Patience Is a Virtue

Summary: Rukia muses about her Captain's relationship with her brother, Byakuya. Now, Rukia was a patient woman, but today may finally be the day where Byakuya finally asks Ukitake –that- question!

Pairings: Byakuya/Ukitake.

Disclaimer: Don't own any of the characters associated with the Anime of Bleach.

Warnings: Juushiro Ukitake is dictated as a female in gender in this story. Yes, I am well aware that he is male in both Manga and anime, but work with me here.

AN: Hello once again. Yes, yet another oneshot from me. First attempt at writing the Bya/Uki pairing, so hopefully Byakuya isn't too hideously out of character.

Big, big thanks to everyone who has reviewed "A Woman Behind These Clothes" and all my other Bleach oneshots. I hope you'll take the time to review this one as well. Comments and suggestions are always helpful, so I hope you'll enjoy and let me know what you think.

"It's a simple assessment of the situation in the World of the Living," a beautiful woman with long white hair informed a petite dark haired girl as she flicked through a mission folder, her bright brown eyes scanning the papers for certain key words with expert ease. "It shouldn't even take a day, but do take your time. It's been a couple of weeks since you last visited your friends, hasn't it, Rukia?"

Rukia nodded her head swiftly, smiling softly when Captain Ukitake lifted her eyes from the folder to gaze at her kindly, her face ever gentle and warm. There was a bloom to her cheeks, a grace in her movements; she was simply glowing with contentment.

"Any questions, Rukia?" Captain Ukitake asked her as she carefully placed the document upon the table before her.

"No, Captain Ukitake," Rukia replied with a soft shake of her head.

A look of amusement flittered across Ukitake's features and she in turned shook her head slightly as well, a small smile on her lips. "Now, Rukia," she said with a light air of exasperation. "How many times must I tell you; call me Juushiro."

"Just a little bit longer, Captain," Rukia answered cryptically, which brought a raised eyebrow to Ukitake's slender features. Still, her elder decided against questioning her on her choice of words, not that Rukia would tell her what her words really meant. It was a secret.

A wonderful, spectacular secret; but a secret nonetheless.

"You and your brother are conspiring against me," Ukitake murmured purposely aloud before taking a sip of her tea, humour and teasing in her voice and a somewhat suspicious glint in her eye.

Rukia merely grinned at her, her girlish glee growing substantially upon the mentioning of her brother. Yes, her brother was in part of the secret. In fact, he had everything to do with it!

Two years have passed since the Winter Wars and two years since her brother and Captain formed a romantic relationship. Captain Ukitake almost lost her life from a severe wound to her torso, which compromised one of her lungs and causing her illness to return with almost dire consequences. It had been touch and go for quite a few days and her condition was devastating to everyone. It affected everyone in some way, but Rukia must admit that she was a little surprised to realize that Byakuya seemed to be taking it the hardest.

Oh sure, he didn't break down and cry (which was probably for the best as it would scare a lot of people), but he visited her every day, simply sitting by her bedside, his hand cradling hers quite tenderly and yet firmly, almost afraid to let go. She had always known that deep down inside, her brother cared for Ukitake more than he would outwardly express but she didn't realize how much until a week after Ukitake was emitted. She was unable to sleep, restless with worry that she snuck out in hope of spending time near her captain's side.

Imagine her surprise to see that that position was already taken, by her brother. She did not enter the room or make her presence known as something told her to simply be silent as something quite special was about to occur.

So, she lingered near the partially open door, her fingers holding onto the wooden frame as she gazed into the moonlit room, her brother's silhouette clearly seen in front of the open window.

Within the silence of the room, she heard a voice, soft, uncertain, lost and she knew it was her brother's voice even though it was so quiet that it was barely recognizable.

"I can't lose you, too."

Rukia's eyes immediately widen upon hearing those words, but soon tears began to form behind her lashes. She knew he was thinking about his dearly departed wife and her older sister Hisane and she knew if anything should happen to Ukitake...she may lose her brother for good this time.

Throughout the years since the death of her sister and Byakuya's wife, Ukitake refused to let Byakuya close himself off completely. She was always there, offering a sense of companionship or reassurance, whether he wanted her to or not. No matter how much he tried to push her away, tried to close her off, Ukitake would have none of it. She stood her ground and refused to listen to those who had given up on him.

And from what she had heard there were days where Ukitake had to literally grit her teeth and take her brother's icy attitude on the chin. Thank goodness that Captain Ukitake was as stubborn as her brother, Byakuya.

It was just...sad that Byakuya had to realize how much she did mean to him after almost losing her for good.

"You better wake up soon," he whispered almost desperately to her, a prayer that Rukia echoed within her mind before she quietly turned around and left Byakuya to this private moment.

And from Rukia was able to learn when she woke up later that morning was that Captain Ukitake had regain consciousness during that very same night. The news had travelled like wildfire and everyone breathed a heavy sigh of relief, knowing that one of the most extraordinary captains to have ever graced the Soul Society was still with them.

And it took quite some bribing of Isane to reveal that her brother was present at that moment, carefully helping her to ease back into consciousness.

It wasn't until a few months later did Rukia herself learn the truth that it was at that exact moment upon Ukitake's awakening did they exchange their mutual feelings. During those months before she knew, however, she had seen signs and witnessed affection hints that caused her imagine to go into overdrive, so one could easily imagine her delight when she realized her suspicions were all true.

The reasons why they held back the revealing of their relationship to her was because they were uncertain whether their feelings were that of love or merely affection for the war was over. But, eventually, they became settled, comfortable with each other that this wasn't one of those love at first sight sort of nonsense you read in books or watch in movies, but a love that grew unknowingly over time.

That was a true love.

Rukia could still remember the moment her brother and captain asked her to join them on an evening walk together, Byakuya and Ukitake acting both uncharacteristically nervous, almost like a couple of teenagers. It was kinda cute, in a way.

But what she remembered the most was when they finally did admit that they were together in a relationship, she almost winded her captain with a strong hug of happiness. It immediately broke the tension and Ukitake hugged her back. There was a sense of joy all round, even Byakuya seemed relaxed enough to smile warmly.

It was actually a few hours after that did she witness them kiss. Not just a peck on the cheek either. They were merely talking, about what she couldn't hear from where she was -not spying!- but merely observing from a distance when Ukitake said something significant that caused Byakuya to suddenly pull her into his arms and into a rather affectionate kiss. She seemed surprised at first, her eyes wide from the sudden change in position, but they soon slipped close and she relaxed under his hold, her hands moving to touch him in return.

It was only due to her supreme self-control that Rukia managed not to squeal out loud. The moment was so precious.

To say she was pleased that her brother had found happiness with her beloved captain and visa versa was an understatement; she was beyond thrilled! They are truly wonderful together and make a beautiful couple.

Anyone who dared to say otherwise will have to deal with her personally...

She had always been quite fond of her Captain, she being the first person she would turn to whenever she needed advice, but now that she was dating her brother, they've grown a stronger bond, hence her assistance upon calling her by her first name.

But there was another name she would like to start calling her. If only her brother would act already!

"Ah, speaking of your brother," Ukitake voice's broke through Rukia's thoughts, causing her to shake her head a little to bring herself properly into reality. "Here he comes now."

Glancing at the door to her Captain's office, she felt a sense of expectancy suddenly overcome her. She wasn't sure, but there was this sense in the air that something extremely significant was about to occur.

Sure enough, a mere moment later the perfect form of nobility and reform graced the threshold of the doorway, steely gray eyes effortlessly surveying the room. And, Rukia noted, he was alone. Renji wasn't with him at present, which meant he wished to spend a few moments with Captain Ukitake under the guise of seeing her off, of course.

"Rukia," Byakuya's cool and level voice seemed to echo through the room. "I have been informed that you have a mission today."

"Yes, brother," Rukia replied, climbing to her feet as he captain did the same.

"Just a simple mission," Ukitake explained further. "Nothing that Rukia cannot handle on her own."

"Of course," Byakuya said in return, inclining his head toward her before turning his gaze back to Rukia. He then offered her the barest of smiles. Though small, it was a significant sign and it immediately warmed Rukia's heart.

"I'll be going now," Rukia said as she made a motion to the door, but paused to turn to her Captain one last time before she left. "Captain, make sure you ring me if something significant and special happens today, ok?"

There was that warm look of amusement on Ukitake face again, her head tilting ever so slightly to the side in question. She appeared that she wanted to ask what she considered significant and special, but decided against it and merely shook her head in amused disbelief.

"Yes, of course, Rukia," she relented as she smiled. "If anything should happen, you'll be the first to know."

"Thank you!"

"I will speak with you upon your return," Byakuya said to her as she turned to leave.

"Yes brother," she immediately responded with a slight bow before finally setting out upon her mission. But she did take a moment to watch over her shoulder as her brother approached her captain, who of which was smiling that beautiful smile of hers. She managed to get a glimpse of Byakuya placing his hands on Ukitake's waist and she in turn placing her hands on his arms, their two bodies coming to meet as one, their foreheads resting together in a somewhat intimate display of affection and respect.

They're quite beautiful together, really, Ukitake's minor height difference no hindrance whatsoever.

When Ukitake closed her eyes with her hands on his chest in order pressed closer against Byakuya and Byakuya entwined his fingers within her hair, tilting her face toward his, Rukia couldn't help but smile, truly happy that they have found some peace and love within each other. She then moved her sight elsewhere, giving them the privacy they deserve, jogging silently out of the barracks.

She had this feeling that today will be the day her brother will finally do that thing that he and she have been discussing for a few weeks now. Ever since Byakuya touched the subject with her, she had been waiting eagerly for him to go ahead with it, knowing without a shadow of a doubt that Ukitake would accept readily. For two weeks straight she's been subtly asking Ukitake whether or not Byakuya has asked her anything significant during the day and all she would get was this puzzled look. She would then go ask Byakuya subtly why he hadn't asked her yet!

At first, Rukia must admit that she had been concerned of what the head advisors to the Kuchiki clan would say or might do to prevent this wonderful piece of destiny from happening. However, Byakuya quickly reassured her that not even they were arrogant enough to say a word against Ukitake for they would definitely earn the wrath of not only several Captains, but the Head-Captain Yamamoto himself.

It was actually quite satisfying to know that they weren't as high and mighty as they would like to believe.

Yep, this was the day and what a wonderful day for it! The sky was a clear blue, the breeze gentle and warm and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom.

She almost felt like skipping, she was in that kind of a spectacular mood.

However, during the course of the day, her good mood waned considerably and now she was becoming quite –extremely- impatient. She was situated at Urahara's shop with Ichigo and the others who reside in the World of the Living. Her phone was on the table before her as she sat with her arms folded tightly over her chest, staring at the mechanical contraption with such loathing that it was like it would burst into flames at any given moment. No one dared to ask her what was bothering her, they almost seemed nervous toward her. But, in reality, she really didn't care much at the moment.

Byakuya had better taken this time to finally asked Ukitake that question, or with God as her witness, she'll do it for him on his behalf!

"Ring, dammit!" Rukia cursed as she slammed her fisted hand on the table, causing everyone, including the phone itself to quite literally jump a foot in the air. She then snatched the phone while in midair and glared at it as she gave it a threatening shake. "Just ring already, you're driving me insane!"

"You're driving us insane with all that fidgeting!" Ichigo finally snapped, his own eyes narrowed in a heated glare as everyone else in the room, including Kisuke and Yoruichi sat in silence. "Just what the hell is your problem?"

Tearing her eyes away from her phone finally, Rukia instead turned that frightening gaze at Ichigo. "Don't you realize that something extremely important and beautiful is going to happen today?"

Ichigo twitched at her question and spoke through gritted teeth. "If you would just tell me what that is then maybe I'll be more tolerant!"

Rukia gave a rather undignified snort. "You don't know how to be tolerant!"

"And what the hell is that suppose to mean?"

"The significance of what today is is beyond your comprehension!" Rukia responded as she folded her arms over her chest and turned her face away from him quite haughtily before her expression did a one-eighty and sighed dreamily as she folded her hands in prayer against her chest. "I can't believe this is finally it..."

Ichigo simply deadpanned. "What? What is finally it?"

Rukia was too busy daydreaming to answer his question and then...her phone rang. The sharp ringtone and the suddenness of it caused her to jump this time. Scrambling with the stupid contraption, she flipped it open to see that Ukitake was the one ringing her. With her heart racing rapidly in her chest, she fumbled with the call button and pressed it against the side of her face.

"Yes?" she said hastily into her phone. "Hello?"

There was a pause on the other end of the line before Ukitake's voice came through, sounding oddly breathless but happy nonetheless. "Ah, Rukia," she said.

"Are you alright, Captain?" Rukia asked upon reflex. "You sound out of breath."

There was a soft chuckle and another pause, almost as if Ukitake was in the presence of someone else. "There is a very good reason for that."

"Which is...?"

"I take it you had some hand in this," Ukitake questioned her with a light air of accusation, but she could tell by the tone of her voice that she was still smiling.

So, Rukia decided to play innocent. "Whatever do you mean, Captain?"

"You know very well what," came her reply.

"Just tell me anyway, please?" Rukia asked her sweetly, all but squirming in anticipation.

"Alright," Ukitake finally relented, sounding considerably younger than Rukia had heard her for quite some time now. "Your brother, Byakuya, has asked me for my hand in marriage."

Yes! Byakuya had finally asked her to marry him! About time!



"And did you say yes?" Rukia blurted out hastily and with an exceeding amount of impatience.

Immediately, a warm laugh radiated from the other end of the phone. "Of course I did!"

This time Rukia was unable to hold back; she squealed. She was certain she just about terrified everyone in her presence with a squeal she only saved for Mr. Chappy, but this was just too beautiful not to let her girlish glee out.

"Wah! Captain, that is so amazing!" she gushed quickly into the phone. "Oh, I'm so happy for the both of you! Give congratulations to brother immediately!"

"You can do that when you return," Ukitake practically hummed with contentment causing Rukia to realize that her brother was probably still there. They must have...celebrated their engagement, which would explain why Ukitake sounded so breathless before.

That brought a blush to her cheeks.

"However," Ukitake continued on the phone, her voice seeming to drift further and further away. "It seems that you will have to start calling me sister-in-law, Rukia."

Rukia giggled. "I know!"

She then suppressed another chuckle when the very male sound of her brother's voice drifted through. "We'll discuss matters with you in further detail tomorrow," he suggested, oh-so subtly telling her that he wished to end this phone conversation now.

Tomorrow? Yeah, she could wait until then.

"Of course," she replied around her giggles. "Until tomorrow then."

The phone line abruptly went dead, but she didn't care. She was beyond ecstatic at the moment. She was still floating on cloud nine when she finally turned her attention back to the others, whom of which were all staring at her like she had grown another head.

"You're mood suddenly changed," Urahara bravely commented. "Did that something beautiful and important just occurred?"

"Yes!" Rukia stated, happy to finally say these words aloud for anyone to hear. "My brother and Captain are finally getting married!"