Disclaimer: The plot and characters of BLEACH is the intellectual property of Tite Kubo. Kunoichi Yumemi has no claim over the characters or plot of BLEACH and makes no profit off this work of fiction.
Summary: It was a little known fact that Kurosaki Ichigo's body was weak to begin with. The sudden death of Kurosaki Masaki led a young Ichigo to fight tooth and nail to overcome that weakness so he could protect the people he loved, and by the time he turned fifteen, he had emerged victorious over his body's weakness. And then he met Kuchiki Rukia. Never in his wildest dreams did he ever imagine the long term effect that this meeting with would have on his life…
Note: AU. Completely disregards recent chapters of BLEACH.
"I'm actually surprised that the hollow didn't attempt to take over."
Ichigo smiled weakly at his friend as the raven haired noble supported the teen down toward the Forth Division Hospice. "I am as well," he admitted, "But Zangetsu believes it's because I gave him a name to mark him not as a horse, but rather as a partner."
Slate gray eyes stared incredulously at the orange haired teen. "You named your hollow?!"
"His name is Hiei," Ichigo said, "If only because he's been pretty constant since everything happened. That, and for the longest time, he was the only reason that I kept a cool head in Las Noches much less survived everything that freak put me through."
"I find it hard to believe that you giving it—him—a name might stop the hollow's natural tendencies."
Ichigo surveyed Byakuya with contemplative eyes. "I thought you would be happy you didn't need to fight, much less kill us."
"I am," Byakuya said, "I'm simply having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that your hollow didn't try to take over was because you gave it—gave him—a name."
The gate leading to the courtyard of the Fourth Division swung open and Unohana stepped out and smiled at the two shinigami.
"Ah, Kuchiki-taicho, Kurosaki-san. Good afternoon."
"Afternoon," Ichigo said, awkwardly Byakuya inclined his head toward the Fourth Division Captain silently.
"Well then, Kurosaki-san," Unohana stripped off her gloves and smiled at Ichigo, "while your illness did transfer over to your spirit form, there isn't enough damage to be overly concerned. It will take a bit of treatment to cleanse your soul of the illness and heal the residual damage, but once it is gone, you should not have to be worried about a relapse. For now, however, I would like for you to report to me once a week just in case."
Ichigo nodded and stood up. There was a knock and the door slid open to reveal Kyouraku Shunsui.
Ichigo inclined his head slightly, just about all the formality that this particular uncle would allow his own flesh and blood display toward him.
"Kyouraku-taicho." Unohana nodded.
"So everything's alright?"
"As I was telling Kurosaki-san," Unohana said, "Some of the illness has transferred over, and it will take a few treatments to cleanse the last vestiges of the illness and heal all the damage. Afterward, unless Kurosaki-san spends an extended amount of time in a gigai, there should be no fear of relapse."
"Phew! That's good to hear," Shunsui grinned. "Now if you don't mind, Unohana, I'm going to show my nephew around his new home."
The healer smiled. "Of course."
Ichigo turned left, right, and another left, and noting a familiar face through one of the windows, took the initiative and jumped. He had passed through the window to land at Byakuya's feet as the noble calmly closed the window, shutting out the sounds of screaming fangirls and fanboys. The raven haired captain turned and raised an eyebrow at the teen.
Ichigo groaned. "Rukia and Rangiku always go one about how popular I am, but I never thought they were being serious!"
Byakuya smirked. "Welcome to Seireitei."
"You're rather young."
"I didn't mean it that way!"
"Congratulations on becoming Captain."
"Now you will officially be drowned in paperwork and incompetent subordinates."
"Don't forget having to break up make out sessions in the supply closets, walking in on your officers in some of the strangest positions, having subordinates offer sexual favors to get out of their duties, having no free time, and having quite literally no privacy."
"Thank you for ruining my shining moment of triumph, Byakuya."
The only response is a smug smirk.
Three Years Later…
"It is done. Please have the Fourth Division ready. Kurosaki is in need medical attention."
"Both of us, Byakuya, the both of us need medical attention."
"Don't push it, Kurosaki."
Ichigo let out a bark of laughter that tapered off into a coughing fit and groaned as he spat out a mouthful of blood.
"Damn," he muttered, "And here I was hoping we'd seen the last of the bloody spit-ups that have nothing to do with internal bleeding."
"You insisted on spending a year in the gigai."
"It was necessary!"
"And incredibly foolish."
"Are you done? 'Cuz I think I could use some support when my Uncle and Father are done with me."
Byakuya released a silent sigh and reached down and dragged the new Fifth Division Captain friend to his feet. The two proceeded to stagger out of the ruined halls of Las Noches. "You owe me."
"Yeah, yeah, I know."
Ichigo staggered as Byakuya stepped away from him and grunted as the petite form of his Vice-Captain slammed into him, throwing slender arms around his waist.
"Hinamori," Ichigo grunted, "That hurts…"
"Oh!" Hinamori leapt back, twisting the sleeve of her shihakusho worriedly, "Sorry."
"You should have hugged him harder," Byakuya said calmly. "The idiot learns best through pain after all."
"Byakuya, you bastard!"
Hinamori smiled sweetly at her new Captain. "Don't worry, Kurosaki-taicho," she said, "I'll take good care of you!" And she hugged the orange haired shinigami again.
Ichigo bit the inside of his cheek to keep from screaming as Hinamori dug a fist into one of the wounds on his back. Beside him, Byakuya smirked.
What a way to be thanked for getting rid of Aizen, eh, Aibou?
Why don't you swap with me and deal with having a sadistic bitch "accidentally" grind her fist into one of your injuries on the orders of another captain, Hiei?
Nah, that's what you're there for. To deal with the pain that comes with dealing with other people on a metaphysical level.
"I have good news and bad news."
"Bad news first please, Unohana-taicho."
"Of course, Kurosaki-taicho. The bad news is; the illness is now here to stay."
"And the good news?"
"Unless you do something stupid or overexert yourself, the illness will not progress, and given time and proper treatment and care, the illness might regress."
"Dad's so gonna kill me."
"No doubt." Unohana gave the young captain a hard look. "What you did was very foolish. Any longer in that gigai, and you would have been consumed, and this time, there would have been no going back."
Four years later…
"Oh, hey, Toushiro." The brush didn't stop its steady movement across the paper.
"What? No "That's Hitsugaya-Taicho!" today?" The completed paperwork was set aside so the ink could dry, and a new piece of paperwork was pulled forward.
"I would like to ask you a question."
"Ask away." The brush dipped gently into the inkwell in a graceful movement gained from the friendship with a particular Sixth Division Captain.
"I would like to marry your sister."
"Oh, was that all? And here I was… Wait…" Hitsugaya tensed as he watched the youngest of the Captains tense and the brush pause above the signature line of the next piece of paperwork. "What was that?"
The white haired captain shifted in preparation of fleeing his fellow captain's office. "I said I would like your permission to marry Kurosaki Karin."
"…" Hitsugaya watched as the brush descended and gentle strokes applied the Fifth Division Captain's signature and the brush was set gently aside. The Tenth Division Captain swallowed hard as he watched his former Captain's son lace his fingers together, set his elbows on the desk, and solemn chocolate colored eyes surveyed him from above his laced fingers. For a brief moment, Hitsugaya Toushiro felt as if he was a new recruit who had just made a blunder worthy of being dragged before his Captain. Then the moment passed, and it was Kurosaki Ichigo sitting there, surveying him, and not his father, though the resemblance at the moment was uncanny. "Let me get this straight. You want to marry my little sister. Not just any of my sisters, but Karin."
"I will consider it."
Hitsugaya left the office and once the door was closed behind him, he winced at the sound of something shattering. The ice wielder all but ran out of the Fifth Division Headquarters.
"For the thirtieth time this week, Hitsugaya, I will consider your request! Ask me again, and just to spite you, I'll forbid you from so much as seeing my sister much less marrying her!"
A hush fell over the chamber and the assembled captains stared at the tenth and fifth division captains.
A quiet snicker emerged, followed by a cough. Then the chamber was silent.
"The pipsqueak really likes your sister, huh, Ichigo?"
"Butt out, Kenpachi."
"Aww…" Ukitake grinned, "Our little Shiro-kun's growing up!"
"That's not funny, Ukitake," Hitsugaya growled.
"Hitsugaya-taicho," the Sotaicho's gruff voice said.
"Is Kurosaki-san pregnant?"
Ichigo choked and Hitsugaya's cheeks burned. "No sir."
"She had better not be," the orange haired captain muttered, "or you are so dead."
"In that case," the aged captain commander said, "Consider this. When requesting permission from a relative of a young lady for her hand in marriage, should the young lady's relative decide that they will consider the suit, time for clear thought and consideration of the suit is a requirement. Continuous requests will give the impression of being overly hasty, and is a definite way to have the suit turned down."
"Very well," the captain commander said, "That will be all for today."
Hitsugaya flashstepped out of the meeting chamber his face burning with humiliation. Ichigo scowled as various captains surrounded him. The orange haired captain would spend the rest of the day fielding proclamations of the tenth division captain's honor and how he was bound to treat his intended bride well, and so on. To his horror, not even his office would be safe as his own vice-captain would be the most persistent and vocal of those asserting Hitsugaya's worthiness to marry Ichigo's younger sister.
"Just cut him to ribbons and have done with it, Ichigo. I know you've already made up your mind to let them marry."
"It's not that easy! It's like if Renji were to ask you if he could marry Rukia!"
"Funny. I thought it would be you."
"Rukia and I don't have that sort of relationship. It would be as if I was marrying my own sister and you know it. And it's not me we're talking about, but Hitsugaya and Karin."
"You wouldn't call him by anything other than his given name since your first meeting, and now he's just Hitsugaya. You really are furious, aren't you?"
"You would be too; if some silly upstart thought he was good enough for your sister."
"Fine! I'll beat the shit out of the little snot and give him what he wants. But if he makes her cry, I reserve the right to kill him."
"No one would stop you, Ichigo. And even if anyone had the strength to do so, no one would dare. Practically all of Seireitei knows how much stronger your anger makes you."
Byakuya tried not to wince as Ichigo turned toward him, and it was the Hollow that was looking out at him. "And I intend to take advantage of it. I'm gonna make the little twerp squirm and bleed before I let him have my sister."
Then the fifth division captain left.
Byakuya wondered if he should warn Hitsugaya about the overprotective Vizard who was out for his blood. Then he thought about Rukia, and shrugged. Tormenting a younger sister's suitor was the older brother's privilege, and he certainly wasn't going to take it from Ichigo.
1 year later…
"It's a lovely wedding. Hitsugaya-taicho certainly went all out."
"He had better. What my sister wants, Hitsugaya had better bend over backwards to give her."
"Aren't you being a little harsh, Ichigo?"
"No, and you should know better than anyone that being happy for the sister and snarky to the groom is a brother's privilege, Byakuya. Hell, you do the same to Renji."
"Well, at least there's always Yuzu…"
"In that case, Ichigo, don't look to the terrace."
"What! What does that punk think he's doing! Jinta! Keep your lips off my sister!"
Byakuya sighed and sipped his champagne. The boy was incorrigible.
SanadaSayuri: hah! Limitations is now over!
Ichigo: Well, at least it wasn't just me being tortured in this chapter.
Hitsugaya: --glares—I have never been so humiliated in my life!
Byakuya: I am curious what happened to the boy that was kissing Yuzu-san.
Ichigo: Hmm… Good question. Hey author lady!
SS: I have a name you know.
Ichigo: Whatever. So what happened to Jinta?
SS: How else do most big brothers react when they see their little sisters being kissed?
Byakuya: Release their shikai and cut them down?
SS: If that's the typical reaction of an older brother to a suitor, I'm glad I'm an only child.
Ichigo: Hey! We're not that bad!
SS: Uhhuh. The story's over. Now get off the stage! I need it for some other stuff.
Everyone: --scrambles to get off--