I don't own Bleach. I don't own Ellie.
Reminder: Ichigo's IMs and text messages are in BOLD. Rukia's are in italics. Everyone's thoughts are also in italics.
—Two Years Later—
Looking herself over in the mirror, Rukia checked her teeth to make sure there wasn't any food stuck in there; then she brushed her hair through and put lotion on her face. Feeling clean enough to go to bed, she grabbed her cell phone, just as it started vibrating, and headed out of the bathroom.
Hey, what's up? She read. She smiled automatically.
Nothing much here, she replied. How's your girlfriend? You haven't said much about her in the past couple days … is everything all right between you guys?
Taking a sip from the glass of water she had been drinking earlier, Rukia turned on the television and flipped through a couple of random stations before sighing and turning it off.
Honestly, with her hectic life … television just wasn't a source of entertainment.
Only a couple weeks after her visit with her brother about bail money for Ichigo just a couple years ago, Byakuya had called Rukia up and told her that she could now do as she pleased with her life because he had found someone else who was willing to take over the business (if she had known it was Renji at the time she probably would have refused … he wasn't very responsible and definitely did not prove to be anywhere near a business man); but, in only a short six months he actually had taken over the business, Renji had made it to the top ten most popular art museums in Japan.
Byakuya had also said that he would still provide schooling for her for as long as she needed it and he wished her luck with whatever she did … of course, she would have to bring her boyfriend. Though she didn't know (and still didn't know) her brother very well, he had learned to read her like a book, even when she wasn't standing directly in front of him when he made his accusations.
She remembered the night she had brought her boyfriend home with her.
—Flashback: One Year Before—
"You'll be fine," I whispered, straightening his tie. He was so damn nervous … I had tried so many ways to calm him down from words to long, passionate kisses. Granted he had enjoyed the long, passionate kisses (I could tell by how much he kept trying to push me back down on my couch when I kept trying to say that we had to leave), but, the pep-talk wasn't working out too well.
"I know," he huffed. "I'm just nervous. This is your brother after all, Rukia, I don't want to make a bad first impression. You told me what a hard-ass he is." I giggled.
The door opened at that point.
He and I gasped and whirled around to see my brother standing right in front of us. He looked especially emotionless today … I prayed he hadn't heard the last bit of our conversation. Though, knowing Byakuya, he probably had and was already making arrangements to get my boyfriend run over by a semi.
"Brother!" I yelped. "Um … I'd like you to meet my boyfriend …"
"It's good to meet you, sir," my boyfriend said politely, offering him a hand. Byakuya replied an 'as to you' and they shook hands … and I swore I saw an oath of hate in their eyes.
Men, I had thought at the time.
He had nearly crapped his pants, he had later told her later on. She remembered laughing before kissing him briefly on the lips, telling him what a brave man he was … you know, all the things he wanted to here. Too bad it didn't last …
I haven't? I feel like I talk about her all the time. lol. Anyway, she's doing well. Just as good as always, I suppose. She totally kicks my ass every day when we go to work. I swear our boss is a sexist.
I thought he was a guy …?
Yeah. But I think he's gay.
Rukia laughed out loud. Hey probably is, she texted him. Snuggling into her couch a bit, Rukia smiled as she waited for her phone to buzz again with the alert that he was texting again.
So, how's your boyfriend?
She smiled. He's good, I replied. Kinda a big monkey as always … but, what can you expect from a sports story writer? Honestly, there's no challenge in that kind of job.
Going to her kitchen, cell phone in hand, she dumped her remaining water in the sink and started to head toward her bedroom, smiling the whole way. She couldn't to get under the covers and curl up next to him; he was always so warm.
Two years ago, she had been full and ready to spend every night eating out of the same carton of chocolate ice cream and watching old, black-and-white romance movies. She had been ready to be lonely and even considered adopting a few cats, seeing that she would be "that kind of old woman" when she was older.
She had let her past rule over her entire life. She had felt guilty for so long and she had cried herself to sleep so many nights because she had lost the two people that had shown her kindness after her sister. They were loving and caring and helped so many people. Yes, she had been there the night they died. Yes, she had been part of the reason those thugs were there in the first place … but, she had been so young … just a child who was rebelling against a life she had never wanted. She realized that Kaien and Miyako would want her to be following her dreams, just like they had always told her. She realized that they had loved her like she was their daughter and they wanted her to live.
—Flashback: One year, Six months Before—
The wind was chilly, so I pulled my coat tighter around my shoulders. Standing in front of two graves in the early December was probably not the smartest thing to do, but I didn't care.
It was their day … and I would endure any kind of weather I had to just to give them their respected day; they deserved it, after all, they were family.
Staring down at two gravestones, I read: Kaien Shiba – beloved son, brother, husband, and friend and Miyako Shiba – beloved daughter, wife, and friend. There they were … my parents, my mentors, my best friends for two years.
Dropping down on my knees I sobbed, trying to hold back tears. "Hey," I whispered. "I – I know you guys must be freezing … well, maybe not. Is it warmer underground? Well, that's kinda off subject, but, anyway … I'm coming here because I always do that on this day.
"I'm just here to tell you guys, again, what you mean to me. You took me in when I had no one, you fed me, gave me clothes, a place to stay, a job … everything I needed to get on with my life. You never asked questions … not how I got there and you never told me to go back home. You respected my decision in leaving, and that's why I loved you both so much."
Feeling my cheeks burn from hot tears and the cold air, I wiped them away. "I – I wanted to tell you that I'm going to stop feeling guilty. I know that you guys never blamed me for what happened. I realize that now. I'm going to stop feeling sorry for myself and just start living again. Y-you guys get that, r-right?"
More tears were falling, as I tried to hastily wipe them away. When I thought that I had failed, and I would never stop crying, he showed up, wrapping his arms around me and he held me tight while I cried and cried and cried.
He was always there when I needed him.
And live was what she did. She had graduated college with a degree in journalism and a minor in marketing (she figured if journalism didn't work out, she could go back to college, get a bachelor's in marketing and then work with Renji side-by-side in the art museum). But, she had gotten job from the local paper and was now writing a weekly column about life and how to get through the hard times. She wrote under the name 'Sode no Shirayuki', which meant sleeved of white snow … she did it as a reminder of the snow, of the rain, and of Kaien and Miyako.
Her phone buzzed. So, when are you going to bed?
She giggled. Pretty soon. I don't want to keep the old man waiting, you know? He goes to bed so early … I swear he acts four times his age. XD.
She laughed at her own joke as she stood outside her bedroom door. She heard a muffled chuckle behind it, and she wanted to go in so badly. She was nearly exhausted and she knew her boyfriend would be as well.
Well, I'm going to go, he texted after a couple of minutes. My girlfriend will kill me if she finds out I'm talking to another woman.
I bet she won't mind.
You don't know her like I do.
She smiled down at her phone. Yes, she truly was happy with her life. Though it was hectic, irritating, and sometimes she was known to even crack under pressure, Rukia still loved every single minute of it.
—Flashback: Eight months Before—
I waited nervously outside of Mr. Yumichika's office, waiting to see if he liked my story or not. This was my first story … the story that would depict the rest of my writing career. My boyfriend had been working here for a while longer than I had, so several of his stories were already printed.
I sighed and looked over to him. He gave me his lopsided grin and just seeing his reassuring eyes filled me with confidence that our boss would like it.
"You nervous?" he asked.
"Yeah," I admitted. "I mean … what if Mr. Yumichika doesn't like it? What am I supposed to do then? He told me that this story would depict the rest of my journalism career! What if I don't pass?"
I was freaking out and he noticed.
Coming towards me, he wrapped his arms around me and held me close to him. "You'll do fine," he whispered.
"How do you know?"
"Because I got in and you're way better than me."
"True." I smirked and looked up at him. He gave me a quick kiss on my forehead and told me that everything was going to be alright and I was going to do fine in whatever paper I wrote for. I was about to tell him that I wanted to write here because he was here, when the door burst open.
There, standing in his designer clothes and crazy hair, stood Mr. Yumichika. "It's beautiful!" he cried. He took me away from my boyfriend and held my hands up. "This is the most beautiful piece I've read in such a long time … I'm printing it this Sunday!"
It took the actual Sunday paper to convince me I wasn't dreaming.
She loved her job and she loved her life. She wouldn't have had it any other way. Though somethings hadn't worked out, problems had come, they eventually passed.
Smiling softly to herself, Rukia walked into her room. There, lying in their bed was her boyfriend. She closed the door and leaned up against it. "Hey, stranger," he said from under the sheets. He sat up and she saw that he was wearing a white t-shirt and shorts.
"Hey," she replied. "You weren't talking to that Chappi14 girl were you? You know I hate when you do that …" She smirked.
"Nah," he replied. "You weren't talking to SoulSlayer617, were you? I know you have a thing with role-playing but … living the past isn't as sexy as you make it out to be." He grinned and she stomped over to him.
Climbing into bed and on top of him, she straddled him. "You know you love it … don't you, SoulSlayer617?" Ichigo scratched the back of his head. Rukia smirked.
"Okay, it's pretty sexy … but, only when you do it. No one else can pull something like that off." He ran his fingers up her sides, making her shiver. She kissed his forehead and then rolled to his side. Instantly, he wrapped his arms around her and she leaned into him.
She closed her eyes and let Ichigo rub her back soothingly; the action practically erased all the stress from work … she loved when he did that. It made her feel safe and warm and … home. Home … two years ago he had thought that America was going to be his home, she knew.
She remembered the day she almost lost him.
—Flashback: Nine months Before—
I was running. Running and running and running. I didn't know how something like this could happen. It had just been one argument that had went too far. I hadn't meant to say some of the things I said.
We had been fighting … of what I can't remember. Eventually though he started yelling about my brother and then about Kaien and Miyako … I told him to go take the next flight to America. He had screamed fine, grabbed his bag, and walked out.
I thought he would have come back.
When he didn't, I became worried and started to pace. After two hours of waiting, I knew that he was taking my request seriously and he was actually going to leave. I didn't want him to leave. I never even had the opportunity to tell him that I loved him.
And now, I was running. I had taken the bus to the nearest airport and I had ran inside, looking for him. I asked people if they had seen a man with orange hair come through there, and looked and looked.
I couldn't find him.
I felt tears falling down my cheeks. I collapsed to my knees all of a sudden; without warning, I let out a sob. "I-Ichigo …" I whispered. "Where are you?"
I looked up, frantically scanning the crowd. Something caught my eye … orange. Picking myself off of the ground, I started running again, using the sunset locks as my guide. I was so close …
"Ichigo!" I yelled.
The man turned around as his name was being called. When he saw me, he dropped his bags and ran to me. "Rukia, what are you doing here?" he asked, taking my arms.
"I – I don't want you to leave …" I whispered. "I didn't mean it, Ichigo. I want you to stay here. We graduated together, we're working together … well, in the same building … I love where we are now. Please don't leave …"
He roughly pulled me into his chest and let me cry. He rested his chin on top of my head and whispered, "You told me to leave. I know I said some things that I shouldn't have … and I'm sorry."
"Me too," I replied. "I – Ichigo … don't ever leave me again, even when I tell you to. I … I love you and I don't want you to leave. Please." I rushed the last part of my plea. He was silent for a long time and I sure he didn't hear me. People still rushed around us, trying to get to their right plane, but as we stood there, the world disappeared around us.
But that was when he leaned down to my level and kissed my forehead. "I love you too."
And we left that place. The plane headed for America would have one less passenger that day.
"Ichigo," she said quietly. Ichigo looked over to his violet-eyed girlfriend as she looked up at him. "I love you," she whispered quietly, just audible enough so he could hear.
He kissed her on the lips.
"I love you too."
She smiled and snuggled closer to his warmth. Two years ago, if someone would have told her she would be writing for a living, she would have the best boyfriend in the world, and she would happy, she would have laughed and told that person to stop lying. Two years ago, if someone would have told her that signing up for the school's dating website would be one of the best things she would have ever do in her life … she would have never logged on just to piss that person off.
Sometimes, she had learned, when the world is crashing down all around you and all you want to do is go to America or willingly follow every order your brother gives you, there will be someone to pick you up when you trip and fall down. Sometimes, she figured, the police get to the scene of the crime on time.
If that was true, then Ichigo was the best policeman she had ever known.
A/N: Well, that's it! That's the last installment if "LovedotCOM." I hope you guys enjoyed it!
Okay, I want to thank my best friend Konoichi2.0 for all her listening as I gushed over this story, not only throughout the writing about it … but in late November when I actually came up with the idea. Though she's not HUGE into Bleach, she's still always there to listen to me ramble. ;). Thanks Kono! I would also like to thank carrietheninja and all her college words … and, well, let's face it … talking about benches, fishing, and the Bleach Rock Musical at two in the morning is just too much fun when you don't have any inspiration. XD. Thanks so much to you guys specifically!
But, I want to thank all my reviewers, readers, everyone else as well! You guys are awesome and continue to flatter me with all your kind compliments and so many reviews. Okay, sappy moment over!
Here are the next two stories I'm writing:
It was the same event, the same celebration, the same happiness. It was the same wedding, told five different ways. —IchiRuki—
—AU— Ichigo and Rukia are two innocent, convicted criminals who are in jail for life. As the girls side of prison is being rebuilt, these two unlikely "murderers" will have to learn to cope with each other ... if they don't kill each other first. IchiRuki
The other story I was planning on writing called "Iris" I'm actually not going to write anymore. Instead, I'm using the same idea … and changing it into a Twilight fanfiction. Keep an eye open for that if you're interested! Also, udpates might come later with some stories. I've thought of a totally awesome idea (well, for me that is) about a story of my OWN CREATION that I really want to write.
PLEASE REVIEW! Signing out (to the longest A/N ever),