This is just a story that kept nagging me for some time now and so I wrote the first chapter of it. I don't think it'll be long (well, I did think that The Frozen Whisper wouldn't be longer than 10 chapters…(-。-;) so who knows how this one will turn out in the end…) It'll be a simple story without any epic scenes, but I hope you'll like it! (・ω・)

Disclaimer for this and following chapters: Don't own Bleach. If I did, the storyline would be quite different…

Oh, and if someone asked, The Frozen Whisper is my top priority, so don't worry! I am writing the next chapter! (*^-^)b

Read and enjoy!

3:00 A.M.

by Asagiri

Chapter 1

Ungodly Hour

The bedroom was in complete darkness as the night was still reigning outside the windows and additionally the curtains were blocking the light of the street lamps. It wasn't a big room, just enough to fit a double bed, two small night tables, a desk with a chair, a narrow bookcase and there was still some space left so no one would trip over any furniture.

In the bed Rukia stirred in her sleep and soon her eyelids fluttered open. Groaning quietly in discontent, she rolled on her back and stared at the dark ceiling. Without looking at the clock she knew exactly what time it was.

3:00 A.M.

She didn't know why, but for few days now she was waking in the middle of the night and every time the clock on the night table showed that ungodly hour. And what worse – even if she tried, she couldn't return to sleep for she felt as wide-awake as if someone poured cold water on her.

But why? Was something going on with her? Was her organism changing somehow? Or maybe it was of mental nature?

Rukia didn't know. But to tell you the truth, she wasn't really worried about herself for she was young (turned 21 this year) and doubted she had any problems with health.

Only one thing about this all bothered her.

Why in hell 3:00 A.M.?

She sincerely believed the term 'ungodly hour' was originally invented to describe 3:00 A.M.. It could be used synonymously, honestly.

Because what kind of hour was 3:00 A.M. anyway? Was it 3:00 in the morning or 3:00 in the night? Neither sounded right. It was 2:00 in the night and 4:00 in the morning, yes, but what about 3:00? Because it is closer to dawn than dusk, let's take it as 3:00 in the morning, shall we?

Knowing she wouldn't be able to catch any sleep, Rukia sighed exasperatedly and gently pushing off the covers, she got up from the bed as quietly as possible, so she wouldn't wake up sleeping Ichigo.

She softly smiled at that carrot-top. They had met around two years ago thanks to Renji who was a friend of them both, and in a short time they had begun seeing each other just to become officially a couple soon after. Feeling they were right for each other, they had started living together (much to her brother's chagrin) and it would be the eighth month now since they moved into this house.

However she felt their relationship was slowly losing its flame… But it wasn't as if their love was withering, hell no! They were just proceeding to the next stage – more deep and mature relationship. Besides they didn't have as much time for each other as they had previously, both occupied with work and studies.

But she kind of missed that passionate glint in his eyes every time he had looked at her, when they hadn't been living together yet (she had been living in her family's mansion under the watchful eye of Byakuya-nii-sama). Ah, yes, that look made her knees go weak… Combined with his kind of predatory smirk, it had felt as if he had wanted to undress her with just his intense gaze.

She would have to think of something to arouse that flame again.

Rukia approached him and bending over, she softly kissed him on the forehead. She shook her head in amusement wondering why did she even bother being quiet – even if she was a little bit loud, she doubted he would wake up. He slept like a log! A war could break out outside their windows and he wouldn't even stir in his sleep.

And that meant he hadn't noticed that for some time now she was raising at this hour. Well, she did usually get up earlier than him, so it wasn't anything new to him that when he woke, she was already making them breakfast.

Gently stroking his hair, she hoped with a smirk that he was dreaming about her.

She climbed down the stairs and through a living room she entered the kitchen where she poured herself a glass of water. Honestly, there was nothing she could do at this hour. There was nothing on TV, she didn't want to watch any films on DVD without Ichigo as it wouldn't be too much fun, she couldn't call her friends, she didn't felt like reading a book… Nothing.

And she hated it when there was nothing to do! She couldn't just sit there idly by. She needed to be in move or preoccupied by something otherwise she would start feeling down.

So from the lack of better choice, Rukia put on her pants and jacket and decided to take a walk.

They lived in a peaceful neighbourhood (Nii-sama took care of it) and so she wasn't afraid of walking at this hour. Besides it was freaking 3:00 A.M.! Only psychopaths and her were awake and the possibility she would run into one was close to none. Other people were sleeping or were too tired or drunk to do anything. At this hour nothing, absolutely nothing happened.

Her theory was supported by the fact that in every house she passed, no lights were on and not even a single cat crossed her path. This intensified the impression that she was walking through a deserted town. The only thing that kept her in conviction that this was reality and people were just sleeping, was a chirping of some lone bird that resounded from time to time in the air. But overall it was quiet and peaceful.

Feeling the chill of early May's morning, Rukia zipped up her jacket and hid her hands in pockets.

Her feet took her to a nearby park. Since they had moved here to Karakura Town, she hadn't been there even once, so she thought it was a pretty good opportunity to discover at least some bits of it. A delicate mist was lingering between bushes and trees creating an unreal atmosphere. She felt as if she was in a dream.

While strolling in the park however, something spoiled that feeling. Or rather someone. She was walking a path that encircled a small lake situated in the centre of the park when she spotted him. A man was sitting on a bench that was on the other side of the scenic pond.


Rukia slowed down a little and observed him from the corner of her eye. He was pretty far away from her, so she couldn't see him well, but he was wearing a white jacket. Not wanting to risk meeting him, she took a path that she guessed didn't run near him. Better safe than sorry, right?

She strolled some more until the chirps of birds became more intense and told her it was time to return home.

It was 4:37 when she got back. Another hour and 23 minutes and Ichigo would wake up. He worked at his father's hospital in Tōkyō. Being 24, he had just graduated from a medical university, but was still learning and gaining experience needed in his profession, however there was no doubt he would be a great surgeon.

She on the other hand was still studying on the Tōkyō University and worked part-time in her brother's corporation. Usually, before the lectures started, she went to Nii-sama's office and after reading few reports, she went to the Head of the PR Department, Ukitake-san, who helped her understanding the rules of the market or just treated her to some sweets and tea. After that she went to Tōdai for lectures after which, if they didn't end late, she returned to the corporation's building to help out if there was a need or do her homework.

Rukia was studying Economics on the most prestigious university in the country and was pretty proud of herself that she entered it without her brother's help (or she hoped that he hadn't used his influences, pulling suitable strings to put her there). It was him who had suggested her to chose this department, telling it would be good if she had a wide knowledge and understanding of trade and market, because as a part of the Kuchiki family, she was deeply involved with the business they managed. Also he had added that he would be pleased if one day she became a Head in one of the Departments in his corporation.

That time she had felt really appreciated by Byakuya-nii-sama's words and that feeling hadn't changed until now. They rarely saw each other and even less talked, so hearing those kind words really moved her, because she did understand that he wouldn't say them if he didn't think she was capable of achieving this position.

She was really touched by the fact that he put so much faith in her even if they weren't related by blood. Rukia was sincerely grateful for everything he had done for her.

So she studied hard as not to disappoint him. And she even enjoyed it, finding it quite fascinating how the market worked and how many things depended on it. She really wanted to be worth of becoming an employee in her brother's company.

As Karakura Town was in the suburbs of Tōkyō, she and Ichigo had to leave early to get to work on time. Sometimes they went together by car, sometimes in their own vehicles and sometimes by train. They agreed that today he would give her a lift to the office and she would return home by train.

At 5:13 A.M. Rukia entered the bathroom to change and put on a subtle make-up. Wearing a knee-length black skirt and a delicate violet silk blouse with a 3/4 sleeve and a lace under her bust, she went to the kitchen where she switched on the radio. In the news, they said it would be shining all day. She smiled at this, it's going to be a great day.

Before 6:00 she started preparations for their breakfast. Setting up the table, she took out a bread for toasts, butter, cheese, ham and other products. When she heard the alarm clock (it was loud enough to wake up Ichigo; if you weren't aware of its loudness, you could wake up with a heart attack), she started to boil the water for coffee and making scrambled eggs.

Soon the carrot-top entered the kitchen with a wide yawn quickly changed into a smile at the sight of her and the breakfast. He went to Rukia and kissed her on her temple.

"Good morning, sunshine," he said ruffling her hair lovingly.

The day had officially started.

Rukia returned home before 8:00 P.M. and after washing her hands and changing into more comfortable clothes, she began preparing supper for them. Today it would be pasta with vegetables – nothing too extravagant, but tasty and healthy. She got this recipe from Ichigo's younger sister, Yuzu, who was an excellent cook. She hoped that if everything went well, one day the girl would be able to open her own restaurant. If so, she was sure she would dine there whenever she got time. Her cooking was truly delicious!

Then, when she was humming her favourite tune while stirring the vegetables on the frying pan, her cellphone rang.

It was Ichigo.

"Hey, my love," she heard his slightly husky voice.

"Hey, something happened?" Rukia asked, knowing that he rather wouldn't call her just like that.

"Yeah," he sighed wearily. "Old man assigned me some troublesome tasks, so I'll be late."

"Oh," she started saying, but stopped when she heard some weird noises followed by a yelp and soon she was talking with Ichigo's father, one of a kind Kurosaki Isshin.

"So~rry, Rukia-cha~n," he singsonged "I know you'd like to have my good-for-nothing son all for yourself, but we terribly need him at the hospital."

She smiled at his exaggerated way of speaking. "Don't worry, I understand."

"Oh, you're so~ sweet," he fawned and quickly changed his voice into a more deep and serious one that she supposed impersonated a heartbroken macho. "It's a pity you chose him over me–"

Once again she heard another series of fighting noises and it seemed that this time Ichigo was victorious.

"Sorry 'bout him," he said, annoyance clear in his voice.

"Don't worry," Rukia laughed in amusement. "I'll leave your supper in the fridge, okay?"

"Thanks, that would be great. Lov—" the redhead started saying, but was cut off by a loud, "Tell her that I love her too!" in the background. Even though he probably covered the phone with his hand, she could clearly hear his response, "Shut up, old man!"

Shaking her head at this crazy father-and-son relationship, she replied affectionately, "Love you too, bye."

"Bye," he said and finally hung up.

And so, while listening to the radio, Rukia ate alone. After her meal, she neatly prepared his share, so he could easily heat it in the microwave and eat, and put it in the fridge.

She wanted to read a book, but her eyes were too tired, so she decided against it. Even if it was something she couldn't control, getting up at 3:00 in the morning took its toll on her, so eighteen hours later her body and mind were quite fatigued. Therefore she didn't have energy for more than a shower and dragging her body to the bed. She fell asleep the moment her head hit the pillow.

Ichigo returned after midnight and even though she knew he tried to be as quiet as possible, he didn't succeed in the least. He acted as loudly as he looked like, honestly. He quickly ate, took a shower and joined her in the bed.

"Was it hard?" Rukia asked him in a sleepy voice, turning to him. She knew that his work wasn't easy and took a lot out of him.

"Oh, did I woke you up?" he asked quietly, bringing her close to him. "Sorry."

"That's okay," she mumbled against the crook of his neck.

"Well, I had to assist in two operations, so it was quite tiring," he said, running his fingers through her hair.

Smiling at him she kissed him gently. She was so proud of him. He worked really hard to help other people… Something completely different from what she would be doing – after all in business you had to be ruthless in order to achieve success.

"Tomorrow another challenging day, my dear," Ichigo told her while kissing her forehead.

"Uhmm, g'night," she uttered quite incoherently.

"Good night," he whispered with a smile and soon fell asleep contently with her in his arms.

Any questions, comments, suggestions or anything are more than welcome!

Until then! (^-^)ノ~~

朝霧 -Asagiri-