Always There Ch. 1 - We're Married?

author: Peppermint Kiss

date: 1-1-08 (re-write)

disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Kubo Tite, not me.

A/N: A sad title that doesn't really suit the fic, I know, but it was the best I could think of (shows you my intelligence range).

Enjoy :D

Finally, it was over.

Finally, Rukia was out of the stifling, tight, hot, and utterly over-the-top kimono for the wedding ceremony (she almost threw it into the koi pond back at the Kuchiki mansion, but she figured that the Kuchiki clan as a whole wouldn't be very pleased at her ruining a probably priceless kimono).

Finally, Rukia had bade farewell to all of the wedding guests (including the very disgruntled Abarai Renji and Kurosaki Ichigo, whom had made exaggerated points about asking her if she was sure that this was the right thing to do).

Finally, Rukia was truly, officially…married, even though she had never thought this day would come, and she had certainly imagined it to be...different.

Rukia was married to...Byakuya.

Rukia gulped as the understanding fully sank in and hit her, hard, when she saw the one king-size bed in the center of the bedroom. She had foolishly thought that perhaps she could still sleep in her room and Byakuya could still sleep in his room and--

Baka, baka, baka!

She had been so stupid to not think of the only one bed couples were expected to share after marriage. Maybe she and Byakuya could be a dysfunctional couple...and probably be disowned by the whole Kuchiki clan.

Rukia sighed, and then stopped, horrified, and another thought sprang to her mind.

Didn't newlyweds have…sex on their first night together? She had heard Renji crassly talking about such things one night (she suspected he had been drunk).

Oh hell no.

Byakuya-sama is—well, was, at any rate—her nii-sama! Rukia should be proud that she managed to kick the habit of calling Byakuya-sama "nii-sama", since that wouldn't do in a married relationship.

Rukia, at this point, realized that she was panicking, but her frantic thoughts were cut short when the door to the bathroom opened, and Byakuya-sama himself stepped into the bedroom.

I wonder... if I slink under the covers and lie still, maybe he won't notice me…I'll just be a bunch of extra pillows...

Rukia was sure that many of the other women shinigami would be quite delighted to be in this position, snuggling up to Kuchiki-taichou of the Sixth Division.

Rukia had always had sharp ears, and the gossip concerning her nii-sama always, somehow, reached her, no matter how much she would much rather prefer to not hear it.

"Oh, there's Captain Kuchiki…isn't he dreamy?"

"I wouldn't mind going to bed with that piece of work."

"But still, his personality…he's so cold and hostile!"

"Yes, but you can't deny he's good-looking…"

Ise Nanao, for one, despite her serious looks, founded the Kuchiki Byakuya fan club in the Women's Shinigami Association, gathering startling amounts of members within the first few weeks.

Nanao had tried to recruit Rukia with a scary leer, saying that Rukia was sure to have pictures or something of Byakuya half-undressed or in the shower.

Rukia had never run out of the Eighth Division so fast.

No matter how much Rukia squinted at Byakuya, trying to see what the other women shinigami saw, her nii-sama was still her nii-sama.

Rukia, against her better judgment, climbed into bed, for a moment sinking luxuriously into the softness of the mattress and lavish, tasseled pillows. Then, a weight on the other side of the bed told Rukia that Byakuya had sat down as well.

Rukia sank even lower into the pillows, if possible. She knew that coming into the marriage was a bad idea. True, it was "good for the clan", and it was surprising that even the elders had at last given their approval after a mere two months of debate and arguments. And the Kuchiki clan made it sure to tell anyone who gave the married couple a dubious look that it was not an incestuous relationship, since Rukia and Byakuya were not technically related by blood.

Oh, yes, the Kuchiki clan could be very intimidating indeed when solving matters like these.

Rukia stared fixedly at the silk sleeping yukata she was wearing, her eyes tracing over the delicate lace hem, trying to look at anything, but Byakuya-sama. Rukia hadn't been so nervous about the wedding ceremony, since she had practiced the vows and the ceremonial steps thousands of times with the creaky old etiquette master that must have been with the Kuchikis for centuries, and she was sure she could maintain the necessary appearances at the ceremony next to Byakuya-sama…but sleeping with him?

No way in hell.

Rukia's eyes widened when Byakuya took off his shirt, carelessly tossing it onto an armchair in the corner. Lean muscles rippled under skin as Rukia realized the great Kuchiki-taichou slept only in black silk pajama pants.

Rukia was indeed starting to feel rather uneasy. She frantically thought that this hadn't been described in the contract (the hypothetical contract, at least, that she drew up in her mind).

Not a word had been spoken at all during this time of Rukia's thought process, and Rukia felt the tension building up in the air. She needed to do something to break it…anything would do.

Byakuya sat on the edge of the bed, trying to tease his hair out of the kenseiken it had been set in that morning. His fingers were patient, but the kenseikan refused to budge.

Rukia slid out from under the covers and crawled over to him, placing her small hands on his. She saw the muscles in his shoulders bunch up in surprise at her soft touch.

"Let me," she murmured softly.

Byakuya paused for a moment, and Rukia's mind backtracked, screaming at her that this had been a bad idea, that she never should have been so bold in the first place; but then Byakuya's head imperceptibly nodded and his hands floated back down to his sides.

Rukia's nimble fingers gently pulled the kenseiken off of Byakuya-sama's incredibly soft hair. Rukia loved the way his hair slipped against her fingers, and he gave off a faint smell of sakura, cherry blossoms, but with a musky undertone that was unmistakably Byakuya-sama's.

…Wait, since when did Rukia start noticing how Byakuya-sama smelled like?

Rukia slipped Byakuya-sama's hair through the last kenseiken, and placed it on his night table before retreating back to her side of the bed. She stiffly lay under the covers, thinking that the ceiling looked rather fascinating, instead of Byakuya.

The covers shifted, and a warm weight climbed in next to her. Rukia shrank back, unconsciously, before Byakuya turned to face her.

A warm hand brushed the side of her cheek and Rukia's eyes widened, but she calmed, slightly, when Byakuya spoke.

"Sleep, Rukia," Byakuya murmured. "Nothing will happen tonight."

Simple words.

And with that, Byakuya extinguished the light and proceeded to (from what Rukia assumed) fall asleep fairly quickly. Rukia thought, with a soft snicker, that he must have been as tired as she had been from the wedding ceremonies and pompous celebration as well.

Rukia lay there, wide awake, for several minutes, maybe an hour. She could feel the warmth Byakuya's body cast off, and she wondered how hard it would be to wrap her arms around him while he was sleeping and snuggle into his body. She could hear his heartbeat…or was it hers, pounding loudly in her ears?

Rukia lay, pondering these thoughts and the new situation she was in, before eventually, some time after midnight, when the moon hung peacefully in the sky and the mansion was silent and tranquil, she drifted off to sleep.

Byakuya awoke sometime in the night to feel a warm figure huddled against the curve of his body, skin pressed against the bare skin on his back. Byakuya gently rolled over, and Rukia let out a blissful sigh, immediately cuddling in closer to his warmth, her breath blowing softly on his skin.

For perhaps the first time in years, the cold captain of the sixth division allowed a smile to spread across his face, a content, affectionate smile. He eased back onto the bed, and tilted his head, admiring the way Rukia's hair glimmered purple, and then blue, in the moonlight, and her lashes fluttering up and down and casting small shadows on her cheekbones in sync with her breathing.

To this day, Byakuya would claim that he didn't know what made him do something so drastic, but it couldn't be argued against that slowly, Byakuya wrapped an arm around Rukia's small body, sliding it closer to him.

She made a small noise and stirred slightly, and Byakuya froze, but she continued sleeping. Byakuya then wrapped his arms securely around Rukia's small body, pulling her even closer in to his chest. The top of her head fit neatly under Byakuya's chin, and her breaths continued, undisturbed, onto his collarbone.

Byakuya smiled in satisfaction as Rukia's own arms lifted of their own volition and encircled his body. He easily fell asleep again, slipping into the dark abysses of his mind, thinking only about Rukia...his Rukia.

-to be continued...-

A/N: All right guys. Here's the deal - Always There is undergoing a huge re write because I was really really unhappy with the writing and formatting of the first few chapters, so don't be too shocked if the chapters start to vary in style a bit - I'm working on it as fast as I can!

Review, and arigato :D