Before the Fall

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. That honor belongs to Tite Kubo.

Warnings: Spoilers for the Soul Society Arc

All characters are depicted as legal age in this chapter and subsequent ones.

AN: As the title implies this is supposed to cover the years before their relationship.

#01 - Ring

Rukia doesn't really care for jewelry, but she will occasionally wear a simple silver ring, an anonymous gift she received one White Day.

#02 - Hero

Kurosaki Ichigo is his hero since he succeeded in saving Rukia when Jyuushiro would've failed.

#03 - Memory

He only has faint recollections of the last time he was with a woman or even when he last had more than a passing interest; his illness has taken far more from him than his health.

#04 - Box

Tucked away on a half-hidden shelf in her room, Rukia has a box containing all of her most treasured possessions; nestled among them is the sakura blossom her captain gave the first time she was denied a promotion.

#05 - Run

She goes as fast as she can, but even shunpo is not fast enough for her to outrun how she feels.

#06 - Hurricane

Rukia has never seen a hurricane, but when she first sees Sougyo no Kotowari unleashed, reiatsu all but driving her to the ground, she thinks this is exactly what it must be like.

#07 - Wings

He may not have a bankai like Byakuya or Hitsugaya-kun, but he can still reach her, if only he were completely willing to take the chance.

#08 - Cold

Winter is her domain, her kingdom, but she's not nearly as cold or aloof as she pretends to be.

#09 - Red

She calmly sits with him on days he's ill, even as she tries her best to ignore just how blood-stained his robes and haori really are.

#10 - Drink

Shunsui pours him another cup, silently supporting his friend as he once again agonizes over his lovely subordinate and the choice that stands before him.

#11 - Midnight

Rukia shares her brother's love of nighttime strolls, and when she walks around the division, it isn't usual for her to wander by her captain's rooms.

#12 - Temptation

She has only just been saved from execution and this is hardly the time or the place, but he can't stop himself as he brushes a stray strand of hair from her face.

#13 - View

Jyuushiro knows that he would die a very quick death via Senbonzakura if Byakuya even had an inkling of what was going through his mind.

#14 - Music

He hums to himself as he gazes out his window, watching her practice kidoh and trying to fight down a tingle of jealousy when the male members of her squad do the same.

#15 - Silk

Her kimono is obviously expensive and in graduated shades of purple and blue, and when she softly smiles at him, he can barely withstand the urge to lean across the table and kiss her.

#16 - Cover

Shunsui has offered to provide an alibi, but Jyuushiro is always quick to change the subject, the temptation all too much for him.

#17 - Promise

He made a solemn vow to keep an eye on his fellow captain's sister; he doesn't think that this is quite what Byakuya had in mind.

#18 - Dream

Her hands slide over his skin after easing his haori off his shoulders and to the floor, and she moves to the sash at his waist, even as he backs them slowly to his futon; when he wakes with a start some indeterminable amount of time later, Shunsui smirks wickedly.

#19 - Candle

The fires burn lower as they sit next to each, almost but not quite touching; for all that the distance between them is mere inches, it might as well be miles.

#20 - Talent

Rukia is more than qualified enough to be a seated officer, and despite his promise to her brother, Jyuushiro can't help his desire to promote her to the position she so readily deserves.

#21 - Silence

She quietly watches her captain, never once voicing the thoughts running rampant in her head.

#22 - Journey

She has gone from the worst of the slums in Rukongai to the noblest of houses in Seireitei, but through it all, Rukia never truly wavered until she's awaiting her execution and regretting all the things she should have said but never did.

#23 - Fire

There is a gleam in his eyes, a burning desire that he usually keeps hidden.

#24 - Strength

They're unbelievably fragile after Kaien dies, more broken than whole, and Jyuushiro supposes it's only natural for them to draw together.

#25 - Mask

Rukia lets her noble persona slip for a moment, weariness evident on her face, and it takes all of his willpower not to do something wildly inappropriate as he tries to comfort her.

#26 - Ice

Jyuushiro has always been fascinated by snow, and he finds it fitting that he's just as mesmerized by Rukia, the frosty princess of the Kuchiki clan.

#27 - Fall

He is teetering on the edge, so close but unwilling to take the plunge, unwilling to drag her down with him.

#28 - Forgotten

Rukia now remembers what it's like to desire something unattainable.

#29 - Dance

He watches with amazement the first time he sees her zanpakutou, fascinated as Shirayuki and Rukia glide through the air in a whirl of white and black.

#30 - Body

Although he may be weak physically, her captain has a spirit stronger than anything she's ever encountered.

#31 - Sacred

There's a bond between a captain and his division; Jyuushiro fears how his subordinates would react if they knew the truth about his feelings for one of their lowest-ranked members.

#32 - Farewells

Jyuushiro gives her a strained but heartfelt goodbye as she steps through the gate for her first solo assignment in the living world.

#33 - World

"So it will continue then; this avoidance of what you feel?" Shirayuki asks as she strides up beside her, gazing out at the snowy landscape.

#34 - Formal

The thirteenth division has never really stood on procedure, and he often uses that as an excuse, showing far more familiarity than is strictly proper.

#35 - Fever

Retsu-chan is kind of enough to never mention what she overhears during his mumblings, though she often gazes at Rukia with sadness during their association meetings.

#36 - Laugh

Even when she first joined the division, hers was a rare but marvelous thing, and Jyuushiro frequently wonders just what he needs to do to hear it more often.

#37 - Lies

Jyuushiro has never been able to deceive himself, never able to hide the truth of what he feels, no matter how desperately he wants to save her from the shame of such a scandal.

#38 - Forever

The years pass slower than Rukia ever imagined possible when the person she wants most is always beyond her reach.

#39 - Overwhelmed

His reiatsu is overpowering but strangely gentle, wrapping around her protectively as the Hollows swarm toward them.

#40 - Whisper

"I only wish…" he murmurs, and Shunsui just nods; he knows what it is like to desire someone forbidden.

#41 - Wait

Rukia quietly lingers outside the door to her captain's study, and Ukitake-taichou tenderly smiles and asks her to join him for tea.

#42 - Talk

It isn't unusual for him to invite Rukia to his office; his third-seats think he's merely checking up on her for Byakuya, but Jyuushiro does it simply to hear the sound of her voice.

#43 - Search

Rukia finds him by the lake at his favorite spot under a willow tree and is about to sneak away when he calls out to her with a grin.

#44 - Hope

"You've lost, my friend; dear Rukia-chan has already stolen your heart."

#45 - Eclipse

The sun and moon dance around each other, just beyond reach, but every so often, they stray too close, brushing and blotting out all the stars.

#46 - Gravity

She is drawn to him, to his gentle smile and loving ways.

#47 - Highway

The road is clean but empty, and Jyuushiro travels it with ease to the Kuchiki estate, fighting the urge to shunpo there in his eagerness.

#48 - Unknown

Matsumoto swears that Rukia must have a secret admirer since she keeps receiving all sorts of gifts for her birthday and White Day.

#49 - Lock

Jyuushiro leaves the door and windows open since to do anything else would be beyond suspicious, but judging by the sympathetic gleam cast to Kiyone's face, he realizes that his secret really isn't that much of one anymore.

#50 - Breathe

He gazes into her unbelievably blue eyes and finally takes the plunge over the edge, and after a lifetime of not getting enough air, Jyuushiro is finally able to breathe.

Ever Hopeful,