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Disclaimer: I don’t own Bleach, Harry Potter, or anything else. If I did, it would quickly become obvious due to the rise in insanity and fluff. Oh, yes, beware the utter fluff.


“Inoue…”

“Mm-hm…”

“Inoue?”


“That’s right… Pooh and Pi-tan…”


“Oi, Inoue!”

“The capital of England is London!” She cried as she bolted upright in her chair. However, she did so too quickly, and found herself staring up at the classroom ceiling. However, not one to be discouraged, she continued shouting. “The Raven was written by Edgar Allen Poe! CRUMPLE-HORNED SNORKACKS!”

A familiar orange head entered her line of sight, and Inoue Orihime thought vaguely that Kurosaki Ichigo’s face was even funnier upside-down, even though he wasn’t scowling. “What’s a crinkled-thorn snorlax?”

“Crumple-horned snorkack, Kurosaki-kun.” She informed him cheerfully. “And it’s… it’s…” she yawned. “…Actually, I don’t know what it is.”

Ichigo blinked as he helped her up. “Then why did you bring it up?”

“Bring what up?”

“Crumble-borned whatever.”

“What’s a Crumble-borned whatever?”

“How would I know?” The substitute shinigami regarded his friend with a slight frown. “Hey, did you hit your head when you fell?”

“Oh, don’t worry, I’ve got a really hard head!” Orihime assured him, waving her arms happily. “Not to mention that I’ve always been really sturdy, even when I was a kid I never got hurt or sick or—”

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

“No, really, I’m fine! Totally, completely—EEP!”

“Huh…” Ichigo wore a thoughtful expression, his hands gently feeling the back of her head. “You don’t seem to have any bumps…”

“K-Kurosaki-kun!” Orihime squeaked, her face a bright red.

After a few more seconds, Ichigo pulled away, still frowning. He raised his hand. “How many fingers am I holding up?”

“T-two.” She managed to stammer.

He blinked at her, then at his hand. He had three fingers raised.

“Um… just kidding?” She forced herself to laugh.

“I don’t think you have a concussion,” he announced after a long moment, “but there’s a reason my family has me sit in the corner whenever there’s an emergency at the clinic.”

“I’m fine, really I am!” The girl was still a bright red, however, there was something more forced about her energy then there

had been before he had spoken. His frown deepened.

“Try and take it easy for a while, just in case.” He said sternly. “Besides, this is the third time you’ve fallen asleep in class.”

“Asano-kun falls asleep more than three times a week.” Orihime pointed out, holding back a yawn. It wouldn’t do for him to get even more worried about her.

“I meant the third time today, Inoue.” The girl winced as she realized that he was right. Oops.

“I’m fine, Kurosaki-kun!” She protested. “Besides, Monday’s—”


“Tanabata.” He finished for her. As if Yuzu and his father would have let him forget, with how they were obsessing over the festival. “Which is all the more reason for you to get some rest while you can. What if you collapse during it?”

She hesitated. At the horrified expression on her face, Ichigo had to work very hard to quell the sudden guilt he was feeling. Damn, she could always do that to him without even trying…

Orihime, thankfully, didn’t notice the strange expression on her crush’s face. If she had, she would have immediately misdiagnosed him as being constipated and set about thrusting some of her homemade cures in his face. Since anything she cooked tended to contain an inordinate amount of squid, vinegar, and red bean paste, it wouldn’t have ended up. But she didn’t notice, being too busy realizing that Ichigo was right and that she really hadn’t been getting a lot of sleep as of late, so that disaster was averted. At least for the moment.

As to why she was so tired, Matsumoto Rangiku had developed a habit of bursting into her room at around one-thirty every morning, waving a sake bottle and declaring that she was up for a ‘night on the town.’ She couldn’t really tell the vice-captain no, partially because Matsumoto seemed so happy about it—or perhaps just very, very, very drunk?—but mostly due to the fact that she rarely got a chance to talk before literally being dragged off.

The festival of Tanabata was a mere three days away, and it was something that she’d been looking forward to all year. The celebration was always wonderful, and the story… something about it struck a chord deep in her heart. She’d always thought that it was because she was named for the princess in the tale, but now, looking at the orange-haired teen in front of her, she wasn’t quite as sure.

She really didn’t want to miss it. Not to mention that she did have a certain wish she wanted to make this year…


… But she couldn’t let him worry about her. He had enough to worry about already, what with all of his Hollow fighting he did and the threats to the existance of the universe that seemed to pop up on a bi-weekly, if not daily, basis that he was usually the only one who could manage to stop.

Besides, it was only a bit of sleep deprivation. She’d seen—and healed—worse.

“I’m—” she caught his stern look and quickly amended her words, “I’ll be fine, Kurosaki-kun. Please don’t worry.”

He eyed her suspiciously for another minute, but seemed to believe her. “Alright.”

Orihime gave a mental sigh of relief. It wasn’t that she hadn’t liked Kurosaki-kun worrying about her; it was that she hadn’t like the fact that she’d liked it. She didn’t want people to worry about her, even—especially—if that person was her crush, because then she just felt like a burden.

But since she had kind of enjoyed Ichigo’s concern—okay, so maybe it had been more than just kind of—she felt sad, embarrassed, happy, hopeful, guilty, and tired, all at the same time. The result was a weird feeling not unlike the time she had eaten all of those candy rocks and washed them down with all of those soft drinks, only without the hiccupping and—

“I’m walking you home, though, just in case.”

And the feeling that she had decided to call sad-embarrass-happy-hopeful-guilty-tiredness-ment was back, only a lot worse. Or maybe better? It was bubblier, in any case. She had no idea whether or not that was a good thing, despite the fact that her exhaustion had all but vanished.

So should I call it sad-embarrass-happy-hopeful-guiltiness-ment now? She wondered. Or maybe I should shorten it… semhhgness-ment? Nah… shemghness-ment? Or maybe just shemgh-ment. Yeah, that sounds better… wait a second…

It was then that her mind finished registering what he had said and went haywire. Just like the robot that she imagined her future self to be, although she hoped that her electronic mind wouldn’t do that, and he was looking at her and he still looked concerned and he seemed to be getting even more worried by the moment and oh nonono.

“Um,” She managed to say, despite her tongue feeling as though it had tied itself into a perfect sailors knot. Or maybe a pirate had done it…

By the time she had stopped blushing over the mental image of Ichigo and Jack Sparrow sword fighting atop of the mast of a huge ship, it was too late to argue with the substitute shinigami.

Not that she was sure she wanted to…


“What are you doing?”

Matsumoto Rangiku let out a yelp, whirling around to level an accusing glare at… empty air. Hastily, she directed her gaze at a spot quite a bit lower. “You almost made them come out!”

“Made what come out?” The second those words left his mouth, Hitsugaya Toshirou realized that, knowing his vice-captain, he probably didn’t want to know.

She told him anyways. “My breasts, of course!”

“Okaaay…” He scrambled to get off of the thin, thin ice he was skating. “I repeat: what are you doing? And don’t change the subject this time.”

“Change the subject? Me?” She was terrible at faking innocence, especially for someone who bragged about being the best poker player in the seireitei.

He had doubted her, once, but it hadn’t taken him long to learn the error of his assumption. One game with her, and he found himself… well, let’s just say that he had a hard time living it down. Kyoraku Shunsui retelling the tale every time he got drunk—in other words, every five minutes—wasn’t much help. But he had others things to worry about at the moment, as strange as that may sound.

“I’m hurt, taichou, I really am.” She was saying. “Don’t you trust me?”

“No.” He said flatly. “Now answer the question, Matsumoto.”

She changed tactics. “What makes you think I’m doing anything?”

“You’ve been standing there for the past five minutes, looking through those binoculars. And you’ve been cackling the entire time.”

“Hitsugaya-taichou, you should’ve told me you wanted to use them!” She grabbed a second pair out of nowhere, shoved them into her captains hand, and was pushing him in front of the window before he could so much as blink. “Alright! Now, your first lesson is to pick your target carefully…”

“Huh?” He managed to say, the very image of the boy genius that he was so often said to be.

“Don’t ‘huh’ me, taichou!” Matsumoto nudged him and winked. He was getting a bad feeling about this. A very bad feeling. “Now hurry up and look there—that’s it, right there!—perfect! What do you think?”

Hitsugaya looked, looked again, and then, after nearly a full minute of looking, realized what he was seeing and spent the next thirty seconds wondering why there was a voice in the back of his head telling him that what he was seeing was Not Good, when the rest of him said that it was, in fact, Good. Very, very, very…

…Oh.


OH.

GAH!He threw the binoculars across the room. “Matsumoto! WHAT THE HELL?!”

“Aw, taichou, there’s no need to be shy.” Rangiku was a demon in disguise, he was sure of it! “Look, she wants you to come back!”

“She—SHE SAW ME?”

“Well, I’m pretty sure that she heard you, at least.”

“SHE HEARD ME?”

“If she didn’t before, she did just now. Hey, she’s waving!”

“What are you—she’s not waving, you drunkard, she’s flipping… hey, hold on a second…” The captain of the Tenth Division paled, his eyes widening in what could only be fear. “IS THAT KUROSAKI’S SISTER?!”

“…You know what, taichou, I think it is!” Matsumoto replied cheerfully after squinting through the window for a moment. She waved. “Ohaiyo, Karin-chan!”

“I’m doomed.” Hitsugaya moaned, and keeled over in a dead faint.

His vice-captain blinked down at him for a moment, and then smirked and gave Karin a thumbs-up. The dark-haired girl gave one back as she pulled out her previously hidden binoculars.

Both promptly went back to watching the main attraction.

“Is it just me, or does it feel like we’re being watched?” Ichigo asked with a slight frown.

“Um…” Orihime struggled not to rub her eyes. “…Yes?”

He stared at her for a moment. “What did I just ask?”

“Um…Yes?” The brunette attempted weakly, before losing her battle with exhaustion and yawning. Even being walked home by her crush wasn’t enough to beat back her exhaustion forever, as she was swiftly learning.

Ichigo could only shake his head in exasperation. “Seriously, Inoue, when was the last time you got any sleep?”

“Today in class.” She replied, blinking up at him half quizzically and half blearily. All cutely, though.

Wait a second… where did that come from?! More to distract himself than anything else, Ichigo quickly focused on the conversation at hand. “I meant at night. You know, when you’re supposed to sleep?”

“Um…” Orihime frowned, coming to a stop as she mentally counted.

“If you have to think about it, then I don’t think that I want to know.” Ichigo cut in after nearly a full minute. “What’s going on? Is there something wrong?”

“No,” she shook her head, smiling a bit too widely. “Everything’s great, really!”


“Obviously not great enough for you to be sleeping.” He pointed out

“But if I didn’t go with her, then Rangiku-san would be all alone and she’d get lost or arrested again—”

“Arrested? Again?” The orange-haired teen nearly stopped in his tracks, although a little voice in the back of his head—and no, it wasn’t his Inner Hollow, or even Zangetsu—remarked that he really shouldn’t have been that surprised. It was Matsumoto that they were talking about, after all. “Nevermind, I’m not sure I want to know.”

She said nothing, and he winced internally, wondering if he had come off as rude. Okay, damage control time.

“But look, try to get some sleep, okay?” He told her firmly, but gently. “Sick her on Hitsugaya if you have to. Or sick Hitsugaya on her, but I don’t think that would work as well.”

There was still no reply, and Ichigo frowned. He hadn’t hurt her feelings, had he? His sisters—and his dad, but he didn’t matter—were always telling him that he was an idiot when it came to emotions, but he hadn’t meant to—

He turned around, and saw her leaning against the nearest wall, her eyes closed. “Inoue?”

She snored softly, and he sweatdropped. And then a tiny, almost imperceptible smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “Inoue…”

“I fell asleep?” Orihime’s voice was little more than a squeak, and her face was a hue not unlike that of a tomato.

“Yup!” Matsumoto wore an evil little grin. “And then he carried you all the way up here!”

“Oh no…” The girl moaned, burying her head in her hands.

“And he said that he wanted to see you at that tanatada—”

“Tanabata?”

“Yeah, that’s it! Anyways, he told me to tell you that he wants to meet you there to see if you’re feeling any better.” The grin, if it were possible, grew even more villainous. “It was so romantic!”

Orihime, however, looked anything but happy. “Now he’ll never see me as anything more than a burden…

The fukutaichou snorted. “Orihime-chan, you brought him back from the dead.”

“I think he was dying, not dead—”

“That’s not the point!” Matsumoto retorted. “You’ve saved his life, how could he see you as dead weight? No pun intended.”

“I guess…” She still sounded doubtful, and wouldn’t look up to meet her friends eyes.

But she was agreeing, and that was at least the first step to it being the important thing, and, in the shinigami’s opinion, that warranted a celebration. Or at least sake. Lots and lots of sake.

“Now that that’s settled, let’s go!” The vice-captain leapt to her feet. “There’s this new bar that I’m just dying to try out… and that time, the pun was definitely intended.”

“But Rangiku-san, I’m underage!” The girl protested, even as she was literally dragged out the door. “And Kurosaki-kun—”

Matsumoto’s grin was nothing if not shark-like. “I won’t tell if you don’t!”

There was a certain strange heaviness in the air, an odd, indescribable weight that pressed upon anyone and everyone, no matter their age, intelligence, or spiritual awareness. Kurosaki Karin scowled. “I guess the weatherman was right for once.”

“About what, Karin-chan?” Yuzu turned towards her sister, confused.

“It looks like it’s about to rain.”

“No!” The brunette twin wrung her hands worriedly, peering up at the overcast night sky. “It can’t!”

“It can,” the darker-haired girl replied, “and I’m betting you that it will.”

“But it’s Tanabata!”

“That it is.” Karin affirmed.

“It can’t rain on Tanabata!” Yuzu protested. “What about poor Orihime and Hikoboshi?”

“I guess they’ll have to wait another year.” The soccer player covered her ears in anticipation of her sisters’ response.

“But it’s Tanabata!” The girl wailed again, as though that answer alone could beat back the weather.

Karin sighed. At least, she reflected, Goat-Chin wasn’t around to generally act like an idiot and attract even more staring than they already had. He had gone off looking for Ichigo, who had vanished pretty early on in the festival.

Come to think of it, where is Ichi-nii? It had been over an hour since they’d last seen the strawberry.

“Hey, Karin-chan, look!” Apparently, Yuzu had forgotten about the impossibility of rain in favor of something else. “Isn’t that Tatsuki-chan?”

“What?” Maybe she knew where Ichigo had wandered off too! “Where? Tatsuki!”

The karate champion looked around, noticed them waving, and hurried over. Karin lost no time in getting to the point. “Have you seen Ichi-nii?”

“No, sorry,” Tatsuki shook her head. “I was just looking for Orihime, myself. I haven’t seen her all night.”

“Same with our brother.” Yuzu commented. A few seconds passed in relative silence, and then her eyes widened. “You don’t think…?”

“No way.” The older dark-haired girl said with a snort, “Orihime’s supposed to be with those new roommates of hers.”

“Karin-chan!” Suddenly, Karin was being suffocated by… something. She wasn’t quite sure what, probably because she couldn’t breathe, but she knew that there was something familiar about it…

“Matsumoto…” And there was something very familiar about that growl.

“Taijou, yer—hic!—such a pru—hic!—pru—hic!—virgin.” Her captor slurred.

“Matsumoto.”

“Aw, lookit—hic!—Karin-chan, taichou’s all—hic!—red!” The drunk woman squealed. “Izzn’ he so—hic!—cute ya jus’ wanna—hic!—squeeze ‘im? Hic! Hic!”

The temperature dropped. “Matsumoto!”

“I know! Hic! We’ll jump ‘im! He couldn’t—hic!—‘andle uz both. Hic! Ne, Karin-chan?”

“Can’t… breathe…”

The temperature dropped even lower, and all those present could see their own breath. “Ma. Tsu. Mo. To.”

“What’d I—hic!—tellya, Karin-chan?” The shinigami grumbled as she released her captive. “Such a—hic!—virgin. Ser’usly, taichou—hic!—I gotta get ya la—hic!—la—hic!—de-virginified or what—hic!—ever.”

Karin was too busy trying to catch up on lost air to reply. Tatsuki raised an eyebrow. “I take it you’ve met.”

“Tatsuki-chan!” Tatsuki may have been a black belt, but nothing can stop a drunk Matsumoto. Especially not when she was intent on hugging—or rather, suffocating—someone.

NOTHING.

“Karin-chan!” Yuzu had gotten over her shock, at least enough to start poking her sister. “Karin-chan, who’re they?”

“Oh,” Karin shot a quick look at the duo. Slight slouch, perpetual scowl, white hair… slurred words, giggling, hugging everyone within arms reach… crap. They looked like a punk and a crazy woman. Not exactly what she wanted to tell her younger sister, but she couldn’t tell her the truth either. Especially not in front of Tatsuki—who would probably either kill her or want to join in. “Um…”

“They’re Orihime’s roommates.” Tatsuki supplied, having somehow managed to escape Matsumoto’s death grip.

So that’s why she was so eager to help! Karin’s eyebrows shot up. Not to mention that this probably means that Orihime’s involved in all of this shinigami stuff too…

Judging from the Look that Hitsugaya was giving her, her hunch was right on the money.

“Hey, hold on!” Tatsuki suddenly cut in. “Is that Ichigo?”

“Where?” Karin asked. She, Yuzu, and Hitsugaya immediately started looking around. The older dark-haired girl pointed, and they saw a bright orange head bobbing around in the crowd, along with a darker one. It was hard to make out the exact color, but…

No way. The members of the group—even the two would-be matchmakers—exchanged a startled look.

Hitsugaya frowned. “Isn’t that—”

“Orihime-chan!” Matsumoto squealed. “Heeeeeey—hic!—Orihime-chan! Ichigo!”

Neither of them paused, or showed any sign of having heard her, despite the sheer volume that Matsumoto was capable of employing. The fukutaichou frowned, still swaying slightly on the spot. “Well, that was rude… hic!”

Karin rolled her eyes. “Come on.”

“Did you hear that?” Orihime glanced around, frowning slightly, and then looked up at her companion. “Kurosaki-kun?”

“Hear what?”

“…Nothing.” She rubbed her eyes.

Since she had made the mistake of yawning—Rangiku hadn’t stopped dragging her around town throughout the entire weekend, so she was still exhausted—he had refused to leave her side. It was making her feel all shemgh-ed again, but with the way that the faces in the crowd all wore smiles and the air was full of laughter, she was starting to relax a bit. Although if she were being more honest with herself, she would say that the excitement she felt at being so close to Ichigo was starting to wear off and the results of a total of four hours—and twenty-two minutes—of sleep in the past week were starting to kick in.

“So, what did you wish for?” She asked, forcing a smile onto her face not unlike that of someone who isn’t a morning person trying a bit too hard to be one.

He shrugged. “Nothing yet.”

“Nothing?” She gasped, “but it’s Tanabata! You have to make a wish!”

“Fine,” he acquiesced, “I wish for—”

“You don’t say your wish and you know it!” Orihime admonished. Then her eyes widened as she realized that she had yelled at her—oblivious—crush. But before she could apologize, he was grinning at her.

“Then why’d you ask me what it was?”

“You’re right!” She gasped. “I’m sorry, Kurosaki-kun! Now your wish won’t come true!”

“That’s a birthday superstition. Besides, I didn’t make one.” He reminded her, then hastily added “yet.”

She smiled, and he couldn’t help but feel as though he were staring at the sun. “Then let’s make ours together.

“Got you!” Karin shouted, and then paused. “…What the heck? You’re not Ichi-nii! And you’re not… you’re a guy?!”

“I need to throw up.” Hitsugaya announced before fleeing for his life—or at least, his sanity.

“Right behind you.” Karin called after him. “Come on, Yuzu, let’s… Yuzu?”

Her sister was foaming at the mouth and staring at the two half-dressed men, who stared back in slight fear. Karin acted without even bothering to think about it, and dragged the protesting girl away with no slight difficulty.

Hey… where’d Matsumoto and Tatsuki go?

“Are they asleep?”

She is. He’s up, and glaring at us, as you can see for yourself.”

“Excellent.”

Tatsuki narrowed her eyes. “When did you sober up?”

“If it’s a choice between meddling and sobriety,” Matsumoto told her, “then I will choose meddling every time. It is my duty to help the world find true love!”

“You ran out of sake money, didn’t you?” The dark-haired girl was very shrewd.

“That too.” The vice-captain admitted. “But we’ve got more important things to talk about!”

“What the heck are you two doing?” Ichigo finally snapped, scowling.

“Reaping the benefits of a successful mission.” They replied in smug unison.

“You—” The substitute shinigami growled, starting to get to his feet. However, a soft sigh made him freeze.

Orihime was sleeping. And using his shoulder as a pillow. She was also drooling on it, slightly, but that was beside the point. It was even kind of cu—okay, now that was even more beside the point, even though by now he’d pretty much forgotten what the point was.

What was it again?

Oh, yeah. Orihime. Sleep deprivation. Probably due to the idiots smirking at him—Tatsuki, he belatedly remembered, had practically ordered him to stay behind and make sure Orihime was okay when she had fallen asleep last class—who he was going to kill the second he got a chance.

But anyway, Orihime was sleeping now, and he couldn’t wake her up, because she really needed the rest. And it had absolutely nothing to with how warm his shoulder felt with her leaning on it.

Nope, nothing at all.

Nada.

Zip, zero, zilch.

If only those two sniggering at him would realize that. He’d have to pound it into them later. Well, he’d have to pound it into the vice-captain—there was no way he was crazy enough to take on his childhood sparring partner.

“Now, my dear apprentice,” Matsumoto began dramatically, holding out her hand. “Did you bring it?”

“Right here. And I thought that Karin was your apprentice.”

She’s in on this too?

“She is, but she’s not here right now. And Ichigo…” Ihat sing-song voice was never a good sign. “Say cheese!”

“You…” The strawberry paled. “You wouldn’t dare!”

Click.

Oh, yes, she would most definitely dare. Especially with how, due to Orihime’s exhaustion, he couldn’t do a thing to stop her.

Tatsuki smirked as Matsumoto started cackling maniacally, but soon grew bored and found her gaze wandering… to a particularly tall bamboo shoot. There were two slips of paper tied to it.

While the others were distracted, she ambled over to see what was written on them. After a few moments, one eyebrow shot up, quickly followed by the other.

Figures, she thought with a slightly exasperated smile. That’s just like them…

“Ooh, what’s that?” Matsumoto, she decided, could move insanely quietly for someone barely this side of sober. Tatsuki quickly turned, and, when she saw the look on Ichigo’s face. It was half tell-and-die-a-very-painful-death-followed-by-another-even-more-agonizing-one and half please-don’t-tell-please-don’t-tell-for-the-love-of-Kami-sama-I’m-begging-you-please-please-please-don’t-tell.

Never let it be said that Arisawa Tatsuki didn’t hold within her at least a shred of mercy. It may be true, but she’d beat you twenty-seven feet deep into the ground for it. However, she did happen to have a predilection for blackmail.

“It’s nothing,” she told her partner-in-crime, and then, in a lower voice that Ichigo couldn’t make out, “now, don’t you have an appointment with that newspaper?”

“Oh, yeah!” The fukutaichou bolted, and the dark-haired girl smirked at her childhood friend.

“You know, Ichigo…” She began. “It’s interesting how you and Orihime had the same wish.”

His mouth dropped open, and the sleeping girl nuzzled his neck a little more. If it were possible, the orangette’s blush grew deeper. And above them, the clouds cleared away, to show the stars and the moon shining brighter than ever.

It didn’t rain after all.

By the next day, every hallway of Karakura High School and every newspaper in the Seireitei featured a very large picture of a blushing, scowling Ichigo being cuddled by an unconscious Orihime. And, to the surprise of both—and the horror of Chizuru, Keigo, and Kon—they had somehow become an official couple without even dating.

Not that either complained, after the shock wore off… although Ichigo could be heard saying that he had no clue what shemgh-ment was.