My fourth new story. I can't seem to stop. I have a very bad habit of getting a new idea and not being able to contain it for a few weeks. Thus, I am beginning a new fic that I am especially pumped about. A few little facts before we get stared:


MAIN PARING: IchigoxRukia (naturally)


MAIN CHARACTERS: Ichigo, Rukia, Renji, Byakuya, assorted others.

Any questions, and I'll be happy to answer 'em!

October 29, 1611

Ichigo sighed warily, running a hand roughly through his hair. He gave an exaggerated, audible yawn and eyed the man sitting across from him with a look of shrewd contempt. Entwining his fingers behind his head, he made himself comfortable on the mat surrounding the table and crossed his legs. "And why, Renji, did you travel all the way from Kyoto here to Osaka?"

"Because," Renji sighed, his eye slightly twitching from the younger man's smug attitude. "I have an assignment that might," He paused briefly to search for the right word. "Intrigue you."

"Look, I've already told you, I don't want join the Shinsengumi." Ichigo spat out, clearly agitated.

"The fact of the matter is," Renji held up a hand in defense. "I made that offer when you were a jobless, dirty ronin. But, I see that hasn't changed much." He snickered quietly as he saw the younger man send a cold glare in his direction. "And anyways, I wouldn't want you to join the Shinsengumi. You presence would cause too much trouble for me, not to mention the entire city of Kyoto."

"Ha ha." Ichigo dryly replied, crossing his arms over his chest. "Well, what pointless job have you dug up for me?"

"Well, given to me who is giving it to you, actually. Our commander, Yamamoto-sama, gave me an armed escort assignment. But," Renji gestured with his opened hand, "Since there is such an extensive amount of civil unrest with in the country, mainly Kyoto, no one in the Shinsengumi has the time to escort anyone out of the city's boundaries. Plus," He paused to take a drink of tea before continuing. "Even if we could find someone within the Shinsengumi who could act as a guard, he wouldn't last a day outside of Kyoto, with all the thieves and whatnot running around out there."

"So why would I be interested in escorting someone? I have my own life, my own place, my own job. Why should I waste my time guarding, what I assume to be, a stuck up noble?" Ichigo absentmindedly fumbled with his black kimono, lightly picking at a loose piece stitching.

"Well, for one thing, acting as a hitman for hire doesn't count as a job." Renji smiled as Ichigo rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Second, you are barely making ends meet in a rundown house you're renting. Thirdly, you know you need the money, you're just too stubborn and proud to admit it." Renji smirked slyly, tossing his empty cup up and down in his hand. "Besides, this seemed more your style than mine."

"How so?" Ichigo inquired, cocking an eyebrow.

"Well I'll start from the beginning. A nobleman and leader of a large part of the Imperial Army, Kuchiki Byakuya, has a younger sister by the name of Rukia. Byakuya sent a courier to the Shinsengumi's headquarters requesting an armed escort for his sister."

"Kuchiki Byakuya," Ichigo looked up, pondering the name. He snapped his fingers as realization struck him. "Doesn't he have black hair, kinda pale, almost sickly lookin'? Wasn't he the guy with that big mansion in Tokyo?" Ichigo asked curiously.

"Well, technically, it is his clan's mansion. But since he is the head of his clan, I suppose you could say that it's his." Renji replied. "He is having his sister married because his wife Hisana died about a year ago. The Kuchiki clan needs heirs, so I guess this is some last-ditch attempt to get some."

"And why would I care about the private life of a noble?" Ichigo growled, the patience with the older man thinning. "If you want it plainly, I couldn't care less about him."

"Would ya just let me finish?" Renji snarled, his temper rising. "Kuchiki has set an arranged marriage for Rukia, who traveled with me from Hiroshima."

"So, what you're basically saying is, is that I would be inconveniencing you by not accepting the job?" Ichigo sighed angrily as Renji nodded. "But that still doesn't tell me why this would be my kind of job."

"You will be traveling through a renegade infested, war ravaged stretch of land that few groups of less than ten leave alive." Renji folded his hands and set them on the table. "I'd imagine that with your skill with a sword that you will be able safely escort Rukia to Edo."

"Osaka to Edo? How long would that be?" Ichigo silently marveled at the long distance.

"Oh, about a good three hundred miles. It should really take you only one-and-a-half, maybe two months to reach Tokyo. The arranged wedding is in about three months, which should give you plenty of time. A few storms and roving thieves are to be expected, but after all, you are tough ol' Ichigo. I wouldn't imagine any kind of fight that could keep you out for too long."

"And the girl?" Ichigo leaned forward, shifting his weight to his elbows. "Would a fight keep her out for long?"

Renji laughed, the humor of the comment escaping Ichigo. "Despite her appearance, she is a very sturdy individual. She won't slow you down."

Smirking, Ichigo let his hand rest on the handle of his katana. "And why couldn't you simply send me a message via mail? You aren't one to go out of your way to tell someone what could be written in a letter."

"You aren't the kinda person who would be convinced by a mere letter." Renji gave a ghost of a smile. "Besides, you know how I hate having to write long, detailed letters."

"Point taken." Ichigo sighed, contemplating his situation. Two months of nothing but walking with a nobleman's sister through Japan's countryside. Wonderful. "Well, I'll tell ya plainly: I don't like it. But, I've got nothing better to do with my time, so what the hell?"

"Excellent!" Renji seemed oddly overjoyed at Ichigo's acceptation of the task at hand, which made the younger of the two scoff venomously.

"So," Ichigo laid down on the mat, letting his muscles relax. "When do I have to take this Rukia to Edo?"

"Tomorrow. Meet us in the garden at Fukijawa palace just outside of town. Noon sharp." Renji smiled as he pick up his katana and opened the sliding door. Pausing briefly, he turned to his comrade with a bitter smile. "And Ichigo," His smile turned sly when he caught the younger man's attention. "Don't be late."

Ohh, great fun!! Ichigo and Rukia get to go on an adventure!! Saddle up, my homies, 'cause it's sure to be a bumpy ride!

Until next time,