Hullo! ('-^*)/

Yeah, the second part is up! Thousands thanks and even more to those who reviewed the first one!

Byakuya Sama, CookieMonster666, BloodLustLove and Sweet Scrifice

I sincerely love you guys! ヘ(゚∀゚*)ノ

And now, enjoy the rest of this fic!

Illusive Impressions

Part II

/She had always thought that for him a day without getting under her skin was a squandered day…/

Hesitantly Rukia made her way to the Nest of Maggots, unhurriedly taking her steps hoping that maybe something would come out making her change her mind halfway. She felt agitation wringing her heart at what she was about to do. She honestly didn't know what had made her even think of it and she still had a hard time believing that she was actually on her way to carry out that intention… But she felt obliged.

In the end, Ichimaru Gin had been sentenced to twenty years of imprisonment in the Maggot's Nest and after release he would have his spiritual pressure and zampakutō sealed for another fifty years. If his behaviour was model, then after 25 years he could partially regain his reiatsu. His sentence was surprisingly lenient, but no one opposed it. Him killing Aizen had helped a lot and there were no actual proofs of any of his malevolent doings. And the fact that thanks to him a member of a noble family had been saved from a certain death also added to his favour. So especially she had no right to even complain about the verdict. She owed him her life after all.

And now she was going to visit and thank him.

But did it take her time… It was the tenth year of his imprisonment.

Rukia had few gifts for him, like melon and mochis. And of course she couldn't forget about dried persimmons. The guy was obsessed with them making sure the whole Soul Society knew about it. Once he had even given her a whole box of them… But that was one of scarcely few human things about him.

She left her weapon by the entrance and after being checked for any dangerous objects she was let in. Tentatively she made her steps towards his cell.

The petite Shinigami spotted him immediately, his silver hair standing out quite considerably. It didn't appear he had changed much for the last ten years, at least not physically. He sat there and was talking with a man from a cell next to his, his trademark grin as wide as always. He hadn't noticed her yet.

"Ichimaru…" she started unsure, but almost flinched when he so abruptly turned his head to look at the source of the voice calling his name that she had a feeling his neck almost snapped. A genuine surprise was evident on his face – his mouth was slightly parted, his eyes partially open. He even blinked few times as if he didn't believe his own eyes.

"Rukia… chan…?" he asked uncertain, as if making sure it was she not some delirium.

She nodded her head silently, not really knowing how to begin.

Gin's surprise soon changed into a smile and he returned back to his old buoyant self. "How ar'ya?"

"I'm fine… I…" gathering her courage Rukia bowed in half and said officially, "I came here to thank you for saving my life."

"Oh?" he looked at her flabbergasted, probably not really knowing how to react to this. But who could blame him? After all she came after ten years… A pretty long time to stop hoping that you'd hear a word of thanks from a person whom you had saved life. Besides, had he even hoped?

"And I brought you this," she hurriedly handed him a bag with gifts through bars, wanting to get it over with as quickly as possible.

Gin slowly rose and approached her, hesitantly taking her gifts. "Thank ya, I guess…" He looked at her closely, his intense gaze making her feel uneasy even though she couldn't see his eyes or maybe because of that. After a moment he looked away, saying quietly, "But there's no need to thank me…"

Rukia watched him carefully, trying to find an answer in him to that question that had been nagging her for so many years. However nothing about him gave out anything. So she asked tentatively, "Why? Why did you do that?"

He only shrugged nonchalantly.

"If you didn't do that, you'd be able to escape…" she pried unfalteringly. "Then why?"

The silver-haired Shinigami stared at her for a moment with an unreadable expression, but soon his grin returned. "If ya need to know, I don't regret it."

"But why?" Couldn't he just answer? Was it so hard not to play some mind games with her and at least for once in his life be sincere? It wouldn't kill him, would it? And it would put her at ease, and maybe he too would feel somehow refreshed after a moment of earnestness…

"Does it matter?" he offhandedly returned her question with his own.

"Yes," Rukia said forcefully, boring her eyes into his. He wasn't getting away with this! It had been haunting her for years; she had spent many sleepless nights trying to comprehend it… She owed him her life and she had to know why. After all he had had to have a reason to save her; you didn't rescue anyone at the same time risking your own life or freedom just because.

Gin withheld her gaze, but his smile faltered and he knitted his brows together, possibly because he didn't understand her determination in getting that particular answer out of him. "Why?"

"Because I want to know," she replied without resorting to dishonesty, hoping that it would make him act the same. "I need to know."

He must have given up for he sighed and beckoned her with a wave of his hand. "Come 'ere," he told her and when she was close enough, he put his hand on her head ruffling her hair. "If ya were dead, I wouldn't be able to do this," he said seriously but soon his face broke into a grin.

The petite Shinigami could only stare at him as if he were crazy. It didn't make any sense… Maybe he really had gone mad? Yes, that was it, there was no other explanation…

"Good bye," she said quickly and spinning on her heel, she left to the cheerful sound of, "Bye, Rukia-chan, thanks fer yer visit! Ya can come anytime ya want!"

Surprisingly enough, she did come here few more times and soon her visits became more frequent just to develop into regular ones.

/She had always thought that he would do everything just to see her annoyed…/

Rukia had just returned from a two month long mission in the Human World. She liked it there, but still she would never have such strong feeling of belonging to it as she had to Soul Society. So she was in high spirits to return home and couldn't wait to meet her friends, her captain, her brother… and even Ichimaru.

But firstly, she had to write a report from her mission, so she headed to her Division. Turning a corner, she was so lost in thought about what she was going to do later this day that she didn't watch her way and therefore she didn't notice in time a man in front of her and bumped into him. Stumbling backwards she lost her balance, however a pair of strong arms caught her before she hit the floor.

"Ara, Rukia-chan. As clumsy as ever, I see."

"You…" the petite Shinigami looked at him with surprise. She hadn't expected to see him strolling around Seireitei yet. Had twenty years already passed? Time sure flied. "When were you discharged?" she asked not minding that he was still holding her.

"Two weeks ago."

"I see," Rukia made an attempt to move away from him and so he let go of her. She took few steps back to take a better look at him. After seeing him for ten years in white yukata, it felt kind of weird to see him in black Shinigami uniform again. But it fitted him better, she had to admit it. Yep, it definitely added to his creepy image. "You haven't changed much during those twenty years," she commented.

"An' ya're as weensy as ever," Gin grinned at her without missing a beat. "An' I'm guessin' yer drawin' is still crappy…"

"Oi!" she bristled and aimed a punch at him, but he avoided it with no difficulty at all.

"Moreover I see yer fondness of violence hasn't diminished at all," he chuckled and once again effortlessly dodged her attack.

Seeing she wouldn't be able to land a hit on him this easily, Rukia glared at him and quitted her small assaults. He lived up to his reputation of an ex-captain and a prodigy even after twenty years of imprisonment and with sealed reiatsu. Without being serious, she wouldn't be able to even scratch him. Sighing, she continued on her way to her Division, but with inner smile she noticed he too moved to accompany her.

"How is it?" she asked him, referring to his new life after being released.

"Odd," he replied truthfully and after a moment added, "Even after twenty years without reiatsu and Shinsō it still feels weird. Guess, I'll never get used to it."

Rukia nodded her head in understanding, but remained silent. She had spent only a couple of months with no spiritual pressure at all nor Sode no Shirayuki and had it felt awkward… But to spend twenty years or more? She had hard time imagining it.

"An' it seems I 'ave 《don't trust 'im》 written on me," he chuckled but she could see signs of a frown on his face.

"No surprises there…" she commented. It wasn't and wouldn't be easy on him. He had been a traitor, after all. Even during his trial he hadn't denied he had left with Aizen out of his free will. And there was the fact that he had killed a man whom he had pledged his loyalty to. Regardless of how much had his deed helped Soul Society, it wasn't looked well upon. She kind of pitied him and so to cheer him up she sent him a wide grin.

He theatrically put his hand on his chest where his heart was, nevertheless he couldn't keep his smile off his face, "More sympathy, please…"

"…" She rolled her eyes refraining from any remarks.

They continued walking in silence side by side, content with other's presence. It was a nice spring day in Soul Society; the sun was shining warming up the hearts and was accompanied by a soft gentle breeze that refreshed minds. Soon the 13th Division Headquarters came into sight triggering Gin's memory.

"Ah, congratulations on yer promotion, vice-capt'n Kuchiki," he saluted to her good-naturedly.

Rukia beamed at him, "Thank you." Captain Ukitake had finally managed to persuade Byakuya-nii-sama that she was very capable and strong enough to take care of herself, therefore she was not only worthy of becoming a lieutenant but she actually should. Besides, the times were peaceful now.

Soon they arrived at the front of the 13th Division Headquarters. "'Ere I'll leave ya."

"Thanks," she said and looking at him for a brief moment she added, "And take care, Ichimaru."

The silver-haired Shinigami smiled at her and saying, "Ya too, Rukia-chan," he left with a carefree wave of his hand.

Rukia observed him for few seconds and came to a conclusion that nice Ichimaru wasn't half that bad.

/She had always thought he was there to spoil everything just to spite her…/

Five decades quickly passed. In the meantime Gin hadn't done anything suspicious and so not only had he his reiatsu and Shinsō back, but what more, he regained his captain rank and Kira Izuru was quite glad to have his superior back. It seemed that to some degree he had managed to redeem himself in the eyes of other Shinigamis, at least when it concerned the official ground. However most of people was still wary of him and preferred to avoid him unless it was absolutely necessary to interact with him.

Also a year before Ichigo had died and after arriving to Soul Society and undergoing a short training (mainly in kidō) he almost immediately became a vice-captain of the 9th Division under captain Hisagi. However no one doubted that sooner or later he would become a captain himself.

Between him and Rukia soon a romance bloomed, just like everyone expected so there was no general surprise, maybe few were upset by this but nevertheless didn't show it openly.

The couple was returning to their respective Divisions when Ichigo yanked her hand and pulling her to some nook he pinned her to the wall with an impish grin.

"We have duties, you know," she told him in a gentle scold, but couldn't keep a smile from her face.

"I know," he replied huskily leaning forward, however when he was about to claim her lips his, a voice interrupted him.

"Ya can't do that, Rukia-chan, Carrot-top-kun. Work is waitin'. Leave it fer later."

Ichigo's eye twitched in irritation at the cheerful way of speaking that could belong only to that exasperating fox of 3rd Division. "Ichimaru," he growled lowly, but nevertheless he let go of Rukia. "And my name is Ichigo."

"I know that, Carrot-top-kun," Gin singsonged offhandedly seeming unaware of menacing vibes oozing from the red-haired Shinigami.

Rukia was blushing furiously for being caught in an intimate moment with Ichigo, but for some reason she couldn't laugh it away. She normally didn't have problems with displaying her affection in public, but right now she was feeling awfully awkward. And she couldn't look at Ichimaru. But why? What was she ashamed of? She wasn't doing anything indecent, was she? Shaking it off, she put on a smile and beamed at them.

"I'm off then," she told them and without sparing them another glance, she headed to her Division. After hearing "See you later, Rukia," and "Bye, bye, Rukia-chan," something made her disappear with shumpo.

/She had always thought— But how had she been wrong…/

After four years of their relationship, Ichigo proposed. She had no idea how he had convinced Byakuya-nii-sama, but he had somehow got his permission to ask her for her hand.

And Rukia accepted.

But she had a feeling that she did it only because everyone were saying it was the right thing to do, that they were made for each other… She cared for Ichigo, she really did, but… But could she spend the rest of her life with him as a wife and husband? Well, the answer was positive, but was it what she really wanted? Would she be completely happy with him? She knew he loved her and would do anything for her, but she wasn't sure if it would make her happy. And she wasn't sure if she could give him the same in return. She had just this feeling that their relationship lacked something…

Moreover, for some reason her heart was full of peculiar wistfulness she couldn't describe and had absolutely no idea where it had come from. It was yearning for something completely different she was actually having, some change, but she was unable to even hazard a guess what it could be.

Soon whole Seireitei was buzzing with the news of their engagement and everyone was approaching her and offering their congratulations.

Everyone except Ichimaru.

Rukia realized this only a week later when he approached her casually. They greeted each other with a smile.

"Would ya take a walk with me?" he asked offering his arm.

She accepted it, chuckling at his gentleman-like manner. They walked in silence for some time when they reached a small orchard behind the 3rd Division, where he grew his persimmons. There Ichimaru stopped and looked at her for few moments.

"Rukia-chan… I…" he started unsurely averting his gaze away from her.

She raised her eyebrows at his rather unusual anxiety, something she would never associate with the always witty and a little bit sarcastic captain, but asked encouragingly, "What is it?"

His hesitation was evident in the way he awkwardly scratched the back of his head, but it seemed he managed to gather some of his courage, for he said quietly, "Ya can't marry Carrot-top-kun."

"What?" her smile vanished immediately from her face and furrowing her brows she took her hand away from him. That definitely wasn't what she had been expecting him to say. Just what was he thinking? Eyeing him warily, she inquired, "Why?"

"Ya just can't," Gin told her with a little bit more confidence to his voice.

"It's my decision, you have nothing to say about it," the petite Shinigami bristled at him, feeling his words pricking her heart.

"I know, but…" he paused in uncertainty what to say next, what arguments he could tell her without giving himself away… But unable to think up anything of sorts, he lamely repeated himself for the third time, "But ya can't marry him…"

"Then I ask you why?" Rukia demanded sharply, grabbing him by his collar so he wouldn't run away too easily from her. He better not play games with her this time! She sent him a glare telling him that if he did something suspicious, she would get him for it and would he suffer!

"Because…" Gin sighed frustrated at being unable to express his feelings with words. Then quickly making up his mind, he gently cupped her cheek and hastily bent over sealing her lips with his. It was brief, gentle, full of longing kiss with no imposition on her. He just tenderly caressed her lips with his own, not expecting anything in return, as if he didn't dare to hope.

Rukia didn't know how to react to this. She would never expect Ichimaru of all men to kiss her! So all she could do at the moment was just stand there flabbergasted.

Soon the silver-haired captain pulled away looking in her eyes. "Ya just can't," he whispered softly, still holding her cheek.

Rukia for the first time was able to peer into his ice-blue eyes. And what she found there surprised her. He, Ichimaru Gin, had feelings for her! Feelings she was too afraid to call by name… Because she had never even dared to suppose (dream) she would ever see them in his orbs.

She was so confused…

So she ran away.

/She had always thought that for her he would always be just Ichimaru…/

The big day came and Rukia was preparing for the wedding. She did her best to forget that encounter with Ichimaru, but it wasn't easy. And what worse, she was having second thoughts about this marriage. But she couldn't cancel it. What about Ichigo? Her brother? She couldn't run away.

Besides, she rarely saw Gin for the past half a year, only during official meetings and he acted as if nothing had happened, rarely even sparing her a glance. She had a feeling he was avoiding her and as for her, she couldn't gather up her courage to confront him. She couldn't risk hurting Ichigo and bringing disgrace to her family for something this ambiguous.

Two servants had just finished dressing her up and left to inform that she would be ready for the ceremony soon. Rukia looked at herself in the mirror. The white wedding kimono was stunningly beautiful, made of the most expensive silk with fine elegant needlework. Her obi was one of the most gorgeous things her eyes had ever beheld, with detailed fancywork presenting chrysanthemums, plum blossoms and bamboo, all shining in crimson, gold and green, as white cranes soared high above royal carriages. All were to bring her good luck.

"Ya look beautiful," came a quiet voice, breaking her out of her thoughts.

Her eye widened in surprise and she abruptly turned to look at him. "What are you doing here?"

Gin sighed scratching the back of his head. "I'm sorry for that, t'was outta place," he said referring to the kiss.

Rukia didn't want to hear him apologise, she realised, even if he was clearly lying. In fact, his words stung her painfully in her heart; she wanted him to say the exact opposite of it!

And what worse, she realised that she didn't exactly feel indifferent when it concerned him.

Why hadn't he told her anything before? He had bloody decades of favourable opportunities yet he had kept silent! But no, just when she had promised herself to other, he had come and brought confusion in her life and heart. And now he was saying he was fucking sorry! Just what the hell was he thinking? How she hated him! Yet…

Gin came near her and put his hand on her head ruffling her hair delicately as not to destroy her exquisite hairdo. "An' I came 'ere to wish ya the best of luck. Ya deserve it."

And before she could say anything he disappeared. She unintelligently stared into a space where he had just been standing. For some reason tears started pricking her eyes.

Fuck you, Gin!

She didn't know what to do now.

/She had always thought— But once again she had been wrong…/

"Rukia-sama, it's time," a servant said, opening the shōji door widely, so she could enter the shrine where Ichigo and all guests were awaiting her.

Still at a loss, like in some trance she followed the woman.

Rukia was taking her steps slowly, the folds of kimono slightly hampering her movements. When she entered the shrine, voices of admiration reached her, but she didn't hear them. Absent-mindedly she looked at Ichigo. She could tell he was nervous, the hem of his haori was crumpled as he was mercilessly squeezing it trying to stop the shaking of his hands.

She spotted him in the back, tall, his silver hair standing out in the crowd. He was smiling softly at her. Fucking smiling! She threw him an angry look but at the same time couldn't keep the longing from her eyes that was nagging on her heart.

In that very second, she realised that she wanted him to stop her, to stop this wedding.

She realised that he was dearer to her than she had originally thought.

She realised that she wanted him.

And on top of that, she realised that she actually loved him.

Few metres from Ichigo, Rukia stopped in her tracks. She looked at him, her brows furrowed at what she was about to say and how it would hurt him.

"I'm sorry… But I can't do this," she whispered to him and without waiting for his reaction, she turned on her heel and using shumpo she run away before anyone could stop her, before she could see the look of betrayal on the Ichigo's face… But she couldn't be with him. She couldn't lie to him that she loved him and that they would live happily ever after. They weren't meant for each other for there was someone else that took a hold of her.

Rukia hid herself in a first place that came to her mind – her office. Taking out her spare uniform, she quickly started taking off her wedding kimono and after what seemed hours, she delicately put it on her desk so she wouldn't ruin the beautiful robe. Still in her underwear, she went to the bathroom to wash off the make-up. Clean, she dressed and without delay left, knowing that eventually they would search for her here.

Concealing her reiatsu, she made her way as far away as possible from Seireitei. Panting slightly, she reached its outskirts and found some clearing in the forest. She sat under a tree and started thinking about how to get out of this alive, because she was positive Nii-sama would kill her. But before this happened, she would love to kill Gin, preferably in some painful way. Since everything was his fault. The petite Shinigami felt really bad for Ichigo, but she just couldn't pretend they would be happy together. He would have to understand that it was better this way.

Suddenly she heard someone coming and feeling Gin's reiatsu, she got up to face him, her eyes dangerously narrowed. They stood looking at each other, none of them knowing how to begin.

After few moments, he was the first one to speak. "Why… did ya run?"

"It's your fault," Rukia told him crossing her arms in front of her chest, glaring at him.

"Umm… What does it mean…?" he asked uncertainly but started slowly approaching her, making his way cautiously as if he made any sudden move, she would run away immediately.

"I'd think it's obvious," she said and swiftly moving in front of him, she grabbed his collar bringing him closer to her and pressed her lips against his. Gin didn't wait a single second and started kissing her back passionately, sneaking his arms around her slim waist wanting to feel her small body against his.

"What about the others?" she whispered breaking the kiss.

He grinned against her lips, "I'll think somethin' up."


Pretty classic story, eh? But I wanted to write some of that too (・・。)ゞ Still, hope you enjoyed it!

BTW, don't know about you, but I think that Gin is actually a coward, hahaha. That's why it took him this long to actually tell Rukia what he felt ;3 Maybe one day I'll elaborate this in some other fic, we'll see (^▽^)

Bye! (^-^)ノ~~

朝霧 -Asagiri-