Crime and Punishment

Theme #21, "Sipping soda from a straw"

Karin pretended not to notice when the door slid open, keeping her eyes on the book in her lap. She listened to the shuffling of her brother's shoes coming off, then his stomping footsteps across the floor, the sound of the fridge being opened and shut, and then a cadence of footsteps as he moved toward the couch where she sat, perfectly still. He was an asshole, and she was still mad at him. Right.


Arms went around her shoulders from behind, and Karin slouched down against the back of the couch, scowling. In her ear, Ichigo's breath was warm and shallow. He rested his cheek against her temple.

"What'cha doin'?"

"Reading. Obviously." Mad. Very, very mad. Definitely not getting squirmy happy feelings in the pit of her stomach. Nope.

Ichigo leaned a little further forward to see the pages of the book. Karin snatched it to her chest, scowl deepening; her brother smacked the top of her head gently. "Stop being such a brat. I said I was sorry, didn't I?"

"Sorry isn't good enough." She'd make him squirm first.

"Aw, come on! You can be such a little kid sometimes. I swear…"

He'd start by getting annoyed. Then, slowly, he'd begin to wonder how long she was going to stay mad. He'd try to placate her, offer to play soccer with her (even though she knew how he hated the sport), put on her favorite CD that he never let her listen to when he was in the house, maybe kiss her a couple times. But she'd ignore him, turn the CD off, pull away from his touches. And then, when he was absolutely wretched, she would put her book down and pretend to consider things very seriously, and then, when he was practically begging, she would forgive him, and all would be right.

And then maybe next time he'd remember what time to pick her up from school.

It was a perfect plan, with only two (minor) flaws: one, Ichigo hadn't ever, at least as far back as she could remember, begged anyone for anything. And two, her willpower was probably a lot weaker than his. If she could just manage not to break first, if she could ignore the soft pressure of his cheek on hers, the unintentionally sensual gusts of his breath on her neck, the damp warmth of his sweat (shortness of breath, warm skin, sweat – he must have gone out running) that reminded her of – stop it! Karin scolded herself, taking as deep a breath as she could without him noticing. Just play it cool. Feed him some line that'll make him really guilty.

"Maybe you hadn't noticed, but I was a little kid until just recently."

Unfortunately, every trick she knew she'd learned from him (aside from what she learned from their father, but she never used any of those things), and he parried smoothly. "Yeah, I remember. I think I might've had to change the sheets a couple of times when you wet the bed. But I always figured you grew out of that."

"Whatever. Go away and let me read."

"Sorry, can't do that. Dunno what you're reading – could be way age-inappropriate. Dad'd kick my ass, especially if you got that out of my room. You'd probably like my photo album of Rukia, though, I think she's your type – " Karin colored impressively. She stood up from the couch and headed toward the staircase. Ichigo watched her go, not moving to follow.

"I'm going to go do homework," Karin called over her shoulder. Ichigo snorted.

"You're going to spend the whole afternoon locked up in your room, doing stuff you despise, when we've got the house all to ourselves? C'mon, sit down and watch TV with me or something." Or something. He said it like no big deal, but the words hit Karin in the chest like a really vicious goal-kick. She paused, hand on the railing.

His tactics weren't fair. She felt her hormones start arguing that she was being unreasonable, he wasn't even that late, he didn't just forget her, he didn't mean anything by it, didn't she want to be nice and go make up with him? "No." She really, really did. But Ichigo couldn't know that. No weakness. No forgiveness. And absolutely no tingly feelings at all.

It was like Ichigo could smell her indecision. He stepped forward slowly, stopping when they were a few inches apart, and reaching out his fingers to brush against the book that was still in her hand.

"Wanna tell me what you were reading?"

She searched for a flippant remark, something about 'you guessed right – Rukia's my type', but nothing was there; her mind, her lips, her limbs were frozen. He wasn't going to apologize, she realized, and she would just let him tease her and tease her and tease her until she gave in.

He leaned a little closer and she could feel his heat radiating against her back. Karin squeezed her eyes shut, tried to think angry thoughts. Mostly she thought about how when he'd picked her up, he'd been wearing a long sleeved shirt, but the arms that wrapped around her while she sat on the couch were completely bare. She blinked, coming to a very uncomfortable realization. Ever so slightly, just enough to see him behind her, Karin turned her head. And saw the broad musculature of her brother's very naked, very flushed, very sweaty chest.

Karin decided to chalk it up to his dirty tactics, and turned around.

Ichigo smiled slightly and patted her on the head. "That's better."

Well, even with her righteous indignation and most of her dignity in shreds, she could still pout and not say anything.

"Hey, I'm sorry about earlier. 'Kay? Can we be friends again?" He held out a hand very seriously. Karin rolled her eyes, muttered 'sure', and shook it. "Hey," Ichigo said suddenly, holding up a bottle of soda in his other hand. "You want something to drink? It's pretty hot outside." He fanned himself as if to emphasize this point.

"Yeah." Karin tipped the bottle toward herself, wrapping her lips around the straw that poked out of the top. Her brother was the only person she knew who bothered to drink bottled soda through a straw. She took a sip. Sweet melon. That was her favorite and he knew it. She smiled a little, shedding her usual dour expression.

Abruptly, Ichigo leaned forward, flicking his tongue against her lips; she opened them pliantly, letting him kiss her. When he pulled back there was that sarcastic grin plastered on his face. "Didn't your parents ever teach you to share?" he ribbed.

"…I was reading 'One Hundred and One Things Hands Can Do (Besides Playing Piano)," she informed him, deciding to be generous with her forgiveness.

Ichigo spluttered a little, glanced down at the book she held, then back at her face, as if trying to decide whether she was serious. She raised her eyebrows at him noncommittally, wiggling her fingers. A noise that was somewhere between a cough and choking got caught in his throat. Finally, fighting back a savage blush, he jerked his thumb toward the couch. "Hey, you, uh, you wanna watch a movie?"

Or something. Karin smiled mischievously.

"Sure, Ichi-nii."