This is a Christmas drabble I wrote for a giveaway we were having in our IchiRuki FC at BleachAsylum. Thank you, Windy, for your awesome beta. Enjoy!
The Midnight Watch
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except two certain shinigamis.
Ichigo muttered under his breath for the fifth time that night, earning him another reproachful look from his sisters and Rukia. He rolled his eyes and curled up slightly to fend off the cold. Just how he had ended up in this predicament, he did not know.
He was just fine a while ago, sleeping comfortably in his nice warm bed. He had woken in the middle of the night and went downstairs to get some water when some movement in the living room had frozen him in his place. Thinking a robber had gotten in, he made his way slowly to the darkened room. The lights on the Christmas tree were the only things that illuminated the small room, while snow continued to fall outside. Ichigo saw no one while looking around the freezing room.
He frowned and began walking back outside keeping an alert eye on the room when he felt himself colliding into something...small. Letting out a strangled cry, he found himself losing his balance and falling backwards, illiciting a few more small gasps from someone. The sharp pain that came from the fall was nothing to the additional punches he earned from a small pair of knuckles that met his head afterwards. He looked around frantically to see that the object he had bumped into was none other than Rukia, who was hiding behind the couch with Yuzu and Karin. Rukia was glaring at him, and it took Ichigo a moment to figure out that he was still toppled over her. He quickly scrambled up and was about to yell when she grabbed the collar of his shirt and yanked him next to her.
"What the hell are you guys doing?!" he growled, earning him another punch.
"Sh," the girls reproached in unison as they turned again to look out into the room again. Ichigo opened his mouth, but immediately shut it knowing that it was useless. He moved uncomfortably in the small cramped space they were in, craning his neck to see what had interested them.
"Can I know just what you are doing out here?" He hissed into Rukia's ear, who looked at him with an almost annoyed sort of expression.
"Waiting..." she murmured absently and turned her attention back to the room.
Ichigo blinked and looked at them; they obviously had been there for a while for they each had a small blanket wrapped around themselves, and the remaining crumbs of Yuzu's batch of cookies lay next to them. Karin seemed just as aggravated as Ichigo, but kept to herself as Yuzu and Rukia whispered back and forth. Ichigo moved slightly towards Karin, who turned to him with her brow raised. "Yuzu filled her head with the idea of Santa Claus. Rukia-nee now insists that she wants to see as well."
Ichigo groaned and shook his head, watching the two in exasperation as they continued to chatter animatedly.
"Didn't you explain this to Rukia?" he asked in irritation as Karin rolled her eyes as Rukia looked at them.
"Did you know, Ichigo, that this 'Santa' man arrives at houses all over the world through something called a chimney?"
Ichigo rolled his eyes as he tried to position himself in a more comfortable place behind the cramped couch. "Yeah, well then you should know that he won't come here since we don't have a chimney."
She blinked at Ichigo curiously and then turned to Yuzu. They huddled together again and began whispering furiously as Karin let out a lazy yawn. "Try as you might, Ichi-nii, I have used every possible method to get them out of here, but nothing works."
Ichigo shook his head, poking Rukia's shoulder again. "Oye, Rukia, this is stupid. You guys need to go back to bed."
Rukia raised her brow at him, "We are doing just fine here. If you think its stupid, you are free to go back."
Yuzu nodded. "Yes! We promised Rukia-nee that we will stay with her all night here, if it's the last thing we do!"
The soft sound of Yuzu's snores filled the silent living room. Ichigo continued to mutter as her weight shifted slightly on his shoulder. He was now stuck in between his sisters and Rukia, both unwilling to move to allow him any room to leave. The cold air made him shiver as he rolled himself up to keep warm. He didn't understand why Rukia and his sisters had been so stubborn about this, or even more why he still stayed here when he knew he could have gone. Of course, he had to make sure his sisters and Rukia would be okay, he reasoned. Yes, that would be a good enough reason. But it was just so cold…
"Here," she said suddenly, opening her blanket to indicate her offer. He blinked and shook his head furiously, his face flushing brighter.
"I-I'm not using that!" he nearly squawked, his teeth chattering from the cold. Rukia rolled her eyes.
"You fool, you are going to catch a cold if you don't! There is plenty of it to share. If not, you should just go back to bed."
Ichigo grumbled as he weighed in his options. His sister were already sharing one blanket, and he really was beginning to feel like a human icicle. He sighed heavily when he knew he had no other option but to accept the blanket.
Ichigo could feel his cheeks burning red even at the slightest brush of her tiny body against his. This blanket was just too damn small, but he really wasn't in the position to move. Yuzu had already fell asleep against him and he was rendered completely immobile. Rukia was still awake; she was very quiet as she looked away from him. He wondered for a moment whether she felt the same about their current predicament.
He felt her move and turn towards him. She brushed her finger against nose lightly; it had become a deeper tinge of pink from the cold.
"He isn't coming, is he?" she asked, and Ichigo's smart retort died in his throat at the disappointment colored in her voice. He sighed and shook his head as she sniffled lightly. He mused as she continued to wiggle her nose and turn her eyes back to the tree standing a few feet away.
He scratched his head, and prodded her shoulder. "You know, Rukia, those stories...the ones that Yuzu might be telling you..."
"...aren't true?" she finished, turning to him. "I know they aren't."
Ichigo raised his brow as his irritation returned. "Wait...you knew and yet you still stayed out here with them?"
Rukia shrugged and leaned slightly against the couch.
"It wasn't really about that..." she said quietly, earning from him a quizzical frown.
"You know, I have never had so much fun as I did today," she grinned, her eyes suddenly lighting up. "Going to meet our friends, making cookies with Yuzu, and staying up like this..."
Ichigo couldn't help but smiling at seeing her excited like this. He nodded, "Ah."
They remained silent for a moment before he looked at her again, scratching his head. "You never had any of these kinds of things?" he asked and she shook her head, wrapping more of the blanket around herself.
"I have lived in Soul Society for as long as I can remember. These types of things were not always done there, so it is all so new to me." She sighed and stretched lightly. "You're very lucky, you know that?" she said quietly, a small smile on her face.
Ichigo watched her as she leaned against the couch again, her eyes closing gently. She looked so peaceful. At that moment, Ichigo, for some reason unbeknownst to even himself, had a sudden thought of how beautiful she looked. He had always seen her as Kuchiki Rukia, the Shinigami, one who fought by his side since he first learned of her world. Yet here she was, clad in purple pajamas that belonged to Yuzu, her hair falling gently on her shoulders. Her cheeks were tinged with a light pink from the cold, a single strand of her ebony bang falling lazily in front of her face. He did not know what possessed him to do it, but he soon found his face inching towards hers.
He could feel his face heating at the close proximity, and yet, it seemed too late to do anything but brush his lips against hers gently.
He tilted his head to the side, drawing closer…until…
The sound of a loud thud caused Ichigo to tumble over, his lips crashing against the worn leather of the couch while Rukia's eyes snapped open, looking around bewildered. She quickly covered Ichigo's mouth, who was muttering a string of profanities from the pain of having his nose smashed in a collision with the couch. The sound of cursing could be heard as Rukia's eyes widened.
"Ichigo…" she hisses, "can that be him?!"
Ichigo pulled her hand away and turned a beet red, "I thought you agreed that he didn't exist!"
Rukia looked eagerly towards the tree, last comment falling on deaf ears. There was indeed someone in the room now, and Ichigo's curiosity got the better of him again, as he leaned besides Rukia to see what was the cause of the commotion.
Their eyes widened when they saw a pair of hands extend to the bottom of the tree, leaving behind a few presents. Ichigo chanced a glimpse at Rukia, whose eyes were wide and her mouth gaping as she barely could contain her excitement. Ichigo groaned, realizing that an intruder had indeed gotten into the house.
He looked around, and found close by a gift he knew was for Karin, which had been, conveniently, a bat. He motioned to Rukia as she watched him in confusion. He inched his hands towards the bat, which thankfully was closest to them. The intruder was busy to himself, putting the last presents under the tree
Ichigo grabbed the bat, and prepared himself. Upon realizing his intent, Rukia grabbed his arm, her eyes blazing. "You aren't going to hit this Santa Claus fellow, are you?!" she seethed with a hiss.
Ichigo rolled his eyes and snorted. "Trust me, Rukia, that is not Santa Claus!"
Rukia blinked and craned her neck a bit to see the figure better. "Maybe a hollow?"
"Who leaves Christmas presents under the tree?!" he growled. Rukia shrugged and continued to try to see who this stranger was as Ichigo crawled out carefully from his spot behind the couch.
"Remember, Ichigo, if it is a hollow, it must be straight through its head. Though I would have preferred a sword than that," she sighed as she eyed the bat.
Ichigo groaned and shook his head, wondering just how many of Yuzu's sugar cookies she had eaten.
"Here," he instructed, giving her the bat. "I'll distract him and you use this to make sure he doesn't get away." Rukia nodded in affirmation and slowly came out from behind the couch. He began to approach the figure, with Rukia close at his heels.
Just as the figure turned, Ichigo launched himself on the unsuspecting man. There was a bit of yelling and struggling, as Rukia narrowed her eyes to see who was who in the darkness. She aimed her bat a few times, but she was not sure whether it was Ichigo or the intruder that she was beating. She turned quickly and made her way to the light, flicking it on to find Ichigo and…
"DAD?!" Ichigo yelled in bewilderment, finally able to see his father's face.
"Ichigo?!" Isshin roared with laughter, "I thought there was an intruder in the house!"
Ichigo pulled himself up, fuming. "No, just an insane man who sneaks around his own house! What are you doing here?!"
Isshin motioned to the tree. "Putting the last few presents under the tree for the girls. Speaking about sneaking around…what are you two doing here anyways?" he asked.
Ichigo's eyes widened; there was nothing that really happened, but knowing his father, he did not want to take any chances and thought up an excuse. Yet before he could say anything, Rukia's tiny voice filled the silent room. "We were hiding behind the couch."
Ichigo just wanted to die on the spot. Isshin blinked, before a wide grin appeared on his face. Ichigo felt himself groan inward. Things were just going from bad to horrific.
"Behind…the couch? What were you doing there?" Isshin asked, his grin getting bigger. Ichigo wanted so badly to turn to her and tell her not to say another word, but the midget seemed keen on making things as bad as she could.
Rukia smiled excitedly. "Well, we were waiting for someone called Santa Claus. We thought the best place would be behind the couch where no one could see us."
Ichigo's head slumped as Isshin chuckled. "Oh really? Was this my son's idea, Rukia-chan?"
Ichigo quickly looked up and shook his head furiously. He stuttered, not believing just what kind of situation he had gotten himself into. "N-no. It was all Yuzu's and Karin's fault…they…"
His voice faltered when he turned to show his father where his sisters were, only to find them gone. "You have got to be kidding me," he muttered as Isshin looked as well.
"I don't see them," he said with an amused expression.
Ichigo growled, "Ask Rukia then!"
But Isshin waved his hand dismissively and cocked his brow. "Now, son. You must admit to your actions like a man. I know about these teenage boy hormones going out of control, but…"
Isshin flew across the room from Ichigo's kick. He turned angrily and found Rukia distracted by one of the gifts that were left for her, strangely in the shape of a bunny. Her eyes were wide, a look of awe on her face as she read the tag.
"Ichigo, is this for me?" she asked quietly.
He felt his face flush as he scratched the back of his head. "Ah…I thought since you said you wanted to stay for Christmas, that I would just get you something."
Rukia smiled and looked back at the gift. "Can I open it?"
He sighed, running his fingers through his hair. "Che, its not like you won't if I say no."
He watched as she grinned smugly and carefully rip open the wrapper, her eyes widening at the sight of the large plush rabbit in her hands. Her mouth was opened, but she did not utter a word. She simply looked at him and smiled. "Thank you…" she whispered.
He nodded and motioned for her to get up. Her eyes shifted across the room to his unconscious father. "What happened to him?" she asked.
Ichigo shook his head, too tired to answer as she stood up slowly. She followed him, watching as the back of his neck turned a bright red from all the embarrassment and anger he had felt that night.
"Are you okay, Ichigo?" she asked quietly. She heard him sigh and shake his head again.
"Just…get some sleep, Rukia. I'm going to bed."
Ichigo groaned and turned, losing the last bit of patience he had that night. He wanted to argue, but was stopped when he noticed just how close she was. Her small hands rested very gently against his chest, using it for support as she leaned up and gave him a very soft peck on his cheek. Ichigo could feel the heat burning his face, and knew it was now a bright red color. He stuttered, trying to find any words as Rukia pulled away smiling.
"Merry Christmas, Ichigo."
With that, she quickly turned towards the staircase, running up and disappearing in his sister's room. He stood there for a moment, his face slowly becoming cooler as he calmed himself down. His hand touched the place where she had kissed him, the sensation still lingering on his cheek. No words could describe what he felt. Nothing…but a slow smile that began to spread on his face. Perhaps this night was not all bad, after all.
A/N: I hope you guys liked. Have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and wonderful holiday season!