The two Soul Reapers stood still and silent for a long moment, until Rukia broke the silence with a sigh.
"IDIOT! That was my fight!" The midnight-haired girl screeched, as an (almost) unnoticeable smirk crept onto her face.
"You looked like you were having some trouble..." Ichigo turned away, "Just be thankful I saved your sorry ass again." He snorted, returning Rukia's gesture of a smirk.
"Ughh... You were watching me? You little pervert!" Rukia snarled, delivering a sharp punch to Ichigo's gut. She couldn't help but quietly giggle to herself, partially because she missed her and Ichigo's little 'dialogue exchanges', and partially because she thought it was... cute... that he was watching her. So, she decided to milk this moment for all it was worth. Rukia furrowed her brow, plastered a scowl on her face, and took in a deep breath.
"Aghh... I thought getting whacked by you was Kon's job." Ichigo grunted.
"Funny... because I thought being a pervert was Kon's job too." Rukia retaliated.
"Who says I'm a pervert, midget?" Rukia's eye twitched, feigning anger.
"I did. Are you deaf now too, or still just stupid?"
"What happened to you being in a hurry to see me? Isn't that what you told Urahara?" Ichigo inquired.
"What? You were following me since then? PERVERT!"
"Well... I.. uhhhh... Yoruichi thought it'd be a good idea to surprise you..." Ichigo stammered.
"And since when do you take advice from Yoruichi? Or have you forgotten the 'chicken niblets' incident?" Rukia teased. Ichigo shivered at the thought and pushed it to the back of his mind. He turned around and started walking back to Urahara's.
"Shut it, midget." He said bluntly. This remark earned him another, much harder, punch to the side.
"Where are you going?" Rukia asked.
"Urahara's, then home, I guess." Ichigo replied, scratching the back of his head. "Are you coming or not?" Ichigo called to the still stationary Rukia.
"Y...yeah." Rukia practically whispered, though she didn't know why.
Rukia and Ichigo navigated the dampened streets of Karakura, illuminated by the setting sun on a pale magenta sky (it had stopped raining after the hollow went down). After a few minutes, Rukia again broke the silence, deciding to ask a nagging question.
"Ichigo... How did you..."
"Get my powers back? My dad and Urahara." Ichigo cut her off.
"I see... Still no manners at all." She said under her breath with a slight blush.
"Oh... nothing..." Rukia chirped. The rest of their walk was relatively quiet, save for a few 'midget' and 'strawberry' comments, and subsequent punches to Ichigo's gut.
By the time they arrived back at Urahara's shop, since they walked, it was almost 5:00. As always, they were greeted by a loud and obnoxious Jinta, a meek Ururu, a polite Tessai, and of course, a grinning-like-an-idiot Urahara.
"Ah, welcome back, , Ichigo. How can we help you?" Urahara sang.
"Shut up, Urahara just get my body, will ya'? And get Rukia's Gigai, I saw it when I came in, you liar!" Urahara blushed. He had been caught out. He quickly dashed out of the room, he had no intention of being within eyeshot of Rukia. Rukia tried to go after him but was held back by Ichigo. She was fuming.
"You can get him back tomorrow. Let's just hurry up and get home." He whispered into her ear. Despite everything, Ichigo was still afraid of Tessai, and so did his best not to anger the leviathan of a man. Rukia struggled, but quickly gave up, she was still no match for Ichigo's strength, but she was surprised at how...reasonable..us he was being. Ururu quietly watched the spectacle, and Jinta chuckled.
"So you two finally got together, eh? Can't say I'm surprised..." He teased. Ichigo and Rukia simultaneously shot him the same glare.
"THAT IDIOT.." "THAT MIDGET..." "IS NOT..." "MY..." "GIRLFRIEND!" "BOYFRIEND!" They shouted in unison. Jinta shrugged.
"Whatever you say, carrot-top." He sighed. He sat down next to Ururu and whispered. "See? Told 'ya!" Ururu blushed and giggled. Ichigo and Rukia, once again fuming, stared at the ground in silence. The tension in the air was almost stifling. Soon after, Kisuke returned, carrying Ichigo's body under one arm, and Rukia's gigai under the other. He handed to Rukia sheepishly. She glared daggers back.
"Look, Miss Kuchiki, Yoruichi wanted me to wait. How 'bout I give you a discount?" Urahara offered snapping his fan closed. Rukia's expression softened.
"Oh, sure... Does 100% sound fair?" She asked sweetly as she climbed into her gigai.
"Fine..." Urahara replied downtroddenly. He turned to Ichigo. "And this is for you." Ichigo took his body and climbed into it. He felt the pocket for his badge, and gave Urahara a dirty look. "Oh yes, I believe these are yours as well?" Urahara asked, holding up the gift bag and combat pass.
"Thanks." Ichigo growled, snatching the items away. "Let's go." He said bluntly. "I thought you'd never ask." Rukia replied, following Ichigo out of the Shoten.
"By the way, Ichigo... What is that bag?" Rukia peeped as the two slowly made their way back to the Kurosaki clinic.
"Oh.. right.. Uhh... This is for you, I guess." Ichigo answered, handing her the bag.
"Why?" Rukia gave him an odd look, and her cheeks turned a light pink.
"Because I felt like it." He replied monotonously, keeping his eyes forward. Rukia sighed, and her cheeks lightened. The two stopped at a park bench so Rukia could examine her spoils. She peered into the bag and reached in. Less than a second later, a loud, shrill, squeal filled the streets, and could be heard for miles.
"AWWWW! Ichigo! It's adorable!" Rukia squeaked as she coddled the plush rabbit. Ichigo smiled. He really missed seeing her smile. Hell, he just missed her. "Huh...? There's something else in here..." Rukia mused as she dug through the tissue paper. Ichigo felt his stomach rising.
"Impossible." He reassured himself. He turned away. His heart rate was rising fast.
"Ichigo, what are these?" Rukia asked with wide eyes. Ichigo's jaw hit the ground.
"Crap." He said under his breath. "Uhhh... They're... uhh... *condoms*" Ichigo coughed, trying to hide his words.
"Con-doms? Like apartments?" Rukia asked. Ichigo sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "No... like... prophylactics..." Ichigo figured he could throw her off with big words.
"What?" Ichigo sighed again and leaned into her ear to explain the... process of ...copulation and the function of...contraceptives. Rukia eyes widened. "PERVERT!" She yelled, throwing the box at his face.
"Ow... It's not my fault! My idiot dad put those in there on purpose!" Ichigo defended himself. Rukia knew Ichigo wasn't so... forward... so she decided to believe him.
"Alright, if you say so." Ichigo blushed.
The rest of the walk took about twenty minutes, so they arrived at home at 6:00.
"My SOOON~!" Isshin chirped. "And my lovely third Daughter!" Isshin danced around and proceeded to give Rukia a fatherly hug. "It's good to see you too, Isshin-ojisan." Rukia smiled.
"And how have you been doing?" Isshin arched an eyebrow, looking towards Ichigo.
"Just fine, thanks." She chirped.
"I see. Could you give my Idiot son and I a moment?"
"Of course." Rukia obliged and went upstairs.
"I'm assuming by her mood you didn't tell her." Isshin said coldly.
"N... Tell her what?"
"Did you give her the other gift?"
"Yes, and almost got me killed you perverted old freak!" Ichigo snapped. Isshin sighed.
"Tell her to look underneath the strawberry on the bunny's chest." Isshin grinned at Ichigo, who just gave him a quizzical look. "And when you come down for dinner in exactly..." Isshin checked his watch, "53 minutes, I expect you to have told her." Isshin walked back into the clinic. Ichigo growled at him and walked up stairs.
Ichigo opened the door to his bedroom to find Rukia sitting on his bed, playing with her new 'friend'. She looked up at him and smiled as he entered the room.
"What did your dad want?"
"Oh... nothing." Ichigo scratched the back of his head, wondering if he should go through with it.
"Ichigo?" Rukia cut him off.
"Yeah?" Rukia placed the stuffed rabbit on the bed and stared intently at Ichigo. She wore the same expression from earlier.
"Why did you give this to me Ichigo?"
"I told you. Because I felt like it." Rukia sighed, looking almost disappointed.
"Tch... What kinda look is that? I got you something you like! You could at least try to act happy!" Ichigo scolded.
"I am. It's just... never mind..." Rukia said quietly.
"Alright... I wanted to give you something nice... because... Well... I missed you..." Ichigo replied sheepishly, fully expecting yet another punch to his stomach. He closed his eyes and braced for it, but instead he felt two small arms wrap around his torso.
"Thank you..." Rukia said quietly. Ichigo sighed and reciprocated.
"Don't mention it." He replied with a blush.
"Oh! That's right!" Rukia shouted, releasing him from her grip. She fished around in her pocket for a second and pulled out a small envelope.
"Captain Ukitake must've heard about your powers returning. He asked me to give this to you." She explained, handing it to him.
"Hm. I see." He replied, placing it on his desk.
"Aren't you gonna read it?" Rukia inquired.
"I will, in a minute." Ichigo replied. He brushed past her and walked over to his bed. He picked up the rabbit to examine it. However, before he could get a good look at it...
"HEY! Give it back!" Rukia tackled Ichigo. It caught him off guard, which caused him to lose his balance, and he toppled over onto his bed, Rukia and all. When he regained focus, Ichigo found himself lying on his back, face-to-face with Rukia, who was lying on top of him. Their noses were not but 3 inches apart. Both turned a shade of red that would make Ichigo's namesake jealous. Rukia tried to slide forward in order to grab the rabbit, but she was held back by a large arm. Ichigo did his best to hold her back as she struggled, so he could closely examine the emblem. Sure enough, there was an inconspicuous velcro patch underneath the strawberry. Satisfied with this, he relinquished his grip on both the rabbit and Rukia, who in turn rolled off of him, rabbit in hand. Ichigo stood up, and debated in his head whether or not to tell her. Considering Isshin's track record, he almost decided against it, but something possessed him to make her aware of the other gift. He looked to Rukia, who was once again coddling the toy, and glaring at him for goading her into such a... compromising... position.
"I have something else for you, Rukia." Her expression softened.
"Really, Ichigo you've done enough."
"Just... look underneath the strawberry emblem." Ichigo said nervously. He really did not want to be in the room when Rukia opened it, for fear of his own life. He walked out, saying
"I'll be right back." as he shut the door slowly. He was a little curious as to what the toy concealed, so he figured it'd be best to hear it straight from the horse's mouth. Ichigo found Isshin in the clinic, filling out some charts. Isshin grinned when he saw his son approaching.
"MY SOOOON~! I had no idea you'd get through that so quickly!" Isshin squealed.
"I didn't do a damn thing yet, Dad!"
"N... I mean... Look, I just came to ask about that gift. What is it?" Isshin calmed down.
"You don't remember?" He asked Ichigo, arching an eyebrow.
"Remember what?" Isshin chuckled.
"Son, you bought it for her." Ichigo scoffed at the thought.
"About two weeks after the war."
"Bull. I slept for a month after the war." Ichigo shot down his father's story.
"You don't remember a thing, do you?" Ichigo just stared angrily at Isshin as he continued.
"Well, one of the days that no one else was around, you woke up for a few minutes. Since there wasn't anyone else around, I was looking after you. You managed to get out of bed on your own and I met you in the hallway." Ichigo's eyes widened as Isshin went on. "You were too weak to go anywhere, and you ended up collapsing in the hall. But, you were able to give me receipt for something and ask me to pick it up. You were going to give it to her for her birthday."
"So... but what about..."
"No, that was me." Isshin grinned. "Now you'd better hurry back, you're probably gonna want to be there when she opens it."
Ichigo ran back up the stairs, his heart racing, and his thoughts moving a mile a minute. He paused outside his bedroom door. More and more thoughts flooded his mind. What did he intend to tell her? Was everyone else right? Did he really... feel that way about her? Ichigo shook his head. He just needed to focus. He slowly extended a trembling hand towards the doorknob, but it immediately moved away. At the same moment, Rukia had opened the door. She looked up at Ichigo, who wore a concerned look. He saw instantly that she was crying.
"Rukia... What is it?" Ichigo asked, his voice filled with worry. Rukia said nothing, but simply smiled. She moved towards Ichigo, pushed him into the opposite wall, jumped up, and using his shoulders to boost herself up, she slammed her lips onto his, in a spontaneous, passionate kiss. Rukia pulled away rather quickly, she needed to ask him about the gift before they proceeded.
"Ichigo... that gift... do you really mean it?" Ichigo was flummoxed, not only did he strain himself remembering the gift, but he was really caught off guard by Rukia. Though it took him a moment, he finally completely remembered what her gift was. He smiled down at her, tears still streaming down her cheeks.
"The inscription? Of course...I promise." He said, leaning down to kiss her lightly. Rukia felt the ring, hanging around her neck and she ran her fingers along the inscription.
'You are my one and only, now and forever. The day may come when all will rise against us, but I will protect you. I promise, my one and only flower.'
Ichigo pulled away and whispered once more, "Now and forever, Soul Reaper. I promise." Rukia smiled and whispered back. "My name is not 'Soul Reaper'. It's Rukia. Rukia Kuchiki."
(A/N: Alright, done. Last chapter, hope you liked it! The inscription is slightly modified lyrics from Ichirin no Hana. Review, make an IchiRuki fanboy happy! Or...I dunno.. *something* will happen.)