Okay, so I'm SO sorry. I know it's been forever and I've been updating my other fic over and over without finishing this, but it's been pretty hard to think about. I'm excited it's finally concluding, but I'm having trouble wrapping it all up. Anyway, I apologize for how long it's taken me to get back to this. I'm hoping I can finish this up in one sitting and not mesh my two storylines together too much, ha ha. Okay, well, here we go, the final chapter!
1 ½ Years Later
A small hand landed on my shoulder, causing me to jump awake; I had been sleeping on the couch after getting home from work and was pretty glad someone had woken me up. Looking down I saw Saki, smiling at me while she cocked an eyebrow. She was already eight; in the prior two years that seemed to fly by she had grown half a foot taller. Her hair was still curly and long, reaching all the way down her back, but it had lightened a lot and sometimes appeared blonde instead of orange. As much as I hated to admit it, she was starting to look more and more like her mother.
"Rukia said to wake you up," she said, causing me to nod.
"Alright," I said, sitting up tiredly.
"Renji and Mina should be here soon," Rukia's voice sounded. When I looked toward the doorway I noticed her leaning against the frame of the door while balancing Manabe against her hip. "Get up and help us clean." Rukia looked relatively the same as when I had met her two years before. She had lost the baby weight within two months of having Manabe, happily surprising her. Although not much had changed, she had decided to try to grow her hair out, the ends brushing her shoulders.
Smiling, I nodded and stood. "What about Michiru and Shuuhei?"
"They're already here, so hurry." She smiled before turning and heading back to the kitchen. I quickly followed her, Saki at my side. When we entered the kitchen I saw Michiru sitting at the table while Hisagi stood, leaning against the counter.
"Hey," I said, earning a smile from both Hisagis.
"Hey, Ichigo," Michiru replied. "How are you?"
"I'm fine, how are you?"
Her smile widened as she laid a hand on her slightly swollen stomach. "I'm tired, but other than that, great."
"When are you due again?" Rukia asked, absently handing me Manabe before heading toward the sink to start the dishes.
"March twenty-fifth," she answered happily.
"Wow, that's coming up pretty quick," she continued, glancing over her shoulder. "Are you getting excited?" She was directing Shuuhei now, elbowing him carefully. He hadn't been extremely enthusiastic when he had first found out his wife was pregnant a few months after their wedding. As the months passed and her pregnancy progressed, we noticed him seeming more excited than worried.
"Yeah, I guess," he answered, smiling down at her.
"Come on, Shuuhei, don't be such a worry-wart," Saki joked, now standing in front of him, straining her neck to look up at his face. "You'll be a great dad."
He laughed before picking her up. "You think so?"
She nodded, not giving anymore explanation. Before he could respond the door opened, causing us all to look toward the living room. Renji was walking in, Rina balanced in one arm. When he saw we us all looking at him, he cocked an eyebrow before nodding a hello and turning to hold the door open for his wife. She quickly stepped into the living room, holding their five-month-old son, Kenji, up to her shoulder. Both Abarais entered the kitchen; Mina took a seat next to me, Renji remained standing.
"Hey," Renji greeted us lazily, absently leaning against the fridge.
"Hey guys," Michiru said, smiling up at him. "Are you alright, Renji?"
He nodded. "Yeah, just a little tired." She frowned slightly at his response but he brushed her off.
Michiru paused before turning to me and asking, "So, how's school going?" About three months earlier I had started going back to Karakura University as a part-time student. On top of that and the kids, I had work, which was never fun. But I had a job again, so I wasn't complaining.
"It's alright," I answered, shrugging slightly. "Not as difficult as I thought it would be with everything else."
"That's great," she said, grinning. "I never asked, how did your placement exams go?"
"Thankfully I tested out of four of the classes they thought I would have to take over. So I'll have to retake Advanced Medical Anatomy again, but other than that I have all new classes."
"That's amazing, Ichigo," Mina said, smiling down at me. "How in the world did you remember four classes worth of information for six years?"
I shrugged, laughing at her amazement. "Since then I've been helping Dad at the clinic, so a lot of it just stuck."
"That's going to save you a lot of money," Renji stated.
"I know, and a lot of time."
"How much longer do you think it'll take before you can graduate?" Shuuhei asked.
"Well, by the time Maiko found out she was pregnant I had already finished my pre-med stuff. So they said about three years, maybe three and a semester."
"Then you can have a clinic like your dad?" Michiru questioned, grinning.
Laughing, I nodded. "Yup."
"That's so exciting," Mina exclaimed, resting a hand on my shoulder absently. "Before you know it you'll be graduating!"
"I know," I answered as she pulled her hand away.
"By then Saki will be eleven," Renji said, smiling at my daughter when she teasingly glared at him.
"Oh my God, that seems impossible."
"Before you know it, she'll be eighteen and getting ready for college herself," Renji continued.
"She's already almost halfway there," Hisagi added.
"Shut up," I said, causing them to laugh. "You know, by then Rina will be twelve."
"Oh, no, you're mistaken," Renji began, shaking his head. "Rina's never going to grow past the age six."
We all laughed before Rukia spoke up. "If only it was that simple, huh Renji?"
He shrugged, smiling.
"You know," Mina began, getting everyone's attention. "It's going to be sad that they're going to grow up so fast and all, but the worst part is that we're all going to get so old."
Renji laughed loudly at his wife's response to our conversation. "That would be what you're worried about, Mina."
"I just don't want to be old and boring, that's all," she retorted although she was grinning.
"That's not the worst part," Michiru piped in. "The worst part is that one day we're all going to die anyway."
We all laughed again. "Why are you all so depressing today?" Hisagi asked, shaking his head. "Why not talk about how lucky we all are to be here now, huh?"
Before anyone could respond the front door opened again; we all looked toward the living room, seeing Kon lead in Kisa. Although Kon and Kisa were first just people we had met through Michiru, we all got really close to both of them. Kisa had adjusted and eventually was comfortable with all of us, even Renji.
"Awesome, Kon's here, he'll brighten all your moods," Hisagi continued as they stepped into the kitchen. When Kisa was closer her protruding stomach was even more evident; she was due in less than two weeks and she was surprisingly patient.
"Hey guys," Kon exclaimed, grinning at everyone.
"Wow, someone's glad to see you Kon, what a surprise," Kisa joked, elbowing him carefully.
He smiled down at her while we laughed. "Shut up, Kisa," he answered, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her closer.
"Hey, Kisa, how are you?" Michiru asked, smiling up at her.
"I'm fine," she said, shrugging slightly.
"Are you able to stay pretty comfortable?" Mina asked.
She nodded. "Yeah, for the most part."
"Are you excited, Kon?" Renji asked, smiling down at him.
Nodding, he said, "Yeah, I can't wait for her to get here."
"No, we don't know what it is. He just won't stop calling it that," Kisa quickly elaborated, shooting Kon an annoyed glance.
"Sorry, I'm not doing it on purpose," he responded, his grin still intact.
Rukia spoke up, addressing everyone. "Okay, I'm done with the dishes. Guys, take the kids into the living room; Kisa you can go sit down too. Renji, you can help in here with me, Michiru and Mina."
Everyone split up like Rukia had demanded, no one asking questions. After a few minutes of playing with Kon, Saki asked if she could have something to drink. Knowing how snippy Rukia could get when she was in the kitchen, I told her I'd grab her something. When I stepped into the entryway between the kitchen and the living room I stopped, smiling at the sight of everyone in the kitchen. Michiru was sitting at the table, facing away from me, mixing something. Renji and Mina were standing next to each other at the counter, chopping vegetables. As they talked quietly to each other they continuously elbowed each other, eventually stopping their tasks and calling a truce, laughing the entire time. Rukia was at the stove, stirring a pot of something while glancing at the Abarais, supervising.
The sight of everyone doing what they usually do was nice; it made me realize just how much everything had changed in the last two years. That thought alone reminded me how I had met all of these people, being trapped in a traffic jam that had seemed unbearable. How could a simple traffic jam bring so many people together? Because of it I was engaged, I had another kid, and I had friends for the first time since I was in college. I was going back to school, I was finally going to become a doctor like I had always wanted; it seemed impossible that all of this was really happening.
Being caught up in thought I didn't notice when Renji had turned around and saw me just staring at them. "You need something?" he asked, smiling slightly. This caused the rest of the group to notice me as well.
"Yeah, sorry," I said, laughing quietly. "I was going to grab Saki something to drink." I explained while stepping further into the kitchen.
"Are you alright?" Rukia asked, cocking an eyebrow also as she turned to look at me.
Smiling, I nodded. "I'm great."
Okay, so that's it…I'm sorry if I disappointed anyone, but that's how I'm choosing to leave things. I hope you all enjoyed, I know it's REALLY short, but it is what it is. Anyway, please review! Thanks again for everything!
P.S. I'm currently working on another IchiRuki fic if you're interested. Once that's done, or maybe before, I'll be starting another IchiRuki story that I've got up my sleeve. Keep an eye out for it! Thanks again!