Disclaimer and notes: No, I don't own Bleach, and if anyone asks, the timeline in this fic is shot to hell. Let's just say it takes place in one of those all-too-handy little pockets in our world where time and space have no meaning. This will be a short fic, and mostly I'm just hell-bent on exploring Ichigo's and Rukia's relationship and respective characters, so don't expect Ichigo to release a Bankai anytime soon.

EDIT: Reads way better now. Enjoy.

EDIT 02: Reads even better(?) Less plot holes now definitely. …But who cares XD

To the Wind
By AdventWing

Rukia hadn't been here long, but she prided herself over gaining a quick and concise understanding of the life of an average teenage student.

Her research materials were easily accessible, detailed, and quickly consumed.

What were her research materials you ask?

…Television, Magazines, Books, and Manga, of course.

So, yes, Rukia took great pride in her achievements, and that pride was not unfounded. She didn't want to brag, but…she had single-handedly perfected the "Mysterious Transfer Student" persona.

Crafting the right personality was a difficulty of course…but in the end, her instincts had settled on what Ichigo liked to call 'Kuchiki Rukia! (sparkles)'.

The results were as you see. Total integration into the High School, with no suspicions as to her true nature.

Yeah. Great pride.

So, whenever a situation resulted in less than favourable circumstances due a lack of knowledge on her part, to react badly was a knee-jerk thing.

"…Rukia. Just what were you thinking?"

And well, Ichigo too, hadn't been here long. 15 years is far too short a time to make one a Sage.

"…You…really…should have asked me first." He said as he stared at the forms in his hands with an almost tangible air of dismay. "…I mean really."

…Yet at this point, he felt himself to be infinitely smarter than Rukia.

"Just fill them up." She grabbed a pen from the side of his desk.

"…Why?" he mumbled.

"What? I can't hear you." She placed the point of her pen on one sheet, poised to begin.

Ichigo was suddenly there, his hand grabbing her wrist. She looked up and frowned at a twitch of his right eyebrow, resolving to tell him about it at a later date. It was getting worse all month.

"Rukia…why..." A pause. "…Why…didn't you ask me first?"

Rukia smiled smugly. She would have been the poster girl of self-confidence, if it weren't for that sweatdrop making its way down the side of her face.

"…For what? As if one should hesitate when given an educational opportunity." She did not want to admit this was a mistake.

Especially to Ichigo.

Yet.

"…Educational." Ichigo echoed. "…Educational." He repeated. His eyebrows scrunched together in disgust. "Who fed you that line and where does he live?"

Rukia glared at him pointedly. "I believe it will be so. No one told me to say that."

Ichigo stared at her flatly. "Really?"

"Really." She replied stiffly, turning back to the form.

Ichigo let out a groan. He was in too much despair to get out of the anger-denial loop.

Maybe later.

"…You filled out the initial forms?"

Rukia nodded stiffly, her expression the same. "…Yes."

"You filled it out perfectly? No chance of any mistakes?"

She nodded again, if possible, even more stiffly. "…No. No chance."

"…No chance that they'll return or revoke your request?"

"…No. I signed a…a contract." Her façade slipped, and she sunk onto the table with a moan.

"…A what? A contract? Do you know what that is?"

"…Yes."

"THEN YOU'RE A MORON!"

Her fist met his chin with a sharp crack.

--

Home Economics was a new subject in school, pioneered by the one and only Evil Head of Home Economics, a friend and schoolmate of the school's principal. Over drinks one day, they had discussed its potential as a subject. The Principal was impressed. There was one very important problem. The subject was not taken very seriously by most of the student population. After all, most had no intention of raising a family (yet?), so why the hell should they LEARN how to raise one?

In order to keep attendance up, The Evil Home Economics Director (Who was actually a mad scientist, but was so obsessed with Home Economics that he majored in both when he went to University) got an idea. And, since the Principal himself was a strange, partially senile old coot, he agreed.

When the announcement came out; that two people, no matter their gender, would be chosen to spend a week in a house to replicate married life, two things happened. A sizable portion of the school squealed, and the other half went: "WHAT THE HELL?"

Of course, Rukia hadn't heard that. All she heard was this:

"The two students, as they will be part of the experiment and will no doubt learn from it, will receive special recommendations in their Home Economics grade for the rest of their education in this school."

Here are the facts: Rukia was failing Home Ec. Actually; she was failing everything except Japanese Literature (Which she excelled at) and Math (Which was one of the subjects being tutored to her by Ichigo).

And so, while girlfriends were grabbing their boyfriends and attempting to drag them to the stand, and while boyfriends, seeing an opportunity to get lucky, started searching for their girlfriends, and while the other bloody portion of the student body weighed the pros and cons of going for it, Kuchiki Rukia simply marched up to the stand and filled out a form.

The fact that Ichigo was failing Home Ec too, cemented his place as her partner in her mind.

After all, they already live together. What was the big deal?

…When she found out about the marriage part, it took all her willpower and more not to flip.

--

Rukia frowned. "Okay fine, so I made a slight error in judgment. It's no problem."

Ichigo glared. "Idiot. Do I look like a loving husband to you?"

A familiar cracking of knuckles filled the air. "Well, dear, you'd better start acting like one."

Ichigo moved his jaw a little. It still hurt, so not retorting as wise.

Flopping on the bed irritably with a soft tch of irritation, it was a bit before he spoke again. "…So, how am I gonna break this to my family?"

She looked up and blinked. "Easy."

--

"Hajimemashita! I'm Kuchiki Rukia, and I will be your son's wife for a week! It's great to meet you!"

Isshin jaw dropped to the floor. "Ichigo…! Th-THIS SWEET YOUNG GIRL IS YOUR PARTNER?" Sparkles helped to enhance the serene smile on Rukia's face, and she laughed in embarrassment at the compliment.

"…Yeah." Ichigo deadpanned, watching 'Kuchiki Rukia! (sparkles)' work his family. "And stop screaming."

Isshin was at her side in an instant. "My dear, I am Ichigo's unworthy father. If I may, you are a vision of—"

Ichigo grabbed his father's shirt and glared. "Oi, bastard! What the hell are you—"

"Wow, we have the same taste in clothes! I have a dress that looks exactly like that!"

"…Really?" Rukia asked lightly.

Yuzu smiled brightly. "It's wonderful that we share the same taste! I'm sure you'll take good care of Onii-san!"

Karin eyed Rukia with a calculated look. "Hmmm."

Rukia swallowed quietly. Here was the real test. After all, Karin was a sharp one. Her eyes narrowed, and the two held their breath. She suddenly whirled to face Ichigo.

"…It took you long enough, Ichi-nii." She grinned.

--

"See?"

Ichigo groaned; a cold, wet towel pressed against his face. "That was incredibly embarrassing. I'd rather take on Hollows."

Rukia rolled her eyes, but silently agreed. "I read from a very reliable source that if the family of a spouse accepts the marriage, half the battle is won."

Ichigo paused. A reliable source...

...meaning manga.

"It could've been worse," she said, sitting beside him.

"…Yeah."

"…And since we don't have to worry about my family…"

Rukia's family…I wonder what are they're like?

Her voice tuned out.

She's never talked about them. Should I even care what they're like?

Do Shinigami even have family?

"…Right? Ichigo?

What the hell? I shouldn't care. If Rukia doesn't want to talk about it, then I'm not going to think about it.

Wham! "Pay attention."

"Bitch!" He ground out nasally, clutching his nose.

And if they're anything like her…!

--

"Okay, explain to me again."

Ichigo frowned. "You're being exceptionally slow."

"I want to make sure I get it!"

"Okay! …As you know, we are exempted from a week of school."

"Yeah. Meaning, tomorrow, the two of us are going to be placed in a house. We are expected to be a married couple there."

"Right, married. In case you FORGOT, like you completely IGNORED what the Director was saying," he chastised sarcastically.

Ichigo watched her suspiciously. She was thinking seriously again. She had that cute little frown of concentration that was a little different from the one she wore when she was thinking about something life-threatening. "What now?" He asked, his voice devoid of malice. She sometimes had the ability to suck it out of him like that. …And the ability to inject it in litres…

"…Nothing. Continue."

Ugh, what now? She thought furiously. Ichigo doesn't seem to think this is such a big deal. I thought we could come up with a way to avoid this…but…he seems to want to marry me. Dammit. I was hoping he'd start a whole "Who would marry you" speech but he hasn't even voiced real opposition to the idea… She forced the glowing warmth in her face down. Insane. She couldn't. I can't.

"…I can't do this." She tried to keep the edge to her voice out.

"-and we can only go out of the house during planned— what?"

"I can't do this." She said, placing a little more emphasis on the words. "I'm sorry." She said. "It was my mistake. I…I can't do this."

"You can't…?" he snorted derisively. "Well, moron, you sure as hell are going to try."

"No. You don't understand. I can't." It was more than the fact that she was Shinigami and he was mortal. The poise needed to be a wife, the strict codes and rituals, the manners, how to host guests, I don't know them! I'd have to be like…Aniki-sama's wife…and there's no way I could act like her! There's no way….

"So what if she looks like her? She'll never be half the woman she was. She was a diamond in the rough. That girl…Rukia is trash."

"Oi." He snapped his fingers. "Rukia."

"I asked you this question before. Does it look like I'd make a loving husband?"

She nodded.

"What did you say?"

"I said…you'd better start acting like one…but you don't understand, I can't be a wi-"

He smacked her on the head lightly with the paper file.

"Ow! Ichigo! Do you want to die-"

"Now, I bet you have some problem being a spouse or whatever. I don't really care. We aren't really going to get married, and who the hell cares about that 'perfect wife' shit?" He threw her a sharp glare. "Got it?"

She blinked. "…We aren't…?"

Ichigo couldn't feel his jaw drop as realization dawned on him. "…YOU THOUGHT WE WERE REALLY GOING TO GET MARRIED?"

She flushed in indignation. "Like I'd marry you! I was going to talk with the Director so we wouldn't have to be married after the week was over!"

"…" A strange, new expression that Rukia hadn't really seen yet grew on his face. He spun around to hide it, and his hand flew to his face. His shoulders shook, and Rukia heard a very distinct…snicker—

Bastard! He's laughing at me! Rukia blushed further. "Stop laughing! Of course I would have assumed that-"

"I'm not-Mmph-laughing…"

She grabbed his shoulder to deliver the fist of justice to his face, but he surprised her by turning around and lightly poking the tip of her nose. She glared, cross-eyed at his index finger. "Ow," she muttered nasally, flicking his hand away.

"So…you thought we were getting married?" He asked, smugly. "…I think you need to pay more attention when the teacher is speaking." His grin widened at the discomfort he was causing. When did he get to tease Rukia without getting hit?

"Or, I need to do more research." She said stiffly, retreating into the closet.

Quiet laughter graced her ears. "Stop that!"

--

Rukia quietly slipped into Karin's room, and towards the bookcase where she kept her manga.

I'll show that clown! She began to root through the case. If I knew where Ichigo kept HIS manga, then I'm sure I wouldn't get caught with misinterpretation! Maybe it's on top of his shelf…? …I need some kind of information on MODERN married couples…ah, here's one. She blinked at the cover. Futari…Ecchi?

Her face went red, and she blinked furiously after averting her gaze.

In the name of-…what the seven hells is Ichigo's sister doing with this!

She pushed it away, and grabbed another. …There have to be…different ones.

Seventy plus unsuccessful manga later, she went back to Futari Ecchi.

And didn't sleep a wink.

--

"…"

Rukia growled. "What?"

"…Rukia…" Should I say it? Ichigo asked himself.

Rukia ran a hand through her hair and blushed furiously. Does he suspect that…no, he couldn't have found the manga! It hit her. Maybe…it's his?

"…Before we go…I need to say something." He said, leaning in closer. She backed away.

"O-Oh?" She shook her head to clear the haze. "If you're going to reprimand me-"

"…You look dead." He deadpanned, with the grin one could only achieve when one was telling a bad joke.

…Despite the fact that he was now on the floor, with yet another rather painful bruise, he snickered. "Dead…."

--

"Good Morning! I am Katobeto, the evil HE Director, and I'm so happy to meet my two new lab rat-I mean…volunteers…"

Ichigo's jaw dropped, as did Rukia's.

He was a man of short stature. Round glasses framed his seemingly well-meaning face, and he had a well-trimmed moustache. He was also balding.

To Rukia, he seemed like every mad scientist she had seen on TV.

Ichigo agreed.

Oh, this did not bode well.

"Here are a copy of the rules and regulations that appeared in the contract that Kuchiki-san signed in the absence of a guardian." A glare was thrown to her. She returned it.

"So, follow the rules, because your Home Economics grade is on the line."

"…What?"

"I said, if you don't follow the rules, I will fail the both of you." He grinned.

Rukia got the hint.

Ichigo didn't.

"Hey, now, what kind of-OW" Ichigo frowned at Rukia, rubbing his sore shin.

Rukia threw him a meaningful glance in response, and smiled her best at Katobeto-san. "We understand, Teacher. We will do our best to uphold the contract."

He clapped his hands in glee. "Then let's begin. Kurosaki-kun, carry your bride into the house."

A short pause followed, after which Katobeto-san found himself staring at two very life-like deamons.

Needless to say, Ichigo didn't have to carry Rukia into the house.

Tsuzuku

Wohoo. Re-re-re-uploaded. The rush never fades.

These two are so much fun! Can't help but enjoy writing them. Anyway, this theme has most probably been written to death, but it's still one of my favourites. Anyway, my evil intent for this couple is personified in Katobeto-san. Let's see what he can do.

Where's Kon, you ask? I left him with Orihime. (A nice way of saying, "he's been taken care of" cracky-ty knuckle effect )

Also, if you see a plot, you're mistaken.

Kidding.

Or am I?

gestures to the button If you made it all the way here, you may as well drop a line.