So I'm a little pissed. In the previous chapter, when Ichigo says "!", he is supposed to be repeating what Byakuya said in one string. FF keeps pulling this out when I try to fix it. Screw the stupid formatting bullcrap.

New laptop gets here tomorrow! Bought the HP dv6-6190us, aka the one of the best 15.6" laptops available right now. It's got an i7, 7200RPM 750GB HDD, 2GB ATi 6770, 8GB RAM, 1080p screen, and Blu-Ray. Got it for $850USD, plus a free xbox 360, not telling how ;D. I just bought my wife an HP g4t so that's what I'm writing on today.

Anyway, I was super happy that you all reviewed, so I'm just gonna dive into responses. Just so y'all know: If you gave me constructive criticism, I take it to heart, and I really love when you pick my brain with reviews. Also, be aware that I soft-edit these chapters – all I do is remove glaring errors, I don't put the effort into editing that I would put into a college assignment or a published article. I simply do not have the time. Please PM or email me if you would like to beta for me, but be aware that I'll want to use email and not FF's system.

CHAP 1 REVIEW RESPONSES

Rukia's Reflection: Thanks! I was worried about people's reception of this fic and I'm glad so many like it!

HitsuxHina54KidxLiz: Other couples are coming, one besides IchiRuki is pretty obvious already I think.

Timeofknight: I updated before my lappy got fixed! I like their friendship too, and in other fics down the line I may focus more on that. The purpose of this fic is to give everyone a nice big IchiRuki fluff fix, but I'm slowing down the pacing starting with this chapter.

Azraelean: He ended up fine, luckily!

daiyana: I agree, I initially struggled with killing off Ichigo but I've always wanted to haha. I really appreciate you putting the effort in to read and review a story not in your own language!

Couple of Luck: Actually, in Bleach canon, I agree with you. I think feelings are there but neither of them realize it. But a guy can dream, right?

Thmarth: By now, you know why Isshin was smiling ;). I'm so glad you enjoy my writing!

Chappy1000: Does he try to have you executed because of personal guilt too?

Mdizzle181: Thanks!

Dbz wrting for fun: Glad to see you think so, and I took care of the comp, because I can't live without it!

DarkJason: Yeah, every August something terrible happens to me. Glad you like my stories!

Hitsugayatoshirou1220: Thanks, and I did!

Laughingspider: Good to hear, and you're welcome!

LeftHRyder: I love putting Ichi on the spot! And dressing Byakuya was oddly enjoyable, I think he would look badass in real world clothes, and no he had no idea what he was advertising :P. You'll see Soul Society's reaction soon enough, and things are definitely going to different.

French Kiss on a Subway Train: As I was drafting chapter 1, I felt that the style had improved and decided to cut After the War to a prequel. Ichigo is rather soft but on the other hand his world has just been rocked pretty hard, with getting his powers back and seeing Rukia again. He'll be pretty badass in this story though so don't worry. My biggest worry is actually writing an OOC Rukia, as her character changes so much depending on who she's with. (There's Rukia Kuchiki, Ichigo's Rukia, Schoolgirl Rukia, Battle Rukia, I feel like they could release a figuring line.) Thanks for the review and the encouragement.

Kreion: Thanks, I love writing Byakuya.

Deyoki: Your wish is my command!

Killercloud: Gotta watch out for those cliffs! Glad you liked it! I explained why Ichigo's hollow is so active last chapter.

Yami-no-Tamashii: By now you know what Isshin had up his sleeve! Yeah, the cliffie was cliché. I actually wanted to combine chaps 1 and 2, but 2 took a lot of writing and revising before I got it right.

CHAP 2 REVIEW RESPONSES (Damn, this is a lot of reviews!)

If you have a dollar sign next to your name, it means you are a review pimp for reviewing every chapter (so far) of this story. That is your pimp money. Congratulations.

Zangetsu50: It seems so!

Rexiebones: I expected a lot of hate for that decision, glad you liked it!

NORA: Thank you, and here's your update!

[$] dbz wrting for fun: I think he's a nice guy inside too! And yes, the reviews have made me update!

OPrincess ShinigamiO: Reactions are coming soon!

LazyToLogin: Yeah, Byakuya making Ichigo bow had me laughing when I thought of it. Lots of other pairings are coming. Stay tuned :D

Moonlightrurouni: Glad you liked it. Eww Ichihime! Haha just kidding. And yeah, Bya-kun's a teddy bear.

[$] hitsugayatoshirou1220: Yeah, Isshin's about to get his ass handed to him!

Jabamaca: Your review made me laugh. I read it at work. Awkward.

[$] DarkJason: Glad you like my interpretation of his character!

[$] HitsuxHina54KidxLiz: I laughed so much writing this story, glad you laughed reading it!

[$] LeftHRyder: Reactions will be soon, but it has to be made official first! Isshin and Byakuya are a blast to write, they really are.

[$] Yami-no-Tamashii: Yeah what the hell Japan, having holidays? I can't wait till next week! A lot of people had potential spit-takes when Byakuya revealed that little fact, good times. Isshin are Urahara are gonna get rocked. And I'm surprised no one else picked up on the family name discrepancy and its potential importance…

[$] Rukia's Reflection: Not gonna lie, I have had Aizen nightmares…although they were really never scary, just really arrogant. Glad you like Byakuya!

: I was pretty proud of that ending, I love that quote and I love Isshin and Urahara's plans going wrong!

Yoshizo Kurochi: Gotta love goat-chin!

Wolflovers6: When I came up with that I creeped myself out. I loved writing that scene, I've had that planned since the beginning of After the War.

Random: Thanks!

[$] chappy1000: JUMP makes me mad with their non-western holidays. Yeah, I mean the guy took in a girl from Rukongai and married her so he's gotta be pretty swell. When I first saw the ByaHis scene in the anime (I watched the anime before getting to that point in the manga, but now I mostly only read the manga), I knew I loved Byakuya.

AllieOutOfWonderland: I really tried to keep from writing drawn out chapters where nothing really happens. I wrote the first couple chapters with very quick pacing because the focus of this story is Ichigo and Rukia being almost forced into a relationship, almost a play on how they randomly end up making out randomly because she calls him an idiot. As for the pacing, I really did want to have something between chapters one and two but I was drawing a blank, and I do think I screwed myself a bit with ending chapter one the way I did. I am gonna slow it down from here. Ichigo and Rukia aren't in character completely but I knew that would be the case, over the next little while you'll see their portrayal start to normalize as things return to a more "normal" state. I agree that it borderlines on obnoxious, but it's really supposed to be fun and not entirely serious. Somebody who I think gets it really right is KuroKuchiki with Between Me and Thee, which is incredible. I didn't have the dedication or the time to write something like that, so I went more lighthearted and fun with it. Please keep reviewing, I love long reviews :D.

Eradona: Sorry! (but not really!)

Wow, that's a lot of responses. If I can take an hour to respond, you can take a minute to review! Thanks guys!

"Getsuga Tensho!" Yelled Ichigo, sending a blue wave of energy streaked towards his scrambling father and his perverted friends. "I'll kill you for real this time, Dad!"

"Ohhhh, Masaki, our son is so rebellious!"

As Urahara and Yoruichi tried to sneak away, they were stopped by Rukia skidding to a halt in front of them.

"Mae, Sode no Shirayuki!" the petite shinigami called out, and Urahara watched in horror as a glowing white circle formed around himself and his friend, the latter barely covered by a green haori. "Some no mai, Tsukishiro!" Rukia shouted as the glowing pillar narrowly missed the fleeing pair, who crashed right into Isshin, landing in a heap. Rukia smirked, planting her blade in the ground. "Tsugi no mai, Hakuren!"


Ichigo had his arm draped over Rukia's shoulders, her head leaning against his chest, as the two of them watched the sun finally set, giving way to the moonlight that now bathed the Seireitei. Behind them, lit by a pale evening glow, were three very distressed looking exiled shinigami, encased in still-life by a crag of pure ice.


Rukia hopped off of Ichigo's back as the pair returned to the Kuchiki manor. They entered the dining hall, seeing Byakuya with stacks of files and Mina scrambling around cleaning up unused dishes,

"Ah, so the two of you have returned," the captain of the sixth division said as he gestured towards two folders sitting on the table. "Rukia, I have narrowed down your selection to two candidates, as Kurosaki is clearly out of the question judging by your reaction to his proposition."

"Actually, Nii-sama…" the girl gripped her "suitor's" arm possessively. "We've decided to go ahead with the courtship."

Byakuya's lips quirked a bit. "I see. Mina, please dispose of these files."

"Hai, Kuchiki-sama" the nervous young girl grabbed the stack of papers and walked out of the room.

"It's settled, then. The two of you will begin your courtship immediately. As such, some ground rules need to be decided on. Please, sit." The new couple did as they were told, choosing seats next to one a another. "First, there will be no more sharing of your beds." Both youth tried to hide disappointed faces, which Byakuya noticed instantly. "Kurosaki is to take up residence in the fifth division barracks tonight, and a special-case captaincy exam will be held tomorrow." Ichigo looked surprised, not thinking that he would be a captain so soon. Rukia beamed, knowing that he would finally get the respect he deserved, but knew better than to congratulate him while her brother was talking. "Second, the two of you will have outings to get to know each other better. You will be taking Mina along to prevent any…unsavory behavior. Third…" Ichigo groaned inwardly. This is gonna take a while.


Mina hummed to herself as she set the files down in front of the large ornate fireplace. She had always loved fire, it had saved her life many times when she nearly froze to death in the Rukongai. One of those times there had been no fire, and that was when Byakuya Kuchiki had saved her life, bringing in Retsu Unohana to heal her frostbite and housing her in the Kuchiki manor as a servant. All of the servants that Byakuya had "hired" were found in a similar manner, which was why so many were loyal to him. Because of his noble position, and the air of pride that he had to project, this was a secret held only by Byakuya, Unohana, and the servants themselves. Mina smiled as she threw the first file into the crackling flames, then noticed something odd. She opened the next file, and noticed it was blank. Opening the rest, she found that all seventeen folders were full of nothing but blank paper.

There had been no other suitors.

Mina smiled even wider. She wouldn't tell a soul.

Kuchiki-sama…really is a good person.


"…and lastly, your wedding will be held in Soul Society, on the first of September. You may invite any guests from the living world as long as they are already spiritually aware. The engagement will be formally announced after Kurosaki passes his examination tomorrow."

"The first of September!" Ichigo cried, "That's less than two months from now."

Byakuya nodded seriously. "I understand that it's a long time, but you will need to be well-established as a captain before marrying into the Kuchiki clan."

"A LONG TIME! FIVE WEEKS IS NO TIME AT ALL! IN THE LIVING WORLD PEOPLE DATE FOR YEARS!" Ichigo shouted as he stood quickly from his chair.

Byakuya frowned. "That must be torture on the young people, being physically withheld from one another for so long."

Ichigo blushed. "Well, usually…uh, you see…usually they do that before they get married."

Byakuya's frown grew deeper, his eyebrows coming together in anger. "Kurosaki, are you telling me that you wish to engage in premarital relations with my imoto-san?"

Ichigo gave him a contrite look, waving his hands in front of his face. "NO! That's not what I meant at all!"

"I see. Then five weeks is satisfactory?"

Ichigo sighed, shrugging. "I suppose."

Rukia spoke up next. "Nii-sama, I would like Ishida-kun to make the clothing for our ceremony. He is more skilled with a needle than any of the seamstresses in Soul Society."

"That would be acceptable, provided I can see an example of his work beforehand."

Ichigo snickered at Uryuu being compared to "seamstresses", which earned him a bonk on the head from Rukia. He held his head as he kept laughing.

"Uryuu making the clothes? Just how long you been planning this out, shorty?"

"If you must know, the thought may have crossed my mind a time or two." Rukia replied, blushing light pink. "Come on, I'll take you to the fifth division. It's getting late." She turned to her brother. "Thank you, Nii-sama."

"You are welcome. Tomorrow after the exam and the announcement, the two of you may see each other, provided that Mina comes along."

"Later, Bya- umm, Kuchiki-taicho."

"Goodnight, Kurosaki-san."


The next morning, Ichigo was awakened by a familiar, tattooed face.

"Ohayooooo!" Renji yelled sarcastically "Wake up, Captain Strawberry, you have an exam to take!"

"Renji!" Ichigo yelled happily, the two embracing in an awesome bro-hug (AN: I'm tired, haha). "How are you- hey, shouldn't my lieutenant be waking me up?"

Renji frowned. "Hinamori was…not in a good state after Aizen's imprisonment. She's better now, but making her serve under the guy who put that fucker down probably isn't the best idea. They've been keeping the spot open for you, you know. She's serving as Izuru Kira's lieutenant."

"The sad looking guy with the crooked sword?"

"Yep, that's him. So if you pass you have no lieutenant, and really no division, as all the shinigami formerly under Aizen were transferred. Word is that if you pass, you're not getting a division right away; they're just gonna use you as a free agent on missions until the next group of academy students graduates. I guess they knew you were too dumb to teach anyone anything!" Renji snickered, earning himself a tackle from his friend. The two wrestled for a minute before pulling apart, both now laughing.

"You better get to the training grounds, they're gonna start without you." Renji said, and Ichigo flew out the window with a loud "Race you!"

"Hey! That's not fair! Get back here you son of a bitch!"


Ichigo arrived at the first division training grounds just as the Soutaicho was about to announce the day's event. He was seated on a platform at the far end of the rectangular field, with a large crowd on either side and the barracks at the opposite end.

"…and so, we have decided to test Ichigo Kurosaki, hero of the Winter War, for eligibility as captain of the fifth division!"

The gathered shinigami cheered and whooped as Ichigo walked into the practice arena and acknowledged Yamamoto with a slight bow, as Byakuya had instructed him. He looked to his left and saw Rukia standing with Renji in the gathered crowd, the two of them clapping absentmindedly as they talked, Renji looking somewhat bothered. He also saw a few other familiar faces: Toshiro and Rangiku, Hanatoro, and most of the eleventh division.

"And testing young Kurosaki today will be the captain of the sixth division, Byakuya Kuchiki!"

The color drained from Ichigo's face as Byakuya entered from the other side, his mouth set in a grim line. He had not warned Ichigo about this, and all thoughts of what Rukia and Renji might be discussing flew out the window.

Captain Kyoraku approached the pair, lazily holding an arm above his head. "Alright, gentlemen, all limits are removed for this, so feel free to release your bankai." He smiled slightly, "Just don't spill too much blood, ladies are watching…Now, begin!" He dropped his arm and shunpoed away as the two opponents addressed each other.

"Oi, Byakuya, didn't expect to be fighting you today."

"Didn't you listen at all? The captain's exam is not a battle, it is a demonstration of your abilities. I will not be fighting you with killing intent. Injury, on the other hand, is perfectly within our limits." the noble told him, disappearing from the audience's view as he used his favorite technique, Senka, which Ichigo blocked easily.

"That bullshit barely worked on me once, Kuchiki-taicho, don't expect to be able to use –swing- it –slice- again! Getsuga Tensho!" Ichigo yelled as he shot several blue waves from his blade, pushing Byakuya backwards and causing the crowd, many of whom had never seen Ichigo's power, gasp in awe.

"Since you can't control your barbaric reiatsu enough to seal your blade, I'll be releasing mine. Chire, Senbonzakura." Byakuya sent the blossom-like blades flying towards Ichigo in several large swaths, forcing the former daiko to block and giving him several superficial cuts. The crowd cheered, always happy to see some blood spilt. Ichigo jumped backwards, sending several more Getsugas towards Byakuya, who fired several Hado number fours at the younger shinigami. Ichigo deftly dodged, cutting Byakuya shallowly across the shoulder, receiving several loud oohs and ahs from the crowd.

"Clearly fighting at shikai is pointless."

"My thoughts exactly, Byakuya. Bankai! Tensa Zangetsu!"

"Senbonzakura Kageyoshi."

Several weaker shinigami were floored by the sudden release of power, the very atmosphere changing as two of the most powerful shinigami in Soul Society released their blades. Prismatic shimmer swirled around Byakuya like liquid metal, and Ichigo emerged from a cloud of dust wearing a slim-fitting black and red jacket and hakama and holding Tensa Zangetsu in the slim daito form. For good measure he pulled down his hollow mask, eliciting gasps and a few screams from the crowd.

"Let's finish this!" He yelled, firing several black Getsugas in Byakuya's direction, all while expertly dodging the deadly blossoms. He let his hollow mask dissolve and dropped himself in front of the captain, Tensa Zangetsu at the Kuchiki's neck. It was oddly familiar, in a way, though the terms were somewhat more peaceful. The millions of tiny blades holding in midair, ready to crash down on Ichigo were a bit of a change as well. Ichigo looked up, and realized that their fight would have been a draw.

"Enough!" Yamamoto announced, slamming his cane into the ground. "It is clear that Kurosaki has the abilities required of a captain. Seal your swords and come to me!" The two did as they were told (well, Zangetsu was in shikai of course). "Ichigo Kurosaki, welcome to the Gotei Thirteen. You are now to choose your lieutenant."

"Huh?"

"The fifth division is without a lieutenant. Who would you have to fill that office?"

Ichigo looked at Byakuya briefly, receiving a short nod of approval. The boy smiled brightly.

"I choose Rukia Kuchiki."

Said girl approached the platform, accepting Ichigo's hand to pull her up. Yamamoto's lieutenant handed her the armband, and Ichigo his haori, which looked very nearly like Byakuya's. The two donned their new ranks together, the act met by rousing applause.

Okay, that's all I'm doing for now. I don't like the second half of this chapter but it is what it is. I had to write something and that's what I came up with. Next chapter will be way better.

I'm really starting to like my OC Mina, (and I HATE OC's) and I'm thinking of developing her more as a character and even have a pairing in mind for her (No, not Kuchiki-sama). What do you guys think?

I'm challenging myself this week: I want to update at least every other day, which is going to look like a lot of these shorter chapters until I have off work the first half of next week.

I know the fight scene was boring. I felt like I was rewriting chapter 154 (Don't correct me on this, I'm sure I got the number wrong) or whatever it is where we see Ichigo trounce Byakuya. In my mind the captain's exam was more of a ceremonial thing than a real exam, since Ichigo's already proven himself like a bajillion times. So that's why it was so low-energy. Think of it more like a martial arts exhibition than a Tony Jaa movie.

This was really more set-up for the next chapter, which will have the engagement announcement, reactions, and the new fifth division's first mission. I'm really excited for it and if the reviews keep rolling in it will come really soon!

I need sleep. And I still have to insert line breaks. And it's 4:20 AM.

Review please. Or I'll replace your cat with Komamura. And he'll use your cat's litterbox. It will be horrid.

Gahh I need to go to bed.

Until next time,

-Cero