Disclaimer: Bleach is owned by Tite Kubo. He created this world, I'm just playing in it.

It took me six attempts at starting a Bleach fic before I hit this one and got something that stuck. Everything else I started seemed unworkable somehow, or started to go in directions I hadn't intended. As it was, I restarted this one three times before I got it to stay on track.

Anyway, this is my first attempt at a Bleach fic, though I have written pieces and scenes to help out another author, this is the first full fic attempt for me with this series. This also my first published lemon, not something I normally do.

06/06/12: Due to the current mess regarding ratings, I am removing the lemon from this work. If you want to read the lemon version, go to DeviantArt.

5Horse. deviantart. com

Unlocked Hearts

Chapter 1:

It was a pleasantly warm night in Karakura. A half moon shone down among the stars in the clear sky and a gentle breeze stirred the air. It was still and quiet, the kind of silent peace one could only find in the middle of the night. Three thirty in the morning in this case.

A naked Yoruichi Shihoin sat across the open doorway that led out to the small balcony of a second story apartment located a few blocks away from the Urahara Shoten. Kisuke owned the building, it used to be an auto repair garage at one time with a residence on the second floor. She had free use of the place and stayed here at times when she needed some time to herself. As much as she liked Kisuke and Tessai and the kids, sometimes she just needed her own space.

She looked up at the moon and stars, appreciating the tranquility and quiet of the night. It was a stark contrast to the things that had been going through her mind tonight and to the things that had consumed her thoughts for some time now.

Looking into the room where the combination of light from the moon and a faded street lamp caressed the bare chest of her companion as he slept soundly in the western style, Queen sized bed, she allowed herself a gentle smile. His unruly mane of orange hair was spread out across the pillow and in the silence of the night she could hear the gentle sounds of his breathing and see the rise and fall of his chest.

It was a chest that carried far too many scars for someone his age, scars given to him through experiences he should never have had to have. He should have been going to school and having fun with his friends. He should have been chasing girls and planning for his future in the world of the living, not fighting hollows and carrying the fate of the world of the dead on his young shoulders as he fought to clean up the messes the shinigami made.

It was a chest that no too long ago had felt the touch of her hands and her lips, a chest that she had moulded herself to as they made love. The chest of a boy who was a man and more of a man than many she knew. A strong chest that contained a heart that could be as compassionate as it was strong and courageous.

Then there were his strong, rough hands, calloused from wielding a sword and fighting so many battles. Hands that had so nervously touched, squeezed, and caressed her body, and the strong arms that had wrapped around her and held her close in the afterglow of their lovemaking.

A hundred times her head warned her against following what her heart wanted and every time her heart rejected her head's protests. This was not some fleeting whim. This was not some short term affair to scratch an itch. This was real, very real. This time something had reached deep inside of her heart and latched on and wouldn't let go.

It hadn't come upon her quickly, it had taken a while to rise to the surface and make itself known. After all, it had to cut through her apathy towards relationships, a malaise, a fear almost, borne out the life of a high noble and of seeing too many people she knew get pushed into loveless arranged marriages that turned them into sad, lonely shadows of their former selves.

She had vowed to never be tied to someone that way. Not by a marriage of political convenience, or by her own doing. She lived her life her way and on her terms and anyone who wanted to be by her side would have to be able to live with that.

For over a hundred and ten years, longer even actually, there had been no one who had truly caught her interest. Of course, being on the run and the possibility of being hunted down by the Soul Society hanging over her head had made any notion of getting into a relationship a very foolish one. Any potential partner would have been in just as much danger as she would if anyone came to find her, and there was the possibility that she would get too comfortable and lose her edge, that she wouldn't watch her back or the backs of the other exiles with the same dedication.

She smirked. And then along came the orange haired young man that was sleeping in her bed and everything began to change. He was young and reckless, willing to run head first into overwhelming odds just to help someone he cared about and he didn't give a damn about who didn't like it. It wasn't love at first sight or anything that melodramatic. More like he began to grow on her. She loved training with him and trying to bring out his enormous potential, and he was fun as hell to tease.

Her feelings for Ichigo Kurosaki were a slowly, but solidly built thing. So slowly built in fact that she hadn't even realized fully they were there until she started following him around and watching out for him after he lost his shinigami abilities.

The more she watched him, the more her own feelings about him were revealed to her, and the more her head and her heart argued about it, nearly driving her insane. It was also when she began to realize just how lonely she had really been and for just how long. It was strange how she had never really realized it until then, but almost as soon as she did she began to feel the hollow ache from that loneliness grow in direct proportion to the strength of her feelings for him. She knew that she had to make up her mind once and for all and stop the internal debate before she started to fall apart.

Maybe the reason all of this had seemed to spring up so suddenly had to do with the way she had always been so tightly in control of her thoughts and emotions, and the order in which she had prioritized things in her life. In her youth, her training as the next head of her family and her Onmitsukido training had stressed the importance of pushing her own personal matters into the background and focusing on clan business and her duties first, foremost, and always.

She hadn't always done so to the satisfaction of those around her, she preferred to keep as much of her playful, free spirited attitude as she could, without it she would have gone insane long ago, she was sure. She actually had to give a lot of the credit to Kisuke for helping her to remain the way she wanted to be.

When she got too far down or frustrated he always was able to get her to laugh. And when she got too high and mighty he was always glad to knock the Shihoin Princess off of her high horse and toss a little dirt at her. And if he needed help there was always Tessai and Kukaku ever eager to lend a hand.

The point was that to a certain extent she had always kept her inner most feelings and desires where love was concerned locked away in a box on a high shelf in a rarely visited corner of her soul.

In the end she went with what her gut and her heart had been telling her. She had indeed fallen in love with Ichigo. He had come into her life like a bull in a china shop, banging into stuff and knocking things over. Somewhere in all of that chaos and stomping around he had unknowingly knocked that box off of its shelf, spilling its contents all over the place.

She almost laughed out loud at the analogy. That certainly was the Way of the Strawberry alright. Subtlety was rarely involved where he was concerned.

As it turned out luck had been with her and a couple of things happened in close proximity to one another. The first was that his powers came back and he asked her to train him. He had come to realize what she already knew, that power alone wasn't enough, that he needed the skills to go with it if he wanted to truly be strong and have the ability to protect those he cared about. Power was fine, but it shouldn't be his first or only option and in its absence if he didn't have the skills, he had nothing and wouldn't be able to protect anyone.

She was proud of him for coming to that realization on his own and she gladly agreed to train him. Even without her feelings for him she would have anyway and had intended to discuss it with him. She would start from the ground up with Zanjutsu, Hoho, and Hakuda. Kido would have to wait until he could devote all of his time to it alone. She knew he would work hard and with his knack for picking things up so quickly, he would make impressive progress.

The second fortunate thing for her was that he had finally started to truly notice the opposite sex, and it seemed that he was very much noticing her in particular. Cripes, it had been necessary to give herself a mental shake of the head every so often because that attention almost made her feel like a damn teenager herself all over again.

And she did not appreciate Kisuke teasing her about it. Not one bit.

They trained hard and given their respective natures, they loved it. Though she had to admit that a hard workout that got the blood pumping made it a little hard not to jump the boy on the spot, but she didn't want to scare him off just because she was getting a little horny. They had started to become pretty good friends too and he had even started to open up to her a bit. She knew it was a sign of his trust in her and she was truly proud to have it.

He admitted to her that when he first lost his powers he had been scared, though he never let on to anyone else. He worried about not being able to protect his family and his friends. He missed the presence of Zangetsu and even his Hollow inside his head.

He also felt like he had been abandoned by his friends in the Soul Society and it was obvious that he was hurt by it. He hadn't expected them to show up every week to check up on him or anything, but he hadn't expected to not see any of them at all until after his powers came back. She had told him that they had probably been under orders to keep their distance if they came to the world of the living for any reason, and not interfere in his life now that it had returned to more or less normal. That didn't take much of the sting out of it for him though.

Unfortunately she hadn't been able to return the favour and open up to him about herself. It wasn't that she didn't want to, she did and it was another sign of the strength of her attraction to him, but she simply couldn't break that ingrained habit. Not yet.

Another of the hard lessons she had to learn as heir to her clan's leadership was that revealing too much about herself was dangerous in the world of clan politics. Opponents would take any advantage they thought they could, any piece of information, no matter how small, was something that could be used against her. Her Onmitsukido training only reinforced that, ingraining that type of behaviour even deeper into her mind. As a result she rarely ever gave up anything about herself to anyone.

Even so, she found that she wanted to share that part of herself with him, the part no one else saw or knew. Maybe, if this went where she hoped it would go then she could trust him with the details of her life, with her secrets and her fears.

A month or so into their training they began to go out at least a couple of nights a week afterwards just to relax and unwind a bit. It was nothing too heavy, just a walk around the city, or a sit down at a small coffee shop. Just something where they could enjoy each others company outside of the blood and sweat of training and relax. Tonight had been no different than any other night in the two months since then.

Well, except for how the evening ended at least.

There had been no advanced planning on her part to get him into the sack, not a thought of it even. It had just been like any other evening when they went out after training. He was dressed like any average teenaged boy, sneakers, cargo pants, and a t-shirt, she wore sandals and jeans and a burgundy long sleeved blouse with only the middle three buttons done up, leaving her navel and her cleavage exposed. Made him blush.

As they walked they got the usual stares they always seemed to. Other guys jealous of him, girls jealous of her, and more than a few adults looking rather disapprovingly at the obvious age gap between them. If they only knew, and that had been one of her own major head versus heart arguments. But, when you were talking about an age gap that spanned centuries, it pretty much made the whole thing moot.

They had strolled through the shopping district, did a little window shopping and drank coffee at a little café they had discovered on their second outing. It was a good place to relax and talk or just watch the people go by. Relaxing was something else he needed to learn how to do because he was just too wound up and tense most of the time. He spent all of his time worrying about protecting everyone else and took no time for himself. He was a burnout case just waiting to happen.

She leaned her head back against the door frame and closed her eyes, letting the rest of the evening replay through her head.

He walked her home like he always did, which was kind of funny because if there was one woman in Karakura who was the least in need of an escort it was her. Still, she let him and didn't even tease him over it because she thought it was rather cute.

That and she kind of liked it.

After saying goodnight and as he went to leave, she acted spontaneously. She grabbed him by the neck and pulled him down to her and kissed him. Not a hungry, lust filled kiss, but a gentle lingering one that let him know that she was serious and not just playing with him. She didn't want to scare him off.

Predictably he went stiff as a board, shocked out of his head. She thought at one point he was going to pull away from her, which would have really messed her head up right at that moment, but he didn't. Finally the tension bled out of him and he let it happen.

She stopped and looked at his face and his eyes. He was shocked, stunned, and confused, and his cheeks were as red as she had ever made them before. He looked a little bit like a deer caught in the headlights of an approaching car, and his eyes kept flicking from hers to her lips.

"Yoruichi…" he managed to say in little more than a whisper.

She kissed him again and this time there was no resistance. "Your first one?" she asked. He nodded. "Sorry I didn't ask first."

"You're not just…teasing me are you?" The embarrassment of the question was evident in his voice, and there was a hint of something there that made her think he wanted this to be serious. She was hopeful anyway.

"No," she answered. A sense of relief crossed his face. "As much as I enjoy teasing you, I would never tease you like that. And I wouldn't kiss you just for the hell of it. I'm serious."

He didn't seem to know what to do next. Poor boy was so out of his element that she actually felt sorry for him. He had spent so much of his young life worrying about protecting the people he cared for, making sure he didn't lose them like he had lost his mother, that he hadn't let himself live the same kind of life as other people his age.

She grasped his hand and led him up to the apartment and inside. Lights on, shoes off, keys tossed on the table and she was glued to his lips again, backing him up against the kitchen counter. She knew she was overwhelming him, she could almost taste his fears as she felt his body tremble ever so slightly against hers, but that first kiss she had given him had lit the fire inside of her and it was heating up fast.

He was trying to return the kiss, but it wasn't working until she placed her hands on either side of his face, gently pushing in just the right spots to get him to relax enough so that his facial muscles weren't so tense. He let her hands and her lips coach him to what she wanted and soon it was feeling much more natural.

Keeping her lips to his, she grabbed the front of his shirt with both hands and back walked out of the kitchen, past the sitting room, down the hall past the water closet and the shower room and into her bedroom, pulling him along as she went. They were there before he even realized where she had led him to. She had already begun to pull his shirt off and he was stuttering and stammering under the tangle of cotton fabric, trying to make his mouth work.

"Don't you want to?" she asked as she discarded the shirt and let her hands rest on his muscular chest. The fear of him saying no that tinged her voice wasn't faked to try and goad him. It was very much real. She was afraid she had pushed too hard and was scaring him off, or that maybe he really didn't want to do this with her.

"It…it's not that," he rasped, his eyes unable to meet hers. "I…I've never done this before."

A sense of relief washed over her. "It's okay," she assured him, kissing his chest for emphasis. "It's been a couple of lifetimes since the last time I did it myself." The look on his face turned somewhat incredulous. She smirked. "Hey, I know the way I act around you might say differently, but I'm not a promiscuous woman Ichigo."

She ran her hands up his chest to his shoulders then let her fingernails trail down his arms until she reached his hands. She grasped them in hers.

"I took off your shirt, it's only fair if you take off mine."

She smirked to herself. He was the hero of the Winter War, he could take on powerful Arrancar and even Aizen himself, but he was intimidated by the thought of touching her and hesitant in his actions. She led him through it, not pushing him too much for fear of scaring him away. It had been a very long time since she had been with anyone and the feel of his sword calloused hands nervously stroking her skin inflamed her desires more than she thought it would. It wasn't like before she couldn't take any more and more or less threw him on the bed.

Neither of them lasted too long, which she expected. She collapsed on top of him, her vision swimming with black spots for a moment until she could suck in enough air. She could feel his muscular chest rapidly rising and falling against hers, could feel their hearts practically thumping against one another.

She raised up to look in his eyes and found him looking back at her in wonderment. He pushed back her long hair which had fallen over them like a waterfall when she collapsed on him. He kissed her. She felt like it was the purest, most sincere thing she had ever experienced and it left her momentarily stunned.

He wrapped his arms around her and they rolled to her left, his now softening member finally escaping her vice-like hold. They lay there like that for a while, the fatigue from the days training and from the intensity of their lovemaking slowly lulling them towards sleep.

He whispered something in her ear as he went under the sandman's spell.

"I love you, Yoruichi."

His words before dozing off were the reason she hadn't been able to sleep. She hadn't returned the sentiment, not because she didn't feel the same, she did, she could honestly admit to herself now that she loved him. She hadn't responded because she had been shocked to hear him say it.

She didn't think it was because he had been caught in the moment of losing his virginity either. She knew him well enough to know that he didn't say serious things like that lightly and he wouldn't say it if he didn't mean it. For him to say something like that, he had to really mean it.

Even so, she knew they would have to talk about it for her to be completely sure. She was caught somewhere between angst and near giddy elation. Both feelings were out of the ordinary for her, at least at the intensity levels she was experiencing right now.

What she did know was that she did indeed love him and that if he truly did love her, she knew she would be able to entrust her heart to him. It was about time that she did, time that she finally opened herself up to someone and she knew that he would never betray her heart, never break it. He wasn't the type.

She already knew the lengths he would go to just to protect people he considered to be his friends. For someone he loved…she would really hate to be on the wrong side of that fight.

She looked back to the bed again. She knew that she would do the same for him, she would protect him, heart, body and soul because she was his, and he was hers. She couldn't remember when the last time was she felt this happy or that something felt so right to her.

She stood and walked back over to the bed and looked down at her young lover. Even with everything that he had been through, the battles he had fought, the pain he had endured, he looked so innocent as he slept. Even his trademark scowl was absent for once. She smirked, there was teasing material there.

'That's right, I'm so damn good that I fucked that scowl right off his face'.

She could hardly wait for a chance to use that one.

She laid back down beside him, brushing a stray strand of orange hair aside and watching him for a few minutes before finally closing her eyes.

"I love you too Ichigo," she whispered.

The dim green numbers of the digital clock on the dresser read 6:00 am when Ichigo began to drift back into consciousness. He felt a momentary sense of alarm at the unfamiliar nature of his surroundings. Realization and reality soon came crashing into him though when he spied brown skin and purple hair out of the corner of his eye.

He was in Yoruichi's apartment.

He was in her bed. Naked, with an equally bare Yoruichi asleep beside him.

They'd had sex.

Yoruichi Shihoin.


Ichigo Kurosaki.

He had had sex with the freaking Goddess of Flash!

He didn't know whether to panic or get up and do the Snoopy dance.

He took a deep breath to gather his thoughts and calm himself down. It had all happened so fast and he wasn't entirely sure if it had all caught up to him yet. He had been taken completely by surprise, it was like he had been swept up by a wave and pulled out to sea and had just woke up on a deserted beach, wondering what the hell had happened.

That kiss had paralyzed him and he was pretty sure that if she had said good night and went inside right after that, he would still be standing out there right now with his mouth hanging open like an idiot.

And that said nothing about everything that had transpired afterward. The whole experience had kicked open the door to a well hidden little secret room deep within his heart. A place where he kept a secret, a truth that he didn't even want to reveal to himself, something that he had done his utmost to hide and bury away. He was afraid of it and what acknowledging its existence could mean for him in terms of potential pain and heartache.

He was in love with Yoruichi.

The fear and pain potential wasn't associated with being rejected by her, he had had no intention of even letting her know. The fear had been born out of his mother's death. The fear that if he got close to someone, that if he loved someone, they would be taken away from him like his mother had been. That it would be his fault for not protecting them, just like he couldn't protect his mother, and that there would be another hole ripped in his heart at the loss.

So he had resolved to bury his feelings for her deep inside. So deep that it would seem like they didn't even exist at all. It worked to a degree. He had never been the most observant when it came to the opposite sex anyway, he had other things on his mind after all, like his all consuming need to protect everyone he cared about and worrying about how he was going to do it. It had been easy most of the time to keep the feelings hidden with that as his concentration point.

It had come flaring back to him though as he saw her, Kisuke, and his father fight Aizen while he was tied up with Ichimaru. His heart nearly leapt out of his throat when he saw them all go down and saw her unconscious and draped over the top of a broken concrete wall. The despair he had already been feeling only became worse.

He re-established that isolation of his feelings towards her after he lost his powers. He kept himself at arms length from most people, including his friends because he could no longer protect them as he once did. Since trouble seemed to never be too far behind him, it was better that way.

He kept Yoruichi and the bunch at the Shoten even farther away. While he had grown used to the madness of the place, even missed it a little, it would be a bad idea to go there. It would make the reality of his lost powers even more vivid than it already was and he was far too likely to run into Yoruichi there.

When his powers came back though, it was the only logical place to go. He had thought a lot about it in the months before they returned, but he had decided that if they did he would go ask to be trained in the skills he knew he so badly needed. And he thought he had succeeded in burying his feelings for her so deeply that they wouldn't come to the surface again.

Boy, had he ever been wrong about that. They came roaring back almost as soon as he laid eyes on her.

The training was hard, she instructed him, then drove him, challenged him, until each move and each technique was burned into both his brain and his body, turning them into instinctive motions. She teased the hell out of him too, just like she always had. Oddly enough he found that he had actually missed it.

There had to have been something there, something different in the way she looked at him or the way she spoke to him. Typically for him if there was he had missed it entirely, even when she suggested that they start going out now and then after training. Learning how to relax was part of his training too she had told him.

Looking back on it now, he saw just how comfortable, how seemingly natural things had become between them. So much so that he began to open up to her about himself. His feelings for her would always be unrequited, he was sure of that, but they were still friends and he had come to trust her a great deal.

He wanted to know more about her but he never pressed too hard about it. She never seemed to want to talk about her own past very much and realistically it wasn't any of his business. If she wanted to tell him anything, she would, if not, that was okay too.

There had been no signs of anything being different last night, at least none that were obvious enough for him to see. Then all of a sudden she was kissing him and he was scared as hell.

He had never thought much about his first kiss, and certainly not that it would be with Yoruichi, and that she would be serious about it.

He had been at a complete loss as to what to do, but she seemed to be okay with leading the way. As nervous as he was, he wasn't going to fight it. He felt like an idiot though but she didn't seem to mind that she had to guide him through everything. And he knew he had been shaking, that was as embarrassing as not knowing what to do, but she never said a thing about it, didn't even tease him about it.

He had seen her naked enough times due to her teasing transformations, but it was a whole different thing here, it had been like he was really seeing her body, seeing her, for the first time. Actually touching her, and intimately so, had nearly blown his mind. The difference was like night and day.

He turned his head and looked at her as she peacefully slept beside him, turned toward him and lying on her side. He could admit it, he was in awe of her. She was so beautiful, everything about her, the way she looked, the sound of her voice, even her name. Yoruichi Shihoin had a beautiful sound to it.

He let his eyes travel over her. There was not a mark or a flaw anywhere on her soft, brown skin. Even the large tattoo on her left thigh didn't seem out of place. The long purple hued hair that trailed down her back and was splayed on the pillow around her was almost like silk and seemed to shine in the moonlight.

Her body was tight and compact, a highly tuned machine of flesh and blood, yet she still had soft, graceful curves in all the right places. He suddenly realized just how small she was. It had never hit him before, but she was a good seven or eight inches shorter than he was and she'd be lucky if she hit a hundred pounds. But he knew the power that was within that small package, he had seen her toss Yammy around like a rag doll, saw her fight against Aizen, yet something told him that he had not seen anything even close to her full power on display.

He looked to her face, seeing her soft lips parted ever so slightly as she slept. His body tingled from

his neck to his manhood at the remembrance of every place those lips had touched him. He raised his hand to his neck and felt the lump where she had left her mark. He'd have a tough time keeping that hidden, but then he was pretty sure she had known that when she did it. His old man would be all over him of course, never mind his sisters or any one else, but he found that he didn't even care.

He thought of those beautiful golden eyes. They always seemed to draw his attention. There was something about the way they seemed to shine, especially when she had that crooked 'cat that ate the canary' grin on her face. Even the intensity in them when she was serious or angry seemed to grab hold of him.

And then there was the way they had connected to his as they had sex. It was like she had been looking directly into his soul, like she had captured it with just those eyes alone. Maybe she had. He was hers now if she wanted him, he just hoped he hadn't blown it with what he said before he dozed off.

"I love you, Yoruichi."

She had said she was serious, but did she love him? Would she think that he really meant it, or that it was just the infatuated uttering of a boy who just got his cherry popped by a woman he found to be the most beautiful thing he had laid eyes on?

She hadn't answered his declaration and he was worried about it. He knew his feelings for her were true, he didn't just have a crush and it wasn't a temporary infatuation. The feelings were deep enough that it had allowed him to resist his fears of letting someone get close to his heart. He could have turned tail and ran last night but his feelings for her were strong enough that he resisted it.

"I meant what I said Yoruichi," he whispered to the sleeping goddess beside him. "I love you. I did even before this. I didn't think I had a chance and I was too afraid to let someone get that close to me."

"You've got more than a chance Ichigo," she said softly and sincerely as her golden eyes opened and met his.

"I-I thought you were asleep!"

"Hard to sleep when your reiatsu suddenly goes from calm to all anxious," she chided gently.

"Sorry," he sheepishly apologized.

She moved over him until her upper body covered his. She certainly did love to feel the lean muscles of his chest against hers, and she was pretty sure he wasn't upset that her breasts were squashed against him.

She slid her left hand up his right arm to his shoulder, and let her right hand stray into his hair, her fingers lazily stroking his scalp. She kissed him, just the way she did the night before. She pulled back just enough to look into his eyes, her lips very nearly still in contact with his.

"Look in my eyes and tell me Ichigo." She practically breathed the words into him.

She felt his body tense momentarily, saw the tension around his eyes as they remained locked onto one another. It left as quickly as it came and his eyes never wavered from hers.

"I love you Yoruichi."

She captured his lips again, the kiss long and deep this time and returned by him with equal fervour. She met his eyes again and as she looked deeply into them, she knew that any reservations she had had about this, any attempts to deny her heart what it wanted had been a foolish waste of time.

"I love you too Ichigo."

As their lips came together again she felt like her admission had suddenly altered her somehow, like a weight she didn't know she was carrying had suddenly fallen away. Actually it wasn't just her admission that had caused a change, hearing him tell her that he loved her had done something as well. It came from seeing the honesty in his eyes, the truth of his words being reflected there for her to plainly see.

His honest, heartfelt admission had gone straight to the core of her being and warmed it, giving her a feeling deep, deep inside that she had never felt before. It wasn't that she had never known love before in her life, she had, but this was something so much more meaningful and it struck her so deeply that she wasn't sure if she could properly put it into words, or even give it an adequate explanation for her rational mind to grasp and examine.

For Ichigo, he was feeling much the same way. To him it was like she had turned to liquid and seeped down into the cracks and crevices that made up his surface, finding her way inside and flowing into his heart and sealing the hole that had been torn open there.

In their own ways, they had locked their hearts away from the world. His heart had been locked away by a tragedy that wouldn't allow him to let anyone back in. No one had been able to open that lock and get inside and he had tried to fill that broken space with his need to protect. If he kept everyone safe, kept all of his friends and his family from harm, then maybe one day that ragged hole would close.

Her heart had been locked away by her own choice, shut off from others by the necessity of a noble's life and all it entailed. Locked away to protect it from the falseness of the declarations of others who only sought the power that was attached to her name. She would sooner hide her heart away than let it be scarred by lies and used for someone else's gain.

The weight of her duties and the time they consumed had made it easy to ignore anything her heart wanted. Like Ichigo, she was still capable of compassion and she had some great friends who meant the world to her and she would do anything for them, but there was never that one person who could open the lock she had sealed her heart with. And after so much time, it felt as if it was rusted shut.

Now those respective locks were shattered and had turned to dust. Her heart was warming to the reality of being loved by someone who meant it, someone who would never try to use her for his own gain, someone who would instead guard her heart and protect it at all costs. His heart was healing, the ragged tear in it being mended by someone who didn't need his protection, though she would have it anyway. Someone who had already done so much for him, someone he had learned to trust in a way he had never trusted anyone else.

He wrapped his left arm around her shoulders and laid his right hand against the small of her back. He couldn't get enough of this feeling, the heat of her body and her skin against his. This intelligent, insanely strong, beautiful woman could have anyone she wanted, but he was the one she was with and she said that he was the one she loved.

She broke their kiss and smiled at him. "Feels pretty good doesn't it?" she asked. "Having someone to hold and someone to hold you."

"It does," he agreed. "Better than I ever imagined it would."

"And the sex?" she teasingly asked. Predictably his face turned red. He was so adorable when he was embarrassed.

"I had no idea it would feel like that," he answered with no small amount of awe in his quite response. "Sorry I wasn't better at it though. And I feel like kind of a dork that you had to guide me through so much."

"No one is an expert their first time," she said. "Or their first several times," she added, getting his face to turn an even brighter shade of red as that thought sunk in. "I expected you to be nervous and I didn't expect either of us to last very long. No need to feel bad about anything Ichigo, it's all part of the experience." She gave him that infamous smirking look of hers. "Besides, you'll get plenty of practice."

She didn't think it was possible for him to turn that shade of red. Hmm, Strawberry indeed. Maybe she should let up a little before he burst a blood vessel.

"I just hope you're not upset with me for pretty much dragging you along," she said, a more serious tone to her voice. "I took your first kiss and then I took your first time. I didn't exactly ask or give you a whole lot of chance to say no."

"I'm glad it happened the way it did," he said honestly. "Because things would have stayed exactly the same otherwise. There's no way I ever would have been able to tell you how I felt about you on my own. I kept trying to convince myself that burying what I felt was for the best."

"And I kept coming up with reasons to convince myself it was all wrong," she said. "But in the end I guess both of our hearts got what they wanted."

"Glad they did."

She stifled a yawn and leaned her forehead against his. "Let's have the rest of this conversation later. I'm still tired and it is way too early to be awake yet. Especially when neither of us has anything to do or anywhere to be."

"No argument from me," he said. He was still plenty tired himself and it wasn't often that he got to sleep in.

She slid her body off of his so that most of her weight was back on the bed, though she remained close. Her body was still turned to his and her right arm was draped over him. He laid his left hand over hers.

"Don't think I'm going to take it easy on you now in your training," she warned with a smirk. "If anything I'll be twice as hard on you now." She ran a finger across one of the scars on his chest. "Don't want you getting too many more of these."

The words of protest on his lips died when she said that last part. He knew that she lived by the axiom that the more you bled in training, the less you bled in combat. He couldn't argue with that. And it was her way of saying that she didn't want him getting seriously hurt.

"So that means that you'll be sweating just as much as I will be, right Kitty-sensei?" he smirked back.

She laughed. "Kitty-sensei…I like that. And yes I will be sweating just as much as you, especially since I know you like seeing me all wet like that." She gave his once again blushing cheek a quick kiss. "Besides, it's past time that I got myself back into the kind of shape I was in when I led the Onmitsukido and the Second Division."

For a moment it seemed almost like he stopped breathing.

"She's going to kill me isn't she?" he asked. It took her a moment to catch what he meant. "When she finds out about us Sui-Feng is going to hunt me down and kill me in my sleep."

Now there was a problem she hadn't thought about. "Don't worry, I'll handle my Little Bee." An evil little grin crossed her lips. "Who knows, maybe I can convince to her join us for a threesome."

Three, two, one.


Just like that, new teasing material. "She is cute don't you think?"

"Yeah, like a nest of angry hornets is cute!"

"Especially when she gets all nervous and blushes," she continued, ignoring him. "Just like you."

"I wouldn't know. And I am not cute!"

"Wouldn't you like to see her naked, tight little body laying on the other side of you?"

"Can't hear you. Sleeping." And the pitch of his voice did not go up when he said it.

"Ooh, I can talk to her at the next SWA meeting. Wait until they all hear that I'm the one who landed you."

"Evil cat-woman," he muttered. "And I thought you loved me."

"Hmmm…maybe some of them will want to join us too."

"That's it, I'm having Kisuke open a garganta and I'm spending the week in Hueco Mundo!"

"Oh, want to go and see if your friend Nel has returned to adult size yet?" she teased in a horribly suggestive tone of voice.

"I thought you wanted to go back to sleep?"

"Fine," she sighed with great exaggeration. "Besides, if your face gets any redder you'll have a stroke, my perverted little Strawberry."

He wanted to protest that. She was the damn pervert, but if he said it then this would go on forever and he would only get dragged in deeper and deeper. And he really did want to get a little more sleep.

He just knew that as soon as he did he was going to see himself and her, and Sui-Feng, and the whole SWA (hopefully minus Yachiru because that was just fricking wrong), and Nel, all piled together in a sweaty, sticky, slippery mass. Hell, why not throw in Kukaku, Rukia, Orihime and Tatsuki too.

Oh doom on him.

"Sweet dreams," she drawled knowingly as she cuddled up to him.

'Evil, evil, evil little neko demon,' he thought. He smiled. 'But she's my evil little neko demon.'

AN: Personally I think it turned out pretty well. I hope you all enjoyed it and I hope you leave a review.

I also included and omake, first time I have ever done one and I had to do something with this idea, it just wouldn't leave me alone.


It was after midday when Ichigo was finally on his way home. There was a spring in his step and a smile on his face that only a recently deflowered teenaged boy was capable of. It had been a long time since he had felt so good and so carefree, it was great.

As he neared the door, he finally snapped out of it and went on alert. Quietly grasping the door handle he turned it, then in a burst of action shoved the door open and then quickly shut it again. He was rewarded with a loud crashing thump against the door and a cry of pain.

He met resistance as he opened the door again, his crazy father was lying in a crumpled heap in the entry way. As he pushed the door open he gracelessly shoved him out of the way with it.

"Well done…Ichigo," the crumpled form of his father managed to speak.

"Crazy old man," Ichigo muttered.

"Ichi-nii," Yuzu's worried voice chimed in. "I was so worried when you didn't come home."

"Sorry," he apologized. "I should have called. Training ran late and I was tired so I decided to sleep over." He hated to lie to her about what he had been doing, but he wasn't about to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak.

"Don't lie to your darling little sister you hoodlum!" Isshin nearly shouted as he suddenly appeared beside Ichigo, good as new after slamming into the door. "I know what you were doing and I have evidence to prove it!"

Ichigo felt something suddenly get yanked out of his back pocket. Much to his horror he now had the sight of his father prancing around like a monkey, waving around a pair of black, lace panties. He thought back to not a half hour ago when he left Yoruichi's apartment. As they kissed before he left she had shoved her hand in his back pocket. He thought she had just been copping a feel, but apparently she had been giving him a little parting gift…and anticipating his usual confrontation with his nut bar father.

Evil little neko demon indeed.

"Out stealing women's panties Ichi-nii?" Karin drawled.

He nearly choked. "No! I was not out stealing panties!"

"Haha! Your idiot brother has finally become a man then!" Isshin proudly proclaimed.

Yuzu was wide eyed. "Y-you spent the night with a woman? Oh Ichi-nii how could you?"

"Huh," Karin mused. "I would have believed the panty thief bit to be more likely than you getting laid Ichigo."

"WHAT!" He was surrounded by evil. And crazy.

Isshin wrapped his arm around his shoulders. "And you have a nice hickey there too my son. And just how did you get that eh?" he asked in his usual goofy manner.

Ichigo smirked. Time for a little payback. "Got bit by a cat." He turned and looked his father in the eye. "A little. Black. Cat."

Isshin seemed to freeze. His eyes went wide and his mouth gaped open like a gasping fish. "Y…you mean…you…and Yoruichi…"

Ichigo just grinned like the aforementioned cat.

Isshin looked at the lacy lingerie in his hand, then back at his son. "It's not fair!" he shouted, and took off running.

"Hey!" Ichigo yelled as he took off after his lunatic father. "Give those back."

Yuzu went after them, trying to get them to stop, red faced all the while over what they were fighting over and just how Ichigo got them.

Karin just shook her head. She spotted something out of the corner of her eye and turned to see a little black cat sitting on the windowsill.

She never knew a cat could smile like that.

Again, if you want the lemon version go to:

5Horse dot deviantart dot com

I like the lemon version better myself, it makes the story feel more complete.