Lunch Break

Written by: Adriana Santomé -hikari-

Date:17/01/2005

Disclaimer: Me owns nothing. (Wow, I had actually forgotten to write these in a long while)

A/N: I wanted to finish my Valentines' Day fic today, but the holidays took much of my time. Ehehe. So, instead, I'll give this to you guys. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing this. Happy belated St. Valentines, everyone!

-

I've been staring at my hand for longer than five minutes, flexing my fingers and cracking up my knuckles. They feel more rigid than what they used to be a week ago. This body is a real bother and moving it is getting harder and harder. Urahara won't sell me anything anymore, for my sake he says, but it gets very troublesome not being to move as fast as I'd like when jobs come up.

I look up at the scenery before me. Up here in this tree, I can see at least half the city, its sky a clear blue that reminds me of the small wild flowers I used to pick when I was younger back at home. Renji liked to mock me about it, for being too girly he said (I think he actually needed to time to process the idea that I was indeed a girl), but a good kick in the shins would silence him.

Hollows aside, this is a peaceful city, a beautiful place that children from the lower regions of Rukongai would have never even dreamed of growing up in.

I let my arms fall to my sides, both hands then gripping the branch beneath me, and I sigh sadly. The wind kisses my cheeks soflty, the breeze soothingly fresh against this fake flesh. I just noticed that today we've had a nice weather.

It's been already four weeks since I came here.

I want to go home.

I need to go home.

Even if I know all too well what's in for me at my return. It is better to go now before…

I never thought I'd be going through this, because it is not what I'm supposed to be doing. I can't go on with this false, leisure existence. Living in a quiet city, with regular people, in a school even, where no one cares about last names or lineages. I'm one in the crowd, one who goes along with it.

Then, when reality hits hard and I remember who I truly am; when I'm supposed to go back to my job, I'm not even strong enough to do it myself. I need him to do it for me, without having the opportunity to even think how his life is being affected.

Ichigo doesn't even complain anymore.

I feel out of place.

"Rukia! Get down!" an annoyed voice mixed with mild amusement snaps me out of my thoughts. I look down, and he stares back at me with those observing eyes and ever-present frown.

"Ichigo…!" I mumble, surprised, but quickly regain composure. He had almost made me jump from the start he just gave me. "Don't order me around, baka! What the heck do you want?"

"I said to come down," he repeats, slightly irritated. He raises a small lunch box and points at it, and I'm surprised he'd ever carry around something in pink cloth. "I asked Yuzu to make extra bentou. You know, that curry you were blabbing about yesterday."

The… curry?

"Ah."

Yes, I remember now. I had seen in one of Inoue's cooking magazines (a present from Arisawa's mother, apparently) a curry recipe with mixed seafood. It seemed like a delicious dish to me, and I told Ichigo that I'd like to try it out sometime. Although I never thought he had really listened when I told him so.

"Do you want me to pull you down or what?" he scrunches up his nose, giving him an even fiercer look than the one he usually has. He raises his hand closer to my feet to make an effect.

I jump before he can even as much as touch me. "Do that and I'll kill you," I hiss, glaring at him murderously.

He snorts, and is about to retort. One good blow in his stomach is enough to shut him up. Men always shut up when I hit them, or so goes my theory. So far, it has worked for me in the past. He coughs, and my glare instantly meets his.

The boy walks away, to the concrete bench by the sidewalk. We are still in the school grounds, but not many students come to this side of the building. Ichigo waits until I come to him and sit on the other side of the bench to open the lunch box.

"I was looking for you for a while," he starts conversationally, and it is a true wonder we haven't started arguing yet. "Do you always come here by yourself?"

I nod, almost lamely, and take a pair of chopsticks from him. He produces two triangular juice boxes from his pockets and throws one at me. I had a pain the first time I ever stumbled upon this devilish thing, but I long, long ago learned how its mechanism works. And then, I realize, has it been that long?

"Why aren't you with your friends, anyway?" I ask, munching a piece of salad crackers that came wrapped in a napkin.

He shrugs, a displeased look graces over his features. "I brought you your lunch, didn't I? Shut up and eat."

"Does this have something to do with Asano-kun?" I part-smile, part-smirk; saccharine drapping from every word I say.

I hadn't noticed the funny look Ichigo gets when Asano gets close to me until Arisawa-san told me about it. Even if I don't really understand what's wrong with it, Asano being friendly to me that is, it's fun teasing Ichigo too.

"Che," he spats, "It has nothing to do with him."

"It doesn't?" I quirk an eyebrow. "Then why didn't we eat with the rest of the guys?"

In my opinion, I can't see anything wrong about it. I've had lunches with the boys before, whenever Inoue and Arisawa have tagged along with them, I had been dragged as well.

"I can't just share my lunch with you in front of them," he says, as though I should have known.

"Oh."

Makes sense. Always so protective of his reputation… He mutters to himself something like 'stupid' or a random curse I'm not really able to distinguish. Not that I care, really.

Because he's just such an idiot sometimes.

"Thank you," I tell him, "for bringing lunch."

He rolls his eyes and shakes his head, swallowing down the rice. "You're welcome, stupid."

And then we stop talking at all and eat in silence. Neither focusing on anything else than our food, our eyes ocassionally locking gazes.

It reminds me of a time eating at Rukongai with Renji, my dear friend; the last time we ate together before entering shinigami school. We had bickered at first, about some random thing, and ended up calmly sitting next to each other. It doesn't feel quite the same, though.

Ichigo brings a different sense of peace altogether when I'm around him. He's so unworried, so oblivious about rules, that it makes me want to hit him. But, in all his recklessness, he makes me forget about that sense of duty that often hunts me. As we fight, I forget about all my problems, all my worries, all my ghosts.

Yes, I think that's it.

He makes me forget everything else.

The bell rings, snapping me out of any thoughts I could have been drowning myself in. I can see him grinning admist his frown as he throws the used napkin to the wastebasket and turns to look at me.

"Come on, Rukia, lunch break is over."

I nod at him absently, and follow him inside the building. Our hands barely brush against each other as we walk side by side.

Another morning has gone by.

I smile to myself. For things like these, I'd like to stay here a little longer.