Disclaimer: I am not Kubo Tite therefore Bleach and anything related to it don't belong to me. It still makes me sad though.
It's still early. The first rays of sun are caressing his locks. He feels warm but he doesn't want to give up the feeling of being safe and protected. He breathes a little deeper. Ah, there it is. The nice comforting scent, the one that means home and love and commitment. The one scent that always makes him want to get up, start a new day, have everything. He snuggles a little closer. There's no need really. The back is solid as he rests his forehead on it. He can feel the warmth of that cherished body; he can almost taste its wonderful flagrance. He can touch everything, have anything, but at this moment he feels like he may ruin the feeling, so he doesn't do anything.
Perhaps this is how all people in love feel all the time. Perhaps this is the sort of commitment that everyone should have or already has. He doesn't know. He doesn't think much about it. He just knows that they are lucky, that they have found each other, that they have stuck together under pressure, that their love has survived in spite of all the dark clouds that have surrounded them in both lives. It has been a long time since he has thought about this. It has been a long time since they have finally decided to be together. He knows that he has started to take some of the things for granted. He knows that some of the things come natural nowadays between the two of them. And yet it is not strenuous. They don't feel like it's eating at the core of their relationship. They have been together for so long that now, he just looks at him and sees his own other self. So different and yet so connected.
He smiles. A small ray of sun falls on his cheek. He is warm, both from the sun and from the body that he has snuggled with. He's so tired and yet he can't think of a better place to be, or of better things to think.
The beloved body moves a little bit and he takes his forehead away. Loving arms circle his waist and draw him closer. He buries his nose in a collarbone, which has been many times kissed, teased and nipped. He inhales. Suddenly a lump chokes him. He can't believe that after all this time he still gets to have this, to enjoy this.
"When did you come back?" The deep voice rumbles and he likes to feel the vibrations, small puffs of air tickling his ear.
"Just now." He mumbles. "I missed you." He adds like an after thought and the other man tightens his embrace.
"I missed you too."
This is the hard part, this is the only part that makes their lives a little bit more difficult: the duties that they have in Soul Society and the responsibilities which come with being part of such an incredibly powerful family like the Kuchikis. He sighs softly. His right hand feels the strong heartbeats of the other man. They are like a song to him, whispering sweet nothings to him, telling him that it beats only for him.
"You should rest." The other voice speaks softly after a while.
"I am resting." He answers and raises his head, smiling a little mischievously. It's a mistake. He meets loved grey orbs, which make him forget completely what hewanted to say. Byakuya looks at him like he hasn't seen him for an eternity, like Ichigo hasn't been gone for just three days. Their lips meet half way drawn to each other, kissing with such power like they want to dig small holes in each other's souls and stay there. They don't move: they kiss until they are left without air and then they kiss a little more. They kiss until their lips start tingling; they kiss until they finally feel satiated.
"I feel so tired." Ichigo finally mumbles with his face still hidden into his husband's collarbone. "But it's so good to be home." He smiles tiredly feeling his husband passing his elegant fingers through his hair. Byakuya and his fetish for his orange hair.
"I will have to leave soon." The deep voice rumbles again and Ichigo sighs despondently.
"Do you have to go?" He whines; he knows he's pathetic but he doesn't care. He just wants to be with his husband now.
"Yes, some people have to work. Unlike others."
"Hey, I worked. Hard. Now it's time for me to rest." Ichigo sighs and snuggles a little closer. "You could always say you are sick."
"As if someone in Seiretei would actually believe that." Byakuya tightens a little bit his embrace and makes Ichigo smile.
"It might work." He suggests. "After all you are probably the only captain that hasn't lied to get out of work before."
"Sleep, Ichigo." He feels Byakuya's lips kissing his forehead. "I promise we will have all the time in the world to tell stories tonight." The lips move further down his face, kissing each of Ichigo's cheeks. "I am glad you are home and safe."
"Me too." Those beloved lips finally settle on his again and they kiss some more until Ichigo falls asleep just like that. He misses the fond smile of his husband and he misses the way he is changed into softer clothes, while he is almost dead to the world.
He wakes up in the late afternoon aching for the safe arms of his husband. The sun doesn't shine with the same brightness in the room and for a moment he rests, admiring the garden that can be seen from their bedroom. He inhales deeply, loving the scent that Byakuya left behind him. He sighs like the thirteen-year-old girl that he is sometimes when he thinks about his husband.
They have been together for almost one hundred years in Seireitei. It feels like a lifetime and yet not enough.
When he died, at the beginning, it was the novelty of being young again and having Byakuya next to him. It took them weeks to get reacquainted with each other's body. It was the honeymoon they never had. But when they managed to settle at last, Ichigo finally had time to think what he was going to do. Getting to know the council of the Kuchiki family hasn't been exactly the funniest experience he ever had and he still has nightmares about it, although most of them were still in awe from knowing the savior of Seireitei in person. Ichigo might have taken advantage of that without exactly knowing it himself. He has answered their questions as Byakuya has taught him, but his impetuous nature revealed itself when the delicate ones began. In the end they all fell prey to his charm and nowadays they even came and asked for his guidance instead of that of Byakuya's.
He also went to study at the Academy and see what shinigamis usually learn when they decide to take this path. It took him only a year of study. At that point they didn't have much to teach him, except kido for which he took special classes. Byakuya had turned really supportive when it came to this sort of activities; he even wanted to train with Ichigo telling him that sometimes kido saves a shinigami's life better than the sword. He also taught him some tricks that he had learned from Yoruichi.
Then after graduating, the supreme commander decided that Ichigo would do best in his division, which won him a staring match with Byakuya. It surprised Ichigo to know that his husband had wanted him in his own division. Of course Byakuya hadn't been the only one. Zaraki even dared to roar that the 11th division should have him due to his brash attitude, which won him a punch in the face from Ichigo, a disapproving look from the sotaichou and a menacing glare from Byakuya. Then Ukitake argued that he knows best how to deal with Ichigo (why everybody treated him like a menace, he really didn't understand) and then everyone pinched in, each with their own arguments. Needless to say the sotaichou won.
Ichigo had not foreseen what had happened next. After almost twenty years of serving under the first commander as a lieutenant and probably tired of Ichigo and his complaints about the goddamn paperwork and why can't we cut down the goddamn bureaucracy, the sotaichou came out of nowhere and asked Ichigo to take over the division. The sotaichou would maintain the supreme command over all the 13 divisions and the kido corps, but he wanted to entrust his division with the only man that could take care of it properly.
Ichigo smiles a little bit.
Yeah, talking about having the surprise of his life. But he and the sotaichou got to know each other so well that sometimes he feels like he is the grandfather that he never had. He has never told him that but there's only person in Soul Society that can make Kuchiki, nee Kurosaki, Ichigo do some paperwork and that person is the sotaichou. And there's no need for yelling either. Byakuya even asked him once how come he never comments when he has to do some favor for the sotaichou and why he takes the missions that nobody wants, but Ichigo avoided answering. What is he to say? The truth is he has never forgotten that the sotaichou has been so supportive to him and Byakuya. He knows that Byakuya couldn't have left his division so long unattended, had it not been for the support of the sotaichou. He had taken a glimpse at how pushy Chamber 46 could be when they wanted something, but the sotaichou had something up his sleeve because they never bothered him about the 6th division.
"Master Ichigo?" The gentle voice startles him and Ichigo looks up smiling a little. The older woman smiles gently back. "Your bath is ready and dinner will be served when you wish."
"Have I slept the entire day, Tohru-san?" He asks a little confused.
"Yes," she speaks gently, "but you were really tired and the older master asked us not to disturb you under any circumstance." Ichigo smirks contently. He has corrupted theservants too well that they don't even notice when they call Byakuya as the older master. "Haru-kun has prepared your favorite meals."
"Oh, perfect." Ichigo smiles again. "I will wait for Byakuya though. I will go and take the bath in the meantime. I must stink."
"That you do, master Ichigo, that you do."
Ichigo almost rolls his eyes before he catches himself and goes to bathroom. One would say that after almost one hundred years of being called like that, he would get used to it. But Ichigo likes to be close to the people surrounding him. During that month while he was waiting for Byakuya to come back to Soul Society, he took it upon himself to learn everything there is to know about the people that have served him so loyally after the first day. By the time Byakuya came back to him, the damage was done: the servants were under his spell and the easy familiarity between them was settled. They seemed also to become a little bolder in showing their true affection to Byakuya, who could wake up with a nice cup of tea while working without even asking for it. Soon it became obvious to Byakuya that his servants were deep under the Kurosaki charm so he let them be. He knew that it was pointless fighting against it.
"You are too full of yourself." A deep voice observes as Ichigo finally enters the bedroom. "What have you done this time?"
"Why do you assume only the worse from me?" Ichigo grins even wider while his husband leaves Senbonzakura next to Zangetsu and comes closer.
"Because you usually are a menace to society and when you smile like that, it's never good news." Large hands cup his cheeks and Ichigo's eyes flutter closed from too much pleasure. Byakuya's scent invades his nostrils as his husband leans a little further into his breathing space.
"I am a goddamn blessing for this society." Ichigo mumbles, a little lost as his husbands puts butterfly kisses all over his face. He slowly grabs him by the forearms and pulls Byakuya closer to his body.
"You are to me." Byakuya says with a seriousness that makes Ichigo open his eyes and look at him. Byakuya's grey eyes are full of wonder and longing. "I missed you." He whispers in a gravely voice, which makes Ichigo shiver.
"Missed you too. So much." Ichigo whispers just before Byakuya's lips finally decide to descend on his lips. At first it's just a soft press of lips against lips, but then it builds more and more until Ichigo gasps just in time for Byakuya to slide his tongue into his mouth and take his breath away with all his longing and lust.
"Are you going to let me eat tonight?" Ichigo mutters ironically after they finally pull away.
"Only because you need strength for what's about to come." Byakuya smirks back and it still takes Ichigo by surprise to see such glimpses into his husband's personality.
"You made big plans for tonight, didn't you?"
"I had three days of planning," Byakuya leans towards him again, his lips brushing over his left ear, "imagining how you would feel like under me again, how you will beg me to take you by the time I will have finished tasting and mapping your body."
"Fuck." Ichigo fucking whimpers as he grabs a fistful of his husband's uniform. "Forget about the goddamn food and let's see these plans of yours."
"Patience, smetience." Ichigo grumbles as he is almost dragged towards the table full of all the food that he generaly likes. "You always like to tease me." He pouts so adorably that he knows Byakuya is going to kiss him. The taste of his husband never gets old.
"And you always fall prey to it so easily." Byakuya's lips twitch slightly and there's mirth into his eyes and yeah, Ichigo is pretty content just being here tonight, facing his husband. "But I promise you, you will be rewarded for it."
"You better live up to your promisses, old man."
"You will regret using that word with me, Ichigo."
Ichigo's cheeky grin is in ful swing when he says smugly:
They start eating in companiable silence and for a while the room is filled with just with the sounds of them eating and of the pleasant night.
"By the way, Karin visited me today." Byakuya says after a while and Ichigo's warm eyes rise a little knowing that nothing good can come from this. "She heard that you were back and she wants you to visit her as soon as possible. Yuzu too. It's been to long since she has seen you."
"She hasn't said that, has she?" Ichigo mutters wincing a little bit when he sees Byakuya's amusement.
"I am giving you the polite redention of what she said."
"I figured that much." Ichigo smiles a little knowingly too.
Apparently his death in real life made Karin and Byakuya become much closer and when his sister joined them in Soul Society, this strange friendship renewed itself. Not that Ichigo minded, except upon occasion when they would both roll their eyes at him like he has said something stupid. Again. Seriously, no man should be stared down by his younger sister. It was unbecoming, mostly because Byakuya encouraged it too.
Yuzu was more relaxed now than when she had arrived in Soul Society. It had been very difficult for her to deal in real life especially since she had died the last and had to deal with being alone for a long time. Things turned up really hard to handle for her especially when her husband has died too, leaving her all alone; therefore when she finally died and saw all of them together waiting for her, she started to cry hard. For a long time after that she had followed them around, not knowing how to divide herself to constantly be with them all. By the end of the first month, she had been so exhausted that Karin threw a rightous fit and finally convinced her that from then on they would be all together and nothing would get between them. Yuzu slept for two days afterwards and she dramatically changed after she has woken up. For the better. However Ichigo knew how important was for her to be reassured so he smiles as he says:
"I think we should invite our family for diner tomorrow night." Byakuya's eyes become warmer. He likes a lot being included in the mad Kuroski family. "I bet Rukia can't wait to rip me a new one for taking this mission instead of letting her go. But I haven't seen her or Renji for a month now."
"I think they would appreciate that. Isshin especially. Just today he was complaining that his beautiful son doesn't love him anymore, doesn't write or visit." Byakuya actually rolls his eyes. "I honestly don't understand how you and your sisters have turned up to be so sane with a man like that as a father."
"You always complain about him and yet you have none when it comes to ploting together some scheme to make my life miserable." Ichigo smirks knowingly.
"Your dad has his…appeal."
"When you want it…"
The servants move silently between them and Ichigo smiles at his husband when the older man reaches for him and helps Ichigo get up.
"Now I believe I have to keep some promisses…" Byakuya's eyes are blown wide with lust and Ichigo swallows hard.
"Yes, you do."
"Follow me then."
Ichigo just smiles as he grips the beloved hand a little tighter. He doesn't say that he will follow Byakuya till they reach the end of the world. He doesn't say that he will hold on to that hand for all eternity and long after that. He doesn't say that his love will never die, especially when there are kisses like the ones he receives once they are in the bedroom and he doesn't say he will always want to hear those lovable whispers until the end of time.
Simply because there's no need. Byakuya knows all that. Because his husband feels the same way.
And that it's enough for Ichigo.
A/N: Before you start complaining about how crappy this epilogue is and that you can't believe that you waited for this s%$^ for so long, let me tell you this isn't the original epilogue. The original epilogue had an epic fight and some serious drama and angst and Byakuya was going to blow you all away with what he was about to do. Unfortunately my laptop broke down on me and lost all my data (because I wasn't smart enough to make a back up) so all my fic was lost. Believe me when I say I cried enough for that. For now this rather disappointing epilogue will be left until I find my muse for this story again and I will re-write it. Again thank you to all of you who during my disappearance have continued enjoying this story. And thank you to all of you for sticking with me until the very end. I promise you I will offer you some day the epilogue that you and this story deserves.