For Ashe. Ridiculous speculation on a post-Hueco Mundo arc future.

Hush Little Baby

As with all the battles Ichigo has witnessed and fought of late, it comes down to a clash of wills.

"No," Rukia says. "Candy bars after dinner rot little Hollows' teeth."

The rude noise that follows indicates what Nell thinks of that. Rukia probably knew enough to dodge the spray of spit. She is, Ichigo reflects ruefully, already better at this than he is.

Not that he asked for this responsibility. But with great power comes great pain in the ass.

"Nell is not a Hollow!" the little girl bellows. "Nell is an arrancar!"

Ichigo winces and buries his head farther under his pillow. Rukia doesn't yell back, though. There's a pause, and then he can only hear harsh murmurings that he can't quite make out.


Rapid footsteps disappear out the door and down the hall.

"You could take an interest." Rukia prods him hard in the spine a minute later, prompting him to jerk upright.

"I was trying to take a nap! It's not like I'm the kid's father!"

"No, you're just the man who brought her home from Hueco Mundo and provided her with room, board, and no discipline structure to speak of. Nothing like a father." She sits cross-legged in his desk chair and picks up a dog-eared manga.

Ichigo ignores that. "What did you do to her?"

"We negotiated a deal."

"The terms?"

"She brushes her teeth. You tell her a bedtime story and tuck her in."

He can feel the veins popping. "It's a closet, Rukia, there's nothing to tuck!"

"You'll make do."

"Ichigoooo!" Nell bounds back into the room and leaps into his lap. "Nell cleaned her teeth! See?" She pulls her mouth wide open with tiny fingers so he can. "Now it's time to tell Nell a story!"

She grins and Rukia smirks from her seat and Ichigo wonders exactly when he became a family man and how he now has two crazy girls on his back. Nell hugs him around the waist and he can't bring himself to peel her off. "Yeah, okay," he says. "Fine."

Yeah, he's pretty fucked.