Hi! This piece was written as a companion to momxtoshiro's 'The Prince and The Pharmacist.' This takes place prior to that story, covering the time during which Kiki was sick. This story has been fully approved by momoxtoshiro!

Mitsuhide and Kiki were out in the palace grounds, sparring as they usually did when work elsewhere was scarce. She raised her sword and deflected one of Mitsuhide's attempted blows before retaliating with an equally aggressive movement.

Before her blade could make contact with his, though, Kiki felt a sneeze shake through her body. Her grip loosened and the sword clattered into the dirt as she erupted into a coughing fit as well.

"Kiki? Are you alright?" Mitsuhide placed a hand on his partner's back and leaned down to match her bent figure. Her eyes were widened with apprehension, but this disappeared as she nodded her head yes.

"Care to go inside then? It's nearly nightfall,anyways." Mitsuhide gestured towards the castle as he placed his sword back into its sheath and retrieved Kiki's for her. He held it out at arms length, but when she reached for it and wrapped her fingers around it, Kiki's grip slackened almost immediately and the heavy metal land on her foot.

"Are you okay? Did it cut you?" Mitsuhide lunged for the sword and carried it himself, making sure it hadn't penetrated the skin. "Geez, let's go before you hurt yourself."

Kiki followed her partner back inside, not speaking as she did so. Those who knew her well also knew that she could actually be quite talkative if in the correct mood. It actually worried Mitsuhide when she went so long with out at least saying something.

Once within the confines of the palace's stone walls, the female of the two felt instantly better- perhaps the abnormal coolness of the summer night had gotten to her?

"Mitsuhide... may I have my weapon back?" She asked, noticing that her partner was still holding her sword for her.

Mitsuhide smiled and passed it back to Kiki, glad that she was feeling at least a little bit better. He had walked her to her quarters, and upon departing, smiled to himself.

"For a second I thought that she might have been getting the mid-season flu... But she hasn't gotten it in all the years I've known her, so she'll probably be fine." Mitsuhide grinned, feeling his face turn just a bit pink as he thought about just how long they had known each other. His feelings towards his partner were unrequited, and that status didn't seem to be moving forward at all.

Two days later, Sunday, Kiki had not emerged from her room. It was already mid-day, and Obi, being an early riser as well, usually counted on Kiki for a morning-time companion. Noticing that she hadn't yet come outside, he set off to her bedroom, coming in through the window via tree branch, in spite of the many requests that he not do so.

Seeing as how he had only ever been outside of Kiki's room and never before entered Kiki's quarters, Obi didn't see her at first. Upon further investigation, he found that her bed was located across the room, opposite the window.

But Kiki wasn't in her bed.

Instead, the petite, twenty year old woman was hunched over on the floor next to it, a blanket wrapped tightly around her small form. It seemed as though it should be warm enough for her, but she was still shivering.

"Miss Kiki!" Obi exclaimed rushing towards her. Her eyes were barely open, and what he could see of the whites of them were bloodshot, as though she hadn't slept all night.

"Obi.." She regarded him with courteous detachment, still trying to maintain her cool demeanor even in her current position. Kiki attempted to pull the blanket tighter to her body, but to no avail, as the fabric just stretched thinner.

Seeing that her bed had several more layers of blankets on it, Obi inquired, "Do you need help up?"

Kiki frowned- it was against her nature to ask for help, but she felt too weak to get up herself, so she simply nodded. Her eyes drifted shut again as Obi wrapped his arms around her and lifted her the few feet onto her mattress, laying her down and pulling the other blankets around her. The man was taken aback by how light Kiki was- how she managed to fight so well weighing so little was beyond him.

"Thank you..." She barely managed, hoarsely coughing the words.

"Do you need anything else?" Obi asked, always eager to serve anybody who needed his help.

Kiki nodded. "Don't... tell.."

"Master Mitsuhide? You have my word." And with that, Obi slipped wordlessly out of her door, choosing not to use the window this time.

Mitsuhide was concerned that he hadn't yet seen Kiki that day, so he rushed over to her dormitory after eating an early afternoon snack. Just as he had rounded the corner that would take him down the hallway that contained her room, Mitsuhide noticed her door being opened and slowly shut, in an attempt not to make any noise. To his utter surprise, it was Obi that was creeping out of the room.


Obi paled and turned. "Mitsuhide! Er... How's it going?"

"Fine. What were you doing?"

"Oh! That... uh... nothing? At all?" Obi may be rather clever and could very annoying at times, but he was no liar. It was difficult for him to even do omission of key facts, as he was doing at the moment.

"Right. Is Kiki in there?"

"You may not want to-"

Obi was cut short as he was nearly lifted off the ground by his collar. "Listen, that's my partner, and if you touched or hurt her in any way, shape, or form, I swear I will kill you with my own blade."

The black-haired man was presented with two options: He could sell out and tell Mitsuhide that the woman he so obviously was in love with was lying ill behind the door, or he could provoke the man and distract him enough to get him away for the time being.

Obi never was one to go back on a promise, nor was he the one to take the easy way out.

"Your partner? But I thought it was more?" Obi teased, testing the waters.

Mitsuhide frowned. "Of course it isn't more. It can't be, since we work together."

"Ah, but you admit that you want it to be? And you're just using work as a convenient excuse?" Obi laughed to cover his anxiety, but in actuality he was quite scared as Mitsuhide's glare sharpened. His heart began to race as he was lowered to the ground and the man who had just been holding him up twitched his hand towards his belt, where his sword hung.

"Oi! Calm down!"

Mitsuhide sighed. "I can't possibly be mad at you for pointing out the truth." He gazed wistfully at the door. "I know perfectly well that Zen would change the rules for us. So there really is no excuse."

Obi finally cracked inside. "Go see her. But don't say I said anything, or she'll kill me." He turned and ran the opposite direction, fleeing the scene before Mitsuhide could ask anything more of him.

Now the only thing he had to do was tell Zen- after all, Kiki hadn't made any restriction toward that.

With a curious mind, Mitsuhide gently rapped on the door twice, awaiting a response. When it didn't open, he called her name and knocked once more. After that time, he just went for it and pushed the door open, not prepared for what he was about to see.

Directly to his left, his usually calm, quiet, and collected partner lay on her side, gasping for breath, face pink with heat and forehead slick with perspiration.

"Kiki!" Mitsuhide rushed to her side and rested his hand against her forehead, feeling the abnormal heat of her skin penetrating the cold of her sweat. "You're burning up... Do you have the flu?"

Kiki didn't respond, but instead began to cough violently, rocking her bed back and forth, answering his question through action.

"I... don't understand..." She croaked, breaking Mitsuhide's heart as she spoke. He had never heard her so weak before. "I... shouldn't be having... severe symptoms... since it took three days to set in..."

"I'll get a doctor... did you need anything?"

"Water...Tea?" Kiki asked, almost as though she were questioning whether or not he would be willing to do so for her.

"Of course." Mitsuhide bent down and planted a kiss to the woman's cheek,and she was sure that if her fever wasn't already so high that she would have blushed.

Kiki's skin still tingled, even as she lost consciousness.

"Are you sure there's nothing else?" Mitsuhide asked, dutifully at his partner's side, his hand wrapped around hers.

Kiki shook her head miserably. The doctor had nothing to say to her but to get rest for the time being, as her abnormally high fever kept her stuck in bed. He had suggested that the reason for the severity of her symptoms was due to her having never contracted the disease before, leaving her body unprepared. Ever since the doctor had left, Mitsuhide hadn't left her side, fetching anything he thought could help for her.

He reached up and felt the cloth on her forehead- it had been covered in cool water five minutes prior, but it had already warmed up to the point of uselessness. Mitsuhide sighed and replaced it with a different one, setting the used rag to the side.

"You don't have to stay. I'll be okay by myself," Kiki assured him, although it was rather unconvincing as she winced at her stomach pains once more.

"I'm not going to let you be alone, Kiki." For the second time that day, Mitsuhide kissed her, only this time he did so on her forehead.

Kiki rolled the opposite way and curled into a fetal position, only partially out of pain. "I don't want you to get sick."

"I'm not going to get sick."

"You are if you keep doing that."

"Doing what?"

Kiki couldn't help but feel a bit embarrassed as she said, "Kissing me. You'll get sick."

Mitsuhide pressed his lips to her cheek for a third time, lingering just a bit longer that time.

Kiki paused for a moment after Mitsuhide pulled away. "I hope you know that if I were capable of moving, I'd be punching you in the face right now," she murmured hoarsely, barely able to keep her eyes open.

Mitsuhide blushed and felt the warmth spreading from his own cheeks down his neck. He leapt from his chair when he noticed that Kiki had rolled back to the side where she could face him, and bowed shortly after.

"I'm sorry if I've crossed a line!" He exclaimed. Mitsuhide was met with a blank stare and a sigh.

"Why." It was a statement, not a question.

"Because I didn't want you to feel uncomfortable..."

"I mean why would you do that in the first place, idiot."

Mitsuhide blushed and sat back down, resting his head into his hands.

"Kiki, I'm not exactly sure how to tell you this... Since we met four years ago, I guess I've always sort of felt something for you? I don't really know how to say it, but I'd like for you to say you feel the same?"

The man waited for a response for several seconds. When he didn't receive one, Mitsuhide glanced up and noticed that Kiki's eyes were shut. As regretful as he was that his confession had gone unnoticed, Mitsuhide couldn't help but smile as his partner's breathing slowed to a normal rate, her face surrounded by a halo of her hair.

It was later that night, around 10:30, after Mitsuhide too had fallen asleep, when Kiki was wrenched awake by yet another bout of coughing. Noticing that Mitsuhide was asleep, Kiki slipped out of bed and attempted to stand on her own. She began to tilt sideways, but she didn't reach out for the dresser fast enough to prevent herself from hitting the floor.

Frightened that the sound of her hitting the ground had awakened Mitsuhide, Kiki stole a glance upwards, only to see that he hadn't stirred at all. Head spinning with fever and delirium, she ventured forward, crawling on her hands and knees towards the attached bathroom in her quarters, stopping every few seconds to regain her bearings. Finally pushing through the door, Kiki pulled herself up, leaning heavily against the counter as she splashed cold water on her face.

Kiki once more slipped down. She gasped as her ribs banged against the counter as she fell. The room grew even warmer, heat suffocating her as her breaths became closer and closer together

A rush of cool air floated through the threshold of the bathroom as the door to her quarters itself was opened. Kiki was too tired and too discombobulated to even bother thinking of who would be coming into her bedroom, unannounced, at nearly eleven o'clock at night. Instead, she just grabbed a fresh rag for her forehead from a basket near the sink and rested her head on her knees, a hand covering her bruised ribs.

She could vaguely hear voices from her room.

"Where's Kiki?"

"Eh? She was just here! She looked like she couldn't even stand!"

"Perhaps she's in the bathroom?"

"Maybe we should che-"

Their voices were drowned out as the woman began to cough again, this time more violently than ever. Kiki could feel the force of the coughs scratching the back of her throat, and as she tasted and all-too-familiar tang in her mouth, she brought the rag to her lips and continued.

Her eyes were closed in not just throat pain, but stomach and head pain as well; the two body parts were throbbing in time with each other. Kiki was barely aware of it, but there were two hands resting on her back not long after she had begun her fit. After nearly a minute of wheezing, it finally stopped, but Kiki kept her mouth pressed to the rag, not wanting to worry either of the two people who had come to her aid.

Zen was first to speak. "I heard you were sick from Obi. Why on earth were you going to try and hide this?" Zen's voice wasn't unkind, rather, it was concerned. Although in his own mind, Zen didn't really know why he bothered asking- Kiki never wanted anybody to worry or look after her because she thought that it would just distract them from more important things.

Kiki lifted her head, revealing the blood that she had coughed up during her last fit for only a split second before she folded the towel in half, but it hadn't escaped either boy's notice. Quietly so as to be barely audible, she managed, "I didn't want you to worry. This is already affecting your work."

"Don't be ridiculous, Kiki. We're friends, aren't we?"

She nodded.

"And friends look after one another." Zen tsked and took the rag in her hands from her, discarding it into a rubbish basket. "You didn't think you could try and hide that as well, did you?"

Mitsuhide finally spoke up. "Kiki, you should probably be getting back to sleep. Here..." He lifted her, and had Kiki had more strength in her, Mitsuhide knew full well that she would have attempted to fight him on this decision. Instead, her eyes lulled shut again, her heavy eyelids gently carrying her into sleep.

Once Mitsuhide had put her down, Zen called him outside for a moment.

"Did the doctor say it was serious?" Zen asked, leaning casually against the wall.

Mitsuhide sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "Although her symptoms took three days to really take effect, he said that she will have serious symptoms for the amount of time the illness would normally affect if contracted gradually."

Zen blanched. "But that's nearly a week!"

"I know."

"Do you intend to take care of her for that long?"

Mitsuhide thought only for a second, before replying, "I want to spend as much time as I can looking after her, yes."

Zen was just about to respond with a friendly remark about how much me must like her when they heard a faint moaning from within Kiki's bedroom. Mitsuhide nodded to the second prince before slipping back in, rushing to her bedside, frowning at what he saw.

Kiki was lying on her left side, moaning and massaging her stomach, curling up into fetal position as she did so. Mitsuhide didn't think he could handle watching her much longer- he knew from prior events that Kiki had a very high tolerance for pain, so she must have been hurting very much.

"Why don't you try lying on your other side?" Mitsuhide suggested.

Kiki shook her head.

"Well, why not?"

"Slipped... counter...hit..."

The man shook his head. "You shouldn't have tried to walk without help. You should have woken me." He knew that Kiki felt like a burden when she asked for help from anybody, but it only made Mitsuhide feel worse that he couldn't assist her when she needed a hand.

Kiki gasped, feeling her pain slowly begin to subside. "Couldn't... wake you..."

Again, the woman drifted into dream land, the only solace of her current state being the gentle grasp of Mitushide's hand around hers.

Several days later, Kiki's symptoms had hardly faded, and Mitsuhide regretfully was needed for training a couple of new, young members of the guard. Shirayuki had taken over his spot as caretaker for the day, delivering some medicine as well.

"Please just take it, Kiki!" Shirayuki begged, pouring the liquid into a glass and extending it to her.

"It should be saved for more serious cases." Shirayuki shook her head, pressing ever more persistently for Kiki to take the medicine. Kiki's voice was raw from having coughed constantly, her mind whirling from fever, her body aching from the stomach aches and cramps that almost never went away.

"Kiki, there is no case more serious than yours! Please take it!"

There was no response, so Shirayuki marched out and down to the courtyard, where Mitsuhide was showing a sword technique to a cadet in his late teens.

"Mitsuhide!" She called, breaking into a run as she got closer. "I need your help!"

The man instantly turned away from what he was doing, and instead directed his attention to his apple-haired friend. "Is something wrong with Kiki? Did she get worse?"

"No, but she's refusing the medication. She thinks that it should be saved for more serious cases."

Mitsuhide sighed. "I figured as much. Do you think she can hold up until later? I'll visit her when I have my lunch break."

"She won't be getting any worse, so I suppose it should be fine until then. I better get back, I left Zen with her, and he has things to do!" Shirayuki muttered a quick goodbye before rushing back off to relieve Zen of his duties.

The young cadet cleared his throat, and Mitsuhide turned back to him, apologizing profusely for being distracted.

The cadet inquired, "Was that about Miss Kiki?" Kiki was well known by many of the trainees, and had she been well, she would have been assisting Mitsuhide in their training.

"Yeah, it was."

"Forgive me if I am out of line, but are the two of you romantically involved?"

Mitsuhide froze. "No."

The younger male smirked. "Ah, I recognize your tone of voice. So you like her? Love her, even?"

Mitsuhdie jokingly shoved the boy. "Geez, since when do you know so much? Come on, let's get back to practice."

When Mitsuhide was finally able to sneak off for lunch, his first stop before even getting food was to go convince Kiki to take the medicine. He crept into her room to find her lying quietly on her side, staring blankly at the wall opposite her bed.

"Kiki, you need to take this medicine."

"I don't. I'll be fine if I get better naturally."

"I hate seeing you so weak, Kiki. If this medicine will make you-"

Midsentence, Mitsuhide heard the door creak open. Shirayuki and Zen had entered, again checking on their companion.

"As I was saying, if this medicine will make you better, then I want you to take it. If not for your sake, then for mine, please?"

Kiki glared for a second before her eyes softened and she reached for the glass.

"Fine." Even so, when Mitsuhide lowered the cup into her hands, he could feel them trembling with the weigh of it. Instead, he took the cup back and brought it to her lips himself, surprising them both, as well as Shirayuki and Zen.

"Shirayuki, does this medicine have any side-effects that I should know about?"

"Well... it's a relatively new medicine, so not all of the side effects are known... the only consistency is that patients have been put into a very deep sleep..." Shirayuki stated, racking her brain for any other problems which may arise.

"How deep?" Mitsuhide inquired.

"Miss Kiki will probably end up asleep within the next few minutes, and it's highly unlikely that she'll wake again until tomorrow morning."

As soon as he woke the next morning, Mitsuhide set towards Kiki's room. Since she had fallen ill, he had stayed with her at night, but after taking the medicine she insisted that he sleep in his own quarters.

It was a pleasant surprise that he found her sitting upright on her own upon entry.

"Feeling better?"

"Significantly." Her voice sounded soft and tired, but nowhere near the exhausted whisper it had been for the past week.

"I've been meaning to bring something up to you, Mitsuhide," Kiki noted, tilting her head tiredly.

"Sure." Mitsuhide sat in his usual seat beside her bed and reached for her hand, something he had been doing subconsciously lately. He was worried that now that she was starting to feel better that Kiki might begin to reject the physical contact.

"It seems that you think that I didn't hear you the first day I was sick. I'd like to say that I reciprocate."

Mitsuhide sighed, expecting her to have said something about still feeling bad. He suddenly jolted up. "Wait, what?"

"I said that I feel the same. That was what you wanted, correct?" Upon saying this, Kiki sat up slightly straighter.

Mitsuhide simply gaped at her for a moment before reaching out and placing his hand gently at the nape of her neck, pulling her gently forward and leaning closer.

Kiki suddenly held a hand up, gently pressing her palm to his chest in protest. "I don't want you to get sick."

"I'll risk it," Mitsuhide whispered, letting his eyes drift shut as he pressed his lips to hers.

The kiss was rather short, seeing as how Kiki still lacked enough energy to reciprocate fully. When the two did pull apart, Kiki's face was tinged with pink, and Mitsuhide knew it wasn't because she was sick.

"You don't know how long I've wanted to do that," Mitsuhide breathed, grinning at his partner, whose eyes were downcast.

"I think I do."

"I've wanted to do that," Mitsuhide murmured against Kiki's neck as he peppered kisses up her pale skin, "Since I first met you."

"Oh really?" She gasped, eyes wide, shocked by her partner's honesty.

"Without a doubt."

"Mitsuhide, stop."

Mitsuhide halted immediately, lifting his lips and staring curiously.

"You really can't be getting sick." She chastised tiredly, another cough escaping her lips.

Mitsuhide sighed. "It's supposed to be me looking after you, you know."

"Well, you just aren't intelligent." Kiki smiled as much as her sore muscles would allow. She changed the subject flawlessly by saying, "My doctor recommended I try to get some fresh air and regain mobility."

Mitushide skeptically looked his partner up and down. Her eyes had dark circles under them from lack of sleep, she seemed to have lost quite a bit of weight from lack of appetite, and her skin was still a bit clammy. "Are you sure about that?"

The woman slowly swung her legs over the side of her bed and nodded. "I think I'll try to go out into the courtyard," She murmured, carefully placing her feet on the ground and wobbling to a standing position.

"Kiki, you can't honestly think I'm letting you go out by yourself!" Mitsuhide stood beside her and wrapped a strong arm around her waist. "Are you absolutely certain-"

"I'm as certain about this as you are about me," She told him, pecking his check quickly.

Well, Mitsuhide couldn't argue with that.

Again, this was written as a companion and prequel to The Prince and the Pharmacist by momoxtoshiro! Thank you for reading, and please drop a review if you can. I also strongly suggest that you check out momoxtoshiro's ANS stories- they are lovely and very well written! Also, my cousin is currently writing an ANS fic titled 'Exchanged.' If you could look at that and review as well, I'm sure it would brighten her day :)
Truly Yours,