It was hate at first sight when the Ichiruki pair first met. As we all know Rukia was hunting for Hollows when he strayed into Ichigo's home. Normal humans couldn't see Shinigamis like Rukia but Ichigo did. At first Rukia ignored him (she assumed she was invisible to him) the very pissed Ichigo kicked her from behind. Afterwards as Rukia was explaining her universe - the Shinigami, Plusses and Hollows - Ichigo was condescending and disbelieving. His disbelief compounded by his disdain towards her drawing angered Rukia (mostly the drawing) and bound him with a spell. It was the start of their crazy pairing.
Kuchiki Rukia saved Ichigo and his family with that she earned a place in his heart (uggghhhh lovespeak). Just how special? It is special enough for Kurosaki Ichigo to risk his neck and go to Soul Society, fight who ever it was who challenged him, and save her whether she likes it or not (Ichigo will save her whether Rukia remembers him or not). For a person he knew only for two months, it was a big deal. Orihime already knew that ever since they were in Soul Society and Ichigo was fighting Byakuya. Curiously, did you notice the way the Ichiruki pair interact with each other arouses jealously? The way they look out for each other and give glances. It was so much Ririn couldn't stand it (Bounto arc). Even though Nel didn't know Rukia and Ichigo well, Nel had a feeling and frankly asked Rukia what's her relationship with Ichigo (remember the GLARE, Nel gave to her?). It seems everyone but the Ichiruki pair notices their actions toward each other. Not to burst your bubble but Rukia denied any feelings for Ichigo when asked by his classmates. There was no denial to Nel as she was too DUMBFOUNDED to answer.
Sometimes actions speak louder than words. For the whole time, she was imprisoned all Rukia talk about was Ichigo. On the other hand, Ichigo could barely hide his sadness when Rukia chose to stay in Soul Society for a while - a week after Aizen's rebellion. The Ichiruki pair may argue a lot but the bond they have developed fighting Hollows together is strong. Their bond is so strong; some fans conclude its love. Is it? Are they in love or some people are just being mushy? So what will happen to the Ichiruki pair? Will they go the way of Kenshin and Kaoru? Will Ichigo receive chocolates from Rukia (in the Shinigami Cup not in the main arc of course! Where can you find chocolates in Hueco Mundo?) this Valentines? Will Renji or Orihime get in their way (BWAHAHAHA) and turn this anime into a Korean drama complete with a love square? I expect more meaningful exchanges and glances which could be interpreted either way, more heartfelt speeches between the pair, and more bad drawings from Rukia and more lumps for Ichigo. However, think positively Ichiruki supporters-even Kenshin and Kaoru got married in the end. Or write Tite Kubo. Joking aside, Believe!
Is it love then? I don't know. We'll see. Hopefully, it is as it adds another dimension to a great story.
Ichigo and Rukia are characters of the anime Bleach. I'm sure you know that but what is spectacular is weeks ago it toppled Watchmen to become the no.1 Graphic Novel in the US - not bad for a manga!