Disclaimer: I obviously don't own Bleach. (As far as I know…)

Title: Snow Flakes
Rating: M
Pairing: Ichigo x Rukia
Word Count: 7410
Synopsis: A hot summer day in Karakura town might be just what our stubborn couple needs to work out their feelings. And what's this about Snow Flakes?


.o0o.

It had been a hot summer day in Karakura town...

The night had taken place; the moon had rose to its brightly star lit sky, a soft breeze swept the empty streets, and yet, the heat remained as if absorbed by the very earth during the day, mocking the night's virtual inability to cool it.

The city slept, regardless, unfazed by such matters… but in the dark of the night where only street lamps flaunted their glow on the streets, from a single window on a first floor house light shone through, blatantly disregarding the silent harmony of illumination displays at such unruly hours.

The house in question, linked to a private clinic, was fairly well known in town. Everybody in the area would go to the Kurosaki clinic when ill and sometimes, even when they were healthy, in hopes of seeing Kurosaki-sensei's wild personality in full display. That was always a sight to see, and he never discouraged them.

Though by this time, there was no way the good doctor remained awake.

The day had been full with people in the clinic; many suffering from dehydration, severe sun burns or even heart attacks and seizures, courtesy of the blistering sun above that made no effort to cool its scorching rays and the people themselves, who chose to neglect their health in such weather conditions.

No, the doctor would be deeply asleep by now, as his daughters that had helped him all day long, and nothing short of the apocalypse would be able to wake them now.

The only people awake at that point, would be his son and newly appointed 'third daughter', evident by the light that shone from his son's room. They too, had had a hard day, but for entirely different reasons…


The day had started off well enough. No flying kicks in the morning to wake Ichigo and no bothersome Kon around to wake Rukia, so they actually got a chance to sleep in.

When Rukia woke up, she looked around to find the room empty. The girls had already woke and made their beds. Blinking the sleep away she looked at the clock and was surprised at the displayed time. She'd actually slept in. Sitting up she yawned and ran a hand through her hair before she got up and quickly dressed up in a light linen dress since it was too hot, and it wasn't even 10 am yet. She caught her hair with a hairpin and slipped some flip-flops on her feet before checking in on Ichigo.

She opened the door silently and as expected, he was still sleeping. She made her way over to his bed and kneeled on the floor, observing him. He didn't frown as much when he slept and she found that she enjoyed looking at him. Finally taking notice of how the sheets were half on the floor and Ichigo was sprawled all over the bed, she giggled.

"Ichigo, get up," she tapped his arm.

He grumbled something about not wanting to, and rolled over. She frowned and hit him lightly on the head, his early cuteness all but forgotten.

"Get up, I said!" she demanded, trying to pull him off the bed but he was too heavy for her, "It's almost 10 am, you sleepy head!" she continued, ignoring the fact that she'd been sleeping too, not too long ago.

At that Ichigo cracked an eye open and looked skeptically over his shoulder at her, before relenting and turning over to get out of bed muttering a 'fine'.

A few minutes later they came downstairs to find breakfast waiting for them. Yuzu had left a note explaining that she'd gone to the grocery store to do some shopping along with Karin and that Ishin was already in the clinic. They ate their breakfast peacefully, and washed the tableware before going over to the clinic to see if Ishin needed any help. The heat wave that had hit Karakura town recently seemed to have made many people feel ill, they'd been handling all kinds of cases since the beginning of the week, but they could somehow tell that today would be worse.

And indeed, they'd been right, thought they only helped around till around 3pm, when Ichigo's badge and Rukia's cell phone suddenly began to bip insistently. They excused themselves and ran out heading towards the hollows. They'd spend the rest of the day fighting hollows all around the town. Though they were all small fry they appeared either in large numbers or separated, making them run all over the town to get the bastards. That and the heat did nothing to improve their mood, which meant that they dealt with the hollows all that much faster, only receiving a few scratches.

It was late night already when they finally returned home, hoping that the hollows wouldn't bother them again till the next day. Yuzu had left them some dinner in the microwave, ready to warm up, and a note saying that they'd all turned up earlier that night because they were very tired and that dad said he would have Ichigo's head for obviously missing dinner time and making Rukia miss it too.

Rukia giggled at the note, as she set the time in microwave, and showed it to Ichigo, who promptly frowned and grumbled something about it 'not being his damn fault'. Rukia only snorted at him as they waited the food to heat up and proceeded to eat it quickly and washing the tableware again, not wishing to trouble Yuzu anymore than necessary.

Heading upstairs, Rukia announced that she'd take a shower before heading to bed and Ichigo nodded absentmindedly, asking her to let him know when she was done. She nodded and headed towards the bathroom as he entered his room and fell bonelessly onto the bed.


Rukia opened the door to his room slightly and peeked around the closet to see Ichigo lying boneless in his bed. She almost giggled at the sight, though she couldn't help the smile that made its way to her face.

"Hey, you can go shower now," she said, "You'll feel a lot better when you cool down."

Ichigo grunted in reply and sat up, scratching the back of his head.

"Yeah, I suppose you're right," he turned his head towards her, "I'll g -" he stopped midsentence when his brain processed the image he was presented with and his face turned blank before his eyes widened.

Rukia was leaning slightly towards the closet wall, her arms crossed, her beautiful black hair still dripping wet, framing her suddenly rosy cheeks and gorgeous violet orbs. Her perfect lips were curled into a small smile and he almost smiled in return. She was still wet too, as he could see some droplets of water running down her neck to her collarbone and further down till it disappeared under the white flimsy towel she had wrapped around herself.

Blushing under the smoldering gaze Ichigo was giving her, she quickly wrapped the small towel she had in her hand into a ball and threw it at his face, hitting it head-on.

"Quit staring! Just go take that shower," she said, turning away from him and walking out of his bedroom, trying to hide her blush.

Dimly aware that the door next to his had been opened and closed softly, Ichigo blushed at being caught staring at her like that, as the towel fell off his face onto his lap. Damn, he was practically ogling at her! Usual frown set in place, he caught the towel she had thrown at him and got up trying to ignore the result of his scrutinizing.

Yes, a cold shower was just what he needed…

Heading towards the bathroom he tried to shake off the images his brain kept flashing at him, but it was becoming very hard to ignore them, especially since he wasn't so sure anymore that he didn't want to see them. Well, okay, that was a blatant lie. He did want to see them, he just didn't want to have to deal with the outcome alone anymore, and that presented a serious problem.

He undressed, got in the tub and turned on the shower, splashing cold water all over his body. He shivered at the thermic shock but stood still, wishing the water could not only cool his body but also wash away the ideas that kept getting him hot in the first place. Unfortunately, the water seemed to be succeeding in neither of those situations. If anything, the freezing water only seemed to heighten the feeling of heat from inside.

His body, almost freezing in the outside, was burning within and not entirely because of the heat wave. He shook his head to get rid of such thoughts. After a while he finally managed to cool down, so he turned the shower off and got out from the tub, firmly wrapping a towel around his waist as he absentmindedly dried his hair with the one Rukia had hit him with. Deciding to leave his hair slightly damp, he quickly dried his skin and put on a pair of boxers and shorts that he had brought, along with a wife beater, since it was too hot.

Picking up the towels he opened the door and got out of the bathroom, intent on going downstairs to get some cold water and drop the towels on the laundry basket. Passing by his half-way open room door he listened to Rukia's quiet humming; he'd noticed she had a habit of doing that when she was drawing.

Continuing downstairs he dropped the towels in the basket of the laundry room and made way for the kitchen to pour himself some cold water.

…and maybe some ice cubes.

Grabbing a glass from the cupboard, he opened the fridge and took the water bottle from inside. He quickly unscrewed the cap and poured the water into the tall glass while opening the freezer and looking for ice. Not paying attention, he spilled some water when the glass overflowed and cursed before shutting the freezer, taking a gulp of water from the glass and picking up a rag to dry the countertop. He was such a moron.

As he dried it his eyes wandered around the tidy kitchen area before straying to the general area of the ceiling towards where his room was. It was awfully hot; maybe he could be nice and bring Rukia some cold water too. Ichigo frowned, shaking his head to get her out again.

It'd been a weird day so far, now that he thought of it.

His father hadn't woke him up with a kick as usual, instead he'd had a gentle wakeup call from Rukia… well, as gentle as she could be. He and Rukia hadn't fought once despite their cranky mood; she hadn't kicked him in the shins, or gotten mad at him for no apparent reason… she hadn't yelled at him all day! That was definitely odd, but… he smiled as he found that he could get used to it. He glanced at his glass of water and took another from the cupboard, filling it up before putting some more water on the bottle and returning it to the fridge, resuming his search for the ice cubes in the freezer.

It was full; no wonder he couldn't find them.

He began taking some bags and tupperwares from inside it till he finally spotted his prey. Grinning he took the two plastic bags of ice cubes, taking notice of a large hidden tupperware in the back. Curious, he took it out too and opened the lid. His eyes widened at the sight before a small smile graced his features. Putting it down on the counter, he put everything back in and closed the freezer.

He walked a couple steps till he found the right cupboard, retrieved a medium glass bowl, and walked back to the tupperware. Putting those aside for now he popped all the ice cubes into the tall water glasses and deposited the remaining plastic bags in the trash. Then he turned to the bowl and tupperware, taking a couple handfuls of the content and placing it in the bowl, so he could take it to his room.

It had surprised him when he opened the tupperware to find one of his favorite childhood treats in it, but he figured Yuzu must have bought them today. He had no idea why she bought them, but it didn't really matter. If she needed more he'd just buy more for her. Putting the lid back on the tupperware after he thought the bowl was full enough, he placed it back in the freezer, as memories flashed before his eyes.

Unable to resist the urge, he unwrapped one of the treats from its typical red cellophane paper and popped it into his mouth, before humming in approval. The flavor hadn't changed since back then. A sad smile graced his features as he remembered how he used to like them when he was a little kid, and how his mother would buy some for him when they walked home from his karate lessons to cheer him up or when he did especially well on a test. Yes, he definitely liked these Snow Flakes.

Shaking any sad thoughts out of his head he retrieved a tray and placed both glasses and the bowl of candy on top of it, carefully lifting it and carrying it upstairs so he wouldn't spill the water.

Fortunately the door to his room was mid-open, so he only had to push slightly for it to open completely so he could pass. After he entered he nudged the door with his foot so it would close as softly as possible, and then walked over to his desk, where he placed the tray. He looked over to his closet and saw Rukia lying on her stomach, humming some silly Chappy related song, her feet kicking in the air as she drew on the sketch pad she'd made him buy for her earlier that week.

"Hey, I brought some cold water for you, if you want it," Ichigo said as he sat down on his bed and took a gulp of his glass.

Rukia turned her head to look at him, surprised.

"Thank you," she replied, turning her head back to her master piece, "Can you give it to me, please?"

"Uh, sure," Ichigo got up, grabbed her glass and walked over to her, leaving it next to her, "Be careful so you won't spill it all over your drawing."

She shot him a disbelieving look. He never worried about her drawings before. Shrugging at his unusual mood she took a large gulp of water and silently thanked Ichigo again for bringing some for her too.

Ignoring her look, he took another gulp of water and set the glass down on tray again before picking up the bowl of Snow Flakes and sitting comfortably in his bed, with his head leaning on the headboard. He took a couple of candy from the bowl and unwrap them, quickly popping them into his mouth.

"What do you have there?" Rukia asked, turning her attention from her most recent work of art to Ichigo, noticing the bowl on his bed.

Ichigo directed an unsure glance at her, wondering to himself if he should or not tell her. After a while he decided that he didn't want to fight that late in the night, since they hadn't fought at all the whole day, and he had actually enjoyed spending some time with her without having to brawl because of the stupidest things.

"Candy," he answered shortly. However, he should have known that that would not quell her curiosity.

And indeed it didn't.

She stared some more as he unwrapped one and put it in his mouth.

"What does it taste like?" she questioned curiously, since he seemed to enjoy it.

Ichigo eyed her contemplatively before he got a vacant look on his face and shrugged, catching some of the sweets beside him. Rukia observed him through this, but remained silent about his reaction.

"Here, have some too," Ichigo tossed her a couple of the bright red wrapped candy that she'd been staring at before.

She caught them somewhat clumsily, surprised that he was willing to share it with her without resistance. Well, for once she didn't feel like antagonizing him. Not when he was nice enough to bring her cold water and was freely giving her candy. Who knows? If he was feeling kind enough maybe he'd buy her a Chappy! She mentally berated herself for getting her hopes so high. It was just candy, for God's sake. Besides, the store would be closed by now…

Jumping out of her closet Rukia grabbed her glass of water and took another sip before placing it next to his on the tray and stood by his bed, silently staring at Ichigo, waiting for a nod of approval before she sat next to him.

After a few moments, in which he eyed her suspiciously, he scooted over to make space for her and placed the candy bowl in between them. Rukia picked one of them. They were cold to the touch, a vivid contrast to the actual temperature. She inspected the bright translucent cellophane wrapper before removing it, keeping her eyes on the newly exposed snow white treat.

"What's it called?" she asked suddenly, turning to Ichigo.

"Snow Flake," he answered, closing his eyes and resting his head against the wall behind, apparently not mad that she'd come over to his bed. Heck, he had even scooted before she was able to utter the word at him!

She directed her eyes to the round piece of pale candy in her hand, examining it.

'Well, that explains the coolness, but it looks more like hail to me,' she concluded after a while.

Looking again at Ichigo, she noticed the frown she had come to expect was no longer in place.

Her eyes widened in surprise at that.

She didn't think she recalled ever seeing him so… relaxed…

His eyes were closed peacefully and replacing the ever present scowl was a small smile and an expression of serenity. She could tell that his muscles weren't tense as they usually were. He seemed pretty happy, just sitting there, enjoying the calm that seemed to envelope them today. She smiled.

In a way, it made her happy that he apparently didn't care that she saw this vulnerable side of him.

After all they'd been through together, he trusted her enough to lower his guard around her. They'd come a long way since they'd met and progressed from a simple Shinigami-Human relation to a strong bond of friendship. They trusted each other with things they didn't share with anyone else, worried and saved each other on a constant basis (even though she was slightly miffed that the 'saving each other' part had somehow mainly evolved into 'being saved by Ichigo', resulting in a huge increase of 'worry' in her part), bickered like kids (mostly out of concern), cared, protected and treated each other like best friends would.

Though she couldn't deny that some part of her hoped there was more to their relation than friendship; the butterflies in her tummy didn't lie. She hadn't felt so nervous around a man since Kaien-dono. Actually, the feelings she had for Ichigo were much stronger than that. So much it scared her. Was it even possible that such strong feelings of love existed?

Pushing those thoughts aside for a better time, she finally put the small piece of white candy into her mouth - and the whole world seemed to melt away.

She had never tasted something quite as sweet before. It was way better than any juice box!

It tasted like caramel but as she deliberated she couldn't help to think it tasted somewhat fruity, too. Maybe it was just her conscience playing tricks on her. After all, the fruit that she craved for had nothing to do with fruit at all, she mused, casting Ichigo a shy look and a smile before carrying on her new temptation.

Leaning against the head board, she let her head drop back in sheer pleasure as she smiled lazily and a small moan of approval escaped her lips.

Ichigo's eyes snapped open at that and he turned his head towards her so quick that he almost snapped his neck.

Sure enough, she seemed to be enjoying herself as she unconsciously relaxed all her muscles and continued to sigh in pleasure as she sucked on the sweet. Ichigo's face heated up and he was sure he looked as red as the strawberry everyone seemed to link his name to. There he was, on his bed, sharing candy with the girl he loved and listening to her moaning right beside him. As if the earlier show when she came to his room dripping wet wrapped in only a towel wasn't enough! Somehow, he was sure his dreams that night would involve Rukia.

'I am so doomed,' he mused, mentally groaning, knowing what kind of dreams to expect.

Rukia opened her eyes again after a while of losing herself in that wonderful taste. Why hadn't Ichigo showed her this treat sooner? It was superb! Her skin tingled in pleasure at the flavor. Looking at him, she noticed he hadn't moved from the same spot but what really caught her attention was his blush. She blinked in surprise. Why was he blushing? She let her gaze drop to her lap, instantly focusing on the cellophane paper she had discarded.

A grin made its way to her features as she picked it up and flatten it, not caring that Ichigo might look at her for making a racket with it. She then shifted a bit so she could face him more easily, shut her left eye and promptly brought the paper close to her right one with her right hand as if it was an eye patch, while the left supported her body whilst she leaned slightly away from him.

"Hey, Ichigo," she called with an unmistakable amused tone on her voice.

Ichigo hoped she hadn't noticed his blush and opened his eyes to look at her, raising an eyebrow at her position.

Her smirk widened.

"Now you really do look like a strawberry," she joked, smirking, as she saw Ichigo frown slightly through the red cellophane. How very like her to tease him about his name.

"Ah ah, very funny, Rukia," he supplied sullenly, even though he didn't really minded. He was too busy noticing her soft giggling and the way she looked so happy to be bothered by it. It was a rare sight and he intended to enjoy it.

"Wasn't it?" she chuckled quietly before focusing on him again. With a smirk she pointed at his face.

"Your face is gonna stick like that again if you scowl too much," she mocked.

"So what?" he replied nonchalantly, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Well, you look good without it," she admitted, turning her eyes to the ceiling in awkwardness as she felt a blush creep at her cheeks, "But I suppose the scowl really is your trademark expression," she continued as she reached for her glass and drank some more water. She really needed to cool down.

Ichigo stopped frowning and his eyes widened before he smirked at her obvious blush.

"Who's the strawberry now?" he taunted even though he himself was still blushing slightly at her admission.

"You, obviously," she countered with no apparent doubt as she placed the glass back in its place, "Have you noticed how red you are?"

"Well, I could say the same about you," he replied.

"That's just the heat," she said, popping another cool snow ball into her waiting mouth, "I don't blush."

"Really?" Ichigo questioned, resuming his scrutinizing from earlier as he noticed that her hair was still quite damp, "Is that so?"

"What's with the look?" she asked, slightly nervous, and blushing a bit more.

"What look?" he tried looking innocent. She frowned suspiciously.

"What do you mean 'what look'? The look you've been giving me all day long!" she replied, demandingly.

"I don't know anything about it," Ichigo replied as he half-flipped, supporting his weight with his left arm, straddling her legs with his own and leaned in closer to her as his right arm reached around her.

Rukia's eyes widened and she blushed bright scarlet at the closeness, but all Ichigo did was retrieving his own glass to drink a bit, keeping in position as he did so. Rukia distracted herself by observing the column of his throat as he drank; oblivious to the gaze Ichigo kept on her. As he placed the glass back down, Rukia snapped out of her stupor and shoved him off as she spluttered incoherently.

Ichigo resumed his earlier position taking notice of how red Rukia's cheeks were. Honestly, he thought she might have kicked him by now, as was surprised she hadn't done so yet, he pondered as he ate another snow flake.

"Hey, something wrong?" he asked, slightly concerned.

She glared mildly at him.

"Yes," she said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, worrying him when she didn't seem to tell him what was wrong by ignoring him and eating some more candy herself, "You."

"Me?" his brow frowned in confusion, "What did I do?"

"Oh, you mean besides staring at me like I'm something to eat and flirting with me right now? Nothing much, really," she continued, half nervous and half confident in her strategy to ignore him. Truth be told, she didn't really mind his actions, but she did have an image to uphold. Besides, she wasn't quite sure what to do if this got anymore out of hands; it's not like she had any experience in any romance-related activities!

"The hell? I wasn't flirting, midget!" Rukia glared at him for daring to deny it. Oh, and for that midget comment, too.

"So that wasn't flirting?" she asked nonchalantly, as a plan began to form in her mind.

She might not know exactly how she should react, but then again, she's pretty sure Ichigo wouldn't know that much more than she did… and she didn't think she'd mind if he was willing to teach her. A small smirk graced her lips as she mentally prepared herself for what was coming.

"You know? I disagree," she turned her head to him and locked eyes with his beautiful amber ones, "That did seem like flirting." Ichigo frowned and was about to object when she continued, "Now, don't come telling me I don't know what I'm talking about, because I've certainly read enough books to know that much, not to mention that you beat Keigo into a pulp for doing much less than that to me. So please do elucidate me, if that wasn't flirting how would it be if it was? Care to demonstrate?" she dared him.

"I ain't falling for that. You'd have my head for it," Ichigo replied, eyeing her suspiciously.

"That means you'd be willing to demonstrate?" she inquired, surprised he didn't show any resistance. Rukia's smirk widened and she shot him a smoldering gaze of her own.

"Provided I don't get killed for it," he quarreled absentmindedly. It's not like she's actually let him-

"Oh, no. Far from it," she replied in all seriousness, slowly sucking on another candy.

"You're serious?" he turned wide eyes her way as he swallowed what was left of the candy drop and almost chocked on it.

"Of course. Weren't you?" she lifted an eyebrow in disbelief.

"Well, I… didn't think you'd actually-" he stammered.

"Urgh, quit being so nervous!" she demanded even though she was probably just as anxious, "It's not the end of the world, Ichigo. You don't have to do it if you don't want to," she said, noticing that her voice decided to betray her by letting sadness (or was it disappointment?), lace through it.

"I didn't say that," he cast her a troubled look.

"No, but you didn't deny it either," she pretended to be very interested in the cellophane wrappers in her lap.

"Dammit, Rukia. Listen to me!" he argued, "By now I'd expected to have been kicked, punched and Kami knows what else if I'd actually attempted to do what you're asking me to. Sure, ok, I admit I flirted a bit just now and yes, I was practically ogling you a while back, too," Rukia looked at him, surprised at his acknowledgments, "but, well, what else did you expect me to do? I am a teenage guy after all."

"So now it's my fault?" she glared at him.

"Partially, yes," he nodded, "Another part of it it's mine, though," he looked out the window for lack of better place to stare, since he refused to look at her, "But I'm willing to bet that most of the fault it's the damn heat that's turning our brains to mush."

Rukia snorted, but kept silent otherwise.

"So…" Ichigo began, nervously.

Rukia looked at him, curiously.

"You'd actually let me?" he inquired. His mind still hadn't quite wrapped around the possibility.

She blushed and cast him a weary look. "Hadn't I said so already?"

Another moment of silence.

"Why, thought?" Ichigo turned curious eyes her way. He conscientely knew he loved her ever since the recent war had ended, thought when he looked back he could see how much of a fool he had been, denying the emotions that kept building up day by day concerning her. But he had no idea how she felt. He didn't want to make a fool out of himself yet again if she didn't felt the same for him. Besides, he'd always thought she'd liked Renji, that's one of the reasons the red-haired baboon annoyed him so much.

"What do you mean, why?"

"Well, I'm guessing you wouldn't ask this to just about any guy…" he trailed off.

"Obviously not," she retorted patiently.

"So why me?" he asked, point blank.

"Why not?" She questioned.

Ichigo frowned.

"What?"

"It's not just something you can do with any person," he explained.

"I'm quite aware of that," she replied testily.

"It's something you do with someone you like," he tried to make it clearer for her.

"Yeah, so?" she blushed slightly at the admission.

Ichigo blushed a bit too, for she had just admitted that she liked him, in the very least. He watched her as she reached for her glass of water again and drank a little.

"I thought you loved Renji, though."

That's when she had to fight the urge to impersonate an indoor fountain.

"What!?" she shrieked.

"I, uh… thought you loved Renji," was that her or did it sound like a question?

"What the hell gave you that idea?" she inquired as she placed the glass a bit more forcefully back in place. How could that fruit head even think that?

"Well, you grew up together. You shared a lot of memories throughout your lives, it's only natural that-"

"Am I to assume that therefore you love Tatsuki?" she glowered at him.

"What!? Of course not! She's like a sister!" he looked slightly disturbed at the thought.

"Well, Renji's like a brother!" she replied as if that was the end of the discussion.

"Yeah? So what?" Ichigo continued, "Do you even know that he loves you??"

Rukia froze for a bit before she continued her train of thought.

"Don't be silly! Renji wouldn't-"

"Yes. He would." He replied with finality, frowning slightly.

Rukia kept her eyes locked with his, searching for any clue that might prove that that was nothing but a bad joke. When he didn't say anything, she stood up and began to pace around the room nervously.

"Ichigo…" she whispered brokenly, halting her pace and turning to him, "this can't be truth. Please tell me this is a bad joke."

Ichigo only frowned further and kept quiet.

"No… No! I refuse to believe it!" she shook her head.

"Doesn't make it any less real, though," Ichigo muttered, "You can't just ignore it and figure that'll make it all better."

"I know that, idiot!" she hissed, "I just… I don't want to hurt him."

Ichigo continued to look at her, curiously.

"I don't love him," she repeated, sitting by the end of the bed and twirling her hands in her lap in nervousness, "He's always been a good friend, but that's that. He abandoned me when I needed him most! How would I ever fall in love with him? But he's still my friend… my brother of some sort. I can't hurt him like that, I just can't. How could I ever forgive myself for hurting him like that? Not when I-"

"Rukia, you're ranting," Ichigo interrupted.

"I know!" she howled, "You're missing my point, thought!"

"You had a point?" he tried to lighten the mood. He could see how the news he'd given her had upset her.

"You know, you're a master at making me feel frustrated," she growled at him, sinking into his pillow and covering her eyes with an arm.

"And… I'm guessing that's something to be proud of?" he asked intrigued, looking at her.

"Extremely," she retorted, simply.

"Well, thank you," he replied, "I guess…"

She snorted, but kept her eyes hidden from him.

"You shouldn't have told me that…" she whispered after a while.

"If he ever tells you himself, at least you know what to expect."

"That's not my point, Ichigo," she removed her arm from the way and looked directly to his eyes, "How would you feel if someone told you one of your closest friends was in love with you and you didn't return the feeling?"

"Pretty crappy, I guess," he replied honestly.

"Yeah, pretty crappy," she agreed, humorlessly.

"It's not like that'll ever happen to me, though," he continued.

At that she stared at him.

"What?" he asked when he noticed her stare.

"I guess it's not that much of a surprise…" she said to herself, rolling her eyes and returning to her own bashing.

"What's not a surprise?" he asked, confused.

She sighed, wondering if she should tell him or not. Then again, he had told her about Renji. But was that the right thing to do? She still felt bad for hurting Renji all this time with her obliviousness, but what if Ichigo actually liked her back? Maybe he just needed some incentive to make his feelings known. After all, he'd fought for her over and over again. To prove her innocence. To save her. To bring her back…

Her eyes began to water at the thought but she blinked the tears away. Maybe she should tell him.

"Rukia?" he called, impatiently.

"The fact that you do have someone close to you who loves you and you don't know, either," she explained.

His eyes widened.

"What?" he asked, incredulously.

"Exactly what you heard," she looked at him. He still looked shocked, so she decided to give him a few moments to clear his head.

"…who?" he practically whispered.

She seemed to notice both a twinge of fear and wonder in his voice. His eyes stared deeply into her own, trying to find some clues, but it only seemed to make him more confused. She wondered if he had someone in mind and silently hoped her answer would match his expectations. At least, that's what his eyes seemed to convey. He definitely had someone in mind.

"Who, Rukia?" he asked again.

Was it just her or did he just say her name more tenderly than ever before? The thought made her heart skip a beat, but she fought the urge to blush. He needed his answer, whether it was the one he hoped for or not.

"Orihime," she replied.

His eyes widened in surprise. It seemed that Orihime was not the girl he had in mind.

"Before you say anything, I'd like to make clear that I feel bad for saying this in her place."

"Why…?"

"Well, it feels like I just stole her moment. Now if she ever tells you, she'll never get to see your genuine reaction and-"

"No, that's not it," he said, "Why… do you think she fell for me?"

'Probably for the same reasons I did…' she thought.

"You don't seem very thrilled by that fact," she replied, matter-of-factly, refusing to voice her thoughts.

"Yeah, I guess I feel pretty crappy too, now," he confirmed her theory.

Rukia nodded in understanding, pushing herself into a sitting position again and shifting to her earlier position by his side.

"Aren't we a couple of weirdos, uh?" she snorted, "Some of our best friends love us and we never even noticed."

"Yeah. I guess… I never really expected it," he said, still half in shock.

"Neither did I," she granted, taking some Snow Balls out of the bowl and handing half of them to Ichigo, "But cheer up. After all, we're not the only ones. Ishida likes Orihime, did you know? She has no idea, either," she said before popping a candy into her mouth.

"Seriously?"

"Yup," she nodded. And then a curious thought made itself known in her head. "Hey, since we're being so cordial and honest today…"

Ichigo gave her a suspicious look.

"Hey, don't look at me like that, it's true," she chastised, "Anyways, I was wondering… would you tell me? If you knew of someone else we know who loved me, I mean?"

He almost chocked on the Snow Flake he'd just popped in to his mouth at that and began to cough. Rukia eyed him disbelievingly.

"Uh, yeah, sure, I guess…"

"You know of some else, don't you," she accused.

"Yeah, well… what about you?" he turned the tables, "Would you tell me if you knew of someone else who loved me?"

"You didn't answer my question," she blushed, eating another candy to have an excuse to keep quiet.

"You didn't question me, you accused. Besides, you didn't answer my question, either."

She gapped at him.

"Fine. Be that way," she turned her head away from him, sulking.

"Trying to run from the subject won't do you any good," he hinted.

She glared at him.

"Fine, I'll tell you who she is, if you tell me who he is first," she replied, confident in her strategy. By the way he was acting before it didn't seem like he wanted to tell her.

Ichigo on the other hand was reaching the same conclusion. She didn't want to tell him who it was, so she was wagering a way out of it. The point was… he was afraid. What would she say? Worst of all, what would she think if he told her he loved her? He didn't want to risk their current relationship. Whatever kind it was they had, that made them so close.

"Do I really have to?" he whined.

"Yes. I won't tell you, otherwise," she nodded.

He frowned at her and kept silent.

"Look, why are you being so stubborn about this?" She eyed him, speculatively, "You told me about Renji, so why should this be any harder?"

"Shows what you know." He looked away and blushed a bit, "And I'm not the only one being stubborn. You're refusing to tell me who she is, too."

"That's because… I'm not sure how you'll react," she clarified. 'I don't think I'd react well if you gave me the same incredulous look you gave me when I told you about Orihime.' She admitted to herself.

"So why should this be any harder?" he echoed.

Rukia took a deep breath.

She had to tell him. She only hoped he was being as stubborn as her for the same reason, because if he wasn't… she wasn't sure she could survive the embarrassment. She wouldn't be able to be around him anymore without remembering this very moment if he rejected her. Maybe she'd go back to Soul Society and stay there. Hide somewhere where he wouldn't be able to follow.

"Oi, what's wrong now?" he asked, noticing her features turn from determined to depressed.

She kept quiet, but he knew she'd listened, so he waited.

"You are sure you want to know." She insisted.

"Yes."

"Even if it might change everything?" she continued.

"Change everything?" He looked confused. She frowned.

"Yes, change everything. She's someone really close to you, idiot." She rationalized.

"I still want to know," he persisted, staring straight at her violet eyes with his smoldering amber ones.

Taking a deep breath Rukia closed her eyes and turned to face him fully.

'Well, this is it. I hope he won't hate for what I'm about to do…' she thought.

Snapping her eyes open she stared back at his eyes with unveiled intensity and leaned in, quickly.

Not expecting such a reaction from her Ichigo was caught by surprise when her lips found his own. His eyes widened and he remained frozen in place, not quite believing what was happening. Surely it was nothing but a dream… a very vivid and wicked dream.

Noticing he wasn't corresponding to her kiss, she pulled back. Slowly. All she wanted was to make the moment last. She was hurt, but really, she should have expected it. Just because he said he liked her, it didn't mean he liked her, however confusing that may sound. Finally pulling back she stared at her lap, tears threatening to fall from her eyes.

Ichigo just kept staring at her, astonished.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that," she said blushing furiously and drying her moist eyes before the tears fell. She didn't want to look weak. She just really hoped he didn't hate her now; it was hard to tell, he was staring at her with that weird expression again. His eyes bore into hers with intensity and she looked back to her lap, where her hands were playing with the hem of her dress, fearing she had pissed him off with her brilliant idea.

Ichigo finally had snapped out of his momentary shock and could help but stare at her impatiently. What the hell was she apologizing for!?

"Rukia…" He called with a slightly rough voice, as he reached for one of her hands, so she would look up at him. When he held her hand he gave a sharp tug, making her stumble into his lap.

"H-hey! W-what the hell is the big idea!?" She spluttered nervously, trying to get away, but only managed to straddle him closer in the process, since he was holding her in place. She glared at him and he let her arms go.

Holding her face gently with both his hands he made sure she was looking at him. Actually, she was glowering at him, but it wouldn't last much.

"Just shut up," he smirked before he brought his lips to hers.

It was her time to freeze in shock. Did this mean he…?

Smiling in happiness at the silent but physical admission of his feelings, she wrapped her arms around his neck pulling herself closer and he responded by wrapping his arms around her waist.

After a bit both pulled away for air and rested their heads against each other, taking deep breaths. A few breaths after Rukia chuckled.

"See, was it really that hard?" she asked playfully before continuing seriously, "Though you really had me worried for a while."

Ichigo rolled his eyes and leaned back against the headboard, pulling her along. Cuddling closer to him she sighed happily.

"You know, it's all your fault," he replied, wrapping his arms around her again and holding her closer.

"How was your slow reaction my fault?" she raised her eyebrow at him.

"Well, I wasn't exactly expecting a kiss from you. I was too surprised to react," he explained matter-of-factly.

"Uh, guess it is my fault then," she blushed a bit.

Silence fell upon them and they let they eyes roam around, nervous and unsure of how to behave around each other now. Ichigo's eyes fell on the bowl of Snow Flakes besides them and he chuckled at the thought that crossed his mind.

"What?" she questioned, looking up at him.

"Nothing," he noticed her confuse expression and gave her another small kiss, "I just realized… you taste like Snow Flakes."

'º0º'


A/N: Done! I was so bored that I just had to write something. This idea came to me because I was eating Snow Flakes as I meditated, hoping for inspiration to struck. Kinda corny, though. xD
Yes, that candy does exist. I don't know if they were originally fabricated here in Portugal, but we do make them. Some call them Snow Balls (Bolas de Neve), but I like Snow Flakes (Flocos de Neve) better; though as Rukia thought when it was presented to her, I think it looks a lot more like hail than snow. Lol. I think if you google it you'll find them.

And yes, I know the characters are OOC, but I don't really care. xP
Hope you liked it!