Rule 3

Chapter 18

Disclaimer: I don't own, let's leave it at that.

Fluffyish moment ahead! Yayay

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Soft moans woke me. I startled, wondering who could possibly make that noise. Blinking hard I glanced around an unfamiliar room that shown bright in the noonday sunlight until I remembered that I was at the Uchiha mansion, watching over Itachi. I glanced over at my boss, he was on his back, his dark hair damp with sweat, sticking to his neck. Slowly, so not to wake him, I gently pushed Itachi over on his side, but he still didn't calm down. I sat down at the edge of his bed, gently stroking his hair and shushing him, trying desperately to sooth him. Itachi's frantic breaths slowed a little, but he still seemed restless. I felt his forehead, his skin still burning, it seemed to be getting worse. I could feel the heat rolling off him from an inch away. Itachi's covers were drenched with sweat, I had piled on all the blankets I could find in attempt to sweat the fever out, but so far it didn't seem to be helping.

My cellphone decided then to burst out in song. Itachi's dark glazed eyes flashed open and he shot upright, our foreheads cracking against each other. Groaning Itachi fell back, cradling his skull while I fell of the bed in surprise, "Geez, Itachi-san! Brain me why don't you?!" I snapped at him. His only response was a fit of hacking coughs. I sighed and dug my phone out of my briefcase, still rubbing my sore forehead, "Hello?" I answered dully. Itachi's coughing grew louder. With one hand I nudged my boss into a sitting position, absently rubbing his back, while Sasuke said on the other line, "It doesn't sound like he's getting better." I decided to spare Sasuke a snappy response, considering he had taken the time to call me concerning his brother. I patted Itachi's back in attempt to help him clear his lungs, "No... I think he's actually getting worse. I might have to call a doctor." "That bad?" Sasuke asked, surprise evident in his voice. Everyone who knew Itachi knew about his aversion of doctors and medicine. I glanced at Itachi still coughing, his shoulders shaking weakly as each one tore through his body. "Yeah, he's thrown up twice, the fever is climbing higher, and now he has a cough and seems to be a little delirious." Sasuke, bless him, actually said, "I'll call the doctor, it seems you have your hands full now. Can I talk to my mom?" I sighed, "She's not here, no one's here. They were all gone by the time I got Itachi home." There was a slight pause on Sasuke's end, then he said "Alright... I'll inform my mother of the problem. In the meantime see if you can't get Itachi to take something. Good luck, Ichigo." He hung up without another word.

Itachi groaned and fell back against me so that his head was pillowed on my chest. I eeped and blushed scarlet, but Itachi was too out of it to notice. When I tried to pull out from under him, Itachi's arm snaked around and gripped my waist, keeping me pinned. I glared at my boss, but his eyes were closed and he didn't seem aware of what he was doing. Sighing I leaned back against the bed's headboard, letting Itachi practically lay on top of me, saying to myself I was only allowing it because he was sick and didn't know what he was doing. Slowly I reached up and pulled his hair tie off, letting his long black hair curtain down his back, so I could keep myself entertained while he slept by running my fingers through his hair over and over and over.

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Mikoto came home around three, I could hear the car screeching to a halt and door slamming from the second floor. There was the sound of running footsteps getting closer, then Mikoto-san bursting into Itachi's room, her face white with fear, "How is he?" She asked frantically. Itachi was lying with his back facing me, shallowly breathing, sweat still pouring from his fevered body. I glanced up from the papers in my lap. Shortly after Sasuke had called a doctor had arrived to diagnose Itachi, and thus helping Itachi off of me. I had returned to the chair once I was free and didn't leave it since, except to try and get Itachi to drink. "The doctor said Itachi-san has pneumonia, we're supposed to let him have plenty of rest and fluids." I said calmly, my initial worry started to calm down now that it was something I could manage. The last thing I wanted to see was Itachi laid out in the hospital again, with me helplessly watching him suffer. Mikoto sighed in relief, probably as happy as I was that it wasn't anything life threatening.

She sat down at the edge of Itachi's bed, hanging her head and letting her dark blue hair fall around her pale face, "Good..." She whispered then buried her face in her hands with a sob. I flinched, my dark blue eyes wide; tears were the last thing I was expecting. Mikoto, sensing my surprise, tried to wipe the tears away, but they kept coming, "I'm s-s-sorry... It's just that... Fugaku just passed away and now... now... I thought I was losing Itachi. I can't deal with that too!" The Uchiha woman gasped out through her fingers. I sat there, staring at her. I could deal with almost anything, from conniving sisters to sick men, but tears from a grown woman was the one thing I had never faced. Slowly I reached out and patted Mikoto-san awkwardly on the shoulder, "The doctor said it isn't fatal... Itachi-san will be fine." I tried reassuring her. She nodded, but the tears didn't stop, no matter how many times she tried to brush them away.

After a while, Mikoto looked at me, her dark eyelashes clinging to each other wetly. She stared at me for a long time, her black eyes studying my face, like she was searching for something. "Seven years... You've been Itachi's assistant for seven years haven't you?" She asked, her voice still thick. Confused and even more surprised at the change of subject, I cautiously nodded. "You've been with him for that long, you never complained about anything. You stayed with Itachi through everything... why?" Mikoto continued. I blinked rapidly, trying to think of an answer that I didn't know. "Uh... I don't know. I just did." A more secretive answered appeared at the bottom of my heart, begging for me to pay attention to it, but I shoved it away. Now was not the time to think of such things. I looked down at my hands so Mikoto wouldn't see the glimmer of that reason, "I guess I do it because Itachi-san was the first person who ever accepted me. The one who treated me like I was someone."

Pity flashed deep in Mikoto's eyes and she stood, her gloomy mood forgotten already, "Are you hungry?" She asked politely. I shook my head, after dealing with Itachi the last thing I wanted was food. Mikoto gave me a small smile, then turned to her eldest son. Brushing back his sweat soaked bangs, Mikoto said, "Itachi is always working so hard. He worked even harder than Fugaku, sometimes I wonder what Itachi would be if he wasn't a lawyer, if Uchiha Corp didn't take so much of his time." I couldn't help the grin slip onto my lips, "He would have found some other job where he could spend all his time there." I said jokingly. Mikoto-san laughed, "You're right, Ichigo. Still I can't help but wonder if Itachi would ever focus on a woman the way he does work." She said as she walked out the bedroom, luckily she didn't see my blush.

"It's none of her business to worry about my relationships." Itachi growled moments later. I rolled my eyes, I wasn't really surprised he was awake to hear the conversation, that was just Itachi. "So his highness is awake, how nice." I snapped sarcastically, not looking up from the papers I had been working on before Mikoto came in. Itachi rolled over, a frown on his face, until he saw the clipboard in my lap. He shifted a little to get a better look, but I twisted the clipboard so that he couldn't see them. We both glared at each other. "The doctor said no work for you." I said sternly. Itachi narrowed his dark eyes, "I'm your boss." "Who is bedridden. According to the Uchiha Corporation Employee Handbook: when someone who is unable to take up their responsibilities, the second person qualified for the job is supposed to take up his or her duties until they can return to work. Which means, Itachi-san, Sasuke is my boss until you're better." I retorted. Itachi gave me a funny look, "You actually read that thing?" He asked incredulously. I turned back to my work and didn't say anything, giving the obvious answer that I had. Itachi snorted and fell back on his back, "You would." He mused. I glared at Itachi out of the corner of my eye, "What does that mean?" I growled.

Itachi didn't answer at first. I rolled my eyes and tried to concentrate on the work in my lap, but I could feel the weight of Itachi's stare on me. Finally I scowled at him, "What?" I snarled. Itachi scanned me up and down before saying, "I meant you're such a good employee, I have no doubt you would read the handbook, when no one else would." He said quietly. I blinked at my boss, then turned away quickly so he wouldn't see my blush. Itachi never paid me compliments. No matter what I did, the closest thing I ever got to one was when he told me good job on something, and even those were as rare as a blue moon. Itachi snorted behind me, "Great now I've embarrassed you." He grumbled. I frowned at him over my shoulder, "Who are you and what have you done with my boss?" I asked. Itachi gave me a smirk, "I blame it on the meds you were shoving down my throat earlier." "The doctor said to, baka." I growled back at him. I liked this Itachi, though I would never admit to it. I had seen Stoic Itachi, Angry Itachi, and Sad Itachi, but never Relaxed Itachi. Mentally I made a note to get him high on medicine in the future, just for fun.

My boss turned serious again, "You're my only friend, you know that?" He whispered, so low I almost didn't hear him. I gave Itachi a funny look, "You're delirious from the fever." I said mostly to myself, trying to think of a reason why Itachi was so open at the moment. It had to be the fever, or maybe the medicine. I would have to call the doctor in the morning to ask what was in the pills he prescribed for Itachi. Itachi gave a raspy chuckle, "No I'm not, Ichigo. I'm serious, you are my only friend. The only person who is there for me." "What about Kisame?" I asked, trying desperately to turn the conversation back onto a sane level. Itachi shook his dark head, "I only see him once a year. That's not a very steady friendship." He reasoned. I glared at him, why did Itachi have to be so sharp when he was sick? It wasn't fair. "There's Sasuke, or Shisui. They're your friends." I said. Itachi shook his head again, "Family. Not friends." I opened my mouth once more to deny what he was saying, but before a sound could leave my lips, Itachi grabbed my hand and all the words that were sitting on my tongue, ready to be said, scattered. Itachi stared at me with his dark eyes in a way most women longed for, "You're my friend, Ichigo. You're the only one who knows me truly, not even my family can attest to that. The one who was never afraid to tell me when I was being stupid." He looked so sincere I hated to tell him he was wrong.

Instead I gently withdrew my hand from his, "I'm... flattered... Itachi-san. But I'm not your friend. I am your loyal assistant, and that's all." I said softly. I couldn't be his friend, I didn't want his friendship. What I wanted I could never have, and I wasn't about to settle for second-best. No, I would be his assistant, completely loyal and never asking for anything more. Itachi laid back slowly, for a moment I thought I had hurt him, until he said, "You can't change the way I feel, Ichigo." I closed my eyes and turned my head away from him. Oh, how much I wish I could change the way I felt towards my boss. It would make everything simpler.

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Poor Ichigo... And it just keeps getting better and better! XP

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