Disclaimer - I do not own Bleach

Epilogue - Little Strawberry

Isshin couldn't believe the huge case of nerves that he was feeling as he paced around the small room where he had been cooped up for what seemed like forever. He had wanted to remain by Masaki's side throughout this ordeal but she had ordered him from the room. He didn't need to see her like that, she had told him. He had argued with her but in the end she was the winner.

Isshin found that he couldn't deny any request that she made of him even when that request was that he leave her alone to birth their son without him. He simply loved her too much to make her upset with him, especially on a day like today.

So Isshin had been left in the small room and all he could do was pace back and forth, in an effort to relieve his nerves and help pass the time.

"Calm down Kurosaki," a calm voice called out from across the room.

Isshin's gaze shifted toward the voice and he shook his head at Urahara. His long time friend had came along to the hospital in order to offer his moral support. The man appeared calm and collected, as he always did, but then again it wasn't his wife who was in labor with their first child. "Easy for you to say Kisuke."

"Masaki is going to be fine," Urahara said, sounding as he always did as though he knew everything. "And you aren't really going to speed up the process any by wearing a hole in the floor. Now sit down."

As much to his surprise as Urahara's, Isshin actually obeyed the command. It was only after he sat down in an uncomfortable chair beside Urahara that he realized what he had done. The former Shinigami captain narrowed his eyes as he gazed at Urahara, annoyed that he'd unknowingly followed his friend's orders.

"I can't believe this," Isshin growled as he glared at Urahara. "I was a captain too damn it. What's the big idea of issuing orders to me?"

"Don't get mad at me," Urahara said calmly. "You're the one who obeyed."

All Isshin could do was glare. After all it was almost impossible to win an argument against Kisuke Urahara and most knew enough not to even try. He wasn't one of those however he did recognize a lost cause when he saw one and this was definitely such.

With a sigh he leaned against the wall and placed his hands behind his head, allowing his thoughts to drift back to Masaki.

Once again Urahara made an attempt to occupy Isshin's thoughts and get him to relax. "She's going to be fine," he repeated with a small grin. "Why she's probably cursing your name even as we speak."

"That's not funny," Isshin croaked, looking stricken.

"I'm kidding," Urahara said, shaking his head as he gazed at his long time friend from underneath his green and white striped hat. "Lighten up."

In hindsight Urahara realized that he really should have known better than to make any attempt to get Isshin to lighten up, given the current situation. The former Shinigami was head over heels in love with Masaki and was concerned for her well being. Not that he could blame the man since this woman was obviously the best thing that had ever happened to him however the neurotic behavior was beginning to wear on his nerves.

Several hours passed by, with Isshin getting to his feet every so often to pace about, and then the door of the small room slowly opened. Already on his feet Isshin almost pounced on the poor nurse who had poked her head inside the room.

"How is she?" There was a concerned expression on the man's face as he asked this question.

Used to this kind of reaction from first time fathers the nurse smiled kindly. "Mother and child are doing just fine. Would you like to come back and see them?"

"Yes," Isshin said, already halfway out of the door.

"I'll wait here for you," Urahara called out, even though the was pretty sure that his friend wouldn't hear a word that he said. He didn't want to encroach upon the family and was content to remain in the small waiting room while Isshin went to meet the newest addition to his family.

The nurse led the way down a long corridor before opening the door of a room at the end. With a smile she motioned for Isshin to enter the room and when he did his gaze immediately sought out his wife. Masaki was there, lying in bed and propped up by a stack of pillows behind her back, and although she looked physically exhausted she also looked the happiest that Isshin had ever seen her. Even happier than she had appeared on their wedding day.

And as always she looked absolutely beautiful.

At this moment a small whimper broke the silence of the room and Isshin's gaze instantly went to the small bundle that Masaki held in her arms. He felt his heart skip a beat as the significance of the bundle struck him. He was a father. With this thought Isshin felt fear consume him for the first time. He didn't know how to be a father. What if he screwed up?

Hearing the door open Masaki glanced up and as she saw the apprehensive expression on Isshin's face she offered her husband a smile. "Come in Isshin. Come over here and meet your son."

"Son. . ." Isshin repeated as he slowly made his way across the room.

He had a son.

Masaki nodded as she pulled back a corner of the blanket to reveal a tiny infant with a shock of bright orange hair. He was sleeping peacefully and Isshin felt a sudden protectiveness well up inside him. For this tiny being he would give up his life.

"He's cute," Isshin breathed as his eyes shifted back and forth between Masaki and their son. "Must take after you."

Masaki smiled. "I think he probably got more than enough traits, both good and bad, from both of us. So what do you wanna call him Isshin?"

Isshin's gaze once again shifted to his sleeping son and he held a thoughtful expression on his face. "Ichigo."

Masaki smiled warmly as she gazed down at her newborn son, a part of her and the man that she loved above all others. "Welcome to the world Ichigo." Lifting the baby she gently nuzzled him and then placed a kiss on his forehead.

Then the young woman turned her attention back to her husband. "Are you happy Isshin?"

"Deliriously happy," Isshin said as he stepped closer and sat down on the edge of his wife's bed. "What about you Saki-chan?"

"Happier than I ever thought I could be," Masaki said in a quiet and emotion filled voice.

Isshin smiled and let his thoughts wander. He wondered exactly what type of man his son would grow up to be. Wondered if he would be strong. Wondered if he would inherit any of his father's unique abilities. For the sake of the child he hoped not however he vowed that Ichigo would be prepared if he ever had to face anything supernatural.

"I will protect you," he thought to himself. "And I will make sure that you are able to protect yourself."

A/N - and that's it. I really wanted to write something for Isshin and Masaki so I did. It was fun and I hope that you enjoyed. Please leave a review and tell me what you thought.