A/N; This takes place about four years after Rukia and Ichigo meet.
Disclaimer; Kubo is delicious. He also owns everything. Including your soul.


"Love?" Ichigo propped his chin in his palm and stared across the table at Karin, scoffing. "Ha! You're both crazy."

"Come on, Ichi-nii," Yuzu quipped from the counter, stirring some cake batter or other in a large bowl. "You can't say there's nothing between you and Rukia-chan."

"Yeah," Karin said, mimicking her brother's posture. "She's been living in your closet for four years now. She's been borrowing stuff from us since she got here, and you're telling me you have no plan to keep her around?" The girl sniffed, glancing at her nails. "You know, if you marry her, Yuzu can get Rukia her very own pajamas."

"Why is she still wearing those after all these years...?" Ichigo mumbled to himself, running a hand through his hair.

Yuzu leaned over Karin's shoulder and smiled. "He didn't even react to the marriage thing, Karin-chan."

"Yup," the dark-haired sister nodded. "He's not even in denial anymore."

"WHAT?" Ichigo stood abrubtly, slamming his hands on the table. Yuzu straightened and resumed stirring the batter, her eyes focused on him intently. Ichigo narrowed is eyes. It not only irritated him that his sisters felt that they knew more about him on this personal matter than he did (being the freaking protagonist on the topic that he was), but it was also a bit confusing. Why would anyone think that he and Rukia would be... like that? From what he'd learned from manga and the like, he (the guy) would eventually fall for someone that reminded him of his mother.

Masaki, Rukia wasn't.

When his mother entered the room, it would be bathed in a warm glow. Masaki was like the sun in the Kurosaki residence. (Rukia was more like a spark. An idiotic, short, spastic, violent spark that never seemed to let out completely, no matter how often someone tried to smother her, or kick her out of their closet.) When his mother had let him sit on her lap, it was as though he was on top of the world, with a being made of pure kindness at his back. (The only time he'd ever been on Rukia's lap, it rained. Her legs were too skinny and there was nothing but unneeded worry covering him like a barrier. One that told him that there was someone who would indeed be very, very upset if he were to not heal.) When anyone looked at his mother, they saw a stong, feminine being. A kind, loving being. An honest being. Someone to look up to. Someone to hold hands with. (When you looked at Rukia, no one had the same opinion, besides possibly "she's much too short, much too skinny, much too scowl-y." Ichigo saw an almost childish being. An annoying, willful being. A... valorous being. On a good day. She was someone to listen to the second time around. Someone to tease. Someone to protect... but just to spite her.) Rukia was nothing like Masaki, hence, she could not be the one.

"Ichi-nii's gone space cadet on us, Yuzu." Karin looked over her shoulder at her sister, who grinned back.

"He's done that a lot in the past four years, don't you think, Karin-chan?" Karin grunted her affirmative, and slowly, Ichigo blinked back to life. "Thinking about the lovely Rukia?"

"Look," he said, catching his sisters' attention once more. "Don't say stupid things like, 'love,' okay? It's not... love." Ichigo nodded to himself. Karin snorted.

"You're right. It's not love. Couldn't be. You're too good for that." She waved her hand flippantly. "An overwhelming affection with a smidgen of lust, maybe, but not love. Never love."

"Acceptance is the first step, Ichi-nii!" Yuzu stirred happily.

Ichigo felt a tick in his eyelid. "Are you two... just not listening?"

"We hear you," Karin said, pushing herself to a standing position as well. "But we're girls."

"We know more than you do about things like this," Yuzu finished cheerfully, turning back to the kitchen counter.

"You do, huh?"

Karin grabbed her duffel bag from the counter beside Yuzu and waved ber brother goodbye.

"You'll be back for dinner, right, Karin-chan?" Yuzu called after her sister. She recieved a "sure" in return and was satisfied, pouring the viscous brown liquid into a metal pan. Ichigo watched her for a moment.

"Hey, Yuzu." She put the pan in the oven and it closed with a 'clang' as she turned around to look at him. "Since when has Karin been interested in this kind of stuff?"

"Stuff?"

"Love and junk."

"Oh!" Yuzu laughed. "Well, really, she just likes to tease you, but I think she may have been a bit frustrated."

"Frustrated?"

"Because it's taking so long for you and Rukia-chan to... to do anything." She tapped her chin with a finger. "I think her exact words were... 'Why doesn't he make a move already??'"

Ichigo gave an indignant snort. "Me?! Why not the dwarf??"

"What about the dwarf?"

Ichigo and Yuzu jumped. Rukia stood in the doorway, clad in a dark brown dress and jean jacket, a vein protruding from her forehead. She huffed and turned.

"Forget it. I'm accepting Renji's invitation."

"Invi... WAIT!" He jumped after Rukia, who had exited the same way Karin had moments earlier. "Do you know what going to an amusement park with a guy like that signifies??"

"An everlasting bond?"

"WHAT??"

"Well, that, or some other silly human realation thing."

"You're not thinking of going alone with him, are you??"

"So what if I am? I trust Renji."

"Don't!"

Yuzu listened to them squabble their way out the front door and giggled. This was Ichi-nii, after all. Sometimes he was slow on the uptake, but something was always inevitable. "It was fate, eh, Boss Tuff?" The teenage girl poked the stuffed lion in the nose affectionately. "Now, what to do, just you and me?"

She missed Boss Tuff's sweatdrop, though it was about the same that Rukia's vein was in terms of the obvious.

- fin -

... wherein my love for the Kurosaki sisters becomes shamelessly apparent.
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-Bya