Umm, so this is awkward… I've been gone for so long that I don't even want to count the months, hell it's a new year! I don't know what I've been doing either! I am so sorry everyone! I feel terrible for not updating in the past couple months, I can understand if you're mad! If I did this to myself, I'd probably mad too, which I am! I should have updated sooner, but I think I was stuck and school stuck me well. It's been pretty tough, I've been scraping trying to get good grades and it's been deadly. I hear it's supposed to get worse, so I wanted to update! Updating gives me a reason to not do work, which has its pros and cons! So, I am incredibly sorry and I hope you all are still interested in this story! Thank you for being patient-ish and for the reviews from the last chapter! They were all super great and I hope that you guys can tell me that you're still interested even though I am a spaz with updating! Thank you guys again and I am really, really, really sorry again!
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.
Chapter 17: To Do or Not to Do
"Alright Mr. Kurosaki, there are some rules that you must follow before you set foot in my kitchen."
Rukia warned, wiggling a finger in his face as she lean against the door leading into the cooking room. After complaining about letting Ichigo into her kitchen, at the request of their wonderful counselor, Rukia allowed his presence in helping her prepare for the cooking competition. Sure, she's had him in the kitchen before, but this time he'd be cooking and that scared her.
What if he blew the kitchen up with God knows what?
After Ichigo and Urahara swore that he wouldn't do anything to harm the room, she allowed it, but she wasn't going to let him go in and roam free without settling some rules first.
"How could there be rules in a kitchen?" Ichigo rolled his eyes, "I promised that I wouldn't blow anything up."
She rolled her eyes, "You say that, but I don't know. You haven't even taken a safety test! How am I supposed to know if you know how to properly handle a knife? You could get hurt."
That made him grin, "Worried about me?"
Rukia returned the grin and poked him in the chest with a light finger, "No, I'm worried that you'll bleed all over the food and it'll no longer be edible. I can assure you that no one wants to eat your blood."
"You got me. I'll be careful with your food," Ichigo told her waving his hands in the air, surrendering, "What are the rules, Professor Kuchiki?"
Rukia hummed to herself, tapping her chin, "Not a bad name. Maybe I'll have you call me that for the rest of the day. Anyway, as for the rules, always wash your hands for twenty seconds, don't cross-contaminate anything, always wear an apron, and if you don't have a hat with you, then you'll be stuck with a hair net or bandana."
"Like hell I'm going to look like Renji and his stupid bandana." Ichigo growled at her, his eyebrows furrowing at her, but she just placed her hand on the door know.
"Oh cool it, I'll make sure you don't look like a red pineapple. You got everything?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"Good, then let's go." Rukia nodded opening the door to the cooking room and like usual they were greeted with the many countertops, sinks, and refrigerators covering the room. Ichigo didn't necessarily look well last time he was in the room, but now he was able to notice that everything seemed shiny and spotless.
The last time he was there, it was a mess, but this time, everything was in order with no mess in sight. As they walked in, Rukia led him to the back room, where students kept their backpacks and other things that don't belong in a kitchen. Not only were there some tables and chairs in the tan painted room, but there was also a washing machine and dryer with a neatly folded basket of aprons and towels sitting on top of the washing machine.
"Wow, imagine all the things you can do in here." Ichigo said slowly, sitting his backpack on the long table.
"You're a pervert." Rukia groaned, slamming her bag on a table and moving to grab some materials from the basket.
He looked at her, raising an orange eyebrow, "What? I didn't mean anything sexual by that. Just because there are long tables, many chairs, and a dryer, mean absolutely nothing." He blinked and looked around the room again, "actually never mind, now it's turning sexual."
"That's nice, please don't bring girls in here. I don't want to contaminate the room," Rukia tossed him a white apron, "put it on and sit."
He caught the apron with one hand and grimaced at it, "Do I really have to wear this?"
Rukia had just finished tying the thin strings of an apron covered in Chappies around her small waist twice before she looked at him, "Of course. You'll have food splatter across your shirt. I've tried going without an apron before and I got nothing out of it but a shirt that reeked of oil."
Ichigo placed his head through the strap of the apron and tied the strings behind his back before walking over to sit in a chair that Rukia pulled for him to sit in. He eyed her suspiciously before slowly sitting in the chair.
"What are you doing?"
"Making sure that your pretty orange hair doesn't go into the food, of course!" Rukia told him in her sugary tone, before patting his head as if he were a dog. She grabbed the bandana-like hair wrap from the table and preceded to place the main flap atop is head, tying it by the nape of his neck.
Every time Rukia touched his head, Ichigo fought himself, making sure that he didn't flinch under her touch. Every time it seemed as if her fingers were combing themselves through his hair, he found himself growing sleepy, wanting to fall asleep in the chair, but he managed to stay up.
"Don't fall asleep on me, Sleeping Beauty." Rukia whispered in his ear, teasing him as she let her hands travel down to his shoulders to give them a light squeeze. She could feel the strength of his shoulders under her hands and it made her wonder whether it was normal to have that much muscle in just one's shoulders.
Ichigo's chest tightened. He had to stop himself from leaning into her touch, but just as he was getting used to her hands on him, she retracted her hands and started coiling her hair into a bun before tying the bandana to her head.
"Shall we go?" Rukia asked, moving away from him and toward the door. He stood up and cracked his neck before following her back to the main area.
"What are we doing, Professor Kuchiki?" Ichigo asked, emphasizing the sounds in her name slowly.
"Well," Rukia started, pulling out various ingredients from racks, "I need to work on having patience today, so we're going to making bread bowls and clam chowder because those take a long time to make."
"Sounds gross," Ichigo commented, leaning against the counter as he eyed her small body moving about.
"I know you think it sounds good."
"Is that what you tell yourself to make yourself sleep at night?"
"No, not really. I mostly tell myself that Ichigo Kurosaki is an idiot." Rukia told him dumping an arm full of ingredients ranging from flour down to carrots and clams on one of the counters. She grabbed a large stock pot and placed it on the stove before dumping the clams inside.
"That isn't very nice. How long is this going to take anyway?" Ichigo asked as he peaked into the little gray clams sink to the bottom.
"As long as it needs to. The reason why I do this is so I can train myself to have more patience. Working with you and making a labor intensive meal just seem to work the best if I need some real discipline before a competition."
Ichigo hummed at her response as Rukia moved to what he supposed was for the bread bowls as she heated water and poured some weird packet of sand over it.
"What's that?" Ichigo asked her.
"What? Yeast? It makes the bread rise." Rukia told him as she measured out flour into a bowl.
"Isn't that some kind of infection?"
She looked at him with her large eyes and a disgusted looking face, "Ew. There will be no infections talked about in here."
"Well, those people on TV. are false advertising. I say we sue."
"There not the same thing!" Rukia snapped at him as she tossed a vegetable peeler in his direction across the counter, "Why don't you peel the carrots and celery instead of talking of yeast that has nothing to do with bread?"
"No need to get stingy," Ichigo told her as he washed off a carrot and started peeling it in one long peel.
"You can peel?" Rukia looked at his peeling skills with fasciation. She had to admit, to herself of course, that it was pretty good for someone who claims to have never stepped foot in a kitchen.
He finished the carrot and moved to another one, "Just because I don't know all these fancy-schmany words doesn't mean I don't know how to peel a carrot. On days my sister couldn't cook, I had to take over her job and in case those days ever popped up, she taught me how to do some basics things."
"Your sister must be good at cooking, then?" She inquired kneading her dough together, bits of white powder flying around as she worked the dough.
"Of course, when our mother died, my youngest sister got stuck doing all the chores that she used to do," Ichigo told her with a far off look in his eyes that told her he wasn't particularly paying attention to what he was doing, "Her twin can't cook, so she stepped back and I can't cook very well because I lack the capabilities, so Yuzu's been doing all the motherly chores around the house."
Rukia hadn't known when she stopped kneading the bread. She was too engrossed in his story to pay any attention to what she was doing. She knew his mother died when he was really young, which meant his sisters lost their mother when they were even younger.
"I'm sorry, Ichigo." She looked at him with softened eyes as he shrugged her off, "It's fine, don't worry about it."
Secretly, Ichigo had been biting the inside of his cheek the entire time. Telling Rukia that was hard. It's not every day he goes spouting sob stories about his mother and sisters, but he felt he had to tell her because for some reason, he knew she would understand.
The two worked quietly for the next couple of hours as they baked bread bowls and painstakingly made the stock from the clams and take out every piece of meat from their little shells. The bickered, but it wasn't full blown, it was a quiet, sort of comfortable way that allowed them to pay attention to each other more without the loud atmosphere of constant expectations and society.
Like they were inside one of those little clams shells closed off from the rest of the world.
She noticed that when he tried to concentrate, his eyebrows would furrow and he would exactly get three little wrinkles going across his forehead or that when he was unsure of what to do, there would be a small twitch in his cheek. He noticed that when she was starting to get impatient, she would drum her fingers against the table top or take a deep breath when he got close to her.
Before they knew it, it was nearly three in the morning. Ichigo's eyes drooped slightly as he blinked to keep himself awake as Rukia dished out the chowder and bread bowls. She pulled up a stool next to his and placed his late night "snack" in front of him.
"Getting tired already? It's not even three yet." Rukia smirked at him as he crossed his arms at her.
"Sorry I'm not the master of staying awake till three in the morning cooking. If we were doing some kendo, I'm sure you'd be sleeping by now."
"Don't be so sure, five bucks I can last to at least three-thirty." She told him pointing her spoon at him as he laughed at her little joke.
"Yeah sure, when I'm practicing late, come down to the dojo. I'm the only one there. We could stay up all night if you like."
She rolled her eyes at him, "Just eat your chowder."
"I think I will. It smells gross by the way." Ichigo told her dipping his spoon into the smooth, white cream.
"Oh thank you. Best compliment I got all day. You need to go to manners school or something, there's not need to say that every time I feed you." This time she tapped him with her foot as he slid the spoon into his mouth.
Ichigo's heart stopped. His eyes widened and he was finding it hard to breathe. That taste… It was familiar. It was of something he had a long time ago.
"Umm, is it really bad this time?" Rukia asked him nervously, trying to get a better look at his face. As soon as he put that spoon in his mouth, he stopped moving like he saw Medusa and froze as soon as he looked in her beady eyes.
"W-Where did you learn how to cook, Rukia?" He stuttered quietly.
Rukia scratched her head, "I don't know, " she told him slowly, "Most of the stuff was self-taught, but I think this recipe wasn't. I can't remember very well, but there was this woman that used to come the Kuchiki Manor. She wasn't a maid or anything, she was mostly there to teach me some things in the kitchen. I learned quite a lot from her, but most of it's pretty blurry. Why?"
She never got an answer.
She never got an answer because before anymore was said, Ichigo's hand was around her wrist as he tugged her forward and slammed his mouth on to hers. It happened so fast, she wasn't sure how to react to it. Should she slap him? Kick him in the balls and see if he bleeds? Or kiss him back?
"Rukia." He whispered her name against her lips and she was thinking she would go with the latter option.
And she did.
She added more force as she felt him slowly drag his lips against hers in a slow fire licking against her lips. It was almost unbearable as she followed his lead. She could feel him trembling as he kissed her and it scared her because she knew she was trembling too.
Ichigo wasn't sure how he was feeling as he kissed her. His mind had went blank long ago and he was hoping she would put some color on it and she did, a color that matched her eyes, which were the last things he saw before he lost his mind. If this was how it felt to be with her, he'd never leave. When he said her name, she kissed him back and he was sure she felt the same way.
That or she sneaked some extra wine while he wasn't looking.
He moved against her more forcibly as he nibbled at her feathery bottom lip lightly. Her small hand tightened around his, holding back. She was going just as mad as he was, but he knew he couldn't let it escalate. It wasn't the right time.
When he pulled away from her, she almost whimpered. She wanted more and it scared her. There were plenty of things she could want, but not once had Ichigo been something on that list and now he was.
Rukia quickly turned her head away from, hiding her face with her hand as he turned to stare at the bowl of chowder with his elbows planted on the counter top. They stayed like that for a while until, Ichigo finally spoke.
"I should go. I'm sorry."
He was torn and he didn't know why. He heard her say his name, but he made a beeline for the other room, grabbed his stuff, and all but ran out the door.
"Shit." Rukia swore as she hit her head against the counter, burying her head with her arms.
So, umm here there it was! I'm sorry it wasn't very good, I'm trying to get back into it because I am sure this will get finished! I'm sorry that I've been gone for so long, it's shameful really and I'm super sorry! I'm also sorry for the grammatical errors, this wasn't the best chapter, but I hope it will work until I can get back into the story! I couldn't even remember what my story line was and I'm pretty sure it didn't go down this route! So, I may have to work for now until I can remember! I hope that you all continue reading though, I really sorry that I've been gone for something and I hope you all can forgive me! And thank you again for the reviews last chapter! I really do appreciate it and they help, so I hope you guys will continue to tell me!