Hey guys :) wow. I missed ... big time. University's been pretty brutal to me, the new semester is a killer and my classes are just murder.

So what am I doing here with a new story...? I dunno :D I needed something to cool steam off, so I thought, 'hey! why not write a new story?' Pssh, yeah right :)

Don't worry tho, I am still going to continue my other story Alice in Wonderland. I just need to get away from the dark, horror-ish aura of the story, hence this new fic :D that and I seem to be lost when it comes to that story... my plot is kinda weak. *bawls*

This is my third fic, and as usual like alll my other works, this is an AU fic. I guess this is me joining the H.S. bandwagon in bleach. You'll soon find out more. I have no beta, so please forgive any errors that you might see. Plus, English is not my native language. :D

Okay, enough talking now. Please enjoy chapter 1 of Just Be Friends.


The clear cerulean sky was decorated with large, towering, puffed up clouds on that particularly sunny day. From time to time, a few wisps of thin clouds would break free from their parents and wander alone along the vast expanse of the cerulean milieu, and the warm gentle sea breeze seemed to push around the suspended white objects, along with everything else along its path.

Sometimes several rays of stray sunlight would dart in between the clouds and illuminate the blue expanse of salt-water directly below. Under the gleaming sunlight, the water dances into life and an array of small sparkling gems adorn the surface of the water, adding more to its allure.

While the sea reflected the sky and the sky reflected the sea, a small white ferry drifted lazily towards its destination, creating small ripples on the otherwise smooth surface as it moved forward. From a bird's eye-view the white dot in motion was like razor cutting through the thin-blue sheet, marring the flawless surface for a few moments before the blue heals and closes up into perfection once again.

Accompanied by the soft drone of its engine, the ferry moved steadily towards the island ahead, the lush greenery of its mountains greeting the passengers of the small water vessel. The cool breeze from the ranges slowly overpowers the warm sea breeze that accompanied the small ferry throughout its trip, an indication that the dock wasn't too far ahead.

A petite figure held up a camera and peered through its viewfinder. Adjusting the focus ring of the camera's lens, the figure brought both the mountain range and the sea into focus and pressed the release button effectively capturing the beautiful scenery.

Small pink lips curved into a pleased smile as the captured scene played back on the small screen of the camera.

Pleased would be an understatement. The shot was beautiful… no, it was fan-fucking-tastic.

"Beautiful shot."

The figure whirled around in shock; a hand reached up to make sure the straw hat remained on place, else risk it blown away by the breeze.

"I'm sorry, I seem to have startled you." A man apologized behind a fan brought up to cover half his face. A white-and-green striped bucket hat sat on top of his dirty-blond hair and cast shadows over his eyes.

"It's alright…"

"That really is a beautiful shot," the man raised his eyebrow at the other figure, "Umm, Miss…?"

"Oh… Shinohara." The petite woman dropped the camera she was holding, allowing the strap that hung around her neck to keep the object from falling down. She reached out a hand to shake the one offered by the man.

"Well that's a name I haven't heard in a long time." The mumble escaped the petite woman's ear as a rather strong breeze decided to play with the hem of her sundress, threatening to expose that which must not be.

"I'm sorry," she frowned while smoothing out her dress. Once satisfied she brought her attention back to the man who, surprisingly, still had his hand held out to her. She took it anyway, "did you say something?"

"Urahara," The man smiled at her. "Pleasure to meet you Miss Shinohara."

She returned the man's smile.

"Tourist?"

The woman turned her back to face the island once again, a few moments of silence told the man that his new acquaintance was pondering on how to answer his question.

"Ayaa~ I didn't mean to trouble you Shinohara-san." He stepped closer and stood beside the petite woman, "You don't have to tell me if it's something personal."

His statement slightly shocked her. She frowned as she realized it had taken her long to come up with the right answer.

Damn her and her habit of over analyzing scenarios.

"No… it's nothing like that," she shook her head and gave off a little laugh.

"I'm not a tourist… that is, I mean… I'm moving here." Her eyes stayed focused ahead, glued on the island she'd soon start calling home.

"Ah~" His fan snapped open once again to hide a curious smile forming on his lips.

"I'd have to say I'm curious as to why you've chosen to settle in old Karakura here,"

"Hmm?" Holding up her camera once again, the petite woman proceeded to capture an old fishing boat passing by the ferry.

"From the looks of it you're from the big city," He made no effort to hide the amusement in his voice, "what brings you to this small, sleepy island? Away from the hustle and bustle of your own town."

The woman paused momentarily before pressing the release button once again. Her shot came out shaky this time, "What makes you think I'm from the big city?"

"Lessee… expensive clothes, expensive shoes, your perfume doesn't have that random smell to it and-"

"That's quite judgemental of you…," she kept on looking into the viewfinder, but her small lips contorted into a frown. "What makes you think people not from the city cannot purchase things like these."

"Oh I never said that, it's actually your enthusiasm in taking photos of the island that gave you away."

Her head snapped towards the man's direction, camera forgotten and dangling on her neck. She narrowed her eyes at him, two amethyst orbs speaking volumes of distrust, "Mister… are you a stalker?"

Silence stretched out for the longest time between the two before the man finally burst out laughing, causing a few of the passengers to look curiously in their direction. The small woman felt the onslaught of heat on her cheeks as the man continued to laugh at her (obviously mistaken) assumption.

"My my~ I'm terribly sorry for that Miss Shinohara." He turned a little towards the right and waved to an old woman, who in turn made a little bow to him. The young woman watched the exchange curiously.

"I'm not a stalker," he returned his attention to her, "You see, it's very uncommon for locals to enthuse about the views here."

"Eh…naze*? The place is breathtaking."

The playful smile on the man's lips was replaced with one filled with warmth. "I'm glad you think so,"

His fondness for the place did not go unnoticed by the young woman. The expression on his face spoke of how much he adored the island. It was a no brainer that Mr. hat-and-clogs here is a native of Karakura.

"But you see… when you've been waking up to the same scenery for almost your entire life, wouldn't you start taking it for granted as well?"

"Hmm…"

She thought of Tokyo and its crowded streets day and night, the light pollution that drove her migraine up a notch every time, and the noises of both humans and machine that permeate the city air every single moment.

The man noticed the distant look in her eyes followed by the distaste in her frown, "Something tells me you're not very fond of your hometown."

The young girl's suspicion spiked up once more, amethyst orbs turning into mere slits once again. "Are you sure you're not a stalker?"

He chuckled behind his fan, "fine fine~ I'm not gonna snoop around anymore."

"You're right…," her words were more of a whisper to herself rather than an answer to the man next to her.

He dropped his smile at the solemn tone of her voice. He glanced sideways and caught sight of the myriad of emotions that flashed one after another in her eyes.

"I'm not really that fond of Tokyo anymore," Her eyes refused to leave the scene up ahead, though the man next to her knew that they weren't really seeing what they were looking at. He heard her inhale deeply before her head turned sideways, causing their eyes to meet.

"I'm not sure I can say the same thing for you, you look quite happy that we're nearing the island."

He gave her one of his goofy smiles, like a kid caught eating ice cream when he's not supposed to.

"Is it that obvious?" he scratched the back of his head in a sheepish manner.

His smile was contagious and the young woman soon found herself smiling along with him. The heavy feeling she had when she first boarded the ferry suddenly seemed to be fading away little by little. She finally allowed herself to release the rather heavy sigh she had been fighting to keep down from the very start of the boat ride. Something that the man next to her caught sight of, but had enough decency to pretend not to notice.

'That's right, everything's going well. Just as planned.' The young woman encouraged herself. She allowed herself to relax a bit, her guard down just a fraction of an inch.

And as if on cue the wind suddenly picked up. The red ribbon holding her hair was snatched and blown away.

"Ah, Shimata!*" Her hair came tumbling down her back past her waist and stopped below her bottom before it got picked up by the breeze and floated around her like a cape. It was the least of her concerns however as she ran after her ribbon, one arm outstretched while the other on top of her straw hat securing it onto place. The object continued to elude her as it darted nimbly between her hands.

She frowned as it flew further away, past the iron railings on the deck. The wind seemed to mock her (or her height for that matter) as the thing flew higher and higher into the sky and further away into the horizon.

"It's best to let it go."

She did not turn around, but her eyes widened at the man's statement. She had an inkling that he wasn't talking about her recently lost ribbon.

The young woman closed her eyes and took a deep breath to calm herself down. Resolution burned deep when she opened them up once again.

"Who are you?"

Her demeanour have changed, the playful aura that surrounded her moments ago was gone. Her guard was up, like an impenetrable thick wall of ice surrounding her.

The man reflected the look she gave him, all his playfulness lost as well as he stared back at the young woman with his cunning eyes. Though after a while, he dropped his gaze to be quickly replaced with another one of his goofy smiles.

"What are you saying Shinohara-san? Didn't I already tell you my name's Urahara?" He peered through the top of his fan that was once again covering the lower half of his face. "I only meant to let go of your ribbon… as an offering."

"Offering?" her tone was smooth and cold, devoid of the soft-girly edge that laced her voice moments earlier.

"An offering to the deities who the locals believe protect the island."

She raised an eyebrow at his story, to which he only gave a shrug as he continued his explanation, "It's an old folklore, the deities who live on this sea and watches over the island. It's a custom to give an offering to them upon arrival."

She bowed her head as she mulled over the story he just told. What if he was just really trying to tell her to let go of the ribbon? She suddenly felt stupid for over reacting, now it was apparent that she is hiding something.

Mentally berating herself for being careless, she quickly raked her brain for an explanation as to why she behaved that way.

"Red is an auspicious colour, no?"

Her head snapped up to meet the man's gaze, "Ah, yes… Yes?"

Did he sense her discomfort? He saved her from embarrassing herself… again.

"I'm sure the gods appreciate your offering," he smiled at her, and for the first time she noticed how deep his grey eyes were. Something familiar ached within her,

"and your arrival to the island is favoured."

She felt the heat rush to her cheeks and could not do anything to prevent their gradual reddening.

"Umm…"

"Ah~ look look Miss Shinohara!" Urahara took her by the shoulders and turned her around.

Shock turned to delight when her eyes laid on the sun kissed dock that welcomed the fast approaching ferryl. She felt her heart pound faster as their distance from the dock shortened with each passing second.

This was it; there was no turning back now. She was too far from the big city, from the place she called her home, to still change her mind.

She took a deep breath to calm her nerves, and to place her resolution in the right spot.

"Welcome to Karakura!"

oOo

"You sure travel light, for someone who's going to move here."

"I had the moving team bring my things here ahead of time."

An hour after getting of the ferry and exiting the dock found the two standing side by side at the bus stop.

"Um… well, Urahara-san I-"

"Please, I already told you to call me Kisuke." The man smiled at her, and once again she felt the onslaught of heat on her cheeks.

Oh God no.

She bowed her head to hide her blushing face, brows furrowed in confusion. Was she crushing on…

She glanced at the older man, still with that smile.

OH GOD NO.

She was! She was crushing on him. She was crushing on an old, creepy and most probably perverted man.

She wondered if her face got redder by every second. It was like realization slapping her hard across the face.

"Do you have a crush on me?"

"NO!" she blurted out too fast for her own liking.

She cleared her throat, "I mean, no… why would you say that?"

He grinned, and the petite woman hoped that her face remained the same damn colour.

"Aww, you're still blushing."

No such luck. Damn you face! Damn you!

"I… it's the heat," she pressed her palm to her forehead, "I'm not really used to this kind of heat."

"It is quite hot today," the man nodded thoughtfully.

"Well then Shinohara-san, do you want to sit down first? I don't think the bus will be here yet."

"Ano… that was what I was trying to tell you, my apartment's just down the block."

"Oh! Alright then, shall I walk you there?" The man made for her luggage.

She quickly reached for her bag, "No! I- I mean, it's not that far."

"Are you sure?"

"No! I mean yes! I mean…," she cleared her throat and made a small bow to hide her still flaming cheeks, "Thank you for all your help, I'll be fine from here on."

Kisuke gave off a small chuckle, "now now, there's no need to be all formal. It's always a pleasure to help pretty young girls like you."

Great. Why don't you just set my face on fire huh?

"err… th-thanks again." She smiled at him for the last time before turning around and crossing the street, finally walking in the opposite direction.

"By the way," she turned around to find the man unmoved from his spot,

"what about you Urahara-san? where are you headed to?"

"I'm going in the opposite direction," he smiled as he pointed towards the right side, "my shop's on this part of the town."

So he owns a shop. The petite woman wondered what kind of shop he runs and found herself smiling as a picture of him dressed in a convenience store uniform popped into her mind.

"Drop by once you're settled in, just ask for directions to Urahara shoten. I'll give you a discount whenever you shop."

She couldn't help smiling at his invitation, "Alright, I'll make sure to visit. Thank you, Urahara-san."

"I told you to call me Kisuke."

She shook her head and smiled warmly at the man on the other side of the street. The petite woman started to walk away but stopped mid-step as she seemed to ponder on something. She turned slightly to address the man again,

"Fine, but only if you call me Rukia. Shinohara Rukia."

"It's a pleasure knowing you Rukia-san."

"Pleasure's all mine Kisuke-san, Goodbye for now." She smiled and waved gently before turning her back and walked away.

The older man slipped his hands into the pockets of his green robe and glanced at the young woman's retreating back one last time before finally walking away. With his head bowed and his green-and-white striped hat casting shadows over his grey eyes once again, Urahara sauntered the all too familiar road back home.

A sleek black cat appeared behind a concrete pole as he passed by and he smiled as he greeted the feline. The small animal leapt into his outstretched arms and settled in comfortably.

"Found you." He mumbled softly to his new companion.


*naze - why? (formal)

shimata - informal term simply meaning 'damn it'

and that ends chapter 1. I hope you enjoyed the first chapter.

if you found it kinda drab... well, give it time? after all, this is just introduction right? :)

Also, please don't forget to review :) let me know what you think? should I continue? or should I just focus on my Alice story? I would really like to know what's on your mind... feedbacks, anything!Thank you for reading, and I'll be waiting for your replies :D

-Chi