck in her arm, cringing she reached down to rip it out. As it came free she threw it down, a look of disgust on her face. She hated needles, with a bloody passion.
"Kurosu-san!" She jumped at the voice, the shock making her heart pound. She looked towards the doorway to see Captain Ukitake standing in the doorway, his face concerned.
"What?" She asked in surprise, her voice scratchy. Almost as if she hadn't used it in a long time, she swallowed uncomfortably.
Jushiro moved over to lower her back onto the bed, his hand warm against her shoulder. "You shouldn't be sitting up!" He said as she laid down fully, "You are still too hurt."
"Hey!" She protested, though didn't get back up. Sitting up had started to get a little tiring anyway, she thought as she settled back in.
"Listen Kurosu-san," Jushiro said as he took a seat beside her bed. "You are still too weak to be moving around." He explained to her.
Now that he was here she noticed his appearance, his face was back to it's usual color, he had regained the weight he lost, and he looked less frail than before.
"How long was I out?" She asked, he was practically back to normal. There was no way that happened overnight, telling her that she had been unconscious for a while.
"About a week give or take a day." He replied to her surprise, making her look at him in shock.
"A week?! But here is no way!" She said in surprise, her voice faint. She had slept an entire week? "You mean I slept 7 days in a row?"
"Half of the time you were unconscious though, so you weren't exactly sleeping. And every now and again you faded in and out of consciousness, you just didn't have awareness." He explained, which to her sounded about right.
"Of course," She muttered. "Sorry if I caused you any trouble," Ren said apologetically to the captain. You never know how much of a burden you feel like until you end up passing out in a bloody puddle in front of another sickly person.
"No trouble," He said waving his hand. "A little worry, but no inconvenience." He replied and she smiled in relief. "But it did make me a little mad that you wouldn't accept any help." He stated with a slight glare.
"I'm a 9th seat," She replied. "You are a Captain, you're health is much more important then my own." She explained, Jushiro just sighed.
"Yes by my disease is identified," He argued. "Yours is an unknown disease that might be fatal, so trust me it would've been more important to help you at the time."
Before she could retaliate however the door opened, "Ren!" A voice shouted, scaring the living daylights out of her for the second time that day. Standing in the doorway was Ikkaku; Yumichika standing slightly behind him, each staring at her surprised.
"For the love of whoever is highest in the food chain, if you scare me like that one more time baldy then I'm going to Shikai your behind!" She seethed, her heart was pounding out of control again. Adding more pain to what she was already dealing with, that's not counting that she hates being startled.
Jushiro was a little surprised that she could be that bloodthirsty, though it was slightly entertaining as well. He smiled when he noticed the glimmer of laughter in Ren's eyes, knowing that she wasn't being malicious when she said it.
Ikkaku stared at her for a second, "Well Ren's better." He said with a wave of his hand, "If she's able to insult me and threaten to kill me in the same sentence then there is nothing to worry about."
"Come over here and say that to my face baldy!" She said, though it good humored. Yumichika was just chuckling at them, his hand held discreetly in Ikkaku's.
As Jushiro listened to Ikkaku and Ren bicker he smiled, the scene vaguely familiar. Knowing that neither of them were being malicious, it was more like siblings arguing.
They both took a seat on the other side of Ren's bed, their hands intertwined. Jushiro, noticing this for the first time was slightly surprised. He hadn't known they were together, though with them being in a different division it wasn't that odd. Ren catching his look just shook her head at him, he just shrugged in return.
"What brings you two to my lovely hospital room?" She asked the duo, wondering what they came for.
"We came to visit you before our Captain had to do paperwork," Ikkaku replied rubbing his head dejectedly. Ren wondered why they had to worry about their captain doing paperwork.
"Why would that be so bad?" Ren asked, "It's not you doing the paperwork is it?" She asked them, they just looked deflated.
"We wish," Yumichika replied. "During paperwork day we have to keep the Lieutenant busy so Captain Zaraki can do his paperwork."
At his words Ren understood, in other words they had Yachiru sitting. She winced, "Ouch." She said sympathetically, even Jushiro looked at them with pity.
"Yachiru is one of us and everything and we'd never want to lose her, but sometimes she's just too overwhelming." Ikkaku replied, "Especially when she likes to chew on my head."
"Ouch," Ren replied. "That would explain the random bite marks on your head I see once every week." Ikkaku nodded in depression, Yumichika was hiding a small smile. She had caught a few bite marks on his neck when he turned a certain way, and she knew Yachiru wasn't doing those.
"Anyway Ren," Ikkaku said seriously catching her attention. By the tone of his voice Ren knew immediately that something was up, "Why didn't you tell us you were sick?" He asked seriously.
Ren sighed, "Because I didn't want you to know." She said, ignoring his glare. "I had hoped it wouldn't resurface any time soon, but it did. So get over it."
Ikkaku growled at her answer, Yumichika laid his hand on his arm. "Calm down Ikkaku," Yumichika said with a slight glare of his own. "There is probably a reason why she didn't want to tell us, it was her decision."
"Thank you Yumichika," She said to the narcissistic shinigami. He smiled back, she was the major supporter of their relationship and they too had bonded much like siblings. "The reason I didn't tell you was because I didn't want anyone to worry about me, it's pointless." She said and Ikkaku growled again.
"Give it up Madarame-san," Jushiro spoke up for the first time since they entered. They both looked over to him in surprise, surprised that he'd take Ren's side on this issue. "She did what she felt was right, you can't fault her for that."
"I can still be a little mad," He muttered crossing his arms. Yumichika chuckled at his partners reaction, he looked more like a 5 year old then a shinigami. He then turned to watch Ren, noticing her subtle staring at the 13th Captain.
She still had it bad for the white haired captain, though it seemed as if they were growing closer. Yumichika was glad that there was a chance between them, though it wasn't too developed at this point.
"Get over it baldy," Ren said with a sigh. "It's too late to worry about that now." Ikkaku sighed as well, she was right after all.
"So when are you going to get out?" Yumichika asked, curious to see how long she was going to be sentenced. Ren sighed, that wasn't a good sign.
"I have no clue, I just woke up like 10 minutes ago." She replied, much to their surprise.
"So you haven't seen Captain Unohana yet?" Ikkaku asked in surprise, Ren cringed at his question knowing exactly how that was going to go.
"No I haven't," She said with a slight feeling of dread. Her Captain was going to kill her, she hadn't told no one about her disease but her sister.
Ikkaku looked at her in pity, which caused her to punch him. "Ow!" He said, even injured she could still pack quite a punch.
"Trust me you don't have to remind me that my captain is coming to get me, I know." She said seriously, which caused Yumichika to smile sympathetically. Though he sat outside her striking distance, just in case she wasn't so forgiving.
Ikkaku shot a glance at the clock, "Shit!" He shouted jumping up in surprise. "Come on Yumichika!" Ikkaku urged grabbing his hand and dragging him to his feet. "We're going to be late to Yachiru sitting if we don't hurry! You know how she gets when we're late!"
Yumichika nodded vigorously as they bolted out the door, "Bye Ren!" Ikkaku shouted as he ran out, Yumichika following closely behind.
"Bye Ren, and good luck!" Yumichika said with a smile, staring pointedly at them. Ren's eyes widened in realization and she glared at his retreating form, a light flush raising in her cheeks. Jushiro was just confused, looking between them questioningly.
"It's nothing," Ren commented while face palming. "Just ignore him, that's what I do." Jushiro looked a little confused but he didn't comment, letting it go.
"I never noticed that they got together," Jushiro commented a few minutes after they left. Ren looked up sharply at his words, not knowing how he felt about Homosexuality.
"Does it bother you?" She asked, "Them being together I mean." She specified, knowing that some people in the Seireitei didn't approve of male couples.
"No," He commented. "Just saying I didn't notice it." He said with a shrug, he believed if you love someone you should be able to be with them. Even if they are of the same gender, love is rare and should be cherished.
"Oh," She said softly. "That's cool then," She moved to sit up again.
"You don't need to be sitting up," Jushiro said again moving to lower her back down on the bed. Ren just shook his hand off, leveling him a look.
"I need to start recovering," Ren said. "Sitting up so my body can adjust to it is the first step, trust me." She said and he sat back reluctantly, she should know.
"You've had to battle this disease for a while huh?" He asked, she looked slightly confused at his words. "Your Zanpakuto told me everything." She 'ahhed' at that.
"Yeah," She said with a shrug. "It gets annoying and stuff but I'm used to it, this attack had actually hit faster then I had thought it would."
Jushiro didn't comment to that, he only looked at her sadly. She sighed, this was why she hated getting sick. She didn't like everyone worrying over her, it didn't get anyone anywhere.
"Kurosu-san..." Jushiro started but Ren cut him off with a sudden look. "What?"
"Can you please stop calling me that?" She asked, "It makes me feel like I should be wearing a kimono and serving tea or something." Jushiro smiled at her words, "Just call me Ren please."
"Okay, as long as you call me Jushiro." He said and Ren looked at him aghast, the thought of calling him anything other then Captain Ukitake was practically blasphemy in her book.
"I can't!" She said while panicking, "You're a Captain!"
"Yes, and I'm ordering you to call me by my name." He said with a smile.
She sighed, knowing she had been defeated. "I'll call you Ukitake-san, but nothing else." She said stubbornly, Jushiro just shook his head at her.
"Okay Ren-san," He said with a slight smile when she growled slightly at him. They wouldn't compromise any further so she let it go, though she wasn't happy with it. They fell into a comfortable silence, though it didn't last long.
The door slammed open again for the third time that day, making Ren jump. "Ren!" A voice shouted suddenly, making her heart race. Ren turned to the doorway with a glare, getting ready to yell at whoever startled her. But when she caught sight of the person in the doorway she froze, her eyes going wide.
Jushiro had been startled by the sudden appearance as well and he studied the newcomer. She looked exactly like Ren except with black hair, and white feathered hair clips holding her bangs out of her face. Her eyes were the same deep blue of her sisters though it held a more calmer and peaceful look compared to the wild passionate eyes that Ren possessed. She was staring at Ren as though she'd disappear if she looked away, a sense of relief on her features.
"Sen!?" Ren shouted, "What are you doing here!?" Sen didn't answer however, she just shot across the room and wrapped her sister in a hug.
"I heard that you suffered another attack, so I came back as fast as possible." She answered her voice soft and her tone caring, she pulled back to look her sister in the eye. "I was so worried."
"You didn't have to come all the way here," Ren argued. "I'm fine." Sen didn't comment, just watching her sister closely. Ren sighed, this was why she didn't like Sen worrying. "Who told you that I suffered from an attack anyway?" Ren asked suspiciously, Sen didn't answer.
Ren's eyes widened in realization and grabbing her Zanpakuto glared at it, "Kurotenchi..." She said with a warning in her voice, holding the sword eye level. Jushiro's eyebrow raised at her tone, clearly hearing the anger in it.
"I don't care if you thought it was a good idea!" She shouted in answer to something her Zanpakuto said, "You worried her for no good reason!"
The room fell silent for a few seconds, Kurotenchi obviously replying to her wielder's response. Jushiro was watching Ren and her sister, Sen was just sitting on the edge of the bed with a look of relief.
"Oh shut up," Ren muttered to her Zanpakuto suddenly while dropping her sword back down. "Kurotenchi told her sister Shirotenchi, which is Sen's Zanpakuto." She explained to Jushiro, "And worried them both."
"Oh Captain Ukitake!" Sen said suddenly standing up to bow, "I didn't see you there. I was so worried for my sister I didn't pay attention to anything else."
He waved his hand at her apology, "No need to explain." He replied, "I understand what you mean." Sen smiled in relief.
"Sen, you didn't have to come." Ren said with a sigh, "It's too much trouble to come all the way from the human world just because I'm sick."
"No it's not Ren," Sen said seriously. "I'd go the moon if that was what it takes, and you know you'd do the same thing for me."
Ren swallowed at her sister's look, one that looked identical to the one she used on the newer recruits and anyone else who annoy her. It only furthered her belief that they were true sisters, that look just confirmed it.
Jushiro who was watching the ordeal had the same thoughts, the look was what he saw on Ren's features when she had yelled at Ikkaku for startling her.
"It's good to see you though," Ren muttered softly. Jushiro smiled at her words, she was stubborn but she loved her sister. Sen smiled and hugged her again, holding her loosely as to not further injure her.
"It's good to see you too Ren," Sen said when Ren returned her hug. "I don't see you as much as I'd wish." Ren pulled back to look at her with a slight glare.
"If you'd give up the doomed self imposed quest you put on yourself then you'd be here all the time." Sen just raised her eyebrow, though the look was haughty Jushiro caught a saddened expression in it. Sen knew something, Jushiro summarized. Something dealing with Ren's disease, and she was saddened by it.
Ren had already caught the look, she knew how to read Sen better then any other being on earth. Ren sighed, she wished that her sister would've just left it alone. Now her sister was worried over something that she knew was going to happen, knew that she wasn't lucky enough for the disease that plagued her to have a cure.
"Kurosu-san?" They all paused as a soft voice came from the doorway, Captain Unohana stood with her lieutenant. "It is good to see you awake."
"Thanks," Ren said nervously. The look her captain was giving her sent chills up her spine, and she had the distinct urge to jump out the window and take off running.
She flinched when her Captain's eyes strayed to her discarded IV on the floor, she flinched harder when her Captain looked back up at her.
Retsu caught sight of Sen after finding Ren's IV on the floor, and was shocked by the figure. "Another Kurosu-san?" She asked slightly surprised, Sen smiled at her weakly.
"Hello, my name is Sen Kurosu." She said bowing, "It is nice to meet you. I would like to thank you for saving my sister's life." Ren rolled her eyes at Sen's words, while Jushiro just smiled.
Isane was looking at Sen with amusement, surprised that anyone related to Ren could act so serene and polite. Retsu just smiled politely at her, before introducing herself.
"My name is Retsu Unohana, Captain of the 4th squad. And this is my Lieutenant Isane Kotetsu," She said motioning to said silver headed girl. She nodded acknowledgment while Sen did the same thing, "I came to give Ren a check up so I'd appreciate it if you and Captain Ukitake would wait outside until I am finished."
"Of course!" Sen said as she stood up. Jushiro nodded while standing up, Ren looked at them in shock. They were leaving her alone with her Captain?!
"And now that Kurosu-san is awake I can explain to her the fault she made when she didn't inform me of her disease," Her tone was neutral but it sent a shiver down all of their spines. Ren looked absolutely terrified, her face going a deathly white. "And why it is important to leave your IV alone."
As Sen and Jushiro made their way out the door they looked at Ren in sympathy, she looked back at them with a pleading look. Neither of them wanted to leave her, but when Retsu Unohana asked you to do something you did it. As they closed the door her arm reached feebly towards them, her eyes literally screaming 'Help me!'
They both flinched as the door fell shut behind them, leaving Ren to her deceptively nice Captain. "Poor Ren," Sen stated softly. Jushiro nodded to her assessment, feeling slightly bad for leaving her back in there. Retsu has never physically hurt anybody, but she really didn't need too to get her point across.
Sen sighed in sadness, almost as if her sister was already dead. She shook her head a little before turning to Jushiro, "I'm sorry if I sound rude but why were you in my sister's room?"
He smiled, "It's not rude at all Kurosu-san." He said, "I felt the need to make sure she was okay." He replied to her question, "She had her attack while changing my sheets when I was hospitalized."
Sen looked at him, her face pale. "Then you know what it looks like when she suffers through her attacks," She said softly, looking away. "You know what it feels to watch helplessly when there is nothing you can do to help her."
Jushiro's expression turned grim at her words, his heart aching at the remembrance of that day. Seeing Ren coughing up blood, her body racked with tremors while worrying about him? It pulled at his heartstrings, making him want to help her in any way possible.
"I know what it is," Sen continued. Her voice was flat, almost no emotion being held in it. Her expression was saddened, her eyes downcast.
"You know what the disease is don't you?" He said in response to her comment, his own voice calm yet sad.
"Yes, I found it not to long ago." She stood with her back stiff, her hands clenching and unclenching at her sides. "It's so unfair, because she doesn't deserve it!"
"What is it?" He asked, wanting to know what Ren suffers from.
"It's a mutated form of a disease from the human world, though it's more deadly in it's mutated form." She responded, her teeth gritting, "It's called the Bubonic plague, or the Black plague as it's more commonly referred to."
"Isn't that the plague that hit Europe around the 14th century, taking out a third of Europe's population?" He vaguely remembered hearing about that, that was the most busiest time that the Soul Society had ever encountered. So many soul departing to the Soul Society, and many of the shinigami were helping them along.
"Unfortunately yes," She replied. "Though it mutated in Ren's case, taking away it's contagious factor." Though it was a sigh of relief that it wouldn't spread it was still a hollow victory.
"Is there anyway to cure it?" He asked though he knew that there was a high chance that it wouldn't be, he still had to hope.
"No." She stated with a dead voice, the sound echoing oddly in the empty hall. Jushiro felt his heart constrict, he swallowed heavily. "Even worse is, from here on out it will only get worse for her. And she knows it," Sen said as a tear gathered in the corner of her eye. "I dedicated my life to help my sister, and then I learn that there isn't anything I can do to help her?" She said taking a deep breath, "It makes me feel like a failure."
"You're not," Jushiro said with a hushed voice. "You did your best, and you found what you was looking for. It might not be the best but you found out."
"I just wish I could take this from her!" She said harshly though her voice remained soft, her fist punched the wall. Her normal calm and serene facade thrown out the window, "Ever time she has an attack her lungs and heart start to dissolve." She replied thickly, tears gathering in her eyes again. "Causing blood to be lost through the throat and nose in hacking coughs."
He winced at her words, knowing that it had to be excruciatingly painful.
"After that stage the blood vessels start to deteriorate, starting in her head and moving down her torso. Blood will then be lost through her ears and her tear ducts as well as her nose and mouth, in an attempt to escape from her body."
"Next, she'll slowly bleed to death. That is if she survives the pain that comes with her internal organs liquefying, at that point there is only so much she can take." As she spoke her words were clipped, hardened by her sadness. "And there isn't anything I can do, I'm hoping that the 12th division can find some way to help her. But they said there isn't a very high chance of helping her," She said with a heavy heart.
Jushiro patted her on the shoulder, thoughts of his own racing through his head. There was no hope for Ren, and she had known this. She had just went on with her life, expecting to die suddenly from her sickness. She had prepared herself mentally for what could happen, and continued on.
He closed his eyes, swallowing thickly. He had only known her from when she attended to him while he was hospitalized and yet the thought of Ren dying made him feel like a hole had suddenly appeared in his heart. It ached at the thought of losing one of the most caring and passionate people in the world that he had ever met.
"Captain Ukitake, Karosu-san, I'm done you may enter now." The voice to the right snapped them out of their thoughts and they both turned to Captain Unohana who was exiting Ren's room. Isane followed not long after, a slight pitied expression on her features.
They both said their farewells before leaving, Captain Unohana obviously troubled as she made her way down the hall. As they entered Ren's room she glared at both of them, her IV back in it's place.
"Thanks for leaving me with her!" She said pointing at them accusingly, which made Sen chuckle slightly. Jushiro just shrugged, she glared at them for a few seconds more before sighing.
"You're not injured are you?" Sen asked her sister with a smile, Ren turned to her with another glare. Her blue eyes mad but beneath showed that she wasn't truly angry.
"She doesn't have to touch you to hurt you, trust me." She replied, shuddering slightly. Sen had been away from the Seireitei so she didn't know the full extent of what the 4th Captain can do. Jushiro just chuckled at their banter, he could truly tell Ren was glad to see her sister.
As they fought back and forth he just watched on, a small smile on his lips. The words that Sen had told him about Ren's sickness remained in the back of his mind, not allowing him to forget. Knowing that there was nothing he could do made him feel helpless, a feeling he was all to familiar with. At least Ren could enjoy her time with her sister, Jushiro knew that that was what Ren wanted more then anything.