Well, I actually wrote this weeks and weeks ago but honestly forgot about it for a while there! But the ending of the anime inspired me to write more, and then I remembered I'd never published this one! XD So that worked well! Such a sweet love story these two have~ Title speaks for itself, no? Hope you enjoy! X3
Disclaimer: I do not own Inu X Boku SS / Youko X Boku SS.
A pale, evening mist engulfed Ayakashi Kan as a light drizzle dripped lazily from the dark, overcast sky.
The air was heavy and thick with moisture, and had been so for the past several days; this had resulted in an unfavorable increase of unwanted residents within the mansion.
"Geeeez, these things are so annoying." Renshou, in his youkai transformation, complained as he sat at his table in the lounge, swatting at a swarm of pesky insects. They resembled bees but were forms of youkai; if they were to sting a human, it could prove problematic, however the people living at Ayakashi Kan were at an advantage due to their mixed blood.
"Tell me about it." Nobara agreed in a whine. "It's such a waste of effort to get rid of them, but it's unbearable to live like this!" She exclaimed, freezing a number of the bugs which proceeded to fall to the floor and shatter; she had lost count of how many times she had done this within the past hour.
At the table next to them, Karuta sat eating a parfait while Banri was squishing bugs left and right and Zange looked on amusedly.
"Gah! I hate these things!" Banri shouted, grabbing the nearest insect and crushing it with his bare hand so that it disappeared into a black poof of dust. "Why did this happen? How much longer is it gonna be like this?"
"If you're asking meee..." Zange sang out. "The weather will clear up by tomorrow and alllll these little pesky buggies should be gone." He announced.
"Good! I just hope I can stay sane until then!" The blonde boy growled, crushing another bee. "Oy! Stay away from Karuta, you stupid little bugs!"
Though, despite his concerns, Karuta seemed to be doing fine on her own; any time a bug came within range of her or got near her parfait, it dissolved into dust before any could see how it had happened.
Across from their table, Soushi was transformed into his youkai form. No insect was too small for him to detect as he mercilessly slaughtered as many as he could with his sword.
"O-Oy." Ririchiyo said as she watched him. "You've been doing this for half an hour now and they're still coming. Why don't you take a break? Natsume-san said they'd be gone tomorrow anyway."
"I cannot do that, Ririchiyo-sama." He replied politely. "I cannot bear the thought of any of these filthy creatures coming within ten meters of your presence. I'll not sleep at night until I can be certain they will not come near you."
"That's what I'm saying." Her voice suddenly became softer and Soushi turned his full attention to her. "You...you haven't slept the past 2 nights a-and... you know I'm... worried about you..." she trailed off in a mumble, but Soushi heard her loud and clear.
"Ririchiyo-sama!" Soushi dropped his blade and immediately fell to one knee, grasping his mistress's hands in his. "Forgive me if I've troubled you! To think that you've lost sleep thinking about a dog such as myself! In endangering your health in such a way, I am no better than these insects!" He gritted his teeth pitifully, in the way that made Ririchiyo flinch.
"Stop talking that way! You're not a dog or a bug; you're a human being just like everyone else!" She stated, a tad louder than she wanted to, with a tint of a pink blush covering her cheeks. Soushi was the definition of speechless as he gazed up at her with his sparkling, mismatched-colored eyes which presently began to waver with tears.
"R-Ririchiyo-sama..." he stammered, touched.
"Uh hey," Nobara's voice interrupted them from a few feet away. "I don't know what exactly you guys are talking about but you may want to pay attention." She warned. As she said so, she thrust an icicle at a large, leech-like creature that had been creeping its way up Ririchiyo's table; it froze and splintered into pieces. "Nasty little buggers, those things are." She commented in disgust. "My acquaintance got one on her once. Didn't come off for a good ten minutes and it nearly sucked her entire arm dry."
"Ah, you are in my deepest gratitude, Yukinokouji-san! Ririchiyo-sama, please forgive my ignorance! I was merely swept away in your wonderful words I am so undeserving of!"
"You're doing it again." She scolded before turing her attention to the Yuki-Onna. "Thanks."
"Don't mention it." Nobara twirled her hand. "I'm just so sick of these things. They'd better actually be gone by tomorrow!"
"I can assure you they will~" Zange answered. "Even now, their numbers have dwindled quite significantly due to all of your efforts. Yes, this bothersome swarm should be extinguished by midnight."
"I sure as hell hope so!" Banri grunted, smashing his hand onto the table to squish another bee. However, he aimed blindly and missed, and it flew up toward him. He dodged quickly but the stinger grazed the back of his hand before Zange interfered and killed it.
"Ow!" The blue-eyed boy hissed, rapidly shaking his hand from side to side.
"My, my! Are you alright, Watanuki-kun? Those wasp stings can be quite nasty." Zange frowned.
At this point, Karuta has sprung to her feet, knocking over her glass in her haste.
"Watanuki." She rushed over to her injured friend and took his hand in hers.
"I-I'm okay. It's not affecting me as much as it would a normal person." He tried to avoid her eyes, but found himself inevitable drawn to them. Her bubblegum-pink irises trembled with concern as she squeezed his hand harder.
"But you are a normal person to me." She said softly. Watanuki blushed but was unable to reply.
The others decided to pretend they heard nothing, smirked to themselves and continued with their tea and swatting of bugs.
Karuta rubbed her thumb over the small puncture on his skin, which was slightly red. "Are you sure it doesn't hurt?" She confirmed.
"Y-Yeah. I'll be fine in a minute." He reassured her with a tiny smile.
"Okay." She nodded, showing him her own smile that was sweeter than all candy she loved to eat put together. Then, she brought his hand to her lips and kissed it.
"Hah? K-Karuta, w-what are you doing?" He stammered, his face now fuming pink as his shoulders stiffened.
"Kissing an injury will make it heal faster." She murmured, smiling up at him.
"...I...I see. T...Thanks." He sniffed once and looked away. Karuta merely kissed his hand one last time before she sat down once more, but this time moved her chair so that she sat beside him.
"Hmm maybe these bugs aren't so bad after all if I get to see Karuta-chan smile like that!" Nobara swooned.
"Okay, chill out." Renshou put in.
"...Was that supposed to be funny?" She glared at him, unamused.
"Ah. Sorry. Yeah, that was a bad one." He apologized.
As the five of them commenced in their respective activities, Ririchiyo stood from her seat and excused herself for the night. "I'll see you all tomorrow when, hopefully, this issue will be over with." She bowed to them all as she swatted a fly which Soushi promptly executed.
"Night, night, Ririchiyo-chan! If you ever need someone to cuddle with, just let me know~" Nobara offered.
"Night. Don't let the bedbugs bite." Renshou added.
"... Really?" Noabra narrowed her eyes in disgust.
Soushi broke his transformation as he followed his mistress up the stairs. "Now I'll make you a deal." She began. "I'll only sleep tonight if you promise to sleep as well. And you have to sleep the entire night. Not just half an hour." She emphasized.
Soushi was visibly dismayed at such a bargain; he would surely be unable to sleep in knowing the youkai bugs may still be plaguing his mistress in her slumber, but he could not refuse a request from her.
"If it means easing your conscious while you sleep... I will do my very best, Ririchiyo-sama." He bowed as they reached her door.
"Sorry, but that's not going to be good enough this time. I need to make sure you really get some sleep, so you have to cross you heart." She gazed up at him with stern, violet eyes and he could do nothing but comply.
"Very well. But you must cross your heart as well and promise you will also get a good night's rest."
"Fine." She nodded, moving her fingers up to her chest. "Cross my heart, hope to d-"
"Wait!" He stopped her. "Please do not finish it! I cannot even bear the thought of hearing such words escape from your lips."
"Alright then." She sighed heavily. "I'll think the vow." She went through the appropriate motions until she finished thinking the chant; satisfied, Soushi then did the same. "Okay, now off you go." She waved her hand at him dismissively.
"May I confirm one thing?" He requested.
"I have one condition; if you need anything at all at any second during the night, please do not hesitate to call for me and make this vow void."
"Deal." She decided, knowing she would need not call him for anything. He looked satisfied now and she turned to her door. "Good night, Miketsukami-kun."
"Yes. Good night, Ririchiyo-sama. Sweet dreams."
And with that, the butler and his mistress went their separate ways for the night.
Ririchiyo lie on her back in bed in a white nightgown, her arms unprotected from the cold air by her blankets.
I wonder if he's actually getting any sleep. She thought, staring up at the dark ceiling. When was the last time he got some decent sleep without having to worry about me? She wondered before answering her own question. Probably not since he received that first letter from me.
Here, she sighed aloud at his hopeless devotion before rolling over onto her stomach, folding her bare arms protectively around her head. Her eyes remained open for a few moments as she thought about random things: simple delights of that day, potentials of tomorrow, irrational fears that perhaps were not truly so irrational after all...
Just as she was about to close her eyes, her bird squawked from across the room, and she gasped as a flicker of black near her face made her push herself up. A black spider darted across her pillow and she lashed out at it.
"Ugh! These stupid, annoying bugs!" She exclaimed, crushing it into disintegrated dust. "Great. Now my skin will be crawling all night." She mumbled as she flopped back down and pulled the blankets up over herself, twitching uncomfortably at every little thing.
When at last she had settled down, she found her thoughts drifting back to a certain someone. I don't care if I lose sleep because of it, but I really hope he can sleep well tonight. She prayed to no one nor anything in particular. Images of him proceeded to play out before the backs of her eyelids as they did every night, and at last she fell asleep.
Unconsciously, she tossed and turned, even more so than she usually did, until the early morning hours when the sun just began to rise.
A nightmare haunted her mind and she woke with a start, pushing herself up from her mattress with breakneck speed, but at an awkward angle so that she smashed her head against the marble headboard of the bed. "Oww!" She moaned, collapsing right back down and pressing her palms to her throbbing head. "What... What was that nightmare even about? Miketsukami-kun was..." she strained to remember for a moment until she realized she did not want to, and desperately shook the idea from her mind. "I don't want to know." She concluded, carefully sitting up again.
She swayed a bit as she got to her feet and made sure to conquer the dizziness before appearing before her butler; his good night's sleep would all be for nothing if he started worrying about her first thing in the morning today.
Ririchiyo freshened herself up and slipped into a small dress shirt and a miniskirt, pulling black thigh-highs over her legs before stepping into flats. She brushed her disheveled hair until it was smooth before heading to the door. Good thing it's not a school day. She thought as another wave of dizziness overcame her. I probably wouldn't make it up the stairs to homeroom.
Opening the door, she jumped a bit at finding Soushi already standing in the hallway.
"Good morning, Ririchiyo-sama. I have been eagerly awaiting your arrival. Did you sleep well last night?" He inquired with that smile of his, the one that suggested his contentedness merely upon seeing her face.
"Good morning, Miketsukami-kun. I slept fine last night, but that's not the issue here; did...did you sleep well?" She asked, looking up at him.
"Yes. I slept very soundly. And I presume the only reason that was so was because you wished for it, Ririchiyo-sama, therefore I must offer you my deepest gratitude, though I was so undeserving of such wishes." He bowed deeply to her and she let off a soft 'hmph!' as she crossed her arms.
But as she peered up at him, she noticed there was something much more lively and dazzling about him this morning, and she wondered if it had to do with the fact that she had ordered him to take care of himself the previous night. I'm such an idiot. I should be doing that every night! What kind of a master neglects her servants? She even hated thinking of him that way, but it was far better than thinking of him as he thought of himself- as a dog.
"Well, I'm glad you slept well. Thank you for keeping your promise." She gazed up at him with her shy, pink irises, causing his jaw to drop slightly.
"I would never think to break a promise to you, Ririchiyo-sama." He told her seriously. "Now then, will you be going to the lounge for breakfast?"
"I shall be."
However, she did not get farther than several steps before she was hit with a wave of lightheadedness again and she flinched visibly.
"Ririchiyo-sama, is something the matter?" He came to her immediately.
Damn it. Didn't I say I wasn't going to worry him today? She cursed herself. "I... I hit my head this morning. That's all." She huffed. Though I don't know why I'm still so dizzy when it doesn't even hurt anymore.
"Oh my." His eyes darkened with concern. "Are you in any pain?"
"N-No. Just a little dizzy. B-But I'll be fine! I just need to sit down and have some tea." She added on quickly, knowing that he was going to implore her to stay in bed.
"Then will you at least let me guide you to the lounge?" He requested.
"V...Very well." She agreed, loosely clutching onto his arm when he offered her his elbow. She tried her very best to fight off the dizziness that continued to plague her, trying to keep her balance and not stumble into him. This is ridiculous! She cried in her mind. It really shouldn't be this bad. Am I just unreasonably feeble today for some reason?
Her thoughts raced as she fought to walk straight, and she was painfully aware of how slowly she was moving. But Soushi patiently kept pace with her, though he had already decided to send her back to her room right after she ate.
It seemed eons to Ririchiyo before they reached the lounge where Nobara, Renshou, Karuta and Banri already sat. Karuta finished chewing her muffin before she addressed her friend.
"Good morning, Chiyo-chan."
"M-Morning." She replied, trying to straighten up to no avail.
"What's wrong with you?" Banri asked blatantly.
"Ah... I hit my head when I woke up." She told him, though she was fairly sure that was no longer the cause of her ailments. I really need to pay attention to my health. First, arrhythmia and now this nonsense!
Soushi led her over to her table, pulled her chair out for her, and gently helped her sit.
"I will be back shortly with you lavender tea, Ririchiyo-sama." He said before he left her; it was plain as day that he was worried and wanted nothing more than for her to go back to her room.
Heh. I don't even need to tell him anymore. He knows exactly what I need. She mused. She placed her elbows on the table and buried her forehead in her palms, leaning heavily upon the table. Okay. There's definitely something wrong with me. She closed her eyes and tried to relax, but for some reason, her shoulders remained stiff, as though the muscles were locked into place. Then a possibility occurred to her. Could one of those bugs have bitten me last night? That must be it. This is so troublesome... Squeezing her eyes shut even tighter, colors exploded before her vision and she allowed herself to be lost in them until she heard her butler's voice.
"Ririchiyo-sama!" His tone was alarmed, as though he had called her name several times and she had been unresponsive. She creaked her eyes open slowly as her vision adjusted to focus on his vexed face, and realized that it was somehow more difficult to breathe.
"S...S-Sorry." She plastered a smirk onto her face as she reached for her teacup. However, her hand was trembling so much, she could not hold it, and only Soushi's speedy reflexes saved her from burning herself.
"Ririchiyo-sama, what is wrong? Please do not try to hide it any longer; I cannot bear to watch this." He pleaded.
"I... I don't know what's wrong." She hissed as she felt a sharp pang shoot up through her left shoulder and prickle up her arm, numbing it.
Suddenly, Nobara stood from her seat, her aqua eyes wide with distress as she rushed over.
"Pardon me, Miketsukami-kun." She brushed past him and leaned over Ririchiyo. "Where does it hurt?" She asked.
"My...My shoulder." She rasped, nodding to her left.
Nobara reached forward and brushed the girl's long black hair aside, revealing the bare skin of her shoulder just above her shirt.
"Aha. Thought so." The Yuki-Onna declared triumphantly as she stepped back to reveal the problem.
A fist-sized black shadow stuck to Ririchiyo's shoulder and Soushi's expression turned into a mixture of concern and anger at the sight of the hideous thing, tainting his mistress's pure, pearl-white skin.
"That's one of those youkai from previously." He growled.
"Yes. It probably would have disappeared along with the rest by today, just as Natsume-san had predicted, but it probably latched onto her last night, and has been receiving a sufficient amount of blood since then; enough to stay alive this long." She curled her lip in disgust as she called on her powers, freezing the parasite while Soushi hastily removed it before letting it drop to the ground and shatter. Ririchiyo shivered as the ice melted on her bare skin, but at last her tense muscles were able to relax and she let out a long sigh.
"Thank you, Yukinokouji-san." She panted.
"Ririchiyo-sama are you alright?" Soushi asked her.
"More or less."
"Please wait one moment. There is still some blood from the wound. I'll be back within seconds." He vowed before nearly vanishing.
"That's a relief," Renshou spoke up from where he sat. "You didn't look so good."
"I'm glad you're better." Karuta smiled warmly.
"But what I don't get is," Banri stated. "if Zange saw this happening, why didn't he warn you? Or at least tell me to tell you about it?"
"I think Natsume-san would rather meddle indirectly with things." Nobara answered for him.
"Got that right." Her partner agreed.
Soushi returned then with a dampened cloth; when he gently pressed it onto her sore shoulder, Ririchiyo smelt the strong scent of disinfectant. She winced as it seeped into her open wound, but she felt as if a weight had been lifted off her back.
"How come I didn't notice?" She wondered, her mind still fuzzy.
"They're weightless." Nobara responded. "That's why they're so bothersome; they could stay latched onto you for months, steadily draining you as your blood replenishes and you'd never feel a thing until they were gone."
"You have my thanks, Yukinokouji-san." Soushi dipped his head to her.
"Don't mention it! Anything to make my little Ririchiyo-chan feel better." She grinned.
"T-Thanks." The girl grimaced slightly as Soushi pressed the cloth against her aching shoulder. He cleaned the blood thoroughly before tossing the cloth into one of the sinks.
"Now, Ririchiyo-sama, please return to your room and get some rest." He begged her.
"You don't have to worry anymore; I'm fine. But I will do that," she promised, just to melt that troubled look from off his face. "Just let me finish my tea first."
"Of course." He stood beside her readily, in case she was still unsteady. Her left arm was still numbed as the blood slowly attempted to flow back into place, but when she controlled her breathing, she was able to life the cup without problems.
The lavender was undoubtedly the most soothing flavor of tea available at Ayakashi Kan, and the warm liquid calmed her further.
When he was sure she would be okay, Soushi shifted to stand behind her chair and gently began massaging her shoulders. Mindful of the other people present, Ririchiyo did her very best not to let slip the little squeak of elation on the tip of her tongue and channeled her relaxation through slow breaths. She closed her eyes and just enjoyed the feeling of his strong, warm fingers blessing her sore shoulders and loosening the tension in them. Damn it. I'm letting him...take care of me like this again... She thought, upset with herself. I'm going to have repay him somehow... I need to think of something...
But just as she thought of an idea, her conscious faded away into the realm of slumber. Soushi felt her posture slump and kept her from falling as he quietly bid the others farewell. Then, he carefully and effortlessly lifted his mistress into his arms, and carried her back to her room.
He pushed the door closed behind him and made his way over to her neatly-made bed, lying her down slowly as not to wake her. Dutifully, he crossed the room and closed the curtains slightly so that no light shown onto her bed.
He then returned to her side and gingerly took up her hand, rolling up her sleeve and pressing his fingers against her wrist. Her pulse was slightly slower than usual and he assumed it was because of her body's efforts to replenish the lost blood. But her slow heart rate aside, her breathing was normal and she seemed peaceful enough in her sleep.
Therefore, he turned away, intending to leave her to acquire some sleep, but as he did so, he heard a the faintest of mumbles that surely would have gone unheeded by anyone else but he. Glancing back, he saw her eyelids flutter like tattered butterfly's wings, delicately, until they opened fully, revealing those piercing pink irises he often found himself so lost in within seconds, like the windows to some mysterious world of night blossoms.
"Mm...Miketsukami-kun..." she mumbled tiredly.
"Yes? Is there something you need, Ririchiyo-sama?" He wondered, with that chivalrous tone of his.
"Not particularly." She replied ambiguously, pushing herself up a bit.
"Are you in any pain? Do you feel dizzy? Are you sure you do not require anything?" He checked again.
"No, I just told you." She huffed. "I'm just a bit sleepy is all. But you look exhausted again too." She noted.
Anyone else would not be able to notice the symptoms he exhibited, but Ririchiyo could tell as easily as he could note changes in her condition; the corners of his lips were turned down slightly more than usual, his shoulders hung loosely forward, and his eyes seemed to find much interest in the floor.
"I assure you, you need not worry yourself over me. Please just try and relax until your health has fully returned."
"Let's not get into this kind of circular conversation again; it ultimately won't get us anywhere. So I'll get straight to the point..." Despite her words, she trailed off for a moment, trying to gather her bearings to speak.
"Yes?" He prompted, eager to serve her in any way possible.
"Just... I..." she fidgeted cutely, avoiding his blue-and-golden gaze. "I think I'll be able to sleep if...you...Or r-rather! I want you to get some sleep too, but..."
"I do not require sleep. Please just worry about yourself." He smiled.
"No!" She snapped, more frustrated with her own inability to speak than with anything else. "What I'm trying to say is..." she battled with emotional turmoil before she finally forced herself to say what she intended. "I...I want you to stay with me!" She finally blurted out.
It was not exactly what she had wanted to say, but she assumed he comprehended the meaning behind it.
He stared at her in surprise for a second before he bowed.
"I'm sorry I cannot comply. I cannot possibly think to stay in your room, let alone sleep here; I would not allow a dog to sleep equivalent to you, Ririchiyo-sama, for that would be like saying you are on the level of that dog."
"I don't care!" She barked. "Miketsukami-kun, are you disobeying a request from your master? Or should I make it an order?" I hate resorting to this method, she thought, a little ashamed, but it's the only way to get my point across.
Surely enough, Soushi's expression was vexed enough to make her smirk.
"Ah! I will not withdraw my words." She lifted her nose into the air a little smugly. Soushi seemed torn between disobeying her or complying and proving that his earlier statement was true and that she was on his low level. "Miketsumaki-kun." She said firmly. "P...Please."
The light pink blush that blessed her cheeks was completely unintentional, but was ultimately what won him over in the end.
"V...Very well." He caved. "But I cannot guarantee I will be able to sleep in knowing the dishonor I have committed."
"Stop talking." She huffed, moving over slightly to make room for his larger form on the bed. "You need a stern lesson." She informed him as he reluctantly sat down. "You need to stop referring to yourself that way; you're not lower than myself or anyone else, no matter what mindset you may be in. To me, you are not someone who is below me in any way; if anything, you are my equal. But above all else, you are merely Miketsukami-kun." She finished with a tiny smile.
Soushi was rendered utterly speechless and all he could manage to muster was, "R...Ririchiyo-sama...I do not deserve such-"
"Shh." She cut him off abruptly. "Let's just get some rest; the both of us." She suggested.
Hesitantly, he nodded before his mistress laid back down onto her bed. Soushi looked as though he were about to lie on lava, but her encouraging eyes eased his uncertainties and he too laid down beside her.
"How is your wound? Surely it is still sore?" He guessed
"A little, but that'll be gone when I wake up, I'm sure." Her eyelids fell closed with the heaviness of her hectic morning weighing them down. Soushi gingerly slipped his arms around her small shoulders and traced soothing circles on her back and shoulders with his palms. Ririchiyo's tenseness vanished like dew in the summer sun, and she nuzzled closer to him, almost unconsciously.
"You have to promise to get some sleep as well." She repeated similar words to what she had spoken the previous evening.
"I shall do just that as soon as I know you are resting." He murmured back, brushing a long strand of soft, onyx hair from her face and tucking it behind her ear.
"What if I said I wouldn't sleep until you were?" She challenged playfully.
"Then I am afraid I would have to refuse your reasoning; I have my rules as well." He replied.
"Hm, fair enough." She shrugged, pausing briefly before continuing. "C...C-C-Come closer." She blushed, flustered beyond belief at what she had brought herself to say.
"Eh? But Ririchiyo-sama, I am but a dog-"
"And isn't c-cuddling up to their masters to keep them warm one of the things dogs are best at?" She cried out, her face red as a cherry.
"R...Ririchiyo-sama..." he stammered before hardening his resolve. "Of course! This is one of the things I can do to serve you for the benefit of your health!"
With those words, he embraced her tighter; it was not tight enough to prevent her from breathing easy, but it was not loose enough to allow her to so much as shiver- it was simply the perfect embrace.
Ririchiyo curled her hands before her chest and closed her eyes, trying to convince herself that this was, in fact, reality. "S...Sleep well." She mumbled, burying her face into his shoulder to reiterate the realness of it all.
"Sweet dreams, Ririchiyo-sama; and thank you." He heard a small chuckle from her as he too closed his eyes, resting his chin atop her head.
Cuddling with his mistress was surely one of the last things he would ever have dreamt of doing, but presently there was no dream that was more real, more fulfilling, or warmer than this one.
A/N: I was at a loss for a title on this one initially, so I hope it worked out :3 They are just tooooo cuute!