Kurosaki Ichigo was a chicken.
Now, this was a difficult idea for many of his friends to swallow since it meant Kurosaki was the same chicken who simply smirked when he was met with a Hollow's claw an inch away from his face on the battlefield. And the same chicken that let out a warrior cry as he slashed through his enemies; the vibrant red blood dripping from his sword an evident sign of victory. Even none of his enemies could deny the lust for fight that ran through his veins like oxygen.
If Kurosaki Ichigo were a chicken, he was a chicken who nevertheless saved Karakura Town and Soul Society. More importantly, he had restored the balance of the world.
So how, he wondered as he lay in his bed, could he not have the courage to confront these feelings?
It had been just a week ago when he realized the inevitable- he had somehow tripped for a certain shinigami. One who seemed too tiny to fight off hollows more than a hundred times her height but succeeded anyway, with an elegance and quiet confidence that he found himself noticing more and more.
He had become aware of these conflicting feelings when he realized how tense he became when she was fighting a hollow. His mind would scream to run in front of her and shield her from any hollow that dared leave a scratch on her. Of course, protection was in his nature, but it seemed to blow up like an atomic bomb whenever he was around her.
But she was not one to be so fiercely protected, even if it were in his nature to. He mentally shook his head; he had fallen for a girl who did not need or want his constant protection. But he couldn't see it happening any other way.
He had fallen for a girl who had saved him first. Now he was forever gladly in her debt. When she had saved him, she had seized his heart as payment. He didn't like to think cheesy thoughts. And he sure as hell didn't like to ramble on in his head about her eyes, those soft lips, and the way her every movement on the battlefield was elegantly showcased in slow motion to him. He especially didn't want to be reminded about how deep she had gotten under his skin, and how unbelievably talented she was at stirring his emotions up.
He scratched his head as he paged through manga without any purpose. If only, he wished, confronting these feelings were as easy as gutting a hollow. Hell, even a parade of hollows.
While Soul Society deemed him a hero, he called himself a wimp.
Her violet eyes… Amusement glistening in them as she furrowed her eyebrows at him and barked an insult.
"Ichigo! Look what I made!"
Rukia came rushing into his room to show him a bunny shaped cookie. The bunny had beady eyes and a purple frosting mouth.
He feigned disinterest in her cookie and flipped a page, "Rabbits don't have purple mouths,"
She narrowed her eyes and let out a small huff, "Normal humans don't have orange hair,"
She waited for him to respond angrily, expecting something along the lines of scratching his head and retorting back about her height.
Instead, she found his eyes trained on his manga. She walked over, not keen on being ignored, and rested her arms on the bed right beside him. Ichigo slightly flinched when her hands momentarily brushed his arm, but his eyes never left the manga.
Rukia, unaware of their closeness, pointed to the cookie rabbit's head, "Baka-mono, you didn't notice its hair."
She then grinned proudly and mischievously, "It's you!"
The cookie then began to walk in mid air with the help of Rukia. She huffed and scowled, resembling Ichigo as she gave the cookie a voice, "I am Kurosaki the usagi! My master, Rukia-sama, is the best!"
His attention finally left the book just in time to notice her long lashes and twinkling eyes while mimicking him with her cookie, and as if he had touched a hot stove, his eyes scampered back to the manga.
Rukia, confused by his lack of response, raised an eyebrow. Her hand began to crawl quietly past his arm, upwards, to flick him on his forehead. The pressure on her fingers was growing; she was anticipating an exceptionally vengeful flick for his lack of attention. He suddenly caught her wrist like he was nimbly catching a fly. A tiny gasp left her mouth in surprise- so he hadn't been totally engrossed in his manga.
He also seemed to realize that he gave away his cover and swiftly let go of her wrist, embarrassed. With that done, he then proceeded to completely stick his face in the manga.
"I-It doesn't even look like me, stupid. Go take your cookie to someone who cares!"
Indignant and with a beaten pride, Rukia bolted up. She leered at him and cradled her cookie which now seemed to be representative of her pride, "You don't have an eye for the creativity used in the fine art of baking, you barbarian!"
He wasn't paying attention. She inwardly sighed and left the room.
He glanced up just in time to hear the door click close, red creeping into his face as he crashed the manga onto his face. Even with his eyes shut tightly, he could still see her amused violet eyes through her full, long lashes. Those damn mood ring-like eyes. But he couldn't seem to swallow the heavy lump of denial that he wasn't captivated by them.
The genuine smile he would bend backwards and over to catch.
He touched her lips today.
No, it didn't happen because he was being a creep. It was her fault, actually.
He felt stupid because it wasn't a big deal but for some reason, his mind was making it a big deal.
They were cleaning the chalkboard after school.
He tried- no, he strived to be serious and separate his relationship with her and his feelings. But it was a difficult task to do when she could barely reach the top of the chalkboard to sponge it down. He tried not to watch her struggle in reaching the top of the blackboard, noticing her balanced gracefully on her toes while her skirt flared up slightly from the stretch. And he most definitely tried not to ponder too long on how pale and feminine her slender legs were compared to his.
But what was even more difficult not to notice was when she wiped her itchy nose with what seemed to be a clean hand but was actually dusted with chalk powder. Frankly, he wasn't surprised when he found his hand moving forward to brush the dust from her cheek down to the top of her lips as an uncharacteristically soft smile began to form on his face. And for once, Rukia didn't smack him or say anything but watch his knuckles wipe away the dust.
But she then quickly jerked her head and he stole back his hand, suddenly aware of what he did. He felt wounded. While he mentally beat himself up over it, Rukia shifted back to face him, a mischievous smile on her face.
She swiftly smeared chalkboard dust onto his face and laughed freely. He watched her lips quirk upwards and the tiny dimples on her cheeks form as her laughter enveloped him.
Her laughter triggered a change in his list of immediate priorities- the first one had been revised to how often he could hear her laugh.
Clumsily shifting back into a scowling expression, his hand swiftly made its way over to the chalkboard to grab some dust in retaliation.
Her indignant huff, her lips forming a snarl that only she could make both attractive and horrifyingly scary simultaneously.
He did it again. He had unconsciously reached out to pat her head because his hand seemed to be unaware of their platonic relationship. The first time he accidently let his hand stray, her eyes followed his hand, surprised. Unable to deal with her curious eyes gazing up at him in response, he roughly messed up her hair. By the third time, she scowled and punched him painfully in the stomach before he could fervently mess it up.
He had gotten into the habit of messing up her hair in order to cover his hand's crime of patting her hair and running through them. He couldn't let her know that he was going soft on her. He would rather get checked up for a restless hand disorder than let her find out that he was constantly tempted to run his fingers through her hair. Or pat her head. Or brush away that persistent bang between her eyes which he secretly liked.
And so, every time his hand moved on its own accord, he was punished with a very annoyed Rukia. Although, in his opinion, it was a punishment he wouldn't mind experiencing over and over again. The way her button nose would flare up and her eyes would turn a darker shade of violet, and how her eyebrows would scrunch up so deep…
He was hopeless. He needed to stop reading so much damn Shakespeare.
Kuchiki Rukia was oblivious.
For those closest around her, they could agree that this was half true. For she wasn't oblivious to Keigo's cheesy come-ons towards her, or that Ishida and Ichigo didn't really hate each other as much as they proclaimed, or that Karin secretly depended on her brother as much as Yuzu did.
But it was only half true for everyone but her knew that she and Kurosaki Ichigo weren't meant to be strictly friends. They were much more than that. Kuchiki Rukia was oblivious to the elbow nudging and eyebrow wriggling people (Isshin, in particular) did when she and Ichigo were together. She was even oblivious to the way her brother dismissed talks among the Kuchiki family about searching for a potential 'candidate' for Rukia.
But most of all, she wasn't sure how to react when that orange haired, lanky boy ruffled and then bonked her on the head. Or the time when he wiped dust off her cheek and his knuckles came dangerously close to her lips. And she certainly couldn't figure out why he would sporadically avoid her. She furrowed her eyebrows when she remembered the time he made a sharp u-turn once he noticed her in the hallway at school.
So Rukia did the most reasonable thing one could do. She investigated the issue.
And the investigation rewarded her with an answer- sick.
She had overheard Yoruichi sighing exasperatedly after Ichigo had left from visiting her. Granted, she wasn't able to hear everything perfectly clear because of Kon's obnoxious rambling while he hid with her in the bush, but she was able to catch all she needed- "Ichigo" and "Sick"
If he were sick, it would have made sense about him avoiding her- perhaps he didn't want her to get sick. Although, that was a bit too tactful of him. And Ichigo was far from tactful- his sharp mouth always got him into trouble. But he was acting bizarre. And he had been skipping dinners recently.
And so, Rukia did the second most reasonable thing one could do in a situation like this. She ambushed him in the living room.
She observed him through the stair railing, lazily lounging on the couch and flipping through channels when he let out a few coughs. She marched towards the kitchen and swiftly heated up a tea that Byakuya always drank whenever he was feeling slightly ill. She set down the tray on the coffee table in front of the table as Ichigo's eyes widened in surprise.
His eyes returned to being slightly hooded, "You're blocking the TV."
Rukia ignored him and placed her hand over his forehead.
"What are you doing?"
She creased her eyebrows while contemplating whether the temperature of his forehead seemed healthy enough. Still skeptical, she then headed out of the living room and into the bathroom. Ichigo touched his forehead, perplexed, while he stared at the bathroom and listened to the running of tap water.
He sat up with a confused expression on his face when he noticed Rukia heading towards the living room with a damp hand towel.
She gently slapped the damp towel on his forehead, his orange bangs getting wet and sticking out in the process.
"You're sick. Lie down and rest."
He narrowed his eyes at her, "I'm not s-"
She pushed the lid of the mug onto his lips in response while holding the damp towel against his forehead. He slightly sputtered, surprised, and then gulped some of the tea down reluctantly.
"Why didn't you tell me you were sick?"
Ichigo seemed taken aback by what she said, interpreting her question as far deeper than she had even meant. She had unknowingly confronted him.
The next few actions occurred quickly, but it didn't dilute the shock or profoundness.
He gripped her hand that was clutching the towel and removed the mug from her hands and returned it to the tray. After the tray, his eyes immediately returned to hers, but they didn't return back to the surprised and slightly vulnerable state they were in just a few minutes ago. His eyes were intense, and unafraid, and demanding. It was exactly those piercing, powerful eyes that had been her inspiration for encouraging Ichigo to get back on his feet back in the Arrancar days. She met his eyes, aware of her surprised eyes reflecting back from his.
"How am I supposed to get better if you keep doing things like this?"
She was confused at first. What exactly had she done?
It was when she saw his eyes fall on her lips, tortured by the proximity, that she became completely aware.
Everything seemed to come into place. She realized why he seemed uncharacteristic around her recently and why his hands seemed to linger longer than normal while messing up her hair, and why she always noticed him close by on the battlefield.
Her eyes closed halfway, hooded, as a tiny gap formed between her lips. He too, did the same.
He steadily removed the towel from her hands, placing it on the table as he closed the distance between their lips. She felt his lips against hers; they were warm. His damp bangs tickled her forehead while his grip on her hand unconsciously tightened. His other hand trailed up and landed on her shoulder, clutching it firmly. She could feel the intensity of his emotions in his grip and in his touch. It seemed as if his power was being transmitted to her; the pit of her stomach weak, and her pulse beating faster than usual. He was hot and overwhelming, yet unsurprisingly straightforward.
His lips finally departed from hers and they both silently caught their breaths; their shy eyes away from each other. His eyes finally traveled away from his hand that enveloped hers and hesitantly returned to her eyes. He explained everything to her through his gaze.
I was sick…because of my feelings for you.
Finally aware of everything that happened recently, her lips gradually quirked upwards as she squeezed his hand gently before lacing her fingers with his.
Ah. Love sick.
AN: Had this old oneshot collecting dust in my folder. I had intended to wrap it up differently by tying it back to the first line but this idea popped into my head, and somehow i ended up with 'love sick'. And because i just love the deep eye communication these two have. Cheesy? Amazing? OOC? Let me know what you think! :)