A/N: Reviewers from the epilogue of "SIW": Sky Dragon155, Thunder Claw03, XIce-and-SnowX, Dashita Tichou, Timaeus5000, Infinite Dragon, shie0917, Shiso no Kistune, MaN610v3r, masterboly, bcsaturdai, Twan, Eradona, muzikchic4eva, Emerald Tsukino, dbz wrting for fun, dragonlord1337, DBZFTW, paradox-otaku, hitsugayatoshirou1220, Lalaith Quetzalli, Poisonfish, TruantPony, Assault Godzilla, Nightkill, KitElizaKing, darklover, theaCoi, Chichita, hollownature, SilverStella, Kaoru Kato, BlondeEmo, boby137, 1290r5, Rukia's Reflection, Carrie96235, OPrincess ShinigamiO, strawberryshini, curio cherry, megasayangoku, Dragon and Sword Master, kurukurupa, novicestar, UraharafanDXDXD, Black Sun Upon An Icy Sky, and TheCresantMoonWolf. Also thanks to ChocolateMarshmallows for his/her review of chapter twelve. Thank you to everyone who put "SIW" on their lists and put myself on an "Author Alert."
I said there'd be a sequel and here it is. Just some things you may want to have on hand throughout the story: tissues, a glass of water, a comfortable seat that you can't fall out of, and ear plugs for everyone else around you.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Bleach characters, manga, anime, movies, etc. They belong by copyright laws to Tite Kubo et al.
The Kurosaki Affair
The More Things Change
Ichigo Kurosaki, brand new resident at Karakura Hospital and heir to the Soul Society's royal throne, was late for work. The tall, muscular man that had women swooning and men envious of his looks and physique was going to be late for his first day because he couldn't find his "favorite" tie. If his sisters had been around they would have told him to just grab another and get going but this particular piece of fabric was special. Despite the revolting shade of pink, Ichigo had promised the person who had given it to him that he would wear it; and he never broke his word. Even if he had been so inclined, the person who had given it to him was a petite, raven haired Shinigami. Said Shinigami could hit harder than just about anyone he knew (living or dead) and Ichigo was not about to test the theory that since she wasn't in the World of the Living at the moment, she would never know that he hadn't worn the disgusting, obnoxious tie that she'd had Ishida make for him as a birthday present one year. He'd thought it was a gag gift but one look at the serious, violet eyes had told him differently.
The daiko still had the bruise on his shin for the crack he'd made. He'd been told, in an utterly Kuchiki tone of voice that since they didn't make Chappy the Rabbit designs in silk, she'd had to compromise and just go with the color. To this day, he was thankful that neither she nor Ishida had managed to find the finest silk in the world dyed with the heinous cartoon creature.
Not that it had been for lack of trying, he remembered. The Quincy had confided later that same day that Rukia had made him use all of his connections to try to find some fabric per her specifications. Luckily every fabric supplier he knew had laughed at the mere suggestion that such a kid's favorite would appear on superior goods. The archer might be a pain in his ass on occasion, but he did watch his back. Not even Ishida could stomach making, or even looking at perfectly good silk patterned after a cartoon that by all rights should have ended as soon as it began.
"Where is that damn tie?" Ichigo shouted, frustrated. Standing up, he ran his hands through his hair, undoing all of the good that his comb had managed. Glancing at his watch, he swore again. "Screw this; I don't have time to look for it again." Pulling out a more sedate and professional looking tie, Ichigo made to go to the door of their bedroom when a familiar and particularly angry reiatsu hit him.
"Looking for something?" Rukia asked, smiling grimly when he froze and turned to look at her in resignation. Dangling from her dainty fingers was his tie. She swung it negligently before coming to stand on the bed near the window.
"Where'd you find that?"
"Kon had it," she answered, motioning for him to come over so that she could put it on him.
"Damn stuffed mod soul. I knew I shouldn't have left him alone in our room." Ichigo warily let her put it on him, something she had gotten good at over the years. "So, when did you get back?" he asked, clearing his throat nervously.
"Just now. Ukitake-taicho gave me a week off." Rukia adjusted the knot and contemplated how tightly she should make the tie.
"Welcome home," he said softly, leaning down to kiss her as much in welcome as in the hope that she would forget that he'd been about to leave her precious gift at home.
"Thank you," she said. Grinning meaningfully, the to-be-queen tightened the fabric until her fiancé gagged. "It's good to be back," she finished, watching him choke while he tried to loosen the tie before he passed out.
Looking at the imp that was the woman he loved, Ichigo pulled the noose from his neck and sighed. "You didn't have to strangle me."
"Be grateful I didn't kick you this time," she said with smirk.
"There is that." Giving her one last kiss, he picked up his car keys and wallet before heading out the door. Years might have passed since Rukia Kuchiki came back into his life, but Ichigo Kurosaki sometimes felt like it was just yesterday.
She still preferred to greet him with physical abuse rather than affection.