Cold Snap

Hold me in your freezing arms before we have to go,

I wince a little but it's not because I know the truth,

The windshield of your little car is frosted through the glass,

The clear heart of air appears as we shiver on the seats,

It's the same.

The winter sun makes patterns on your face,

It looks like some kaleidoscopic breathing exercise.

-Snow Patrol, Same

The cold was doing weird things to Rukia.

Granted, it was unusually chilly, with temperatures almost managing to reach into the single digits at night- but regardless. She was almost quaking in Yuzu's boots, Chappy mittens, coat, hat and all. Rukia was very partial to the hat though. The pom-pom at the top was simply darling. But, cute hat or not, she was freezing. Glacial. Frosty. And apparently, it was putting strange thoughts in her head.

Rukia had to admit though- it was beautiful outside. The cold snap had added an icy clarity to her vision, and the whole city seemed to almost sparkle. Or at the very least it seemed somewhat cleaner, the lingering frost disguising its blemishes and somehow managing to make even the gum on the sidewalks look somewhat respectable. She thought she might be able to get used to this, albeit, given another layer of clothing or two.

Rukia liked seeing her breath. She could almost forget she wasn't technically alive, with such apparent proof each time she exhaled.

They (that is to say, Rukia and the usual suspect) were waiting for Mizurio, as his sister was apparently convinced that he was going to get kidnapped and raped if he tried walking home alone. Rukia personally thought that he just didn't like going that long without someone's ear to talk off and had made the whole story up. That and her doubt that anybody but him and his… harem actually possessed that exaggerated of an opinion of his looks did nothing but cement this idea. But she kept this to herself. He was alright enough, and certainly preferable to Keigo. Although even that idiot was looking preferable at the moment. Mizurio should have been here at least fifteen minutes ago, and classes had been out for over half an hour.

"He's late." She managed to put it into words.

"I know." Ichigo replied with a sigh, creating a small cloud in front of his face. Rukia let out a small chuckle at that, which changed into more of a laugh at his puzzled face. "What?!"

"Oh, nothing." Rukia managed with a catty smile. He gave up, breaking eye contact with a small snort to aim an accusing glare at the front doors of the school.

Ichigo, his usual uncaring self, was sprawled on the bench, but as if sensing her attention he straightened up, drawing his knees together and directing his gaze back at Rukia. "You're acting strange today. What's up? Is there a hollow nearby or something?"

She allowed herself another smile. "No. Sure it's not just you?" She took a seat primly on the bench beside him with a small sigh. Rukia allowed her head to drop back, eyeing the blue sky far above her. They were both silent for a moment. She picked at bit of lint on her sweatshirt, wondering how a blue piece of fuzz got on a cream colored shirt. It wouldn't even get washed in the same load, how does that happen? She would have to ask Yuzu about it when she got back.

"It's clear. That's why it's so cold. The clouds hold the heat in."

She looked at him, puzzled by his unexpected announcement. Ichigo wasn't looking at her. However, his casual, nonchalant attitude had a certain calculated quality to it, quite apparent to her trained eye. Maybe it was something about his shoulders. His slump looked too deliberate, if that was even possible. Tense, even.

She suddenly became acutely aware of just how close they were sitting. Rukia could feel the heat radiating off his form, just a few sparse inches away. He looked so warm. It was so unjust. All he had was his stupid sweatshirt and coat (at least two layers less than her) and yet he was perfectly at ease. Not hunched up and quivering like her, but leaning against the frosty back of the bench, unaware or ignoring the frost rubbing off on his jacket, bare hands clasped in his jean clad lap with a distant gaze and the barest hint of a smile upon his countenance.

Rukia imagined curling up in his lap. Like a cat. Strong hands stroking her hair, and falling asleep against his chest. At ease. Relaxed. Shielded from the world and all it's troubles and hurts and sharp edges and cold detachment in a warm pair of arms for all eternity…

She gave an involuntary shudder. Must be the weather. Yeah. Reverse heat stroke or something. Rukia was snapped out of her reverie by a bit of movement in the corner of her eye. Turning, she saw that Ichigo was standing up to take off his jacket. "You can't possibly be warm- can you?" she asked, incredulous.

Ichigo snorted again, unexpectedly settling it about her shoulders. "You're shivering. If you think I'm going to play nurse again when you catch a cold, you're wrong," he replied, looking elsewhere, traditional frown returning. Although his fingers had darted away as though burned, she hadn't missed their tenderness. Rukia looked at the guilty article of clothing, frozen (in more than one way) and disbelieving. Eventually she snapped out of it, rolling up the sleeves until she had use of her hands once more and could button it.

They remained there for a moment more, Ichigo standing a few feet off, scuffing his toe against the pavement, hands in his pockets, and Rukia sitting, trying to ignore how his jacket smelled of strawberry.

"Look, Mizurio is not coming. Let's just go." The words tumbled from his mouth, cracking against the icy street almost guiltily. Ashamed for breaking the silence.

Rukia rose, taking up her place beside him. "Yeah. If he can't be on time, then maybe he deserves to be raped by some random passerby." She glanced up at him, watching for his reaction.

He gave a crooked smile, finally meeting her gaze out of the corner of his eye. "Sounds good to me."

A/N: Fighting the angst bunnies of doom. Hoorah. It just occurred to me how cool I am, sitting in garden gnome pajama bottoms and my Ichigo shirt from Hot Topic (my Christmas present to myself) writing fanfiction. Bet the guy from behind the counter at Taco Del Mar that kept flirting with me in front of my mom (GASPEH! XD) wasn't aware of how lame I really am once my hair isn't straight anymore and I take off my Abercrombie sweatshirt. –shifty glance-

Yeah, it's clichéd. Sue me. XP