Yet another bit of senseless fluff for one of my favorite couples. I'm aware it's already been done in the novels by Kawahara himself, but this is out of SAO (therefore spoiler warnings for volumes 1-4), so perhaps you could still find some way to enjoy it anyway?
Disclaimer: I do not own Sword Art Online.
Here For You
Kazuto let out a long moan as he turned over onto his back.
Presently, he was lying in bed, and although it was a Thursday morning, he had absolutely zero intentions of going to school that day. He had started feeling ill the previous evening and had promptly informed his mother so that she would be aware of his absence in school today.
As he tried to fight off the fuzziness that assaulted his head, Kazuto heard a knock on his door and groggily grunted his consent.
"Kazuto?" His mother peered in to see that he was not feeling any better. "Well, I was going to stay home from work today to look after you, but it seems someone else has volunteered for the job."
"Mm... who?" He mumbled, blinking his eyes open as he sat up to face her.
"Why, who do you think?" She gave a small laugh. "You must have texted her last night and told her you wouldn't be coming to school today but you never said why. So she called last night and was positively frantic when she heard you were sick. I tried my best to sway her otherwise, but it seemed her mind was already made up before she put down the phone."
It took Kazuto a moment to comprehend the meaning of his mother's words, but once the clarity struck him, he felt a warm tingling in his chest that was not due to the sickness. His mother left him when a goofy sort of grin came across his face at the thought of being taken care of by his wonderful girlfriend.
He croaked a goodbye to Suguha as she left the house, but his mind was almost fully fixated on the day ahead.
If I could look forward to a surprise like this every time, maybe being sick wouldn't be so bad...
Asuna shuffled her feet uneasily as she stood in her bedroom, still dressed in her nightgown, trying to decide what clothes to wear for the day.
She had perfect attendance in school all year, and her mother had actually recently suggested that Asuna take a day off just to relax every once in a while, a rare statement Asuna probably never believed she would hear from her workaholic of a parent.
After about 15 seconds of going over outfits in her mind, she finally realized she was missing the big picture. Stupid! I'm just going to his house to look after him! It's not like we're going out on a date or anything...
After convincing herself that she need not put her effort to look nice on the maximum level, Asuna picked out a simple brown skirt and yellow sweater. She quickly showered and freshened up before slipping into them, padding her damp hair dry until it went from chocolate brown to chestnut-orange. She quickly prepared breakfast for herself; her parents were both away on business until early next week, and her brother was at University until his next vacation.
Once she was ready, she stepped out into the cool autumn air, a breeze instantly gusting past and pulling her hair behind her.
As she began walking toward the Kirigaya residence, she savored the feeling of the sun on her skin, the burden of responsibility temporarily lifted as her obligations to get to class on time vanished.
"Haaa, if every day is like this, I might start getting lazy and not go to school as much." She sighed airily.
She walked for about twenty minutes on the leaf-littered sidewalk until she finally reached her destination. The driveway was empty of cars so she assumed his mother had left for work already and Suguha was probably already at school.
Gathering herself, Asuna straightened her posture and knocked four times on the door. I hope his mother told him I'd be coming. The thought just ran through her head as she considered the possibility that she could seems suspicious. I probably should have texted him, dummy! But I left my phone at home...
She continued to fret for a minute until she heard the lock on the other side of the door clicking. Slowly, the door opened to reveal a sickly young man, dressed in gray sweatpants and a black sweatshirt, probably what he had slept in the night before. His eyes were groggy with illness and he hugged himself while shivering lightly. Immediately upon seeing him, Asuna's bright smile faded and the greeting died in her throat.
"K-Kazuto-kun?!" She gasped. "You were this sick? You should go to the hospital-!" She put her hand on his shoulder to steady him and began looking for the cell phone she had forgotten.
"Calm down." He mumbled, trying his best to sound reassuring. "My mom said the same thing, but it turns out it's not as bad as it looks. It's actually just a fever." He shrugged, leaning slightly onto Asuna.
"You need to go back to bed." She decided. "I should just go home and let you-"
"No!" Kazuto's abrupt denial of her departure caused him to cough several times.
"Neh, this doesn't sound like 'just a fever'." Asuna growled. "If you're sick, you need to tell me! I want to help you!"
"S-Sorry." He bowed his head a little. "I have a cough, too." He added begrudgingly. Asuna heaved a sigh.
"All right. I'll stay with you." She gave a tiny smile that suggested she never wanted to leave in the first place. "But you need to get some sleep, too."
"Don't worry." He grinned.
Asuna removed her shoes by the front door before offering him her arm; Kazuto gratefully accepted and held onto her as she slowly ascended the stairs with him.
Partially leaning on Asuna and partially on the rail, he managed to focus enough on the upward path in front of him. But Kazuto's vision suddenly blurred and he became woozy, causing him to misstep, and he began to fall forward.
Asuna gasped, but her lightning-fast reflexes allowed her to catch him just in time, however she took the fall for him. Her head struck against a step but she gritted her teeth and ignored the pain, focusing on pushing him so that he landed on top of her and not on the cold stairs. It took him several seconds to realize what had happened, but Kazuto quickly stood back up and leaned on the railing.
"A-Asuna!" He croaked, finally being woken from his groggy state. "Are you okay?"
"Ah-" She hissed in a breath as she pushed herself up and found her footing again, briefly rubbing the back of her head before she forced a smile. "Yeah. Are you? You didn't hurt yourself, did you?" She fretted. When Kazuto shook his head she gave a relieved sigh. "Thank goodness. Okay, now let's try that again, a little slower." She offered her arm again and together they finally reached the top.
"What an endeavor just to get up the stairs..." he grumbled, leading her toward his bedroom.
Asuna closed the door behind them as she helped him over to his bed, arranging his pillow so that he may sit up.
"Have you eaten yet?" She wondered.
"Okay. Then stay put and I'll go make something." She ordered, pointing her index finger at him as a warning not to follow her. He could only nod as he watched her leave, his mind buzzing with questions of what she was going to make. I really shouldn't be enjoying being sick so much... He decided.
He closed his eyes for a while, still sitting up, but he never got to relax for very long until he needed to grab a tissue from the box on the small table beside his bed and blow his nose. Just as he was miserably discarding his third into the trash bin, the door reopened as Asuna pushed her way in using her shoulder, her hands occupied by a tray.
"Sorry it took so long!" She apologized. "It took me a while to find all the ingredients." She placed the tray on his lap as Kazuto gazed down at its contents. A steaming bowl of soup mixed with vegetables and broth sat before him and it had a smell to it that could entice even the most stubborn vegetable-hater.
Asuna stood a little ways off as she watched him pick up the spoon, nervous as to whether her creation would prove good or not. The instant the warm liquid reached his lips, Kazuto was sure he could feel his cold melting away. The taste was delectable and flavorful, and it warmed his body until he was no longer shivering at all.
"Asuna." He mumbled between spoonfuls. "This is amazing. I can't even describe it."
"Good." She beamed. "Then just eat it and get well again!"
Kazuto said no more as he drained the soup before leaning back against his pillow, feeling a fine satiation overcome him.
"You need to open a restaurant." He informed her as she took the tray and headed for the door with a giggle. "No wait. The world isn't kind enough to deserve your cooking. That'd be too merciful."
"Oh, stop it." She chuckled as she left his room. She reappeared several moments later with a small bowl filled with cool water along with a washcloth and a glass of water. She placed all of these down on the table by his bedside as Kazuto gave a puzzled look.
"What's that for?" He asked.
"Your fever, of course!" She huffed. "Or have you forgotten?"
"Ah..." The blissful feeling of the warm soup had caused him to feel much better on the inside and he was not shaking anymore, however he just noticed that his forehead was covered in sweat.
"You should try to get some rest for now."
He had to admit he was feeling quite sleepy, and his head was starting to ache again.
Asuna's small hand supported his back as she readjusted his pillow and helped him lie down on his back. "Just close your eyes." She whispered, sitting on the edge of his bed. She dipped the cloth into the bowl and wrung it out before gently dabbing it across his hot forehead. Kazuto let slip a sigh as the cool feeling seeped into his skin.
He briefly recalled the time in SAO when something very similar had happened, however at that time he was not able to eat Asuna's delicious cooking. The soup had soothed his sore throat for the time being, and as he closed his eyes, he felt himself more comfortable than he had been for the past 2 nights.
Asuna pulled the blankets over him and warmly tucked them around his shoulders. She began humming a lullaby, and he could hear the smile on her lips as she continued to wipe away his sweat.
Kazuto was sure he was just about to fall into a deep sleep when his throat began to prickle uncomfortably. He tried to clear it and force the irritation away, but to no avail. He coughed once which soon led to a succession of coughs and he needed to sit up straight again. Asuna handed him a tissue to cough into and pushed away her startled feelings to replace them with calmer ones. She rubbed her hands up and down his back and over his chest.
"Shh. Take it easy." She whispered, soothingly.
After a minute, the coughs began to die down until they stopped altogether. Asuna discarded the tissue and offered him the glass of water, supporting his trembling hands as she continued to rub his back. "Are you okay now?" She asked as she placed the empty glass back onto the table. Kazuto panted a few times as his weary onyx eyes met with her hazel ones, deep concern sparking protectively there.
"Yeah..." he nodded with a long sigh. "I was just starting to fall asleep..." Regret laced his tone as he wiped his mouth on his sleeve.
"Oh, my poor Kazuto-kun." She whimpered, unhappy at his sickness and the lack of things she could do to help. "Come here." She leaned over and pulled him to her chest, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. Kazuto let himself go limp as he rested his forehead on her shoulder and took in her sweet scent that was slightly of autumn and the fallen leaves outside.
Her calming warmth chased away his shivering and he let out another sigh. She stroked his hair many times before gently lying him back down, pulling the blankets back over him. She traced her fingers gently over his cheek as he closed his eyes, pressing her cool fingertips to his hot skin. "It's okay. I'm here for you." She breathed.
Once her tranquil voice commenced its humming, Kazuto felt himself slip into sleep at long last.
When he next awoke, Kazuto was alone in his room.
The sunlight that had previously been filling his room was now dull and fading, and he blinked several times before he recalled what had happened. Where's Asuna? He wondered, looking sideways. A refilled glass of water sat on the table, but the bowl and cloths were missing.
Just then, his door opened and his mother stepped in.
"Oh, good you're awake! How are you feeling?" She asked with a smile.
"A lot better. Where's Asuna?"
"Oh, she's such a darling girl." His mother cooed. "She stayed here all day just keeping you cool. She was all flustered when she realized she stayed until I got home, saying how she'd lost track of time. I would have invited her to stay for dinner, but she looked exhausted so she went home."
"I see..." he muttered, feeling guilt wash over him at the thought of her being so worn out and then having to walk all the way home by herself. She probably hadn't even eating anything all day...
As his mind fizzled with such uneasy thoughts, he was able to get himself out of bed and down the stairs for dinner, where Suguha was waiting and inquiring about his day alone with Asuna in a suggestive, joking tone.
Kazuto stayed home from school the next day as well, and by noon he was sure he was fully recovered and was now looking forward to the weekend when he could see Asuna again, with her parents still out of town. But around one in the afternoon, he got an unsettling call from Suguha that somehow seemed inevitable.
"Onii-chan? You're free tomorrow, right?"
It was now Saturday morning as Kazuto slipped into a warm sweater and pants, Suguha's voice from yesterday still ringing in his ears.
Evidently Asuna had gone to school yesterday, but had caught his cold the night before. Her weakened condition had apparently made her prone to some other virus going around the school at the moment, and she had fallen asleep during class, which had never happened before. When her friends, including Lisbeth, tried to rouse her, she did not respond and was taken to the nurse's office where she remained, unconscious, for the rest of the day. Since her family was not in town, her friends had walked her home when she had awoken, but it appeared she was still very sick.
"I feel this whole ordeal is very familiar." He muttered as he finished his breakfast and headed out.
The cold breeze gave off a refreshing feeling rather than the frigid chill he was expecting. Even after he got on his bike and began pedaling, the wind hardly bothered him.
He arrived at Asuna's large house in under 10 minutes and knocked on the door. He wondered if she was sleeping and if he should return home for now because he received no reply for several minutes. He was about to take his leave and try again later when the door creaked open.
"Kazuto-kun...?" A strangled, delirious voice just barely managed to reach his ears and he turned back to the house.
Asuna, who had been the image of health merely two days ago now appeared as if she had tumbled down a mountain. Her light pink pajama pants and shirt seemed far too big for her petite figure and her slim appearance had turned to a sickly, skinny frame. Her eyes were dull and half-lidded, her cheeks flushed red, her hair completely down and frizzed as she leaned heavily against the door.
Kazuto imagined he must have looked the same to her 2 mornings ago, but it still made him wince upon seeing her.
From the confused expression on her face, he could tell that no one had told her to be expecting him, for her eyes slowly widened. "Ah, s-sorry! I'm a mess right now." She sniffed, gathering her hair behind her and trying to neaten it.
"Idiot, don't worry about that." He smiled a little, trying not to show his worry. "I came to look after you today."
"Eh? Ah... t-thank you..." She bowed her head slightly in gratitude as he stepped into the house and removed his shoes.
She's in really bad shape. He noted glumly; normally she would have immediately denied that she was sick and tried to send him off in a fluster, so for her to accept his assistance so easily was proof enough for him. And it's not like anyone's around who can take her to the hospital. He recalled.
"Sorry for making you get out of bed." His eyebrows furrowed as she coughed harshly into her elbow.
"No, this is fine." She assured. "I was getting pretty lazy. I haven't moved at all since yesterday evening..."
"...Come on." Kazuto replied, pushing the worried comment on the tip of his tongue away.
He placed his hand on her back and she held onto his arm as they slowly made their way up the stairs. Asuna's legs were shaking so badly she almost lost her balance, but not ready to repeat an incident similar to 2 days ago, Kazuto was swift to steady her. By the time they had reached the top, she was panting hard, and they had to stop walking altogether as she leaned on him to regain her breath; he thought it was a miracle that she had made it down the stairs on her own to answer the door.
When she had recovered, he led her back to her room and sat her down on the bed. Her bedside table also had a box of tissues on it, just as his had, and a waste bin below.
For a while, he just sat beside her and rubbed her back soothingly. Asuna leaned onto his chest and let her eyelids fall shut, her breathing already short and heavy again. With his free hand, Kazuto pressed against her forehead to find it warm and beading with sweat, but he hated the idea of leaving her, even if it was only for a moment to retrieve a cloth. He apologized as he slipped away from her, leaving her alone on the bed as he exited the room and quickly found a cloth and a glass of water to bring back.
"Kazu...ngh-" She cut off with another hard cough before trying again. "I don't want Kazuto-kun to get sick again... because of me." She wheezed uneasily.
"Don't worry about me. That won't happen." He promised. "Now when was the last time you ate?" He queried.
"...Well, I ate lunch at school yesterday..." Asuna mumbled, looking down as she shuffled her shoulders in embarrassment. "But it... didn't stay down long..." She admitted quietly. Kazuto frowned as he sat down beside her again and covered her cold hand with his warm one. "I tried a little for breakfast this morning, but my stomach's been upset all day..."
"Ah, this is really no good." Kazuto scratched the back of his head and made a helpless expression. "You should go to the hospital."
"The nurse said I should just sleep." She pointed out. "I think I'll be okay."
Easy for you to say. He thought. But just looking at you makes me feel dizzy.
"Well then, you should at least try to get some sleep." He decided. He moved over to give her space to lift her legs onto the bed, but Asuna did not budge, as if she were petrified. "Oy, come on." He urged.
"No... wait..." she wheezed. "I... I think I need to use the bathroom-" she only managed that much before she began coughing, hard enough to shake her entire body.
"Ah, damn it. Okay." He stood up and quickly lifted her beside him and Asuna nearly collapsed sideways as her bouts of coughing became more violent. Kazuto carefully helped her back across the room and into the hallway.
By the time they reached the bathroom, she could barely breathe due to the persistent coughing. He lead her over to the sink and held her shoulders with his left arm, gently tracing circles over her back as her fits continued. He reached his right hand across her chest and gently held back her hair as tears began to fall from her tightly-shut eyes. Her entire body was trembling now, and Asuna hunched over the sink as she held her stomach and continued to cough.
After a few more moments of watching and listening to the painful scene, her body convulsed and her breath hitched roughly. Kazuto forced himself to look away as she wretched into the sink, but still had to support her and keep her from falling over. He hated the fact that he could feel her already slim body becoming even thinner and thinner, and he gritted his teeth as her torment continued.
When it was finally over, Asuna was clutching onto his arm with both of her hands so tightly he was sure that all the strength in her body was focused in her fingers. Kazuto grabbed a cloth from the cupboard and proceeded to clean her face as she gasped to get her breath back, her chest still heaving. He wiped the sweat from her forehead and the tears from her eyes, which flickered open slightly to convey her appreciation for his actions and presence. But before she could voice her thanks, her body went limp and she collapsed in his arms.
Kazuto carefully lifted her, far too easily, into his arms and carried her back to bed; he covered her to her collarbones with blankets and waited a moment until her breathing had slowed and deepened. He then returned to tidy up the bathroom, nearly getting sick himself as he thought of the amount of nutrition she must have lost.
Upon returning to her side, he found her still sleeping and sat down on the edge of the bed. Following her procedure from the other day, he wiped her forehead with the damp cloth. He rolled down the blankets to find her hand, pulling up her sleeve as he pressed his fingers to her wrist to feel her pulse. It was a bit faster than it should have been, especially for someone sleeping, and the frown remained on his lips as he covered her with the blankets again.
Placing one hand on her chest, he gently rubbed his palm in circles to ease her slightly ragged breathing. He continued to do so for about 10 minutes before her hazel eyes fluttered open like tattered butterfly's wings.
"Kazuto...kun." Her voice was hoarse and cracked from coughing.
"Hey." He greeted softly. "Feeling any better?"
"Mm." She made an affirmative sound. "My stomach doesn't hurt as much. It's just my head now, I think..."
"That's probably because you hit your head on the stairs the other day, right?" He guessed.
"Ah... that might be it." She mumbled almost incoherently.
"Let me check your fever." He offered and she nodded once. Expecting him to press his hand to her forehead, she was surprised when he leaned his face down toward hers.
"W-What are you doing? Can't you just use your hand?" She recoiled back into her pillow as far as she could out of embarrassment.
"Well my hands wouldn't be able to feel your temperature correctly because I've been touching the wet cloths." He reasoned; part of her believed that was just a planned excuse for him to get close to her, but she could think of no objections to stop him now.
She closed her eyes as the distance closed between them and his forehead touched hers. Asuna did not realize she started holding her breath until he pulled away and she exhaled. "You're still a little warm," he announced. "But not as badly as before." There was a trace of a grin on his lips at the thought of her recovering. Hopefully this virus is just a 24-hour type and it's on it's way out.
"I can't believe I'm making you waste one of the last nice days before it gets too cold." She blinked up at him apologetically. Kazuto reached behind her ear and repositioned a lock of loose hair.
"I'm not wasting the day." He promised. "That's absolutely impossible if I'm with you."
Asuna's face turned a shade redder and not from the fever this time.
She was about to mutter a shy thanks to him when her head began to spin. Pain seared through her temples and she quickly clutched her head and hunched forward, gasping out a sharp breath. "O-Oy!" Kazuto immediately reached out to hold her, gently patting her head. Asuna tried to let his calming hands overpower the aching, but her head was pounding harder than her heartbeat and she would not be surprised if he could feel it.
A moment of silence passed over them as the pain in her head began to subside until she could straighten her posture again. "Here, have some water." Kazuto offered her the glass which she accepted with hands so shaky that she nearly spilled it. She only got two sips down before she coughed on the third and Kazuto resorted to rubbing her back again. "You should just rest." He declared, not knowing what else he could do for her.
He carefully assisted her to lie back down and resumed his gentle motions on her collarbones, and her hazel eyes dropped gradually until they were shut.
"Kazuto-kun..." she rasped. "Thank you... for being with me... today..." A yawn interrupted her midway and Kazuto found himself doing the same.
"You don't need to thank me." He whispered. "I was happy to be here for you."
She nodded her head and made a small, content sound before she was silent.
Kazuto waited several moments to confirm she was asleep before he debated what to do next. I could call Mom and ask her to drive Asuna to the hospital... but it's hardly even noon, maybe she'll be better by this evening. Should I go home now and call her later to check? Or...
Without really needed to ponder the last option, Kazuto had found he had already decided on it before he knew it.
He stood up and pulled the chair from the desk in her room across to her bed and sat down. He leaned over her and kissed her cheek briefly. "I hope you're better when you wake up." He prayed.
Curling his arms into a makeshift pillow on the mattress, he rested his head next to Asuna's side and closed his eyes. He listened to her breathing that seemed to have cleared up significantly now and her chest rose and fell with ease. He could hear the faint, rhythmic murmur of her heartbeat that was now steadily-paced, and before long, he too dozed off.
Several hours later, Kazuto was roused when he felt fingers running softly through his hair.
Blinking open his eyes, he gazed up into Asuna's bright, hazel gaze. Her complexion appeared much healthier, her previously flushed cheeks now painted a much less sickly color. Her hair was now smoother as if she had brushed it, and he assumed she had washed her face and brushed her teeth while he was still asleep, for a clear soapy aroma wafted from her.
"Hey..." he greeted, clearing his throat of sleep as he pushed himself up. "How are you feeling?"
"Much better, thanks to you." She beamed.
"That's a relief." He sighed happily.
He placed his hands on her shoulders and pulled her toward him when he realized he had not kissed her in over 3 days.
Pressing his lips to hers, he felt Asuna kiss back with just as much passion, and savored the familiar warmth of her love.
When they pulled apart, Asuna had a playfully scolding look in her eyes.
"Hey now, what if you get sick again?" She pouted.
Kazuto chuckled. "I think I'll live."
A/N: I know it jumped around everywhere but I needed to focus on the fluff. Hope you liked it~