My first longer fanfic! I'm so excited. Read and review please and I will be eternally grateful!

Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach! If I did, IchiRuki would be a reality.

Chapter 1

The shower was running. Byakuya was already up. The smell of his coffee steaming on the countertop in the kitchen, mixed with the soft scent of the shower water, made me blearily open my eyes.

Since he was in the shower- God only knows why he takes so long in the bathroom each morning- I had approximately twenty minutes to eat breakfast, find my clothes, and pack my bag for school before the shower would be available. I would have even longer if Byakuya decided today he needed to style his hair for some executive meeting at his firm.

A picture of my deceased sister Hisana was one of the first things that greeted me once I was fully awake. Her striking face, with its features so similar to mine, smiled at me. My brother had the same picture in his room- my older sister used to be, after all, his wife. Every morning, my routine was the same. I picked up the picture and hugged it to my chest softly, whispered, "Good morning Hisana", and set it back down next to my lamp.

Throwing my legs quickly over the side of my bed, I grabbed my bathrobe, not bothering to tie it, and headed to my full-length mirror. Inspecting my body, I saw a tiny girl with silky black shoulder-length hair, small, thin, toned legs, and slightly tan skin. My nonexistent chest was barely covered by my thin tank top, and my boy shorts had ridden up my legs during the night, showing my completely flat butt and tiny hips.

Oh well. At least I was thin, even if I had no figure.

Grabbing the my school uniform- a crisp button down, gray argyle sweater, and gray pleated skirt- out of my closet, I headed to the kitchen, inhaling the fresh scent of the coffee. On my way, Byakuya surprisingly stepped out into the hallway, steam from the shower curling around his body from the opened bathroom door. His immaculate white towel was wrapped around his waist, displaying his entire, intensely muscular, upper body. As long as I had known him, he had worked out at his gym at least 4 times a week, before or after work.

My brother showed off his abs to me for a minute before grabbing a tshirt he had draped over the door handle and swiftly pulling it on. Then he bent over and coughed so forcefully I was convinced his lungs were going to fly out his throat.

I stared, worried. Without even acknowledging his coughing, Byakuya said, "Rukia, shower's ready." He made sure to ruffle my hair as I stalked by him into the bathroom, a towel from the hall closet slung over my shoulder.

When I exited the bathroom fifteen minutes later, fully dressed and teeth brushed, I rushed to my makeup vanity and grabbed my mascara and chapstick. Carefully extending each individual eyelash, I applied the mascara and threw my chapstick into the front pocket if my backpack. Glancing at my clock, I swore loudly. I had ten minutes left to get out of the house and head to school, and I still needed to cook myself breakfast.

I was in luck this morning. Before he had left for work at his law firm, Yamamoto and Associates, Byakuya had cooked me a plate of eggs and had cut up some fresh strawberries from the night market. On the kitchen table in front of my placemat, he had left a note as well.


Sorry I had to leave so early this morning, and that I took so long in the shower. I hope my cooking makes up for it.P.S. Since I made you breakfast, you have a few extra minutes on your hands. I'm sure you won't mind unloading the dishwasher.

Love, Byakuya

Damn him. We both hate cleaning out the dishwasher every morning. He's always looking for an excuse to make me do it.

Grumbling slightly, I pulled the dishwasher open and began drying and stacking dishes. By the time I was finished, I was one minute late leaving. I snatched my backpack, drained a cup of water, and in thirty seconds had my flip flops securely on my feet and ready to go. Stepping into the hall and locking the apartment door securely, I raced down a flight of stairs to the back door.

To get to my high school, I had to take the subway. The private school I attended was on the other side of the city, in a quaint seaside district. However, although school didn't start for an hour, every day I left early to meet my best friend Ichigo Kurosaki at a breakfast cafe a few streets away from my house- Shinigami Cafe.

I rushed out the door into the parking space/alley behind the row of buildings my apartment was part of, and unlatched the iron gate which led to the street. Even though it was early in the morning, streets and cafes teemed with life. Businessmen and women and joggers and students all mingled together with the scent of fresh baked bread and coffee. Bells jangled as doors to breakfast placed opened and closed constantly, and as I jogged down the main street, coming to the peak of a small hill and balancing my backpack and my toast, I could distinctly see the huge Bank of Karakura building dominating the city skyline of the downtown area a few blocks south. A streetcar passed right by me, whistling softly over the tracks as people hung on to the side handles.

I slammed into the door of Shinigami, heard the bell attached to the door ding, and flew into the cafe breathless. This place is just off the main street, which is one of the reasons I like it. It's not overrun by other students or tourists because its a little out of the way, but it still is close to the subway station so we can get to school on time after we have hot chocolate.

Ichigo was sitting in the corner table overlooking the street through the main window of the cafe. His coffee was in one hand and he slowly lifted the mug to his full lips, leaving a coffee mustache behind on his face. He then bit into his crispy croissant and crumbs flew onto the plate on the table. I threw my bag on the empty chair across from him and walked up to the counter to place my order.

Girls always say Ichigo is so attractive and I'm so lucky to be able to hang around with him whenever I want. Honestly though, I've known him since we were in preschool together. His disgusting sense of humor and bad habits override any sense of hotness in his vibrant orange hair (it's natural), bright amber eyes, and 'I'm too cool for you' attitude.

Par example, his normal greeting to me is, "Yo Rukia. Make any money lately? No? I'm sorry to hear that. Those late night get togethers with every guy in our grade must not pay the bills! Too bad I'm not buying your breakfast!"

He teases me just enough to send me over the edge. Every time he says hi to me, I want to rip his head off. But then it all works out. Ichigo is honestly the best friend any person could have. He's funny and a hard worker when it matters. Plus, he's a nice guy in general. He just enjoys messing with me.

Even though we occupy different social spheres at school, we still hang out together. Ichigo isn't worried about ruining his popularity status by being my friend. Actually, I think he's more popular just because he can hang around with kids who aren't as popular as he is.

"Yo, Rukia. Make any money-"

"No. Shut up. I'm not interested in your mindless comments."

"Cold. Harsh. Mean. Cruel. Icy."


"Synonyms for what you are. You can't just shoot down my joke like that and expect me not to retaliate."

"Wow. Remind me again why you pay so much money to go to private school. Your dad should send you to public school, 'cuz obviously you're not smart enough to have better insults."

"Hm." was his final comeback: basically, he didn't have anything left to say to me.

Looping an arm around my shoulders as he pulled his chair up next to me, he said, "You know Rukia, I need to start planning your seventeenth birthday party. You have any ideas? All I know right now is it's gonna be wild."

I groaned, remembering my disastrous sweet sixteen last year the Ichigo planned. It was wild alright- so many kids were passed out drunk or making so much noise with the insane DJ that the police were called to our apartment. Byakuya was out at dinner with some clients that night- he was not happy when he got a call from the police saying there were around 100 teenagers engaging in underage drinking at his house.

I'm not exactly sure how Ichigo can be such a good older brother to his younger twin sisters Karin and Yuzu. Around me, he's incredibly irresponsible, but with them, it's like he's a completely different person. Though Karin is more mature than quirky Yuzu, both of them refuse to see any bad side to Ichigo. They both adore him for reasons I can't understand.

I slapped Ichigo's arm around me, and he quickly withdrew it and changed the subject to last night's math homework. We threw out our trash, packed up our bags, and left the cafe.

The subway was crowded so early in the morning, and from every direction people were swiping their passes to get through turnstiles. The dirty smell of the train flowed into my nose, and the crowds of people rushing around almost separated me from Ichigo. I'm glad we lived in a non-crowded section of Karakura. Every morning in more populated districts of the city, 5,000 people are hopping onto the subway at the exact same time. If I lived there, I'd never be able to take the train. I'd end up walking to school. At least here, there are less that 5,000 people.

Swiping my subway card, I followed Ichigo to line 1, which headed in the direction of downtown. Of course, that happened to be the line everyone always gets on every morning. To get to school, we have to ride a few stops on line 1, then switch to line 5 and ride that line almost to the end. The trip takes a while, so usually Ichigo and I finish our homework in the morning on the train.

Since there were no open seats, Ichigo and I held onto the bar over our heads while the train lurched forward. I almost dropped my bag, but caught it just in time. As the train rounded a corner, I could dimly see my friend Momo Hinamori in the car ahead of us. She had gotten a seat and was bent over her math binder, pert nose rubbing the notes she was diligently studying. Her dark hair hung around her shoulders, curving in waves down to her chest. She lived a few streets away from me, closer to a few other kids in my grade. I had been close friends with her since she came to the school freshman year.

After 2 stops, Ichigo and I got out and transferred to line 5. As we were going towards the edge of the city and not towards downtown, we had the whole car almost to ourselves. The train slowly began to build up speed. Ichigo threw his bag down on the seat next to me and, weary from the walk between trains , sat down with a thud. I put my head on his shoulder gently and he put an arm around me. We sat for a minute while I closed my eyes.

I pulled away suddenly and grabbed my history reading out of my backpack. I had to read two more chapters for 3rd period. Ichigo groaned.

"I didn't finish that last night either. When you get done with the reading, will you tell me what happens? I'm too lazy right now to read it myself."

I didn't bother answering, just flipped another page and flipped him off. He should have already known my answer.

5 stops later, we were at the subway stop closest to school. We jumped up and waited for the train doors to slide open with a soft click. Walking up the stairs to leave the station, I saw Momo, her hair now in a messy bun in the back of her head with a ribbon tied around it, exiting the next train that pulled in. Her boyfriend Toshiro Hitsuguya had grabbed her hand and yanked her gently through the subway doors, her bag hanging over his arm.

That's so cute. I can't believe he would actually offer to carry her girly bag for her.
Ichigo leapt up the stairs, taking them two at a time. I could barely keep up with his long strides and even longer legs. By the time I reached the top, I was huffing and desperately sucking in air, while he was cool as a cucumber, nonchalantly waiting for my gasping breaths to subside. Once I had sufficiently breathed in enough air into my lungs, he turned me around, his hands on my shoulders, and pushed me in the direction of school.