Bleach drabble by Midnight Crow

Disclaimer: Bleach and its characters belong to Kubo Taito, etc.

Note: Finished 01/31/2005 9:45 PM. Started writing 7:00 PM same date. Got the idea a few days ago, and had no idea it was going to span over a thousand words. Contribution to Kurosaki Clinic V-Day theme.

This is dedicated to Hannah/Rinslet/Pikachu and Misty. IshiHime!

Ishida Uryuu was a master of sewing. He was blessed with skilled hands and a keen eye that naturally produced the finest and straightest stitching, garnering him the highest title in the club. Yet even masters had their bad days, and today was certainly one of them.

He stared disbelievingly at his latest project, a charming little handbag which would, of course, be awarded the first place ribbon at the next competition - if only he could finish it. Right now, however, the handbag consisted of only two pieces of purple cloth which did not permit itself to be sewn together. One measured pull, and the thread broke for the fourth time that day.

It was absolutely infuriating. He could not figure out why it kept happening, and the frustration tried even his usually unruffled demeanor.

The noise in the club room only succeeded in aggravating his irritation. Chairs were being returned and tables cleared, coupled with the din of members talking and gossiping as the club was in the closing stages of its meeting today. A stubborn sentiment kept him fixed in his seat, and he continued to glare at the uncooperating fabric, pondering what to do next.

A shadow fell over his desk as he reached for the seam ripper.


He glanced up warily to see long copper hair and a friendly, wide-eyed smile.

"Ah, Inoue-san," he replied. Normally his fellow members didn't dare bother him while he worked, and that was the way he preferred it. But of course, Inoue was an exception. Next to him, he acknowledged that she was the best in the club. But that was not the reason why he never rebuked her. With her earnest greetings and naïve conversation subjects, she could bludgeon anyone - including him - to a corner and force them to listen to her cheery prattle. The girl disturbed everyone - whether he liked it or not.

His eyebrows raised slowly as a hand stretched out, offering a package swathed in a bright orange wrapper decorated with small red hearts.

"Happy Valentine's Day!"

Valentine's Day?

She looked at him curiously, and held it out closer, almost at his nose. "It's for you," she said in a patient tone.

Ishida realized that seconds had passed already and he had not said a word, nor made a move to accept the present. He heard himself saying sullenly after "Thanks…I guess". At that time, however, he was still desperately collecting his thoughts which had flown to different directions.

Inoue smiled warmly at him and deposited the present in his palm (and he couldn't pinpoint exactly when did he extend it towards her.) He was surprised to discover how soft her hand was; a sewing expert like himself, yet no calluses had marred her.

A rustle of paper brought his eyes fixated on the package back to her. She was balancing a large paper bag she carried in one arm and a schoolbag on the other, and her head was turned towards the door. "Wait, Heiyama-sempai!" she called out in a frantic voice. "I haven't given you your present yet!"

Ishida watched as she disappeared outside the door.

The rest of the club's members trickled out, leaving him alone in the room with the foreign present.

Tucking his project away, he took the package in his hands, tilting it in different angles, trying to study it. Valentine's Day. Yes, it was Valentine's Day today, he nodded to himself. He didn't really forget - just that the occasion was truly of no importance to him, that the reality of the event was content to be settled at the back of his mind, the least of his concerns.

This minor incident, however, gave the said concept enough influence to present itself directly in full view to him. Today was Valentine's Day, and Inoue Orihime had just given him a present. Most probably chocolate, the standard gift of the holiday.

No one, in all of his fifteen years of living, had ever given Ishida Uryuu a present during Valentine's Day.

Not that it mattered. In fact, he was already debating if eating chocolate would ruin his appetite later.

Besides, it wasn't as if he was the only one. The friendliest girl in the club and in class, Inoue most likely gave chocolates to every male in the school on this date. And he realized that, recalling the paper bag she carried earlier. The bag groaned with the weight of perhaps a hundred presents wrapped in pink and red that she hadn't given out yet. Idly, he fingered the wrapper of his own present, contemplating her choice of color.

A strange notion occurred to him then.

The ones in the bag were pink.

He stared incredulously at the orange wrapper before him, and his heart jumped.

Perhaps, maybe… Ishida firmly shook his head. It probably had no significance. She could have just run out of the pink. Or maybe she thought it was funny to give him the odd present, the one that earned a different-colored wrapper. The one that seemed larger compared to the others. Come to think of it, yes, he was definitely correct in saying that his present was slightly larger. He had keen eyes; he knew he wasn't wrong.

But why?

Why did she give him the odd present?

He wasn't the authority here, but he knew that girls bought chocolates to give to their male friends…and made chocolates by hand for special reasons.

His customarily steady hands shook at the thought. No, that couldn't be right. Didn't girls do all sorts of blushing and squirming when they gave those special chocolates away? Certainly not like Inoue, who had casually handed them over with a typical bubbly greeting.

But he said it earlier - Inoue was an exception.

His hands trembled as they removed the intriguing wrapper. He couldn't explain why, but his heart would not stop pounding either.

Finally, the poorly-shaped mass of dark brown chocolate lay on his desk, and he could not do anything else except gawk at it. Was it supposed to be a heart?

Yet the state of his present did not cause dismay - in fact, against his better judgment, his heart was soaring.

Almost gently, he picked up the piece of chocolate. Such a pitiful thing, yet the wonders it imparted were enough to make him overlook the vexation his unfinished project had caused him beforehand. Ishida pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose. He persisted on gazing at the confection, until he felt the outline of characters engraved on the back of the chocolate.

She had written something on it. He turned the piece around eagerly.

At first he was just surprised. Then he was utterly perplexed.

The words "kurosaki ichigo" made absolutely no sense to him.


Chapter 3 of "That Evening" got shelved for this one, but I'll be posting it next week.

Happy Valentine's Day. (And belated happy birthday to Yachiru!)