Pucker Up

Seven Kisses All Over Again

So as not to disturb his slumbering comrades, Ichigo went down the list in a low whisper:

"Hook?"

Rukia nodded. "Check."

"Line?"

Another nod. "Check."

"And sinker?"

She closed the tackle box, clicked it shut, and sighed wearily, "Check."

Shouldering the fishing poles, Ichigo took a look around the quite campsite. There were two large tents. One for the boys and one for the girls. Dawn had yet to break. Everyone was still fast asleep, tucked away safely in their sleeping bags. The bonfire had been reduced to a pile of flickering embers.

Ichigo nodded approvingly. Not a single soul would miss them at this God forsaken hour. "Let's go," he whispered and headed up the trail.

They walked in silence up the winding old trail, guided by the flashlight's ghostly yellow glow. "Have you been fishing before?"

Rukia covered up a wide yawn. "Not at this hour." She glanced at the fishing poles; her eyes were tired but smiling. "Not with you either. Should be interesting."

The lake was slapped across the flat of a small valley, like a glossy black mirror gazing up at the magnificence of morning twilight. There was a rickety little dock stretching across the silent water. It was a half rotten bridge linking together two entirely different kingdoms. And all along the muddy banks there was a mantle of thorny vines that twisted together in thick green braids, and curled around the lake's slender shoulders.

The dock creaked and rocked as Ichigo perched himself on the end. Rukia settled next to him, laying the fishing rod across her lap. "Aren't you going to fish?" he asked, releasing the hook from the cork hilt of his pole. He cast it out, listening to the line zip through the air until the hook hit the water with a small plop.

Rukia replied with a shake of her head and scooted a little closer, linking her arm around his elbow. She sighed, resting her brow on the base of his shoulder, her cheek buried in furrow of his sleeve.

Hook.

The warmth of her small figure made his spin, much like the whirling reel on the fishing pole as he reeled it in to make another cast, yet he failed to push her away. It was, after all, five-O-three in the morning.

The worm wiggled helplessly while the brass hook dangled in the air, but Ichigo could hardly make out its silent pleas. It was after all five-O-four in the morning and there was the presence of sweet perfume to occupy his senses, and put him in a semi euphoric state.

Line.

Above the dusty cosmos slowly faded, and the stars disappeared one by one into the growing blush of a roseate dawn. A gentle breeze swept across the slumbering velvet hills, stirring cotton flowers and yellow dandy lions.

He cast the hook out again, listening to the line zip through the air and land with a small plop, where it fluttered to the bottom of the lake, drowning the little worm.

Ichigo smiled a little. It was fine since there was nobody to see his smile but the hills and the lake and of course, Rukia, all of whom could keep the secret. "A little early for fishing?"

He felt her chest lift in a peaceful sigh. "Not really," she said softly. "If anything, you're the one to blame."

"Me? Why me?"

Rukia's reply was not necessarily a vocal response, but rather it was elaborated in the language of touch, verbalized by a vocabulary memorized best with the lips and the hands.

She laughed slightly, pressed her lips on the tender spot behind his jaw, and whispered, "Just because." Her lips moved up his cheek, kiss by kiss, until she found his lips. Again and again and again.

And sinker.

They say that the grass is always greener on the other side. Ichigo had waded to this lush wonderful bank, from a mushy nacho infested marsh and he was never, never going back to that sloppy wasteland.

His first kiss had been the absolute worst in the history of all kisses. But with every one that followed, the vivid horror of that prehistoric kiss slowly vanished, one kiss after another.

The sun had barely chipped the horizon, and Rukia had him by the gills; hook, line, and sinker, by five-O-six. That blasted sugary Chap Stick was the bait, and he kept falling for it time and time again. Rukia had snagged his attention way back at two, reeled him in at three, kept him from wiggling away at four, and by five Ichigo had realized with a gentle blow to the cheek how much he really liked her. Ishida (the bastard) had caught them at six.

And seven?

Seven was on a rickety, half rotten dock, and after seven he lost count. The number did not matter. Just the slow, elaborate motions of sugar glazed lips.

The fishing pole slipped out of his grasp, slid into the icy waters with scarcely a splash.

Ichigo noticed only after the first few seconds. They both leaned over the side to watch his grandfather's fishing pole sink to the bottom of the lake.

Ichigo sighed. "Looks like I'm going swimming." He undid his shoes and was halfway in the water when he heard a thud, thud from behind. Rukia had discarded her shoes and socks too.

She plucked at the zipper on her coat; her gaze was aimed at the half rotten wood. "May I join you?"

A suggestive silence ensued. A few years ago when Ichigo had first met Rukia, he would have flipped at even the thought, but now he was older and things were different. Very different. He shrugged. It might be fun to fish for fishing rod with a girl.

Besides, there was nobody around except for the hills and the lakes, both of whom would cherish their secret in silence for the eternity of time itself.


A/n: Sadly, this is the last chapter. I'm very sad to see it end. I kept it seven chapters because seven is a good number (and I forgot the rhyme way back at three). I know I promised a few people extra chapters (which I still may post) but seven is supposed to be the ending. I hope as an ending it was at least satisfactory.
A final thank you to Al May (beta reader extraordinaire) and to everyone who reviewed!

So, good bye for now. Dont' forget to do somebody a favor and kiss them extrodinarily well!