Just Checking

Bleach; Ichihime short

Word Count: 1792

Warning: K; for serious in-your-face fluff

Disclaimer: all characters herein belong to Kubo Tite.

What if ...Ichigo made a wild assumption?


Surely, someone was testing her.

Orihime licked her dry lips and shifted from foot to foot with a surfeit of nervous energy. Her tummy wouldn't stop churning as she stole another peek at a fellow university student that hailed her before she could leave campus.

The word that Orihime Inoue was looking for date had spread like wildfire through their college campus, probably fanned along by an impatient Tatsuki-chan. That in turn resulted in it taking her almost an hour –instead of the normal ten minutes- to leave school grounds.

This was the fourth person to stop her this afternoon, or more accurately put, the seventh one today. She was beginning to wonder if there was a flashing sign over her head informing the student body at large that she was available both Friday and Saturday night, first come, first serve.

Her smile was awkward and unnatural as she fluttered her fingers in goodbye after giving her number to yet another hopeful.

Could she really follow through with this? Orihime snapped her phone closed and clenched it in her fist. She felt so disloyal for some reason. Pained. Confused. Heartsick.


And yet another one appears.

Orihime bit the edge of her lip to hold back a groan. Turning, she let a welcoming smile curve her lips as she sternly reminded herself of her deal with Tatsuki. Her best friend asked, pleaded, and browbeat her into giving people whose name wasn't Kurosaki Ichigo a chance since –as she truthfully pointed out- he still hadn't made a move of his own. How depressing. And eventually Orihime agreed and gave her word that she would try.

She wasn't making any promises though.

And of course, luck was not on her side today. She could see Ichigo over her newest candidate's shoulder and he was heading this way. No, not now! Swallowing thickly, Orihime returned his nod with a small wave before breathing a sigh of relief when someone stopped him to talk.


Orihime blinked, already forgetting that she was talking to someone. Murmuring an apology for being rude, she tried to ignore the fact that Ichigo was only a few feet away. Instead, she focused her attention on the thin awkward man standing in front of her as he nervously pushed his glasses up his nose in a move reminiscent of her friend Uryuu.

At least this time it was someone familiar. They had a class together on Thursdays and even sat somewhat close to each other sometimes. But that didn't erase the uncomfortable feeling in her stomach as they exchanged numbers. If anything, it made it worse, knowing that she would see his eager face tomorrow in class.

"Oi, was that guy bothering you? You looked uncomfortable."

Spinning around in surprise, Orihime looked up to see Ichigo standing beside her, staring darkly after the man that just left. "N-no, he was just asking for my number." She answered without thought before blushing and breaking into a fast walk. Ichigo didn't need to know that. It sounded like she was bragging.

Nodding as he grasped the situation, Ichigo slung his bag over his shoulder and matched his longer stride to hers. "Oh. Well, he didn't look too disappointed at not getting it."

"B-but I did give it to him." she murmured as they left campus, finally heading home.

Sighing, Ichigo's shoulders slumped as if under a heavy burden and he muttered. "You're too nice sometimes, Inoue."

"You make it sound like a bad thing."

"Not bad, so much as frustrating."

Orihime's brows furrowed and she glanced up at him in confusion. "Frustrating?"

"Well yeah. No guy wants his girlfriend handing out her number to the competition."

Her eyes went wide with shock. Did Ichigo just use the 'g' word? Directed towards her? He couldn't have. Stupid ears, hearing only what you want to hear.

But it really did sound like he said exactly that.

"Umm …this g-girlf-friend …who?"

Not paying attention to her garbled question, Ichigo shifted his bag to his opposite hand and scowled. "Tch, that guy was definitely on the prowl." His pace slowed as he glanced over his shoulder in the direction that the sleek black haired Casanova went, and mumbled under his breath. "The idiot should just look elsewhere and not bother asking you."

Her question about the possible use of the 'g' word was pushed aside by Ichigo's complaining. "It's not a bother. Maybe I want to go out with him." She said stoutly before having to chase after Ichigo to yank on his sleeve. "Wait, why are you laughing?"

He just shrugged his shoulders and grinned down at her before admitting. "It just struck me as funny."

Orihime's mouth fell open. Ichigo was making fun of her, wasn't he? "You don't think I'd say 'yes' if he asked me out?"

Not even slowing his stride, he answered without hesitation. "I know you wouldn't."

Coming to a full stop, Orihime crossed her arms over her chest and her bottom lip curled down in a rare show of displeasure. "You sound pretty certain of yourself, Kurosaki-kun."

"Of course I'm certain. You made me a promise, and you're not the type to play fast and loose."

Her arms unfolded to fall limply at her sides and Orihime searched her mind for any promise she might have made to him that pertained to dating or anything of that sort. There wasn't anything! Watching Ichigo continue to walk away, she stared at his back in confusion before calling out to him. "P-promise …what promise?"

Glancing over his shoulder, Ichigo furrowed his brows at seeing her so far behind him. Turning, he waited for her to catch up before sighing when Orihime showed no sign of budging from her spot. "Geez, are you forgetful or what." He teased, amusement shining in his eyes. "Does it really take me saying five lifetimes to jog your memory?"

Her mouth fell open as pure, undiluted shock flooded her system. What? He couldn't …He didn't …There was no way! Orihime snapped her mouth shut and could only stare back, speechless and her heart skipping as panic set in. He could only mean her vow of living five lifetimes, but wanting only one love. Him.

Ichigo lips curled up ever so slightly at the corner and he arched a brow questioningly, obviously waiting for her to answer. Of course she remembered. How could she ever forget? Orihime nodded her head like an automaton. "I didn't forget. I just …" Shaking herself free of the shock paralyzing her body, her fingers twisted around each other as she stammered disjointedly. "I just didn't think you …I mean you never …"

A genuine smile softened his features and his eyes were full of warmth and affection, directed solely at her. He knew. Orihime could see the truth in his familiar brown eyes. Ichigo knew she loved him, and he didn't reject her or her feelings. Dare she hope he felt the same? She pressed a fist to her chest, trying without success to quiet the racing of her heart. Was this real or only a figment of her imagination, nothing more than another fevered dream.

Walking back to her side, Ichigo towered over her still figure. He tilted head to the side in question, murmuring, "What?"

She slowly lifted her head to see him looking down at her with concern. He could always tell when she had something troubling on her mind. But Ichigo wasn't one to pry, he would just stand protectively nearby and offer her his support. It was just one of the many things she loved about him.

A bemused smile lifted the corners of her lips and Orihime waved away his worry with a swish of her hand. "It's nothing, Kurosaki-kun.

Staring down at her in silence, Ichigo's eyes moved over her face almost like a caress. Orihime shivered and wondered what that particular look in his eyes meant. He had looked at her like that before, but never this intense though, and definitely not while standing on a busy sidewalk.

"Kurosaki-kun?" she whispered.

Blinking, he jerked back. Hot color stained his cheeks as he rubbed the back of his neck. "Come on. I'll walk you home."

She nodded slowly in agreement and fell into step with him out of habit. Following the same path they did on most days, she walked quietly at his side, deep in thought. What just happened?

Ichigo asking if she wanted a curry or kabocha korokke today dragged Orihime from her thoughts. Her tummy growled in response. Sheepishly looking to the side, she rubbed the back of her neck while Ichigo and the shop's fry lady laughed good-naturedly at her.

They resumed their walk to her apartment a few minutes later, a brown paper bag with a curry and plain potato korokke now in her hands. Plus, there was an extra one, a sweet kabocha, for –as the fry lady put it- her favorite redheaded couple to share. Orihime had blushed and stammered while Ichigo paid for their snack, not even bothering to correct the woman's misunderstanding. Couple? People thought they were a couple?

Yes, it was true that over the years the two of them naturally gravitated towards each other until they were together more often than not. But that didn't mean they were dating, did it? Ugh! This was all so confusing.

There was only one way to know for certain.

Just ask.

"Umm, Kurosaki-kun?"

"What's wrong?"

She gave a tiny shake of head, letting him know there wasn't a problem. "Earlier, you said …" Orihime could feel her cheeks flush with hot color and she glanced to the side, watching store fronts pass by before gathering her courage and casually asking. "This girlfriend you don't want giving out her number, w-who is it?"

Ichigo's incredulous look clearly asked if she was serious, and Orihime flushed even brighter in embarrassment and ducked her head, hiding behind her hair. Clearing his throat, he looked forward once more, a dull blush staining his cheeks.

"Tch, who else would I be talking about except for you?"

Orihime shrugged her shoulders after a moment, feeling her heart leap in her chest at his definite answer. "Just checking." She murmured with a small smile. She would say something to him later about his assumptions. A girl does like to be asked out after all. But for now, Orihime felt like squealing as a thought came to her. If she was his girlfriend, didn't that make him her boyfriend?

Her smile grew as she peeked up at Ichigo before gradually closing the gap that had always –until this moment- remained between them.

Sorry Tatsuki-chan, but I only date guys whose name is Ichigo Kurosaki.


A/N: Yes, I too am starting a drabble series. I have one that goes by the same name on my lj for some time now, but since several of you thought I was dead, I thought maybe I should share the ichihime love here on ffnet too. This short was just something random that popped into my head and I had to write it out. Could I see Ichigo acting like this? Possibly. It was fun to explore anyway.

And yes before anyone asks, I am working on my other updates, most especially the slave one, when I have time. I know some of you are getting impatient, and I'm trying to get it to you as quickly as possible. Honestly I am. XD

Thanks for reading. ~Rairakku