Ok, so...this update probably seems to be a bit out of left field and it is. It really is. I haven't even looked at this story in years and just as I whim, I thought I'd reread it. That inevitably lead to me rereading the comments.
I was so touched by how many people not just commented as I was writing the story, but long after it seemed apparent I would never update again.
When I finished rereading it, I was so mad at myself. I don't think I ever fully appreciated how much of a cliff hanger I left it on. I was one update away from Ichigo and Rukia finally getting together and I just never wrote it. So...here it is. Four or five years later. I haven't watched Bleach in so long and I'm totally unfamiliar now with the characters (still love them though) and fiction writing in general, but I still felt like I owed you guys.
I'm not promising you I'll finish. In fact, I'm pretty certain I won't (I'm so sorry!) but I hope this chapter will give you guys some feelings of resolution.
Thank you guys again for the reviews. You guys really, really are too good for me.
Ishida was right. Rukia hated his ideas which ranged from being hidden in an underground shack to her staying in the treetops with the Quincy.
After much debate, it was decided that she was to be locked away inside Ichigo's childhood home until the danger had passed. She wasn't the only one condemned. Karin, Yuzu, Orihime, and Tatsuki were ordered to join her inside the Manor. Ichigo argued that they too might be targeted. Tatsuki had pointed out that Ishida and Chad were just as likely to wind up with a knife through their hearts, but Ichigo said he needed them to help gather the soldiers.
It was then that Rukia realized Ichigo was expecting war. He might not have said it outloud, but his mind was already on the battlefield. A shudder ran through her.
There had already been so much blood. Just a half year ago, she had been cleaning the bodies of broken Seireitein men while their widows wept beside her. Was Karakura to be devastated like her homeland had been? Its people didn't deserve it. No one did.
Days passed and the heavy wooden walls of the Manor began to suffocate Rukia. What had once begun to feel like home now felt more like a prison. She missed the village, the riverside, and the Grove of White Giants. Everyday, she was tempted to sneak out, to venture outside, but she had run away once and wouldn't do it again. She was not so certain about Karin, however. Their loss of freedom seemed to eat away at the young girl's sanity.
"Ahhh, I hate this place," she shouted one day during group of girls had gathered in the kitchens and were discussing the new herb garden Orihime planned to grow, when Karin suddenly leapt to her feet. "I hate the stupid walls, and the ceiling, and the stupid floor. Even these chairs are dumb," she declared, kicking her's aside.
There was a long pause before Yuzu broke the silence. "We're safe here, Karin. That's the most important thing." Her voice was soft and patient. Karin's outburst may have been sudden, but it was hardly the first. "We're so lucky we have each other."
"What good is safety if we don't have lives to live anymore?" Karin slammed both of her palms down on the table. "Nothing is worth this."
"Being locked away is the worst but it at least it can't last much longer." Tatskui took a large bite out of her potato. "Ichigo's an idiot but he'll think of something."
"We don't know that. Ishida is the only one that even bothers checking on us!"
To Rukia's irritation, Karin was right. Of the three men, only Ishida had visited them in the last week. Ichigo and Chad had been busy elsewhere.
"Ichigo apparently can't be bothered."
"That's not fair, Karin." Yuzu frowned. "Just because Ichigo hasn't been here doesn't mean he isn't trying his best. Right, Rukia?"
Rukia blinked, momentarily caught off guard. She nodded. "Of course." She forced a warm smile. "Your brother's desire to protect is stronger than anyone I have ever known."
The rest of the girls nodded thoughtfully. All except for Karin.
"Don't you dare speak for Ichigo." She glared at Rukia. "Even if it's to defend him. You have no right."
"Karin!" Orihime gasped. "Lady Rukia is…"
"Ichigo's wife. I got it. I got it, but she isn't worthy of him. She doesn't belong here in Karakura."
"Karin!" A choir of voices protested. Karin ignored them and shot Rukia a look of pure loathing. "You know what the worst part of being lock away is? Being here with you."
Without another word, she abruptly left the room.
"Karin!" Yuzu called after her, eyes filling with tear.
Frowning, Tatsuki speared another potato. "Ignore her, Rukia. Karin's just restless and it's making her act like a caged animal."
"She didn't mean a single word," Orihime agreed.
Rukia appreciated their attempts to diffuse the situation, but they were wrong. Karin had finally had spoken her mind and said what she had been thinking for a long time. Quietly, Rukia stood up and pushed in her chair.
"I'm so sorry Karin said those things." Yuzu looked worried. "She's very independent and misses being outdoors. Please don't be upset with her, Rukia."
"I'm not upset, Yuzu," Rukia quickly promised. Or at least she wasn't upset with Karin. She was angry at herself. She had known Karin had disliked her since the day they met, yet she had never done anything about it. It was time Rukia had an honest conversation with her. She should have initiated one a long time ago.
"Thank you for dinner, Yuzu." She forced a bright smile. "It was delicious."
With those words, Rukia left the kitchens and made her way to Karin's room. For awhile, she did nothing but stand there, hesitating, dreading what was to come next. In her short life, Rukia had endured poverty, war, and isolation, yet Kurosaki Karin struck a fear in her she had never experienced before. Hoping she wasn't about to make a huge mistake, Rukia squared her shoulders and knocked on the door.
"Karin?" Her knock was met with silence. "Karin?" She tried again. There was still no reply.
Summoning her courage, Rukia turned the doorknob only to find Karin's room completely empty. The bed was a bit messy. The covers hung off the side and there were a few pair of trousers scattered on the floor, but other than that, there was nothing. No trace of Karin.
Or at least there wasn't until a cold breeze blew into the room. Shivering, Rukia realized the window was open.
Moments later, she had climbed out it and was scaling up the vines towards the Manor's roof, cursing silently. Pulling herself up was much harder than she thought it would be, much harder than climbing a tree. When she finally made her way to the top, she saw Karin sitting there, feet dangling off the roof's edge, and let out a deep breath.
"I'm relieved you are here. That climb would have been a large waste of effort if you weren't."
"You shouldn't have bothered." Karin didn't spare her a glance. "You're the last person I want to see. Go back down."
"No." Rukia shook her head. "Not until you have said to me everything you need to say."
Karin's head snapped towards her. Her eyes narrowed. "I have nothing to say to you. Nothing at all."
"I don't think that's true." Rukia voice was soft as she slowly made her way across the roof. She sat down beside the younger girl. "I've think you've probably said a thousand things to me in your mind that you've never admitted out loud. Now is your chance to…"
"I hate you," Karin interrupted abruptly, taking Rukia aback. "I hate you for what you've done to my brother. Ichigo is a good person. He can be an idiot sometimes, he got that from my Dad, but he's loyal and caring. He doesn't deserve to have you stomping on his feelings."
Rukia's widened. Whatever she had expected Karin to say, it was not that.
"And the worst part is, you have everyone else fooled!" Karin went on. "They all think you're so kind and funny, and good for Karakura and my brother, but you're not! All you do is hurt him!"
"Do you really believe that, Karin?" Rukia's stomach twisted painfully. "You think I've hurt Ichigo?"
Karin released a mocking laugh. "Don't play dumb. Not with me. You know how my brother feels about you and you don't care."
"How does he feel?" Rukia asked without thinking. When she realized what she said, she ducked her head, hiding her reddening cheeks. "Never mind! Forget I asked that."
"I told you not to play..." Karin cut off. Whatever expression she saw on Rukia's face made her scowl suddenly turned to confusion. "Wait..." She blinked. "Do you really not know?"
Rukia quickly found herself growing defensive. "Well, it's not like anything has ever been straight forward between your brother and I. It's always been so confusing. We went from enemies, to spouses, to friends, to, to…."
Rukia looked away, biting her lip.
"I don't think my brother has ever been confused when it comes to you. Not since he brought you home, anyways. You're the confusing one," Karin accused. "For awhile, I thought you were going to do right by Ichigo, like you did on the anniversary of my mom's death, but then your childhood friend arrived and…"
"My friendship with Renji is nothing like what I have with Ichigo!" Rukia insisted, but Karin's words slowly sank in. "Do you really think I've hurt him?"
Karin nodded. "I know it."
Rukia sighed, guilt stabbing at her. "Then you should hate me."
"Why don't you just make things right?" Karin asked bluntly.
"Look, If you're too stupid to see it, I'm just going to tell you- Ichigo loves you."
Rukia's eyes widened.
"Yeah. That idiot really loves you. Do you love him?"
Yes, a voice in Rukia's head said immediately. For the first time, she did not fight it. She had missed her husband and worried about him so much these last few days, she could not deny it anymore. He was the most important person in the world to her and she loved him.
"If I did, I wouldn't tell you," Rukia said stubbornly, crossing her arms. Unable to help herself, she smiled. "After all, he deserves to be the first one to hear it."
For a moment, Karin smiled back. Then she suddenly scrunched her nose and stuck out her tongue. "Ugh, That was cheesy. Horribly, horribly cheesy." She pointed at Rukia accusingly. "The two of you better not become all lovey-dovey in the future."
"I doubt you have to worry about that."
"I don't know. Sometimes the two of you just…" Karin suddenly cut off, frowning. Her eyes focused on something in the distance. "Rukia, who is that?" She pointed to a tall, thin shape quickly making it's way up the hill. It wore a heavy gray hood and cloak. "And why are they coming up here?"
A chill crept down Rukia's spine. "I don't know." But she didn't have a good feeling.
The figure came closer and closer. Underneath the hood, Rukia spotted silver threads of hair poking loose. "You there!" she called out, using her most authoritative tone. "Who are you and what are you doing here?"
The figure glanced up at and Rukia's blood suddenly turned to ice. She recognized that mocking smile immediately. It was Gin, one of Tousen's men from the Gotei entourage. His eerie smile broadened as he pulled off his cloak, revealing robes of white and black.
"Hello, Pretty Lady."
"You! Don't move!" Rukia ordered as he continued to slithering up the hill towards them. "I am the Lady of this House and I am telling you not to come any closer!" Gin ignored her and kept walking towards them until he was positioned directly below them, looking upward at them from the ground. He pulled out a long knife he carried in his belt and waved it at them cheerfully.
"Bye bye!" Without another word, he slipped through Karin's window and disappeared inside the Manor.
"No!" Karin screamed, grabbing Rukia's arm. "Yuzu!"
Without thinking, Rukia pulled away from her and jumped down from the roof. Frantically, she slid down the ivy, scraping her knuckles against the wall, and just barely managed to land on the window's ledge. Moving as fast she she could, she slipped inside, ran through Karin's room, and burst into the corridor just in time to see the gray haired assassin turn the corner.
"Everyone, take cover!" she shouted as loud as she could. "Yuzu, Orihime, Tatsuki, hide now! Get to safety! We're under attack!"
Gin poked his head back around the corner, and blinked. "What are you doing, Pretty Lady? Are you trying to spoil my fun?" He idly threw his knife into the air and caught the handle. Tilting his head, he smiled brightly. "No worries. I'll just have to play with you."
Rukia took off running. She raced down the corridor, away from the kitchens where she had last seen her friends. She had no idea where she was going, but she couldn't place them in danger.
"Oh, you think you can get away," Gin's slippery voice taunted from behind her. "How cute."
Rukia briefly considered drawing him into one of storage areas, but she quickly realized he'd find her before she could hide. She thought about simply locking herself inside a room, but that wouldn't do. He'd go after her friends then, instead.
Her only option was to try to fight him, though she was well aware that was barely an option. Ichigo may have shown her some moves, but Rukia didn't know much. Yet what other choice did she have? Darting into the library, she leapt up and seized one of the swords that hung over the fireplace. It had belong to one of Ichigo's ancestors and was nearly as heavy as she was. To her dismay, she could barely lifted it.
"Oh, you're going to fight me now?" Gin's voice slithered like a snake as he slowly stepped into the room. Goosebumps crept over Rukia's arms. "I wasn't expecting that. How exciting."
Refusing to show weakness, Rukia summoned all her strength and raised the sword up high. Her large eyes met Gin's narrowed slits, silently daring him forward.
"Get away from her!" A voice suddenly shouted from the doorway. An arrow whistled through the air and without turning his head, Gin dodged out of its path. The arrow sailed into the wall with a dull thud. Taking advantage of the commotion, Rukia sped across the room and came to stand at her friend's side.
"Hands up," Ishida ordered Gin, restringing his bow. Gin didn't move. "I said hands up, Goteian, or I will shoot."
Gin left out a heavy sigh, like he was a child being told he could not eat any more sweets. "If I must."
He slowly put his hands up. Then he moved fast, faster than anyone Rukia had ever seen. He raced across the room and smashed through one of library's windows, raining glass everywhere. Rukia and Ishid flew to windowsill, just in time to see him disappearing down the hill and into the forest.
Ishida's lips pressed together in silent fury. Slowly, he turned towards Rukia. "Are you alright?"
Her treacherous body shook and her heart pounded, but she managed a nod. "I'm fine." The sword dropped out of her hand. She hadn't even realized she was still holding it. "Are the others alright?"
Ishida nodded stiffly. "They're fine, thanks to your warning." He bent down and retrieved the sword from the floor. Pushing up his spectacles, he let out a loud sigh. "Kurosaki will not be happy."
Rukia released a sigh of her own and nodded. That was an understatement.
It wasn't long before Ichigo came hurtling through the Manor, like he had been set on fire. Chest heaving, he burst into the kitchen, where Rukia had met up with the others. Tension radiated off of him.
"What happened? Is everyone alright?" His eyes darted around frantically. He briefly sagged in relief when his question was met with a choir of nods. That relief quickly turned to anger.
"What the hell happened here?" He glared at Ishida. "Your messenger barely knew a single detail!"
"That is because I had yet to learn all the details myself when I sent him," Ishida said calmly. "I was in the kitchen at the time of the attack with Orihime, Tatsuki, and Yuzu. Rukia and Karin were together at the time. Would you like to tell Kurosaki what happened?" He turned to Rukia.
She bristled, well aware Ichigo was already rattled. He gritted his teeth and unconsciously gripped his sword. She wished she could have a moment alone with him to calm him down and assure him everything was alright.
"What happened, Rukia?" Ichigo prompted, his eyes burning into hers. "Tell me."
"Oh, for Forest's sake, I'll tell him," Karin cut in, hopping up from her seat. "Rukia and I were sitting on the roof when that Gin guy came up the hill and broke into the Manor. He slipped in through my window, right underneath us. Rukia immediately jumped down and went inside after him so she could shout a warning to everyone else…"
"You followed him?" Ichigo's eyes widened in horror.
Karin ignored him. "Then Rukia lured him away from the others and into the library. She was prepared to fight him with one of granddad's swords when Ishida got there."
Ichigo was still fixated on Rukia. "You were going to find him? What's wrong with you? Do you have a death wish?"
"No! And nothing happened!" She insisted defensively. "Ishida stopped him."
Ishida nodded curtly. "I shot an arrow at the assassin but he somehow managed to dodge it. He then escaped out one of the windows."
"He escaped?" Ichigo scowled and looked ready to murder someone.
Ishida nodded again. "I'm sorry, Kurosaki."
Ichigo's hand clenched before he anxiously ran it through his hair. "Go find him. Put all the Quincy you can spare into finding him. I want that bastard caught. I'll stay here tonight in case he decides to come back."
"Will do." Ishida promptly turned to go.
"And Ishida-" Ichigo called after out, halting the thin man midstep. The two of them exchanged a long, pointed look, one that did not escape Rukia's notice. Slowly, Ishida nodded before he left. Moments later, Yuzu flung herself into her brother's arms, and the rest of the girls began talking at once.
All except for Rukia. She silently stood apart from the others, a chill creeping down her spine. She had seen the fire in Ichigo eye when he had looked at Ishida. She knew what it meant.
War was coming.
After their gathering in the kitchen, Ichigo had gone with Yuzu and Karin to tuck them into Yuzu's bed. He stayed with them for a long time. Rukia understood but at the same time, she was determined to see him. Impatiently, she waited up for him, anxiously pacing the hallway between her doorway and his. She wasn't sure what she would say to him when finally she saw him. The two of them had barely spoken since their most recent kiss, and things had been so strained beforehand after Renji's arrival.
Would she tell him how she felt? After the scare she had today, she wanted to, desperately, but she wondered if he'd even want to hear it. Karin said he loved her, but she had also said she had hurt. How deep had she cut?
Growing more nervous with each passing minute, Rukia bit the tip of her thumb and paced faster and faster. She was so lost in her thoughts, she didn't she didn't even realize when the man she was waiting for appeared before her and nearly walked straight him.
"Oi, Menace. What are you doing?" Ichigo's brows furrowed in confusion. "Are you running from a bee or did you just lose your mind?"
"I was waiting for you, Idiot," Rukia snapped back. "I have something I need to say to you."
"What is it?"
Her mind momentarily went blank and she said the first words she could think of. "Don't go to war."
Immediately, Ichigo scowled. "I'm not talking about this." He stepped past her and moved towards his door.
Rukia quickly darted in front of him and placed a hand on his chest to halt him. "You can't just go," she ordered. "Talk to me."
He stilled, refusing to look at her. "There's nothing to say."
"There's plenty to say!"
"Kurakura is not going to war! There! Are you happy?"
"You're preparing for it," Rukia accused. "That's what that look you gave Ishida in the kitchens meant, isn't it? You told him to mobilize the soldiers?" She stepped back and crossed her arms. "I'm right, aren't I?"
He still wouldn't look at her.
"What am I suppose to do, Rukia?" He suddenly erupted. "Nothing? You were almost killed today!"
She stared up at him, eyes widening. "I wasn't almost killed," she said carefully. "That man didn't even…"
"Don't do that. Don't try to minimize it. Don't try to make it seem like it was no big deal! You were attacked, Rukia! You almost died!" He gripped her shoulders and Rukia was shaken by the raw emotion in his voice. His brown eyes seem to blaze. "I almost had to bury you just like I buried my mom and dad!"
"Ich...Ichigo," she stuttered, words failing her completely.
His grip tightened. "Don't ask me to do nothing. Don't, because I can't do that. Not after nearly losing you."
Rukia was suddenly overwhelmed with the need to be close to him, to feel him. She was about to raise a trembling hand to rest on his cheek, when Ichigo seemed to realize how close he was standing to her. Abruptly, he pulled away and all his walls suddenly went up.
"You should get some rest," he said after a pause, turning away from her. His eyes grew dulled and shadowed. "You've had a long day."
He moved past her, made his way to his room, and opened the door. After hesitating there briefly, he said, "Good night, Rukia." Without another word, he disappeared inside, leaving Rukia behind, feeling utterly bereft.
Her mind raced. The night couldn't end this way. She wouldn't let it, not with so much uncertainty lingering between them. Not when Karakura was preparing for war. In the morning, Ichigo would return to his men and a battle could break out anyday. He would fight on the front lines and at any moment, he could be hurt. He could be...
Without thinking, Rukia walked to his room, ripped open the door, and stormed inside.
Immediately, she was greeted with the sight of Ichigo pulling off his shirt. "Oi!" he shouted. Modestly, he yanked his shirt back down. Rukia dimly realized she had never been inside of his room. She had caught glimpses of it before, but she had never seen his large wooden desk and the blue quilt laid over his massive bed up close. The room was plain and common, unlike the extraordinary man before her.
"What are you doing here?" Ichigo pointed at the door. "Get out!"
His rudeness snapped her out of her thoughts. "No." She placed her hands on her hips. "I will not leave. We're aren't done speaking yet. You can't just 'Good night, Rukia' me!"
"I said it politely!"
"You couldn't managed politeness if every Quincy in Karakura aimed an arrow at your head."
"Why did you come in here?" Ichigo glowered. "Just to pick a fight?"
"Because after everything that happened today, fighting each other is the last thing we should be doing."
"I know that, idiot!"
"Then get out of here, Menace!"
"Because I love you!" Rukia yelled. There was a moment of stunned silence. Rukia was nearly as surprised by her own words as Ichigo's was.
"What did you say?" He asked, his expression unreadable.
Rukia had no words. There was nothing she could say. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin proudly, preparing herself for whatever was to come next.
"That's what I thought you said." Ichigo crossed the room in two steps. Before Rukia could even breathe, he had her in his arms and was kissing her. His lips pressed against her with such fervor, Rukia could not help but to be swept away. Distantly, she realized he had pushed her against his door, and had buried one of his hands into her hair, nearly making her legs melt out beneath her.
"Rukia," Ichigo slowly pulled back, breathing heavily. He didn't go far. "Is this...is this alright?" His cheeks were dusted pink and he nervously scratched the back of his head.
Rukia could not help but to smile. "You're such a fool," she declared before she grabbed hold of his shirt and pulled him back down towards her. He went eagerly and they kissed again. Slipping her arms around her waist, he pulled her closer. She trailed her fingertips through his thick, orange locks in return. Without warning, he suddenly bent down and picked her up, carrying her over to his bed. With uncharacteristic gentleness, he set her down, and watched her, wariness still flickering in his eyes. Rukia cursed herself for ever putting that fear there.
With a boldness she did not feel, she knelt on the bed and reached for his shirt. Slowly, she tugged it upward, hoping he understood her silent message- she was ready to be his wife in every way. Ichigo's breath hitched and he eagerly pulled the shirt off, as though he was afraid she'd suddenly lose interest.
Rukia eyes widen when he revealed himself to her. Breathlessly, she took in his broad shoulders, toned abs, and tanned skin. She glanced up, expecting to see him smirking down at her cockily, secured in his own attractiveness. Instead, his cheeks were tinged pink and he was watching her carefully, nervous for her reaction.
Rukia reached for him again and he came willingly. They fell backward down onto the bed, lips meeting, tongues stroking as they discovered each other for the first time. Soon, it wasn't enough for Ichigo. He began kissing Rukia's cheeks, her necks, and that spot just under her ear, setting her body on fire. She barely even felt him reaching behind her, untying the lace of her dress until the material loosened around her chest.
She sat up to help him remove the offending material, when he suddenly stilled. He pulled back and stared down at her in awe.
"Rukia." Hands trembling, Ichigo reached down and took the pendants she wore everyday into his hand- the pendants he had given her so long ago. He held them reverently. Slowly, his eyes found hers and Rukia was overwhelmed by the emotion she saw there. Never in her life had she felt so loved.
"You wear them?" His thumb swept over the crescent moon.
Rukia nodded. "Yes."
Slowly, she nodded again. "Always."
Ichigo darted forward and found her lips again. The force of his kiss knocked her backwards and he loomed above her. Ichigo suddenly seemed to be everywhere at once and Rukia pulled him even closer. They kissed again and again, their hands growing curious and greedy. Clinging to one another, they explored each other and slowly began to move together, as husband and wife. Finally, after being bound together by fate, marriage, and love, they were physically bound, as well.
Once they had found bliss in one another, the sort neither had ever experienced before, Ichigo rolled onto his back beside Rukia, panting heavily. Her body was still singing when Ichigo reached for her and lazily pulled her across his chest.
He held her gently and she burrowed into his neck, feeling utterly at peace when he kissed the top of her head. Neither of them spoke for a long time.
"I love you," Ichigo declared, seemingly out of no where, breaking the silence. "But you already know that, don't you?"
Rukia smiled and lifted her head to meet his eyes. "I thought so, but I couldn't be sure." Guilt flashed through her. "It took me a long time to realize my own feelings, too. I'm sorry if you were waiting."
"I didn't mind." Ichigo instantly made a face. "I guess that's not exactly true. It was sucked at times, really, really sucked, but I…"
Rukia abruptly kissed him, effectively silencing him. It was a power she didn't even know she had.
When she pulled away, he narrowed his eyes as her, realizing it too. "Menace."
They exchanged affectionate smiles and Rukia suddenly remembered something. "What exactly are these things?" She held up the pendants she wore. She hadn't even taken off them when she and Ichigo were intimate. "I always wanted to know."
"You wear them everyday and don't know what they were?"
Ichigo smirked. "I still can't believe you put them on in the first place." Gently, he took them into his hand again, resting them on his palm. "You were such a brat when I tried giving them to you. You wouldn't even take them at first."
"Don't insult me. Just answer the question."
Ichigo smirked again. "There's an old tradition in Karakura. A new groom gives his wife a pendant after their wedding, as a gift to show how he sees her. It's an old tradition, so old, most people don't even bother with it, but my Dad did. He gave this one to my mom." He held up the circular gray pendant. "You wouldn't never know, but this is made from one of the hardest types of stone in the world. You could throw it in a bonfire or smashed it with a hammer, and no one would ever be able to tell. It's strong, just like my Mom was, and cut into a circle because my Dad's said his love for her was neverending. He was a sap like that."
Ichigo went silent for a moment, lost in his thoughts. Gently, Rukia held up the other pendant, the white one shaped like a crescent moon. "And this one?"
Ichigo flinched beneath her, suddenly flushing. "Er, that one I made for you," he mumbled, steadfastly avoiding her eyes.
Rukia raised a brow. "For me?" She swiped her thumb over the pendant for perhaps the thousandth time since he had given it to her. "This is how you see me?"
"Yeah, well, you may be the most annoying, stubborn, little pest I've ever met, you've got a good heart. The pendant is pure white because that's what I imagine your soul is like."
Rukia was profoundly touch, even more so when she realized how long he had thought so well of her. It occurred to her then that he had married for love. Tears stung her eyes.
"Why is it shaped like a moon?"
"Come on," he huffed, embarrassed. "Don't make me say it."
"You have to."
"Fine." Sighing, he gently put the pendant down. He took her hand instead, threading their fingers together, and looked her straight in the eye. "Because you're my light in the darkness."
Tears stung Rukia's eyes again but before they could fall, she kissed him deeply. "You sentimental fool." She buried her face against his chest. "What am I going to do with you?"
He chuckled and wrapped his strong arms around her, pulling her closer. They didn't speak again, content for the moment to just revel in their closeness. Rukia didn't know what tomorrow would bring. Would war be declared? Would Ichigo have to fight? She didn't know and the uncertainty terrified her. But they had finally found each other, truly found each other, and were together, just as they were always meant to be.
That night, Rukia never slept better.
Thanks for reading! Again, I'm sorry if you waited years for this moment. I'm even more sorry if it was a total disappointment. I'm totally out of practice but I hope at least some of you finally got the resolution you wanted!