He had heard stories about it before. In times of turmoil when it seemed that the world could come apart at any moment, a man and a woman overtaken with despair would find comfort in one another, joining their bodies in a feeble attempt to fight off inevitable doom. Strangely, these stories never went over what happened after, when the danger had passed and all there was left was awkward silence.

If this wasn't awkward silence, he didn't know how else to define it. It was morning, and her head was on his chest. Her arm was thrown over his side. He had awoken with his hand on her waist.

And oh yeah, they were both naked.

"I know you're awake," he said.

She moved a little.

"Get off me, will you?"

"Turn your head," she replied.

"It's not like I didn't look before," he said. Because he had. And, as he recalls, albeit uncomfortably, liked what he saw.

"I don't care," she said. "Close your eyes."

He let out a groan and obeyed. The weight shifted off his chest and he felt the bed lift as she got up. When he finally opened his eyes, she was putting on her underwear, her fine back to him. "It was going to happen sooner or later, wasn't it?" he asked her shoulder blades.

She sat back on the bed, dark head disappearing into the folds of her shirt.

"Well?"

"Do you honestly believe that?" she asked, her voice razor sharp. Her head had resurfaced, but she still did not look at him.

Of all the people in the world, she was the one who could make a question as effective as a sword to the gut. Here was the crux of it. Not what they had done, but why they had done it. How it had come this far. Why it was her and not someone else.

He hated her in more way than he could count. For breathing life into him, for taking it away when she left him, every time she left him. For being there when he didn't want her to be, for being so. . . inconvenient. And for making him crave her. And not refusing him when, after all this time, that feeling crept over him and all he could do was reach for her. Let's not forget that. "I do believe it," he said.

Now her shoulders were shaking. Crying? Oh God, no. "Rukia," he started.

"I'm sorry," she said.

This was not what he expected. Had she said, "It was a mistake," he would not have been surprised. But "I'm sorry?" He reached for her. "Don't be. I'm not."

"I know you're not. I'm not sorry about that either," she said.

"Then what?"

When she turned to him there were no tears in her eyes. "All this time, we would have been doing that. I'm sorry I waited," she grinned.

He threw a pillow at her. "Asshole. Why did you wait?"

"I didn't know," she said. "Otherwise I would have jumped you a long time ago."

"Oh," he said, letting his head hit the other pillow. He lay there in silence, staring at her sitting on the edge of his bed. She was flushed, as if she realized the meaning of what she had just said and was wondering if she could take it back. "Does it mean anything? To you?" He blurted.

She turned away. "Of all the dumbass questions. Why can't you just ask me what you really want to know?"

"Do you?"

She looked at him. "As much as you do," she said.

The sun flooded the room with light. They stared at each other for a good long time.

Love, in their case, means never having to admit it. Not in specific words, anyway.


A/N: A little OOC here, but let's face it: It'll never actually happen. They'd just as soon eat glass.