The spirit of Christmas isn't about gifts, snow, or the get together with family.
It's about what comes from the heart.
Light was falling as the afternoon went on, the sun partially hidden behind the clouds. Sure it was cold outside, but in the home of Orihime Inoue it was warm thanks in part to the oven being on.
What was Orihime doing today? Well, after finishing the decorations that completed the holiday look on her house, Orihime and Tatsuki decided to go into a familiar field. One could tell with all the things going on in the kitchen it meant there was cooking going on. Even though everyone knew that Orihime's cooking skills were normally less than subpar, she had gotten better thanks in large part to her best friend Tatsuki.
Tatsuki had been helping Orihime since that morning, but even she didn't know what was going on with her. Orihime often wandered while she cooked, humming to herself while Tatsuki gave clear-cut instructions as to how to make this. Clearly, Orihime was thinking of something else.
"So, Orihime, what made you want to make gingerbread cookies anyway?"
The girl set the bowl down, "Well, let's just say I felt merry for Christmas. I actually wanted to make something for school, and this is what I had in mind."
That's not convincing enough, Tatsuki thought with doubt. She knew Orihime probably better than anyone else in school, but even she didn't know what she was up to. All she could do is guess and hope she hit the mark. "Orihime. Could it be that you met a guy?"
Orihime stopped stirring, and even from the corner of her eye, Tatsuki saw a little red go to Orihime's cheeks. Bullseye.
"Ha! Very good guess but you're not right this time," She gave a big smile and continued on with her cooking. Tatsuki didn't believe what Orihime told her, but deciding that trying to get the truth out of her friend was not going to work, she decided that she'd have to find out for herself.
The gingerbread cookies came out very well made much to Tatsuki's surprise. Orihime had made a batch of only a dozen or more, but they were medium sized at best. She didn't burn them either, which was even more surprising. Adding sprinkles and white frosting to make them look like they were wearing tuxedoes, even Tatsuki thought they looked delicious. Then she tried one…
It tasted really good!
"You deserve a medal for this Orihime," Tatsuki said, taking a bite out of her sample.
Orihime giggled, "That's great, I can't wait to give them out to everyone."
The rest of the day went on without , Tatsuki went along with Orihime's story, but she had that sneaking feeling that Orihime was up to something.
Orihime saw to it that Tatsuki left before 6:30 that evening. She wasn't used to keeping things from her friends, but this was more than worth it. Since she was returning a favor to a friend.
She finished cleaning up the kitchen and after Tatsuki left she immediately picked up the phone and dialed a certain number. The dial tone kept ringing for a couple seconds, and Orihime prayed that he was home.
A male voice came in through the other end, "This is Ichigo."
Her prayers were answered, and Orihime found her cheeks were flushing as she found the words to greet him, "Hello Ichigo, this is Orihime. Enjoying your holidays?"
"Oh, hi Orihime. Yeah, I am enjoying myself, what about you?"
He sounded happy, that much Orihime knew. That was good, in her mind. "As best as I can…but I just wanted to ask you a favor."
"Strange, asking me for another favor after what happened before, don't you think?" Ichigo joked, and luckily for him Orihime giggled. The 'before' that Ichigo mentioned was when he came over to Orihime's house in the middle of the night after she had a nightmare and couldn't sleep because of it. He didn't do much in his view, though he did allow Orihime to sit on his lap, where she ended up falling asleep on him. He never mentioned that to his parents when he failed to return home that night, but to help Orihime it was the right thing to do.
"Well, this one is a bit smaller in scope, I promise you that much. Think you can help me out?" Orihime said, twirling her hair around a finger nervously.
A second went by before a reply came from Ichigo, "Sure, how can I help?"
Orihime hopped once in excitement, before she composed herself, "Could you come on over to my house in like ten minutes? I'll tell you more then."
"Um, sounds good…I'll be over in ten then. See you."
Ichigo hung up first, and Orihime let the beeping of the phone go a few seconds longer before she hung up as well, a big smile on her lovely face.
It took three minutes for Ichigo to get ready, another five to get from his house to Orihime's despite the snow and ice that had impeded his travels, and then two minutes to think about what Orihime would want with him this time. It had been nearly a week since she had those nightmares, and if there was anything wrong with her since she had been hiding it very well. If anything she was more cheerful than normal, especially when she was around him.
Still, that left the obvious question unanswered, and as Ichigo stood out in the cold outside Orihime's front door he mentally kicked himself for not being able to figure it out.
But he got out of it in a hurry when the door opened, and there stood Orihime in the doorway.
"Hey Ichigo, thanks for coming on such short notice," she said, inviting him in.
The orange haired male walked in and took off his jacket, "Sure thing, happy to help." Orihime hung his jacket up on the coat rack and asked him to take a seat on the couch, which he did without asking why. "So…what do you need help with?"
It wasn't more than two seconds after he finished his sentence that he could smell the strong scent of gingerbread, and Ichigo knew what was going on. Ah man…I should have this coming!
He had fallen into this trap of hers, and now he was going to be a taste tester for something she brewed up. If that is the case, Ichigo was ready to jump out the door should it come to that. The last time he had politely refused to eat something that Orihime had made he found himself tied up in a chair and nearly forced fed the chili she made. Lucky for him Chad had volunteered instead, and he wasn't seen for nearly a week after that.
"Um, Orihime, did you make something today?"
Orihime came out of the kitchen holding a tray that held a plate and two glasses of milk, "You going to run if I say yes?"
Ichigo shook his head to be polite, "No…" but he was still willing to book it if she came at him with a rope and a chair.
Even though Orihime was considered a ditz to a lot of people, she wasn't stupid by any means. She knew her cooking skills were…nowhere near perfect, but that didn't bother her in the slightest. "Don't worry. Tatsuki tasted it already, it got her seal of approval."
She set the plate down and immediately Ichigo noticed the gingerbread men cookies. All eight of them were perfectly shaped, as well as a light brown, and not a single bit of burn on them. They were frosted too, with multi-colored sprinkles on the frosting.
Even Ichigo had to admit, they looked great, and his mouth was beginning to water just by looking at them. "Um…may I try one?"
Orihime smiled, "Of course."
Ichigo took the nearest cookie on the plate, and he quickly glanced at Orihime before he shrugged his shoulders and bit the little bread man's head off in one bite. He chewed it up quickly, finding its sweetness very surprising, and by the time he swallowed his bite he was quite relieved he wasn't gagging at the moment. "I really like this, Orihime. You out did yourself on this one."
Orihime giggled, "Thank you very much…I did try hard on this."
Ichigo finished the first cookie and proceeded to eat a second one and started on a third, and then grabbed his glass of milk, "Why is that?" He started to take a drink and listened for Orihime.
Orihime blushed lightly, "I made them for you, Ichigo—"
After registering what she had just said, Ichigo suddenly found he was unable to breathe, and in his urgency to be able to breathe again he accidentally threw the glass he was holding into the air. The milk that had had been in it flew out of the glass and landed on Orihime, particularly under her collarbone and in her cleavage. Orihime had to yelp in surprise as the upper half of her tight white t-shirt was soaked. She was too preoccupied with Ichigo suffocating to care at first.
Ichigo finally got air into his lungs after Orihime patted his back, "Sorry about that—" He turned to Orihime and was at a loss for words. Orihime's shirt was soaked to the point he could make out the cleavage between her extremely well-endowed breasts. Ichigo's cheeks went red and lava hot, and even though he tried to not look, he got another glance and realized that Orihime wasn't wearing a bra. How he knew that was because of her nipples poking through the fabric of her shirt. Needless to say, he was getting really—Knock it off! This is Orihime for crying out loud! Don't be a pervert!
Orihime felt his stare and put her arms over her chest frantically, "I-It was an accident, it's alright." She got up and went to the kitchen to dry her shirt a little.
Ichigo picked up the plate and the fallen glass, which was still in one piece, and followed her to the kitchen. "But…I am happy to know that you made the cookies for me, thanks," Ichigo said, putting the glass in the sink. He placed the plate on the counter too.
Drying herself with a towel, Orihime placed it on her counter, "It's the least I could do after what you did for me before."
"You've been alright since then though, right?"
She nodded once, "Yes, I think I have gotten over it, but…"
Orihime giggled again, "I'm just remembering how comfortable I was when I fell asleep on your lap."
Ichigo pinched the bridge of his nose, remembering how his left leg had fallen asleep during that night. It had been numb for the rest of that day since Orihime had pretty much remained in the spot she had fallen asleep in. "Yeah well…"
"Sorry if that was uncomfortable for you."
"No, it's alright, I can take it. I'm pretty tough. By the way…not to sound random, but is it possible that I can have more of those cookies you made? I really like them."
Orihime's eyes lit up like fireworks, "Of course!"
Ichigo smiled in return, and he saw Orihime reach for a cookie on the plate, broke a piece off of it and slowly put it to his lips. He didn't say anything, though his face asked the obvious question of what was going on.
Not even Orihime was talking, all she did was place the bit of cookie against her friend's lips, and when he took it in his mouth to see what happened. He slowly ate it, and once he smiled in his appreciation for the sweet, that was when Orihime threw her arms around his neck and, to Ichigo's surprise, put her lips to his.
Ichigo's eyes were one of shock and, while he would have asked what was going on under any other circumstances, his body responded to a lot of what was going on. Orihime's chest was pressing hard against his, and after feeling their softness through the fabric of his shirt, he felt the heat rise in his body.
The kiss lasted over five seconds, and that felt like five minutes to Ichigo.
Getting over his initial reaction, Ichigo felt Orihime pull back from him, and he instantly noticed that all too familiar smile on her face.
"Uh, Orihime…what was that for?" He saw Orihime lick her lips, as if savoring her action just a bit ago, and pointed up towards the ceiling. Ichigo looked up, and found mistletoe hanging over them. He chuckled once, mistletoe was one of the few traditions he wasn't too fond of during the holiday season. This occasion would be deemed an exception, however. A very welcome exception.
"Well, Ichigo, I really liked how much you liked the cookies…so I had to thank you for your appreciation. So, I just—"
He put his hands on her shoulders, "Would you like to help me with finishing those cookies?"
Orihime nodded once with a smile, "Yes, that'd be wonderful."