Originally written in writersfunk for the Valentine's Fic Exchange. Comments are always welcome.
Ichigo had a massive headache. Rukia, sufficiently deluded into thinking she had some kind of culinary skill, had commandeered the Kurosaki kitchen to make chocolate for all of her male classmates. It was for Valentine's Day, after all.
"After all, Ichigo," Rukia had said, using her scary-as-hell-schoolgirl voice, "It is important that I, being so kind and generous, give every boy in class a small token of my affection." Ichigo had been too creeped out at hearing Rukia use her schoolgirl voice outside of the classroom to argue.
Ichigo had tried to convince Rukia that making chocolate for Valentine's Day wasn't necessary, especially since she had never paid much attention in home economics. But Rukia had, with a wicked gleam in her eye, promptly said that if she were to buy chocolates, the money would have to come from a certain orange-haired idiot, since Rukia herself had no source of income. Ichigo had shut up.
And cue the ensuing headache.
Ichigo sat dejectedly at his desk, trying to finish his homework. He had made Yuzu promise that she wouldn't help Rukia at all in the kitchen, and she tearfully agreed after Ichigo played the big brother card to the max. He was almost regretting his decision now. The smell of burnt chocolate, canned tuna, and fresh corn did not do much to alleviate his headache. The ingredients to make the chocolate had been generously donated, but Ichigo wished fervently that it hadn't been Orihime to provide them – and the recipe.
Ichigo got up to open a window and heard footsteps pounding up the stairs. He froze.
Sure enough, Rukia burst into his room a second later. "Try this," she commanded. She held a misshapen piece of chocolate in front of Ichigo's nose.
Ichigo eyed it warily. "The hell is this supposed to be?" he asked.
Rukia stamped her foot impatiently. "Chappy, of course," she replied.
Ichigo looked closer. If he squinted and tilted his head at an angle and crossed his eyes, he could almost make out a pair of rabbit ears. Almost.
"Eat it," Rukia commanded.
Ichigo snorted. "What makes you – "
Rukia shoved the piece of chocolate in his mouth with the same speed and efficiency as she used to extract Ichigo's soul using her glove.
Ichigo passed out until morning.
Ichigo lifted his head from his desk and blearily peered up at the speaker. "Ah," he said. "Orihime."
Orihime beamed at him. "Happy Valentine's Day!" she said, and handed him a homemade package of what looked like chocolate chip cookies. Knowing Orihime, however, Ichigo suspected it was something other than chocolate chips.
"Thanks," Ichigo said gruffly. Orihime smiled again and went off to deliver another package to one of her classmates. Secretly, Ichigo was glad that he didn't have to sample the cookies in front of her. His stomach was still queasy from the night before.
He had woken up in the middle of his bedroom floor at dawn with an awful taste in his mouth. The house hadn't burned down, however, so that was a plus. Isshin bursting into his room and remarking loudly about how nice it was to have cute schoolgirls making chocolate in his kitchen was not. Ichigo had seen no sign of Rukia or her chocolate concoctions at breakfast, so he had headed off to school alone.
He still had that damn headache, and was even more grouchy than usual. He was sure his expression scared off many girls who originally wanted to give him chocolates. Other than Orihime, Tatsuki had been the only other to give him a gift. Earlier, the tomboy had nonchalantly tossed him a foil wrapped chocolate-covered strawberry and was rewarded with a scowl. She only grinned in response.
Rukia, true to her word, was handing out all of her arguably rabbit-shaped chocolates to the males in her class. She was talking animatedly about how she had perfected the recipe and was now sharing it with her classmates. Her captivated audience hung onto her every word.
Ichigo tried to muster up enough energy to warn the others not to eat them but feared even going near Rukia's creations again. He slumped down onto his desk again, trying to will his pounding headache away.
Ichigo growled inwardly and raised his head.
Ishida stood before him, blue eyes piercing into his skull and making Ichigo rub at his temples. "What do you want?" Ichigo said, annoyed. At least he didn't have to be nice to that prissy Quincy.
Ishida paused for a moment, and pushed his glasses up his nose. "Here," Ishida said, placing a heart-shaped package on Ichigo's desk. Without waiting for an answer, the Quincy walked back to his desk and ignored the glare Ichigo aimed in his direction.
Ichigo seethed in anger. That bastard. Just because he didn't get as much chocolate this year as that bow-wielding freak didn't mean that the other had to go and give him some of his surplus chocolate. He didn't need that stupid Quincy's pity. Or scorn. Or anything else.
Ichigo was just about to hurl the package at Ishida's head when he noticed something strange about it. It wasn't red or pink, like most Valentine packages. In fact, it was white with a blue ribbon tied across it, both lengthwise and widthwise to form a kind of cross. And it wasn't even heart-shaped, he now saw. The container was shaped more like an arrowhead.
Ichigo stared at the package. He stared at Ishida's head. He stared at the package again. Gingerly, like it was a bomb about to explode, Ichigo opened the box. He stared some more at its contents.
Inside were little coin-sized chocolates, thirty in all, neatly arranged into rows. The first one was made entirely out of white chocolate, and the last one was made entirely out of dark chocolate. The ones in between had varying degrees of white and dark chocolate. Ichigo peered closer. They were designed like moons. There was a white chocolate full moon, a dark chocolate new moon, a perfect half moon, and every kind of crescent in between.
Ichigo was so engrossed in examining the chocolates that he didn't even notice the other students – Ishida included – file out of the classroom for lunch.
Said orange-haired shinigami almost jumped out of his skin at the sound of a deep voice. "Ah! C-Chad!" Ichigo stammered, looking up at his tall friend's face. He immediately threw his arms over his box of chocolate, trying to shield it from Chad's vision.
"It's lunchtime," Chad said simply.
Ichigo scanned the empty classroom. Not that he was looking for anyone in particular, of course. "Um, right," he said. Then he paused. He looked up at Chad, who was waiting patiently for his friend to get his lunch so that they could eat.
"Er, Chad," Ichigo began awkwardly.
"Did you…Did you get any chocolates?"
Ichigo's scowl deepened. "F-from who?"
"Orihime. Rukia. Tatsuki."
"You didn't get any from…Ishida, did you?"
Chad blinked. Then he shook his head.
"Of course not," Ichigo said gruffly, fighting down a blush. "I have to get something from my locker first. I'll see you up on the rooftop, OK?" Trying his best to seem casual, Ichigo tucked Ishida's box of chocolates underneath his arm and strolled out of the classroom.
Chad only nodded as he watched Ichigo leave. He wondered idly what was causing his friend's ears to turn a bright red before heading off to the roof.
Ichigo pressed his hot forehead on the cold metal door of his locker and closed his eyes.
What was Ishida thinking? His headache intensified. According to Ichigo's understanding, boys didn't give other boys chocolates on Valentine's Day. It was a strictly girl-to-boy thing, with the boy-to-girl thing coming a month later.
Damn that Ishida, always breaking the rules. Still, it was the first time Ichigo had received chocolate from someone who was not a girl. And since it didn't mean anything even when girls gave him chocolate, it didn't mean anything in Ishida's case. Absolutely not. It wasn't as if Ishida liked him. They were comrades, that's all. They fought Hollows and the occasional shinigami together. They went to the same school. As did Orihime, Chad, and Rukia.
Ishida was not anyone special. Ichigo's stomach churned inexplicably at the thought. He stubbornly chalked it up to Rukia's chocolate still having its effects. Realization dawned on him. Ishida had probably done the same to his chocolates, albeit on purpose. The chocolates were probably filled with something awful tasting. Or perhaps they were filled with mod soul candy. Or Hollow bait. Something unpleasant, undoubtedly designed to make life hell for its recipient.
Ichigo clenched his fist angrily. The Quincy never made it a secret that he hated shinigami. So Ichigo, being a shinigami, was hated by Ishida. Nothing more than that.
Ichigo snorted. That bastard, trying to confuse him by giving him chocolates. It was probably a part of Ishida's evil plan to exact revenge. Damned if he was going to fall for it.
Bristling, Ichigo stomped his way over to the roof, box in hand, ready to confront his bespectacled classmate and to throw the chocolates back in his face – this time for real.
Ichigo flung open the heavy door to the roof and heard it bang loudly.
Ishida, seated on the ground, barely glanced up from his lunch before resuming his meal. Stupid, stuck up moron, ignoring him like that.
Chad looked up from where he was settled down across from Ishida. He nodded to Ichigo and returned to placidly eating his yakisoba.
Ichigo blinked. It was quiet. Too quiet.
"Ishida!" Ichigo said, and then winced. That had come out much too loudly. His head was still fuzzy from his headache. Both Chad and Ishida raised their heads.
He couldn't do this. Not in front of Chad. Granted, he couldn't do this even without Chad there, but it would be easier. Maybe.
"Can I have a moment alone – " Ichigo cut himself off. That didn't sound right at all. "I want to talk to you!"
Ishida raised an eyebrow and his glasses glinted in the sunlight. "Then talk."
Silence. Ichigo tried to get his mouth to move, but it wouldn't listen.
Chad blinked as he looked from one friend to the other. Ichigo's face was turning various colours from red to white to green. Ishida looked composed on the outside, but Chad could feel the tension radiating from the archer's body. It probably had something to do with the box of chocolate Ishida had given Ichigo earlier. Chad shrugged and decided to eat his lunch elsewhere for today. Perhaps he'd sit under a tree and share Orihime's cookies with the birds – if even they would eat them.
Ichigo was both relieved and dismayed as he felt Chad's large frame brush past him as the other headed for the door. His heavy footsteps echoed as he descended down the stairs.
Damn it. Now he was alone with the Quincy. Then Ichigo realized that he was still standing while Ishida was sitting, so he figured he had better sit down. Then he paused. Where was he supposed to sit? If he sat next to Ishida, that would be too close. But if he sat across from him, then he'd have to face him. And if he sat diagonally from the Quincy, someone might overhear the conversation.
Ichigo agonized over this until he heard Ishida sigh impatiently. Fine then. Ichigo sat down next (but not too close) to his classmate. He avoided looking at the other by staring at the box of chocolate clutched tightly in his hands.
"What did you want to talk about, Kurosaki?" Ishida asked. He placed his chopsticks neatly over his empty bento in his lap, waiting for the other to speak.
Ichigo scowled and glared at the other. Big mistake. Ishida's blue eyes were trained intently on him, watching for any reaction. Ichigo's head began to swim (the headache wouldn't go away) and he averted his gaze.
"Why did you give me chocolate?" Ichigo asked. Damn. That didn't come out right. He was supposed to start off with something insulting along the lines of Ishida being a snobby anti-shinigami bow-wielder, when everyone knew that zanpaktou were so much better. Damn it all to hell.
Ishida took a breath and paused slightly before answering. "You like chocolate."
"Are they poisoned?" Ichigo's mouth asked without his brain telling it to do so.
Ishida glared. "No." Then he sniffed. "If I were to poison you, Kurosaki, I would do it in a manner that guaranteed your demise. The Quincy are honourable and do not resort to underhanded techniques to take care of their enemies."
Well, that made sense, Ichigo grudgingly admitted. In a weird, twisted way. He would have to make sure Ishida never offered him a vial of poison, then. But there were more pressing matters at hand.
"Then it's a joke," Ichigo growled. If poison was ruled out, then a joke was the next best thing. That would be better than the last option, at least.
Ishida shifted in his seat and took a moment to answer. "If you want to think of it that way, then be my guest," he said quietly. "It's only chocolate."
Ichigo knew it was more than that. The Quincy could have given him store bought chocolate. Instead, he had received thirty painstakingly shaped chocolate moons that oddly reminded him of Zangetsu. The whole box, too, was artistically arranged in a trademark Quincy style.
As much as Ichigo hated to admit it, this was more than that.
Ichigo shifted on the concrete roof and ran a hand through his hair. He fiddled with the box before opening it and looking again at the pieces of chocolates nestled inside. "I…"
"That's all right, Kurosaki. You don't have to eat them if you don't want to," Ishida said, turning slightly away. Ichigo saw him grip his bento so tightly that his knuckles turned white.
Ichigo swallowed and tried to ignore the tightness in his chest. There was probably only one way to do that.
"Do you want to share?" Ichigo asked off-handedly.
Surprised, Ishida blinked. Ichigo tried not to notice the other relax almost imperceptibly. Without waiting for an answer, Ichigo popped a piece of chocolate in his mouth. After a moment, Ishida did the same.
Ichigo frowned after finishing his first piece. Stupid Ishida. The chocolate was good. Very good. Why did he have to be good at everything? School, sewing, archery, and now cooking?
Ichigo eyed Ishida, who was eating his chocolate in neat, efficient bites. He snorted. "You disgust me," he told Ishida.
Ishida only sniffed in reply and took another piece.
The two continued eating the chocolate in silence. The first time their hands brushed when reaching for another piece, they both drew back and glared at each other. Ichigo sneeringly let Ishida choose a piece first. The second time it happened, Ichigo attributed the strange tingle he got as an after effect from eating so much chocolate at once (without even having eaten lunch first). The third time, he figured it was a last vestige of his headache. After the fourth time, Ichigo stopped counting.
Soon there was only one piece left. Brown eyes and blue eyes watched each other carefully.
Ichigo was the first to look away. "You can have it," he said gruffly, rubbing the back of his neck.
"No," Ishida said, with a strange smile. "Let's share."
Ishida picked up the last piece of chocolate – the half moon – and slowly placed it in Ichigo's parted mouth. He felt the Quicy shiver slightly as the pads of his fingertips touched his lips. Ichigo tried to yell out something about impropriety, but Ishida's intense look made the words die in his throat. Ichigo could do nothing more than blink confusedly as, very slowly, Ishida's lips met his.
The chocolate in Ichigo's mouth and the brain inside his skull began to melt.
When Ishida pulled away after several moments, the Quincy had half of the melted chocolate piece in his mouth. Ichigo watched as the other's tongue licked away the last traces of the confection. Ichigo stopped gaping and hastily swallowed his own half, ignoring the buzzing he felt throughout his entire body. He felt his face flush and turned his head away, but not before catching a glimpse of pink over the bridge of Ishida's nose.
Ichigo crossed his arms defensively over his chest, still not looking at the Quincy. He was not blushing. "You bastard," he hissed.
Out of the corner of his eye, Ichigo saw Ishida stiffen momentarily. Then the Quincy responded with a simple, "Idiot".
Ichigo scowled. "Thanks for the chocolate," he said, mockingly.
Ishida sniffed. "You're welcome, Kurosaki," he replied haughtily.
Stupid Quincy, Ichigo thought. Taking advantage like that. He'd get him back for that sometime. Preferably with a kiss just as heart-poundingly dizzying as the one he received. His brow furrowed as he schemed, a slight smile playing on his lips.
Ichigo didn't have a headache anymore.