Prompt 1: Caretaker

----------

"Rukia?" He called cheerfully.

"Hanataro," She responded. When he approached her cell far enough for her to see him, she smiled. "It's good to see you."

His cheeks tinged red a bit. "It's…it's nice to see you as well," He carefully balanced the tray he had brought with him on his left hand, as he unlocked her cell with his right. "Are you hungry? I brought you something." He smiled kindly as he struggled to keep the tray stable and push the gate aside for him to get in.

She stood and hurried to him, taking the dish before it spilled from his clumsy hands. He then turned to quickly scamper back down the hallway to acquire something else. Meanwhile, Rukia scanned the tray's contents. She found two rice cakes placed neatly beside each other on a plate, a taiyaki on its own plate, a small bowl of miso soup, and a cup of warm green tea. "Hanataro, this looks lovely, thank you."

He returned with a broom in hand. "I made it myself," He told her as he closed the cell and walked to the back corners and began sweeping. "I hope you like it."

She made a face when he wasn't looking…she was afraid of his cooking. If he was such a klutz, what's stopping from screwing up in the kitchen? She picked up a rice cake, and gingerly bit into it. Not a moment after she got it into her mouth, she moaned softly.

Hanataro whipped around, a blush plastered onto his pale face. "Rukia…"

"Hanataro!" He flinched. "This is so good! Who knew you were a chef?" She smiled, and took another bite of the rice cake.

He smiled wide. "Thank you! But I assure you, the miso soup is the best thing there." He continued his sweeping, pleased that she enjoyed his cooking.

They talked about things that are going on in the Soul Society while she ate and he swept, just light conversation that kept the mood positive. How was everyone doing? Have Kiyone and Sentaro quit bickering yet? How is her captain, Ukitake-taichou? What about Lady Unohana? She didn't hear anything bad from him, and that was a relief.

After she had finished nearly her entire meal, and he was almost finished with sweeping, she turned to him. "Hanataro?"

"Yes?" He answered, not breaking his gaze from the bristles of his broom.

She smiled sweetly. "I'm so glad they chose you to be my caretaker."

He stopped. Stopped moving, stopped smiling, stopped breathing…"Me too, Rukia." He then continued to sweep, no smile on his face.

Because he knew that that was all he was to her…

Her caretaker…