A red rose and a white rose tied together with a golden silk ribbon, for Henry and Monica Swinton;
A tiny pink rosebud and a thick thorny stem without any blossoms at all for Kenpachi Zaraki and Yachiru
A rose so dark a red that it is almost maroon, with heavy thorns hidden under its lush green leaves, and a brighter red rose with few thorns, tied together with a delicate silver chain, for the Merovingian and Neo
A twig of pink and a twig of white wild roses, with thick, brambly stems, bound together with a red velvet cord, for Phedre no Delaunay and Melisande Shahrizai.
A small blue rose and a white and yellow daisy tied together with a big blue ribbon for David and Teddy
A small black rosebud for Rukia Kuchiki
"Shinigami Sweet Shop"
by "Matrix Refugee"
DISCLAIMER: I do not own "Bleach", it's characters, concepts or other indicia, which are the property of Tite Kubo, Masashi Kudo, Shueisha, Shonen Jump, TvTokyo, Studio Pierrot, et al. I also don't own the rumpled-looking shinigami who ducks in at the end, either...
Rating: PG (brief freakish humor)
Author's Note: A bit of an in-joke in the title: it's actually the name of a Yami no Matsuei gallery website, but I figured I'd borrow it as a teasing nickname for "Mr. Hat-and-Clogs"'s odd little shop. Probably set somewhat early on in the series.
The string of bells on the door to Uruhara's shop jangled as Rukia entered the shadowy, somewhat untidy store. The shop supplied necessaries to shinigami of all stripes who passed through Karakura, but it fronted as a quaint little store that sold candy, herbal remedies, and knickknacks to the locals and tourists passing through. Thus the shelves and bins that lined the walls held a jumble of notions which Uruhara had brought in to sell and pay the rent on the building to its human owners.
She usually didn't pay much attention to the rest of the stock, but today, something caught her eye: a bin just inside the door containing several red boxes shaped almost like strawberries, or -- if she squinted -- like stylized human hearts.
"I see you found the Valentine's Day candy," Uruhara said, approaching her.
"What are these for?" she asked, puzzled.
"You're still new to the human world and their strange little customs," he said, sticking his hands inside his sleeves. "Well, February 14th has been set aside as a day for a soppy marketing ploy: girls give these little boxes of milk or dark chocolate candy to their male co-workers or male students in their class, then a month later on March 15th, or White Day, the guys are supposed to return the favor by giving them white chocolate."
"But why is the box shaped like a heart?" she asked. She had grown accustomed to some of the strange things that humans did, but putting chocolate candy in a box shaped more or less like an internal organ left her unsettled. It seemed like the kind of sick joke that the captain of Squad 12 would pull off.
"That's because the heart is supposed to be the source of love and romance, the sort of things Valentine's Day is supposed to be about," Uruhara said, folding his arms on his chest. "But it's also a day for jealousy and disappointment and other delights."
"It doesn't sound very pleasant," Rukia said.
Uruhara shrugged and turned away. "It's all well and good if you've found someone you care about. But for anyone who's walking the line between the world of the living and the Soul Society, that's a whole other matter."
A few moments later, as Rukia headed out with a week's supply of Soul Candy in her pocket, she passed by Ururu, who was sweeping the entryway.
"Are you going to come back soon and buy a Valentine for Ichigo?" the tiny girl asked, looking up at her and leaning on her broom. "I think he'd like it."
"I don't think so: is it really necessary that I do that?" Rukia asked.
"No, but I think he likes you a lot, and I think you like him, too," Ururu said. "That's why you stayed here so long, isn't it?"
"I stayed because I've been teaching him how to use the powers of a Soul Reaper," Rukia replied, but she knew that Ururu had seen past this excuse and seen the feelings and thoughts Rukia had kept hidden, even from her own self.
"But don't real friends do things for each other that aren't really necessary?" Ururu asked.
She wasn't sure how a cheap box of chocolates fit in with being friendly with a human, but if that was part of it and if she couldn't avoid it, she wasn't about to do anything that would make her stand out as anything but a normal human girl, at least in front of Ichigo's classmates.
She turned back and going right for the bin of chocolate boxes, she picked one up.
"So you changed your mind?" Uruhara said, the faintest shadow of a genuine smile showing through his usual inscrutable smirk for a moment.
"It's part of blending in with the rest of Ichigo's classmates," Rukia said, fishing in the pocket of her dress for a coin.
Uruhara waved it aside. "No charge," he said.
"Huh?" She looked up at him, puzzled.
He shrugged one shoulder. "You heard me: no charge," he said, shrugging and walking away, smiling to himself. For once, Rukia caught herself feeling a bit irritated by that smile, but she wasn't about to let that get to her. Or let herself feel embarrassed that he'd seen through her.
She headed out, almost colliding with a tall, rumpled-looking shinigami from the Ministry of Hades who scurried in, the tails of his black trenchcoat askew.
"Whoops, sorry, Miss," he said, stepping aside with a smile and a bow.
"It's all right," Rukia murmured, hurrying past him. The last thing she wanted to do was blush in front of one of those paper-pushers: she'd had enough embarrassment for one day.