A/N: Oops I've been absent from for years but I thought I would post some of the old fic I wrote back when I was still in Bleach fandom. Just some Ichigo/Rukia fluff. This takes place right around the beginning before any serious plot stuff goes down! Also, I don't even know if they celebrate Halloween in Japan? Oh well.

When Rukia woke up one crisp autumn morning, the children of Karakura Town had transformed into cats, witches, and ghosts overnight.

"Ichigo. Ichigo!" Rukia cried as she flew up the stairs and into his room.

Ichigo's eyes snapped open. "What?" he growled.

Cerulean eyes shining, she concluded in a serious tone: "Something's wrong."

Immediately, he leapt up and scrambled around to find Kon, but stopped when Rukia just stood still. "Aren't you going to get out of your gigai? Time's a-wasting, and I don't want to be late for school just to chase down some weak Hollow."

"But—No, Ichigo, it's not that…"Blushing, Rukia's eyes traced the floor in search of a way to tell Ichigo the truth without sounding like a first-class nut. Finally, she managed, "It's…well… Karin has turned into a monster."

"Wait, she what?" Ichigo wanted to sound concerned, but a wide grin stretched across his face reflexively. Rukia punched him in the arm. Hard. "Ow! What the hell was that for?"

Rukia stomped a tiny foot. "For being such a terrible brother! Poor Karin—"


"—her skin all green and her nose all misshapen! She's even in mourning, you know—"


"—with the all-black dress and this…really, really ugly hat. Ichigo Kurosaki, youshould be ashamed of yourself!"


Chest puffed up with pride, Rukia seemed a little out of breath by the time she finished her speech. Nose turned up, hands on her hips, she smiled a little through her disdain. "What is it, Ichigo?"

"You know what? Never mind. I can let you find out for yourself how you protect yourself from these little monsters." Satisfied, he swung his legs back up on his bed, flipping open an outdated magazine. Like a child, Rukia hugged herself and shivered, crawling onto Ichigo's bed.

"Hey, wait! What are you doing?" Ichigo demanded, immediately putting six inches between them.

Solemnly and respectfully, she bowed her head. "Please…please teach me to defend myself against these monster children! I am ready to learn!"

Ichigo struggled to suppress his own laughter. This is going to be the best Halloween ever.

"Ichigo, why the hell are we wasting our time with food?" Rukia folded her arms, brow furrowed. The two stood in the Kurosaki kitchen as he rifled through the wooden cabinets.

"Do you want to be safe from the monster-kids or not?" Ichigo asked.

"They don't look very dangerous."

"That's only because you haven't seen them at night. They come door to door, and anyone who doesn't know how to handle them will…well, suffer the consequences."

She tossed her hair back. "I doubt they could handle my zanpakuto."

But she did move closer to Ichigo, just in case.

"Here it is, the secret weapon: candy!" Ichigo pulled four crinkling, plastic bags of it out of the cabinet and dumped their contents into an oversized bowl on the counter.

"Candy? You expect me to believe we can defeat these demons with candy?" Rukia demanded. She tugged his hand. "Come on. We have to go start some serious training! Enough of this."

"Hey, relax, dwarf." Ichigo shook her off. "This is training. I've been fighting these creatures my whole life. I've learned a thing or two over the years. Can't you just trust me on this one?"

Rukia sighed, stood up straight, and looked him in the eye, nodding. Since they'd met, she'd gotten used to being the powerful one. She'd also gotten used to him relying on her. It was kind of weird and one-sided, but it worked in battle. She'd never failed him once. Now that she thought about it, he hadn't really failed her, either. Maybe things weren't as unbalanced as she liked to believe.

"I trust you," she promised.

Ichigo had not expected to pull off fooling Rukia for so long, so by the end of the school day, after coming up with excuse after excuse as to why so many of their classmates had sprouted cat ears and rubbery, mask-like complexions and how it was all just a spell would wear off by tomorrow, he was running out of steam. Thankfully Rukia was awful enough at math that it took him a few hours to help her through some problems after class (her grades were still miserable in every subject but History) and the pair arrived home just before for the trick-or-treaters made their first appearance. The whole day had been kind of a pain, but the payoff was going to be hilarious. Sure, he was still kind of bothered by Rukia's genuine expression when she'd placed her faith in him that morning—she had never acted so open before—but there was no turning back after so much creativity and resilience on his part. It was just too bad he'd have to earn her trust all over again after making her look so stupid.

"Arm yourself," Ichigo said, shoving the enormous bowl of candy into her arms. Its weight took her by surprise and she nearly dropped it, but Ichigo steadied her. "Now stand very still behind the front door and wait. They'll be here soon." He placed a hand on her head. "You're ready, Rukia."

"Right." She nodded. Ichigo didn't mean to, but he found himself studying her face. She looked so serious that it took all of his might not to double-over laughing, but her expression was mixed with other emotions as well: a bit of anxiety and…maybe pride? Suddenly the mild, nagging weight in his stomach doubled and became guilt. Sure, Rukia was a huge pain in the ass, but if not for her, where would he be now? Dead, probably. And the people closest to him might not have survived, either. Maybe one half of their relationship was built on mutual aggravation, but the other was built on protecting one another. And maybe that wasn't worth risking, even though it would be hilarious and she'd totally have it coming.

Come on, don't get soft now. All of the stories he'd woven leading up to this moment were so clever, so foolproof—he was proud of his own work, and seeing her realize how harmless the monsters were would totally piss her off. Wasn't pissing off Rukia his favorite pastime?

The doorbell rang. Rukia braced herself, slowly turning the handle. The door swung open. He had to decide now.

"Rukia, get back!" Ichigo yelled. Before the three trick-or-treaters could get out a word, he gave a fierce battle cry and chased them off the lawn. The poor kids ran screaming across the road. He felt a sharp tug on his sleeve as they disappeared down the street.

"What was that?" Rukia demanded.

Ichigo shrugged. "I…it looks like the monsters have gotten stronger since the last time this happened. I didn't think the candy was going to work."

Rukia raised her eyebrows. "So you screamed at them?"

"Well, that's the other way to defeat them. If you don't give them treats…you give them tricks."

She studied him, looking dissatisfied for a moment. Maybe she wasn't going to buy it? But then her mouth stretched into a grin. "That sounds way more up my alley."

As the night went on, the two of them frightened almost every kid in the neighborhood, screaming until their voices were hoarse, laughing as the monsters fled.

After the last of the tiny demons had been quelled, there was still a full bowl of candy to deal with, and the two of them shared it in front of the TV while horror movies marathoned on every channel. The last time they had tried watching one Ichigo could tell how freaked-out Rukia was, even though she refused to show it. It put her in a bad mood for the rest of the day, and yet when a much more terrifying, much more real Hollow appeared just a few hours later, she didn't hesitate to go after it. She was weird that way-the bravest person he'd ever met, but still frightened by gimmicky horror flicks and corny Halloween costumes.

But he supposed Rukia was kind of a series of contradictions. Definitely smart, but a horrendous student. Gentle-hearted, but never hesitant in battle. Extraordinarily powerful, but also sort of pretty—

Jeez, what are you thinking? You really are going soft, Kurosaki, he reprimanded himself. He glanced over at Rukia's small frame huddled next to his. Her eyes were still fixated on the television screen, and her hands were still clenched in his sleeve. She gripped his arm tighter as the movie characters met their demise one by one. He wondered if she might let him put an arm around her shoulder. He knew, at least, she definitely wouldn't if he had gone through with the prank. How funny could it have possibly been, anyway?

Some jokes just weren't worth telling. But some lies certainly were.