Shiraishi Mako had always considered having a bathroom only a few steps from her own room in the Shiba household a blessing, considering the size of the house.
She frowned as she spotted Chiaki knocking - banging, really - on the bathroom door. This was the noise that had awakened her, and it went on for minutes without any signs of stopping. Realizing that she wouldn't be able to get back to sleep without investigating, she reluctantly got up, grabbed a robe, and headed out to find the reason for this mess - and possibly murder the person responsible for it.
And what did she see?
"Oy Ryunosuke!" Chiaki shouted, his fists already red from knocking. "We--"
"Mako-chan!" Kotoha greeted loudly, emerging from behind Chiaki and nudging him. She held a cup of steaming tea in her hands, but did not seem to be drinking it. "Good morning!"
Morning? She glanced at the clock. Oh, no. There went her plans of going back to sleep. "What's going on?" Mako asked, looking at the other girl, then at Chiaki. The two, like her, were still in their robes. She remembered the boy saying Ryunosuke's name and figured out the situation herself. "Is Ryunosuke hogging the bathroom again?" she demanded, folding her arms and opting for her schoolteacher's stern expression.
Chiaki and Kotoha exchanged looks, with the former scratching his head in earnest. "Well--"
Without waiting for them to elaborate, Mako marched to the bathroom door. "Ryunosuke!" she yelled, rapping on the door three times for good measure, "People are waiting to use this bathroom too, you know! I'm going to count to three and if you're not coming out I'm going to haul you out of there, you hear me? I mean it! One--"
"But, Mako-chan--" Kotoha began, but was silenced by her outraged look.
"Really, it's not what you think--" Chiaki said, but was also quieted by the murderous intent in Mako's eyes.
Sounds like the faucet being closed and suspicious shuffling and sniffing came from beyond the door. They heard Ryunosuke clear his throat. Then oh-so-slowly the bathroom door opened, and--
Mako felt her jaw drop to the floor.
The usually immaculately groomed Ikenami Ryunosuke - who rose before everyone else because he proclaimed that being a samurai entailed maintaining a healthy morning routine that consisted of an hour or two or more in the bathroom - looked positively ghastly. There were dark circles under his eyes and his complexion was pale as death. Beads of sweat glistened on his forehead, his hair was wild around his head and he was still wearing his bedroom clothes sans a robe. But he gave her a watery smile and said, "Good morning, Mako," in his annoying - but massively less perky - voice.
"What on earth happened to you?" she asked, rather concerned. Had that fall from the hill hurt him somewhat? He was pretty stupid to sit that close to the edge anyway. But--
"Ryu-san," Kotoha said, stepping beside Mako. "I prepared some tea for you. I'm--"
"T-tea?" Ryunosuke stammered, swallowing hard. He darted a look at Mako, then at the tea, and quickly covered his mouth with one hand while his color grayed even more. He retreated in the bathroom and closed the door with a loud bang that undoubtedly reverberated in the whole household. Soon, retching sounds came from inside and as one the three vassals stepped away from the door, recoiling as if they were struck.
Mako rounded on the two. "What on earth happened to him?" she asked again.
The two exchanged looks for the second time. Kotoha placed the cup on a table, and a kuroko immediately took it away. She hesitated. "Um, Mako-chan--"
"Oy, Takeru!" Chiaki beckoned from behind Mako.
Their emperor looked at them, raised a brow and approached, bringing with him his usual regal airs. "Is there any reason you three are not in your uniform and out there practicing?" he asked in his usual chilly tones. He looked around, noticing that for once no one was singing him his praises. "And where is Ryunosuke?"
Chiaki crossed his arms. "You know that thing we feared might happen yesterday? I think it's happening. Today."
Blanching a bit, Takeru glanced at Mako - who was by then frowning openly - before saying, "Don't tell me--"
The younger man jerked a thumb towards the direction of the bathroom door.
As if on cue, more retching sounds from Ryunosuke were heard.
The four stepped further away from the door.
Takeru winced and said something foul under his breath.
Kotoha chewed on her lip, looking more and more worried by the minute.
Chiaki coughed, but it sounded too much like a cackle anyway.
Mako was fit to explode. "Would someone just please tell me what's going on?"
Insolently, Chiaki approached Takeru and patted him on the shoulder. "I think that's your cue, Tono, though I'd be careful if I were you. You might be the emperor but I'm betting on nee-san to hit you, too." He then grabbed Kotoha and hauled her out of sight.
Takeru shook his head, and focused his attention on Mako.
She met his eyes, her chin up and proud. "What?" she said, defiantly.
He seemed at loss for words. Then, donning his lordly demeanor he spoke: "We have enough problems from the Gedōshū. Perhaps you should wait until after we have defeated them before making an attempt on Ryunosuke's life."
"You're not making any sense," Mako bit out, fists curled and ready to fly. "When have I-- what are you talking about?" She would hit him. Oh yes she would.
As if sensing her thoughts, Takeru raised a lordly brow at her. Changing tactics he said, "Wait for Ryunosuke to come out of there, and if you think he's still sick, call a doctor." He then walked a few steps away from her - therefore putting a safe distance between them - before turning and saying, "By the way: you're banned from cooking. Don't even think about it."
He glanced at the bathroom meaningfully. "For all our sakes."