Rukia walked into her room tired from a long day. She had been training all day with her released zanpaku-to. Rukia flopped down on the bed. Her eyes fluttered shut as images from the previous day flooded her mind.
The shinigami smiled and a jittery feeling flew threw her as she recalled her meeting with Sode no Shirayuki and her first look at her inner world. True, her first experience wasn't the most calming of times, but today she had been able to return to that world and see the snowy forest and breath in the cold and crisp air.
Rukia sighed happily into her mattress. She couldn't wait to go back and visit again and learn the secrets of her sword.
Suddenly a loud thump came from behind her causing Rukia to jump up on to her feet.
"Rukia." A voice came from behind her and surprised her.
"Ah-" Rukia was about to scream in surprise when a hand reached from behind her and covered her mouth.
"What the hell Rukia? Do you want me to get caught?"
Rukia turned around to see her orange haired friend standing behind her.
"Oh. It's you," said Rukia upon realization.
Ichigo smirked. "Did I just scare the great Rukia Kuchiki?"
"I don't know…you looked pretty scared to me."
"I wasn't scared," said Rukia stubbornly. "I was just surprised. I didn't know- Wait a minute…How come I can't feel your spiritual pressure?"
"Why? Should you?"
"Well… usually I can always feel it, but for some reason I can't right now." her face deepened as she thought.
"Maybe it's just that I can control spiritual pressure now." Rukia gave him a disbelieving look as took a sat down on the edge of her bed.
"Okay, so maybe I still suck in that category but here is the reason." Ichigo held up his right hand where Rukia saw a silver bracelet wrapped around his wrist.
"Urahara's been experimenting with objects that hide spiritual pressure for the past hundred years or so and he asked me if I could test it out. It came in handy when I was trying to get past the guards."
"Wait- I thought that Urahara had been banned from experimenting?" said a confused Rukia.
Ichigo shrugged. "Yeah I thought so too. But I think he still tries to work when no one is looking. I don't know- he just gave this thing to me. I just wanted to be able to get past Byakuya unnoticed."
"Oh," was Rukia's answer. She paused. "How did you know where to find me?"
"Easy," said Ichigo. "All I had to do was follow your spiritual pressure."
"I thought you were bad at detecting spiritual pressure," said Rukia with a frown.
"Yeah," said Ichigo. His voice became softer. "But it's actually very easy for me to find your spiritual pressure. I could find you anywhere."
"Oh," replied Rukia not knowing how to respond. She frowned. "Uh- Was there a particular reason that you snuck in here?"
"Huh? Oh! Yeah that's right," said Ichigo suddenly remembering his real reason for coming to her room. "I was supposed to bring you to the thirteenth division."
"At eight o'clock at night?" asked Rukia as worry started building in her chest. "Is something wrong?"
"Wrong? No, everything's fine." Ichigo contained his usual serious face but Rukia saw the amusement in his eyes. "They're actually throwing a party."
Rukia gave him a confused look. "Party? For who?"
"Who do you think? The party's for you."
Rukia stared at him blankly. "What? Why?"
"Kaien thought that you deserved a congratulatory party for releasing your zanpaku-to after only six months of being in the division." Ichigo seemed to have a disappointed look on his face.
Rukia noticed the look on his face. She laughed. "Don't worry Strawberry; I'm sure you'll release your sword soon."
"Yeah, I guess," said Ichigo with a sigh as he stood up. "We should get going or we're going to be late."
"Late? When are we supposed to be there?"
"Uhh…" Ichigo looked toward the clock. "Ten minutes ago."
"Don't worry," said Ichigo interrupting her before she went off on some tangent. He really wanted to avoid getting kicked in the shins. "I can get us there fast."
"How?" asked Rukia.
"Here," Ichigo crouched down in front of her. "Hop on my back."
"Come on. It's not like I'm going to drop you. You know I can go faster than you."
Rukia sighed. "Alright…" She then walked up to him and slid her arms around his shoulders as her knees clung to on his sides. She shifted getting comfortable.
Ichigo then stood up and walked to the window. "Wow," he said as got ready to jump from the window. "You're really light. It must be because you're so sh-"
"Don't you dare finish that sentence," Rukia whispered dangerously in his ear. A shiver ran down Ichigo's spine and he couldn't tell whether it was because he was afraid of what she would do to him or it was from the feeling of her warm breath on the side of his face.
Upon entering the party they were immediately greeted by the mastermind behind everything.
"Our guest of honor! You finally made it!" Her lieutenant came up to the two new arrivals. "We were wondering what was taking so long." He flashed them a knowing smile. "I just figured you two were having a little make out session before coming here."
Ichigo and Rukia's eyes went wide at his suggestion and were about to protest when Miyako came up behind her husband and wacked him upside the head.
"Dear, this is Rukia's party. Can't you give them a break for just one night?" Miyako gave him a pointed look.
Kaien pouted. "Come on!" Miyako stared him down. "Alright…" Kaien sighed as Miyako turned him around and lead him away.
"Come on. You said you were going to dance with me anyway." Before they disappeared among the crowd Miyako turned to look over her shoulder. "Congratulations Rukia!"
"Uhh…" said Rukia not knowing how to fill they awkward silence between them as the Shiba's left.
Keigo met Ichigo's fist landing on the ground with a loud crash.
"Hello Ichigo. Rukia."
The two looked up to see Mizuiro coming towards them; much calmer in comparison with his eccentric friend.
"Hey Mizuiro!" greeted Ichigo. "How's everything?"
The boy shrugged. "Oh, you know. The same as usually." He turned towards Rukia. "Congratulations Rukia. I heard that you reached some new level of power?"
"Oh! Yes, thank you!" replied Rukia.
"CONGRADULATIONS!!" Keigo suddenly jumped up from his position on the floor and turned his attention to Rukia. "MY BEAUTIFUL GODDESS-"
He was cut off when his face was once again introduced to Ichigo's fist preventing Keigo from jumping at Rukia. Unfortunately for them, he did not stay on the ground to long.
"Ichigo, why do you stop me from trying to win the affections of my dear lady?" Fake, exaggerated tears started pouring down his checks.
"Stop before you find yourself on the floor again," growled Ichigo. For some reason he really didn't like the idea of anyone trying to touch Rukia.
"AH!" cried Keigo cowering behind Mizuiro. "What have they done with our friend?"
Mizuiro sighed. He was use to this by now. "Have you guys had anything to eat or drink yet?"
Rukia shook her head. "No. We just got here."
Keigo shot up. "I SHALL GET YOU A DRINK MY LOVE!!" And with that he rushed over towards the other end of the room, pushing himself through the crowd.
Ichigo let out a deep sigh. "I'd better go make sure he doesn't get himself hurt for annoying anyone. I'll be right back."
"Okay," replied Rukia watching disappear through the crowd of people.
Mizuiro cleared his throat. "Umm…I'm sorry Rukia, but I just spotted one of my girlfriends. If you'll excuse me?"
"Oh. Alright. See ya!" replied Rukia as he waved and made his way towards the dance floor.
Said person spun around just in time to have Momo collide into her with a big hug.
"RUKIA! CONGRADULATIONS! I SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!" Momo yelled as she squeezed the raven head in her hug.
"Momo, you're squishing her," came a cool voice from behind her. Momo immediately let go giving Rukia an apologetic look.
Momo then turned around to her white haired companion. "Rukia this is Toushiro Hitsugaya. Shiro this is Rukia Kuchiki. Shiro and I grew up together."
"That's Hitsugaya-taicho," growled Hitsugaya. Momo didn't seem to hear his comment.
"So Momo, how have you been?" asked Rukia.
Momo's face broke out into an even bigger smile. "Great! I've actually learned how to release my sword too! Aizen-taicho said that it won't be long until I move up in rank."
"That's wonderful Momo!" exclaimed Rukia, happy for her friend.
"Thanks," replied the other girl.
"Uh, Momo…" said Hitsugaya.
"Oh! Sorry Rukia but there are still some people that I wanted to introduce to Shiro to and he's not much of a party person."
Rukia smiled at her cheery friend. "Okay then, I'll see you later!"
"See ya!" shouted Momo as she pulled the reluctant Hitsugaya behind her.
After they had gone Rukia stood there while people from the company came to congratulate her. She wondered what was taking Ichigo so long.
"Rukia?" At the sound of her name, she turned around to see Renji standing there.
Orihime couldn't contain her excitement. She was had been looking forward to the party all day. Her reason? Parties usually meant dancing and Ichigo would definitely be attending so there was a chance that she would be able to dance from him. She was so excited that she had arrived extra early. Unfortunately, Ichigo had not been there as he had been the one assigned to get Rukia so she had to wait.
When they had finally arrived, Orihime's eyes immediately went to her crush and she kept close to them looking for the right moment to approach him. A first he had stayed with Rukia and Orihime tried to get Rukia's attention and see if her friend would help her out, but Rukia didn't notice her.
Her chance finally came when Ichigo left the group to follow Keigo towards the drinks. As Keigo started getting the drinks- most of them alcoholic- Orihime noticed Ichigo just rolling his eyes as he watched his friend.
Seeing this at the best moment, Orihime walked towards the table the two at the table.
"Hello Kurosaki-kun!" Orihime said cheerfully.
Ichigo turned his head. "Oh. Hey Inoue. What's up?"
Orihime blushed. "Not much. I was just wondering how you're doing."
"Good," replied Ichigo continuing the flow of conversation. "How's the Kido Corps?"
"Great!" exclaimed Orihime. "You should visit some time!"
"Uhh…sure…I guess I could try…"
"Really!?!" Her heart started beating faster.
"Yeah…" Ichigo leaned back, surprised by her enthusiastic reply.
Orihime beamed, her face becoming redder as silence settled between them.
Orihime looked down at the floor and started fidgeting. She really wanted to ask him, but she was getting really nervous. "Uhh…ummm…Kurosaki-kun…?"
Ichigo turned to look back at Orihime while at the same time keeping an eye on Keigo who was getting God-knows-what.
"Umm…Would you like to dance?"
"Uhh…dance…Would you like to dance with me?" Orihime felt her face becoming and even darker shade of red. She was having trouble looking at him.
"Me? Dance?" Orihime nodded her head and in doing so she caught a glimpse of his face. He looked confused. "Uhh…sorry Inoue, but I don't really dance…and…I…"
"Oh! That's okay!" said Orihime trying to change the mood. "I have to go find Tatsuki anyway!" She tried making an excuse to get out of the now awkward conversation.
"WAIT!! I'LL DANCE WITH YOU!!" Keigo had just recently turned around and noticed Orihime.
Orihime turned to the boy with a nervous smile. "Uhh…That's okay Keigo-kun, but I really should go find Tatsuki."
Turning away Orihime walked into the crowd, with Keigo following her in a trance completely forgetting his original mission. Ichigo just shrugged as the two disappeared. Keigo was an idiot for following him if it was Tatsuki they were heading towards. All Keigo would get is a black eye for his troubles.
"Hey Rukia. It's been awhile."
"Hi Renji. What brings you here?" Rukia looked up towards him debating how she should treat this conversation. She gave him the benefit of the doubt and decided to try and be friendly towards him. Who knew? Maybe they could repair their friendship.
"Well I heard that the thirteenth division was having a party for you and just stopped by." Renji studied her face. Why did she seem so distant?"
"So…How's the sixth division?"
"Good. I've been improving a lot, though your brother is not one to give much encouragement or compliments."
"Heh, heh, I know what you mean," replied Rukia. "…Then have released your zanpaku-to yet?"
"Yup!" said Renji proudly. "I discovered it about a month ago; about the same time as Momo."
"Did you discover your eyebrows then too?"
Rukia and Renji turned to see Ichigo join them handing a drink to Rukia while sipping his own.
"Eyebrows?" asked Rukia confused. Renji just glared at the new arrival. He was the last person he wanted to see right now.
Ichigo jerked his head in Renji's direction. Rukia turned back to look at her childhood friend and noticed something very different.
"What the-!?!?!" yelled Rukia. Instead of the normal, Renji now had these intense back tattoos as eyebrows that went all the way up to the edge of his hair line.
"What do you think?" Renji asked Rukia. He hoped she liked it, though right now she looked like she was still in shock.
"I think they look ridiculous."
Renji turned towards Ichigo and sent him- if possible- and even harder glare then before. "I wasn't asking you," said Renji through his teeth.
"I think they look cool." At first Renji in his hopeful way thought it had been Rukia who said that, but when he turned to face the voice he found that it was a completely different person.
"I didn't know you were blind Tatsuki."
"Oh shut up Ichigo." He barely knew her, but already Renji liked this girl. She like his tattoos and she had just told Ichigo to shut up all in the same fifteen seconds.
"Hey Tatsuki!" said Rukia turning to her friend.
"Hey Rukia. Congratulations."
Then Tatsuki turned to the person the group that she didn't know.
"Renji Abarai," said Renji, introducing himself. "How do you know Rukia?"
"Actually, I met her through Ichigo. He and I grew up together. I use to kick his ass every day in Karate." Renji couldn't help but smile at that; he loved the idea of Ichigo getting beat up by this girl.
Ichigo on the other hand was not at all pleased about the information his friend was giving to his rival. Wait a minute- since when has he been my rival? And a rival in what?
"So you know Karate?" continued Renji.
"Hell yeah," replied Tatsuki. "Are you interested in it too?"
"Well…" said Renji. "I know a little…"
"I could show you some moves if you want," Tatsuki offered.
"What the-?" Ichigo interjected. "When the hell did you get so nice?"
Tatsuki glared at her orange haired friend. Then she looked over towards Rukia who instantly got the message.
Ichigo was about to speak up again seeing as Tatsuki didn't answer his question, but Rukia stopped that by giving him a swift kick to the shins.
"So, as I was saying," said Tatsuki turning back to Renji after giving Rukia an appreciative look that went unnoticed by the boys. "Would you like me to show you some moves?"
"When? Now?" asked Renji.
Tatsuki laughed. "Whatever works with you." She threw Rukia another meaningful look.
Getting the message Rukia turned towards Ichigo. "Come on Ichigo I need your help."
"With what?" asked Ichigo.
"I need to find Ukitake-taicho."
Rukia turned to the other two. "See ya later!"
"Wait, where-?" Renji was confused. Where was she going all of a sudden? And why the hell did she have to bring him with her? He didn't like how they were holding hands. Okay so holding hands probably wasn't the best terminology. It was more like Rukia was dragging him away, but still…
Once Ichigo and Rukia were a safe distance away, Rukia finally stopped.
"What's going on? I thought we had to find Ukitake-taicho?"
"I lied. I don't need to see him. I just made that up."
Ichigo gave her a strange look. "What?"
"I made it up so that we could get away and give them some time alone," answered Rukia.
Ichigo paused for a second to try and think, but he came up empty. "And why do we need to do that?" Not that he minded getting away from that tattooed pineapple head, but Rukia was acting a little odd.
"Well…" Rukia gave him close look. "You won't tell anyone else right?"
"For the love of-" Ichigo threw his and sin the air. "Okay. Rukia just tell me. And no, I won't tell anyone."
"Well…I think that they might like each other."
Ichigo gave her a skeptical look. "You're kidding right?"
"Well I'm not sure…but Tatsuki seems to like him."
"Tatsuki? Having a crush? Impossible."
Rukia gave him a look. "You know it's funny…She said something very similar about you."
"Anyway …back to what I was saying…Don't you think they'd make a good couple?" Rukia seemed excited to be in the middle of this and getting the chance at playing the matchmaker.
Ichigo glanced back in the direction they had come from.
"What?" said Rukia; her eyes narrowed.
"It'd never work."
"Why not?" Rukia asked. Ichigo looked down at her. She really had no idea.
Because that asshole is in love with you, idiot. Ichigo didn't get why this information bothered him so much. I had been really obvious to him and yet for some reason he was afraid to say it out loud. Maybe it was the thought that she might like him back… Ichigo shook his head. That was not something that should bother him and yet…
"But, you said-"
"Just forget it. You're right." Rukia smirked in triumph.
"Aren't I always?" Ichigo rolled his eyes.
"Oh yes, they come from far and wide to hear from the All-Knowing-Midget- Oww! Damn it! That hurt!"
Rukia crossed her arms in front of her chest. "You deserved it."
"Yeah, but my shin didn't. It's already got enough bruises."
The rest of the night went smoothly from there. More people came up to congratulate Rukia while she and Ichigo talked. And as the night wore on Ichigo did receive several new bruises.
It was getting late and they were standing there in silence taking a break from conversation just listening to the soft, light music coming from the dance floor.
As she stood there, Rukia let the music wash over her and fill her ears. It reminded her of her sword release. Dance… She suddenly had the urge to move to the music. She looked and noticed Ichigo standing next to her.
"It's a nice song isn't it?" said Rukia.
"Yeah…" he answered.
Rukia glanced up at him again. "Hey Ichigo…?"
She paused. "Want to dance?"
He turned to look down at her. "Dance?"
"Uh, yeah. I haven't danced all night and it is my party…and…I…umm… I just kind of want to."
As Ichigo gazed into those violet eyes he saw…something, he didn't know how to describe it. But whatever it was it made him want to follow her. And not only that, but it made him believe there would be nothing better in the world than to be with her in this moment.
"Sure." The smile that she gave him was worth the world. It made his heart flutter.
Rukia blushed as she reached for his hand and lead him to the dance floor. When they reached the floor Rukia turned to face him and paused as if unsure about what to do next. Ichigo didn't know what possessed him, but the next thing he knew he was taking a step in to get rid of the gap between them. At the same time he lifted the hand that still held hers and wrapped the other arm around her waist. After getting comfortable he then lead her into a gentle swing in time with the music.
Since it was getting late, Orihime was heading out. She sighed at her failed attempt to dance with her crush and instead she had Keigo following her around all night. As she started walking out with these thoughts in mind she noticed a flash of orange in her peripheral vision. Orihime turned towards the dance floor, shocked to see Ichigo not only dancing, but with Rukia.
Sorry Inoue, but I don't really dance…
A thousand thoughts were all racing into her mind at once. She felt tears in her eyes threatening to fall at any minute. Her eyes darted from Ichigo to Rukia. He looked different- no, the both looked different, they both looked….happy.
Her bottom lip began to quiver as a single tear began its sad journey down her face. She looked away. She was confused. She didn't know what to think. The only thing she was sure of was that she wanted to get of this place as fast as possible.
Rukia looked up at him with a grateful smile. It was strange looking up into Ichigo's face when it was absent of its frown. He almost looked…calm. She peered into his amber eyes to find…happiness? It was strange being with him, like this made her feel warm inside. It made her feel like she belonged.
Taking a break from his current conversation with his new acquaintance, Renji glanced around the room to get a look at what was going on. His eyes automatically started looking for Rukia. Unfortunately, it was easier to spot you-know-who's orange hair first.
Upon noticing the orange headed strawberry on the dance floor his first thought was: Who would want to dance with him? Then looking closer at his dance partner, Renji's eyes went wide. It was Rukia. Why the hell were they dancing together? And why did they look so comfortable together?
Tatsuki looked up at Renji. He seemed to be staring in shock at something. She followed his line of sight towards the dance floor. There she noticed the two shinigami dancing together as if nobody else in the room was there. She smiled. They made a cute couple.
She glanced back up at Renji's face. Her smile immediately fell. She recognized that face she had seen it before. It was one of disappointment… and jealously. Tatsuki looked between him and the dancing couple and came up with her answer. Renji liked her. She glanced down at her feet. This why she hated this. These damned emotions. What was going on? She was certain Renji liked Rukia, but then why had Rukia helped her out? Did she not realize it? Would like him back if she knew? And where the hell was Ichigo going to come in on this? What about her? Her head was spinning.
"I got to go."
"Okay." He didn't even look at her.
As the music played on, Rukia became more comfortable and found herself getting closer and closer to Ichigo. Then without thinking she let go of his hand and reached her arms around his neck. At first Ichigo seemed surprised by her actions, but he quickly responded by wrapping his other arm around her waist and pulling her in a little closer.
Rukia let out a deep sigh as she yawned and rested her head against his chest.
"Tired?" His voice was barely a whisper, like he was afraid to ruin the moment.
"Mmmm..." was his answer.
"After this song, I'll bring you back home."
"Okay," said Rukia not wanted the song to end.
Just as the song can to an end, Rukia spoke up again. "Ichigo?"
"Thanks for dancing with me."
Ahhh! I did it again! It took me over a month to update! Damn. I really need to work on that. So for what it's worth: SORRY!!
Okay...so about the chapter. What did you think? I really hope everyone's in character and there were minimal spelling/grammer mistakes. I hope the writing isn't too bad, it was really late when I wrote it!
PLEASE REVIEW!! They really do help me. And much thanks to all of the wonderful people who review that last chapter.
note: Dunno what you guys think about RenTat, but I've always thought it would be interesting if the two at least met. I dunno how far I'd actually do it if I did include it but for now in my story things won't work btw. them, not yet
note: there have been serveral comments on how closely I stick to the story line. I will definatley be including a lot of events from the books, but I am going to add my own twist to everything and try to keep things interesting and add more ichiruki! yay!