Dedicated to the amazing Inazagi, who has written some beyond-gorgeous IchiRuki stories. Everyone go wish her a happy birthday, NOW!!

As a warning, this piece is still in its rough stages, so it's not great... but I've been too lazy to work on it recently. -.- In any case, I hope you guys can enjoy it despite its flaws. I'm sure there are plenty.

(And, as always, I don't own Bleach.)

3 AM

Jinta figured it was just his luck when he awoke at three AM to the reiatsu of a rather large hollow. It didn't feel close - much closer to Kurosaki, anyway, he thought as he rolled back over. But I won't be able to get back to sleep until that idiot does his job.

He waited five minutes. It was a strange feeling, he decided; restless, edgy, but so damn tired he didn't have the energy to do anything about it.

Six minutes. What's taking him so long? Even though it was just a hollow, it was still unsettling knowing that it was out in the open like that, doing God-knows-what to Karakura, which had already seen enough action during the war to last several lifetimes.

Seven minutes. Damn it! The anxious rush of adrenaline made him feel more and more awake by the second, and it was beyond him how no one else seemed to have awakened yet. Honestly, did he have to do everything around here? And how the hell was he supposed to get back to sleep afterward?

Eight minutes. Jinta let out a slow, frustrated sigh. "Kurosaki had damn well better be doing something important," he grunted to himself as he rolled sleepily out of bed.

Nearly running into the doorframe on his way out, Jinta followed the hollow's reiatsu to a remote street corner. Perfect, he thought as the hollow smashed its fist against a brick building. Just perfect. He's trying to destroy things. The bat in his hands felt so much heavier when he'd only had two hours of sleep, and Jinta swung a few times for practice, but his stubborn eyelids seemed to be closing of their own accord. Damn. He barely had time to huff angrily before his luck continued, and the two shinigami he'd been expecting to deal with the hollow in the first place suddenly appeared not twenty meters away from where he was standing.

"This is unbelievable." Jinta was about to shout out at the duo, asking them where they'd been, but a small hand clasped itself over his mouth before he could form the words.

"Let them handle this," said the small, timid voice of Ururu. Jinta's eyebrows flew up in surprise - did I wake her up? when the hell did she get here? - but he didn't quite have the energy to ask questions. For once he was more grateful than mad for her interference, and he obliged, just to humor her. He yanked Ururu's hand away from his mouth, and she put up surprisingly little protest as he dragged her to a narrow alley between two ancient-looking buildings a few meters away. He sat down purposefully, and Ururu followed suit.

After all, even being the dumbass that he was, Kurosaki could fight. If anyone asked, Jinta was staying for backup - but he might as well learn a trick or two in the meantime, right?

Ichigo swung at the hollow, missing it by only a fraction of an inch, but it was quick and it dodged out of his way. Rukia stayed back a little, intending to let Ichigo finish the job, but she rolled her eyes as he missed it a second time.

Okay, Jinta thought, so maybe I should find a new shinigami to learn from. Freaking unreliable shinigami substitute, making me get up at three in the morning for this? He's almost as bad as the freeloader!

"You that distracted, Ichigo?" Rukia shouted, but there was a little too much concern in her tone for any of them to believe she'd said it entirely to mock him.

"At least I'm actually doing something!" Ichigo shot back, and he glanced back at Rukia with far too much confidence for someone who was about to -

"Ichigo! Pay attention!" Rukia shouted, this time with real panic overwhelming all other emotions in her voice. Ichigo turned around just in time to shield his face with Zangetsu, but he had to put one hand up to stop the sword's momentum before it hit him smack in the forehead. The hollow, which had obviously been expecting a free shot at Ichigo, collided headfirst with the blade and dissipated into the night air with a loud roar.

The impact was harder than Ichigo had expected, and even the blunt end of Zangetsu could do damage. Ichigo landed with a slight grimace, wrapping his right hand around the now cut and bleeding left one.

"You idiot!" Rukia shouted furiously, and Ichigo stared at her with slightly narrowed eyes. Jinta supposed that he was trying to think of a valid excuse for his worse-than-poor performance. He also supposed that Rukia would vehemently reject anything he said. It should be amusing, at least.

"What was that, Ichigo? You weren't concentrating at all, you could have gotten yourself killed! Look what happened with your own weapon! Imagine what could have happened if that hollow had gotten to you! Just because hollows aren't the most powerful creatures you've ever gone up against doesn't mean this is a game - "

"I know that!" Ichigo shouted back, desperate to stop her irritating - though, he wouldn't deny, well-deserved - rant. "I just - you - I... it was all your fault!" he blurted, pointing a finger in her direction for emphasis.

Rukia froze, her eyes wide, and blinked twice. Did he actually say that? His childish tone alone would have taken Rukia off guard, but she had to think very hard about the words themselves to come up with a way that they could possibly make sense. She drew a blank. "My fault?" she hissed. "How the hell is it my fault?"

"You dragged me out to chase hollows when we were in the middle of... I told you beforehand that I wouldn't be able to concentrate!" Ichigo blushed fiercely, and the words seemed to hit home at least a little to Rukia, because even despite her thick-headed demeanor, her face softened and she blushed some too. It made Jinta wonder exactly what they had been in the middle of doing when the hollow had appeared.

"Ichigo, you have to learn to control yourself," she said decisively, stepping closer to him. "I don't care what your excuse is, you can't go around making stupid mistakes like that and expecting to stay alive."

"I know," Ichigo said. Jinta wondered if he had really learned his lesson. It looked to him like Ichigo was just glad Rukia had stopped shouting.

Rukia took Ichigo's injured hand in hers and sighed heavily. She had really meant for it to come off as exasperated, but her relief was almost palpable. It could have been so much worse, don't you realize that?

Ichigo's eyes fixated on Rukia's face, and he smiled as he watched her concentrate on the healing kidou. It was nice, he decided, that for once she was healing rather than hurting him. He told her so.

For a moment, it appeared as though she hadn't heard him, and she continued with her work. Ichigo debated repeating himself, but he was spared the trouble the second Rukia finished. So suddenly it took him off guard, she shouted, "Idiot!" and punched him in the face. "I was being selfish."

"The hell are you talking about?" Ichigo demanded, rubbing his sore nose. Jinta snickered.

Without a preface, Rukia took the hand that had previously been injured into hers. "I didn't want your blood all over me," she explained simply, and she began to walk away. Ichigo's scowl morphed into a smirk as she tried to pull him along. He met her attempt with possibly more resistance than was necessary. "Let's go," she hissed at him, tugging insistently, but he didn't budge.

Rukia twisted her body to face Ichigo and grasped his hand in both of hers, bracing her feet against the concrete and leaning backwards as she repeatedly yanked at his arm. Ichigo, of course, was more than strong enough to stay upright even with her full body weight pulling against him. His smirk grew.

She should have realized what was about to happen, Jinta thought dully, though he did know from experience that sometimes the substitute shinigami could be so irritating that it drove all other thoughts away.

Ichigo opened his palm, and both of Rukia's hands slipped out of his. Still pulling with just as much force, but now with nothing to hold onto, Rukia began to fall backwards. She gave a surprised yelp and closed her eyes, mentally preparing herself for the inevitable impact with the hard concrete. A flood of negative words - bastard, jerk, and moron among them - popped simultaneously into her mind as she cursed him for being so damn difficult. She was surprised, however, to feel Ichigo's arms wrap firmly around her waist a split second later, stopping her fall and fogging her brain all in one motion.

She looked up at him, scowling at his maniacal grin. This was not funny. "Don't think you're gonna get points for chivalry, Ichigo. That was your fault in the first place," she shot. Jinta recognized it as her way of saying "thank you" to Ichigo, though she did have a valid point.

Ichigo swept Rukia completely off her feet and kissed her briefly before placing her back on the ground. Unexpectedly, sincerely, and so casually that it caught even perceptive Ururu off guard, he said, "I love you."

Though Jinta and Ururu could tell that this wasn't the first time she'd heard him say it, even Rukia herself seemed a little stunned by the sudden display of affection. There was only a little sliver of a crescent moon in the sky, and the dim streetlights didn't give off much light either, but it wasn't so dark that it hid the blush on her cheeks as Rukia replied, "I love you too, moron."

That seemed to make Ichigo happy, Jinta noted, because that stupid smirk lit up his face and he moved closer to Rukia, slowly circling his arms around her hips. Ururu shifted uncomfortably.

"Ichigo," Rukia whined, trying (unsuccessfully) to wrench his hands off her waist, "we're in the middle of a street."

Jinta honestly couldn't decide whether Ichigo was trying to be funny or if he was really that stupid, but regardless, Ichigo flash stepped himself and Rukia to the sidewalk and said, "No, we're not."

Rukia folded her arms across her chest and stuck her tongue out at him. Oh, that's mature. Honestly, she acts just as stupid as he does sometimes!

Jinta's thoughts were interrupted - with a small jump that he decided immediately to never admit to - as he felt a tug at his arm. "Let's go, Jinta-kun," Ururu said, even more quietly than usual.

"I want to stay and see what happens," Jinta argued, and Ururu's hands immediately flew to his mouth, frantically trying to shush him.

"Jinta-kun, be quiet! They'll hear us!" Ururu whispered urgently.

Jinta batted her hands away angrily. "Well, whose fault will that be? They really shouldn't be letting themselves fight off hollows if they're going to end up too wrapped up in each other to notice my reiatsu," he declared more loudly than was necessary, though Ururu was satisfied he was at least keeping his voice down some. And she couldn't help but admit to herself that he was right as she turned her attention back to the couple once more. Ichigo was working on prying Rukia's folded arms apart while Rukia muttered a constant stream of curses at him. They were both very obviously still unaware that they were being watched from ten meters away.

"He's not going to win against her," Jinta said, and he snickered softly. Ururu smiled. She contemplated going back - after all, she was tired, and her job was over - but she could see how Jinta enjoyed their struggle. Kuchiki-san and Kurosaki-san's interactions were always amusing, and she was curious about this new side of their relationship. Why they hadn't told anyone yet, she didn't know; it was nothing to be embarrassed over. It had always seemed natural and inevitable that they would be together one day.

Rukia, who was beginning to lose the battle, kicked Ichigo in the shin. Probably very hard, as Ichigo howled in pain and called Rukia some things that tempted Ururu to cover her ears. His grip slackened slightly, although he still didn't let go of her arms. Rukia was able to use the opportunity to her advantage, though, and she lowered her head and bit Ichigo's arm.

Jinta burst into silent hysterical laughter, pointing mockingly at Ichigo, who quickly dropped his arms but could only stare incredulously at Rukia for a minute before he was able to speak. "You bit me!" he accused, waving his arm in front of her face as if offering proof. "That's gotta be cheating!"

"Let's go home, Ichigo," Rukia suggested, ignoring the complaints coming from the orange-haired shinigami. She was just about to turn around to leave when Ichigo snaked his arms around her waist, sensually, insistently. It was embarrassing, really, and a little disconcerting that he knew exactly how to get his way with her (though, she reminded herself, she could do exactly the same with him).

Just not here.

"Ichigo, I really think we should go, we shouldn't - " Rukia's sentence was cut short by Ichigo's lips pressing hard against her own, and she was (justifiably, she told herself) distracted by the intensity of the kiss. Damn it, he's the one cheating now! He knows I lo... oh my g...

Rukia struggled to keep her thoughts in order - or, rather, just to keep them, period - and she began to wonder how long he would tease her about it if she did let him win this one.

Ironically, her last coherent thought was damn it, I can't start thinking like that! before she felt her back being shoved against something solid. Somewhere in the back of her mind it clicked that she had been near a brick wall, but she refused to waste any of her attention wondering just how she'd gotten pressed between it and... Ichigo... oh God...

Ururu watched in mixed horror and embarrassment as Rukia began to kiss Ichigo back. Once again she contemplated going back to the shoten, but she didn't want to leave without Jinta, and she didn't want to risk him shouting at her and ruining the couple's... moment. Jinta was watching them with a surprising amount of interest, almost like a television program he couldn't turn away from. Inexplicably, the word "cute" flashed through Ururu's mind, but it was quickly replaced with "disgusting" when she looked back at Rukia and Ichigo.

Rukia's arms were wrapped tightly around Ichigo's waist, and they looked kind of like they were trying to eat each other. Ururu couldn't see how either one of them could be getting much pleasure out of the exchange; Rukia's head was tilted almost fully back, and Ichigo was bent over so much it looked as if his back would start aching pretty soon. Ichigo tried to remedy the problem by lifting Rukia off the ground and pushing her further up the wall, but Rukia let out a sharp "ouch!" into his mouth as the scratchy brick wall became the only support for her weight. He apologized quickly, and she hooked her legs around his waist instead, not losing any time before going back to kissing him feverishly. Rukia seemed to have forgotten all about her idea of leaving... at least, until Ichigo grabbed her butt, and Rukia squeaked.

"Ichigo!" she shouted, dismayed. "Let's go home for this!"

"This?" Ichigo asked innocently, pressing his forehead against hers. "What exactly do you mean by 'this'?"

Rukia knew herself well enough to know that she got brainwashed - mesmerized, hypnotized, whatever! - every time she looked into his eyes, so she kept her gaze on his lips as she spoke. "Kissing," she replied lamely. "And... anything that might follow."

Unfortunately for Rukia, Ichigo had his argument ready too. "It's three o'clock in the morning, Rukia," - he kissed her forehead - "it's dark," - her cheek - "there's no one around," - her jaw - "and we're in shinigami form. Who's going to see us?" He ended at her neck, and Rukia's breath hitched in her throat as she felt his tongue trail lightly against her skin. Rukia closed her eyes, intending to regain her slipping composure, but as his words sank in - slowly, due to her impaired state of mind - she found herself forgetting why she had been putting up any resistance in the first place. She allowed herself to moan softly as Ichigo's movements became more and more frantic.

A sudden sharp, biting wind whipped across Rukia's face, and her eyes shot open in surprise. It took a full three seconds before she once again realized where they were (we might as well still be in the middle of the street!) and what time of year it was (November!) and why she couldn't allow him to continue (it's not proper, we'll both freeze to death, if anyone sees us - oh God, that feels good...)

"I - I don't feel right about this, Ichigo," Rukia managed to choke out, though she knew better than anyone - except perhaps Ichigo - that her control had limits, and that he was rapidly and dangerously approaching them.

Ichigo looked into her eyes hungrily, and the last bit of Rukia's resolve crumbled to pieces when he thrust his hips against hers, crushing her against the brick wall. It was all she could do to suppress the scream that threatened to explode from her lungs. She'd known from the beginning that if he kept being so damn insistent, she wouldn't be able to resist, and here she was, opening her mouth and letting out a quiet, almost pleading, "okay"...

"J-jinta-kun! I think we should go now," Ururu announced timidly, clearly more than a little embarrassed.

"Che. I'll say." Without another word, Jinta turned around as if it had been his idea to leave all along. Honestly, he'd already had quite enough entertainment for three in the morning without having to witness those stupid, stubborn morons getting steamy against the back wall of a convini. No need to tell them it was open 24/7; that was their problem.

Besides, that freeloader owes me five thousand yen.

Anna... I didn't know what else to write you!! -needs to watch more anime- LOL.