Hi everyone. I'm really, really sorry this is later than I hoped.

It's been a difficult month for me. Both my parents have been rather ill and in hospital (they are both home now), and just yesterday we had to return our dog Sadie, whom we've had for 6 years to the rescue centre we got her from, as she was snarling at my baby brother and sister too much. We would never forgive ourselves if she'd hurt one of the babies, but she was a huge part of our lives and our family. It hurt very much to see her go.

We also bought a puppy just over a week ago to keep our other dog ,Taz, company after Sadie left. However, she has been very ill lately, and has been at the vets for a few days. Just this morning we get the dreaded call, they can do nothing more for our little Coco, and we agree, it's kinder to have her put down. Still, it was very very sad.

It's been a horrid couple of days, and to add to that, I've been ill (yet again). So really not good.

However, I have some good things to look forward to – I am going on holiday with my boyfriend next month and right after we get back I have an interview for what would be my perfect job, so please wish me luck!

Again, I am really sorry to have kept you all waiting. I really hope you enjoy this chapter. Please read and review!

Thanks for all your support and lovely reviews. They mean so much to me.

Rukia sighed and hung her head. "That was so lame."

Ichigo shrugged and looked away. Did she mean what I said, or the kiss? He was even more nervous now than he had been before he kissed her.

Rukia looked up at the orange haired boy. Silly fool. "Ichigo."

Said boy's head snapped round and his amber eyes locked with hers. She could see confusion pooling in those honey eyes she loved so much. Her purple eyes widened and softened upon recognising this.

Ichigo could think of nothing to say to the petite girl stood before him. He felt so awkward! He saw something in her eyes he couldn't quite understand. He dared not move. He felt like a coward, but he would wait to see what she would do next.

Slowly, a small smile made its way onto her face. "What are you worried about?"

Ichigo's face morphed into surprise. Of all the things he had expected to come out of her delicious mouth, those words were not it. "What?"

"You look worried."

"No, I don't." Ichigo looked away.

"Yes, you do. Now tell me what's wrong, baka!"

A wry smile affixed itself to Ichigo's face. "This situation is wrong."

Rukia felt… winded. Wrong? He thought the situation was… wrong? But he said… I though he liked… I don't –

"We… we kissed." Ichigo blurted.

Rukia, for some reason, flushed bright red. "Yes." She whispered and clasped her hands together, and looked down to the floor.

"I – did you… I'm sorry."

"You're sorry? What for?" Rukia's eyes shot back up to the Strawberry's. Was it a mistake?

"I thought that maybe you – it doesn't matter."

"I'll decide if it matters. Tell me."


"I said, tell me!"


"Why not?"

"Because…" Ichigo paused for a second deep in thought. "Honestly? I have no idea how you are going to react, and that frightens the shit out of me." He scratched the back of his neck.

Rukia released an almost dark laugh. "You're scared of me."

"Rukia, you're what? Three-foot nothing? I'm not scared of you."

"But you're scared of my reaction."

"I'm not admitting that a second time."

"But you are?"

"Did I say that?"

"Damn it, Ichigo, now you're just avoiding the god damn question. For the sake of all that is holy, tell me what the fuck is going on here! You kiss me, tell me it's amazing, and then get all distant and tell me it's wrong? Then why the hell did you kiss me?"

"Hold up, hold up. Wait just a second midget. You wanted me to kiss you, right? You kissed me back."

"Hn." Rukia barely mumbled out the response. Her cheeks were very very red, and somehow, she just could not bring her purple orbs to meet with his brown eyes. "…"

Ichigo suddenly felt ten times more relaxed. "Why are we fighting, again?"

"Because you can't seem to decide whether or not you want to kiss me."

Ichigo chuckled. "Where did that come from?"

Ichigo's amusement just caused Rukia to blush even more. How dare he mock me? "Why did you say the situation's wrong then? Did you mean kissing me was wrong?"

"Hey, don't start! You said it was lame! Why would you want me to kiss you if I was so bad at it?"

"I never said the kiss was lame! Christ! You're such a child! What you said was lame! It was so cheesy! It is not what I expected to come out of you damn mouth after we kiss for the first time – it was just such a lame thing to say!"

"So… the kiss wasn't lame?"

"Didn't I just say that?"

"No, you just said you didn't say it was, not that you didn't think it was."

"Oh, for fuck sake, Ichigo!" With that , Rukia stretched her arm up, tangled her fingers through Ichigo's orange spikes underneath his beanie and pulled his head down so they were face to face. A dangerous smirk danced on her lips as she allowed him a second to process what was happening, before she crashed her lips to his.

Ichigo's eyes instantly fluttered closed as he and Rukia kissed desperately. After a few seconds, and all too soon in Ichigo's book, she pulled away. Her face was red, her lips were swollen ever so slightly and her hair was a little messy from where Ichigo had threaded his fingers through it. Damn, she looks… hot.

"So, what are you expecting me to say this time?" Ichigo smirked.

"Nothing. Just be quiet. It's far more enjoyable when you don't speak."

"Che." Ichigo rolled his amber orbs as he stood up straight.

Rukia wasn't about to let the situation get anymore awkward. "We should head home now."


The two walked back to the Kurosaki clinic, saying no more on the matter, however, at some point during the walk home, the hands of the Kuchiki girl and the Kurosaki boy became intertwined with the other once again.

"Onii-san! Where have you been?"

"Ah, sorry Yuzu, I kinda had stuff to do."

"Aww, Ichi-nii, we know about the shinigami stuff now, why don't you just tell us what you were doing?" Karin rolled her eyes, in the exact way her brother tended to.

"I was getting my shinigami powers back, alright?"

Isshin walked into the kitchen at just the right time to hear the last sentence his only son spoke. "! Well done, my boy! I always knew –"

"Shut up, you silly old goat." Ichigo scored a roundhouse kick on his Oyaji.

Rukia smiled as she watched the chaos that was the Kurosaki family. Today had started out so crappy, yet had ended so familiarly, it was strange. Everything was back to normal now Ichigo was around again.

Well, kind of. They hadn't spoken about what the kisses had meant for them, and that made her just a little uneasy. But even getting to kiss him was… amazing… for him to initiate it meant something, right?

It's not like she wanted to depend on him. She wouldn't. She has coped without him being anything more than a cherished friend up until this point. If need be, she can carry on like that. She would not be one of those girls who devote their entire existence to a man. She had other things to focus on, and her position within the Gotei 13 was not one to be scoffed at, nor taken lightly. If it turned out that she and Ichigo were nothing more than friends, then she'd have to carry on. There was no room for arguments. She needed to carry on with her duties, and she would not let her heart get in the way of that.

But, it would be wonderful if he did return her feelings. It would be nice, for once, to feel loved. Now, she knows she is loved in the way a family loves her, but she would dearly love to be on the receiving end of romantic love, one day. Preferably with Ichigo. She could want that, right? After all, what is a person who doesn't want love?

Even someone who seems cold, can find love. Her nee-san loved her nii-sama, and vice versa. Whilst he may deny it, Kuchiki Byakuya is not an unfeeling man, even after Hisana passed. He stuck to his promise to her, and took on Rukia. He even found it within his heart to tell Rukia about Hisana. Truly, he is a deep man, but one who keeps his heart deeply hidden.

Actually, maybe she is beginning to see a new side to him, too. Tonight was a perfect example of that. Whilst she knows it was most definitely done under the guise of the law in Soul Society, he came here to save her from Renji's less than desired attention. She is very grateful for that, but how should she tell him that? She knows she must, but, broaching personal matters with her nii-sama is always difficult, even though they enjoyed a personal conversation earlier, how far can she push him?

Today, she has realised she is loved, very much. That love is very confusing, but she knows it is there. Now, all Rukia has to do is interpret it. That's going to be harder – she has no doubts about that.

"Ichigo." Isshin spoke to his son using his rarely heard serious tone.


"What have you done to Rukia-chan?"

Ichigo fought hard to hide the blush, desperate to keep his cool. That old goat faced doctor did not need to know that he and Rukia had kissed. Twice. "Nothing. Why do you ask?"

"Because… look at her."

Ichigo did as his father suggested. She looked slightly pale, yet her cheeks were a little on the pink side. He noticed the small shinigami looking a bit lost, a bit confused and a whole lot nervous. The feeling he had in the pit of his stomach made him want to go over to her and hold her until she felt better. Maybe he could kiss her again. God, he'd love that.

Isshin eyed his boy whilst he looked at the girl. Isshin couldn't help but smile to himself. Yes, his boy loves that shinigami. Not an ounce of doubt about it, in his mind. Judging by the pink in Ichigo's cheeks, they've done something about it, yet they are still awkward about it. He rolls his eyes and sighs. They'll get there one day.

"Do you think she's ill?" Ichigo spoke loud enough for only his elder to hear.

Isshin's inner child smirked with glee. Yes, he could definitely work with that scenario! Get the boy to look after his third-daughter while she was supposedly ill… it would work… if she was ill. Which, even from this side of the room, the doctor could tell, she wasn't coming down with anything major - a common cold, at most. But he could use that.

The bearded man let out a sigh. "I think she's okay. It's hard to tell from over here, but don't you think she looks a little pale? Maybe the first flush of a 24 hour bug or the flu. I'd have to look at her to know for sure."

Shit. I kissed her; what if I have it too? "Ah, did you want to look her over then?"

Isshin raised his eyebrow. The boy is concerned. Good. "Yeah, I probably should. That way we can get some meds into her before it really brings her down." Now to see what they've done. She went out with that Abarai… but came back with my boy…"She was on a date with Abarai this evening…do you know if they…" Isshin trailed off, only to mime snogging in the air in a very indiscreet manner.

Ichigo's eyes widened and heat filled his face. He was angry. Rukia… doing that… with Renji… NO!

"Ichigo, did she kiss Renji?"

Ichigo quickly recovered and gave his father the much deserved punch to the face. "No, of course she didn't. As if." But she did kiss me though. Shit, shit, shit. "Why?" Does beardy think she would?

"Because I'd want to quarantine them if it was the flu. I don't want it, you don't want it, and the girls' certainly don't want it."

"Can we just check it's definitely the flu before we talk about quarantining Rukia? And why do we need to quarantine her? It's only the flu." Ichigo frowned.

Isshin rolled his eyes. "I don't mean locking her in a room on her own boy. I mean having her bundled up in bed, away from the rest of us while she rests, perhaps even taking time off school to recover." Oh-ho, my boy thinks he can divert the subject from him and Rukia-chan? I think not. "We don't even know if she has the flu yet boy, but even from here, she looks like she has the symptoms. Even you can see it."

"Hn." With a nod, Ichigo agreed. She did have a light sheen on her skin, and she looked unwell. Damn it!

Now, here's the big question. "Are you feeling well, m'boy? Thinking about it, you look unwell too." Isshin lifted a hairy hand and placed the back of it against his son's forehead. "You feel a bit warm. Maybe you caught the flu off Rukia?" He shakes his head. "No, no. You've been gone. You haven't been near enough to her to catch it, have you?" Isshin makes sure to make eye contact with his only son.

Ichigo feels like a deer caught in headlights. Shit! He can feel the blood rising to his face.

"Ichigo." Isshin makes his voice sound a whole ten times graver than he wants it to. I knew it! "What did you and Rukia-chan do? Did you deflower and defile my beautiful third daughter?"

"Wha – no! We just kissed!" Shit! Shit! Shit! Bollocks! Fuck! Shit! Fucking stupid, bearded goat faced bastard!

It was all he could do not to split into a grin from ear to ear. He continued to speak in a serious tone. "You kissed her? That's all?"

"Yes! Jeez! Aren't you happy already?"

"Of course! My boy's got his first kiss! But, I could really do without you both being ill and mopey."

"Well, check us over already!" How infuriating can this man be?

Isshin proceeded to check over his son, concluding that it may be nothing more than a common cold. "You kissed Rukia-chan, so it's likely she'll have picked it up too. Take the day off tomorrow to recover. I'll be at work, and the girls will be at school. I'll have Yuzu prepare you both some food for tomorrow."

Ichigo took a deep breath. "Hai."

"What do you mean we've got to take tomorrow off school?"

"Oyaji said we looked ill."


"I also told him what we did. He said one of us could have given it to the other. He doesn't want a load of kids off school and camped out in his clinic for the next few days."

"You told him?"


"What did you tell him?" Rukia was shaking. She didn't know her own emotions at this point. She was nervous, scared, confused and worst of all; she didn't know how Ichigo felt about the whole damn awkward thing. Not really.

"He was going on about something to do with deflowering you or something, and I kinda got mad and said, no, we'd just kissed. Damn his mind tricks, getting that out of me!"


Ichigo's amber eyes rolled in their socket. "Yeah."

"Translation, please?"

"He thought we'd… gone further."

"Further than what?" Rukia was completely puzzled.

"Further than kissing. Um, to 'deflower' someone means to take… to be their first sexual partner."

"Oh. Um. Right." Rukia's eyes dropped to the floor.


The pair lapsed into an uneasy silence. Ichigo flopped down onto the bed; Rukia sat on his chair at the desk and began to draw.

After a short while, the petite sister of Byakuya glanced over to the bed where the boy she was in love with lay. Oh, Ichigo. The carrot top had fallen asleep. It was only then that she noticed the thin layer of sweat on his face. He did look a little ill. A soft smile adorned her face as she reached over and brushed back his orange spikes.

When he didn't stir, she allowed one hand to cup his jaw softly. He was warm, very warm. Warmer than he should be.

Slowly and quietly, she sat beside his sleeping body on the bed. His left arm seemed to sense her and snaked around her sitting form, pulling her closer to him. She turned and leaned in toward his face.

He was every inch a beautiful man. She wanted to be allowed to love him, but he was renowned for pushing people away. Even his own flesh and blood, his family, were kept at an arm's length. She sighed. One day, maybe.

Softly, slowly and with only the slightest of pressure, she allowed her lips to find his again. Ichigo sighed deeply, and even though he was sleeping, his arms reached out for her, and pulled her body to his. At first she panicked, thinking he'd awoken, but then when she realised he was still asleep, she relaxed.

She cuddled in close to him, with her head on his chest. They were both still fully dressed and on top of the covers. She was still wearing her make up. Normally she was very strict about her pre-bedtime routine, but tonight she couldn't find it within herself to care. She hadn't even brushed her pearly whites. Ichigo, subconsciously, held her. He had kissed her earlier that day. She just didn't want to pull away. Truly, at this juncture in her life, she needed this, she needed to be with Ichigo, completely relaxed, wrapped up in the warmth he radiated… she was very comfortable with the idea of resting like this. If she could sleep like this every night, she'd never want to wake.

The warmth and comfortableness of Ichigo soon put her to sleep.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I'm not sure when the next one will be uploaded, as I intend the next chapter I upload to be for Take Me Home.

Please review!