be my love in the rain.
bleach || ichigo/orihime, kurosaki family || 6150 words || pg
It rains on Tanabata but the stars align and Orihime still gets to be with the one she loves. Wait, not that Orihime.
disclaimer. Bleach belongs to Kubo Tite and A Line-Storm Song to Robert Frost
our love came back amain
“So, Kurosaki-kun, what are you doing tonight?”
Ichigo was on his way out of the school gate when Orihime spoke and he looked at her questioningly. “What am I doing tonight?”
“It’s Tanabata!” she explained excitedly. “Are you and your family doing anything special?”
He scratched his head. “Not really, it’s not really something we celebrate.” She looked at him in abject horror and he felt a little warm under the scrutiny of her gaze.
“That’s a horrible thing, Kurosaki-kun. It’s such an important day!”
“Well, for someone named Orihime I’m sure it is,” he conceded, “I guess the story just never meant much to me.”
“Hmph! Well, we’ll see about that!” She motioned as if rolling up her sleeves, except she had no sleeves to roll up, and Ichigo had to smile at the action. “I’m going to buy a bamboo tree for tonight and hang some tanzaku on there. Would you like to come, Kurosaki-kun? I’ll show you the meaning of Tanabata!”
To this day, Ichigo could not explain why he said yes. It was probably just that he didn’t like the idea of her spending the day on her own when it meant so much to her.
It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that maybe, on a subconscious level, he wanted to spend more time with her.
Of course it wasn’t that, that was ridiculous.
That was what he kept telling himself anyway.
The clouds had been looking threatening all day, but neither Ichigo nor Orihime had foreseen the force with which the rain would fall. They stared at each other in shock for a second before making a mad dash to find shelter, finally settling at a bus stop.
“Poor Orihime-san and Hikoboshi-kun,” Orihime lamented. “I guess they won’t be meeting this year, then.”
“I have an umbrella in here, I think,” Ichigo muttered, rifling through his bag.
“Don’t you care about them not meeting, Kurosaki-kun?” she asked him sadly. He looked up, astounded at the sincerity with which she spoke. Not that Orihime was never sincere, quite the opposite, but this was just a story, a legend. Did she really take it that seriously?
“Of course I care,” he finally responded, “but right now, I’m more concerned about us getting home relatively dry.” She shrugged, as if to say, sure, if you want to look at the world that way, and he could not help feeling a little upset that she was disappointed in him.
She sighed as she looks up at the sky. “I suppose you’re right. I love rain, but I don’t like getting wet, it can be dangerous.”
Ichigo returned to rummaging through his bag and distractedly answered, “Because you can get sick?”
“Yeah, that too, but you know that’s how the little men travel, don’t you?”
Ichigo stopped searching for his umbrella, “The little men?”
“The little men who travel on raindrops. You know, they can get inside your head and make you do silly things.” She flicked off the raindrops on her arms, as if hoping to stop the little men from infecting her.
Ichigo could not stop the laugh that escaped from his lips. At her stunned but pleased expression, he felt the need to look away and decided that continuing to look for his umbrella made a plenty good enough excuse. “You make it sound like getting drunk or something.”
“Yeah, but the little men don’t care if you’re over twenty or not,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Well, if I could find my umbrella, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about the little men.” After another minute of searching, Ichigo finally resigned himself to the fact that he most likely forgot to put it back in his bag after he last used it. “Sorry, Inoue, looks like I don’t have it after all.” He plopped himself onto the bus stop seat with a heavy sigh and Orihime followed his lead.
“It doesn’t really look like the rain’s going to let up anytime soon, does it?” Orihime leant forward and held out her palm; only a few drops of the rain were needed to fill it up.
Suddenly Ichigo realised what he could do. “If I run, I could probably get to my place in a few of minutes,” he mused aloud, “and I could pick up an umbrella and come back and walk you home.” He let his bag slip off of his shoulder and stood. “Look after this for me? I’ll be back in a few minutes for you.”
Before she could reply, Ichigo had dashed into the downpour.
“B-But… the little men!” she cried and, after picking up his bag, she gave chase.
He had only been running for a minute or two before he heard footsteps behind him.
Recognising her voice, Ichigo turned and watched in amazement as Orihime caught up to him.
“Inoue! Why didn’t you stay at the bus stop? You’re soaked!” he shouted to be heard over the rain.
“Because,” she hollered back, “I was worried the little men were going to get you, and then what would I do?”
“But now the little men have both of us!” he yelled back, not noticing the ridiculousness of the statement, but, to his horror, noticing instead that he could see a little more of her than usual. “Inoue!” he quickly diverted his gaze. “Your shirt! I mean, I can see… not that I was looking or anything…” he stammered.
“My shirt?” she looked down and realised to her horror that her lace bra was now completely visible under her translucent white shirt. “Oh, my God!” She clutched her bag to her chest and her face had turned deep scarlet. Ichigo stared at a sport above her head for a few moments before his brain told him to do something, do anything!
“Here!” Ichigo hurriedly shucked off his school shirt. “Put this on. It won’t help much, but it’s better than nothing. Gimme the bags, I’ll hold them.” She practically ripped the shirt out of his outstretched hand before tossing the bags towards him. The addition of his shirt barely made any difference to her situation, but she felt a little warmer. She knew it couldn’t be his body heat; any trace of it would’ve disappeared rapidly in this weather. It must’ve been the warmth of the gesture and, despite the cold, she could feel her cheeks colour a little.
“Okay, we’ve been standing here long enough, I think, we’re both sopping wet. Let’s go.” He grabbed one of her hands and half dragged her to his house. Despite being drenched to the bone, Orihime still felt warm, all the way to his house and onto his porch. The feeling disappeared when he dropped her hand to unlock the door and she missed it immensely.
“Quick, get in.” He held the door open for her and, within two seconds of her standing in his hallway, the ground beneath her feet had become a puddle. She curled her toes nervously and her feet made a squelching noise.
“Sorry for making a mess,” she whispered sheepishly but he waved off the apology.
“What are you talking about? I’m in the same situation as you.” He cupped his mouth with his hands and yelled, “Karin? Yuzu? Dad? Anyone home?”
“Ichi-nii?” came the reply before Karin walked into the hall. “Ichi-nii…” her eyes widened at the scene in front of her. “Why are you so wet? And what is Orihime-chan doing here?”
“We didn’t have an umbrella and it didn’t look like the rain was going to stop so I thought I could make a run for it.”
“You made her run in the rain?” Karin asked incredulously and Ichigo looked annoyed at the implication but Orihime quickly interjected.
“No, no, Kurosaki-kun told me to wait for him to come back to pick me up from the bus stop, but I was worried the little men were going to get him,” she said by way of explanation but Karin merely looked at her blankly. She shifted her gaze to Ichigo who returned a look of, ‘don’t ask’. Her curiosity almost got the better of her, but Ichigo spoke before she could ask.
“So are you gonna get us some towels, or what, Karin?”
“Oh, right! Just wait a sec.” She left to find some towels and Ichigo groaned loudly.
“I hate this feeling.” He tried peeling his undershirt from his torso but the water had caused it to cling uncomfortably. He gave Orihime a quick glance up and down, trying to avoid looking there and said, “I think you should have a bath here before I take you home.”
“A bath?” she echoed, stunned. “Here? At Kurosaki-kun’s house?”
“Yeah, of course, where else? A bath will warm you up. You’ll have to get out of your clothes, too,” he noted and, at her look, quickly added, “y’know, ‘cause otherwise you’ll be sick by the end of the day from the cold.”
“Right.” They held each other’s gaze until Karin returned, arms filled with at least five towels.
“Hey, I thought I’d bring some extra, just in case, since you both look like drowned ra—” she stopped speaking and watched the two, just standing there… looking at each other.
‘No way,’ she thought. ‘No way! Ichi-nii could maybe feel that way about her, but Orihime-chan wouldn’t feel that way about him!’ Rather than continuing with the frankly alarming train of thought, she pulled two towels out from the pile and shoved them into their arms, breaking them out of their trance.
“I’ll leave the spares on the stairs, okay?” she called and practically fled the scene. She had said previously that she wouldn’t be fazed until her brother had brought around a girl of Orihime’s level.
And then he turned up with the girl herself… and she had been looking at him like she was… interested?
‘Fazed’ didn’t come close to covering what Karin was feeling right now.
Once they dried themselves off enough that they wouldn’t drip all over the house, they made their way upstairs and Ichigo began to run the bath.
“You can leave your towel here, but come with me for a minute.” He led her to his bedroom and her heart sped up and pounded so loudly, she was sure he could hear it. It didn’t matter how many times she had been in his room, she couldn’t help but feel both nervous and excited simultaneously. She was so lost in a daze that it took her a minute to notice he was rummaging through his drawers.
“Kurosaki-kun, what are you doing?” she asked curiously.
“Well, I’m thinking some of my old clothes should fit you about right.” His voice was a little muffled as his head was stuck in his closet and Orihime slipped back into her daze for a second, thinking either the closet or her heartbeat had muddled his words, before realising she should probably say something to clarify the situation.
“Your clothes? You’re… giving me some of your clothes to wear?”
“Yeah, well, Yuzu’s and Karin’s won’t fit you, they’re too small, and there’s no way in hell I’m giving you something of my dad’s to wear, so my clothes are all that’s left.” He finally pulled out a pair of sweatpants and a shirt. “I think these should fit, and they’re pretty comfortable, too.” He handed them to her and she numbly accepted them. She hardly noticed that he’d led her back to the bathroom until her feet hit the tiled floor.
“Okay, soap is here, shampoo, conditioner… that’s all you need, right?” He looked at her expectantly and she could only nod in response. “Alright, come get me when you’re done, then.”
‘This is like a dream,’ she thought dully after he left and locked the door behind him. ‘I’m having a bath… in Kurosaki-kun’s house… and I’ll be wearing his clothes!’
She was not surprised to see that her reflection was appropriately flushed. Somehow, she knew that a warm bath wasn’t going to improve matters.
Ichigo dried himself off completely and changed into some dry clothes before going back downstairs. Karin was sitting in front of their television but looked up immediately when he entered.
“Hey, Ichi-nii, I just realised something.”
“What?” he asked before opening the fridge and staring uninterestedly at its contents.
“You came in wearing only your undershirt. Where’d you shirt go?”
“Oh, I gave it to Inoue since her shirt was… uhh…” he hesitated to say the words but Karin quickly filled in the gap.
“See-through?” He braved a glance in her direction and was annoyed to find she had a smirk on her face. “Wow, Ichi-nii sure is growing up!” she joked and he glared.
“Shut up.” He slammed the fridge door and stormed back upstairs, but didn’t miss Karin’s call at his retreating back.
“You should’ve taken a picture, Ichi-nii, I don’t think you’ll get another look!” she yelled before chuckling.
‘I’m going to have fun tonight!’ she thought to herself gleefully.
Orihime certainly felt warmer now that she had taken that bath, and she was glad for the excuse to explain her still-flushed cheeks. Seeing the light in his room, she knocked before entering to find Ichigo lying on his bed and staring at his ceiling.
“Kurosaki-kun? I’m finished.”
“Oh yeah, thanks, Inoue. Yuzu’s home now so if you want a snack or anything, just ask her, she can cook up anything.” He got up and she followed him to the bathroom. “I’ll meet you downstairs when I’m done.”
“Okay, Kurosaki-kun!” she smiled but stared at the closed door for a minute before continuing down the stairs alone. Sure enough, Yuzu was busy in the kitchen. She looked up when Orihime entered and her features morphed into clear shock.
“Orihime-chan?” Yuzu could only stare. Karin watched the scene in amusement. “What are you doing here? Why are you wearing onii-chan’s clothes?”
“Oh, Kurosaki-kun was going to go shopping with me but we got caught in the rain so he was kind enough to bring me here and lend me some clothes so I wouldn’t get sick.”
‘Oh boy,’ Karin mused, ‘the more I hear, the better it gets!’
“Shopping? Onii-chan was going to go… shopping? With you? And then he gave you his clothes to wear?” Yuzu asked in disbelief.
“… Yes?” What more could Orihime say to that?
“Don’t be so jealous, Yuzu. It’s about time Ichi-nii got interested in girls,” Karin said nonchalantly and inwardly congratulated herself on her success when both Yuzu and Orihime reacted.
“No! There’s nothing like that between me and Kurosaki-kun!”
“What are you talking about, Karin-chan? I’m not jealous!”
“You two are both so in denial,” she countered. “Yuzu, I’ve been telling you for ages to let go of Ichi-nii because something like this was bound to happen one day and I knew it would upset you,” she paused, “although I didn’t expect it to happen now, and with Orihime-chan no less!”
“There’s nothing, really!” Orihime argued desperately.
“Then why were you looking at him like that?” Karin shot back and Yuzu gawked at Orihime.
“How have you been looking at Onii-chan?”
“I haven’t! I—I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“What are you talking about?”
All three girls gasped in shock and gaped at Ichigo who had just entered the kitchen, towel-drying his hair. At their stares, he froze. “What? What were you talking about?”
“Nothing!” they all chorused and Ichigo watched them suspiciously.
“Alright…” he drawled before turning to Orihime. “Ready to go home?” she nodded emphatically but had barely taken a step towards him when Karin butted in.
“Oh, Ichi-nii, don’t you think Orihime-chan should stay for dinner? I mean, she’s already here and otherwise she’ll be eating all by herself, right?” Karin snuck a wink at Orihime whose jaw had dropped open.
“Hey, that’s an idea, Karin.” He tilted his head thoughtfully. “Do we have enough food, Yuzu?” When she made no reply, Ichigo stepped towards her. “Yuzu? Are you okay?” He touched her shoulder and she shook herself out of surprise.
“Yes! Of course we do, Onii-chan, dinner will be ready in about an hour or so.” She quickly turned back to the stove, not wanting to look at any of them. Ichigo stared at her back for a moment before shrugging and walking back over to Orihime.
“Sound okay, Inoue? I know you can eat some pretty crazy stuff, think you can handle some normal food for a change?” He smiled slightly and she couldn’t keep the blush off her face. Feeling Karin’s eyes directly on her, and knowing Yuzu was watching surreptitiously, she nodded, not trusting her voice at that moment.
“Okay, great. Well, how about we do some homework while we’re waiting?” He gently touched her elbow as if to guide her back towards the stairs and she mutely turned and followed. “Call us if you need any help, okay? We’ll just be in my room.”
As Orihime followed him, she couldn’t help but feel as if someone was playing a joke on her and sitting back, enjoying watching her squirm. As she settled herself in Ichigo’s room and he shut the door behind them, she felt the sensation intensify significantly.
“So, maybe maths first?” he suggested and she forced a smile.
Maths was the last thing she wanted to think about, but, as he opened his textbook and she copied the action, she resigned herself to the fact that, whoever’s joke this was, it still wasn’t over.
She had been right, of course.
Dinner was an awkward affair. Awkward was probably putting it mildly. Disaster was probably better.
Isshin came into the dining room and immediately noticed her presence next to his son at the dinner table.
“Mother!” he cried with joy in front of the Masaki poster. “It’s finally happened! I knew the Kurosaki Charm would kick in one day. And he’s managed to capture such a beautiful girl! We’ll have gorgeous grandkids yet!”
Orihime watched the scene unfold with bemused discomfort. Ichigo grabbed him by the collar and yelled, “Shut up, shut up! Stop talking like an idiot!” while Karin calmly stated, “We actually have company tonight, can’t you act like a normal dad? Plus, it’s not like Orihime-chan is actually dating Ichi-nii, it’s just a coincidence she’s here.”
At this statement, Isshin howled his disapproval. “Ichigo! Have I not raised you well enough to get the attention of a beautiful girl? You have failed Kurosaki men everywhere!”
The men began to fight in earnest and Orihime stared down at her lap, cheeks stained red. She looked up when Karin coughed and, once she knew she had the girl’s attention, Karin whispered, “You know, if you tell Dad now that you do like Ichi-nii, it would save them a lot of fighting…”
Orihime’s blush deepened and she quickly looked away. Both of the twins noted that she hadn’t refuted the accusation and shared a look.
Once the Kurosaki men finally settled down, dinner returned to being fairly normal. For everyone except Orihime, that was.
She could literally feel the waves of dislike aimed at her from Yuzu, she could only ignore so many of Karin’s knowing looks, and Isshin had decided to enquire about her romantic life.
“So, do you have a boyfriend, Orihime-chan?” Isshin asked and Orihime nearly choked on her rice.
“P-Pardon?” she stuttered.
“Dad! Leave off, will you?” Ichigo said threatening and Isshin poked him in the eyes with his chopsticks.
“You are wide open!” he gloated. “Obviously the presence of a beautiful girl lowers your guard, you should watch that! And don’t pretend you aren’t even a little curious about Orihime-chan’s love life! If you aren’t, you are no son of mine!”
“Meaning a son of yours has to be some kind of nosy pervert?” Karin asked sceptically.
“Perversion is not the same thing as curiosity, Karin!” Isshin used his chopsticks to tsk tsk her. “We all know teenage boys have… urges and—”
“For the love of God,” Ichigo muttered through gritted teeth, “can we stop talking about this?”
“But she hasn’t answered the question!” Isshin cried.
“Maybe she doesn’t want to answer the question!”
“No.” she finally whispered. The whole family looked at her and she felt her cheeks burn. “No, I don’t have a boyfriend,” she explained, hoping that her answer would bring the conversation to a close.
No such luck.
“Really? Do you have someone you’re interested in, then?” Isshin leant forward in fascination, noting the blush tinting her cheeks a rosy pink before being knocked out of his chair by Ichigo’s foot.
“That’s enough out of you!”
Isshin quickly pulled himself to his feet. “Well, it doesn’t make sense that she’s single! Surely she gets asked out, right? She wouldn’t turn down all of them unless she was interested in someone.”
“She’s probably just not interested in any of the people who ask her, then.” Ichigo suggested and Orihime’s blush darkened.
“Well,” Karin threw in, “I think that if she did like someone, she should just ask him out. I mean, who’d turn down Orihime-chan, right?”
“Truer words never spoken, Karin!” Isshin nodded emphatically before pointing his chopsticks at Orihime. “Orihime-chan! Grab the bull by the horns and take the plunge!”
“Alright, I think we’ve scarred her enough now, can we please talk about something else?” Ichigo sighed after silence greeted Isshin’s statement.
“Yes, yes, I think you are right, my son.” Isshin paused before launching into a new topic. “Orihime-chan, do you have any cute friends you can set up with Ichigo? He’s so hopeless with the ladies, you know.” Orihime could only gape at him for a moment before mouthing wordlessly.
“I was hoping for more of a change in subject,” Ichigo said loudly before she could speak.
“Fine, fine. There’s no pleasing you, my son.” Isshin waited a beat before trying another topic. “So are you interested in anyone, Ichigo?”
It was Ichigo’s turn to choke on his rice.
“Ahhh, I see a fair, young maiden has indeed caught my son’s eye!” Isshin declared proudly while Ichigo remained distracted with his choking. “Well, son, I’ll offer you the same advice as Orihime-chan — shoot for the stars! I’m sure the Kurosaki Charm will eventually kick in!” He slapped Ichigo on the back as a sign of encouragement.
“Now, my daughters...” he started and Orihime tuned out, glad that the focus had shifted from her and Ichigo and both of them tried to finish their dinner quickly and in silence.
Still, she couldn’t help but be troubled by what Isshin had said: was it true? Did Ichigo like someone?
She found swallowing her dinner was a little more difficult with the lump in her throat.
She volunteered to do the dishes after dinner, but Isshin pushed her out, telling her that guests never helps with the clean up. She waited for Ichigo to find an umbrella so he could walk her home and she watched as Yuzu packed up the dishes. She had been quiet all dinner and Orihime knew she had to clear the air before she went home.
“Yuzu-chan?” she ventured and Yuzu froze. “Can we talk? I mean, while Karin-chan and Kurosaki-kun aren’t here to interrupt?”
“Is it true?” Yuzu asked flatly. “That you like Onii-chan?”
Orihime did not hesitate, did not want to lie to her. “Yes.”
“Like… really like him? Or is this just a phase?”
“I’m in love with him,” she answered honestly and Yuzu finally looked her in the eye.
“In love with him?” she repeated, stunned. “For how long?”
“Hmmm… a couple of years?”
“Why haven’t you done anything then?”
“Because he doesn’t feel that way about me,” Orihime admitted sadly. “He just sees me as a friend and—”
“You know, that’s not true.”
Karin’s voice cut into the conversation and startled both Orihime and Yuzu.
“Ichi-nii is interested, he just… doesn’t know it. That’s why I said you should just tell him. Once you say it, he’ll know. Just give him a few minutes while he processes it. As much as we love him, we can still see he’s a dumb teenage boy so you’ll just have to be a bit patient.” Karin smiled at the expression on Orihime’s face. “Anyway, I’ve set up the situation for you, so take your chance, okay? After all, it’s Tanabata tonight.”
“What do you mean?” Orihime asked curiously but Ichigo walked into the room before Karin could answer.
“Karin, Yuzu, where are all the spare umbrellas? I can only find this one.” Orihime watched as Karin winked at her.
“I don’t know, Ichi-nii, maybe we lost them,” she suggested.
“What, all of them? Where are your umbrellas? I need another one to walk Inoue home.”
“Don’t be silly, Ichi-nii, you’ve got the big umbrella there, that’s good enough, right?”
Ichigo hesitated and watched his sister smirking. ‘The little sneak…’
“Fine.” he huffed. “Inoue, are you ready to go?” He turned and left the room to put on his shoes and Orihime dazedly followed him.
“Good luck!” the twins call behind her and she felt a little bolstered by their encouragement.
‘Here goes nothing!’
“Sorry about before. My family tends to be a little…” he searched for the right word, “intrusive and, uh, overzealous with their advice, even when you haven’t asked for it.”
“No, no, there’s no such thing as bad advice,” she replied brightly although her voice shook. This was about the closest she had ever been to him, at least for any extended period of time. Sure, the umbrella was big, but to cover the both of them, they had to be standing in fairly close proximity. She could feel the warmth from his body against her arm and, knowing she had to be blushing, she gradually moved away from him.
“Hey,” he said, noticing the gap between them, “Stay under the umbrella! I can’t cover both of us if you walk so far away.” He gently took her hand and dragged her back. He kept hold of her hand and her face flushed.
“So, not a good Tanabata for Orihime and Hikoboshi, huh?” he asked and she sighed.
“It just had to rain today, huh?” she mused. “Another whole year before they see each other… it would feel so lonely not being able to be with the one you love, don’t you think?”
“Yes,” he replied automatically before blushing and looking away. She smiled shyly.
They walked in companionable silence until they reached her apartment. Ichigo didn’t release her hand until the last moment when he was taking down the umbrella.
“Do you want to come in?” she offered. “I’ll get changed and you can take your clothes back.”
“Keep them.” They stared at each other before he blurted out, “I mean, there’s no rush, I don’t need them back or anything, they don’t fit me anyway.”
“Okay.” she grinned. “Well, did you want to come in anyway? I have hot chocolate. The normal kind.”
He laughed at her automatic reassurance that, yes, on occasion, she ate normal food. “Okay, sure, why not?”
She flicked on the television while he settled himself on her floor. As she entered her kitchen to boil some water, she heard his voice, “Sorry we didn’t manage to get your bamboo tree.”
“It’s not your fault, Kurosaki-kun. I’ll just wait until next year.”
His voice became louder as he turned off the television and he stepped into her kitchen. “Well, you can still make your wishes if you want, right?”
“They’re supposed to be hung up on bamboo, but I guess so. Would you like to make some wishes with me, Kurosaki-kun? I mean I did say I was going to show you the meaning of Tanabata, didn’t I? And we’re waiting for the water to boil and—”
“You don’t need to give me reasons, Inoue,” he interrupted, “I’d be happy to write some wishes with you.”
She handed him two slips of paper and explained, “Now Altair is seventeen light years away, and Vega is twenty-five light years away, so make sure you make some wishes that will take about that long to come true.”
“Seriously? We have to wait that long?” He studied the tanzaku closely while Orihime began to write. “What are you wishing for, then?” He tried to peek over her shoulder but she quickly covered up her paper.
“No peeking, Kurosaki-kun!” she admonished him before starting on her second wish.
What could he wish for? He wasn’t really the wishing kind of person but he wanted to share this with her, to try to make it feel like a proper Tanabata.
‘Well,’ he thought, ‘I guess I’d still want to be able to protect my friends and family…’ and he jotted down the wish. The second wish was harder. What else did he want?
He watched her out of the corner of his eyes. She’d finished writing and was patiently waiting for him. He had to admit that he had liked spending time with her today, even though it had been a bit of a debacle. He’d had fun, that was for sure; she was really great to spend time with and she certainly was beautiful, even he could see that…
‘Oh, crap,’ he thought to himself, the realisation dawning on him. ‘Crap.’
“Kurosaki-kun?” her voice cut into his reverie and he jumped, having been lost in his own thoughts for a few minutes. “Are you okay? Are you still working on your wishes?” She had finished making the hot chocolate and placed a cup in front of him. “Wishes shouldn’t be that hard to come up with, right?”
“No, I’ve decided.” He scrawled down his second wish.
“Okay, now we can hang them. On the balcony, do you think?” she collected the tanzaku and opened the balcony door, letting in a chilly breeze.
“Here, I’ll do it, I’m taller.” He took the tanzaku and carefully tied them up. He took his time, wanting to read her wishes.
I want to have five lifetimes.
I want to be with the person I love.
Five lifetimes? Why would she wish for that? But he finished tying them up before he could muse further on the thought and followed her back into her warm apartment.
“Did you read my wishes, Kurosaki-kun?”
“What?” he asked, feigning innocence, but she was smiling knowingly and he didn’t want to lie to her so he quickly admitted, “Uhh, yeah, I did. So, why five lifetimes?”
“Because,” she took a sip of her hot chocolate before cradling the cup in her hands, “there’s so many things I want to do with my life, I don’t think I can do them all in one. So I’d like five, I think I could do everything in five.”
“Why not ten?” he asked curiously and she was still smiling.
“I wouldn’t complain if I got ten, but I’m not greedy, five is enough,” she said simply and he laughed in agreement but her expression had turned serious. “But I want to be with the same person for all of those five lifetimes,” she finished and he stopped laughing.
“So you’re really in love with someone?” he asked. Of course, he’d realise his feelings for her the same day he found out she was in love with someone else. ‘Just my luck,’ he thought bitterly.
“Yes, very much so. Do you think I should listen to your father and take the plunge?” She looked him in the eye and he found it hard to breathe.
How had he not noticed how beautiful she was?
He cleared his throat to give himself time to settle before replying. “Yeah, why not? I mean, I know the advice came from my dad but I guess he’s right.”
“Okay. And you won’t hate me?”
‘Oh God, she knows!’ he thought in horror. His head snapped up. “Hate you? Why would I hate you?”
“Because of what I’m about to do,” she whispered before she leant in and kissed him very softly on the lips.
Ichigo’s head exploded on the wall. He wouldn’t have been surprised if that had happened, anyway. It was certainly how he felt. He was so shocked; he didn’t have time to react, to close his eyes, to kiss her back. He could only think that her lips were soft, and she tasted like chocolate and rain, and her scent was intoxicating and…
And she pulled away.
He finally blinked and licked his lips. He could still taste her, he could almost still feel the sensation of her lips on his and he was deeply regretting not kissing her back.
“Kurosaki-kun?” she asked nervously. He’d been staring at her blankly for one whole minute and her heart was sinking further and further into the floor.
‘Oh God, oh God.’ She was about to cry.
“Wait,” he finally said before leaning in and kissing her back. She was just as shocked as he was but she managed to react faster. Or maybe it was just that this kiss lasted longer. She didn’t know; coherent thought had disappeared the second his lips touched hers.
They kissed for a couple of minutes before they came up for air. She watched him, his eyes were still closed and it looked like he was thinking very hard.
“Kurosaki-kun?” he didn’t reply. “Kurosaki-kun, did the little men get to you?”
His eyes snapped open. “What do you mean?”
“I mean,” she fidgeted, “you kissed me.”
He stared. “Well, you kissed me first.”
“Yes, but I really like you.”
“And I don’t like you?”
She waited for him to say it was a joke or that he hadn’t meant it, but he didn’t. He kept eye contact with her, waiting for her reply.
“So,” she said slowly, “the little men didn’t get into your head? They didn’t make you kiss me? You… you actually like me, too?” He nodded firmly and she felt like her heart was about to burst. A laugh bubbled out of her and she couldn’t stop it, especially when he smiled at her like that.
“I can’t believe I’m going to say this,” he sighed, “but I’m glad Dad gave us some advice.”
“Yes, Kurosaki-san is very clever!” she grinned and he raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t let him hear you say that, okay? He’s crazy enough as it is.” He finally took a sip of his hot chocolate and she copied him. They sat in comfortable silence for a couple of minutes before she broke it.
“So what do we do now?” she asked, trying to keep the eagerness out of her voice. He finished off his hot chocolate before replying.
“Well, I don't know about you, but I’d like to pick up where we left off,” he grinned mischievously and she returned it before leaning towards him.
“Oh,” she stopped, “before that, I just want to tell you not to lie to Yuzu-chan or Karin-chan.”
“Because they kind of set this up?” she admitted sheepishly and he gaped at her.
“… Wait, what?”
Ichigo finally returned home two hours later and the twins were waiting up for him.
“Geez, Ichi-nii, how far away does Orihime-chan live?”
“I went in for some hot chocolate,” he explained, knowing that he was in for a little teasing.
“‘Hot chocolate’?” Karin repeated and smirked. “Is that what kids are calling it these days?” Yuzu chuckled appreciatively.
“I was being literal, you know.”
“Doesn’t mean you weren’t also being a little figurative.” Karin argued and he grinned.
“Alright, you got me,” he conceded, “and, uhh, thanks,” he murmured before going upstairs. The twins smiled and let him go.
“Mother, did you hear?” Isshin cried to the poster of Masaki. “I was right! My son has finally nabbed a gorgeous girl! The grandkids will come soon enough!”
“Shut up, shut up, shut up!”
She was still a little upset for Orihime and Hikoboshi, but she couldn’t help but be a little thankful for the rain. After all, like how she had always pictured it tying the earth and sky together, it had also tied her and Ichigo together.
‘Thank you,’ she thought, looking up at the night sky, ‘I got my wish seventeen years early. I’m looking forward to the next four lifetimes, too.’
The rain stopped and the stars twinkled.
and be my love in the rain