Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach; unfortunately and fortunately, Kubo Tite does
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach; unfortunately and fortunately, Kubo Tite does.
Summary: When I became a Shinigami, I joined the 13th Division where I met my Vice-Captain, my role model, Kurosaki Rukia. Then I met her husband, and slowly I learned their story piece by piece. An onlooker observes Soul Society's most famous couple in the afterlife. IchiRuki
Author's Note: I don't know how I came up with this but I think the idea of someone else looking into their relationship in a fictional setting where Ichigo and Rukia lived in the afterlife together is really cute. Especially as husband and wife. This is really long too and I spent a lot of time on it, so please do enjoy. Maybe I should have broken this down to chapters. Ah well.
Special thanks to ShaggyDiz for pre-reads.
Also PDAs mean public displays of affection.
Edit: August, 2008 – I don't know how there are so many formatting errors. So I went back to fix them and any odd mistakes.
Piece by Piece
Another IchiRuki one-shot by Goku's Daughter
So I write here today to talk about Soul Society's most famous couple…
I'm not sure where to begin. I guess I can start by saying I know why you are here. Kurosaki Ichigo and Kurosaki Rukia, right? Yes, they are two very famous soul reapers, and fortunately for me I know both of them on a personal level.
Anyways, I'm sure you don't want to know about me. However, I feel it is imperative to mention major details about myself, just to give a little background information. And then I will I give you what you came here for…
I will, in a moment, divulge on what I know about Kurosaki Ichigo and his wife, Kurosaki Rukia.
My name is not important. I am female, curious, headstrong and very observant. I died from the living world when I was fifteen. Then I came to Soul Society after a shinigami performed konso on me, and I resided in the poorest village of Rukongai. Very quickly I discovered I grew hungry and almost starved myself. That confused me. I was dead. Why did I need food? Someone told me then I had spiritual power, which led to applying to the Shinigami Academy. It is a six-year academy where we learned how to fight hollows and do soul burials. I was very good at swordsmanship – I am aggressive when I fight – and passed my exams on the first try. Surprisingly.
So from the time I died to the time I was ready to choose a division, approximately a hundred years passed. No more than that.
The Thirteenth Division
Choosing what division to join was difficult for me. I've heard that the Eleventh Division was very bloodthirsty and though I liked to fight, I was not that passionate about it. Okay fine, truth be told, I chickened out because Captain Zaraki Kenpachi scared the shit out of me.
The next division I considered, or rather eliminated was the Fourth Division. I was not cut out for medicine and healing. I was too impatient for that type of work.
Then I eliminated the Twelfth Division. Science hurt my brain.
The other divisions I looked at, I mainly focussed on the Captains and Vice Captains before making my decision. I remember considering Captain Kuchiki Byakuya, Captain Hitsugaya Tōshirō, and Captain Ukitake Jushiro. Captain Byakuya was too cold, Captain Hitsugaya was too young (he looked the same age as me), but Captain Ukitake was warm, and even on the fatherly side. Bottom line, he made me feel safe.
So I joined the Thirteenth Division, which I had learned was a nice, friendly division.
And then I met Kurosaki Rukia.
My role model, Kurosaki Rukia
Captain Ukitake introduced her as, "Kurosaki Rukia," in an endearing tone and then added on, "There is no one else I rather have for my Vice Captain." We (the young ones) all watched wide-eye when she stood before us, smiling warmly. The badge around her arm seemed to shine in the sunlight and I marvelled to myself that though she had status (I knew she was formally a Kuchiki), she spoke to us like we were all equal.
That immediately set her apart.
"First off, congratulations and welcome to the Thirteenth Division." Thunderous clapping ripped through the air and she only spoke again once the sound was almost muted. "As you know, I'm your Vice Captain Kurosaki Rukia. I prefer if you just call me Rukia." Her smile broadened and she repeated her name, "Rukia," to emphasize the importance of calling her by her name. At that moment, the yellow glow of the sun seemed to highlight her with this golden halo that I could not fathom. "You will learn many lessons in this Division, and there will be plenty time to learn what you need to know, but for now, for today, just be happy that you made it this far and enjoy the night." There was a slight teasing tone lingering in her voice, yet at the same time, there was a glint of seriousness. It made me believe she was either really stern (and will kill us later) or she was really laid back.
I grew to find out she was a mix of both.
I remember the first time I talked to her. She was humble and real when she spoke. Real as in: this is me, I'm not fooling anyone.
I asked her something that we all wondered. "If you don't mind me asking, fukutaicho—"
She interrupted me gently. "Rukia."
I blinked and continued, "Rukia… how did you manage to convince your brother, the great Captain Byakuya, to allow you to become a Vice Captain?"
There were wild rumours about this topic. One was she threatened to kill herself if she could not. Another was she would run-away to the living world. Like I said, wild rumours.
Rukia was surprised at my forwardness but her shock was easily replaced by fondness (I like to think anyways) when she smiled at me. "I just had to ask." Maybe she heard some of the rumours.
In our group, there were only four new members, including me. We were all silent.
"You don't believe me?" she asked. Then she folded her arms over her chest. "It's surprising what you will receive if you just ask. And no, I did not threaten to kill myself, or carry through such ridiculous acts to convince my brother."
Hmm. I heard the great Captain Byakuya was cold, but then again, why would our Vice Captain tell us the full truth? Whether her explanation sufficed or not, I grew attached to her.
She was a small woman, a woman who fought with ice in her eyes and wore a tough shell, but she was very kind on the inside. She accompanied us when we fought hollows, watching carefully. Worry kissed her features, even when she tried to hide it. Occasionally she was unfriendly and terse, but only when the time called for her tough love.
Eventually Kurosaki Rukia would become my big sister, one that I could turn to if I had a problem. Even though I was a couple of inches taller than her, we have the same black hair and wide beautiful eyes, though hers shone in a brilliant violet colour. When she walked, she commanded attention. Her head was tilted up in such confidence and grace that when she moved, the frosty glare in her orbs could intimidate anyone. She told me later on, "It was something I had to learn how to do," meaning that once upon a time she used to be as shy as I was.
I quickly learned later that sometimes she was brash and had a particular fire when she was around certain men, but I liked that about her.
And the day she taught me how to manipulate them – men – she truly became my role model.
Her husband, Kurosaki Ichigo
They were an interesting pair, I had to admit. And because they were so famous, almost everyone knew their name and if they did not, they knew their face. The gist of their love story was also well-known, only because he was the ryoka with bright-orange hair who came to Sereitei to save her. That was the beginning of it all, they said, but if I had to ask Rukia when she knew she was in love with her husband, she would tell me much, much after that.
The day I met Kurosaki Ichigo, which I had already known was Vice Captain of the Ninth Division, it was a bright, hot day. Kurosaki Rukia took us four newbies to train and since I was horrible at Kido, she spent a lot of time with me.
"Here," she said, handing a drink before taking a spot beside me. In the distance we watched the others practice their swordsmanship. I could see sparks fly and hear them grunting at each other. I mainly paid particular attention to a cute brunette…
Sorry, I got distracted there. My apologizes. Rukia. My Vice Captain. By this point it was probably a month since we all joined the Thirteenth Division. Rukia was serious when we trained, but she took time out for breaks. We all enjoyed breaks. And then she made a genuine effort to talk to us, to make us into a family of some sort.
I asked her, "Why are you so nice to us, Rukia?" My head turned to the left, in her direction, and I met with Rukia's mildly shocked face. In my defence, I had firsthand experience of being treated like dirt from older, higher ranking individuals.
It was what set Rukia apart.
"When I first joined this division, my Vice Captain, Kaien-dono, made me belong. And then later when I met Ichigo, he made me belong," she laughed barely then, her eyes dancing with amusement, "Even if he did unconsciously."
This was the first time she mentioned the previous Vice Captain and her husband in any of our conversations. I knew what happened with Kaien-fukutaicho, but only from rumours. I almost dared to ask her about him, to get my facts straight – was he truly devoured by a hollow? – but we both heard her name floating in the air.
From the distance, a man with a massive sword approached us. He was the one calling out, "Rukia!" A pause. "Oi, Rukia!" I suspected it was Ichigo since in all of the rumours he was the man with the biggest zankpakuto and bright orange hair.
I looked back at my Vice Captain. At first her face lit up in happiness; it warmed my heart. But then as quickly as she became elated, her attitude changed into annoyance and her eye twitched. That concerned me.
Rukia excused herself then, stood up, and approached her husband.
What I saw next left me in shock. My mouth dropped.
Rukia, our beloved Vice Captain, jumped and glided into the air, smacking the taller man in the head with her dainty small hands.
"Idiot!" we herd her yell, and the man fell backwards.
Carrot-top bounced back up however. A vein bulged. "What was that for?!" he responded, livid, rubbing the swelling in his head. His sword fell to the ground and when he stood up straight, he waved a fist at the petite woman.
They had an intense staring contest but my Vice Captain crumbled first. Her head suddenly dropped and her shoulders slouched. "Do you know how much you worried me?" Her voice was more hushed this time, because we were not meant to hear their conversation, but I was the closest and I was able to perceive every single word.
Ichigo was silent at her remark. Even guilty maybe?
She moved closer to him and her fingers touched the edges of his robes. They parted the cloth at his chest and she peeped inside. Then Rukia exhaled loudly. "That's a lot of bandages," my Vice Captain told him.
Ichigo nodded. "Yeah, the fight got a little nasty." His sighed barely.
"A little?" Her eyebrow rose.
His hand scratched the back of his head and they stood together in silence. The famous couple had a lot of unspoken moments which lasted a minute or so until they acted stupidly or affectionately. Mostly the former. Sometimes both.
Then finally, Ichigo said, "So are you going to give me a hug or what?" His hazel eyes watched her amorously. A sudden breeze past by, ruffling their matching black robes. He also wore his badge around his arm.
Rukia pointed to his stomach wound. "Is it okay for me to hug you?" Her voice hinted of sarcasm.
Her husband nodded. "I haven't seen you in a while. I do miss my wife." Then Ichigo's mouth twisted into a grin.
"Idiot," she breathed softly, endearing even. I watched him pick her up slowly with his arms around her tiny waist and her fingers lost in his wild hair. He held her close, burying his face in the spot that joined her shoulder and her neck. He breathed in her scent, and though they were not a romantic couple, he turned around playfully for a circle and half. She even squealed at his sudden public affection (she told me later that PDA's were rare for them). Finally, after what felt like five minutes, he let her back on the ground, but he did not let her go.
His back was towards me – us – to hide what he was doing. But I was a girl, and I was pretty sure he kissed my Vice Captain when he bent forward towards her, with his hands cupping her face. They were in such position for ten seconds or so.
Rukia laughed at him when the time expired, calling him an idiot and slapping him away. He never hit her back, but only called her names like midget or shorty. Before she hit him again, he caught her wrist in his large hand.
"Ichigo, let me go," she said. "You know those kids are watching." Her last words were louder, drawing attention to herself.
The man with the large sword tickled her cheek with his breath. "Fine, I'll let you go for now, but tonight…" His sentence was unfinished but they had a knack for understanding unspoken words.
And to my surprise, her face turned a little pink.
"You could stay, if you want."
That made Ichigo glance back at us. Everyone else did not notice the famous couple but I did, and quickly I turned my head away to pretend I wasn't watching. It took Ichigo five seconds to say, "Sure." And they approached us. They did not hold hands, but a certain warmth and joy exuded from the famous couple that made me realize that this man, Kurosaki Ichigo, was really my Vice Captain's husband.
They were actually in love
Like I said before, they were not romantic. Not in front of us anyways. The first time I saw Ichigo was the only time he really showed his affection for her. Apparently, he was gone for weeks, on some sort of mission, and all she needed to know was that he was alright because he was supposed to come back in seven days.
Ichigo was quickly forgiven.
The next time I saw Ichigo was when Rukia took us to the living world to fight hollows. These hollows, she said, were not the easy ones we were used to. "They're tougher and smarter. You have to keep our guards up at all times." Then she gave her husband a glare, and he returned the look. "Why are you coming anyways?"
He stuck out his lower lip and crossed his arms. "I was bored."
I suspected he only wanted to spend time with his wife. Or he really liked to fight. Or both.
My eyes fell away from the famous couple, distracted by the chilly wind and the canvas of red, orange, yellow, pink and blue painted in the large sky before me. Us four babies took our positions on the rooftops, waiting as the sun sat. Ichigo and Rukia stood together side by side, and she smiled when his fingertips brushed hers. Yet they did not hold hands. They were focussed and ready; their eyes were fixated upwards to where the monsters would appear.
In half an hour, when the dark navy blue colour ate away at the once vivid canvas, the hollows finally came.
At first they were manageable. I teamed up with the brunette I crushed on, and we were able to defeat four hollows. The other two held up together as well. After thirty minutes maybe, I felt something was wrong.
The hollows started to come quicker, and faster. I started to panic and my eyes strayed to my Vice Captain. I caught a glimpse of her beautiful, white zanpakuto, Sode no Shirayuki. Ichigo followed and his large Zangetsu gleamed when it rested on his shoulders.
"Retreat!" I heard from Rukia, and immediately I recoiled to her safety. We all knew it was better to leave this to them.
"Why are they coming like this?" I asked her, breathless. They, the monsters, began to rain from the sky. I noticed Ichigo's fearless expression; he looked excited. My Vice Captain however, looked icy and unfeeling. She was worried on the inside.
"I don't know," she finally said. Her attention scattered to her husband. "Go, Ichigo. I'll stay with them."
We were like their children, I mused to myself, as I watched Ichigo float through the air. He jumped building to building, slicing the monsters with such speed and accuracy; he left no prisoners behind. We could feel his reiatsu climb and then we heard a gasp escape Rukia's lips when he went bankai.
For mere hollows!?
Her hand gripped on her white sword tighter, which made me more nervous.
Then black energy ripped down the street, clearing out hundreds of hollows that were attracted to him. I could barely hear him yelling, "Getsuga tenshō!"
It was so exciting to watch!
But at our end, hollows started to come after us. Rukia mostly killed them. She was agile, defeating her opponents with much ease as her partner, though he was wild while she was graceful. I loved the way she commanded her zanpakuto. Mai, dance.
And as the fights progressed, more and more hollows were attracted to us since Ichigo scared them away (I thought so anyways). No hollow had a chance while he was in such a form. So we all had to fight again, even if Rukia did not want us in danger.
Very soon, a certain scent became obvious, almost stifling at one point. Blood. It was blood. My hands also started to hurt as I thrust my soul slayer in their heads; it was my favourite way of killing ever since Rukia had showed me. But I thought I was more like Ichigo though. I actually grew fond of fighting hollows. I could feel my heart pound as I sliced and killed. Soon, the only thing I thought about was…to destroy.
Then I didn't know how, but Rukia called my name. I turned and my eyes widened when one of the monsters lunged themselves at me, crying out for my shinigami flesh. My eyes shut tightly, waiting for their claws to claim my soul, but I felt nothing.
When I opened my eyes, a piercing scream flew out of my mouth. My Vice Captain floated in the air above me, her sword in the hollow's neck and his arm in her chest. Her crimson blood splattered on the road and at that moment, the street lights flickered on, highlighting the gruesome scene in a white, hazy light. This scene remained in my vision because, for what felt like five minutes, my Vice Captain did not move.
"Rukia!" I cried out, taking a step forward.
"Stay back," she hissed, barely. Remarkably she wriggled violently, pulling her sword out quickly and then slicing the hollow's arm so she could move again. I have never seen my Vice Captain so cold when she pulled the remains of the monster's arm from her chest, tossing it carelessly to the side. Then the petite shinigami shoved her sword in the head of the hollow.
He was dead.
Then several things happened at once: My Vice Captain fell to the floor, I screamed again, and a large wave of power swept through the area… destroying the demonic aura of the hollows.
Tears blinded me, but I could feel my other comrades surround my Vice Captain. Then very soon, maybe it was ten seconds, Ichigo returned to us… to her. He was about ten metres away when he saw his wife, and at first he stopped. The transformation on his face was remarkable from when I last saw him. Before there was a wild, excited look in his eyes and raw thrill etched on the lines of his face. Now, worry and panic took over. Once his mind registered the scene – his wife was on the ground, in a pool of her blood - he rushed forward, leaned down, and gathered Rukia into his arms.
I could see his hazel orbs violently scan her figure, from her closed eyes, her pretty parted mouth, to the wound on her chest where she bled from. His mouth opened and his breathing paced. Desperately, he yelled out her name, "Rukia!" His fingers dug in her flesh when he swallowed hard.
The bankai coat that Ichigo wore flared in the wind when he stood, and he looked at us, his eyes suddenly steely. He was not angry, but the scent he exuded was full of fear. "We need to go back," he said, a torn sound quivered through the chilly air.
We all nodded, obeying him without a word.
As we waited, I paid close attention to Rukia. It was my fault she was in this state. I became blinded by my power, or rather the adrenaline of the fight.
"Rukia," Ichigo called again, but more softly this time. His voice was full of need and trepidation. "Rukia…" And as we watched them, he held her closer if possible. His nose grazed her cheek, nuzzling her in a gentle wake before he looked up again. Ichigo could not care that her blood stained his robes, but shifted away from the red pool on the ground that originated from her body.
"Rukia…" The look he gave her was the look a man only made to someone he truly loved… and feared losing them.
I wanted to cry.
"Idiot," I heard her mumble. "You think I can die that easily." The sadness somewhat melted from his face, and his lips curved up into a weak smile. Her hands gripped onto the hem of his black robe, while her head snuggled into the warmth of his chest as if he was the only one who could keep her safe.
"I made the call. We should get back soon." Ichigo's devotion that he displayed startled me that night. He was the epitome of cool but the tenderness he displayed before us… the tenderness they held for each other…
They held onto each other as if nothing else mattered in the whole world.
When Ichigo returned to Soul Society, he did not leave her. He watched closely, his fingers itching to hold her hand when she lay under the yellow light of the Fourth Division Captain. Only until Captain Unohana gave him the okay, a soft caress warmed Rukia's face and he forbade her from ever doing that again. Ichigo used his demanding tone, which only evoked insults from her mouth. Her eyes softened at him though and silence crept over the famous couple.
Finally she broke it when she spoke five words: "I want to go home."
He nodded weakly, gathering her in his arms again. Apparently, to him, she was still weak to walk all the way home. I watched in silence as her head buried into his chest and though she hated depending on him, the fact that he could hold her safe shook all of his fears away.
It was then I learned that these two people who bickered, and did not normally show their affections in public, were actually, truly, in love with each other.
The following day I profusely apologized to my Vice Captain for how stupid and blinded I was, and for the pain I caused her. Guilt ate at me; it was so obvious, but she said not to worry, it's all right. She has been through much worse. I also apologized to Ichigo, for the same reasons, and he grinned at me, telling me not to worry about it. "If you only knew how many times I was reckless…" I bowed shortly and left the house.
Then I began to wonder about them. How did they become the most famous shinigami couple?
And this was what I heard.
Rukia met Ichigo when he was fifteen in the living world. She gave him her power to save his family and lived with him until her great brother and childhood friend (some said ex-lover but I did not believe that) took her back. She was supposed to die because it was a grave taboo to transfer power, but Ichigo came and saved her. They said he had a big flowy cape, which was very Prince-like in my opinion, and Ichigo defeated her great brother, Byakuya, for her life. Then the whole mess with Aizen started. Espadas. Winter War. Death. Because these events did not occur in Soul Society, all of the stories diverged when they departed from Soul Society.
The rumour, or plausible story, that I liked the most was that she ultimately left him. Call me cruel, but this version was the most popular and it even seemed characteristic of my Vice Captain to do so. They say she told him, "To live a long life and be happy."
Apparently Rukia stopped visiting Ichigo but I also heard she occasionally went to the living world to check on him. The records say otherwise, but it was how the story went.
They say Rukia wanted to see if Ichigo was happy. And on one night he spotted her, chased her down the street from rooftop to rooftop. He captured her in his arms, slammed her against the wall, or knocked her in her head, but it was the pivotal point of their relationship.
Or so they say.
I wondered if the rumours were true. Did she become a human and they lived together on earth? Did they really have children? Then when they died, the famous couple returned to Sereitei? Did they get married again and moved up the ranks to where they were today?
And even though it was the 'story', I had to get it verified from the source, from either Ichigo or Rukia.
I was very forward and blunt, yes, but I did not have the guts to ask…yet.
How do you know you're in love?
I was mad, frustrated and confused. The crush with the brunette escalated to the point where I could not think straight anymore. I wondered if I was actually in love with him.
Who do I go to? How do I really know? My first thought was to go to my Vice Captain, but I felt foolish. I don't know why. All of a sudden I saw lines that you should not cross, the lines I was not afraid of crossing before.
So I bottled it up as I ventured off to other females I could confide in. I got drunk with Vice Captain Rangiku one time. Okay, that was a lie. Several times. She was impressed that I could drink as much as she so we became good (drinking) pals. The golden-haired beauty actually listened when I talked, but sometimes when you drink too much sake, you don't make much sense. That and I was sure that the flamboyant Vice Captain would tell me to just reveal my feelings.
As if I could. I was a coward.
Soifon was a lesbian. In my head, that made her a good candidate because if you had to express your feelings to a woman, that's harder than talking to a male. Then I remembered she was in love with Yourichi, the cat woman. I met her only once, when she visited Ichigo and I just happened to be with them (or rather tagging along with the Vice Captain I adored).
The first thing I thought of was damn… she was an exotic beauty. Hawt. "I see why Captain Soifon is in love with her."
At this point, Ichigo called me a gossiper, for knowing too much information and too many stories that I should not know. Maybe I was.
And then the problem was Soifon was not an easy person to approach.
The other women I could talk to… were not the best people to talk to. Yachiru was out of the question. She was a pink package of happiness and was too young to understand my feelings. Hinamori… she has her own issues to deal with. Captain Unohana was a motherly woman that had treated me several times, but problems like these, I realized, could only be discussed between good friends.
I only had four close friends, unfortunately. It's about quality, not quantity. One was that brunette, another was Rukia (but Ichigo came in the package), and the other two I had not introduced in this "classified" story. They were useless anyways.
So I ended up going to Rukia and Ichigo. They were older and wiser than I. They have lived far longer than I have lived. They must know something.
"Rukia, can I ask you a question?"
My Vice Captain noticed the obvious curiosity laced my voice and she nodded. I was alone with her while she walked me to the house I was staying.
I hesitated to ask, but I said it. "When did you know you were in love with Ichigo?"
My question made her stop, and by now I would think that my forwardness should not surprise her. So this time I quickly explained why I was asking. "I don't know why I feel weird around this boy. I'm really confused. You don't have to answer me if you don't want to." My sentences were rushed, making it sound like one sentence.
Rukia told me to calm down and I saw a smile play on her lips. "So, tell me what you feel?"
I looked away from her. "Butterflies in my stomach."
She nodded, urging me to go on.
"I feel scared when he's hurt. I worry about him when we fight hollows. I want him to be happy." I bit my lower lip. "I get nervous if he accidentally touches me." I sighed. "I feel so… ugh."
"Ugh," she mocked, laughing. "He's also in your thoughts, distracting you from your work? Your hearts makes a little dance when you're with him? And he's the last person you think about before you go to sleep, and the first one you think about when you wake up. Am I right?"
I nodded, frowning. "So…" I was waiting for advice.
Instead she said this: "I was an idiot."
My eyebrows furrowed at her words. "Excuse me?"
She nodded, her mouth curving in an embarrassed smile. Sometimes my Vice Captain can be so cute, so childish. "We were idiots, Ichigo and I. I think we fell in love much earlier than when we realized we were actually in love with each other. We are very stubborn, stupid people." And she laughed softly, lightly. I was mesmerized by her once again, especially the way the moon's silver light played with the features of her fair face. Her eyes seemed so powerful too, like they could bore through my soul.
"Did you feel the same way I did?"
"Very early I cared about him. I worried about him. I wanted him alive and safe. I wanted him to be happy." Her eyes wandered to the colossal moon and she repeated the part, "I wanted him to be happy." Rukia paused. "I think I realized I was in love with Ichigo… bit by bit. I did not want to be in love with him. He was a human. I was a shinigami." Something ethereal radiated from her in a silver halo. "Piece by piece. I realized I was in love with him piece by piece. Like a puzzle…piece by piece." Yes, I saw why and how love could be puzzling.
And my Vice Captain left it like that. Piece by piece.
But then Ichigo told me, "That's how you fall in love. Piece by piece. Bit by bit. A little more each day."
I hounded him for a fight a few days after I asked Rukia. He wondered why I wanted to hear his side of the story when I already asked his wife. He then accused me that I will gossip this piece of information to everyone… ruining his tough, bad ass reputation.
I countered with, "You came here to Soul Society to save her. I don't see how more romantic that could be." Stubbornly, I crossed my arms over my chest.
He scoffed, his head turning to the side. "Yeah, but I did it with style."
My eye twitched and we glared at each other.
Then he gave in. "What she said was right, you know. We were probably in love with each other before we realized it. We spent a lot of time together. We were comfortable with each other. She understood me without me having to explain anything to her. I didn't even care if she saw me half-naked." He was smiling on some memory I did not know. "It was distance that probably knocked some sense to me. And a certain girl."
Under the golden rays of the sun, Ichigo seemed magnificent, strong, and more handsome. I could see why my Vice Captain fell in love with him. Ichigo was playful yet nonchalant; at the same time he was very much a man. He stood before me with a hand at his waist and the other gripped on his zanpakuto. And it dawned on me that he was truly a protector, one who could keep your heart safe forever.
My eyebrows rose at him. "A girl?"
He nodded. "Her name was Inoue. She asked me one day if I was in love with Rukia. I said no. I was offended that she thought so." He smiled and his hair swayed with the gentle breeze. His casualness was refreshing. "She then told me some things that I didn't realize."
I waited. I wanted to hear more.
His voice went high and he imitated this girl I did not know. "Kurosaki-kun… how can you not love her? She knows how to make you happy. You two are a good team! You need each other." Then his voice went deep again, unable to maintain such a pitch. His face softened notably as well, almost in defeat. Ichigo continued, "And the way you look at her, it's the look you only make to one you give your heart to. The way you two stare at each other – even when fighting – is a stare that you only give to someone you really care about."
I nodded, my lower lip sticking out in curiosity. "So, you had no butterflies?"
He knocked me in my head, hard. "Of course I did, later on. But I'm not going to tell you about that." Again, he turned his head away from me.
Hmm. Interesting. They were the two most unromantic people who fell in love with each other and became Soul Society's most famous couple…and yet they did not gush about their love for each other.
When they thought no one was looking
As I said earlier, I was and still am very observant. And because I spent a lot of time with my beloved Vice Captain, that meant I usually hung around the people she cared about, or found her with the people she cared about.
We will focus on her and Ichigo. Only because it's rare to see them in tender moments.
The first thing I should tell you though is that they reside in Byakuya's castle. It's not literally a castle, but it's huge, so I call it that. And I know, you must be wondering how the heck do they manage to live together in the same house with Rukia's brother?
It was simple really. Byakuya wanted Rukia happy. Ichigo made her happy. Ichigo wanted Rukia happy. They had to come sort of understanding to co-exist.
Actually, no, it was not that simple. Ichigo challenged Byakuya. If Ichigo could beat Captain Byakuya, Ichigo gets Rukia's hand in marriage and a place in his home. I also heard it was a highly publicized, big fight (thanks to some certain Vice Captains) but Ichigo won. "Luckily", Ichigo told me later, "Byakuya's house is so big that I hardly have to see him around."
I also heard that Rukia and Ichigo have one of the biggest rooms with an opened balcony. I actually saw the balcony once because I can get to really high places, and that time, under the soft, enchanting moonlight, I saw them together.
They were sitting down, swinging back and forth languidly on some sort of couch. I could not see details with the way the moon created beautiful shadows and highlights, casting them in such a lovely glow that I held my breath. Ichigo, I knew it was him because of his hair, wore dark pants and a t-shirt. My Vice Captain looked simple, and different, in a small blue dress. Later I learned that these were the type of clothes they wore when they first knew each other.
My Vice Captain rested her head on his chest and her right hand was securely over his heart. He held her close to him, I imagine in silence, swaying in perfect peace and in perfect light. They moved closer then when his right cheek rested on her raven hair, and I could see his right arm hold her tightly. Her small dainty hand rested over his heart, the other his hand, interlocking their fingers together.
They were beautiful together. And I was happy they were happy. Feeling like I was overstepping, I left the high place that I was perched on.
Another time I found the famous couple engaged in a highly affectionate act was when I was walking in the forest with my brunette boyfriend. It was late, and I insisted going in dark places (because I'm odd like that), so he came with me. The dim light seeped through the pockets of the canopy creating an eerie atmosphere but I basked myself in the faint glow of the golden rays. It was then I heard laughter nearby.
I knew that was my Vice Captain's voice. I told my boyfriend to be quiet with a finger and walked around to find the famous couple.
"Hey, I don't think we should spy—"
"Shh," I hissed, climbing a tree to get a better view. I was quiet but even if I accidentally broke a twig they could not hear. There was appreciable distance between us and I suppressed my reiatsu so they could not feel me.
She giggled loudly again.
My dark eyes widened when I saw Ichigo capture Rukia's wrists, pushing her back against a tree trunk. He whispered things to her, which caused her to wriggle, but very soon his lips caught hers in a fierce kiss.
She became jelly under his touch, I saw.
The orange-haired man let go of her hands, allowing her arms to encircle neck. Their bodies melded together and my eyes widened further when his hands cupped her bottom and pushed her up higher against the tree bark. His mouth moved from her lips to her chin, before burying itself in her neck. A deep, seductive sound, a laugh maybe, escaped his throat after his tongue glided over her perfect skin. Her flesh gleamed at me and she threw her head back in delight, his name leaving her lips in moan. Her violet eyes then widened when his mouth stopped travelling to make a lover's bite.
My face turned red and my skin grew hot.
"What are you doing?!" my boyfriend hissed at me when he climbed up and saw what I was watching. Then I almost fell out of the tree, embarrassed, and left the forest.
You must really think I'm a stalker now, don't you?
My fondest moment of the most famous couple was a lazy Sunday afternoon. I was watching Rukia do some paperwork, but she did not know I regained consciousness. I had passed out earlier that day when I was practising kido and I was resting on a makeshift bed, almost hidden in the shadows. I only kept silent because I was too tired and too lazy to move.
My Vice Captain was humming to herself happily when she stood and opened the door. The heat was creeping in and she loosened her shinigami uniform. Then from behind her, I noticed an orange-haired Vice Captain snake his way in, wrapping his arms around her stomach and kissing her cheek. She did not look surprise and maybe she knew he was already there, but her smile grew enormously. Then, because of their height difference, he lifted her up effortlessly. Rukia's arm then slithered around his neck as his left arm supported her legs to properly carry her in a bridal-like manner.
"Can we go home now? I don't want to spend my time with your brother."
She laughed a little, her eyes gleaming of something devilish. "I thought you loved my brother."
Sweat rolled down his face. "I only say that to annoy him." He enjoyed evoking emotions from his brother-in-law, but Ichigo rather be doing other things. "So are you done?" The tall man glanced over at the paper stack on the brown desk and he got his answer. "I see you're working hard creating horrible pictures." His voice was laced with humour and warmth, but she still slapped him lightly on the shoulder.
"You mean to say wonderful art." So that was why she was humming happily; Rukia was also very famous for her drawings, especially the bunnies. I thought it they were cute.
Ichigo almost rolled his eyes. "You can draw when we go home, you know."
My Vice Captain feigned defeat, not bothering to put up a fight to stay. "I guess we should go. I wasn't going to finish the paperwork anytime soon."
Ichigo grinned then. He's a rule breaker so he did not care if she finished what she was supposed to finish. I didn't even think he did all of his paperwork. He probably made someone else do it since it's so tedious. I watched silently then as he let her down and then his hand contacted her bottom in a small slap.
She stiffened and her eyes narrowed. "What did you just do?"
His grin did not waver. "I slapped your ass. Now what are you going to do?"
I struggled to contain my laughter.
Rukia turned at him and made a weird laugh to mock him. "Oh, you'd like to know what I'd to do you." She punched him hard in his right chest and stood in some sort of stance, waiting for him.
He pretended to look like he was in pain when he placed his hand over where she hit him. "Ow. That hurt." His lips curved downwards. "I was hoping you would slap my ass in return." He turned and wiggled his butt at her, only to receive a hard kick, causing his face to kiss the floor.
And yeah, Ichigo was mad when he got up. "What was that for?!"
She blinked at him. "That was unnecessary?"
Then they started to fight. And when the fight progressed to her drawings, I decided to pretend I just woke up. The couple stopped when they saw me.
"You guys are so loud, go find a room." I pouted and exited, leaving them to themselves.
And as I walked away, I heard Ichigo say, "You know, we could use that bed for something else."
This time I did not hear Rukia fight him on it.
The only lesson learned from all this was when they thought no one was watching they were affectionate, physically close, and I would imagine…they had a healthy, fun, sex life.
(But to think of my Vice Captain like that almost makes me shudder though).
How to make a successful marriage work
I was engaged. I was terrified at the prospect of spending the rest of my life with the brunette I mentioned earlier. Okay, not the rest of my life but all eternity.
I was smart to skip the sake with Rangiku and went straight to Rukia (though later I admit, the sake helped before the wedding night).
"I have a question, Rukia."
She looked at me skeptically and waited.
"How do you prepare to spend eternity with someone?"
She frowned at me. "Don't think about it. Just enjoy it." The look she gave me said, "Little fool."
I blinked at her. "What? Don't you worry you and Ichigo will fall out of…love?" A look of terror crossed my face at the prospect of the most famous couple splitting apart.
Rukia shook her head. Then she crossed her arms, resting them under her breasts, and sat me on a chair. "The key to a successful marriage, or to any relationship, is to give space. I don't push him. I let him run wild. We do have our time apart from each other and then when we see each other again, and our feelings become stronger."
I did not say anything for a moment. "So you're saying, don't stick together too long or we'll get sick of each other?"
A shoulder lifted and fell. "Something like that." She sighed. "I don't think about it like that. He makes me happy and that's it. If you're worried about getting bored, just try to keep things exciting. We naturally fight daily, so we never get bored, and we're both willing to try new things so there's always something to look forward to. You also need to know when to give up, when to compromise and how to make up from disagreements." She opened her mouth to add, "Sex helps," as I suspected, but she controlled herself.
"That's it?" I asked afterwards, unsatisfied.
"Maybe one day I will wake up and realize I don't want to be with Ichigo, but I don't think that will happen anytime soon." She smiled at me, and it was one of those smiles that gave me hope. "When you wake up in the arms of the man you love, you will lose your doubts about eternity."
Kurosaki Rukia was very wise. This was why she was my hero.
What Others Say
I still haven't built enough courage to ask Ichigo or Rukia how exactly their relationship developed to what it is today. I did however, interview the people who were close to them.
The first man I sought was Kuchiki Byakuya. He was a tough one. He ignored me at first, but I tagged along where he went until he finally acknowledged me. That took four weeks.
"Byakuya-taicho, may I ask you some questions and I promise to leave your sight for a very long time!" I smiled at him sweetly and hoped he would cooperate.
Surprisingly, he nodded, obviously irritated with me.
"I heard you tried to sabotage your sister's wedding? Is that true?"
Byakuya's cold eyes frosted me with one look. "I don't know what you are talking about."
But I pressed on. "I also heard you cried at their wedding, not that I'm blaming you. Your enemy that defeated you twice was marrying your sister…" Then I stopped, realizing he was walking away from me. "Sorry! I meant to ask, is it true? Did you sabotage the wedding? Did you push Renji in the cake, or did he sit in the cake to get back at them? And did you have anything to do with the weird weather crackling in the background as they exchanged their vows? And how about the—"
Then he silenced me with a single finger. "Ask Renji. He should be able to answer all of your questions."
I huffed but I didn't go after him. I searched for Byakuya's Vice Captain instead.
When I found Renji his red-hair was tied up in a high ponytail as he was completing menial tasks that I did not question on, but for some reason he still intimidated me. "Hi Renji-fukutaicho!" I waved at him, smiling like an idiot.
He narrowed his eyes at me, knowing I was around Rukia a lot. "Hello," he started suspiciously, "What are you doing here?"
I walked in nonchalantly, sitting down on a chair across from him. "Your Captain sent me so you could answer my questions." He didn't look like he believed me so I quickly added, "I'm not lying."
He rolled his eyes, muttering something about annoying midgets, before giving me his attention. "Go ahead."
"Okay first question, did you try to sabotage Rukia and Ichigo's wedding? There were rumours you wanted to get back at Ichigo for taking your love so you sat in their cake! Also—"
Renji was flustered and he wildly waved his arms in the air. "First of all I did not sabotage their wedding. If I wanted to, I wouldn't ruin their stupid cake. And secondly, that damn Ikkaku pushed me in the cake!" He shook his fist in the air, threateningly, but I pressed on.
"So why would Ikkaku do something like that? And did your Captain have a hand in any of the accidents that occurred in their holy union?" My eyes were bright and hungry for knowledge. Ichigo would say hungry for gossip.
Renji glared at me. He was probably cursing his Captain mentally, but he gave me what I wanted. "Ikkaku pushed me because I tripped over something – I'm not saying any names but it should be obvious it was a certain man who was the most against the wedding – and I bumped into Ikkaku. Ikkaku got angry with me then and we started to fight. Rangiku, who was drunk on sake already, said something incredibly stupid, which distracted me…and so, I fell in the cake." He huffed out a sigh. "I did not sabotage their wedding." He said it so defensively that it made me suspicious if he really did do something.
"So why did he who shall not be named trip you?"
Renji sort of laughed, but he looked behind him quickly, just in case Byakuya was around. Then he motioned his hand forward so we leaned in and he whispered, "He was crying and I caught him."
My eyes widened and I gasped. "Really?!" The rumour was true?!
"He would never admit it though. I was sitting right beside him in the procession and I saw tears in his eyes. I said, 'Captain, are you crying?' Then he said, 'No. There's just something in my eye.'" Renji sighed but then let out a strangled laugh. He sat back in his chair and I marveled at the coolness that exuded from him. It was much like Ichigo's, and I was already aware that they had some sort of friendly rivalry - over the most stupidest things my Vice Captain told me - but in their own way Ichigo and Renji were brothers.
"Wow, he really didn't want Rukia married to Ichigo then." It was then I noticed a pained look on Renji's face that was only there for a second. Yes, I was also aware of the rumours that Renji really did love my Vice Captain. A lot.
But he recomposed his nonchalant, casual appearance. "Yeah, the Captain hated Ichigo's guts. If he's okay with him now, I'm not sure. I guess he is." He paused, his finger scratching his chin, "Because Ichigo makes Rukia happy." A corner of his lip rose. "They're good together."
I nodded, agreeing.
I wondered then how many hearts the famous couple broke when they came together, but that would be another story for another time.
And then I realized it would be really insensitive of me to ask him how Ichigo and Rukia exactly came to be.
The only person I realized that I could go to was Vice Captain Rangiku. My plan was to get her drunk and then pound her with questions.
"Ohohoho! So Renji told you about the wedding!" Rangiku laughed, her giant breasts bobbing up and down with excitement.
"Not really," I droned, taking another shot of the sake. "Just about some of the rumours."
She laughed again, pouring me another glass. I had a feeling we were going to have a big hangover tomorrow morning. "Yeah, it was an eventful wedding." She sighed loudly then, her big, beautiful crystal eyes peering through the window, as if waiting for a lost one.
I did not offer any comforting words though. I wondered if I was going to remember anything of this night. Then I asked her, "How did it happen?" I wanted the story. "How did Ichigo and Rukia become the most famous couple in Soul Society? How did the most two most unromantic people become man and wife?" I paused, gulping down another glass, before continuing, "I want the whole story, not the rumours."
Rangiku smiled at me, her crystal eyes piercing through mine. "I'm the one who spread the rumours." And she laughed again. "Ohohohoho!"
That laugh started to tick me off. "Why?"
She shrugged and drank again. "To protect them maybe."
My heart sank when she said that, but I could only wonder. What intentions did she have to protect them? A seductive thought came to me then. She must have loved someone so badly that she would only want others to feel the same and to have what she longed for the most.
My eyebrows furrowed at her. "From what?"
She whined. "I liked your other questions about the cake better. And Byakuya was bawling his eyes like a baby. Renji's stupid. How could he let the girl you love marry another man without fighting?!" She laughed again at the memory. "Ohohoho!"
"Fukutaicho," I began gently. She must have heard the desperation in my voice but of course she would not tell me. I was young. I had no right to know.
Then she was serious for another five seconds. "One of the rumours is true."
I had no right to know.
The following morning I woke up with a headache. Rangiku yelled something about being suffocated by her breasts, again, and quickly I walked back to my home. Then I decided for the last time I will find out the truth. And from the source itself.
If this attempt did not work, then I will give up forever.
Surprisingly, I was let inside the Byakuya castle; maybe the guards remembered me being around the Vice Captain so often that they just allowed me in. Then, I found their bedroom and I must have been too intoxicated to realize I should not be here. I really shouldn't be there. But I knocked anyways, gently. "Ichigo… Rukia?"
No one answered.
So I turned to walk away. At that moment an orange-haired man opened the door. He was surprised to see me there with messy, black hair, red, teary eyes, and maybe he smelt that I had been out drinking. There was concern on his face. "What's wrong?"
I opened my mouth to say something but no words came out. His hair was tousled and his hard-rock chest and abdomen were exposed since he wore no shirt but only plain shorts. The tired look in his eyes told me he just woke up.
"Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to wake you. I'm sorry." I apologized but my eyes strayed to the door crack and I caught sight of my Vice Captain sleeping on the bed. I knew she was naked. Her body was tangled up with white sheets, and her curvy calves, shoulders and even one of her humble breasts were uncovered. Her whole body was highlighted by few golden rays of the sun; she shimmered like as a goddess, in that halo again.
"Are you sure?" he asked. "I could smell your breath." His nose wrinkled at me and I felt ashamed.
But I acted innocent, blinking and rubbing my eyes. "No, it's okay. Had too many with Vice Captain Rangiku." I bowed. "Sorry again Vice Captain Ichigo."
I quickly left. Again.
I failed in knowing the whole story, even though I knew pieces of it. Maybe I'm never meant to know the entire tale of how they came to be… but the ending is the most important part, right?
They're together and they're happy.
There are many things I left out. There are other tales and other people involved. I failed to mention Ichigo's father, his sisters, and if I ever met their children (if they had). Maybe another time.
I will end my account by divulging a few minor details about them and their relationship, only because you are as curious (and obsessed) as I am.
They do not celebrate anniversaries or holidays such as Valentine's Day, but they have their spot that they go to together and watch the sunset. It is rumoured that it is the place where they had departed before (when Ichigo saved Rukia the first time in Soul Society as the ryoka).
They do not show their affection in public. Sometimes they make subtle gestures but the look they give each other is enough. Even I feel embarrassed and they're not even doing anything. However, it is rumoured that behind closed doors they cannot keep their hands off of each other.
They do not have endearing names for each other. In fact, they throw insults. She calls him idiot, strawberry, hunny bunny, or rather anything bunny, but in a teasing tone to tick him off. He calls her shorty, midget, or just a simple "yo," or "oi," but his voice is not harsh. It is rumoured she dared to call him her lover and best friend in front of her brother to defend their engagement.
They do not talk about their feelings. No one has really heard Ichigo tell her he loves her or how much she means to him, or vice versa. They do not gush about each other. It's rumoured that Vice Captain Rangiku tried to get them drunk, so they will expose their secrets, but the famous couple saw right through her and denied the offer.
They do not look dead when they are together. Rather they are alive. Their faces brighten up, even in anger or in a fight. It is rumoured that Ichigo tried not to smile so much when he's around her, because he knows he can't help himself; and she tried not to touch him so much, because she can't help herself either.
And finally, they do make each other happy. Ichigo buys his wife art supplies and/or anything bunny related. It is rumoured she has a stuffed-bunny collection but the exact location is unknown. Rukia, on the other hand, will start a fight but she lets her husband win in the end. It is rumoured that he feels the best when he is in control, powerful, and thus feels able to protect all that he cares about. Actually, that is more fact than rumour. Oh well.
Hoped you enjoyed my account. I know Mr. and Mrs. Kurosaki will not be so happy with this (if they find out)… but let's hope they understand a fan's need to learn (everything) about their favourite couple. Soul Society's most famous couple.
Author's Note: It actually took me a lot of time to write this and re-read it. And a lot of effort. Kudos to you for getting all the way to the end (over 9700 words)! I do plan on writing a smut fic to compliment this piece (but not in the 3rd person view obviously). Though it may come out quicker if I get some encouragement, wink wink nudge nudge. Oh, I already found the title for it, Behind Closed Doors! One more comment to make, the prospect of both Ichigo and Rukia becoming Vice Captains was a difficult decision to make. What it boiled down to is that I wanted them to have the same rank; they were partners, equals, husband and wife. That's the way I saw it.