A/N: Just a little IchiRuki moment.
Once Rukia spent an hour looking all over town for Ichigo. She had been in the bath after he had given her the all-green and when she had emerged he had not been inside the house. It had only been after she had checked the park, the school grounds, and the place that his mother had died that she had returned, filled with concern, only to find him lounging around on the roof of his very own house – which, apparently, he had never left.
This time, she succeeds in finding him by checking there first. She can't quite figure out why he has taken lately to disappearing while she's in the bath, when she's not looking, but she also can't bring herself to question it. After all, she has never felt as if she has a right to interrogate Ichigo on his own life.
She's interfered with his life enough already.
"It's cold," he snaps at her when she climbs from his window up to the shingled surface of the house. He scowls at her light pajamas and dripping hair. "You'll get sick, go back inside already."
Rukia can't hear beyond the disgruntled tone. Habit has her countering with, "If you don't want me here, just say so!"
His glare lightens, and his brown eyes widen a bit. "I..." But she's scrambling back down, fulfilling his demand. "Oy, Rukia!"
A hand falls upon her wrist, and then she's being yanked up, over the drain lining the roof's perimeter, and her bottom impacts hard on the rough shingles. "There's no need to manhandle me!" she insists loudly, jerking her hand out of his. "What's the idea, Ichigo?"
Ichigo switches from his Indian-style posture and reclined with his hands folded beneath his head, legs crossed at the ankles. "Well, you came up here. I don't really have a right to boss you around. Sorry."
Her eyebrows shoot up. It's only been five seconds after the initial feather-ruffling and he's apologizing so soon? "What's the matter with you?" she queries, a note of caution entering her voice, just in case he's not as mellow as he seems to be.
"Why does something have to be wrong with me to admit that I'm kind of an asshole sometimes?" he mumbles, surprising her. Rukia, blinking, crawls over to him so that she can peer down into his face. She's not about to say that Ichigo isn't an asshole sometimes. Because he is. Indiscriminately.
But for him to openly call his own crap is…abnormal.
Her eyebrows draw together in an expression of mixed worry and dubiousness. "Are you sick?"
A low growl emits from the back of his throat, and he reaches up to grip her shoulder. "No. Now will you move, you're blocking the moon."
It takes one movement of his strong arm to guide her firmly, if not forcefully, into a position on her back beside him. Her gaze lands instantly on the full moon above, and her mind is briefly drawn to the big white orb, giving Ichigo enough time to strengthen all of his defenses.
Before Rukia can utilize enough cleverness to figure out how to dig under his walls, Ichigo surprises her by speaking first.
"Do you ever think of me when you're in Soul Society?"
She half-sputters, and heat gathers in her cheeks. "Come on, Ichigo, what—"
"Do you?" Then he's facing her, dark eyes boring into hers with an intensity that robs her of breath. She pushes up on her elbows, wanting to be higher than him, needing more space.
But she is a Kuchiki, and she lives with both dignity and honesty. So Rukia pulls herself together, breathes calmly, and responds with certainty. "Of course I do."
The corners of his mouth tip up, and some of the tension in her bones eases with the sight of his smile. "Good." Her shifts his gaze, settling it once more on the moon hanging ethereal and bright from the sky. "Now go back inside. You'll get a cold."
She obeys this time, puzzling over him and his question. It doesn't matter how many times she leaves and comes back to him…Ichigo will be as much of a mystery every time.