Pronounced with a concussion, Ichigo has no choice but to stay awake a whole 24 hours, and who better to keep him company than a one Rukia Kuchiki?

A/N: Long time, no see Bleach fandom! I actually wrote this story years ago, and I just now found it. I attempted to convert this to my preferred fandom of the moment (Inception) but some of the jokes just didn't work. I figured it's better to post now than never, right? Besides, it was kind of nice coming back to this universe.

Sleep Deprivation

6:47 P.M.

"Congratulations Ichigo!" Isshin Kurosaki announced as he took a step away from his blinking son. He tucked the tiny flashlight, which was just shining in Ichigo's eyes, into his breast pocket and pulled out a red lollipop.

"You are the proud owner of a first rate concussion!" His father continued excitedly as if Ichigo had just won the lottery, and handed his son the stick of the candy like he did with all his patients (no matter what the age).

Ichigo waved off the offered treat and scowled, rubbing his hair roughly. "What the hell do you mean by 'congratulations'?" He demanded. "What kind of father congratulates his own son on an injury?"

Isshin stopped unwrapping the rejected lollipop. "I find that it's better to give bad news in the most positive way Ichigo," he explained, deadpan.

His son just scowled, attempting to boost himself off the cushioned medical table, although his body shook and quaked with the effort. Thankfully, Yuzu was quick to stop him, pulling him gently back with the careful tug on his elbow. "You shouldn't be moving just yet," she warned, her small nurse cap slightly askew. "You're still pretty beat up." He nodded and didn't protest as he scooted back down onto the table.

"Yeah," a voice piped up from the door, and Ichigo looked up to meet the eyes of the person who caused all this. "Those bullies really did a number on him!" Rukia cried, a hanky fisted between her hands, dry despite all the "tears" she was shedding. She turned toward Isshin and Yuzu, eyes wide and shining, probably from self prevented blinking. "if you hadn't found him I don't know what would've happened!" She sniffled into the Kleenex.

Ichigo watched as his father rushed to his third daughter's side, unshed tears in his eyes. "There, there Rukia! My idiot son's perfectly fine!"

"I know," Rukia gasped, bringing the tissue to her perfectly dry cheek, "but imagine what could have happened!" Ichigo rolled his eyes as she heaved a forced sob and Yuzu and Isshin patted her shoulder consolingly.

Of course, Rukia would turn his own injuries into some sort of one-woman stage production. He caught her eye over the bent heads of his father and sister, and he saw that familiar gleam of triumph, a signal that they were in the clear.

At least she didn't do that stupid thumb's up anymore. That was always a dead giveaway.

Sighing to himself, he began to scoot his legs gently back onto the floor, but his head felt too numb for him to properly stand. It felt like a massive headache really. With movement no longer an option, he decided to glare at his father. "So I have a concussion," he concluded, more for his benefit than the others.

"Yes!" Isshin agreed not facing him at first, then brandishing the sucker at him for emphasis. "Your first concussion!" He declared, a surge of emotion entering his eyes as he pulled his arm over his face in shame. "Masaki would never forgive me for not taking care of you!"

"It's okay dad," Yuzu attempted, patting his shoulder like she just did for Rukia. His father's cries towards their mother muffled by his white lab coat.

As Yuzu consoled him, Rukia made her way to help Ichigo off the table. "And you said I couldn't act," she said smugly, his hand on her shoulder as he carefully took a step down.

Ichigo glared. "Can't," he corrected while getting his bearings. "You can't act."

She pursed her lips, preparing to contradict that statement. "Oh really?"

"Yeah," he chuckled lightly to himself. "Unless acting like an idiot counts of course."

Rukia knew better than to kick him in the shin while he was injured and instead gave an impertinent stomp. "Who was the one who left their body in the street for their sisters to find?" she demanded, then lowered her voice as she realized the other two Kurosakis in the room. She threw a look in their direction before continuing. "If you just used Kon like I told you, then none of this would've happened!"

"If you didn't agree with my dad to bring my body to the clinic then this wouldn't have happened! You could've lied better!" he whispered back. He thought back to the insane, crazy aerobics he had to do to cram into his body before Isshin could run a quick check up on his inert son.

"And what?" she demanded, matching his Soto voice. "Pretend that you fell asleep? In the middle of the street I might add?"

Ichigo had no answer to that and grunted, turning in time to hear Yuzu tell her father that "I'm sure that it's not your fault," which ended up having an astounding effect on the slumped over Isshin.

Like an explosion he stood back up. "You're absolutely right Yuzu!" He pointed an accusing finger at his son, standing dumbstruck by his third daughter. "It's yours!"

"WHAT?!" Ichigo's eyes were as wide as saucers.

"If you were a better fighter, then those thugs wouldn't have taken advantage of you!" Isshin reasoned loudly.

Ichigo and Yuzu looked at their father in shock.

Isshin was now scratching his whiskered chin thoughtfully. "I see that I'm going to have to step up your training."

"What are you talking about old man?" Ichigo asked in a worried voice. He wouldn't, would he? Isshin Kurosaki may be a lot of things—stupid, clueless, insane—but he wasn't—

Well, right now he wasn't listening. He was pulling up the sleeves of his white lab coat and tropical shirt, balling his hands into fists, heading at him— "Starting right—now!"

"WHAT?!" Ichigo tried to move, to dodge, to think, but his head throbbed as he turned one way then the other. Thankfully, someone else was quicker.

Turning to his father in time, Ichigo saw his other younger sister, extend her leg like she did on the soccer field until it collided with their father's cheek in the nick of time.

"You idiot!" Karin said as their dad fell to the ground. She lorded above him. "He was just in an accident."

Ichigo looked over her shoulder to ascertain when exactly the twin had entered the room.

"See!" Isshin wheezed, crushed by his daughter's foot on his chest. "Karin would never let a group of thugs take advantage of her!"

Karin smiled smugly, basking in the compliment. "Still," she said. "Ichi needs to rest old man. He doesn't need you're training yet."

"Yet!?" Ichigo asked.

"Yeah Ichi-nii," Yuzu said, not the least taken aback by her father or sister. "You should probably get some rest," she advised, pushing him gently out of the room.

"Rest sounds pretty good right now," he agreed, placing weight onto her shoulder to steady himself. Having hardly any time to plan a good lie when he saw his father near his body, meant that Ichigo didn't have time to call Inoue to heal his wounds, let alone ask Rukia for kido help. Instead, he got the transfer of bruises and throbbing head pain to his real body. Man, he missed instant healing help already.

"NO!" Isshin was up in an instant, making Karin jump to avoid being pushed down. "No rest!" he said.

Ichigo rubbed his forehead with his palm. "What now old man?"

"No rest!" Isshin repeated in all seriousness. He picked up Ichigo's chart on a nearby counter. "Didn't you just hear?" He asked back to doctor mode. "You have a concussion. No sleep for you for at least," he looked up in thought, "twenty-four hours."

Ichigo felt his sweat drop.

Twenty-four hours. Twenty-four hours of no rest just after defeating a huge ass hollow? He had better be kidding. "Are you serious?"

Isshin looked his son straight in the eyes, a serious expression on his face. "Ichigo, I'm a doctor."

Ichigo watched his dad, waiting, urging, hoping for the punch line.

"Come on Yuzu," Isshin called out, readying to leave the room. "Rukia," he gestured to the girl standing by the doorway. "Help my idiot son will you?"

Rukia curtseyed as he walked by. "Of course."

"But I'm tired!" Ichigo complained.

Yuzu picked up a stack of charts off the counter. "Don't worry Ichi-nii!" she said cheerfully, "Karin and I will stay up with you!"

"Yeah," Karin added a little less enthusiastically, turning to follow her out of the room. "We'll make sure you don't go against doctor's orders." And with that, they left the room.

11:17 P.M.

Well, so much for that idea, Ichigo thought as he quietly made his way up the stairs, his socked feet still creaking the floorboards of the Kurosaki household. Thanks to his previous brilliance, the house was bathed in darkness, having turned off the television and all subsequent lights below once the movie finished. If only Rukia thought about flicking the hallway light switch for him before she entered the twins' room.

Thankfully, the door stood slightly ajar, allowing a low amount of orange light to escape from the lamp sitting between the twins' beds, and Ichigo followed it like a moth. "See?" he greeted, gesturing to the sleeping sister in his arms, whispering fiercely. "I knew that this would happen."

The petite shinigami rolled her eyes and didn't bother to look up at him. "You can't blame them for being tired," she quietly reprimanded as she tucked Yuzu into bed, curling the blankets under the girl's chin. She admired her handy work before crossing the room to Karin's bed.

Ichigo shuffled towards her, Karin sound asleep in his arms bridal style. "Yeah," he agreed, waiting for Rukia to pull back her sheets. "But they were the ones who wanted to stay awake with me anyway."

"But you're the one stupid enough to get the concussion," she reminded, and Ichigo shot her a glare as she stepped aside. He placed his sister lightly onto the mattress before gently pulling the sheets over her shoulder, any semblance of annoyance quickly dissipated. Rukia smirked at the unguarded brotherliness of it all, the warm glow from the lamp softly illuminating the scene before her. From how the pucker between his eyebrows smoothed out as he checked his own handiwork, to the careful way he swept his hands over any of the ruffled covers on Yuzu's bed.

Satisfied with their comfort, he turned to face her and caught the odd look on the shinigami's face. He eyed her suspiciously. The all-too comfortable scowl returned. "What?" he asked a little defensively.

And just like that, the moment was gone. Dissolved into…well normalcy really. "You just had to say that didn't you?" she asked, a little annoyed that his sharp features and tone were ruining the softness of the lamp light.

"Say what?" Ichigo demanded, arms crossing over his chest in the pre-argument stance she knew so well.

She shook her head condescendingly, her chin pointing towards the ground to hide the smirk growing on her face. "You ruined a perfectly sweet moment."

Ichigo took a minute to process that statement. Sweet. Never had Ichigo Kurosaki been part of anything that could be described as sweet. Oh, but not just sweet. "Perfectly sweet," she said. That meant that it was the epitome of sweet in Rukia's rank, which made Ichigo Kurosaki in the same class as Chappy the Rabbit. And that, he knew, he didn't do.

"I am not," he said, warning in his tone and manner, "sweet."

"Oh Ichigo," she sighed, oblivious to the fire and brimstone rising behind him as she spoke. "There's really nothing wrong with being sweet." She thought back to the glowing-blue living room, the DVD they were watching finished, and Ichigo turning to find his two sisters leaning against one another on the couch, sound asleep. He didn't hesitate as he picked Yuzu up carefully, asking Rukia to follow to open the door to their room to tuck her in. "It's your family."

"I know it isn't wrong," he allowed, watching her violet eyes soften as they flickered over to the two small girls tucked in their beds, and his voice lost that bit of edge, "but I wasn't being sweet."

Rukia's eyes did what was natural. They rolled. "Whatev—"


Both heads swiveled to Yuzu bed. The occupant wiping the sleep off her eyes with her fist. "Ichi?" she asked. "What's going on?" She looked up as her blearily gaze focused on her big brother and Rukia standing by Karin's bed, glowering at each other.

Ichigo shot a glare at Rukia before turning to Yuzu, eyes relenting. "Nothing." He cleared his throat as Rukia, who unconsciously leaned toward him, began to stand up straight. "We're sorry Yuzu."

She hummed some sort of acceptance, and curled into the opposite direction to face the wall, fast asleep.

Ichigo and Rukia watched in bated breath as Yuzu's body began to rise and fall in a normal rhythm, before Ichigo loomed over the small shinigami. "See what you made me do?" he asked angrily.

"Me?" she returned shrilly, as shrill as whispers could get at least, and she poked him in the chest. "You're the one who raised your voice!" She poked him again.

"Gah! Quit it!" he swatted her hand away but biology deemed it necessary to give her more of those appendages. "Rukia!"

"What?" she asked, continuing the assault. "'I'm sorry Rukia for accusing you wrongly?'"

"Gak—fine! Oof—I'm sorry—uncalled for! Will you just—?"

"Will you two just leave?" a pertinent voice asked. This time from Karin's bed.

The two looked up, frozen in their odd position as the grumpy girl glared them down, remnants of sleep completely devoid on her face. Rukia and Ichigo stood, not daring to move: one of Rukia's hands and index finger extended to poke Ichigo's chest and stomach, while Ichigo's held the previous poking finger, his other arm hugging his body protectively. Stupidly, they refused to move.

Karin rolled her eyes pityingly. "Just go," she ordered, tossing onto the cool side of the pillow and pulling her blankets over tightly. "Before I get dad to keep you up," she warned.

And no one wanted that to happen. Quickly, Ichigo shuffled Rukia out, both of them hanging their heads low in shame, tiptoeing out with muttered apologies.

11:32 P.M.

"You can go to bed," Ichigo said upon entering his bedroom, he flicked the light switch by the door and closed it just as Rukia walked in. Both of them careful to keep their sounds minimal. "I'm the only one who has to stay awake anyway."

Rukia plopped onto his springy mattress so her legs hung off the edge. "I'm not going to bed!" she informed him hotly, her feet swinging. "Someone has to make sure you actually stay awake!"

Ichigo glared at her, still standing by the door. "I don't need you to baby-sit me. I'm fully capable of staying awake on my own."

"Oh yeah? Doing what exactly?"

"I'll do…." He tossed a few ideas in his own head before he heard himself answer without any of the prep, "…homework or something….probably." The excuse sounding weak to his own ears.

"You can't do homework," Rukia countered. She fell back against the mattress, her legs still swinging, proof that she was wide awake. "That will definitely put you to sleep."

Ichigo rolled his eyes and made his way to his desk. "That's just you Rukia," he scoffed, sitting in the swivel desk chair, "and I promise that if I get tired I'll watch TV or something."

Rukia sat up, her hair mussed slightly. "I've found you asleep in front of the TV countless of times! That's definitely not safe," she shook her head resolutely. "No. I'm staying awake."

"If keeping me awake is such a main objective," he sighed to his school books on his desk, "then I guess it should be you doing the keeping awake part."

"You're welcome."

"I'm not grateful for it." He threw over his shoulder.

"You never are," she replied.

Ichigo swiveled to face her. "But," he added. "If you are feeling the least bit sleepy, you have to go to bed."

Rukia gave him her best condescending noble stair. "Ichigo, I'm one-hundred and fifty years old," she leveled a gaze at him. "I'm a trained shinigami and I fight hollows, so I'm pretty sure that I can fight off sleep, or the snow man as you humans call him."

"Sandman," he corrected, though a lot good it did him. He knew better than to correct her right now anyway. "And just promise."

Rukia rolled her eyes and promised, drawing the cross over her chest mockingly. "Fine, but I can't go back to my cot in your sisters' room," she said, falling back down. "I'd rather not face Karin's wrath in the morning," she told the ceiling.

Ichigo wouldn't either come to think of it. "Fine," he relented. "You can have the closet."

Rukia sat up. "Your bed!"

His back was now facing her again. "No."

"Who is doing the favor anyway?" she asked testily. "Besides, you shouldn't be using it, so I would be doing you a favor again."

"Dimwit, it's the same favor!"

"So you admit that I am doing you a favor!"

A strangled sound emitted from Ichigo's throat. "Fine," he growled, twisting back to face her. "Stay up! Have my bed! See if I care." He immediately swiveled back around.

Rukia glared, but took a minute to compose herself before speaking again. "So…" she began, forcing herself to a calm tone, "what are we going to do?"

Ichigo was already cracking open the top textbook in the pile. "I don't know about you," he said, his voice low, "but I'm doing my homework."

Rukia scoffed and fell back onto the mattress, bouncing the entire bed momentarily as Ichigo flipped the thin pages over.

12:53 A.M.

"RUKIA! Will you stop doing that?" Ichigo demanded, finally giving up and turning around. By now, patience and consciousness were wearing pretty thin. His math and his history were beginning to have the same numbing effects they had in school, and Ichigo grudgingly admitted that the midget sitting on his bed, bouncing paper balls off his back probably had a point before.

"This is boring," said midget whined, hiding a paper ball behind her back quickly.

Ichigo turned back around and idly fingered the corners of his science book. "Tough." His eyes roamed over the page but his brain began to slow at comprehending them.

"Let's play a game!" An annoying perky voice suggested behind him.

"Aren't you drawing?" He asked, wondering where her energy was coming from.

"Ran out of paper," she explained.

Figures. He snapped his book closed and reached for another one. "Tough—ouch! Stop throwing paper balls at me!" he growled, turning to face her again. "Maybe if you stopped, you'd have paper to draw on!"

"I'm doing you a favor!"

"Throwing paper balls at my head is a favor?" he crunched one in his fist for example.

"I'm trying to keep you awake after you idiotically went into Hollow-battle right after you were healed!"

"Well throwing paper balls at my head will lead to imminent death for you," he contemplated aloud, "so, I guess, YES you are doing me a favor!"

Rukia's eyes were in dangerous slits. "Is that a challenge Kurosaki?"

He crossed his arms in front of his chest and he shifted his feet. "That's a guarantee Kuchiki."

They stared each other down before Rukia burst into laughter. "Like you CAN!" she gave another guffaw before adding, "Child!"

Ichigo huffed but discarded the crumpled paper onto the floor with the rest of its brethren. "Don't you have shinigami duties to do or something?" He leaned back into the seat, propping his feet onto the bed nearby.

She shook her head in the negative. "I've made it my duty to take care of you," she said simply, her violet eyes creasing into a smile.

"Well…thanks," he replied, a little taken aback. One by one he set his foot down. "…I guess."

"You're welcome," she said, and for a minute, he thought that she meant that too…until another paper ball hit him square in the chest.

"Rukia—" his voice low.

"I'm hungry." She interrupted.

Ichigo looked up from where she hit him, a rebuttal on the tip of his tongue before he heard the distinct grumble of a stomach in pain. Specifically, his own.

"And apparently you are too," Rukia noted, amused.

Ichigo tossed his head forward in defeat, "Fine midget," he relented, lifting himself off the chair. "Kitchen raid," he announced, and Rukia bounded up right behind him. "But," he warned, hand on the door knob, their faces a few inches apart. "You have to be really quiet."

Rukia smirked and twisted an invisible key at the side of her mouth, and Ichigo smirking back, turned the knob and led the way.

1:28 A.M.

"Is that the last of the Cap'N Crunch?"

Rukia bent the cardboard flaps backwards and peaked into the plastic bag. "Almost," she said calculating. About a handful was left. Then she looked him straight in the eye, that evil glimmer peaking through. "DIBS!"

"No way!"

"I called it! You have to concede!" she laughed maniacally.

"Over my dead body, midget!"

"That can easily be arranged…"

2:02 A.M.

"What the hell is a 'Xerty'?" Ichigo asked, reading the tiled letters on the board.

"It's a term from Soul Society," she replied primly, straightening her newly required tiles onto the wooden dock.

"Right…" Ichigo pursed his lips in thought, nodding slightly as he considered this.

He didn't catch Rukia studying him quickly, before dropping back down to the pad of paper between them. She picked up the pencil, twisting her lips as she calculated. "And triple word score…"

He tossed the Scrabble board over and tiny lettered tiles rained onto the floor. "'Xerty' my ass!"

2:37 A.M.

Rukia eyed Ichigo warily, but his whole demeanor was confident. "What do you mean transaction fees?"

"Rukia," Ichigo replied patiently. "You're buying Park Place, and with that purchase comes some sort of fee."

"Where does it go to then?" she demanded, holding her pastel colored money against her chest protectively.

"Obviously to the banker." He held his hand out, and Rukia looked at his palm to his face. "That's six percent please."

Halfheartedly, Rukia began to finger the corners of her cash.

2:53 A.M.

"Who said you could have all the Cheetos?"

Ichigo looked at the last handful of orange starchy noodles in his hand then back at the angry looking shinigami sitting in front of him. "Probably the same guy who said Xerty was a word," he replied smugly, tossing the fried cheesy goodness into his mouth.



3:12 A.M.

"I don't think that's how knight's move, Rukia."

"Well that's how we play in Soul Society," she retorted, resorting to her same answer whenever Ichigo protested her game playing. "I don't know what you humans do here."

"They move in an L-shape," and he showed her by taking her rook.

"That's stupid. Whoever heard of a soldier being confined to only one move? Of course they're going to die!"

3:24 A.M.

"You sunk my battle ship!"

"Rukia, stop saying that."

"Why?" she demanded, sitting up on her knees. "I'll say what I want to say!"

Ichigo threw his hands up. "We're playing Uno!"

3:46 A.M.


"Are you calling me a liar?"

"You, sir have no honor."

4:07 A.M.


"What the hell?" Rukia sat up, pulling herself away from the game board, the metal tweezers still pinched between her fingers. "What was that?" She watched as the corpse' nose lit up frantically.

Ichigo barked laughter. "You touched the edge," he explained between chortles, but Rukia continued to look at him, stricken.

She crawled back towards the shocked looking body lying on the plastic operating table. "Is this really what humans do for fun?" she asked, poking the bulbous nose with the rubber butt of the tweezers.

Ichigo stopped and followed her gaze. "It's a child's game, Rukia."

She screwed her face up. "Really?" Reading the labels over the man's body, she shivered. "Because it sounds like something Mayuri would do."

4:28 A.M.

"You humans," Rukia insisted, as she rested her head on a pillow on the floor, "play really weird games."

Ichigo, in a similar restful pose across the abandoned Candyland board, agreed. He picked his head up for a second to read the red typeface on the digital clock by his bed. For someone who wasn't allowed to sleep tonight, it was pretty early, and they already tired of most of their games.

Fed up with cards, Rukia's impatience with Mousetrap, Ichigo's impatience over coloring, arguments over the last of their snacks, several fights over game rules, and countless paper balls thrown at his head, the two found a truce in their current positions, collapsed on the bedroom floor. Ichigo wondering when he could sleep as he fought that ache behind his eyes and the drooping of his eyelids. Rukia rolled onto her side to face him, his weary face framed by the yellow and red plastic players in Candyland.

"So," she mustered cheerily. "What do we do now?"

Ichigo forced his eyes wide awake, and they roamed over the mess that used to be his floor. He gestured to the strewn cards by her elbow and Rukia pantomimed a yawn. He sat up, stifling a real one behind his fist. "We could finish the game?" he offered, picking up his player.

Rukia shook her head and knocked the yellow man down in defeat.


"And have you cheat me again?"

Ichigo fell onto the comforter he dragged from his bed to sit on while playing chess. "Well what do you want to do?" he yawned, curling into a comforter taco.

"TV?" Rukia suggested.

"We'd have to go downstairs," he said. "And probably wake the whole house."


"I make it a point to not play with liars."

"I am not a liar!" she corrected, holding herself up by the elbow. Ichigo didn't say anything, and she slid backed down. In a less pronounced voice, she admitted, "I'm tired."

"Yeah," he exhaled, sidling deeper into the cover. "Same here."

"Well sleep is out."

When there was no reply, Ichigo turned to catch Rukia's eyes slowly close.


Rukia looked up, blinking furiously.

"You were doing me a favor, remember?"

"Huh?" she sat up, wiping her eyes with her wrist. "Right. SO," she sighed. "What are we doing?"

Ichigo looked from one abandoned game to the other. "I guess we could just…," he looked at the overturned Scrabble board, "…talk?"

Rukia considered this for a moment and rested her cheek against her hands. "About what?"

He shrugged, trying not to focus on the soft, warm comforter under his cheek. "Whatever."

"Okay…" Grabbing her pillow, she scooted closer to him.

He watched her carefully as she laid it down close to his head and rested her hands and chin on top so she was lying on her stomach. They made a weird L-shape. "…so what do you want to talk about?" he asked.

"You're the one who suggested it," she pointed out behind a yawn, "You should have a topic already."

"Well I don't know," he bit off angrily, fighting off the yawn-contagion. "Who plans talks anyway?"

Rukia smirked at the 'boy' question. "Okay," she bit her lip in thought. "Ever heard of Truths?" she asked finally.

Ichigo snorted. "As opposed to lies?"

"No. The game," she explained. "Truths."

He jutted his jaw back and forth. "Nope. Can't say that I have."

"Well, can we play?"

Ichigo turned to lie directly on his back. "What are the rules?" he asked the ceiling.

"First rule is you have to agree to play before you hear the rules."

He turned his head to face her. "I already don't want to play."

"You can eat the last handful of Cap'N Crunch if we play," she tempted, shaking the box, which appeared out of nowhere, in front of his face.

Ichigo eyed the red box sitting between them. The Cap'N smiling at him, tempting him. It was the subject of one of their more aggressive arguments in the early hours, before ending in a pseudo-treaty, where neither of them decided to eat the makes-your-mouth-bleed cereal.

He glanced back at the Cap'N, who smiled back, and his stomach grumbled rebelliously. "Deal." He grabbed the cereal greedily and crinkled the paper open before serving himself a mouthful. "Where'd you hear of Truths anyway?" he asked between chews.

Rukia sat up and folded her legs under her. "The girls at school play it at lunch all the time."

"Mmm-cchchchchchc—mmmmm." Yellow crumbs littered the comforter, and Ichigo's cheeks bulged in chipmunk like fashion.

"One person asks a question and the other one answers it, but one has to be completely honest. You can't back out of a question or you lose," she finished simply.

He paused, crumbs stuck to his face and the box tilted towards his mouth. "But how can you tell if I'm lying or not?"

She shrugged, resting her elbows back on the cushion in order to lie down. He tilted the rest of the contents into his awaiting mouth as she spoke. "I'll just have to trust that you're telling the truth," she replied.

Ichigo wiped his crumbly mouth with the back of his arm. "This seems pretty easy…" he thought aloud. Almost too easy to be considered a real game. Girls, honestly.

"Oh it isn't…" she warned, and something in her tone made Ichigo quirk and eyebrow at her.


"Girls can be pretty vicious sometimes," she explained as Ichigo curled back into his comforter.

"I doubt that," he scoffed, turning to face the ceiling again while dragging his arms to rest behind his head.

"Oh you'd be surprised, Ichigo," she taunted. "We're not like boys. We don't yell or fight physically. Girls have ways to break down the enemy that takes more than bronze."

"So," Ichigo angled his shoulder toward her direction. "What's the worst thing they ever asked you?"

Rukia pursed her lips, taking the time to think. "They once asked me how far I've gone with a guy," she said after a strangled pause. "And let me tell you sharing that information would be awkward for anybody."

Ichigo fought off the hurried intrigue in his voice. "Did you tell the truth?"

Rukia shook her head. "You already asked a question," she said with that undeniable haughty tone. "It's my turn."

"What?" he asked, taken aback. "I feel tricked."

"That's Truths. SO…" she interrupted.

5:43 A.M.

In a daze, they were both sprawled on floor, lying on their backs, facing the ceiling, passing questions and answering questions almost unconsciously. Rukia slapping his arm, when she saw any—or no—hint of weariness from him, and Ichigo did his best not to yell while his family slept soundly.

"What do you want to be when you get older?" she asked, settling back down after a pretty brutal slap.

"I've never thought about it," he said thoughtfully, rubbing his sore shoulder.


He craned his neck to see that she was smiling at him. "It really isn't."

She turned back to face the ceiling, "Explain."

"I'm not concerned with what I'll be doing or where I'll be. I just—" Ichigo hesitated for a second, before exhaling. "I just want to be happy when I grow up."

The starkness of that statement settled on both of them for a moment, and Ichigo scratched his ear as if to stave off any sentimentality that may be brewing. After a moment, he realized that it was his turn. He turned his head to look at her. "So what do you want to be when you grow up?"

"I am grown up."

"You're deflecting. That should be against the rules."

"I am not!"

"Then elaborate."

She sighed. "Ichigo, I'm already grown up. I've got a job. Why would I need to have dreams?"

"Because everyone has them." He gave her a long look before reaching into the bowl. "My turn!"

Realization dawned on her. "That's not fair! You tricked me!"

"You snooze you lose Kuchiki."

"Did you ever have a crush on Renji Abarai?"

Rukia blushed. "Why does everyone think that?"


"Fine. Honestly?"

"Truthfully,"Ichigo said, elongating the word to tease her.

"No. He's always been family to me."

Ichigo wanted to contest that but she said it in such a way that sounded genuine that he let it slide.

"But I have slept with him before."

Ichigo almost sat up. "WHAT?!"

"We grew up together Ichigo. We'd all fall asleep around the camp fire…"

"You phrased it that way on purpose."

Rukia laughed. "You're dirty minded." She pretended to consider her own question before starting. "So…" he looked up to see Rukia's eyes dancing with glee. "Have you ever had a crush on a girl before?"

Ichigo didn't blink as he looked at her. His eyes settling on her in such a way that made Rukia hold her breath. "Yes," he said, simply.

Rukia felt her cheeks go warm, but she managed a flippant, "Care to share?"

Ichigo turned away, his hand resting on his chest as he looked at the ceiling above him. "You already asked, and I answered how far can this question go?"

It became a natural pattern: spurning off a question, answering, spurning one again. It lulled them into a comfort that felt easy, enjoyable. He listened as Rukia described growing up with Renji and a pack of boys in the Soul Society. She sat quietly, laughing occasionally as he described his father's most embarrassing habit. Their stories traded off in such a way, that Ichigo lost the sense of the game from the get go, almost eager to trade a story to her own. Sleep or time or even the fact that his room was a mess wasn't even a thought to him anymore. He felt himself calmed by her presence nearby.

It was only when Rukia hesitated during her next question that Ichigo remembered that they were playing a game. "Other than sleeping," she said as she laughed lightly, "what would you rather be doing right now?"

The question wasn't one of the hardest ones they've asked, but something in her tone, something in the way it broke away from the rest of their banter, made him hesitate.

Ichigo turned to her, her eyes were looking away from him and instead she was still facing the ceiling. "Honestly?" he asked.

She smiled and her eyes locked onto him. "Truthfully."

"Nothing." She didn't change her expression, but he could see the slight disappointment in her eyes as he said it. "But if I had to choose," he went on, smirking at her as their eyes locked, "this just seems fine to me."

10:56 A.M.

They were side-by-side, asleep on Ichigo's floor, facing one another. Their faces close. Their hands inches away from one another's as if they were going to reach out to intertwine fingers.

Isshin quietly closed the door to his son's bedroom, tip toeing away as quietly as possible.

In mid step he stopped, his younger daughter stood in the middle of the hallway, a medical text under her arm. "You do know that sleeping after a concussion is perfectly alright?"

"Yeah," Isshin shrugged, smiling. "But Ichigo doesn't know that."