A/N: I'm sorry that I haven't updated this story in over a month. That was bad of me. But I've been distracted plus I didn't know how to start this so I ended up working at a slow pace. This chapter takes place about three years after the end of the previous chapter. I know. Big time skip. So what happened since then? Read and enjoy.

PASSION AND ASPIRATIONS
CHAPTER EPILOGUE:

Rangiku left the Seireitei prison and started for Squad Eleven Headquarters. She had just finished visiting Ichimaru. Once again, they had talked about as much as the permitted hour gave them. Each day, the woman learned something new about the mysterious man who had left her in the dark. Yesterday, she had learned why he did what he had done. Gin had shared his reasons so she could see the change in him. Before that, she had learned about the incident between Midori and him. He shared that secret so Rangiku could tell Midori he was sorry for him. What was today's confession? She had learned that he loved her deeply.

What would people call it? Tainted? Unethical? Gin was a man of many sins but she realized that she could care less about that. She was more concern whether it was right to fall for a man like him. She loved him but was it okay to express such a thing? Gin still had many years to pay for his crimes and by the time he got out . . . Who was she kidding? She could wait. Midori had waited years before she resolved her issues with Shuuhei. It would be hard thing to do but it wasn't impossible. Nothing ever was.

Rangiku looked and spotted a familiar someone up ahead.

"Ah, Aya!" She waved.

The brunette turned around. "Hi, Rangiku-san."

"What are you doing here?" Rangiku asked. The last time Aya had visited the Seireitei was months ago.

"I'm looking for Squad Eleven Headquarters but I can't find it," she admitted sheepishly.

"Oh, came to see little Sorako?"

"That's part of the reason I'm here," Aya replied, blushing a bit. Her mind obviously had other things on it. Or better yet, another person.

"Then let's go!" Rangiku cried enthusiastically and grabbed Aya by the arm. Then she started leading the way.

"The Seireitei looks so much better now," Aya commented as the two women walked.

"Surprising, huh? After Ichigo and Aizen fought, I thought this place would still be in shambles."

Aya could remember the day when the Seireitei had been shaken up. The Rukongai had only felt the repercussions but this was where the action had taken place. Aya had been there, coming to check in on her friends. If she had arrived a second sooner, Midori would have been dead. If Ichigo hadn't arrived in the next few minutes after that, they would have been dead for Aizen's kido skills clearly outmatched hers.

Ichigo.

The substitute shinigami was unlike any Aya had ever seen. She had never thought she would see such a powerful being in her life. Despite his raw power and natural talent, the young man had decided to continue his life in the world of the living. But if the Gotei Thirteen needed help any time soon, the boy would return. She knew he would. After all being a shinigami was a part of him.

"We're here!" Rangiku announced. She grinned at Aya and opened the dojo door. The busty woman was about to say her flamboyant greeting when she noticed that Midori and Ikkaku were sparring. Everyone else in the room -- Shuuhei, Yumichika, and a tiny child -- was watching.

"Mommy, mommy, mommy!"

Aya looked at the tiny chanting child who was sitting next to Shuuhei. The little girl had short dark hair and crystal blue eyes, a near image of her father. Aya had assumed that because the child resembled her father, she would probably act like her mother. So far, the child had never shown such a side.

Yumichika looked at the two women at the door. "Hey, Rangiku, Aya."

"Oh, hi," Shuuhei said. His daughter wanted to see the new arrivals. However, a successful blow by Ikkaku kept her eyes on the fight. "You can do it, mommy!"

"Hello, boys," Rangiku said. "See that they're at it again," she commented, nodding toward Midori and Ikkaku.

Aya looked at the two fighting. They were oblivious to their presence, too intent on who would knock the other out. She was hoping they would stop soon before one of them broke a wall or something. She didn't believe the Squad Eleven taichou would appreciate another hole unless he was the one responsible.

"One of them is bound to screw up soon," Shuuhei said.

A second later, the child finally turned to see who her father was talking to. The little girl saw the two women and grinned. Immediately, the child got up and ran to them. "Auntie Ran, Auntie Aya!"

"Yes, Sorako-chan," Rangiku said, her arms outstretched to the child. "Come to auntie." She scooped up the child and swung her around. The child giggled.

"She's more adorable than last time," Aya commented.

Sorako looked around and pouted. "Where Uncle Renji?"

"Renji's on a trip but he'll be back soon," Rangiku said. After Rukia had stayed in the world of the living for three years, the redhead finally decided to go get her back. It was a pity she wasn't there to see how that would turn out, considering the rumors of Ichigo and Rukia hooking up, rumors that bothered Byakuya like crazy. Though there was no proof of such a relationship, Renji had not wanted to take any chances and left. Typical male, Rangiku thought. Always at the last minute.

"Why?" Sorako asked.

"Don't worry," Rangiku said, spinning the child around with her again. "You have me!"

Despite how dizzy she was getting, Sorako laughed happily.

Ikkaku heard laughter and turned around. His eyes landed on Aya. He was surprised to see her here out of all places and couldn't help but wonder why she had shown up. Midori, seeing her opportunity flash before her brown eyes, punched him in the jaw. The man flew across the room. Aya, sensing what would happen, put up a barrier and stopped Ikkaku from crashing into the wall.

"Finally," Yumichika said. How long had the fight been going on? Twenty minutes straight. He was beginning to wonder where his friends got all that energy from. Perhaps their love for a good fight had something to do with it. That was understandable; Ikkaku was part of Squad Eleven and although Midori was currently on Squad Ten, she had been part of the same squad in the past.

Midori wiped a hand across her forehead and glanced over at the small gathering. She waved at Aya and Rangiku, ignoring a fuming Ikkaku completely. "Oh, hi, Aya. How are you? Haven't seen you for a while." Her brown eyes then settled on her fukutaichou, preparing herself for unwanted news. "Does Hitsugaya want me or something, Rangiku?"

"Nope," the fukutaichou replied, finally setting the child down. She watched the child scampered to her mother. "Aya wanted to come so I tagged along."

Midori picked up Sorako and settled her on her hip. "I see," Midori said before focusing on her child. Her voice changed into a cooing one. "Didn't mommy tell you she was going to win?" She playfully asked the child, rubbing their noses together, a grin on both their faces. "Mommy, was right, wasn't she?"

"I got distracted!" Ikkaku finally yelled, getting off the floor. He had thought Midori would have let the victory go by without a comment but she hadn't. Typical Midori.

Midori raised an eyebrow. "By who? Rangiku and Aya? Since when women were your bane?"

"Only Aya," Yumichika said in a sing-song voice. Ikkaku gave the pretty man a dirty look and the fifth seat shrugged.

"What does that mean?" Midori asked, slightly confused by Yumichika's comment.

"None of your business," Ikkaku said before looking at Aya. "And why are you here anyway?"

"Don't talk to Aya like that!" The third seat yelled. There was no way Ikkaku was going to talk to her friend like that and get away with it. Just because he was a sore loser was no excuse. "Apologize to her!"

"It's okay, Midori," Aya said quietly. Her face was red out of embarrassment. She hadn't expected so much attention. In fact, she had hoped she would go by unnoticed. Apparently that was not the case. Now Ikkaku and Midori was arguing. "You don't have to be concerned," she added in the hopes of calming down the woman.

"See?!" Ikkaku exclaimed. "Aya doesn't mind!"

"Are you really that stupid?!"

"Maybe you should calm down," Shuuhei told his wife.

"I'm not calming down until he apologizes!"

"I don't have to listen to you, Midori!"

"If you know what's good for you, Ikkaku, you'll---!"

Sorako tugged on her mother's shinigami robes. "Are you mad, mommy?"

Midori glanced at her child. Sorako's little eyebrows were furrowed, her eyes filled with concern, as she stared at the woman. Calm down, Midori told herself with a sigh. "Mommy's not mad, Sorako. Ikkaku's just being an idiot."

Ikkaku snorted and walked away. "Whatever, Midori," he said as he approached the group. He looked at them all before staring at Aya. When she looked at him, he averted his gaze. "Sorry," he mumbled, scratching the back of his head.

Aya glanced at the floor, feeling her face turn red. "It's okay, Ikkaku," she said quietly.

"Really, I'm sorry," he repeated. He could feel several pairs of eyes on him and suddenly felt uncomfortable. "You came to see me, right?" He asked, his voice a little quieter than usual.

Aya slowly nodded.

"Come on then," he said, taking her hand and leading her out of the dojo.

"What's up with them?" Midori asked, adjusting Sorako in her arms.

"You honestly don't know?" Yumichika said in disbelief. "And I thought it was obvious by now."

Rangiku giggled and Shuuhei grinned. Yumichika looked away, containing his laughter well. Only Midori seemed confused as she readjusted Sorako in her arms. "What are you talking about?"


"Why didn't I see it before?" Midori said to Shuuhei as they headed home. The two were walking side by side as Sorako skipped ahead, collecting flowers. "I knew she was acting a bit weird but I never thought that she and Ikkaku would be . . . If I had known that would be the result of the garter-bouquet thing, I would never had thrown the bouquet at Aya. How did I not see that coming?"

"It's not the most obvious thing in the world," Shuuhei commented. "Even if Yumichika believes it is."

"Can you she even handle someone as rough as Ikkaku?"

"Aya can," Shuuhei said. "She has a lot of patience and kindness."

"So?"

"So Ikkaku would feel guilty if he hurts her and therefore he would try to be better for her," he explained.

The blonde woman rolled her eyes at the mere idea. "I have yet to see that."

"You will," he said. "But let's talk about us for a bit." Shuuhei wrapped his arms around his wife and pulled her to his side. Before she could ask him what he meant, he kissed her on the cheek. Seeing that she had been caught off guard, he then whispered in husky voice, "If you want, I can run a hot bubble bath for you and give you a massage when we get home."

"Sorako remember?" Midori reminded him, her face red.

"I mean tonight, when Sorako's well asleep," he replied.

Sorako hopped back to them, carrying a bunch of flowers in her hands. She plucked one out of the bunch and proudly showed it to her parents. "Look! A daffodil! It's um . . . Um . . . Squad . . . Ten's flower, right? Your squad, mommy?"

Midori grinned and picked the child. "You're so smart, Sorako-chan," she said, taking the flower and placing it behind the child's ear.

"I get it from daddy," Sorako beamed, her smile exactly like her mother's.

Midori frowned while Shuuhei silently chuckled. "Who told you that?" She asked.

"Uncle Shunsui!"

Midori's eyes twitched. "Oh really?" She raised an eyebrow, hoping Kyouraku didn't run into them anytime soon. "Well, he just lost his uncle status."

"You not going to hurt him are you?" Sorako asked. She was deeply concerned for the wellbeing of her favorite uncle.

"No," Midori said. She had believed Shuuhei was the only person able to keep her in check, out of trouble, and from being an idiot. However, ever since the day Sorako had been born, the little girl had been capable of doing the same. The girl was her bane, inheriting every good quality from the man she had married.

"Promise?" Sorako asked, sticking out her pinky.

Midori smiled and linked her pinky with the smaller one. "I promise."

- - - - - - - - - -

Later that night, Midori closed the storybook and glanced at Sorako, who was sound asleep. Who knew such a pointless story would be so effective on children? The very effective book was from the world of the living. It was some story about a dumb girl who broke into a house, ate three bowls of porridge, and then got chased out by bears. Though Midori had found the story annoying, Sorako loved it very much. For that reason alone, Midori kept rereading the tale every night.

She kissed her daughter's forehead, put the book on the bookshelf, and left the room, closing the door behind her. Then she headed down the hallway and opened the bathroom door. Shuuhei was already inside, topless, checking the temperature of the water. On the surface of the water were bubbles; by the side of the tub was massaging oil.

Midori closed the door behind her. "Sorako's finally sleeping," she said, reaching for her obi.

"That means we have some time to ourselves," he said. His eyes were initially on his wife but once the robe started to cascade down her body, his eyes looked at the floor.

"What's wrong?" Midori asked, approaching the man.

"Nothing," he said, trying not to look at her. "Just resisting temptation."

"Suit yourself," she said. She walked passed him and settled into the tub full of bubbles, picking up the peach aroma. Taking a deep breath, she slid further into the tub.

Shuuhei turned around and reached for the bottle of massaging oil. "How do you want to start this?"

Midori looked at him and then at the water. She scooted up a bit, leaving a space in the back of her. "Instead of giving me a massage, do you want to come in?"

"You sure?" He asked, standing up. He noticed how the bubbles covered his wife's vitals and found himself yearning for physical contact. So much for no temptation. When she nodded, he quickly removed his hakama and climbed into the tub. Midori came back some more and leaned against his body. He wrapped his arms around her waist and planted kisses on her neck.

"Midori, remember when you said that you wouldn't be a good mother?" He asked, recalling what she had said a long time ago. He held her even tighter in his strong arms. "Do you still think that now?"

"I like being a mom," she replied. "I know I'm not perfect but I want to give Sorako a happy childhood. She's the best thing that happened to us."

"So you no longer think you're a bad mom?" He asked, brushing his lips against her shoulder.

"Her first word wasn't a curse, right?"

"If that's how we're basing this," he stated. "But I always knew you'd be a good mom in the first place."

"And I always knew you would make a good father," Midori said.

" . . . Mimi?" It was at times like this, when his voice was full of hunger, that the woman didn't care that her nickname was used. The sound of his lust-filled voice was all that she wanted to hear.

Midori turned around and kissed him fully on the lips. Her body suddenly on fire, she wrapped her arms around his neck and gripped his hair. She moved away to catch her breath but Shuuhei quickly pulled her back in. His hands passed over her body, leaving a blazing trial behind. When was the last time they had done this? Midori didn't know and no longer cared. She was reveling in the moment, finding pleasure in each of his ministrations. She gasped when his hand strayed between her thighs.

"Shuu, I . . ." What did she want? She didn't know anymore. The euphoria was unbearable and soon she wouldn't be able to contain herself any longer. Not when everything felt so good.

Shuuhei knew that as well and stopped immediately what he had been doing.

"That's enough for one night," he said, breathing heavily. If they had continued, it would have escalated into something else. No doubt it would have been more enjoyable but the man was not up to re-explaining the baby-delivering-stork story to Sorako again.

"I guess," Midori agreed, her chest heaving up and down. Their anniversary was next week. Sorako would be in Aya's care then and the two of them would go spend the night somewhere romantic. They could wait. "Let's get ready for bed," she suggested.


Lights out, Midori and Shuuhei were cuddling underneath the sheets when someone knocked on the door. Midori sat up, slightly grumpy that sleep almost had her. Sensing the tiny spiritual pressure on the other side of the door, the woman frowned. "Sorako, what's wrong?"

The door opened a bit and Sorako peeked through. "Mommy, Daddy?"

"Come in."

Sorako walked in and climbed onto the bed. Then she fit into whatever small space was between her parents. "I had a nightmare," she whispered.

"About what?" Shuuhei asked, rolling onto his side and looking at his daughter.

"There was that giant monster and you and mommy had to fight it and it attacked you and then you didn't get back up. It was scary."

Shuuhei glanced at Midori and saw that she understood the root of that dream. A few days ago during a visit to the Rukongai, a hollow had appeared. Unfortunately Sorako had been there and had to witness the fight that took place. Such times made it difficult to separate the duties of a soul reaper from those of a parent. There were several things that they felt they should share with the child but couldn't. One example was death. Though death was part of being a soul reaper, the two parents didn't know how to put the concept in a way that Sorako would understand.

"You were there in the dream too, right, Sorako?" Midori asked.

The girl nodded slowly.

"Then we would have gotten back up," she said, trying to reassure her daughter.

"You wouldn't be scared?"

"We would," Shuuhei said. "But we would be brave enough to protect you."

"Because you and mommy are soul reapers?"

"Not necessarily. When there's something you want to protect, you won't hesitate to defend it. You can be as brave as you need to be."

"Really?"

"Really," Shuuhei promised.

"Even me?"

"Even you."

Midori brought the covers over Sorako, figuring that their daughter might want to sleep in their room tonight. The woman knew what Shuuhei meant. When one was passionate about something, when they truly believed in it, one was willing to go to great lengths to achieve it. Aspirations were a driving force and if one did not know what they want, they would get nothing. What had Midori wanted in the beginning of this? The way everything should have been or at least the way she wanted things to be.

"Goodnight mommy, daddy."

"Goodnight."

"Goodnight, Sorako."

Nowadays, Midori knew she had everything she would ever need.

A/N: Woot! It's over. I'm done. I feel proud of myself. After rereading parts of the story, I realized that I should probably go back and fix my mistakes. But for now, I'm too lazy. And the beginning of the chapter, I like Rangiku and Gin as a couple. I know someone of you hate him and chapter 5 didn't help but I like him as an evil character. His manipulative personality and mocking tendencies are what I love.

Anyway, thanks for reading this story to the end. I really appreciate it. It made feel like this story is not for naught. And thanks to cheeky half-demon and I'llxBexUrxEnigma2010 for reviewing the last chapter. Future plans? I am going to start up FMA again and try Fruits Basket as well. I'm also considering a UlquiorraxOrihime one-shot. Don't know about it yet. That's it. Peace! :)