Notes: The final chapter. It's been fun, and a bit weird. There's another Bleach fic trying to burrow its way out of my brain, but it isn't funny like this one, so I doubt it'll get posted at all. There's a sneak peak at the end to tease you with, though.
Ichigo and the Beanstalk
A Bleach Fanfic by
Nate Grey (xman0123-at-aol-dot-com)
Part 11: Two Bratty Mice
Eight Years Later…
Uryu was a gentleman, but for once in his life, he was seriously considering striking a small child. Not because she was Ichigo's daughter, or even because she insisted that a Quincy sounded like a small, flightless Australian bird with a brain smaller than a raisin.
No, it was because she always hit him first. And no one ever saw her do it!
Oh, how he hated that demon spawn. Even Ichigo had some tolerable moments, but not her. She was a beast, a ruffian, a twisted and evil... THING that needed to be put down, or destroyed in some way, repeatedly and mercilessly.
He should've known she'd be trouble, simply from her name. Why Orihime had insisted on that name, no one but Ichigo knew, and he was still touchy on the subject, despite how much he loved his girls. And as that particular girl had grown, she'd grown mean, and sneaky, and downright annoying... exactly like her namesake, in other words.
Even now, as he watched her playing oh so innocently with her twin, Uryu was not fooled. Orihime only asked him to baby-sit the orange-haired menaces because no one else ever would.
A few minutes later, the non-evil twin skipped over and latched onto his leg. "Ishi-san, can we have our cookies and milk now, please?"
He sighed. "Yes, Masaki-chan. You may each have two cookies and one glass of milk."
"Chocolate milk?" she asked hopefully.
"No," he said firmly. "Your mother was very specific about that."
Masaki pouted. "Please, Ishi-san?"
"I'm afraid not. Now go collect your... sister."
Only the sister wasn't there anymore... just as Uryu had suspected. He ran into the house, straight into a rapidly spreading puddle of chocolate milk and oatmeal raisin cookies (it had to be raisins, of course). Glaring, he pointed a single, trembling finger at the troublemaker, whose lips were dripping with chocolate milk. "YOU!"
A wicked grin split her face, and then she bolted, leaving him to slip and slide his way through the mess.
"YORUICHI!!!" he howled, chasing her upstairs and into her room. "Get back down there and clean up your mess!"
"Nyaaaaaaah!" she whined, sticking out her tongue. "You can't make me, Ishi-baka!"
For a moment, Uryu forgot himself, traces of violent blue energy collecting on his fingertips. Then a heavy hand came down on his shoulder.
"That wouldn't be an attack I sensed, would it?" asked a silky voice in his ear.
Uryu scowled and instantly released the energy in a harmless pulse. "Yoruichi-san."
The woman grinned (catlike, of course) and gestured to the child. "Come on, Ichi-chan. Today I'm going to show you how to catch rats."
"Yaaaaaay!" little Yoruichi squealed, zipping across the room and latching onto her namesake's back.
"And why," Uryu asked, "would she need to learn that?"
"In case a rat gets in," the elder Yoruichi replied. "Don't worry, I won't tell her how to eat them. She'll have to figure that out on her own."
"I'm calling Orihime," Uryu said at once.
"Go ahead. I'll tell her how you almost shot her child. Again."
"SHE STARTED IT!!!"
"Got any proof?" the elder Yoruichi asked, tossing the giggling child high into the air, and catching her neatly on one hip. "Didn't think so."
Uryu watched helplessly as both Yoruichi left the room (the little one stuck her tongue out at him again along the way), and was still standing there when Ichigo's other daughter poked her head in.
"Um, do I have to clean up the mess downstairs? It's spreading..."
"No, Masaki-chan. I'll do it," Uryu muttered.
"I would appreciate it."
They walked downstairs together, only to find that the "rats" the elder Yoruichi had referred to were actually oranges, and little Yoruichi was having the time of her life, sliding through the chocolate milk puddle and slamming into furniture while trying to snatch up the oranges as she went zooming past.
"You have to be faster than that, Ichi-chan! Those rats won't hold still when they see you coming!"
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" Uryu howled.
The elder Yoruichi glanced at him. "Told you. Catching rats."
"IN CHOCOLATE MILK?!"
She shrugged. "Well, it would attract them. In theory."
"Oh, that's IT!" Uryu grabbed the phone and started dialing. He tried to ignore the particularly loud crash behind him when someone finally picked up on the other end.
"Yes?" murmured a curiously hazy voice that might have belonged to Orihime, that is if she'd been sniffing paint again.
"Orihime? Yoruichi is slamming your daughter into furniture. Again!"
There was a slight giggle. "Stop that, Ichigo! I'm on the phone!"
Uryu coughed, loudly and falsely. "But if I'm interrupting something more important than the safety of your daughters..."
"No, no. Um, tell Yoruichi-san that we'll be home in half an hour."
"I do hope you plan to shower first?"
"Wouldn't be a good idea. Those take me forever now, you know, since Ichigo can't keep his hands to himself in enclosed spaces, so-"
"I'm hanging up now," Uryu growled, slamming the phone down.
"They were doing it, weren't they?" the elder Yoruichi asked with that same catlike grin.
"Oh, shut up," Uryu grumbled, just as the smaller Yoruichi crashed into an expensive-looking lamp.
"I almost feel guilty, leaving him alone with the girls," Ichigo sighed, yawning loudly.
"Well, he said if I ever needed anything once they were born," Orihime pointed out, snuggling against his shoulder. She had always liked his shoulders. Maybe because they looked better when they were as bare as she currently was, but that wasn't really important.
What was important was that any minute now, Karin could come in without knocking, again, and catch them having sex in Ichigo's room. Well, she'd catch the evidence that they'd had sex, assuming Ichigo was as tired as he seemed.
Ichigo had been a little weird about having sex with her again, at first. He kept asking if she was sure, and Orihime had finally just shoved her tongue into his mouth out of frustration. That had been the end of Ichigo's resistance. He still didn't like the fact that Orihime had shown no interest in marriage, but he had gotten her to agree to them being exclusive. So even if Orihime wasn't his wife, she was still technically his, and that was enough to keep Isshin from whining about a wedding (but not from humming "Here Comes the Bride" each time he saw Orihime).
They were also being very careful not to have any other children. It wasn't that big a deal if birth control ever failed, but they'd both agreed that having two Yoruichi running loose was pressing their luck as it was. And Orihime was leaning towards Zaraki for a name if they ever had a boy, so Ichigo in particular was very careful about not getting her pregnant.
Neither of them was quite so devoted to the idea that they stopped having sex regularly, though. Orihime enjoyed it far too much to stop, and Ichigo wasn't exactly refusing her advances anymore. He still wasn't in love with Orihime, but he could no longer safely say he didn't love her at all. At the least, she was the mother of his children, and at the most, only Orihime could unknowingly smile at him in a way that made him feel both invincible and powerless at the same time.
It was Uryu who had finally given definition to Ichigo's feelings of attachment to Orihime. "You're completely devoted to her, Ichigo. I believe the modern terminology is, 'You're whipped, wussy man.'" And Ichigo couldn't even get mad, as he knew for a fact that Uryu had learned the phrase from little Yoruichi (who had no doubt learned it from big Yoruichi).
Whatever he was, Ichigo was content. Yachiru practically ran the 14th Division by herself now, though she got plenty of help from the task force that Yamamoto had appointed. Most of the task force was made up of lieutenants from other Divisions, so they constantly rotated in order to prevent anyone from being away from their Division for too long. That was both a blessing and a curse, because Ichigo never knew when Rukia or Renji might drop in unannounced. But from what he'd heard, those two had managed to keep pretty busy.
"I'm really impressed, Hinamori," Rukia whispered to the younger woman. "Exactly how did you get Ogichi to agree to this triple date?"
Hinamori grinned at her. "It was easy. I told him that Renji called him a chicken."
Rukia blinked and glanced down the table at Ogichi, who was calmly sipping from a mug of hot tea and not bothering anyone. "He's taking it rather well."
"Oh, he's boiling on the inside. And as soon as he gets Renji alone, I doubt we'll see either one again until they've thoroughly beaten the crap out of each other. It should give me some time to do some shopping, actually. Interested?"
"Sure, but aren't you even a little worried?"
Hinamori shook her head. "Nope. Ogicihi knows how hard it is to replace tough challengers, so he won't kill anyone that's worth fighting. And Renji probably would insult him eventually, so it all works out."
"It's really disturbing, how much thought you've put into this," Rukia noted.
"Trust me, things would be a lot worse if I didn't." Hinamori paused and glanced down towards the end of the table herself. "Now, explain to me again: WHY are Renji and Ururu dating? And why is everyone okay with it?"
Rukia grinned. "It's the weirdest thing! Apparently, she's older than him, and I don't just mean in terms of maturity. She just ages really well, for some reason. Maybe it's all those pure thoughts."
"You're kidding, right?"
"If the rumors are true, she's got stretch marks older than Renji."
"EW!" Hinamori squealed, drawing a laugh from Rukia.
"I'm just telling you what I heard. But I think she's good for him, and I'm glad she found someone. That breakup with Jinta was really ugly."
Hinamori sighed heavily. "Well, it wasn't entirely his fault. If he hadn't walked in on Rangiku in the baths, he'd still be with poor Ururu."
"I still say he was an idiot for breaking up with Ururu when he never even had a chance with Rangiku. And when Rangiku did find out, she had him transferred to her Division, and then demoted him to the lowest possible rank. I think she called it 'negative infinity seat' or something like that. The last I saw of him, he was cleaning the mess hall with his own toothbrush. Even worse, I think Rangiku still makes him use it on his teeth afterwards."
"Sounds like something she'd do," Hinamori agreed. "So what's new with you and Nemu? Any plans to take things further?"
Rukia shook her head. "We haven't really discussed it. Nemu seems to like where we are now just fine, and I don't have any complaints. She's made it clear that I'm the only one for her, and that's already more than I've ever gotten from anyone else. I don't know know that things like marriage really matter to her, or if she even understands them. I can't imagine that Captain Kurotsuchi would ever bother explaining such topics to her."
Orihime was very fortunate in that her daughters inherited her rather odd taste buds: they would eat virtually anything, so long as it was smothered in whipped cream or drowning in melted cheese. Meals in their home were less about cooking, and, in Ichigo's view, hoping that anything that wasn't moving had been killed long before it reached their house, instead of by whatever Orihime had done to it afterwards.
The girls never complained, and Ichigo loved Orihime far too much to ever tell her a second time that her cooking was slightly more dangerous than trying to fight Aizen with a rubber chicken.
So Orihime continued to cook every week as if it were perfectly safe, choosing to ignore that all invitations to dine at their house were either firmly or fearfully refused.
If asked why she insisted on cooking, Orihime would admit that there were three reasons.
The first was that her children genuinely enjoyed her food, and that was a VERY rare thing.
The second was that it became increasingly easy to drive off unwanted visitors, simply by always having something bubbling or smoking in the kitchen.
The third was that once every month, Ichigo would dump the girls on someone, take Orihime to a fancy restaurant and let her order whatever she wanted. This would be followed by movies, dancing, lovemaking, and anything else that she might want... all so she wouldn't be able to cook for at least one night.
It was almost a year before Yuzu finally pulled Ichigo aside and pointed out that maybe the reason Orihime cooked almost every night was because she secretly hoped that he would take her out on those nights, as well. Orihime denied this, but she always dropped her plans instantly if Ichigo even implied that they might be going out.
Karin thought they were both insane, and firmly believed that they had each pissed off someone important in order to deserve each other.
In retrospect, Captain Hitsugaya should've known better than to trust his former lieutenant. But somehow, when Matsumoto smiled at him and promised that everything would be fine, he just conveniently forgot most of the wrong she'd done by him.
It was bad enough that Hitsugaya had to share his first date with Kiyone with anyone. Already he'd been awkward and sweaty for nearly a week prior to the date.
But if he'd known then that he would find himself having that first date while Captain Unohana, Captain Komamura, Hanataro, and Matsumoto (even in his mind, he stubbornly refused to associate her with her proper title) looked on smugly, he would've just talked Kiyone into a quiet night of tea shared over paperwork in his office.
On the other hand, Hitsugaya was still amazed that Kiyone hadn't fled the moment she realized they wouldn't be alone together. Either she was already too embarrassed to run away, or she just really, really wanted to date him.
He also had to give Matsumoto credit: he never would've thought of mini-golf as a good first date. It was lucky that she'd played a few rounds with Chad and Ururu in the past, but her game hadn't improved at all. Hitsugaya found he was a natural golfer, as was Unohana. Hanataro was horrible, and Kiyone could get the ball into the hole, just not consistently. Komamura was a bit harder to place: when his swings didn't total the course itself, he generally hit the ball with such force that, so long as the ball landed within twenty feet of the hole, the resulting crater swallowed up the hole, and was therefore, technically, a hole in one.
Hitsugaya, Unohana, and Komamura ended up with the best scores, and Matsumoto, somewhat sore about placing only above Hanataro, suggested that the men treat someone else's date to ice cream. Hitsugaya quickly offered to buy Unohana's ice cream, correctly assuming that she would eat far less than Matsumoto, who left a considerable dent in Komamura's funds. Hanataro got a free pass, because when Kiyone saw Unohana thank Hitsugaya with a chaste kiss on the cheek, she lost her appetite and was gloomy for the rest of the night.
Consequently, it was simultaneously the best and worst date that Hitsugaya had ever been on.
Inexplicably, on their next date, Kiyone simply dragged him into her room, and they stayed there until one of them recalled that food and water would be needed at some point.
Zaraki had taken something of a leave of absence from the Royal Guard. They'd made quite a stink over that, at first. But then he'd made them aware of something.
"There's a kid walking around with about half of my original spiritual pressure. Do you REALLY want him to go any longer without some proper training?"
Needless to say, they saw his point.
The only kid Zaraki had ever been any good with was Yachiru, but Kouryou was easy enough to handle. He did what Zaraki told him eagerly and without complaint, and was content to take Yachiru's old place on Zaraki's shoulder whenever she wasn't present.
There was no one set place that they trained in, although they occasionally made their way to Urahara's shop, just to bust up the place a bit. Ichigo insisted it was tradition, but Urahara clearly didn't share that opinion: he usually had to draw Benihime to get them to leave, and that was often more likely to make them stay longer in hopes of a good fight.
Kouryou was considered a master swordsman by the time he was twelve, and was well on his way to becoming the next Kenpachi at sixteen. Though he was hardly ever there, he was given the 3rd Seat in Ichigo's Division, more because he always chickened out whenever Yachiru challenged him to a fight.
At home, though, he was just Kou-kun, the older brother who was gentle enough to comfort Masaki when she cried, and tough enough to wrestle their sister Yoruichi into submission whenever she got too rowdy (which was roughly every other day).
"Alright, you worthless maggots!" Yachiru yelled as she marched in front of the 14th Division's newest recruits. "I am Lieutenant Kusajishi, and as of right now, all of your butts belong to me! That means I get to kick or swat them whenever I feel like it, and I promise that none of you will enjoy it!"
"You know," Tatsuki whispered to Chad, "I think she's enjoying this a little too much."
"Quiet," Chad whispered back. "Here comes the good part."
"Now," Yachiru said calmly, "who here thinks they can beat me up?"
Several cocky young men stepped out of the line.
Less then a minute later, all of them were quivering on the ground, while Yachiru dusted off her hands and called for someone to mop up the urine.
"Okay, let's start with something simple. Everybody run laps until I get tired. MOVE!"
The new recruits practically fell over themselves in their hurry to get started, and Yachiru yawned cutely before noticing that she was being watched. "What? I barely even touched them this time!"
"We didn't say anything," Tatsuki reminded her. "I'm impressed, actually. But doesn't it bother you? You've basically got them peeing on command now. They're like puppies."
"Puppies are nice," Yachiru said fondly, "but kitties are better. They're smarter."
"That's not really the point."
Yachiru blinked. "Really? What was it, then?"
Tatsuki sighed heavily. "Forget it."
Ichigo was disgusted to find that, one day, without warning, he'd become his father.
Suddenly, his shirts were just approaching outlandish, he had the strangest urge to take naps in the middle of the day, and several times he caught himself bursting into song about how cute his daughters were. Masaki would sing along, but little Yoruichi would just stare, hard, and ask to sleep over at Karin's, since Karin banned all singing in HER apartment.
But Ichigo came to accept these occurrences as natural, for a Kurosaki male. For one thing, he'd survived growing up with his father more or less intact.
For another, whenever he did take a nap, he always woke up with two extra little bodies attached to him, so he had to be doing something right. The downside was that for being so little, his girls had inherited his strength, and no one but Orihime could pry them off.
It was never quite that simple, though.
Ichigo would wake up and hiss, "Orihime, they're ON me again!"
Orihime would reply with something like, "And? It's fun being on you. I would know."
To which Ichigo would blush and growl, "ORIHIME!"
And since Orihime had gotten rather used to Ichigo only saying her name with love and devotion in his voice, she would get annoyed and snap, "Do you really have a problem waking up with two angels attached to you?"
"In a word? YES!" Ichigo would answer.
"Fine! Then try it with three!" And then Orihime would add herself to the pile, and Ichigo would be stuck for at least another two hours.
Kon had been inconsolable upon Yukinko's death.
The whole process lasted maybe a minute.
Then Yukinko's spirit stood up, smiled at him, and said, "Let's get you out of that dusty old thing, Kon-chan."
She'd made him a new body on the spot, out of the fresh snow that had begun to fall the moment she drew breath again (never mind the fact that they were still indoors). And when she transferred his soul, Kon felt something click, and knew that this would remain his body for as long as he existed in this life.
Kon could have mentioned that he would've preferred a human body. He could've asked why her shinigami robes were white instead of the expected black. He was even tempted to point out that, while a snow-white lion's body was a nice fit, she could've left out the huge Quincy cross on the back of his head. But when she scratched him there, all he could do was purr loudly and rub against her legs.
"It's kind of stuffy in here," she said next, moving towards the door. "Let's go outside."
Kon felt the need to stay. Pervert though he was, he was loyal, and it didn't feel right to just leave her body sitting there for someone to find. Why, someone could come along and cop a feel! Mind you, someone like him, but even Kon wouldn't fondle the dead. It wasn't fun or challenging, for one thing, and part of him enjoyed the chase.
But then Yukinko made a whistling noise and cooed, "Walkies!"
Kon was moving so fast that he nearly banged into the doorframe in his hurry to return to her side. He was rewarded with another scratch, and then they calmly walked past the nurses, who of course took no notice of them. With every step, Yukinko's enormous spiritual pressure seemed to flex itself, as if testing the waters, and Kon wondered if she, too, had benefited from living so close to Ichigo.
Yukinko had no definite destination in mind, so they just walked the darkened streets for a few hours. They ran into a Hollow along the way, and before Kon could even think to defend his mistress, she pointed and commanded, "Bite, Kon-chan!" And the next thing Kon knew, the Hollow was screaming as he tore out its throat.
Kon realized very quickly that Yukinko had complete control over snow, which included his new body. And it wasn't that he minded obeying her, but the choice was totally taken out of his hands, and now he was mindlessly obeying. In the long run, that was probably a good thing, because it meant there was no real need to punish Kon if he got caught drooling at her breasts; she could just force him to look away.
Their outing was interrupted, quite rudely, when someone shouted, "What do you think you're doing out here, Smiley McWhite Hair?! You're late for the midnight sparring session!"
Kon did his very best to hide behind Yukinko. Yachiru had a habit of picking up and mercilessly squeezing things she found cute, and his former body was firmly on that list. It didn't help that she'd grown slightly over years, in both height and spiritual pressure.
Yukinko didn't seem to recognize the danger. "Oh, Yachiru! I'm afraid we got lost. Do you think you could overlook it just this once?"
Yachiru eyed the white gumball that suddenly appeared in Yukinko's hand. "Well... just this one time," she agreed, snatching the candy and pocketing it. "Grab your kitty and let's go. And it's Lieutenant Kusajishi from now on."
"More like pink tyrant," Kon muttered under his breath.
"Gumball Kido 48: Red Hot Death!" Yachiru shouted.
Kon screeched as a flaming gumball flew from Yachiru's hand and zipped past his face, burning off most of his whiskers.
"Bad kitty! No back talk!" Yachiru snapped, narrowing her eyes.
Kon's eyes teared up, and he gazed at his mistress pleadingly.
But Yukinko just shook her head and scratched his ear. "Behave, Kon-chan."
Kon had no choice but to do just that, but still managed to seethe when Yachiru shot him a triumphant smirk.
As a rule, Ichigo was largely excused from most Captains' meetings. It was just too much trouble to constantly travel to Soul Society the "proper" way, and he always got yelled at any time he or Kouryou simply ripped their way in. Instead, the Kido Corps and the 12th Division put their collective heads together and came up with a new breed of Hell Butterflies that delivered messages solely to the 14th Division. Through some mysterious process, samples of Ichigo's spiritual pressure were transformed into orange, moth-like bugs, which could burn their way through just about anything with their tiny, fiery auras. They were inexplicably attracted to Ichigo's hair, and insisted on landing on his head no matter what he did. Failing that, they would circle Yachiru while she blew bubbles at them, at least until someone reminded her that they hadn't come simply to play with her.
But when Ichigo did finally return to the Soul Society, it was for a good cause: Rukia and Nemu's wedding. Actually, it was more like a very large social gathering, in which two young women just happened to forever entwine their lives. Rukia didn't want to make a big deal out of it, and Nemu didn't care one way or the other, so only ten minutes were devoted to the actual ceremony. The party simply dragged on for five or six hours afterward.
Oddly enough, Rukia asked Uryu to be her "man of honor" (she hadn't forgotten the lovely haori he'd made for Ichigo), and he was delighted to help out. That is, until he showed up with Femu on his arm, only to find that practically EVERYONE was accompanied by a Nemu clone as well. Then he felt a bit silly. But, as Ichigo loudly pointed out, at least it was obvious that he wasn't gay anymore. Uryu briefly considered getting into a fight over the fact that he had NEVER been gay, but declined in favor of simply noting that at least Femu had never been questioned about releasing a plague of biblical proportions upon the free world. Ichigo had nearly asked what he meant, but little Yoruichi chose that moment to race past dragging a large rum keg, giggling madly while half of the 11th Division chased her. Ichigo swallowed his pride and simply wished Uryu and Femu a long and happy life together. He also lectured Uryu on the wisdom of birth control, and, failing that, the proper naming of children... but only while Orihime was busy dancing with Jidanbo (or at least making a spirited attempt at it, physically impossible as it was).
Captain Kurotsuchi declined to attend. Frankly, he was still puzzled as to why the "clone" that Rukia was marrying hadn't obeyed his order to call the wedding off. He was convinced that there had to be some flaw in its design (that HE wasn't responsible for), but for the life of him, he couldn't figure out what it might be.
Epilogue: And They Lived Happily?
Ichigo had never been the romantic sort, but he honestly did try, and that was usually enough for Orihime. But he would occasionally do something completely un-Ichigo-like, just for her, and those gestures were usually her favorites.
With Kouryou traveling so much with Zaraki, and Ichigo regularly conning others into watching the girls, the family was rarely all together at once. The only constant exception was Ichigo's mother's birthday, when they all went down to the cemetery. Even little Yoruichi was subdued on those days, and would cling to Kouryou's hand so tightly that she could easily be mistaken for her sister.
Orihime always asked for a little time alone with the late Masaki. She would ask Ichigo's mother to watch over the girls. Though it wasn't necessary to hide it, she somehow thought that Ichigo would think she was being silly. She just felt that way, despite the fact that Ichigo liked that Orihime wanted to pay her respects, and never gave her a hard time about it.
It was during one of those trips that little Masaki wandered over and tugged on Orihime's hand.
"Not now, sweetie," Orihime said gently. "I'm talking to Grandma."
"Daddy says that Grandma says you talk too much, Mommy," Masaki replied.
Orihime simply stared at her, not sure whether to frown or smile.
"Daddy says that if you want Grandma to keep listening to you, you should wear this from now on."
Orihime knew what she would see when she looked at Masaki's outstretched hands, but somehow, the diamond ring seemed even brighter, simply because her daughter was offering it to her.
"You should wear it, Mommy," Masaki said softly. "I think Grandma would like that. Kou-kun can keep his old name if he wants, but me and Ichi-chan want to be Kurosakis. Don't you?"
Before Orihime could respond, there was a loud snap, and she turned to see Ichigo, both Yoruichi, Kouryou, Yachiru, Karin, Yuzu, Femu, and Isshin tumble out of the bushes where they'd obviously been spying on her.
"Just put on the ring so we don't have to sneak around like idiots anymore," Karin sighed.
"We really want you to become part of our family, Orihime," Yuzu pleaded. "Officially, anyway."
Ichigo eventually managed to extract himself from the bottom of the pile (although not from Yachiru, who seemed to be attached to his shoulder) and slowly approached Orihime, who had gone back to staring at the ring Masaki was holding.
"Look, Orihime. I'm sure you could come up of plenty of reasons not to marry me. But none of them are going to change the fact that we love each other. And I have to say, for someone that's usually so considerate of everyone, it's pretty inconsiderate of you to keep saying no to me. That sort of thing starts to hurt a guy's feelings after a while. So what's it going to take to make you change your mind? Whatever it is, I'll do it. But we're not leaving here until you say yes, and if you don't believe me, there's camping gear in the car."
"You just want to get married in front of your mother, don't you?" Orihime asked softly.
"It'd be nice," was all Ichigo would admit to. "You're not going to make me beg, are you?"
Orihime slowly took the ring from Masaki. "Do we have someone to perform the ceremony?"
Ichigo's face fell. "Um… no?"
She couldn't help smiling at him. "Then you'll have to find someone quickly."
"I can do it!" Yachiru said loudly.
Ichigo sighed. "I appreciate that, but-"
"No, I really can! Captains can do stuff like that!"
"Um, you're not-"
Yachiru rolled her eyes. "Dummy, I KNOW that! But I'm acting in my Captain's place, so I've got all the same powers! So if I say you're married, you are!"
Orihime looked at big Yoruichi. "Is that true?"
Yoruichi shrugged. "Who knows? What matters is, is it good enough for you?"
Orihime thought about that for a moment. "Yes, it is."
"Okay!" Yachiru pointed at Orihime. "You took too long to say yes, so you'd better not back out, ever!"
Orihime blinked. "I won't."
"Great, you're married, now kiss her, Ichi-kun!"
"KISS!!!" everyone but Ichigo and Orihime shouted.
Orihime giggled. "I think you're out-voted, Ichigo. Better do what they say."
Shaking his head, Ichigo leaned in to kiss her. "I just hope you're not marrying me for my body."
"Why would I do that? Your body's been my property for years now, and I can have it whenever I like."
Renji awoke with a wide yawn, scratching himself absently as a soft giggle reached his ears. He looked down the length of the bed to find Ururu watching him, a healthy blush staining her cheeks. "What are you staring at?" he asked, smirking.
"Just my hunky guy," Ururu murmured, looking down shyly.
Renji couldn't help the grin that split his face. Ururu was just so adorable, it was a wonder no one else had snatched her up after Jinta. Well, there was her under aged appearance, but Renji knew it was just that and nothing more. Frankly, she'd forgotten more about sex than he'd ever known in the first place. And they hadn't even gotten past second base yet!
"Why don't you come over here so I can really give you something to smile about?" he invited.
Ururu giggled softly and shook her head. "Maybe later. I want to share something with you first."
He grinned wickedly. "Well, I want to share something with you, too, but it's hard to do from over here."
"I'm serious, Renji-kun. I haven't been completely honest with you, and I want to be, because you're very special to me."
Renji paused, sensing she was serious. "Okay, I'm listening, Ururu-chan. What is it?"
"I'm really scared that you'll be angry, but you deserve to know the truth, before we go any farther in this." With that, Ururu reached into her pocket and easily drew out her multi-barreled gun. Thankfully, she made no move to point it at him, although he was even more alarmed when she turned it on herself.
"Ururu-chan," Renji whispered fearfully, "what the hell are you doing?"
"Don't worry. I'm showing you the true form of my zanpakuto."
He blinked slowly. "But you don't have a-"
"Take aim, Kanbishita," Ururu said softly, squeezing the trigger.
An unearthly white light surrounded both Ururu and the gun, and Renji could only stare in shock as the gun rapidly became a gleaming sword with a snow-white guard. But as Ururu took the sword into her hands, she began to change as well. Her body grew taller and filled out into womanly curves, and her youthful face matured before his eyes, aging quickly but gracefully over the course of a few seconds.
Renji would later swear his heart stopped, not because Ururu had become another person entirely, but because that person was extremely familiar to him.
"Rukia?" he whispered in disbelief.
The woman smiled gently, the simple act emphasizing the lines of age in her face. "No, Renji-kun."
He knew then, although he still didn't want to believe it. "Hisana-sama?!"
"There's no need to address me that way-"
"There is EVERY need! You... you're Captain Kuchiki's wife!"
"No longer," Hisana sighed, shaking her head. "That part of my existence is over. Do you really think I'd be seeing anyone else otherwise?"
Renji considered that, and supposed that she was correct. "But you're still Rukia's sister!"
"I'd like to think so. But the same truth applies there, as well: that part of my life is over. I can no more be Rukia's older sister than you can be her boyfriend. It doesn't stop me from caring about her and Bya-kun, but I can't be a part of their lives. Not as Kuchiki Hisana, anyway."
"Then... Ururu was all a lie?" Renji asked, surprised to feel his heart sinking into despair. He could admit it now, but part of him had truly felt love for the girl.
"No," Hisana replied. "Ururu is the form that I found myself in, when I returned to the world of the living. I only regained the memories of my past life after I started working for Urahara and saw Benihime. But Ururu is still a part of me, even now: the best part of me, untainted by illness and experience. Whatever you felt for her, I ask you not to cast it aside so easily, Renji-kun. There is still a place for you in my heart."
He frowned. "How? I thought you only liked girls."
"Well, initially, that was true. But I've had a second lifetime to revise and relax my opinions on certain things. Perhaps that is more Ururu's choice than my own."
"So now you like guys, too?"
Hisana smiled. "Not really, no. Before, I didn't mind if they watched when I was with a girl. Now, I actually kind of enjoy it."
"Oh." Renji wasn't sure how to feel about that, though part of him was giggling madly. "So, uh, does this mean we can't see each other anymore?"
"I'm glad you asked," Hisana grinned, clapping her hands.
His eyes widened as a Nemu clone walked in, carrying a tray of what were obviously massage oils. "Uh, wait a minute..."
"Oh, I'd really rather not. It's been a while." And with that, Hisana turned to the Nemu clone and ripped off her clothes in one quick motion.
Renji's first instinct was to turn away. Shortly afterwards, however, he just wished he'd brought popcorn...
kanbishita: perfect; fully-equipped; complete
Here's a teaser of the Bleach fic that may never be. The basic idea is that instead of losing just his mother, Ichigo loses his entire family in a car accident (they run into Grand Fisher, literally). The sight of his sisters being eaten alive awakens Ichigo's Hollow powers, which he uses to defeat Grand Fisher and subconsciously draw Yuzu and Karin back to him, as Hollows. Ichigo never awakens his shinigami powers, his Hollow powers grow unchecked, and he continues to attract and absorb Hollows, to the point where Soul Society considers him and his sisters a significant threat, and sends Rukia and Orihime to destroy him (they have experience with Hollows stealing bodies, which is assumed to be the case here, since Ichigo appears human most of the time). Chad, Tatsuki, and Uryu side with Ichigo since they know his past (and are part Hollow themselves through association with him). Beyond that, um, I'm still thinking on it...
Alone in his room, Ichigo sat down on the windowsill and closed his eyes, pressing his face against the cool glass. He could hear Uryu and Tatsuki downstairs, their voices raised. Probably they'd gotten into yet another argument about something petty. Chad would no doubt settle the dispute as only he could. Sure enough, a loud thump followed, and then there was silence.
Ichigo smiled faintly, and when he opened his eyes, his little sister's face was hovering just inches from his own.
The sight never failed to remind him of how different she looked now, because Yuzu had always been the baby of the family. Her eyes seemed larger now, and a bit sunken in, as if her true face were concealed beneath a human-like mask. Anyone else might be disgusted, but to Ichigo, she was as adorable as the day she'd come home from the hospital.
"Hey, Yuzu-chan," he said calmly, watching as she settled on his leg and cuddled against his chest. For some reason, she and Karin were all about physical contact now. There was always a certain chill around them, and Ichigo knew on some level that this was because they no longer gave off body heat. He had plenty to spare, so it didn't bother him at all.
"Hi, Ichi-nee," she murmured softly, clutching at his chest.
"Sleeping," Yuzu replied simply.
It was one of those evasive answers that Ichigo never bothered to question. He assumed that there were some things about the undead that the living just weren't ever meant to know. Otherwise, he was certain Yuzu wouldn't have kept the information from him. After all, if they couldn't trust him, who else was there?
"You guys felt it, too?" he guessed. Karin was not the type to be overly emotional, but she only strayed from Yuzu's side now when building up her strength for something major.
Yuzu nodded into his chest. "Something's coming. Coming for you, Ichi-nee. Or maybe for me and Karin." She clutched him a little tighter. "You won't let it separate us, will you?"
"Don't be silly," Ichigo replied, wrapping his arms around her and resting his chin on her head. "It'll be the three of us, forever. I promised you that, remember?"
"Sometimes I forget," Yuzu admitted softly. "Like when I'm scared. Or if Karin isn't there to remind me."
"Why don't you stay here tonight, so you don't forget?" he offered. Honestly, it was more because he didn't want her to leave. Even if she was already dead, and he had already failed in his duty to protect her, Ichigo was unable to just turn off the brotherly instinct to never let Yuzu out of his sight for long. Aside from that, he genuinely missed her and Karin sleeping down the hall from him, even if that was now Tatsuki's room.
"Your friends won't mind?"
"They wouldn't be my friends if they did," Ichigo replied firmly. In a softer tone, he added, "Please stay, Yuzu-chan. I don't want you to go."
Yuzu looked as if she didn't want to leave, either, but she finally shook her head. "I'm sorry, Ichi-nee. But I have to go get Karin first. I promise I'll bring her back with me, though. She shouldn't be by herself for too long."
He nodded, knowing what she was thinking. Karin had been growing more and more aggressive, even with Yuzu's calming influence. It was something neither of them could explain, but Ichigo thought he knew more about what was happening to Karin. The same thing had happened to him, after all, except he was still alive. Sometimes, that worried him more than he cared to admit.
"Hurry back," Ichigo sighed, giving Yuzu a final squeeze.
"I will," she promised, pressing her cool, soft lips against his chin in a tender kiss. Then she simply faded right before his eyes, her slight weight vanishing from his knee.
Ichigo closed his eyes tightly, counted to ten, and looked at the window again.
He was not at all surprised to see that half of his face was hidden in shadow, with one beady, golden eye glaring back at him. That was happening more and more often, especially when his sisters were around. Ichigo still had no idea if it was really there, as it only showed up in reflective surfaces, and none of his friends had ever commented on it.
"You shouldn't have let her go," the dark half hissed at him. "The shinigami are coming, and they won't care that she's your baby sister. All they'll see is a Hollow, and then they'll kill what's left of her soul."
"That won't happen," Ichigo swore angrily. "I won't let it."
"Yeah," the dark half said in an approving tone that was almost a purr. "That's what I like to hear. We'll take care of them, just like we did the last freak that threatened what was ours. But this time, the only deaths will be on their side. Because you need to kill them. It's the only way we'll get strong enough to protect the girls, and stop them from changing. You have to be the top dog. That's all there is to it."
"Whatever it takes to keep them safe and with me," Ichigo agreed, clenching his fists. "Just tell me what I need to do to kill these... shinigami."
"Oh, that part's easy," the dark half chuckled. "They're not so different from the everyday Hollows you've dealt with, except they'll be stronger and faster. Plus they'll look human, but don't let that throw you. What they can do to your sisters is so much worse than what a Hollow could..."
Ichigo narrowed his eyes as his reflection return to normal. He stormed out of his bedroom, taking the steps two at a time. He very nearly ran into Chad, who was on his way up.
"Get the others. We're going hunting tonight."
Chad blinked, the only sign that he instantly agreed. "More Hollows?" he asked absently.
"No," Ichigo replied, his eyes glinting with malice. "Better."