(SC) scene change
Disclaimer: I hereby state that I in no way, shape, or form own Bleach or anyone or thing associated with the series in question. This story is written solely with the purpose to entertain. I do not serve to benefit from this work financially in any way, thank you.
Author's Note: Hello everyone, just a little pre-story notification to present, this is my first attempt at a Bleach themed fanfic as well as the first story I've done in a while so I apologize in advance for any weakness in my literary skills. While I've managed to see a number of the anime episodes (bless the wonder that is You Tube) I haven't studied them enough to get a real in-depth grasp on all the personalities so I again apologize for any OOCness that might take place. I have however come to love the idea of Ichigo and Yoruichi as a couple, regardless of how possible it may or may not be, and with Valentines Day upon us I had this idea rolling around in my head and just had to get it down. Course planning, outlining, typing, critiquing, revising and retyping this all in less then 3 days will test the mettle of any writer. So with this in mind I hope you enjoy this latest work from S. S. Shadow Productions. Note: Takes place shortly after the Bount Arc but before the Arrancar Arc. If something doesn't add up please use your imagination or just go with the flow, enjoy the story and don't overanalyze it, thank you.
All students have their own after school activities. Some have clubs to attend or manage. Some choose to finish their schoolwork in order to enjoy whatever's left of the day. Friends gather to waste away the daylight hours together while others…
Hidden from view beneath the Urahara Shoten, an orange-haired shinigami is found kissing the ground once again.
Ichigo scowled in annoyance as his latest attempt at a take down resulted in a less then graceful face plant. Considering the hardness of the present terrain is wasn't a comfortable position in the slightest. Now those who close him knew he was no slouch when it came to the martial arts, given he had trained in such at an early age, but given the skill level of his current opponent, such a thrashing wouldn't come as such a surprise.
"Not bad Ichigo, you're improving but you still leave yourself exposed when you lunge." Yoruichi chided. The young reaper coughed out a bit of debris before pulling himself to a shaky stand. It had been almost two months since the incident involving the bount, and since then he had taken it upon himself to do what he could to improve himself. This of course meant subjecting himself to the tortu…training tactics of the resident mad hatter Kisuke Urahara for sword fighting, and the proclaimed goddess of flash herself Yoruichi Shihoin in hand to hand combat and improving his flash steps.
"Yeah well you're not exactly easy to catch off guard." Which was true, they'd been sparring for the better part of three hours already and he hadn't managed to land so much as glancing blow on the feline femme fatale. "Don't suppose you'd consider slowing down?" The flash goddess merely grinned while striking a pose.
"Sorry, but you're going to have to work for it if you want to get you're hands on this body." She leaned in towards him with her eyes half lidded. "Outside of training however you can touch me all you want, proving I can do the same to you." The effect was immediate as her young student went for peach to fire engine red in point-five seconds flat.
"No thanks, I think I'll pass." Ichigo folded his arms across his chest and turned away trying to hide his burning face. He stumbled a step or two as the now playful reaper hopped on back while draping her arms down his chest from behind.
"Aww come on Ichigo-kun, all work and no play makes for a boring day." Ichigo stiffened at the sudden closeness between them and the hint of lust in her tone. Sighing he grabs her arms and pulls her off him before heading for the entrance to the shop ignoring her small pout. 'Still so innocent' Catching up to his retreating form the pair make their way up and out of the sub-terrain training grounds and into the shop.
Slipping into the main lobby Ichigo moved to the low cut table in the center where his abandoned body sat motionless awaiting his return. As it wasn't needed for the days training Zangetsu stood wrapped in the corner. Retrieving the blade Ichigo stood with his back facing the empty shell before falling backwards, merging with his body once more. Groaning quietly from his spot on the floor, the carrot top youth rolled his shoulders while massaging his neck. 'Don't think I'll ever get use to that.' While any wounds inflicted during battle, training or otherwise didn't carry over into his physical form, the soreness and fatigue seemed unavoidable. "I'll be feeling this the rest of the week."
His feline companion slinked to an adjoining side of the table before propping her back against the edge, elbows rested on the surface. "Suck it up Ichigo, you've been through a lot worse and always come out on top. Besides it can't be that bad if you keep coming back for more."
"Not like I have a lot of options here. Could be worse though, if dad knew what I was doing he'd be attacking me twenty-four seven trying to help me 'improve'." Yoruichi just tilted her head back towards him, a lazy grin displayed.
"Admit it, you love the alone time. You know you don't have to have an excuse just to see me." The boy in question just coughed in his fist. After dealing with the dark-skinned temptress for so long most would think he'd be use to the playful banter she used on an almost regular basis with him. Course despite his total lack of experience in the way of relationships, even he could see that while most were just playful teasing, some she offered with complete sincerity. Those moments of honesty where what threw him; best to just keep ignoring them, ignorance is bliss after all.
"So, tomorrow it's back to flash steps right?" Ichigo asked trying to switch topics. Apparently the master of flash wasn't to be deterred. Yoruichi turned till she was on her hands and knees facing Ichigo.
"Hmm…actually I was thinking of something a little different." Ichigo mentally started sweating as he stared back at twin orbs of twinkling gold. 'Aw crap, she's got that look in her eyes again.' Past experience would show that the only result of whatever happened next would be something embarrassing for him.
"Oh, like what?" The orange haired teen unconsciously scooted back a foot as Yoruichi leaned forward.
"Well since tomorrow's Valentines Day perhaps other arrangements could be made. Course if you insist on training I'm sure there's plenty of things I could teach you, keeping in spirit with the holiday and all." By now her once lazy smile had bloomed into a larger, slightly toothy grin. In a span of thirty seconds that followed, said student had managed to gather his bag and somehow make it to the other side of the room by the exit. "What's wrong Ichigo-kun?" She softly purred.
"Nothing, just remembered that I have to take care of some things at home." Somehow he managed to keep his voice steady despite the slight elevation in his heart rate. "Bye." Ichigo opened the door and made to leave.
"Are you planning to return tomorrow?" Yoruichi asked with a bit less humor in her voice. Ichigo paused in the doorway without looking back, finally he answered.
"We'll see." With those parting words he closed the door behind him leaving a now less joyful Yoruichi. She frowned as she smacked the table with a hint of frustration. 'Damnit'
Exiting the front of the store Ichigo exhaled a breath he didn't realize he had been holding. By now the sun had almost set and only twinges of twilight could still be seen as the street lamps had begun to simultaneously flicker on, bathing the ground with their artificial light. 'That was close.' He be lying to himself if on some level he wasn't flattered by the former noble's advances even if they were mostly in jest, or so it was assumed, but he had never seen her take it this far. 'I've never seen her that forward before. What the heck is going on?' The young Kurosaki was so wrapped in thought that he didn't notice a certain shopkeeper lazing on the deck until he had almost passed him.
"Hello Kurosaki-kun, why so glum?" He turned to face the former captain. Sitting cross-legged against the wall of the shop, Kisuke waved his fan before snapping it closed and setting it in his lap. Ichigo just shrugged while readjusting the strap of his bag.
"Nothing, just been a long day." Urahara smiled.
"Yoruichi-chan giving you giving you a hard time again?" Urahara just chuckled at the expression on the amateur reapers face. To his credit Ichigo managed to keep his surprise controlled to a mere raised eyebrow. No matter how hard the kid tried to hide it, he could read him like a book. "Trust me, she's an acquired taste."
"Be nice if she wasn't so clingy all the time," Ichigo sighed as he started home.
"Maybe she's just lonely." he watched his student stop for a second before resuming his trek onward. "Goodnight Ichigo-kun," Urahara cheered, waving his fan in the direction of the retreating youth. Ichigo raised his free hand behind in a silent farewell gesture. Watching till he was out of site, Kisuke looked up at the few stars that were beginning to appear. "It's going to be a nice night."
Night had fallen by the time Ichigo finally reached home. The lights were off in the clinic signifying the end of another business day. Standing at the front door he could hear the sounds of hustle and bustle on the other side. Most likely Yuzu was working her little heart out trying to keep the place spotless, or perhaps Karin chastising their father for some reason or other. Speaking of which, he opened the door, hung his bag from the coat rack, and then simply stood in place. Begin the countdown; three… two… one…
"HELLOOOO ICHIGO!" Cue the flying father figure from down the hall. 'Doesn't he ever give up?' Ichigo grimaced. Ducking a wild flying kick aimed for his head, he pivoted before connecting with a solid uppercut, plastering Isshin into the wall next to them. He grabbed his father by the shirt collar and pulled him out of the wall.
"What the hell is wrong with you? You trying to take my head off or something?" The dopey grin on the eldest Kurosaki's face was answer enough. Snarling in annoyance the young reaper tossed his dad to the side. Ignoring the former reapers proud cry of how much his son was learning, he lounged in the living room till he heard his sister's call for dinner.
Mealtime was always an interesting occurrence in the Kurosaki household. Given it was the only time of the day that all four personalities congregated in the same place at the same time something was always bound to happen. It seemed tonight was going to be no exception.
"So Ichigo who's the lucky girl?" Isshin's inquiry couldn't have been worse as the only result was a choking son whose attempts at withholding a spit-take were well appreciated.
"Ichi-nee!" Yuzu tried helping her brother by repeatedly trying to slap his back with her dainty little palms. "Are you okay?" He waved her off after reestablishing his breathing.
"What the hell are you talking about old man?"
"It's Valentines Day!" Isshin exclaimed. "A day of love and togetherness for all couples; young and old, new and experienced!" A steady twitch developed above Ichigo's right eye.
"Get real dad, what girl in their right mind would go out with Ichigo?" Karin butted in. The twitch grew larger.
"What about Orihime, she's nice," Yuzu added her two cents.
"I rest my case." Karin countered. Her sister slouched back in her chair with a pout. The verbal spar ended when Ichigo stood abruptly and placed his hands roughly on the table.
"Why the heck does any of this matter anyways? I'm not going out with anyone, so what?" His father not to be outdone mirrored his pose.
"You're becoming a man my son. It's not normal for a young man not to have young lady to share himself with, especially on Valentines Day." Ichigo groaned and ran his hands through his hair at his father's over exuberance on something so trivial.
"Christ dad, it's just some hallmark holiday designed to trap guys into saying they love someone, what's the big deal?" The question managed to leave Isshin gob smacked, as if his son had just committed blasphemy.
"All women want to be loved son," Isshin answered in an unfamiliar subdued voice. "It shouldn't take a holiday to see that." Unfortunately the respite was all too brief. " Do not fear though Ichigo! It's only a matter of time before some lucky young woman comes along and you sweep her off her feet. Then I'll be able to finally start expecting grandkids, I'm not getting any younger you know." Ichigo responded with a well-aimed right hook, sending Isshin on a short flight into the kitchen.
"Gah! You just don't know when to shut up do you dad? I'm going to bed." Thanking Yuzu for dinner and saying goodnight to her and Karin the brooding youth headed up to bed while a crying Isshin prayed to their mother's portrait for help in getting Ichigo a girlfriend.
When the bell sounded signaling the end of school next day it was all Ichigo could do not to take a flying leap out the window in his haste to get away. Making his way down the street on his way to the Shoten he took a minute to look back at highlights of the day. School provided to be no less hectic then last night. The teachers being the geniuses they were, note the sarcasm, decided that due to popular demand they would let the students decorate their respective classrooms during the week for the holiday. Naturally the girls took the idea like a stampede of cattle. In two days nearly every room was awash in shades of pink, red, and white. Valentines were being circulated throughout the school and plans were being made between couples, would-be couples, and even simple friends.
Ichigo refrained from buying anything even remotely similar to a valentine for anyone. Despite the detached appearance he tried to maintain though, it didn't keep some from presenting him with their own. A couple of the bolder girls even went so far as to invite him to 'hang out' with them after school. Each attempt was met with a firm but polite refusal, citing previous plans as the reason.
Even his friends didn't seem to be immune to the effects of the day. Uryu had finally got up the nerve to ask Inoue out much to the young reapers amusement. A flustered quincy was always entertaining to watch as the present smirk testified. 'Maybe she can help him get that sick out of his ass, god knows it up there far enough.' He didn't have any problems with raven-haired boy, despite their opposing professions, but the guy was such a stiff sometimes it's a wonder he hadn't snapped yet. Even Chad, if the proximity he and Tatsuki left together at was any indication, couldn't escape the effects.
Taking his time, Ichigo indulged in a small bit of window-shopping. He wasn't so forgetful of yesterday's events that he didn't realize he'd be in for long afternoon with Yoruichi, if her teasing leading up to today were any indication. Why she decided to focus solely on him though was puzzling. Somewhere in the back of his mind he heard Urahara's words again:
"Maybe she's just lonely."
As the words ran though his head Ichigo stopped. Could it be as simple as that? Despite her and Urahara's roles as comrades and teachers, it wasn't hard for him to list them as friends, a bit weird at times, but reliable friends nonetheless. Despite all her friends and contacts in Soul Society, she probably didn't have that many friends here in the living world. The teen sighed. 'I guess a social visit wouldn't be that bad.' Issue resolved he turned to continue his window gazing when the first item in view caught his eye. "You've got to be kidding me," he muttered.
"All women want to be loved son. It shouldn't take a holiday to see that."
Ichigo shook his head to clear it of his dad's words. No matter how true they might have been, the last thing he wanted was to think his father was right for once. Trying to weigh the pros and cons of what he considered doing as he stared in the window, Ichigo soon gave up and entered the store with one thought on his mind. 'What the heck am I thinking?'
Yoruichi lay back on her bed staring at the ceiling. All in all it had been a pretty boring day. Besides helping out a little here and there in the shop there was essentially nothing to do. Hard to believe that aside from the errant hollow here or there that escaped Ichigo's watch, the only activities worth doing was training with said soul reaper.
The thought brought a smile to the Shihoin noble's face. While never actively spoiling for a fight, preferring to watch from the sidelines, she was always looking for excitement or adventure. It was reason she first carried on her families responsibilities as head of the Special Forces, and part of the reason she had left with Kisuke when he was exiled from Soul Society. Course after a while things settled down to the point where little warranted her interest.
The arrival of Ichigo into her life however changed all that. While Kisuke had made initial contact with him and his friends while she was away, even going so far as to help him awaken his own shinigami powers, she essentially took over from there. Invading Soul Society, rescuing Rukia, and later fighting off the bount, she had never felt so alive, and it was all because of him. True enough she wasn't easily impressed, but the young man she had recently taken into confidence had done just that. Initially when he planned to invade the Seireitei she just wrote him off as some stubborn overconfident kid who thought he'd just waltz in and act without thinking. It wasn't until after his fight with Kenpachi and the following three days spent training to attain bankai that she took a real hard look at the substitute shinigami.
He possessed a resolve and strength of will to protect those around him that while at times was shaken, held strong through the most difficult of trials. Despite the power at his disposal he never let it go to his head, and through it all he remained true to himself and what he believed in, she couldn't help but admire him for that. As the days that followed went by, the boy continued to grow stronger and more confident rising to the challenged on more then one occasion when he was needed. She and to a lesser extent Kisuke continued to fight by his side. There were precious few that she would trust to watch her back in a fight and he was one of them.
Despite all the power he had though, for the most part it was raw and unchecked. He needed someone to help guide him, and she readily accepted the opportunity. Like Kisuke she saw the potential he had and refused to let it remain undeveloped, to do so would be a crime, much less a waste. With proper training Ichigo could very well surpass both Urahara and herself someday.
The road traveled to get to that point would prove to be entertaining as well. In the short time that she had known him, Ichigo had gone from being a stranger to both a comrade and friend. She had very few friends, ones that she could just be herself around at least, and those she did were guarded closely to her heart. Even though she had known others longer, there was just something endearing to her about the orange-haired teen, something that let her be more open and honest with him. Perhaps it was the aura of innocence that permeated the air around him, or the way he never judged her for who she was or what she did. It would certainly explain why she could get away with being so… free spirited around him.
A quiet laugh escaped as she thought back to all the times she had flustered him with her au natural appearances. What had begun as a simple game to see how long it would take him to break soon became something more. Where many lesser men would have given in to her charms after the first or second offer, he continued to rebuff her. It was certainly a testament to his strength of character, but it was also frustrating in a sense that she couldn't get through to him, especially considering that many of her most recent advances had been sincere rather then in jest.
The violet-haired goddess sighed inwardly. She had hoped by stepping up her advances that she might have been able to wear him down a little by now. She certainly wasn't expecting him to hop in the sheets with her, though she wouldn't be entirely opposed to the notion, she had at least hoped that they could have gotten closer then they were at the moment. 'I swear, if he doesn't learn how to relax he's going to have an aneurysm before he's 20.'
After her performance yesterday, she sadly resigned herself to what would most likely be a rather boring evening. Looking through a select few magazines on her nightstand, Yoruichi sat chose one and sat back to read. The quiet was broken minutes later by a few consecutive knocks on her door. Interest peaked; she crossed the room and opened the door to find Ichigo standing on the other side, a plain paper sack hanging from one hand. "Ichigo? I didn't think you'd show up today." Ichigo responded by fidgeting slightly in place.
"Yeah well, I changed my mind." Steeling himself he offered the bag out for her to take. "Here." Curious, she accepted the package. Looking inside, her eyes widened marginally and her mouth formed a small oh in surprise. Reaching inside the bag, the shape-shifting shinigami pulled out a life-size black cat plushy. What caught her eye though, was the oversized plush strawberry gripped possessively between its front paws, she smiled, as the implication wasn't lost on her. 'It's so cute.' She looked up at the teen in front of her who was trying to fight back a blush. 'Who knew he had it in him.'
"Ichigo are you trying to imply something?" She smirked happily as tinges of pink began staining his cheeks. He crossed his arms over his chest while turning his head away in an attempt to save face. 'Still so shy.'
"Look, don't read too much into it okay. It's just something I saw in a shop on the way over." Ichigo raised his shoulders in an indifferent shrug while muttering quietly. "I thought you might like it." Translation: I was thinking of you, but I'm too stubborn to admit it. Yoruichi switched her attention between her gift and the young man in front of her. Taking the initiative, she step up close to him.
"Ichigo?" The orange-haired youth turned his head back to face the woman that had occupied his thoughts as of late. Locking golden eyes with rich brown, the dark-sinned goddess reached up with her free hand to cup the back of the frozen teen's neck. Reaching up on tiptoes, she pulled Ichigo down; letting her eyes drift shut as she gently pressed her lips to his. The young reapers eyes widened in shock at the bold action, his posture relaxed as the softness of her lips sent a tingle of electricity down his spine. After a minute she released the hold but left her hand sitting on his shoulder. "I love it."
Ignoring the heat now radiating from his face, Ichigo looked down at woman before him, surprised to see a faint darkening in her own cheeks. The smile she gave him though was what held him. Instead of a smirk born of lust or mischief, it was relaxed and sincere, complimented by the genuine affection and appreciation in her eyes. Even he could admit it was a beautiful site. After the initial awkwardness of the moment passed Ichigo managed to rediscover his voice. "Um…listen, I was wondering if you wanted to hang out today, just without training." He could see a flicker of the mischievousness that defined her spark to life. He started to grow nervous again as she leaned in against him. Trailing the hand on his shoulder down to rest against his chest her smile widened.
"Ichigo-kun, are you asking me out on a date?" The teen blanched in response before answering.
"O…of course not." The returning blush clearly said otherwise. Overcoming the initial stutter Ichigo continued. "Just thought you'd want to get out of here for awhile, not like it matters. I was…" His rant was cut off as Yoruichi gently covered his mouth with her palm.
"Yes." Simple and to the point, trying to ease his mind she gave him the same genuine smile from before. Dropping her hand the mistress of flash was surprised to see a smile on Ichigo's face as well, not a smirk or some forced fabrication, but an honest to god smile. It was small, but completely natural. 'Well this is different.' "That's a nice smile, you should show it off more often." Setting her new plushy on the bed Yoruichi slid an arm around Ichigo's and began pulling him towards the front door. "Lets go have some fun then." He let her pull him along at a sedated pace.
"Who knows, maybe later you'll let me teach you a few of those things I promised before." Ichigo groaned lightly before smiling down at her. 'Guess some thing's never change.'
"You never give up do Yoruichi?" his answer was a dazzling smile, teeth and all.
"Would you want it any other way? Ichigo shook his head with a short laugh.
"I guess not." Encourage by this new attitude of his, Yoruichi pulled him through the door and into the afternoon air. Falling into step beside one another she thought about what had happened, what was happening, and finally what could happen. It wasn't a profession of undying love… She glanced up at the carrot top next to her, who happened to be returning the gesture, before focusing again on the road ahead. …But it was a start.
Author's Notes: Date of completion: February 14, 2008 Time: 9:35 P.M. (central time) Well, I guess there's not much to say that I haven't said earlier, so I guess I'll leave all of you with this, Happy Valentines Day everyone. If you have that special someone in your life whether it's a significant other, or even a friend of family member you hold dear, don't put off telling them how much you love and appreciate them till later, you never know if that later will come or not. Once again this is my first attempt at a Bleach story so if you've read this and found me lacking, offer your tips and advice on how I can do better in the future, and feel free to sample other stories found on my author's page. Reviews and constructive criticism are always welcome, so until next time take care of yourself and each other, goodnight everyone.