A/N: Hey all! First I wanted to start off by thanking my lovely reviewers, I really appreciated them and as a thank you, I wanted to try and get this second part up as soon as I could. It's just about finals week for me so I probably won't be getting anything up for about two weeks or so but I really wanted to get this up before I get consumed by my studies, so I'm not constantly worrying about it. Now that I have rambled enough I hope you guys enjoy the second half of "One Stormy Night!"
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach. I wish I did but that's all it ever will be, a wish. All characters belong to the wonderful Tite Kubo. :)
Ichigo let out a small sigh of relief. At least he's alive… but he won't be for long if I don't get him some help. "Yea, it's me, Shiro. Now, let's head back to Seireitei so Unohana can fix you up."
There was a huge flash of lightning followed by a deafening clap of thunder from the skies above and it was at that moment that Ichigo felt his heart rip in two when he saw how seriously injured Toshiro really was.
His face and chest were covered with a large number of nasty cuts and bruises; many of which were still bleeding freely. There was an especially large bruise covering his chest, a sign that a few of his ribs were probably bruised, possibly even broken. Toshiro's arm and leg were also clearly broken and there was a small part of the bone sticking out through the flesh in his right arm. It was a complete mess and Ichigo shuddered when he thought about how much pain his lover was probably in right now.
Ichigo slowly dropped to his knees trying to figure out how he could carry Toshiro in a way that would cause him the least amount of pain. Ichigo held his breath, and as carefully as he could he lifted the small body up off the cold wet ground and into his arms. Toshiro yelped at the sudden contact and the moving of his injuries. Ichigo saw Toshiro's face contort in pain and frowned realizing he had caused it.
" 'm s-sorry… ichi…" Toshiro mumbled.
"What are you talking about, baby? What could you possibly have to be sorry for?" Ichigo's glance drifted downwards from the small body in his arms towards the ground below them. "It's all my fault… if I had just… just…" he stopped suddenly when he felt a slight tugging at his shihakusho and watched as Toshiro opened his mouth about to say something else, but instead erupted into a huge coughing fit and Ichigo could do nothing but hug the small shinigami close to his chest while Toshiro started to cough up blood. Finally, the coughing stopped and Toshiro fell limp once again into Ichigo's embrace, too exhausted to move.
"ichi… 'm c-c-cold…" Toshiro stuttered as he started to shiver violently. He's been out in this storm for way too long... I need to get him back to Seireitei so he can get dry and some new robes.
Ichigo hugged Toshiro even closer so that their bodies were touching in a futile attempt to shelter his yuki hime from the unrelenting rain pouring down on them from above. Toshiro's skin was so cold to the touch, even more than usual. It scared Ichigo and he knew that Toshiro didn't have much time left.
The strawberry didn't waste another second before he started run as fast as he could back towards Seireitei keeping a soft but firm hold on Toshiro's body. He could feel Toshiro getting weaker and weaker, slipping closer to death as the seconds ticked by. Ichigo felt the small form in his arms start to tremble again and this time the violent shivers were accompanied by choked sobs.
"I-Ichi… it h-hurts…" Toshiro whimpered between sobs. By now, tears were freely flowing down the smaller's face mixing freely with the rainwater.
"Shh…" Ichigo cooed as he ran his had softly through his small lover's sopping wet hair. "I promise; I'll make the pain go away. Just hang on Shiro… I can almost see the walls of Seireitei on the horizon."
Toshiro managed to lift his head enough so that it rested on the inside of his boyfriend's arm, just below the shoulder. He wanted to stay with Ichigo, but he could feel his body shutting down and decided to make the most of the last few moments he had with his boyfriend. They had only been together for a few months, but those few months were more precious to him than anything. There was still one thing Toshiro thought that he could do that he hoped would be able to show Ichigo how much he meant to him.
"I-Ichi..?" Toshiro's voice was strained and had only enough energy to speak in a barely audible voice. "Thank y-you…" Toshiro could barely keep his eyes open and it was becoming increasingly difficult to string a simple coherent sentence together. Toshiro wasn't sure how much longer he would be able to stay conscious. No! I need to be able to tell him… then I can die without regrets.
"I'm glad… glad that you w-w-were with me in t-the end… I l-l-love you, Ichigo." Toshiro looked up at the determined face of his boyfriend and managed a weak smile when his teal eyes met the chocolately brown of Ichigo's. His vision was starting get blurry and he was beginning to feel dizzy. It must be from all the blood I've lost. Then, Ichigo and everything around Toshiro faded to black.
"What are you talking about baby? You're not going anywhere, not as long as I'm around. " Ichigo smiled unaware that the petite captain in his arms was already unconsciousness. "Shiro…? Baby…?" Ichigo's voice became desperate. Toshiro had at least been responsive since they had started their journey back to Seireitei.
But now… now Toshiro was limp in Ichigo's arms and no matter how loud Ichigo yelled his boyfriend's name, he couldn't stir the frosty captain back from the darkness that had taken him. Ichigo had just been about to let out a sigh of relief because they had finally made it back to Seireitei, but instead he just ran faster towards the fourth division because his precious yuki hime, Toshiro Hitsugaya, had stopped breathing.
Retsu Unohana had been working all night treating the wounds of all the tenth squad members that had been injured from the recent hollow incident.
War is such a horrible thing, she thought solemnly to herself as she walked down the quiet hallway near her office. She finally had a chance to catch her breath until the next emergency would inevitably come flying through her door.
We are losing shinigami every day… husbands, wives, sisters, and brothers; loved ones, friends, comrades and their superiors. Lives were constantly being torn apart and it was all the wise healer could do to try and save as many people as possible.
Captain Unohana was revered as the best healer in all of Soul Society, but sometimes she didn't always feel she deserved such a title. She was always losing people and then would wonder after the fact if there had been something else she could have done, another kido that she could have used, that might have been able to save them. She would constantly tell herself that this is what she had chosen to do with her life and that these are the kinds of things that all healers unfortunately had to deal with.
Unohana arrived at her office and slid open the door to find her tall, silver haired lieutenant waiting for her.
"Isane, is there something you needed?" Unohana asked, her usual calm and serene voice filling the office.
"Oh! Captain! I uh…" The lieutenant stuttered as she looked up, surprised by the sudden appearance of her captain. She nervously rubbed the back of her head, "I was just here to file my report for the day."
"Please continue then." Unohana prompted, as she made her way over to her desk and sat down.
Isane quickly debriefed her captain on everything she had witnessed during the day and also told her captain that everyone still in the barracks who required treatment was stable and for the moment there was no-one that needed any special attention.
"Thank you, Isane. You have worked very hard and I apologize for keeping you so busy into the late hours of the night. I'm sure you're exhausted. Why don't head back to your quarters and get some sleep?"
"Are you sure, Captain? I don-" Isane started to ask but was swiftly interrupted.
"Head back to your quarters and get some sleep, Isane." Unohana insisted. Her face had not changed but her voice was firm and the silver haired lieutenant didn't dare argue with her captain.
"T-thank you Captain! Goodnight!" Isane stammered as she practically ran out the door. She highly respected her captain and never dreamed of serving under anyone else, but sometimes Unohana could be very intimidating, whether she realized it or not.
Unohana took a few moments to take in the silence that filled her office. She took a book off one of the walls of bookshelves that lined her office and started walking towards one of the fourth division courtyards.
The storm that had torn through Seireitei recently had mostly past over by now and there was only a slight drizzle with the occasional flash of lightning and crash of thunder. Unohana forgot sometimes how peaceful it was to watch a storm from the back porch of the fourth division that looked over one of the larger courtyards in the division.
Unohana had just settled herself when she heard hurried footsteps heading in her direction.
"Isane, I told you to-" Unohana started to say, but stopped when she realized it was not her lieutenant approaching, but it was instead the substitute shinigami, Ichigo Kurosaki.
The wise captain didn't have to turn around to detect the always out of control reiatsu that overflowed from the strawberry.
"Ichigo, what brings you-" Unohana started again, but was quickly interrupted by Ichigo's frantic panting.
"C-Captain…. Unohana…" Ichigo spluttered, clearly out of breath from sprinting through the woods, his body had been running on pure adrenaline ever since leaving the forest and it was starting to wear off now that he had found the captain of the fourth squad. "Please! You have to save him!" Ichigo pleaded.
Unohana's eyes widened when she turned around to see why Ichigo sounded so desperate. Her gaze drifted down to the small figure that was cradled in Ichigo's arms. Unohana could barely recognize the small tenth division captain; she hadn't sensed him at first because she couldn't feel his usual icy reiatsu… at all. He had a habit of repressing it a lot but now it was practically non-existent, even when she concentrated. Unohana had frozen for just a fraction of a second, but that was too long for Ichigo.
"Captain Unohana! He's not breathing! Please… Do something!" Ichigo shouted desperately, tears starting to well up in his eyes.
Unohana quickly regained her composure and took the small captain's frail and battered body from Ichigo who reluctantly let go. He knew that Toshiro would be in safe hands with Unohana, but still… he didn't want to leave his boyfriend's side.
Unohana quickly called for her lieutenant and gathered all the best healers still in the barracks as she hastily disappeared into the nearest operating room with Toshiro. Ichigo, still soaked from the storm and covered in blood, was left alone to pray that Unohana would be able to save his petite boyfriend's life.
Ichigo waited outside the room Unohana had disappeared into for what seemed like forever. All the adrenaline had stopped pumping through this body and the exhaustion of carrying Toshiro half way across Soul Society was quickly catching up to him. It wasn't long before Ichigo was passed out cold on the floor and ended up having to be carried to Unohana's office by one of the larger fourth division members.
Toshiro was lying in front of Ichigo; all his wounds were still painfully visible and seemed even uglier than they had been before. Ichigo went to touch his boyfriend's pale cheek when he saw the small body start to twitch. Toshiro's eyes opened and Ichigo smiled until he saw that instead of the cool and calm teal orbs that he adored, there were instead pitch-black orbs, void of any kind of emotion.
"Why?" the smaller figure resembling Toshiro asked. Ichigo looked towards his small companion in confusion.
"Why what, Toshiro?"
Toshiro stood up on legs that shouldn't have been able to support his weight in their condition. In fact, none of the injuries that should clearly be hurting him seemed to have any effect on the captain whatsoever.
"Why did you let this happen to me? It's all your fault!" Toshiro yelled, glaring at Ichigo with those ominous black orbs.
"T-Toshiro…" Ichigo was speechless; his worst fears were coming true. It was true… It was all his fault that Toshiro was fighting for his life in the fourth division right now.
"How could you just sit around in Seireitei when I was out in the middle of no-where letting Gin have his way with me? What kind of boyfriend are you? You couldn't even get me back to Seireitei alive… you're a pathetic excuse for a shinigami."
Ichigo was frozen in fear, sadness, and regret. He couldn't do anything as Toshiro continued to break him down piece by piece.
"Why don't I just end it? I'm good as dead already…" Toshiro said, an evil smile widening on his face rivaling even that of Gin Ichimaru's. Hyorinmaru instantly materialized within the boy's grasp and he raised the sword up and pointed it so that the tip was only a few inches away from his exposed chest.
"NO! DON'T!" Ichigo yelled frantically as he grasped for the hilt of Hyorinmaru and tried in vain to pull it away from the smaller's body.
"Guess you just don't care about me." Toshiro grinned wickedly, and then quickly thrust the sword in and there was a sickening sound of metal cutting flesh.
Ichigo awoke in a cold sweat, still breathing heavily. He quickly sat up, and after blinking a few times his surroundings came into focus. I must be in Unohana's Office. Then, that everything that had happened in the last few hours came flowing back and Ichigo jumped off the couch that he had been sleeping and ran towards the door of the office almost breaking the door down in an attempt to get it open. If only I had found him sooner… then we could have faced Ichimaru together and he wouldn't be here… He had to find Toshiro; he had to apologize to failing to protect him.
Ichigo found himself running down a hallway with no idea where he was going. He saw a smaller shinigami with mid length black hair walking out of a room two doors down from where he was and ran towards said shinigami to try and get his attention.
"Hey! Excuse m- Hanataro!"
Hanataro jumped about a foot in the air then turned to face the strawberry. He smiled and waved as Ichigo approached him. "Hi Ichigo!"
"Where's your captain! I really need to ask her something."
"She's still in the operating room Ichigo." Hanataro replied, refusing to look Ichigo straight in the eye. "I'll let her know you're looking for her when she finishes the surgery."
Ichigo waited and waited for the operation to be over; it had already been six hours since Ichigo had first brought Toshiro to the fourth division and apart from his encounter with Hanataro the substitute shinigami hadn't received any news. Rangiku had stopped by for a short time with Renji and Rukia in an attempt to comfort the strawberry. They kept saying stuff like, "Don't worry Ichigo, Toshiro is very strong." Or, "You did the best you could." And even, "Toshiro will pull through; he loves you too much to go down without a fight."
Finally, the group was able to coax a reluctant Ichigo to get out of the fourth division, if only for a short time. Rangiku made sure that Ichigo ate a decent meal and was able to enjoy the company of his friends before they let him return.
Ichigo was thankful that he had friends that cared for him so much. He was surprised how much better he felt, now that he had eaten and was able to relax for a short time. Unfortunately, he had to just accept that he had done all he could for Toshiro.
Ichigo was now walking back to the fourth division by himself. Rukia had a matter to attend to at the Kuchiki Manor, Rangiku had a lot of work to do back at the office now that her captain was out of commission, and Renji had to meet up with his own captain to be debriefed for a mission.
"Ichigo!" A voice yelled as the strawberry approached the fourth division compound.
Ichigo looked up to see the tall approaching figure of Isane Kotesu, the lieutenant of the fourth division. Isane's here? Does… Does that mean they finally finished the surgery?
Isane answered as if she had heard Ichigo's unvoiced question.
"It was tough, and we weren't sure if he was going to pull through, but we were finally able to stabilize him." Isane smiled weakly, truthfully she was exhausted and had wanted to pass out in her quarters the second they had finished, but Ichigo deserved to know that his boyfriend was finally out of surgery. "We did all we could, now it's all up to him. The next few hours are going to be the most critical."
"Can I see him?" Ichigo pleaded. Now that he knew that Toshiro was out of surgery he was desperate to see the white haired captain.
"Of course, why did you think I came out to get you?" Isane cracked another smile, "I'm not the kind of person to tell you your boyfriend is out of surgery then not allow you to see him."
Ichigo quickly followed Isane through the maze of hallways that was the fourth division until they arrived at a door at the back of the large building. Ichigo was about to open the door when Isane put her arm out to stop him.
"Sorry, but can you wait out here for a minute? It looks like Unohana is still in the middle of her checkup; let me go ask her if its okay if you can come in." Isane disappeared into the room and after talking with her captain for a few minutes she returned to the door and motioned for Ichigo to enter.
"Ichigo Kurosaki come here, but please try not to make too much noise, he's been through a lot recently and his body desperately needs to rest." Unohana said obviously referring to the still figure lying in the bed beside her.
Ichigo quickly walked up to the bed and let out a quick gasp when he saw Toshiro. He was covered in bandages on almost every part of his body. His left leg was plastered in a cast, and so was his right arm. There was an IV attached to his good arm in addition to other wires protruding from various parts of his body. His head was covered in a mix of gauze and bandages and there was a breathing mask over his mouth to help his body could get the oxygen that it needed. It comforted Ichigo to know that Toshiro was at least able to somewhat breathe on his own again; he shuddered when he thought back to when his boyfriend had stopped breathing just as they had been approaching the fourth division.
That didn't matter now though because he had been able to find Unohana in time and she had shown why she was honored as the best healer in all of Soul Society by saving the small captain's life. Even though it took her almost eight hours to do it, the time didn't matter, she had been able to stabilize him and that was all that mattered.
Isane pulled up a chair for Ichigo to sit in; he thanked her and sat down.
"Well, there's not much else I can do for him right now. I'll be back in about another hour to see if anything has changed." Unohana said while putting a firm yet reassuring hand on Ichigo's shoulder. "I'm sure he would like it if you talked to him, he has probably been waiting for you." The head healer smiled and motioned for Isane to follow her as they exited the room leaving Ichigo alone with a sleeping Toshiro.
Ichigo carefully reached out and held the small and delicate hand that was not currently covered in plaster, and started to lightly rub the palm with his finger.
"Toshiro, I don't know if you can hear me or not but I just wanted to say… I'm sorry. I should have never let you go out and fight all those hollows by yourself… well, I guess your squad was there, but I could have at least fought beside you when you encountered Gin…" Ichigo paused and then after a deep sigh he continued. "I'm sorry I couldn't protect you… but, I can at least promise to be here when you wake up." Ichigo carefully ran his hand through Toshiro's snowy white hair and then planted a few butterfly kisses on his lover's face before whispering, "Please… come back to me soon."
Ichigo remained in the room for hours waiting and hoping that his little dragon would pull through and come back to him. Unohana would visit occasionally to check his vitals and would give Ichigo words of encouragement that Toshiro was simply resting and that all his injuries were under control. Eventually, night came and Ichigo was forced to walk back to the tenth division so that he could get some decent sleep. Unohana assured him that if there was any change in Toshiro's condition he would be notified immediately.
It had been a week since the incident with Gin, and Toshiro had yet to wake up. Ichigo wouldn't give up though and now he practically lived in Toshiro's hospital room. He started borrowing some of Toshiro's books from his office and would take them to the fourth division to read while he sat at his boyfriend's bedside.
The hospital room was very spacious; captains were always given larger rooms than usual because of their rank. There was a large window on the far side of the room that looked over one of the beautiful garden courtyards of the fourth division and sometimes when Ichigo was bored and didn't feel like reading he found himself gazing out over the impressive garden watching all the shinigami enter and leave the division.
Ichigo had just settled back in his chair and had started reading his book when there was a loud knock on the door.
"Come in." Ichigo answered, as he put the book down and stood to greet the visitor. The door opened and Rangiku bounced into the room and hugging Ichigo tightly and only letting go when he was gasping for air.
"I can see why Toshiro doesn't like it when you hug him." Ichigo laughed.
"Hey! I'm enthusiastic, that's all!" Rangiku pouted while pretending to look hurt. Ichigo laughed again.
"So what's up Rangiku?" Ichigo asked even thought he knew why she was here.
"I just wanted to stop by to check on my captain. How's he doing?"
"He still hasn't woken up yet, but Unohana says that there's a good chance he might wake up soon."
"Well, that's great news!" Rangiku smiled. "I wish I could stay longer, but I have to go back to the office and get some paperwork done…" Rangiku let out a huge sigh. "It's so busy without my captain. I've done more paperwork this past week than I think I've done in the past year… It's exhausting!" Rangiku took a deep breath to emphasize her point and then continued, "You better tell him to wake up soon; I don't know how much longer I can keep this up!"
Ichigo couldn't help but laugh again. The strawberry blond lieutenant always seemed to find a way to cheer up Ichigo when he was feeling down. The two had become really good friends after Ichigo started going out with Toshiro. They loved talking about the icy captain together and it turned out that Rangiku was a really good listener when she wanted to be.
"Well thanks for stopping by Rangiku; I'm sure Toshiro appreciates it." Ichigo looked over towards the bed where Toshiro was lying; still as ever.
Rangiku walked up to the bed and bent down to kiss the snowy captain on the forehead. "Don't keep Ichigo waiting too long, kay? He's really worried about you, so is everyone else." Rangiku stood up and gave Ichigo another hug before reluctantly heading back to her division and the paperwork that was inevitably waiting for her there.
Toshiro could feel a cool breeze on his face and could hear something rumbling in the distance. Where am I? Am I still in the forest? Where's Ichigo? Toshiro knew that the only way to answer these questions would be to open his eyes, but he was nervous of what might meet them if he did. After arguing with himself for sometime he managed to open his eyes and saw a vast icy plain. My inner world…? How did I get here?
Hyorinmaru, sensing the presence of his master flew down and encircled Toshiro. Toshiro managed to push himself up so that he was lying up against the dragon's cool and comforting body.
"Hyorinmaru… What's going on? Aren't I dead?" Toshiro whispered to the spirit.
"It was certainly close… If you had gotten to the fourth division even a few minutes later I don't know if they could have saved you."
"Saved me? So… I'm not dead?" Toshiro asked again, still slightly dazed by what was happening.
"Yes little one, you are alive. Thanks to Ichigo Kurosaki." Hyorinmaru finished.
Toshiro's head snapped up. "Ichigo! Is he okay?"
"Calm yourself Master, Ichigo is fine. He used all his energy to get you back to Seireitei as fast as he did and ended up passing out after he gave you to the fourth squad captain, Retsu Unohana. He is fine now, though very worried for you." The spirit assured noticing the concerned face of his master grow. "He practically lives out of your hospital room, not daring to leave your side any longer than absolutely necessary in case you wake up." Hyorinmaru could feel the little body tense as he finished.
Toshiro wasn't exactly sure what do or say or even how to feel about what Hyorinmaru had just told him.
The silence was broken by a soft chuckling coming from the giant ice dragon.
"What are you laughing about?" Toshiro grunted as he glared at his zanpakuto spirit. It only seemed to fuel the dragon's laughter even more.
"You're the one that almost died, and you're concerned with Ichigo's well-being? You never cease to amaze me Toshiro."
"Well little one, I think you've kept him waiting long enough."
"I agree." Toshiro smiled, anxious to be reunited with his boyfriend. He continued to smile even as he felt his consciousness fading and the darkness taking hold of his mind.
Ichigo awoke with a start as he heard a knock on the door across the room. Before Ichigo could even lift his head Captain Unohana entered followed by her lieutenant.
"Good evening, Captain Unohana." Ichigo said while rubbing his eyes, still half asleep.
"I'm just here to check on Captain Hitsugaya's condition." Unohana said as though she had already known that to be Ichigo's next question. "I'm going to have to ask you to please step out of the room for just a moment, Ichigo." Ichigo was about to protest but Unohana held up her hand and continued, "Isane?"
"Please make sure that Ichigo is given a proper meal as I am sure it has been awhile since he has eaten anything substantial. By that time I should be done with my checkup."
"Yes, Captain!" Isane then motioned for Ichigo and reluctantly they left the room.
Once the pair returned Unohana was just finishing her check up as she had predicted.
"How is he?" Ichigo asked, hoping more than anything for some good news.
"I am sorry to say that there hasn't been any change in his condition."
Ichigo hung his head before looking back at Unohana managing a weak smile, "At least he's not getting worse right?"
"Yes. That is indeed something to be thankful for." Unohana smiled and headed towards to door. "Goodnight Ichigo, I do ask that you try and get to sleep at some point tonight. I realize you probably don't want to be as far away as the tenth division so I will prepare a room for you down the hall."
"Thank you, Captain Unohana." Ichigo really appreciated how understanding Unohana had been about him practically living in the fourth division for the past week even though he wasn't technically even a patient.
Ichigo walked over to where his baby dragon was lying and then brushed his hand against the smaller's cold, pale cheek.
"Hey Baby, it's me, Ichigo. I'm going to have to leave for the night but Unohana has been kind enough to let me sleep in a spare room just down the hall. I wish I didn't have to leave you at all… but I'm lucky to be able to sleep at least in the same building as you. I promise I'll be back first thing tomorrow morning."
Ichigo finally gathered all his stuff together and had just slid the door open, about to walk out the door when he heard something that made him stop dead. It was barely audible, but Ichigo was sure he had heard a soft moan coming from the other side of the room.
Ichigo dropped everything he was holding, his things scattering everywhere as he rushed back to his boyfriend's bedside.
"Toshiro? Can you hear me?" Ichigo reached down and picked up Toshiro's small, delicate hand then bent down and kissed it, hopefully letting Toshiro know that he was there.
Ichigo watched as he saw Toshiro's face scrunch up from the effort of trying to open his eyes. After what felt like forever, but was actually more like ten seconds, Ichigo was able to gaze upon the teal eyes that he had missed so much.
"Ichi…go?" Toshiro whispered quietly.
"Yup, I'm right here Toshiro. How are you feeling? You aren't in any pain are you?" Ichigo asked quietly as he began to run his hand through Toshiro's snowy white locks.
"Honestly, I feel like crap…" Toshiro replied a little louder. Ichigo smiled when he heard that Toshiro's usual icy tone had already started to return.
"I'm gonna go get Captain Unohana; I'm sure she can get you something to help with the pain." Ichigo replied as he stood up getting ready to leave so he could find the squad four captain. But before Ichigo had even taken one step, he felt Toshiro's grasp tighten around his hand.
"Don't leave…" Toshiro looked away from Ichigo in an attempt to hide the fact that he was blushing. In all truth Toshiro had finally been reunited with Ichigo and didn't want him to leave again so soon. It was a stupid and childish thing to want, but Toshiro couldn't help it.
"Is someone afraid of being left alone?" Ichigo smirked as he looked back at Toshiro.
"Shut up." Toshiro growled, still blushing furiously.
Ichigo pulled the covers down off Toshiro's small body and earned a shot of surprise from the small captain.
"What was that for?" Toshiro exclaimed.
Ichigo didn't answer as he slid one arm under Toshiro's knees and put one arm behind his back lifting him just enough to slide the small body over towards the far side of the bed before gently setting him back down again. Ichigo lay down next to his boyfriend and pulled the covers up making sure that Toshiro was completely covered up to the chest again.
"Better now?" Ichigo asked smiling as he put his arms around Toshiro's lithe body.
Toshiro didn't say anything and Ichigo didn't need him too. Toshiro's snuggling up to Ichigo and burying his face into his chest was enough for the strawberry. Ichigo just held the white haired boy even closer, careful not to irritate any of his injuries before lightly kissing his pale cheek. Toshiro's breathing slowed and evened out and within minutes the prodigy was asleep again.
He must still be exhausted. Ichigo thought as he continued to watch the sleeping captain. Ichigo knew that they both needed sleep; Toshiro needed to regain his strength and Ichigo had had trouble sleeping for long periods of time since the first night Toshiro had come to the fourth division.
The strawberry knew that the smartest thing to do was probably to notify Unohana immediately that Toshiro had finally woken up, but he couldn't bring himself to get up and risk waking his little dragon. Not to mention that Toshiro had actually asked for him to stay and he had already fallen back asleep; so getting Unohana now would do no good. Unohana might be a little surprised that Ichigo didn't come alert her as soon as the tenth squad captain woke up, but she was never one to get mad or hold grudges, so the substitute shinigami hoped she would understand.
Ichigo eventually found himself drifting off to sleep being content that his yuki-hime was safe in his embrace at last and things would stay that way until he awoke in the morning. "I love you, Toshiro." Ichigo whispered before falling into a deep sleep.
Unohana was making her usual morning rounds and had just finished her last checkup before she would head to check on the petite captain of squad ten. His condition had been steadily improving and Unohana had hoped that he would have regained consciousness by now. If he didn't wake up within the next few days then it was very unlikely that he would pull through. The gentle captain dreaded the moment she would have to tell Ichigo that. He had been so devoted to staying by the Toshiro's side it would break her heart to tell him that it had all been for naught.
Unohana arrived at Toshiro's hospital room and very quietly slid open the door. The scene that met her gaze was one that she would never forget. A warm smile made its way onto her lips as she saw Toshiro curled up (as much as he could be with his leg in one cast and his arm in another) with Ichigo laying next to him, his arms wrapped protectively around the smaller boy. The veteran healer didn't want to bother the pair so she silently left the room. The young captain was in good hands right now and she could always return later to check on his condition.
The sun started to rise and soon a few rays of sunshine were attempting to penetrate the large room where the two shinigami were sleeping. The larger of the two started to stir and his attention was brought towards the door that had just opened. Isane, the lieutenant of the fourth division entered and when she noticed Ichigo she gasped.
"Ichigo? What are you doing here so early in the morning? You don't usually get here for at least another hour."
Ichigo chuckled nervously, Busted. "Well, you see… I was just about to leave last night when Toshiro actually woke up and well…"
"He woke up? Why didn't you tell us right away? Oh my gosh… I need to find my captain!" Isane ran out the door before Ichigo even had a chance to explain the situation.
Before he knew it Captain Unohana was at the door, her lieutenant right behind.
"Ichigo," Unohana called from the far side of the room, "Could you please come here for a second? I have a few questions I would like to ask you about what happened last night."
Ichigo nodded, and attempted to rise from the bed with as little movement as possible trying to not disturb the sleeping boy beside him. However as soon as Toshiro felt Ichigo's warmth leave he was instantly alert.
"Shh… just go back to sleep Shiro. I'm just going to talk to Unohana for a few minutes and then I'll be right back." Ichigo whispered as he started to gently rub his boyfriend's back to help coax him to go back to sleep.
"Mkay…" Toshiro yawned as he buried his head back into the pillow and was just about to drift off into the blissfulness of sleep when he abruptly sat up before letting out a surprised gasp from the sudden moment and fell back against the pillows.
"Toshiro! Just lie down and take it easy, okay?" Ichigo shouted, surprised by Toshiro's sudden movement.
The white haired boy just stared at Ichigo, his eyes wide with realization. "Gin…" he breathed after a few seconds. "What… What happened to Gin?" Toshiro asked, his memories of that night now flooding through his brain, causing his breathing to quicken and come out in small, short gasps.
This wasn't the way Ichigo had wanted to tell his boyfriend about what had happened. He had hoped to wait at least a little longer till after Toshiro woke up to break the news. "Well… he… uh, I'm sorry Toshiro…" Ichigo said refusing to make eye contact, "He got away… I wanted to go after him, but I knew I had to get you to the fourth division as fast as possible."
Toshiro said nothing but his small body had started to tremble, tears starting to well up in his eyes and eventually flowing freely down his pretty little face. The events of the night he 'battled' Gin about a week ago were still flashing vividly through his mind. Toshiro knew that that was the past and that logically it didn't make any sense to be afraid of something that had already happened but he couldn't stop his body from shaking.
"Toshiro…" Ichigo whispered comfortingly as he sat back down on the bed placing the small boy on his lap. He held the boy close to him, but even when Toshiro had stopped crying and was no longer shaking, Ichigo didn't feel any better. He still felt like it was his fault. He had allowed this to happen. If he had been there for Toshiro… this never would have happened.
Unohana strode over to where the two boys were sitting, "Captain Hitsugaya, you should know that these feelings you are experiencing are normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Especially after the trauma that you went through; if there is anything you need please, let me know." With a quick motion towards her lieutenant the two exited the room knowing that the young ice wielder was in good hands.
Unohana had requested Toshiro stay under her watchful eye for an additional week in the fourth division barracks, much to the dismay of the tenth squad captain. He hated being cooped up in a room every day, but he didn't dare argue with the wise healer and was reserved to constantly gazing out of the large window in his room.
Ichigo would come and visit his boyfriend everyday and Toshiro was quite sure that the carrot top was one of the biggest reason's he didn't go crazy while recovering in the room during the long week. Ichigo would always bring him something to help keep his mind off the fact that he wasn't allowed to even leave the room; not that he would be able to on his own anyway.
Finally, after what seemed like the longest week in the young captain's afterlife, Unohana had cleared him to be released from the fourth division. Most of his minor injuries had healed but he still had to deal with both his left leg and right arm still in casts.
The fourth division captain was a little wary about releasing the small captain because she knew that if he were able to return to his division without restrictions he would undoubtedly push himself too far, his remaining injuries would not heal properly and he would end up back in the fourth division.
Unohana made sure that Ichigo would stay with Toshiro to make sure that he didn't try to do anything too strenuous, which basically restricted him to sitting around the tenth division. Toshiro did not take well to this, but when Ichigo asked him if he would rather stay in the fourth division he quickly agreed.
"Ichigo, tell me again why I have to use this thing…" Toshiro growled, referring to the wheelchair that he was currently occupying while being pushed along by Ichigo.
"Well, you have a broken leg, so you can't walk and you can't use crutches because of your broken arm. Unohana said that this was the only way she would feel comfortable with you moving around so much."
"But, this is so demeaning… I don't want my division to see me like this. How are they going to be able to look up someone who is being pushed around in a wheelchair?" Toshiro complained.
"Don't worry Toshiro, you men will not respect you any less just because you still need a little help getting around." Ichigo assured his petite boyfriend.
"Well, can we please just get back to the division as soon as possible? I don't want any more people than absolutely necessary to see us." Toshiro asked as he rested his head using his good arm for support, his usual scowl back on his pale, porcelain face.
"Just relax Toshiro; we'll be there in no time." Ichigo said while cracking a small smile at how adorable his boyfriend's pouting was.
On the rest of the way to the tenth division, Ichigo made no attempt to rush and much to Toshiro's dismay they encountered quite a few of the substitute shinigami's friends along the way.
Almost everyone that they met gushed over Toshiro, exclaiming something along the lines of "I'm so glad that you're recovering!" or "Get well soon!" or even "You're lucky to have such a caring boyfriend to help you while you're recuperating!" Both boys blushed at the last comment and even though Toshiro knew it was true he would never say so with so many people around. He liked his privacy, thank you very much.
Finally, when Toshiro was just about at his limit, he spotted the familiar building of the tenth division with the large symbol ten proudly displayed on front of the barracks, letting out a huge sigh that didn't go unnoticed by Ichigo.
"Relieved to be back?" he asked.
"You have no idea… at least now I can have some privacy."
"You need to learn to be more social, Toshiro."
"So I can have people smother me all the time like they did just now? No thank you."
"Well can you blame them? You've been in the fourth division for like two weeks, everyone has been really worried about you." Ichigo replied while lifting the wheelchair just enough so that he could wheel Toshiro into the tenth division and proceeded to push him down the long hallway that lead to the young captain's office.
"I'm not a child; people don't need to baby me and make sure that doing okay. I can fend for myself just fine. I am a captain of the Gotei 13 after all." Toshiro replied softly, clearly tired from all the effort it took just to get to his office in the tenth division from his room in the fourth division.
"They aren't doing this because they think you're a child; like I said before, they are just worried about you like they would be for anyone else." Ichigo tried to reason with his boyfriend.
Toshiro said nothing as they arrived at his office and he thanked the gods that his bubbly lieutenant was no-where to be seen.
"Ichigo, push me over to my desk please. I'm sure there are miles and miles of paperwork to be done with all the time I've been gone." Toshiro asked, but Ichigo instead of pushing him to his desk made his way over to the pair of couches in the office. "This isn't my desk, Ichigo…"
"Unohana knew that the second you got back you would try and do paperwork. That's why I'm here, to make sure that you don't do any paperwork." Ichigo smiled and then added, "How exactly were you planning on doing paperwork with just one arm anyway…?"
Toshiro merely sent one of his usual icy death glares in his boyfriend's direction as he attempted to raise himself up out of the wheelchair and onto the couch by putting his good leg firmly on the ground and then pushing up using his good arm. It was a good plan… except for the fact that Ichigo had never locked the wheels so the second Toshiro pushed against it it slid back and with nothing supporting him, he feel helplessly towards the floor.
Toshiro opened his eyes and instead of finding himself on the hard, unforgiving floor of his office the young captain felt the warm embrace of the strawberry that had been able to catch him before any damage could be done.
"Toshiro, you need to be more careful." Ichigo lectured while lifting the small body that he was holding before tenderly sitting him on the couch.
"What, no jokes or jabs about me being clumsy? Or how someone with a brain like mine should have realized that the wheels weren't locked?" Toshiro asked seriously, refusing to break eye contact with his boyfriend.
Ichigo just stared back without uttering a word, but Toshiro knew something was wrong and wasn't going to drop it.
"What's up with you?" The snow haired captain tried again, "You've been acting off ever since I woke up in the fourth division." No response. "I mean I can understand at first, but seriously Ichigo, I'm fine as you can plain well see…"
Ichigo had hoped that Toshiro hadn't noticed but, with such a sharp mind he knew it would be inevitable. "I… I just keep seeing how beat up you got and well… I can't help but feel like it's my fault. If I had been there… if I had-" Ichigo was promptly cut off when Toshiro quickly raised his hand in front of his chest.
"Baka." Toshiro smiled. "That's seriously what's been bothering you…?" A nervous glance from Ichigo confirmed it. "It's not your fault. I did what I did and there was nothing that would have changed it. Gin Ichimaru is a manipulative creature and it wouldn't have mattered if you were there or not." Ichigo still looked like he wanted to cry so Toshiro continued, "Whether you realize it or not, you almost certainly saved both our lives by arriving exactly when you did. You were able to surprise him and he wasn't able to use the people you care about against you like he did with me."
Ichigo smiled and kissed his boyfriend while running his hands through the fluffy white hair he loved so much. "Thanks, Toshiro." The substitute shinigami felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulder, he had been feeling so guilty the past few weeks and it had only intensified, rather than diminished when his little dragon had finally woken up.
Now, Ichigo could concentrate all his effort in helping Toshiro recover and look forward to their future together as opposed to dwelling on what happened or could have happened. Toshiro was here, alive and well, and that was all that mattered.
A/N: The End! I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much I did writing it. Please Review! It makes me a very happy author! :)