Who: Ryuuken, Ulquiorra
Where: School, Ulquiorra's apartment
Summary: Tension builds between two very likely people.
Ulquiorra found himself at Ishida Ryuuken's office door after school the next day.
He hadn't really expected himself to actually go, but he was, despite himself, intrigued by the man. Very few people had ever expressed an interest in befriending him, and Ulquiorra did need a doctor badly. It would also, he admitted to himself reluctantly, be nice to walk home with someone instead of doing so alone, like usual.
His arm was throbbing. It had been hurting all day, and so when Ulquiorra knocked, he used his other hand.
He hoped Ishida-sensei hadn't forgotten.
Once again Ryuuken found himself disturbed from his paperwork, but he was thankfully just about finished. Instead of going to answer the door himself, he called a casual, "Come in!" He already knew who it was so he didn't want to be troubled from completing his latest bit of research. With a flourish, the final line was finished and Ryuuken actually smiled a bit, happy that he was done and could attend to other matters now.
Ulquiorra stepped in at the response.
"I apologize for disturbing you," he said in that very formal, polite way of his, "but if you recall yesterday, you told me to come to see you after school was out."
If he didn't remember, or if he hadn't meant it, Ulquiorra would feel like a complete and utter fool.
Ryuuken stood and stretch. "No, no, you're not disturbing me. And like you said, I did invite you to come her after your last class." He walked over and grabbed the keys hanging up on the wall beside the door. "Let me just lock up and we can head out." He gestured for Ulquiorra to exit the office first. "So, how was your day?" the man inquired off-handedly as he tossed the keys in one hand, exiting the office after the boy and quickly locking the door with a swift turn of the keys.
Ulquiorra let out a breath of relief that he hadn't known he'd been holding.
"Of course," he said, inclining his head in agreement, then he stared as the other male asked him how his day had been. To most people, such a question wouldn't be strange. But to Ulquiorra, very few people asked such things, and thus it was something he was generally unprepared to answer.
"Ah ... it was ... fine," he said, blinking. "Normal. I found it a bit difficult to write with my injured arm, though." He gestured to it, though did not ask Ryuuken a question of his own. "I apologize if my apartment is at all messy. I did not have much time to clean it last night."
Ryuuken waved the boy off. "Don't be silly, I don't mind. It's your apartment, your life. So, ready?" He pocketed his office keys and started down the hall with Ulquiorra at his side. "How far are we from your apartment, anyway? Don't too much of a walk, I hope." He chuckled slightly. "Though I suppose I could use a good walk."
It was a bit of a surprise to hear Ryuuken say something like that -- if only because Ulquiorra might have expected him to be pickier about messes and whatnot. "Just a few blocks," he replied. "It won't take too long to get there."
He walked alongside him quietly for a few minutes. Then, breaking the silence, he said, "I will be working with your son on a project for Kurotsuchi-sensei, you know."
Was he actually making small talk? That was almost shocking, even to Ulquiorra himself.
"Oh really?" Ryuuken amusedly replied. "I hadn't known that. Which Kurotsuchi are you talking about, by chance? I heard Nemu-kun was doing a new project, but then Mayuri-san is also doing one, I believe. Well, soon, anyway. Maybe I'm just getting ahead of myself. What would the project be about?"
So, the boy was making small talk with him. At least they were getting on friendly terms now. He needed to know more people like this Ulquiorra at Karakura High. Most of the students were too ... immature for his tastes. This one, however, seemed much more mature.
Of course, he had taken note of the mildly surprised expression the young man's face when he had brushed aside the messy apartment comment. The only reason he didn't have a problem with it was because the boy didn't have any parents, only had a certain amount of time to do things like cleaning, and plus ... school and things like that usually came first to students. He should know, he had his own son to worry about over such things. Well, that was when he did worry. Uryuu was actually pretty good, considering Ryuuken knew he was a bastard to the boy. And why were his thoughts amusing him so? Maybe he was just in a good mood.
"Kurotsuchi Nemu," Ulquiorra elaborated. "I haven't yet heard of a biology project. I dearly hope it does not involve scalpels, however. I do not want a repeat performance of yesterday."
That was for sure. His arm still hurt more than he'd like, and because of it, he had spent the entire time in basketball practice gritting his teeth against the pain.
"For the chemistry project, we're meant to make a model of an atom of a specific element. We happen to be doing Chlorine." They were out of the school, now, and Ulquiorra blinked against the brightness of the sun, shifting slightly to get his too-heavy school bag situated more comfortably on his shoulder. He turned to Ryuuken again, frowning slightly. "Are you certain it's no trouble for you to come to my apartment? Your schedule must be busy. You needn't feel obliged to do this."
Although, if he was being honest with himself, he wouldn't mind the company. Life was a little lonely without real friends.
"Ah, sounds fun. Much better than waving deadly scalpels around," Ryuuken joked in his usually tone, but with an undercurrent of amusement nonetheless, completely disregarding the question about his busy schedule being interrupted. He glanced at Ulquiorra, seeing the boy struggle to situate his school bag and decided to offer some assistance. Like any good doctor. "Would you like me to care you're bag there? You are injured, after all, I don't want you to make it worse."
"I don't know about fun," he said with a slight shrug. "However, Kurotsuchi-sensei and I are on good terms, and thus I don't mind it as much."
His usual apathetic expression turned into one of obvious surprise. "Thank you, sensei, but you needn't carry my bag. I am capable of doing it myself." It was strange, having someone offer something like that. He wondered if the doctor knew just how bizarre it was for him.
Conversation lulled to a halt as they arrived at the apartment, Ulquiorra leading the way up to the apartment room and letting Ryuuken in.
The man immediately got down to business, requesting Ulquiorra to take a seat on the couch so he could look at the injured arm. He was quick with his work, unwrapping the bandages and making sure the wound had started effectively healing. It had certainly scabbed over nicely to prevent any more blood loss, but it still looked tender and bruised.
"If it reopens, feel free to call me so I can redo the bandages. There would be hell to pay if a kid living alone bled to death in his apartment. But if something happens at school that causes it to reopen ... well, you know where I am." He handed over a business card that read "Karakura Hospital, Director Ishida Ryuuken", and then brought out some antiseptic and cleaned around the large cut before rewrapping the bandages ... just in case. Good measure and all that.
He glanced at the time, noting that it wasn't that late yet (his dinner with Uryuu was impeccably timed). Sighing, he made a brief comment, "Ever had those days where you're just too hungry, but dinner doesn't seem to come fast enough?"
Ulquiorra's apartment was very blank, for a teenager his age. Everything looked fairly clean, despite Ulquiorra's warning that his home might have been a tad messy. But there was nothing personal lying around -- no photographs, no posters, nothing -- and the apartment itself exuded a feeling of terrible loneliness.
"Thank you very much," Ulquiorra told the man politely, taking the card in his good hand. "I appreciate your willingness to take time out of your schedule for me." He felt almost like he should pay him, and said so. "How much money do you usually charge?"
He blinked as Ryuuken asked about feeling hungry. Ulquiorra had a relatively small appetite, and thus wasn't able to relate so much. "I can't say I have," he confessed, "...but ... if you would like to stay perhaps a little longer, you can eat here?" It was a tentative invitation, one that Ulquiorra was not used to extending.
Ryuuken was a bit surprised by the extended offer himself, but accepted it readily with his usual half smile. "That would be wonderful. That is, if you don't mind cooking for two?" He straightened up from his kneeling position in front of Ulquiorra (he'd done so to inspect the wound easier) and took a seat beside the boy on the couch, not too close lest he make the boy uncomfortable.
"As for what I usually charge? Well, I'll give you a discount, how's that sound? But for this first time, I'll just waive the fee. No harm done." He continued to smile that alluring half smile, leaning back and relaxing just a bit. "It feels good to sit down on a cushioned seat for once after a long day at work. At the hospital I'm always standing, and at the school ... all they gave me for my temporary "office" is a wooden chair."
He observed the apartment briefly, and then just had to comment. "Earlier, didn't you mention something about your place being messy? I'm impressed, actually, this place is pretty well-kept, despite you living alone."
Maybe scooting a little closer wouldn't be so bad.
Ulquiorra gave a light, one-shoulder shrug. "I'm a terrible cook," he said in his usual monotone. "I usually eat packaged food. I was planning on having ramen tonight, but if you'd prefer something else, I'm sure I could come up with something."
He blinked at the waiving of the fee. But ... why? Was he only not making him pay just because he didn't have parents? But Ulquiorra wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth. If Ryuuken was going to give him this treatment for free, he would not protest, lest the elder male find him rude. "Yes ... the chairs at school leave something to be desired for comfort," he agreed, before frowning slightly at his remark.
"I spend very little time here," Ulquiorra said. "I also don't have much clutter. Because of that, my apartment looks clean, when in fact it would be much messier if I had more belongings to leave around."
He didn't seem too weirded out when Ryuuken moved a bit closer. In fact, he hardly noticed -- perhaps the man was uncomfortable? Ulquiorra knew very well that the couch was old, and probably had springs sticking out everywhere.
Ryuuken listened with all due respect to the boy's explanation about his apartment. He faked a yawn suddenly and stretched, letting his arm rest behind Ulquiorra on the back of the couch. The man wasn't so forward to throw his arm all the way around the student just yet, after all. "I'm fine with ramen. That sounds great. Would you like any help?"
Ulquiorra blinked as he felt the doctor's arm go around the back of the couch. Obviously, Ishida-sensei must be tired if he was yawning so much. Perhaps he needed to stretch? But no, why on earth would he put his arm there if he needed to do that? Wouldn't it be obviously much easier for him to put his arm straight up? That would work better, wouldn't it?
Ulquiorra shook his head slowly, coming back to the conversation quickly. "No, no, it's easy to make. I won't need any help. What flavor would you like? I believe I have chicken, oriental, and beef."
"I would love a helping of .. oriental," Ryuuken stated casually with a bit of a purr to his voice that probably flew right over the boy's head. Obviously Ulquiorra wasn't good with subtle hints. He let his hand trail down and rest on the student's shoulder, getting a bit bolder. Maybe he just needed to show the young boy just what he was getting at? He decided against that at the moment, and settled for removing his hand. "Well, while you make dinner, would you mind if I used your restroom?"
Ulquiorra nodded slowly, not quite catching the innuendo. He was about to move to start making the soup when all of the sudden, he felt a light touch on his shoulder. He stiffened, slightly, unprepared for the touch. But just as he was somewhat relaxing, the hand was taken away.
Had it been an accident? Or had he meant to put it there? Ulquiorra honestly wasn't sure anymore, and he felt a strange sort of nervousness in the pit of his stomach. Just what was he doing?
"Not at all," Ulquiorra said, standing finally. "I'll show you where it is, and then I'll start up the water." He headed off in the opposite direction of the kitchen, obviously expecting Ryuuken to follow him. "In here," he said, coming to the end of a very short hallway. There were two doors, directly across from one another. The one on the left was the bathroom -- on the right was Ulquiorra's bedroom, just as bare and sad-looking as the rest of the apartment. "I'll start up the water," he informed him.
Ryuuken had, indeed, followed the boy down the hallway and nodded to him before entering the bathroom and using it real quick. He washed up, splashed some water on his face and the back of his neck, and then exited the room with all due haste to make his way to the kitchen, careful not to make too much noise as he snuck up on the boy.
He walked up, right behind Ulquiorra, and leaned over the boy's shoulder to watch his progress with the ramen, letting his breath ghost against the shell of the student's ear. "Looks delicious."
Ulquiorra had immediately gone back to make the ramen, and he had just put the noodles into the boiling water when he felt Ryuuken's presence. Unused to having someone that close to him, he tensed.
Ulquiorra felt strange, when Ishida-sensei did things like this. He felt irrationally uncomfortable with being so close to him -- though he felt that way towards everyone -- and yet, he also almost wanted it, particularly after the man's breath tickled his ear and made him catch his breath slightly.
"Delicious?" he asked, frowning slightly. "I suppose it might be if I didn't eat it so often. When do you need to leave, sensei?"
"I can spare an hour or two." Ryuuken smirked, and then moved back a bit to give the boy his space. "It's not like I have any where important to be right at this moment. Plus, I rather enjoy time spent your company. How ... strangely intriguing."
He couldn't help himself, even though he had moved away .. he moved right back and trailed a hand up the boy's spine, resting his hand once again on Ulquiorra's shoulder. "And ... you know, I wasn't really talking about the food earlier."
The man blinked, realizing he really had just been that forward. But hell, he couldn't help it. There was something ... compelling about this young man.
Ulquiorra nodded. "All right, then," he said, not one to waste words on something that deserved only a one or two word response. He felt slightly relieved when he felt Ryuuken step away, only to stiffen once again when the man's hand touched his back lightly, coming to rest on his shoulder.
"I..." he swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. "I ... don't quite know what you want from me, sensei," he managed to say, his heart beating impossibly fast, though whether from nervousness or something else was beyond him.
He released the spoon he was stirring with from his grip, instead turning his full attention on Ryuuken. He'd never been put in a position like this before, and perhaps that was why part of him wanted Ryuuken to go far, far away, while the other half wanted him to stay and do something more. Just thinking about it made him flush slightly, and he turned swiftly away, gripping the edge of the stove with his hand.
Ryuuken bowed his head with a sigh. "I'm sorry, I apologize for my rudeness. Let's eat?" He motioned the ramen which was starting to boil over, though Ulquiorra just seemed to be staring at it blankly for some reason. Had he confused the boy that much? Just what was going through Ulquiorra's mind? Glancing away, so he didn't have to see the boy gripping the stove so tightly that he was shaking, Ryuuken started for the cabinets. "Would you like me to get the bowls?"
....That was it? That was all he was going to say? Ulquiorra was frozen, paralyzed with indecisiveness. When the soup began to bubble over, he blew on it absently, turning off the heat and adding the flavoring dazedly.
"That would be nice. Thank you." His reply was said absentmindedly, as though his mind wasn't really on that at all -- which, of course it wasn't. "They're in the first cabinet to the left." He left the soup on the stovetop, heading towards the refrigerator. "...Would you like anything to drink?"
He was frustrated, though he didn't show it. Why wouldn't Ryuuken just say what he meant, instead of changing the topic entirely?
Ryuuken went to the cabinet specified by the boy and took out two bowls, setting them wordlessly on the counter and waiting. I shouldn't be getting attached anyway, what's wrong with me?
Shaking himself out of his own thoughts, he concentrated on Ulquiorra, ready to answer the boy's question. About something to drink, that was. "I'll just have some water, if that's all right with you."
Ulquiorra brought over the soup first, pouring some into each bowl. "I'll get spoons as well," he said quietly, not looking at the elder male. Instead, he went to the silverware drawer, opening it and taking out two spoons. He set them on the table, saying over his shoulder, "Feel free to start eating."
He filled up two glasses, both with water and ice, and Ulquiorra finally came back over setting one in front of Ryuuken and taking a sip from his own.
As he looked at the soup, it became quite apparent that he had no appetite after what had just transpired. Ulquiorra just wanted to get answers -- not eat.
Ryuuken had already taken his seat when Ulquiorra returned with the water. He picked it up, took a small sip, and then set it back on the table and picked up the spoon he'd been giving, saying the traditional "Ittadakimasu" before starting on his meal. He was silent throughout the entire thing, dwelling on his own weaknesses and the slip-up in the kitchen. It had been so stupid and unlike him!
Ulquiorra found himself somewhat unwilling to eat, but he did so anyway, finishing approximately half of it before standing up to put the rest back in the pot for later. He rinsed off the bowl, and then turned the water off, standing with his back to Ryuuken.
Finally, after ten long, agonizing moments of tense silence, Ulquiorra spoke in a serious, if not slightly antagonized voice. "You never answered my question, Ishida-sensei," he said, voice terse and somewhat irritated. "What, exactly, do you want from me?"
Standing, Ryuuken still ignored the main question, heading back into the kitchen to put his empty bowl and spoon into the sink. He turned slightly, head lowered and leaning his hip against the counter edge as he contemplated what exactly he wanted to say, to do. What really were his motives?
First off, to distract himself, he asked, "Would you like me to do the dishes, Ulquiorra-kun?" And he followed it closely by something that sounded like a reprimand. "And please, stop with this 'Ishida-sensei' stuff. I'm hardly your teacher. Technically. If you would, call me Ryuuken."
He knew he was evading the real subject, but he wasn't ready to touch on it yet. Neither was Ulquiorra ready to hear it, or so he thought. Compulsions, lust, they were things young children shouldn't have to acquaint themselves with so earlier on.
"No," Ulquiorra said abruptly. "I can do my own dishes, thank you." He was on edge, and he hated it.
Why was he avoiding answering his question? Ulquiorra's eyes narrowed, but he turned away to wash both of their dishes so Ryuuken couldn't see his expression. "You're avoiding my question, Ryuuken-san." Well, at least he'd acknowledged the doctor's wishes to be called by his first name.
Ryuuken watched as Ulquiorra scrubbed at the dishes, taking in the tense movements of the boy. He sighed. There was no way around it; he would have to explain himself this time or else he'd ruin whatever semi-friendship he had been building with the boy up until this very moment.
Though he had to suppress a slight shiver that ran down his spine when his name rolled of the young student's tongue. The way he said it made him wonder many, many things about this particular boy. Like if he was a screamer ... perhaps a biter. All right, his thoughts were getting off track again. He brought his attention back to Ulquiorra. "I like you. It's as simple as that, Ulquiorra-kun."
There was a definite smirk forming on his face, tinting his expression to a sly one. "Actually, I want to spend ... more time in your company. Do I not make myself clear?"
Well, he had spilled the basics of what he was feeling, might as well not scare him off just yet.
Ulquiorra listened carefully at Ryuuken's response, shutting off the water so he could hear him clearly.
He liked him? Ulquiorra, despite his earlier attempts to rationalize Ryuuken's actions, was beginning to get an idea as to what the doctor meant by this. He turned to face him just in time to catch the sly smirk on his face.
"If you wish to spend time with me, I hardly can say no," Ulquiorra said at last, green eyes focused intensely on Ryuuken. "What, precisely, did you have in mind?"
"Oh, what did I have in mind?" Ryuuken softened his expression. "Well, I'm sure we can work something out. Possibly the Kurotsuchi-sensei gang would like to join us on a little ... get-together. We can go out for lunch one weekend. I know a wonderful little cafe that would be great for us all to go to later on."
This was ... intriguing. What did Ulquiorra mean he could hardly say no? Well, that had potential.
Ulquiorra glanced up at this, blinking at Ryuuken. He wasn't too keen on the elder Kurotsuchi, but he and Kurotsuchi Nemu seemed to get along very well. Ulquiorra wouldn't mind seeing her again.
"That would be ... agreeable," Ulquiorra said at long last, leaning back against the counter. "Kurotsuchi-sensei and I know each other fairly well." He did not specify which, deeming this information unimportant to Ryuuken.
The man knew which one the boy spoke of though, remembering their earlier conversation. However, he wouldn’t admit it made him a bit jealous for reasons he really couldn't comprehend.
"I'm glad you find those arrangements agreeable. I'll let you know when and where after I've talked with Mayuri-san. For now, I must be going. Thank you very much for the dinner." He tilted his head, nodding in acknowledgement before heading toward the door. "Have a pleasant night, won't you?"
And then he was gone.
Ulquiorra nodded, eyes following Ryuuken as he left, a strange feeling twisting in his gut. Was he so lonely that he felt bereft when the other male walked out? Or was it due to something entirely different?
Whatever the case was, Ulquiorra had a feeling that life was going to be a little less lonely from here on in.