Yay! My first IchiRuki multi-chap fic! I've been obsessed with the HitsuRuki pairing for the past month, but after reacquainting myself with IchiRuki fics, I suddenly had a strong desire to write one. I hope you like this!



Finally, after the destructive Winter War, everything was back to normal. The world was in peace. Except in a little house somewhere in Karakura-cho...

"ICHIIIIIGOOOOO!" Isshin yelled as he gave his son his daily dose of flying kicks—to which Ichigo retorted with his own dose of beatings.

"What the hell, you psychopath?!" Isshin flew across the house, a dent clearly marking the wall he hit.

"Morning, Onii-chan!" Yuzu greeted from the kitchen.

Ichigo grunted a reply. Rukia and Karin arrived at the same time at the dining area.

"KARIN-CHAAAAAA--" Isshin was—again—thrown across the room by his black-haired daughter's outstretched arm.

"Ow, Rukia-chan! My third daughter! Protect daddy!" Isshin cried on Rukia's shoulder.

Rukia patted the old man awkwardly on the back. "Morning, ojisan."

Yuzu came out of the kitchen and served their breakfast.

"Sooo...Onii-chan, Rukia-nee, any..uhm...news yet?" Yuzu asked cheerfully.

Rukia glanced at Ichigo, who just shrugged back at her, and confusedly asked Yuzu, "What news, Yuzu-chan?"

"She means if you and Ichigo already had se--" For the third time that morning, the wall was hit by the projectile named Isshin.

"I mean...are you two...dating now?" Yuzu clarified.

Rukia choked on her food.

"What the...?! Yuzu, where do you get those stupid ideas?!" Ichigo yelled, masking his blush with false anger.

"I'm just asking, Onii-chan. Me and Karin are curious. I'm sure you like Rukia-nee. She's beautiful, and smart..."

"I'm not curious, Yuzu." Karin deadpanned. "I told you once, I'm not going to bother fussing with Ichi-nii's affairs until he brings home someone of Orihime's caliber. So don't go dragging me into that."

"That's rude Karin!" Yuzu berated her twin sister.

Karin smirked as she glanced at the raven-haired woman sitting across from her. After everything that had come to pass, she still couldn't help but bear a grudge against this woman who caused her Ichi-nii to suffer a lot. Her only goal was to piss this woman off until her frustration passed. She knew that this woman had really short patience, and from the looks of it, Karin was successful in pissing her off.

On the contrary though, Rukia is far from pissed. It was more like...she's hurt. Yes, hurt. She couldn't help but feel...unwelcome. She knew perfectly well why Karin hated her, and she was willing to do anything in her power to appease the young girl. This was why she simply lets Yuzu's twin do or say anything she wants, hoping to somehow ease whatever anger the young girl felt for her.

Rukia's fake smile was instantly plastered on her face "Oh, no. It's okay, Yuzu-chan! Karin-chan is right. I'm actually wondering why Ichigo hasn't brought home a girl like Orihime yet."

Ichigo, who was quietly observing the exchange, scowled. He didn't like the way Karin treated Rukia, and he needed to talk to the dark-haired girl about that later. He was about to speak when his dad beat him to it.

"Ichigo, why don't you invite Orihime-chan to dinner tonight?" Isshin smirked at him from where he was.

Ichigo frowned. He really didn't know how the minds of his family worked. He scowled even harder as he thought of the impending disaster that was tonight's dinner.

"Oh, ojisan." Rukia interjected, her cheery facade still on. "I'll make sure she comes."

"Oh, that'll be great! I'll be cooking great dinner for tonight!" Yuzu exclaimed.

Ichigo stood up. "Whatever. C'mon Rukia, we'll be late for school."

The walk to their school was filled with uncomfortable silence. Rukia dropped her facade the moment she stepped out of the house. Ichigo glanced at his companion, still mulling over Karin's words. He knew it somehow hurt the petite woman, but only because of the veiled insult that came with Karin's statement. Rukia's thoughts, however, were not lingering on the indirect insult, but about how the dark-haired sister of the man she...loved? liked?...didn't like her for the said man. She knew that his family was very important to Ichigo, and he always considers what they say, no matter how he appears to oppose it. If Karin didn't like her, then there was no way Ichigo and her could be...wait a minute. She and Ichigo aren't even in a relationship! He doesn't even love you, Rukia thought.

"Oi, Rukia." Ichigo said, interrupting Rukia's thoughts.

"Don't...don't mind what Karin says. She doesn't know everything. I mean, she knows about our job and stuff, but she doesn't fully understand how we owe you our lives. All she knows is—"

"—that I'm the reason you went through hell. Yeah, I understand, Ichigo."

"Just...give her time. She's still young. When you get to know each other really well, I'm sure you'll be good friends."

"I suppose..."

Before they entered the school gates, Ichigo, upon seeing the same pained look on Rukia's face, grabbed her by the shoulder and turned her around.

"And about that whole Inoue thing...don't worry, Rukia. You're beautiful in your own way." With that, Ichigo walked past her and entered the school.

Rukia blinked a few times before her mind finally registered what Ichigo had just said.

"Idiot." She smiled and made her way inside the school.

Rukia ate her lunch with the girls today. As always, they did their usual "interrogation session", with Rukia —again— on the hot seat.

"Sooo, Kuchiki-san..." Natsui Mahana started. "You live with Kurosaki-kun, right?"

"Uh, y-yeah. Why?" Rukia asked, her cheery facade strangely absent.

"Well, are you two together now? I mean as a couple?"

"Mahana! So straightforward as always!" Ogawa Michiru butted in.

"But no one else wanted to ask! And we're all dying to know!" Mahana defended.

The girls looked at Rukia expectantly.

"Oh, no, no! I told you, Kurosaki-kun and I are just friends."

Inoue Orihime and Arisawa Tatsuki arrived and joined the girls at that point.

"Oh, Orihime! Kurosaki-san asked if you could join us for dinner tonight." Rukia said, looking up at the buxom girl.

Orihime blinked. "Really? Why?"

"What is Ichigo's dad planning?" Tatsuki wondered aloud.

"Maybe he wants a threesome for his son!" Mahana said. The other girls squealed.

"NOOOO! I should come, too!" Honsho Chizuru said. "Kuchiki-san and Kurosaki-kun could be a couple, while me and Hime—" The four-eyed girl came flying towards the sky as Tatsuki kicked her.

Rukia shrugged. "I don't know either, Orihime. But I suggest you come so he wouldn't spend the night whining and crying." Rukia grinned at the auburn head.

"Oh, okay, Kuchiki-san! I'm excited. I would bring my new recipe!"

The girls sweat dropped.

Ichigo, Rukia and Orihime walked silently towards the Kurosaki house. Ichigo was quietly observing the two women. He couldn't help but feel joy at seeing them both alive and well. They were, after all, the women he risked his life for.

From a nearby lamp post, two figures tried to hide their presence.

"Are you sure this is the right thing to do?"

"Yeah, yeah. That son of mine needs to learn a lesson. He's too slow. He wouldn't lift a limb unless provoked."

"I wonder whom he took after..."

"Certainly not me. I got Masaki right after realizing I'm in love with her..."

"Ah, maybe that's where your son's problem lies. Has he realized his feelings yet?"

"I doubt it. But I'm sure he will, soon."

"But wouldn't the other girl get hurt?"

"She will. Actually, they both will. Well, it's better for her to realize the truth now than later, right? She will find out eventually, and she will get hurt. Why postpone what's inevitable? Might as well make her realize that early on."

"Ah, unrequited love. Well, good luck Isshin." The man said, fixing the hat on his head. "I need to go now. My squad needs me, you know..." He grinned.

"Ah, I know I should have taken that offer to come back as well. Anyway, see you Kisuke."

Meanwhile, the three teens have finally entered the house.

"Good evening Onii-chan, Rukia-nee, Orihime-chan!" Yuzu greeted

The young girl received two "good evening's" and a grunt in reply.

"I'm glad you could come, Orihime-chan." Karin said as the three came into the dining area.

"RUKIA-CHAN! ORIHIME-CHAN! OH, I AM SOOOO HAPPY!" Isshin, coming out of nowhere, flew towards the clueless girls and enveloped them in a tight hug. "Now, let's start dinner!"

The dinner was quiet, and it was starting to grate on Ichigo's nerves.

"Oi, old man! Don' t tell me you invited Inoue over for nothing! Speak up. Now."

"My, my. Impatient as always, my boy! But you're right. Orihime-chan, you're still living in your and your brother's apartment, right?"

"Oh, yes! I love that apartment! It's just nearby. Oh, I know! Next time, you all could come over and visit. I'll make dinner for us!"

Obviously, everyone knew of Inoue's infamous fondness for rather unique delicacies, and couldn't help the nervous smiles on their faces.

"Oh, that would be great, Orihime-chan! But that's not the reason why I asked." Isshin said, rubbing his chin in a thoughtful manner.

Everyone else breathed a sigh of relief as the thought of dinner at Orihime's place vanished into thin air.

"Oh, why then, Kurosaki-san?"

"Oh! You see, it's not really safe for a beautiful young woman like you to live alone! You could get kidnapped!"

The three teens froze in their spots. Isshin didn't fail to notice this. He knew he shouldn't use it against them, but it was his trump card.

"You need someone to protect you, Orihime-chan! And since you're like family to us, we don't mind—"

"Oh, no, Kurosaki-san! You don't need to get me a bodyguard! I can take care of myself!"

Everyone's breath got caught in their throats. Just what the heck was Isshin planning?

"Oh, no, Orihime-chan! I wasn't thinking of that. I was going to ask you to stay in our home!"

Everyone gaped at him like he was a madman. Well, okay, he was..

Yuzu was the first to recover. "Oh, that's brilliant, otou-san, but..where do you plan to make her stay? I mean, our room is already full since Rukia-nee is staying with us."

The young girl didn't mean any offense in what she said, but Rukia couldn't help but feel a little tugging pain in her chest as a familiar word ran through her mind over and over again — burden.

"She could stay in Ichi-nii's room." Karin said, and smirked at the reaction she got from the three teens.

"HELL NO!" Ichigo bellowed.

"C'mon, Ichi-nii, your bed is the biggest in this house. And what are you afraid about sharing a room with Orihime? Losing control?"

"Shut it, Karin." Ichigo growled.

"Actually, that isn't a bad idea, since the two of you are..." Yuzu trailed off, suddenly unsure of what she was saying.

Rukia didn't utter a wod. What could she say? That Orihime could take her bed and she'll be the one to share with Ichigo? Hell, no! If she dared open her mouth, she knew she'll only sound like a jealous girlfriend.

"Oh, Kurosaki-san, I-I don't think I can accept the offer. I mean, I'm actually fine living on my own." Orihime knew this was her chance—her chance to be with the man she adored. But somehow, she couldn't just take it. It felt...wrong.

"Nonsense, Orihime-chan, I insist! And don't worry about Ichigo! He won't lose control!"

"Shut up, you demented idiot!"

"Why Ichigo? Wouldn't you want Orihime here? Wouldn't you want to make sure she's safe? Huh? Huh?"

Ichigo frowned. He was cornered with that question. His eyes traveled across the occupants of the table—Yuzu's slightly blushing face, Karin's smirk, Isshin's wiggling eyebrows, Orihime's somewhat hopeful eyes and Rukia's...indifference. His eyes rested on the petite woman who seemed to be concentrating on her food. He frowned deeper.

"Fine." That was all Ichigo managed to say before he resumed his dinner.

"Great! Now, Orihime-chan, please take the offer."

And that was it. Orihime lost the concept of right and wrong, not that she seemed to have it in the first place, and said, "I'd love to!"

Orihime moved the day after. Ichigo helped carry her boxes all the way home that by night time, he felt really exhausted.

Orihime started unpacking her things in Ichigo's room.

"Where do I put my clothes, Kurosaki-kun?"

"In the closet." Ichigo tiredly said as he plopped down on the bed.

Orihime opened the closet and found a neatly folded futon inside. "Oh, you have an extra futon here, Kurosaki-kun. I guess this'll work for me."

"Nah. Old man's gonna kill me if I let you sleep on the floor while sleep on the bed. Besides, that futon is small. It fits exactly in that small closet. And that's where...Rukia used to sleep."

"Oh..." Orihime started putting her clothes inside the closet. The room was silent until Orihime finished unpacking.

Orihime closed the closet door, and leaned her forehead on it to hide the blush creeping up her face. "Ano, Kurosaki-kun...I-it's really okay for me to sleep on the floor. I-I mean, I know you'll be uncomfortable with me sleeping beside you...So..." She turned around...

Ichigo was laying on his bed, asleep. Orihime couldn't help but admire his peaceful form. She slowly walked towards the bed. This was her chance to get close to Ichigo. Tatsuki was right. She wouldn't get anything if she surrendered without a fight. So, she will fight for Ichigo's heart...





Orihime woke up the next morning as the first rays of sunlight entered through the window. She glanced at the unfamiliar surrounding, then remembered she was now staying with the Kurosaki's. She quickly looked at the man sleeping beside her. Ichigo was still sleeping soundly, lying on his back. Both his arms were outstretched across the bed just below the pillows, while Orihime was curled up beside him, her head just below his left arm. She sat up a little and observed the carrot-top. Her heart swelled with love for the man. She adjusted her position on the bed so she could rest her head on his shoulder...

Rukia went downstairs for breakfast. She didn't sleep too well last night for reasons no one really needed to ask about.

"Morning, Rukia-nee!" Yuzu greeted.

"Morning, Yuzu." Rukia said, stifling a yawn.

"I'm almost finished making breakfast. Could you check if Onii-chan and Orihime-chan are awake?"

Rukia, really curious about what was going on behind Ichigo's closed door, agreed without hesitation.

Rukia's hand was resting on the doorknob. She was in the middle of an inner rambling on whether or not she should knock first or just barge in like she usually did. She slowly turned the door knob open and entered the room.

And her heart dropped to her stomach.

There. I hope you like that. I'm sorry for the typos and grammar errors. Please review and tell me if I should continue this one! Take care everyone! :)