A/N: I probably owe you guys big. This particular IchiRuki one-shot is dedicated to someone who has helped me improve on my stories, and has made me feel great each time I speak with her. Her own stories are stories that bring upon smiles on my face when I get home from a stressful day from school; this was suppose to be done on her birthday weekend, and I'm so sorry I wasn't able to as I wished. I hope you weren't too upset. Thank you so much...Theresa Crane, this one is personally for you (seriously).

I also I want to give out a big "THANK YOU" to the reviewers, don't think you weren't in my head as well, because you were. You're always in my head when I write, I have to think of your better interest don't I? Thank you all for the reviews for "Sweet Child o' Mine" and I'll try to update as soon as I possibly can.

This is a "What if" thing, if Rukia witnessed the infamous of famous (depending on who side you're on) almost kiss scene in BLEACH before Inoue departed for HM. I hope you enjoy yourselves as much as I did writing it. 17 pages lovelies, and they all for you. There is also a sentence that comes from the song "Sally's song" from Nightmare before Christmas, I do not own it.

Also fully aware of the errors in this one-shot, sorry if it becomes difficult to read.

I do not own BLEACH, Tite Kubo does.

Read. Relish. Review.

A mighty pain to love it is,
And 'tis a pain that pain to miss;
But of all pains, the greatest pain
It is to love, but love in vain.

-Abraham Cowley

She wanted to make sure he was okay. To make sure he wasn't in any type of pain, that was her reasons for sitting beside his bedroom door. It was her duty to make sure he was okay, to make sure he was sleeping soundly without any disturbances. Yet, even though he was sleeping soundly in his bed, Rukia wanted to check up on him. Why? Well, simply because it was her duty and no others to do such. Also, because it was obvious that she wanted to. Sighing, Rukia pushed her small frame up and opened a small crack in the door, just to make sure he was sound.

Opening the crack in the door, Rukia was able to see him. In the bright moonlight his face shined heavenly, his breathing easy, and everything was sound. She inwardly scolded herself for being so worrisome, but how could she not? She always worried about him; she always had to worry about him because he was the one who always got into trouble.

Well, she didn't exactly have to worry about him-but she did.

Ichigo didn't understand, he never understood how much she worried about him. He actually found it a bit bothersome to have someone worry about him as much as she did. It wasn't as if she nagged him each second of each day; it was when they were fighting, when his blood would be spit onto the ground. Today was a perfect example. When he returned from battle, he was a bloody pulp. Even Ushoda wasn't able to heal him fully, leaving only the advice to let him go home.

As she waited patiently, Karin and Yuzu came to eat beside their older brother. How could she say no? Rukia smiled and opened the door for them as she waited outside the door; she didn't even have the heart to wake them up as they slept peacefully on the floor.

Yes, everything was sound, everything was as it should be. A small smile crept on Rukia's features, she was going to turn away and take back her seat on the hallway floor, or even go to the girls' room for some rest. Before she could even take a step from the door, a figure made its way inside Ichigo's bedroom. Pausing for a brief moment, Rukia made sure sleep wasn't playing tricks on her mind, but it wasn't. Peering through the small crack, Rukia was able to easily point out who the figure was.

Inoue Orihime.

She bit her lip. What was Inoue's reasons for this, couldn't she see that Ichigo was resting? What would Karin and Yuzu say if they woke up and saw Inoue standing in Ichigo's room? She had the nerve to drag her out of the room herself, she was suppose to be in Soul Society. All Inoue did while standing in his room was stare. Rukia tilted her head to the side, finding this slightly foreboding. She was sniffing up his air, staring down at Yuzu and Karin, and finally turned her soft gaze upon him.

Inoue moved carefully towards him, letting her hand lay gently across his hand. Her eyes stared down at him, her eyes mellowing down. Then she lowered herself, lowering herself greatly. Rukia involuntarily jumped, her nails scratching on the walls. Inoue continued to lower herself, to the point that she and Ichigo's lips were only inches apart. Rukia's eyes widened exceptionally, and without knowing she grabbed onto her heart.

Inoue couldn't.

She wouldn't.

Inoue didn't. With the grace of God Inoue stopped right there, right where their lips would have touched. When her eyes opened, tears began to fall like a waterfall. Then she began to babble foolish things about what she wanted to be when she was an adult and how things would change. And how she would live five different lives, how she would go to five different cities, and how she would have five different jobs.

And with each life she would live, she would love the same person.

Kurosaki Ichigo.

Rukia didn't know how she felt when Inoue said her final goodbye and when she vanished. At the moment when it exactly happened, she didn't know if she should be happy for Inoue for confessing how she truly felt or be insanely jealous for confessing how she truly felt. The sudden event was erased from her mind when she was given the mission by her brother to follow Ichigo to Hueco Mundo to bring back Inoue.

Her mind was entirely focused on bringing back Inoue and saving Soul Society. Once that was over, however, Rukia's mind wasn't focused on anything important, except that fateful night. She should have been ashamed of herself, really. She understood that Inoue was leaving that night, but she didn't say anything. All she did was remain in a stunned state in the hallway, her mouth opened, and finally retreating to bed. When the realization that she left with the Arrancar swept to their group of friends, Rukia truly didn't know what to feel.

Sad, frightened, or relieved.

Feeling relief sickened Rukia; Inoue was one of good friends, how could she possibly feel relieved that she was taken with the enemy? That her gracious powers were used for the destruction of Soul Society and the destruction of the world itself, how could she have felt that way? These feelings came upon her after the Winter War, after the world was nearly destroyed. If she was able to comprehend her feelings fully then Rukia would have no problem, she wouldn't have any doubts in her mind or her heart.

There it was, the problem. Rukia didn't understand why she was upset, she didn't understand why she felt this way.

Ichigo felt something wrong.

It had been two weeks since the Winter War, the Arrancar and Aizen were finally defeated and both the living world and Soul Society was able to live in peace at last. But something was wrong, Ichigo could feel it. When the battle first began Rukia held a fierce battle spirit and was prepared for the upcoming war; however, since it has ended he felt a sudden emptiness between the two of them. Soul Society assigned her to remain in Karakura Town until further notice, Ichigo was sure that it was indefinite term and she wouldn't be leaving anytime soon.

She was avoiding him.

At school and at home, the most time he gets to spend time with her real time with Rukia is during hollow extermination routes. Yes, the Winter War is over. No, it didn't mean that all the hollows were gone. During those hours with her there would be little conversation. He would even start a fight with her just to her here talk to him. Majority of the time his insults got her going, but then she would realize what was going on and clamp her mouth shut. He would scowl and curse at her before she would go the other way to take down her nearby hollows. When they would meet after, Rukia would examine his minor wounds, sighing and shaking her head in disapproval.

She even gave him the occasional, "Ichigo you idiot" look.

There wouldn't' be anything else, and they would return home in silence. It was annoying, it was frustrating. He wanted to talk to her, he needed to talk to her. Not the occasional "hello" or "later" or even "how do you do?" he needed to have an actual conversation with her.

He wasn't the alone in the cold shoulder act.

All of their friends could tell that something was wrong with the raven haired girl and the strawberry. She could talk to Asano whenever he was flirting with her, or even Chad when he asked about Chappy the Rabbit, it wasn't enough. Tatsuki inquired if anything was wrong, Rukia shrugged it off and said it was no worry. Most of their friends, both female and male, began to start Ichigo questions on what was wrong.

He couldn't give them an answer.

In response he shoved his hands in his pocket and walked away in silence. He couldn't respond to them verbally, because he didn't even know, and that was saying something. Ichigo couldn't do anything, he couldn't say a single thing to them to reassure them that nothing was wrong, that everything was actually sound."Kurosaki-kun has been staring at Kuchiki-san for some time now."

Inoue watched the strawberry blond with interest. It was recess and everyone was either on the roof of the school or in the classroom. Unlike his friends, who made their ways upstairs to the roof, Ichigo resided in the classroom. Staring at the window, Inoue followed his hard gaze to the school yard. Inoue had remained inside to gather her lunch-another oddball concoction she though of the previous night. She took careful steps behind him, and peered carefully to see who or what he was looking at.

Rukia was sitting on a sturdy branch, her violet eyes staring up into the bright blue sky. Ichigo wasn't able to see the look she was giving out to the sky; he felt that the big blue sky was getting more attention than anyone of them. A tender wind past by brushing against her snow white skin. Inoue frowned, she didn't like this, she didn't want it to be like this.

His eyes held confusion and longing, all directed to Kuchiki Rukia.

She wanted it to be her.

"Kurosaki-kun," her voice breaking the silence, "is something wrong?"

Ichigo turned around swiftly, his eyes widening. He wasn't being as alert as he usually was, which he found annoying, but it was a clue to others that something was bothering him. Turning his attention from the Kuchiki girl who was sitting in the tree, Ichigo gave Inoue his regular look. Casual and with a normal scowl.

"No Inoue," Ichigo scratched the back of his head uncomfortably, "nothings wrong."

Her eyes lowered, "Its about Kuchiki-san isn't it?"

He flinched, it was that obvious. Lowering his hand a deep sigh left his lips and turned his head towards the chalkboard and away from Inoue. Ichigo, like everyone else, didn't know what was going on the shinigami's mind. The little fact itself angered him. He was the one who understood her, he was the one who would know what she was thinking. Besides it was his duty to know these things, what made her angry, what made her sad, what made her happy. It wouldn't be right for him not to know, for him not to understand what was going on in her mind.

It wouldn't be right if they weren't sound.

"She's...," he considered his words, "been distant lately."

"Distant?" Inoue curled the word in an exquisite tone, for she knew what Ichigo meant by distant. Since the Winter War, the raven haired girl whom she had learned to admire and respect deeply just...detached herself from the rest of the group. Inoue could feel it the hardest, because she was the one who was taking the deepest blow. She didn't know if it was intentional or not, but whenever she waved at Rukia or attempted to say high-Rukia's response would always seem force. A seldom look, nonadjacent of this world, and holding slight anger. After a few seconds awaiting a response Rukia would curl her straight line of a mouth into a smile that seemed as dead as herself.

Inoue didn't know why.

She had a foreboding feeling on what was going on in Rukia's mind.

"Yeah, I know you've felt it too." Inoue nodded, "Maybe its because of the war, it was really difficult all the same, maybe she's suffering from stress."

"Stress, maybe so."

His tone of voice sounded indifferent to Inoue. Sounded as if he didn't believe it, which he didn't. Inoue was no fool, yes she was ditz, but she wasn't a fool. Even she knew there was something deeper surrounding them all. A deeper essence crowded them all, pitching them away from each other.

"Kurosaki-kun," Inoue called out to him when he reached the door.


Maybe...if its possible.

She forced a bright smile, "I'm sure everything will work out between you and Kuchiki-san."

Ichigo nodded, "Yeah thanks."

With that he left the classroom to meet up with his friends on the roof, leaving to go to his friends on the roof.

Inoue's bright smiled disappeared as soon as he left. If it was Rukia's smile, if she was the one who was forcing a smile, he would know it was fake. He would begin questioning her on what was wrong and why she was lying to him. He would let it go for the time being when she would deny anything, and wait for a better time to bring it up again. He would watch her from afar, wondering what was going on. Trying to decipher her feelings, trying to extract them from her so he could see them in a better light. Piece by piece he would read, piece by piece he would feel.

He would understand.

He would see in a bright light.

He would know.

If she was her, but she was not her, she was Inoue Orihime. She was a classmate of Kurosaki Ichigo, a mutual friend, and also a comrade. The borderline between friendship and love would never be crossed, she knew that-she could vividly see it.

He would never see how much he means to me, I don't think its meant to be.

She wasn't going to cry, she refused to let the tears run down her cheeks. Letting the pure realization run through her like pouring rain, Inoue leaned on the wall, her body falling gently onto the cold floor. Breathing heavily, Inoue's mind began to think. She began to think hard, she began to think very hard. Something was wrong and as long as nothing was said then it would never get better. Ichigo was struggling with himself, and it was obvious no matter how much he wanted to...he wasn't going to speak with Rukia directly anytime soon. There other friends, who were mainly consisted with boys, would rather conversant with Ichigo than Rukia.

Unless it was Asano, that was another topic.

Inoue was going to do something good, she was going to help.

She was going to repair.

"Alright kids," the teacher called to her racing students, "don't forget exams are this week!"

"Inoue-chan," Tatsuki was holding her bag behind her back, "aren't you coming?"

They continued to sit by each other in class, their desks across from each other. Inoue, who would regularly watch Ichigo, found herself observing both Rukia and Ichigo. She noticed how Ichigo would steal quick glances at the raven haired girl, and how she would divert her own eyes from the teacher to him in return. In some cases, during the final hours of the school day, Rukia's eyes would become dull and depressed. Confused, distressed, Inoue was able to spot these emotions easily-which was not usual. Rukia was not only known for her fierce attitude, but for her high ability to hide her emotions. Feelings such as confusion, distress, sadness-they did not show often, rarely.

There they were-so out there, so evident.

Unlike Rukia.

Ichigo...well he was the same. Uncertainty and frustration, so many things were swelling up inside the both of them. Most of the class, even the teacher, felt the tension.

"Inoue-chan," Tatsuki gently shoved her, "are you walking home with us?"

Shaking her head, "Kuchiki-san, today is our day to clean up the classroom."

Rukia flashed Inoue a look that held a dark aura. If Inoue was oblivious to it or she flat out ignored it, she didn't show any type of distress and neither did Rukia. Forcing a fake smile on her face, Rukia nodded swiftly.

"Of course Inoue-san," she said in her school girl voice, "how could I possibly forget."

Ichigo interjected, feeling that they should be discussing some certain aspects, "Rukia, don't you think-"

"There is no need to fear Kurosaki-kun," she responded before her could say anything, "I'll bring Kuchiki-san home as soon as I possibly can, she won't be gone for too long!"

"Yeah, no need to worry so much."

Ichigo stared at Rukia, his eyes searching for something-anything, that could tell him what was wrong. He knew he was defeated, he knew he couldn't get any information out of her. He sighed, throwing his bag across his shoulder and walked out of the door with a casual walk. Their friends watched him leave in silence, not daring to respond or even talk to him.

Breaking the silence Ishida coughed loudly, "Well, it seems that Kuchiki-san will not be walking home with us, and you as well Inoue-san?"

"Sorry Ishida-kun," she knocked onto her head, "Kuchiki-san and myself have a lot of cleaning to do."

He lowered his gaze slightly, "Yes, Inoue-san I understand, see you later."

Sado followed him in silence, his dark eyes telling Inoue what she do.

Fix this Inoue-san, I know you can do this.

Sado was always the type of person who could speak with others using his eyes or his music. She had went to one of his concerts once, and was blown away by his music. His voice was riveting and smooth, showing the affection a mother would show to a child. His fingers would move gracefully on the guitar strings, never meeting a beat. He could understand things so easily, Inoue was sure he even knew what was going on between Ichigo and Rukia, but refused to say anything about it.

It was true.

He did know.

He didn't know all the facts, of course, he isn't a physic. But he understood something had transpired between not only Ichigo and Rukia, but Ichigo, Rukia, and Inoue. He saw the glares that would come across Inoue in class or in the hallway, how Rukia would glance from the brighter orange to the darker one. He couldn't see why no one else had noticed it, how Inoue could not notice it. She did however, she saw it, but as Sado she refused to acknowledge it as well. It didn't take long for the entire school to empty itself out, even the teacher didn't decide to say, calling it "I may have more work to do, get to it later" moment. For the first few minutes, Inoue and Rukia worked in silence.

Which was completely absurd because it was not Rukia's first time cleaning up the class after school, and it was not her first time working along side Inoue while cleaning. Previous sessions such as these resulted in paper ball wars and little work actually being done until late in the evening. They would both return home with dust covering their school uniforms, smiling snidely at the fond memories they had created.

Not today, goodness no.

Work was being done, and there wasn't any childish giggles or yells. No paper ball wars had been started or even throw, work was being done without laughter or joy.

It was just plain disturbing.

Inoue wanted to say something, anything. God, the silence was killing her! There was so much tension in the room, one would surprise how much only two people could create. She was sweeping the floor as Rukia was cleaning the chalkboard erasers. She wasn't even looking at her, and when Rukia would clean the erasers-nothing would be clean. By this time while working she would have already thrown an eraser at Inoue, who would dodge it and throw a paper ball at her.

That was not happening.

Inoue had to think up of something, anything to make the Kuchiki girl speak. Maybe a casual approach...

"I know what you're doing Inoue-san," she said in a cold tone, "and its not going to work."

Inoue involuntarily clutched harder onto the wooden part of the broom, her eyes raising up to Rukia. Setting down the eraser, Rukia turned around to stare at her with a dull look. There were so many...thoughts running through inside her head. Thoughts that she was both appalled and relieved to think of. She pushed back both her evil and good thoughts to the back of her mind, setting her brain to focus on what was happening now.

"What are you talking about Kuchiki-san," her voice sounding so oblivious to what was going on.

Rukia glared, "Don't act dumb Inoue," she nearly hissed, "I know you're trying to speak with me-to know what's wrong."

"Well yes," Inoue said in a firm voice, "you've been acting different lately, and we all would like to know why."

"Know what Inoue," she sounded annoyed, "there isn't nothing to know."

"If you weren't acting the way you are, then I would believe you-we wouldn't be doing this."

The way she said it, she sounded force. Rukia's eyes appeared to be uncaring and indifferent to her words, and as if nothing happened as if Inoue hadn't say a single word, she went back to cleaning the board in silence. No, Inoue wasn't going to quit, she had her talking-she could find out more if she pressed.

"Kuchiki-san," she continued to sleep, "you're not being fair."


Fair, when was her life fair? When was anything fair?

"Stop it Inoue," a dark hissed (not intentional) slipped out her lips, "don't do it."

"What did Kurosaki-kun do, Ishida-san, or even Sado-san, what did they do?" "Did they something to you, did they do something-tell me."

Rukia didn't reply, her back was still facing Inoue, and she refused to respond.

But Inoue was being uncharacteristically persistent today, she was not going to be swayed. Something was wrong; no matter how fearful she was of Rukia, yes she was indeed an intimidating person when forced to, she was going to understand what was going on.

She was going to make things sound.

As for Rukia, she didn't have the energy to do it. She didn't feel like talking, and could you blame her? She was still struggling with herself. Had she ever felt any of these emotions that were swimming through her like an aquarium. Yes, that one time in her life, when she was first starting out as a shinigami. When she officially became a shinigami, there was that period of time. The specific period of time was over, it ended tragically and it became a burden on her. She wasn't going to let it happen again.

Yet...she was still upset at Inoue. Anger for the girl was still evident, and she didn't understand. It was sickening really, she had done so many good things for her. She was her friend, how could she act this way towards her? Rukia wasn't even suppose to see it, she was suppose to be waiting outside the door in the hallway. Staring at the wall in silence, not peeking inside Ichigo's room to make sure he was okay. It was mainly her fault, if she thought about it throughly, she shouldn't have been so worrisome.

Of course it wasn't her fault, it was simply of one those things that happen and you can't change.

It was coincidence.

Or it was luck.

It could've been fate.

Possibly, in Rukia's mind, it was one of those bitchy things that life swings at you to laugh in your face once its over.

"Yes," she was picking up pieces of paper off the floor, "it was something someone did."

"Who, what happened Kuchiki-san," Inoue pressured, "tell me."

"No." She replied in a calm tone.

"No?" Inoue seemed dubious, "Why not, why no-Kuchiki-san I'm only trying to help."

Rukia shot back at her, "Your help is not needed or wanted."

She didn't mean for it to sound so cold, nor did she mean to hurt Inoue's feelings. But she was getting on Rukia's nerves, piercing at her with her logic. Who knew she even had it in her? Inoue was no fool, she could be perspective when the need came for it. In a way, it annoyed Rukia when she wished not speak of things that she believed shouldn't be spoken. Inoue's mouth dropped. She knew Rukia could be a bit...cruel at times, but she had never anticipated for her to downright shoot her down in her attempts to repair things. If she hadn't known any better, she felt a tinge of anger towards her and annoyance.

"Kuchiki-san," she went off without thinking, "stop that, don't you see how your behavior is effecting everyone, how its affecting Kurosaki-kun?"

Inoue noticed Rukia flinching at the sound of his name, but she continued. "He's confused Kuchiki-san, and he doesn't know how to approach you on the subject, he just wants to help."

"Help, funny isn't it," she glared at the eraser, "help can be of no use when the person who is trying to help is the source of the problem."

Rukia hadn't intended for it to come out that way, and when the words escaped her mouth with such ferocity, she immediately clamped her mouth shut. The damage had already been done. Inoue's facial expression gave Rukia know doubt that she fully understood what she meant by that. Unlike Inoue, very unlike her, she became angry. Her once dim smile was immediately wiped off her face, replaced with a deep frown caressing her skin. Letting the broom drop onto the fall, making a hard thud, she stared at Rukia with silent anger.

"I know that you are upset Kuchiki-san," she said in a polite tone, "but I don't think..."

"What?" Rukia was getting snappy, "No need to be loose, no need to say what I feel-didn't you ask for it Inoue?"


"Don't Kuchiki-san me," she hissed darkly, "you have no right-I know what you did."

Inoue blinked.

Obviously confused, "What are you talking about Kuchiki-san, I haven't done anything."

Rukia had the nerve to grab her by her precious locks and rip them out furiously until she remembered. But she didn't see the circumstances at hand to be so serious to beat the living daylights out of her, even though her darker side believed differently. Knowing she was digging her own grave and that there was no way to pull herself back up, Rukia stood her ground. Her firm face became even firmer, and Inoue's mouth-well-it remained a tad bit open.

Forcing her composure to remain solid, "You should know," she hissed dangerously, "you should know all too well."

"I'm sorry, but I don't know," Inoue shot back strongly, "I don't know what you're talking about Kuchiki-san."

Rukia snapped, but it was not intended. "Hell you don't, what about when you first left to join Aizen, where did you go-whose house did you arrive to to say your final goodbye."

Inoue's eyes widened in realization. No, Rukia couldn't have been possibly been there. And more importantly, if she was, she shouldn't have been able to sense her reiatsu. Rukia answered her question.

"Pure coincidence," she said in cold tone, "I was sitting by the door, and by pure coincidence I found you there-how could you do something like that, it wasn't you're right."

"That's not fair Kuchiki-san," Inoue was angry, "you just can't say that-I wanted to say my final goodbyes to him, I wanted him..."

"To what?" She scoffed, "Know your feelings for him-why didn't you go to Tatsuki, the main person who was entirely concerned for you."

Ichigo didn't know why he was going back to the school. Inoue had said that they weren't going to be long, and he was positive they weren't going to be. Well, unless they got into a paper ball war, but due to Rukia's strange behavior he doubted it. He didn't understand, which was wasn't unusual, what was going on. He knew there was a drastic change in Rukia, that much was fact. The main problem was caused what was wrong with her? Was it something he did-she would have said something, was it Renj? No, if it was the damn red head he would know. Maybe it was Byakuya? He was never too fond with Rukia living in the human world; however, Rukia was exacting her inner rage to everyone and not just Ichigo.

Maybe he should turn back, he could always talk to Rukia about the matter later.

But-there was always a chance she would end up coming home late, and then she would be too tired to talk about anything.

Sighing, Ichigo continued on his way, it couldn't be all that bad if he decided to stick around.

Could it?

As he progressed to his classroom, his thoughts began to stir. There weren't any shouts, but there was indeed a suspenseful feeling in the atmosphere. Tension filled the air that he sucked in with each breath, and he understood why when he finally made it to his classroom. Rukia and Inoue-they were arguing. Both uncommon for the both of them, to be disagreeing with each other, Ichigo took a silent step back and watched in awe of the actions that were beginning to unfold.

"Kuchiki-san," her voice shaking, "I did it because...because I thought I would never see him again!"

"Does that make it any better," Rukia shot back, "you had no right!"

"That's being completely out of line," tears threatening to fall, "I care for Tatsuki-chan, I truly do, but I wanted to say those things to him, because well-I thought I would never see him again, and besides what would you know?"

"What?" Rukia asked incredulously, " What did you say?"

"I said how would you know, how is it to feel this way, to hold these feelings." Inoue said more confidently than before.

She didn't.

"How would you know that looking at him, and knowing good well he could never be yours, do you know how that feels-knowing that you could never be more?"

Rukia bit her lip. The hurtful part wasn't that she didn't know how that felt, oh no. Quite the contrary was the simple fact was that frightened Rukia to no end was that she did know how it felt. She knew how painful it was, knowing that nothing more could come from their relationship, despite her hidden desire. She knew how heart breaking it was how he looked at her in his friendly way instead of something indicating he felt more. So yes, she understood very well how it felt. She didn't want Inoue to know that did she?

Naturally, no.

"Still," her voice cracking, "you don't go into his bedroom and...and do something so, so damn random!"

"Random?" "It was not random, I thought heavily about it."

"If you did I wouldn't have witnessed it!"

"Kuchiki-san I love him, I do-I love Kurosaki-kun!"

Ichigo's mouth dropped. Did Inoue just say-oh no, she did just say it. She said she loved him. Obviously it wasn't in the friendly type of love he usually displayed all the time, it was the real deal. He watched as Rukia's face turned red with anger, and she began to huff furiously a sign that Inoue was stepping in dangerous territory. After having more experience with her, Ichigo knew very well what was going to happen (if he was the case) if Rukia was pushed to the edge.

Or so he thought.

"You can't love him!" Rukia hissed out dangerously, "You...its wrong!"

"Wrong, what's so wrong about it, what's so wrong about me loving him Kuchiki-san?"

Rukia shook her head furiously, loosing all control of her mind and mouth.

No, she can't.

Why not? She can love him if she pleases.

No, because he's...I...no.

"What's wrong about it," she mused with the words, "a lot of things are wrong with it Inoue."

"Name one!"

What was so wrong with Inoue loving Ichigo? What was so bad about it? In reality, there wasn't really anything wrong about it. He was a human, she was a human, they lived in the same world. As for Rukia...well, it was a different case. She didn't live in this world, it was mainly temporarily. Soul Society had always been an unpredictable place, anything wrong anything out of place could happen. It was never guaranteed for her to live forever in the human world, with her friends, with him.

Things could never be forever sound.

If that was the case, if that was case...

why was it wrong for Inoue to love him?

What was so wrong with her loving him?

"Give me a reason to not love him Rukia," Inoue's voice suddenly becoming hard, a very unlike Inoue moment. Rukia stared at her, her eyes confused and unsure. She still didn't understand, she couldn't describe why it was wrong for her to love him. Dammit, why couldn't the answers be easier? Why couldn't they be nicer, easier to read and see in the dark. Why did the answers have to hide from her, or if they were right in front of her, why couldn't see them?

"You can't because...," she shouldn't be going with this, "because...because I care too much for him to be taken away from me."

She didn't say those three words, but it was enough for Inoue to finally back down. All the jealousy, all the anger that she had held towards the girl, simply washed away. Rukia's voice sounded like a child's, soft and simple. No big words were needed, no accent, nothing-just spoke as a naturalist. In a way, in Inoue's mind, she appeared to be defeated.

She didn't say those three words, of course.

But it was enough.

Ichigo stared in visible shock, both hearing Rukia's words and the fact he hadn't been detected. A lump in his throat was forming quickly, his breathing rate quickening with each second. Without thinking he took a step back, and then other, and then other-before long he was already out of the school hurrying home to contemplate the conversation he had heard.

"I don't want him to go away," Rukia whispered, "and when I saw you-I saw a competitor, I saw someone who could take him away from me."

A smile broke upon Inoue's face. Not one filled with relief, but one filled with sympathy and sorrow. She knew what she had done was wrong, she knew it would one day come back and get her, she just didn't anticipate it so soon. It should have been Tatsuki she had returned to, it should have been, Inoue may be a ditz at times but she wasn't stupid. She knew Tatsuki would be the most concerned, she knew. It didn't matter if he was asleep or not, she had to tell him. She couldn't resist the urge going to him on that supposedly final night; she regretted it at times, but at the least he heard her-even though he was sleeping. The cost of her actions, the aftermath, it caused everything to become loud and not sound. Refusing tears that were threatening to fall, she smiled at the Kuchiki girl with a dead smile.

"I wasn't trying to take him away from you Kuchiki-san," reforming back to her normal self, "I wanted...just for him to hear me out, even if he was sleeping."

Rukia shook her head, "No, I shouldn't have..."

Inoue held a hand up, "I was wrong, and now I see-I see even if I tried with all my might for Kurosaki-kun to notice me, nothing would do, because he would always be looking at you."

"Inoue-san," Rukia began.

"You can go home you know, I'll clean up the mess," she was picking up the fallen broom, "he's waiting for you."

She looked so broken. It actually made Rukia feel guilty; she was angry with the girl, confused with herself, it didn't mean she wanted to hurt her. In response she started to pick up pieces of paper that were on the floor, "I said I would help didn't I?"

Inoue nodded as she swept the room, and Rukia continued to do her part in the cleaning. Therefore resolution was made, an agreement formed, and everything between was ultimately sound.

Ichigo returned home an empty home. The lights were turned off, a lemony smell plagued him, and it was dim. He assumed his father took his two sisters out for the day, dubbing it "Daddy Time with Little Ladies", a day Yuzu enjoyed and Karin did not. He couldn't blame her, it was several more hours to spend with their zany father, he was the one to test someone's sanity. His thoughts were not occupied on his family, he knew they were sound, he knew they were alright. For himself, he was not entirely sure. Finding his way to his bedroom, Ichigo dropped his school bag and gently made his way to his bed, only to lie on it on his back staring dully at the ceiling.

If it had been a hollow emergency, he would know what to do. If it was Yuzu crying, he would know what to do. If his Dad was being Dad, he would know what to do. In all of those instances, Kurosaki Ichigo would know what to do. Now, where Kuchiki Rukia, indirectly admitted she held feelings for him-on a higher level, he did not know what to do. She hadn't said she loved him, he knew she did in a "friendship" way, but it was enough for Ichigo to understand she saw him in a different light. The same went with Inoue as well. He didn't even see the signs with Inoue; his dad did called him too dense for his own good. If it went for Inoue, who had down right confessed she loved him, how did it go for Rukia?

With Inoue, he knew how he felt. It was a platonic relationship, he didn't feel anything more or anything less. There was line between them, a line which would never be crossed. He couldn't say the same for Rukia, it wouldn't be right.

He also doubted any man could see Rukia's true feelings behind her mask, she was a good actress. She could sometimes manage lying without a flinch of an eye. Being trained as shinigami for many decades could have helped, even so she was good at concealing her emotions. So was it so wrong for Ichigo not to notice how she felt? And on top of that, Ichigo wasn't sure of how he felt. There were many traits of Rukia that were admirable: her wisdom, her bravery, her selflessness. She was indeed a pure soul, even though he could sometimes question it, and she was usually there when he needed her.

When he was unaware of it or not.

She was always there, always there when needed. She didn't know how many times she saved him; that it wasn't always the other way around. Each morning when he would awake, he knew there was something to look for in the morning. He knew what he would see, what would probably be happening, and he knew whatever he would be doing would be with Rukia. He knew he would be going to school with Rukia, fighting hollows with Rukia, getting yelled at by Rukia, and getting beaten by Rukia. The last two weren't his favorite, knowing she was there and she was sound, it was okay. He could handle her beatings and her yells as long as she was safe and sound, with him. She didn't even know how much hell went through, mentally, when she was going to be executed. He told everyone he was saving her because he owed, these days he questioned his own words.

They had known each other for two months.

However, in those two months, he become deathly attached to the girl.

Its not love,he told him self. Yet, it was gravely close to it. Rukia brought upon a light him; yes, a light in him. If he chose to acknowledge it himself was up to him, but there was indeed a light inside Rukia that made Ichigo content with all life and his included. It made him feel warm and at place, peace, with himself.

It wasn't love.

It wasn't.

He be damned if he lied and said it wasn't dangerously close to it.

Ichigo heard the door open and close. Footsteps going up the stairs, his eyes remained glues to the ceiling, knowing who it already was.

Rukia felt strangely calm as she walked home; her mind wasn't at peace, at least it felt better than it had been for the past few weeks. After departing from Inoue, who had appeared to be relatively okay, she thought about all that was going on. She had never been in a situation like this; well, there was Kaien, but nothing was said about him, their relationship remained strictly platonic until his death. It was simple crush, a crush she was able to overcome, his death was not. Eventually, his death as well was a obstacle of the past, and she was able to move on.

She saw his door open, and taking a deep breath, she continued forward. The option of turning around crept into her head, she knew it would only cause more problems than before. He was lying on his bed when she saw him, his eyes glancing lightly at her in the darkened hall way. A few feet kept them apart, and even with a few feet she still felt tension. She had started this after all, it was sort of her fault. Maybe she should say something.



Both of their voices were hoarse and casual. To her relief, Ichigo gave her a silent gesture to come into his room. Pushing his bigger form off the bed, he sat up and gave room for her, which she gratefully sat on. The bed's soft material was comforting to her, her hand rubbing tenderly on it. She stared up at Ichigo's brown eyes; they held a roughness, and yet unbearable kindness and mercy that he had shown to so many people. He had always been such a good person, with such a good heart, even though at times he didn't know how to show it. In the late of the night, she had wondered, as her former superior had once told her.

Whenever the time would come, whenever it would be when her fate will finds her-would her heart stay with his?

She didn't know if she loved him, she couldn't say that.

Her feelings were so strong, would it be wrong if she considered if she did love him?

Deciding to break the silence, "Sorry of my previous behavior towards you, I was going through things."

"Its okay," he said casually, "we go through things, but I would like it if you talked to me about it."

She chuckled dryly, "I would have, if it was so easy, if was so bearable to speak of."

He nodded as if understanding. "If you don't feel comfortable talking to me about it, I get it."

Rukia felt her heart crunch. "No, that's not it, I do feel comfortable talking to you Ichigo," placing her own hand on top of his, "its just hard."

"Yeah," unconsciously grabbing hold of her hand, "when you get like that, it worries me, makes me feel you're going to leave...again."

"Ichigo, I'm not going anywhere."

He chuckled darkly, "I know that, because if Soul Society decides to take you away again, there'll be hell to pay."

His words brought upon a small smile on her face. He was always able to do that, even when he wasn't trying.

"Good to know Ichigo."

"I'm serious Rukia," sighing, not knowing if he should continue or not, "I care too much for you, too much to even describe, for you to be taken away from me again."

Serious, so serious was his. It had taken Rukia a moment to register what he had told her. When it finally clicked, she realized he had been there when Inoue and herself were arguing. Inside of her, she didn't know if she should be upset or happy. Angered that he was spying on them, or happy that her words were reflected upon and he was able to respond in a manner that made her feel jumpy with bliss. Usually, she would have been angered, the case was different and she didn't know what to feel.

She was happy, that was true.

He clutched her hand tighter, "Rukia, Rukia are you okay?"

She looked up at him, her violet eyes shining at him, "You heard me didn't you?"

Ichigo's face turned red with embarrassment, "Sorry, it was intended I..."

"Its okay, it really is," she sighed and looked at him smiling, "I'm happy that you know."

"Rukia I feel strongly about you, I can't say its-you know, but its strong."

"I know."

"And I don't want things to change, but I want them to change."

"I can see that."

"Rukia, I don't want," he was leaning down to her, their foreheads touching.

In the back of her head, her mind was yelling at her. It was telling her to stop what was going on, and if she didn't bad things would happen. The other side of her, the other part of her mind, was shouting louder. She deserved this, she had gone through heaven and hell. She fought beasts ten times her size, and the same with him. They both deserved it, so what was keeping them from this one moment? This one moment of tranquility?

Their own doubts?

Truth be told, not a damn thing.

His strong lips, slightly chapped, brushed gently against her own soft and puffy ones. He didn't know what was going on with him, but he was a teenager the only possible reason was his own cursed hormones. He let his arm wrap around her tiny waist, bringing her closer to him. She felt her body turn to goo, his lips finally crashing into hers. She was ten times his age, but he was the one who had control. For a beginner, he wasn't half bad. While one hand gracefully caressed her back, the other touched her cheek with serenity she never thought existed in him. Before she knew it, she found herself below him and on top of him.

He continued kissing her, each kiss stronger and more dominant than the other. He found sensitive points in her neck, sucking gently on her neck. Rukia refused to be the dormant one of the moment, she licked at his earlobe, that caused him to involuntarily jump-a weakness found. There hands touched and prod, nothing too explicit, nothing for someone in Karin's and Yuzu's age group to witness . She let her slender fingers tangle in his hair, finding her body become more aroused each second.

"No," he breathed out, when he felt her hands reaching for his school shirt.

Breathing deeply, finding herself perplexed, "No?"

What was he thinking? He was ruining a great moment, and Rukia found herself frightened at what she had done.

Rukia hadn't noticed he had kept his eyes closed the whole time, but when he opened him, he was staring down at her. All his emotions, his feelings, hopes, and fears were washing onto her. It wasn't an uncomfortable moment, on the contrary, it was worth while. It was relieving and calming.

"Not here, not now," he said in an unnaturally soft tone, "we have all the time in the world."

Her eyes slightly widened, "So we're..."

"That," his kissed her forehead, "is up to you."

He was giving her a choice, for he head already made up his mind. Rukia was putting a lot on the line if she decided to go with it, but as before had she not deserved this, had not they deserved the permission to be together? The possibility of great consequences could happen because of this, but they did deserve it. It was their right, a right that had been bestowed on them the moment they had met. The little voice who was agreeing with this situation stated in a cool tone that if she hadn't known any better her brother purposely brought her here just for this. It would make sense when he didn't object to her leaving.

With so many thoughts ringing her head, so many "what if" scenarios coming at her, she was able to muster only sentence, one little sentence that said so much.

"Come and lie down with me."

Obeying to her words, Ichigo lied in front of her, a strong arm once again wrapping her close to him. Inhaling her scent, and she inhaling his, was a blessing itself. They had never been this close to each other, never been this intimate with each other. As Rukia watched his eyes close, she saw the most beautiful man in the world in her eyes. Calling him beautiful probably would be a bit insulting to him, but it was a beautiful moment. If there was a need to make love, they didn't want it-not now. Like Ichigo had said, they had all the time in the world. All they needed truly was the silence between them, the beauty to between them and their world. It was their right, a right bestowed upon them the day they had met for this moment to transpire in reality, this situation to take place one day. If a few weeks, months, years, even if it was in death, this moment would eventually transpire between them. So in the beauty of the situation they had lied together, sleeping heavenly in a world they shared, a world where only they inhabited, where no harm or disturbance could arise.

And all was beautiful, and was sound as a butterfly took its first flight from its cocoon.

A/N: This one-shot was not intended to be this long, started a week ago and I didn't get to finish it. En Vogue (the singing group) was my main motivation to get keep on trucking with this one. I seriously wanted to finish it because I made a duty to finish it, and I think it turned out nicely, don't you? It would have turned out to be a lemon, but it was a real debate on it, and I eventually decided against the lemon.

Do you think it was a good idea?

Once again to whoever reviews, a big thank you and to Theresa Crane, because I told her about this little plot before it was written on paper, and I kinda got occupied while I was still typing and I couldn't finish it. Happy belated birthday to you!!

I'll try to update my other BLEACH fic as soon possible, until then have a bless day folks and thanks for the support!