Ichigo was not ashamed to admit that the voice made him jump. It was sudden and unexpected, and for a moment he thought Urahara was using some tech to annoy Ichigo as he did from time to time. More so now that Ichigo had moved out of his place and into a small apartment of his own. The shopkeeper seemed to take that as permission to come over and tease Ichigo at random times.
Not a huge change from when Ichigo lived at home, but now it wasn’t limited to his bedroom.
That wasn’t the case, however. Turning on instinct, he blinked as he realized that the man on the bench, dressed in simple jeans and a tee-shirt with a mask on was, in fact, Urahara. The lack of that stupid hat was the part that threw him most. The man’s hair was insanely fluffy, even when it hadn’t had hands in it, that was a shock.
And Ichigo didn’t even realize that Urahara owned actual shoes, not just geta.
He looked so normal that Ichigo had to glance around for cameras. This had to be a joke of some sort.
“Ah, my disguise is working,” Urahara said, tone still cheerful, but there was something else there. Years of dealing with a sick Karin had Ichigo homing in on that quickly. Unlike Yuzu, who would just take herself to bed with something to drink and go to sleep when she was sick, Karin had to be tracked down and convinced to go rest. Ichigo and Yuzu both got very good at hearing the strain to her voice that said ‘I don’t feel good.’
It seemed that Kisuke had a similar tell in his tone.
Well, that explained the mask.
“What are you doing in disguise?” Ichigo sat down on the bench near the blond. There was enough room they weren’t touching, but he could feel the heat radiating off Urahara’s skin. Ichigo frowned. “Urahara-san?”
He reached out, curling his fingers around the man’s wrist—definitely a fever. “Actually, never mind. Why are you outside at all?”
Because given the fever and the slightly worrying hazy look in Urahara’s eyes, he should be asleep somewhere, not sitting in a park.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ichigo wondered how the man even got sick. Did gigais pick up illnesses? Was Urahara sick from something he picked up from the living world, or was it something that one of the many shinigami that traveled around Karakura had brought with them?
Could Ichigo get sick with it? Could he get sick with it and then give it to someone living?
The more he looked at Urahara, the more Ichigo worried. He really did look like shit.
Urahara waved his hand, eyes crinkling at the corners as he smiled behind the mask. “Ah, no need to worry so much, Kurosaki-san. I’m not contagious. Just a side effect of an illness from a long time ago.”
Now Ichigo thought about Ukitake. The man had been ill for centuries, and he felt alarm spike up. Urahara must have seen it, and he pulled his wrist free of Ichigo’s hand to wave both of his own in a calming manner.
“It’s nothing as bad as you are imagining, I promise. Every few decades, I run a fever for a few days and I sleep a lot.”
That got a frown from Ichigo. “Why aren’t you doing that now?” he asked. “Because you look homeless most of the time, but I know you have a perfectly good bed.”
He fought down a blush after the words left his mouth and Urahara leered at him. He did know that Urahara had a good bed. A very nice one. Sturdy and not prone to creaks or rocking. Nice and solid.
And not the point he was trying to focus on. Yanking his brain back away from memories of Kisuke without nearly as much clothing on, Ichigo frowned a moment as he realized that the shirt the other was wearing was one of his.
Hmm, must have left it behind one day.
“I am glad to know you appreciate my bed,” the other said cheerfully, even as he subtly shifted closer so that his shoulder could press against Ichigo’s. That made Ichigo just want to find a fountain to push Urahara into. Both because of the man’s shameless nature and because he was radiating heat, even through the clothing.
“Why I am in disguise and why I am not asleep in my own bed are closely connected.” He wrinkled his nose. “Tessai-san has discovered some new medication and was quite insistent that I try it.”
He wrinkled his nose, and Ichigo didn’t blame him. When it came to anything outside of using kido to heal, Tessai was…. The politest way to put it was the man was a disaster. He either used expired medicine or things he bought off the television or saw in one of the local markets. Ichigo had seen the result of a few of those things on Urahara or Jinta. Ichigo and his friends had dodged a few attempts as well.
“I find the one he is focused on now is…unsettling to my stomach.” Urahara sighed, looking exhausted. Seeing the shadows under the man’s eyes, Ichigo wondered how much sleep Urahara actually got while he felt bad.
He was going to call Shinji and yell at him. Because if this happened every couple of decades, then the man had to have seen it at least once. Some warning would have been nice. He didn’t expect it from Urahara. The man’s sneaky assassin-trained brain forgot that safe people existed at times and that he could warn them ahead of time he was going to feel bad.
One of Ichigo’s goals, if he ever discovered how to time travel, after punching Aizen in the face and lecturing the man until he used his brain instead of angsting himself into a takeover, was to punch the people who trained Urahara that he had to be wary of everyone.
But Urahara was continuing, and Ichigo focused on what he was saying. “I have little tolerance for nausea. If it was any other symptom, I could handle it. But nausea is….”
He looked extremely uncomfortable, which said a lot to Ichigo. At least he got an idea where that came from. Enough hints had been dropped that he realized that Urahara had come from the Rukongai, just like Rukia and Renji did. And Rukia had made it clear she hated feeling queasy in the least.
Being queasy means you might throw up. And for people who spent most of their existence being at least partially starved…. Losing what food you had managed to eat in a way you couldn’t recover it would be horrifying.
Ichigo had never had to deal with anything like that. As crap as Isshin was at times in regard to being an actual parent, he had always made sure there was plenty of food in the house. While he rarely cooked, and everyone in the family regretted the times he tried, Isshin had made sure that they had enough to eat whenever they wanted it.
However, Ichigo had been blessed, or cursed, with a very vivid imagination. The idea of being that hungry was a mystery to his life, but he had seen the marks it left on his friends who had come from a similar thing. Even if all of them had eventually found a situation where they could have all the food they could eat.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ichigo was plotting easy meals he could cook and shove off on his friends. Stupid protective instincts.
First, though, he stood and offered his hand to Urahara. “Come on,” he said at the other’s wide, startled eyes. “You need to sleep someplace that isn’t a park bench.” Because he was pretty sure that was what Urahara was about to do. Oh, not stretch out and sleep. But Ichigo had seen the older man prop himself against a wall, shut his eyes, and drop off instantly.
Sitting in a sunbeam, it wouldn’t have looked too odd if he had his head tilted back with his eyes shut. Just a man soaking up sunlight. Especially since he’d wake up if someone got within a certain distance.
Still, it was a park bench. Not a bed where Urahara could curl up or stretch out as he needed to.
Still blinking slowly, as if trying to process the offer, Urahara took Ichigo’s hand. Ichigo pulled him to his feet, then had to move quickly to brace him. Maybe Urahara was sicker than he thought; that sway was really alarming. As long as Ichigo knew the man, every time Urahara was off balance was when he allowed it. For him to almost fall just standing up made every protective instinct Ichigo had developed taking care of his sisters go wild.
Slipping a hand under Urahara’s elbow, Ichigo waited until the other had his feet under him and his balance was secure. Without the hat to hide Urahara’s eyes, Ichigo could see the confusion clearly in them.
“I know you haven’t seen it yet, but I have a pretty comfortable bed as well,” Ichigo said, feeling his cheeks turn pink. It was embarrassing that he was blushing over it, but at least he wasn’t turning into a tomato anymore.
Yoruichi’s favorite pastime of popping up naked was enough to cure anyone of that.
Still, the comment was enough to cause a bit of sly humor to cut through the confusion, and Urahara gave a tiny smirk.
But he also kept his teasing to himself. Which Ichigo was both grateful for, and a little worried about. Urahara enjoyed his perverted shopkeeper persona. So when he didn’t indulge in taking the easy setups for jokes other gave him, it said a lot about his state of mind.
Given that nobody was actively trying to murder them, it was just a sign of how cruddy the man felt. Though… “What should I be looking for? Symptom wise. Not going to hallucinate or anything, right?”
That got a soft laugh. “No, nothing like that,” Urahara said, amused as he walked slowly next to Ichigo, letting the other guide him along. They both knew that Urahara knew exactly where Ichigo’s apartment was, but the older man was content to let Ichigo lead the way. “Fever, obviously. Some unsettling of the stomach. Currently more so than I like.” Urahara shrugged. “I’ll be thirsty from the fever, and a strong urge to sleep. Aches, mostly around my spine and joints.”
He considered it a moment longer. “If I fall asleep in your home, Kurosaki-san, I will likely sleep fairly hard. I would not want to put you out of your bed.”
That got a flutter of something in Ichigo’s chest. That was Urahara almost blatantly saying he trusted Ichigo.
Now he was definitely blushing.
“It’ll be fine,” he said, waving off the words, though he was smiling as the flutter they caused stayed active. While he and Urahara were definitely good in bed together, the idea that the man trusted him was…nice in a way that Ichigo had not expected.
Something to consider later. When he didn’t have a sick Urahara to deal with. As they walked, he could see how the other was drooping more. So it was a good thing Ichigo didn’t live too far from this particular park area.
The stairs to his place weren’t a barrier, but they did mean that the pair took them slowly. By the time they got to Ichigo’s door, Urahara looked exhausted, and his cheeks were flushed over the top of the mask he wore.
“I’m going to run to the corner store,” Ichigo said, unlocking his door and stepping in. “Anything you don’t drink?” When Urahara shook his head, Ichigo nodded and, once they both slipped their shoes off, he guided the other to the bed.
It was wider than the one he had at his dad’s place, which Yuzu had taken over once he moved out. So there was plenty of room as he pushed Urahara over into it.
Maybe he should have offered the man a change of clothes, they were nearly the same size now, but as soon as he was flat, Urahara went as limp as a cat in a sunbeam. He twisted his head to the side so he could blink up at Ichigo, obviously letting everything shut down mentally once he was comfortable.
Frowning, Ichigo took a moment to get a washcloth and wet it down with cool water. Then he dropped it to rest on the back of Urahara’s neck.
The noise of sleepy happiness, as well as the little smile Urahara gave him before shutting his eyes and passing out, did more funny things to Ichigo’s chest. He carded his fingers through Urahara’s hair, which was surprisingly fluffy and soft, even while being a bit sweaty. But the fact he could touch Urahara without the other even twitching was nice.
Something to think about later. Right now, he was going to run to the store and pick up some drinks and stuff to make food. Things that would be easy on the stomach and maybe help soothe any nausea Urahara might be feeling.
Ichigo had plenty of time later to consider what all of this meant. For both of them.