When they were together, Rukia always had a really bad habit of hogging the blankets. It didn’t matter how they would start out, she would twist and pull and eventually end up cocooned in a mountain of quilts and sheets. It probably had something to do with self-preservation and left over instincts from the Rukongai, because she never remembered in the morning and always vehemently denied everything despite the evidence wrapped around her pointing to the contrary.
Eventually, Ichigo had solved the problem by holding her through the entire night. Rukia had struggled at first and mumbled about personal space and boundaries even though they’d been sleeping together by that point, but in the end Ichigo could always tell when she would relent by the way her whole body uncoiled against his, a pliant sleepiness that made her do things like thread her fingers through his hair as she slept or press so close that he could feel every one of her inhales and exhales across his skin.
It was a good compromise; he got to keep his blankets, and Rukia got to stay warm.
And in return he got to hold her, and rub light circles against her back and even stare at her sleeping face sometimes without any painful repercussions. Ichigo got to see her relaxed and unguarded in a way that he was pretty sure no one else ever had.
He would trade a lifetime of uncomfortably hot summer nights and then another lifetime of frigid winters if it meant he could hold her like that again, that his last memory of Rukia in his arms wasn’t her body lying cold and still and bleeding red.
Ichigo would go through hell and back for her, would chase her to the ends of the Earth if he had to, but there were some places where even he couldn’t follow.
He wakes up, and it’s to another day of being alone.