Rukia's a killer and he knows it. He just forgets sometimes, is all. It's really strange—actually it makes Ichigo's head hurt a little—to think that she pauses from knitting back together the bones in his broken arm- or the stab wound in his abdomen- or whatever it is, that day and that fight—that she pauses from healing him to decimate something else.

One second she's putting him back together with cool, soothing kidou, and the next second the pain rushes back to him as she whips around and lops a Hollow's head off. And then the next second all he can feel are Rukia's ice-cold fingertips—after all, Shirayuki's hilt is freezing, always—on his skin and the life running through his veins and he can breath again.

Today he's lying on the concrete, vision blurred and panting heavily, and he's confused because he'd only gotten a small cut but it still feels like someone's injected liquid pain into him. He half wants to scream since it feels like his blood has been replaced with acid running through his veins and eventually his tired brain registers owshit, poison. He knows he needs help but suddenly all he can think about is that his hand feels strangely empty and he feels strangely insecure. He starts and panic and realization set in; he forces his arm to the side and gropes blindly for Zangetsu, Zangetsu, where are you Zangetsu, I really need you right now—

and suddenly weight of his zanpakuto is placed into his palm, and Kuchiki Rukia's smooth voice fills the air. "I'm sorry it took so long, Ichigo. I was preoccupied with a rather stubborn Hollow." She doesn't wait for a response, but kneels down and sheathes Shirayuki with one graceful motion.

She eyes his partially-disintegrated robes and swallows, recognizing the poison. Wasting no time, she places her hands on his chest and pushes strong kidou into him, trying to remove the toxin. Ichigo tries not to blink but has to look away after staring at her too long. She's brighter than the sun but she's his dark side of the moon.

Ichigo notices that the ice crystals hanging from her fingertips today aren't silver like he always believes, but are tinted pink at the ends. It takes him a few seconds to realize that it's frozen blood.

He's not disgusted but fascinated by the image. To him it proves that Rukia is a shinigami through and through. Because that's what shinigami are: killers and saviors, destroyers and healers, omens of death and hope. I'm the same, Ichigo realizes. He's a good guy, he's strong, he's a hero, but he would destroy to protect what was important to him. She finishes filtering his blood, and it doesn't slip past him that she leaves her palms on his chest a little longer than necessary before standing up.

He would kill anything and everything he had to to keep her near him, to laugh at her drawings, to feel her fingertips running down his jaw, to have her save him again and again and to do the same for her, and the thing is that of course Ichigo is young, but he's grown up quickly, and he still doesn't know one damn thing about love except that it feels like this.

shrug I don't know. It was in my head. Hopefully it turned out well?


P.S. This is unrelated, but if anyone's read or followed Merit, Demerit I'm working on the next chapter now. I know it's been a long time, sorry- but hopefully it'll be up soon!