Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach.
Press On, Rukia
"Night, Unohana-san, see you later," said Ichigo, waving his hand and heading towards his car in the parking garage as the other woman did the same. He yawned exhaustedly, and took out his keys, the rattling sound of the metal disrupting the silence. He unlocked his black Mercedes, and lazily dropped himself into the driver's seat.
He rolled his neck and stretched his arms before starting the car. He quickly glanced at the digital clock and groaned when, 1:45 AM flashed on the clock. He wasn't groaning because it was really late at night, but rather, that he wasn't tired enough to fall asleep right away.
Don't get him wrong, he was tired, but not tired enough if that made sense, which to most of his friends, it didn't. Everyone found it strange that he couldn't fall asleep until a certain time every day, even when he was dead tired. It had become a habit considering he had been working until late at night for the past month. So, 3 o' clock was his usual bed time. Today he finished work early, so he had time to spare before he dropped dead.
If he went home right away, he would most likely end up in front of the T.V. watching reruns of some depressing drama or a weird anime about a horny sixteen year old boy being fought over by big breasted teenage girls, which wasn't exactly what he had in mind.
He drove out of the parking garage and towards the direction of his apartment. Rather than actually heading directly towards his home, he stopped and turned into a small 24/7 diner. If he was just going to laze around watching shit at home like Renji at 2 in the morning, then why couldn't he go for some coffee? Sure, most people would find him crazy for drinking coffee at this time of night, but truthfully, he was immune to coffee, or rather caffeine. If anything, the warm liquid made him fall asleep instead of its usual "waking" effects. The only reason he drank loads of it in the morning was to have something in his system, and so that when he drank it hot, it would burn his tongue and wake him up -although, the after effects weren't so great for obvious reasons.
Ichigo often went to this diner since it was owned by his god-parents –he got "god-son discounts" and nothing was wrong about discounts.
He got out of his car and headed into the diner. He could make out a couple of customers sitting in the booths from the window, and his godmother, Yoruichi, grinning when she saw him through the window. "Damn it… she saw me," he cursed to himself. Okay, yeah, she would have ended up seeing him anyway, but if she saw him before he even entered the diner, either she would disrupt the silence with her loud-ass voice and/or she would put him into a headlock and start ruffling his hair like she did when he was younger. He groaned at the thought, and walked inside hesitantly, expecting either of the two actions, only to meet silence.
Lifting one of his brows, Ichigo walked over to the counter and took off his doctor's jacket –which he had stupidly forgot to leave in the car- and sat on one of the stools. "What's with the abnormal silence and lack of crazy activity?" he asked, Yoruichi, who was already getting his usual black coffee.
"Rukia-chan's concentrating," she said with her typical grin. She handed him his coffee as he scowled deeper.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
She gestured behind him with her head and her grin widened, "She's the sister of Byakuya."
Ichigo turned around to see a young woman sitting at a booth with a bunch of books and papers scattered all over the table and seat. She had a laptop off to her side with a bunch diagrams on the screen. She had short hair that was mussed up, most likely from running her hands through it many times out of frustration. She looked tired, and apparently, considering the many empty cups of coffee stacked on top of each other, she had been here for awhile.
He turned back to his grinning godmother, "She's Byakuya's sister? What is she doing here? I thought Byakuya wanted nothing to do with you?"
Yoruichi laughed, "As much as I love picking on him, this has nothing to do with him. She asked me if she could stay here to escape being at home, and of course I agreed.
"I don't know why, but she comes here every day at around eight and just studies and writes her ass off until she passes out and I have to wake her up," she said shrugging. "I tried talking to her, but she's as stubborn as her brother. So I just leave her be." She looked back at Rukia, then to Ichigo before walking into the back, leaving Ichigo to his coffee.
The orange haired man blinked and glanced at the girl behind him before turning around and sipping his coffee.
He had to admit, her brother looked similar to her. They both had the cold Kuchiki eyes, the midnight hair and pale skin, yet they also looked very different from each other. He couldn't explain it. Byakuya's face and eyes never betrayed any emotion and always stayed stoic. While this girl, no woman, named Rukia held many emotions in her expression and eyes. They were hard to figure out though as they were conflicting. He could definitely tell she was distressed though from the way her eyebrows crinkled and the way she scowled. He wouldn't be surprised if the reason why she was so stressed was because of school, or even her cold brother.
He didn't have anything against Byakuya. It was just that he knew since the first time he met the man that he was pretty cold and demanding. Just by looking into his eyes, he knew that that man had very high expectations and held a lot of respect from others. He also knew he and Byakuya would have difficulties communicating and getting along.
Byakuya had clearly told him he was "a bozo, but a fortunately tolerable one." He wasn't sure if that was something to be happy about or not, but did he care? No, not really.
Ichigo yawned and leaned his cheek in his hand while his elbow rested on the counter. His eyes bore a bored expression as he stared at the cups and utensils on the counter against the wall, where the coffee machine and sugar and salt packets also rested.
Silence overlapped the whole diner, causing him to sigh and close his eyes. Soon, the sound of rain pelting on the roof quietly created a soothing sound, which made Ichigo exhale heavily. He drank some more of coffee, and quietly tapped on the counter with his fingers.
After several minutes of calm silence, the sound of tearing and crumbling of paper, followed with a few curses, interrupted the quietness. From behind him, the shuffling of papers and books could be heard along with the crumbling of more paper.
So much for relaxing, he thought with a frown. He downed the rest of his coffee, and waited until the movement behind him stopped. It took awhile, but the silence did return for a short amount of time before more noises of torn paper reached his ears.
"Fuck this shit...," he heard Rukia mumble. He also heard the sound of a table being kicked along with a chair.
The next fifteen minutes was filled with these annoying noises, much to Ichigo's irritation.
Was this girl ripping out the pages of a text book or something? A notebook cannot have that many pages to rip out! he thought with his eye twitching. He was just trying to relax, but it just wasn't happening with all this noise!
Finally meeting his limit, he turned around and cleared his throat, "Excuse me, while I'm sure you're stressed, do you think you could keep it down a little! Some people are trying to relax at two in the goddamn morning," he said, as politely as he could, only to have it come out fairly rude.
The raven haired student turned to him and scowled deeper, "Well, I'm sorry, but usually 'most people relax at home in bed at two in the morning.' So if you're annoyed, go home. I didn't ask you to sit there and be annoyed," she retorted, turning back to her papers.
"I can sit here if I want to. And unfortunately, I work the night shift at the hospital so I can't really 'relax at home at two in the morning.' And just so you know, you aren't helping any trees."
"How unfortunate for you, but it's not my problem. You could always go somewhere else. And just so you know," she said in a mocking tone, "I only use recycled paper."
"How sweet of you, I'm sure that makes a whole lot of a differ-" he was rudely interrupted when his godfather pranced out of the kitchen, laughing like a maniac.
"Ichigo-kun! How rude of you not to greet your godfather! Isshin would be so disappointed in you!" Urahara yelled, breaking the silence of the diner. He smacked Ichigo over the head with his fan and dramatically fell over the counter in a "defeated" fashion as if he was just shot with a gun.
Ichigo rolled his eyes, "I don't care! And don't touch me!" He smacked the other man's hand when it attempted to pinch him on the cheeks.
"Yoruichi! Look at how inconsiderate and mean our godson has become! Being single for so long must have gotten to his he-" before he could finish, Ichigo had kicked him in the stomach, making him fall of the counter.
"This is why I never come here! You and goat face are too alike." Ichigo turned away and finished the last of his coffee, glaring at the wall.
Urahara got up, feigning crying, "So cruel, so cruel…," he whined, heading back into the kitchen.
"Wait, Urahara," called out Rukia. "Could I get another coffee? Thanks."
"Of course, Kuchiki-chan!" He pranced happily over to the coffee machines, too peppy for the current mood.
Ichigo grimaced at his godfather, all bubbly and bright. Why must he be so radiant at this time of night? It's unnaturally creepy.
Urahara, strangely, placed the coffee along with the creamer and mixer in front of Ichigo, looking at him mischievously. He then whispered silently, "Could you give this to Kuchiki-chan for me? I have something I need to deal with in the kitchen." Ichigo opened his mouth to object, but never got to say anything as Urahara practically teleported over to the entrance of the kitchen, winking at him before disappearing.
He eyed the spot that Urahara was standing at suspiciously, before looking down at the contents on the table. He groaned mentally, glancing at the college student behind him. Damn him, is he scheming something again? he thought, scowling deeper. Sighing, he stood up, taking the coffee and creamer with him, reluctantly walking over to the table that held Kuchiki Rukia.
"Uh, he told me to give this to you," he said awkwardly, holding out the coffee.
Rukia looked up from her notebook, and blinked at him, "Uh, yeah, thanks… why don't you, um, sit down," she said, equally as awkward, gesturing to the seat in front of her. She was only inviting him to sit as it was proper behavior. Kuchikis were always polite.
"Thanks," he said, questioning his actions. He sat down, tapping his fingers on the table, looking around, not sure of what to say. "So… what are you working on?"
She looked at him, mixing the creamer into her coffee, "A business report for my brother's company. This is my first job for my brother as a part of my last year in business school so I don't want to disappoint him. It's an analysis of our latest investments and a progress report."
"Ah, I see. Seems like a lot of work. Byakuya's really pressuring you isn't he?" He picked up one the papers, scanning over its contents.
"How do you know my brother that you would address him so casually?" she asked, obviously surprised.
"You could say it's a small world," he shrugged. "We know each other from when we were younger. We're kind of like acquaintances, you know? I've spilled coffee on him several times, and he's burned my eyes with his horrible art more than once."
She almost spit out her coffee, but was lucky enough to hold it in. "You spilled coffee on him, and several times?"
He shrugged again, leaning his elbow on the table unceremoniously. "Yeah, he practically exploded the first few times, but soon got used to it. He even kept a spare suit in his office just in case."
She widened her eyes, "So that's why he has spare suits in his office! That makes sense!" She nodded her head in understanding, smirking childishly. "To think, that you were able to negotiate with Nii-sama with your asshole demeanor, and he actually took you seriously. I've been trying to talk to him since I graduated high school, but he doesn't think twice about what I'm trying to say."
She frowned and leaned her cheek in her hand as her elbow leaned against the edge of the table. She started doodling, growling angrily at her drawing.
Ichigo leaned over and looked at her drawing with brows raised high on his head.
It was a rabbit [?] with long black hair wearing a deformed suit with a mustache and a bunch of other mean things drawn on it. "Is that supposed to be Byakuya?"
She nodded her head, stabbing at the paper. Then, he did the last thing she would have expected him to do.
He burst out laughing.
"That thing is supposed to be Byakuya? Tell me you're joking! It looks like a… um… it doesn't even look like anything! That's how much your drawing sucks! It would have been better if you drew a stick figure, but going beyond your abilities is too much!" He laughed, slapping the table unaware of the menacing glare sent his way.
"Shut up!" She threw an empty salt shaker at his head, glaring. "Don't criticize my art skills! Matter-of-factly, I would have become an art student if it weren't for my adoption!"
Suddenly he stopped, "Art school? Adoption?"
She nodded, crossing her arms and turning away from him. "I wanted to become an artist, but I couldn't," she said, quickly glancing at him before turning away again. "And you didn't know I was adopted? If you knew Byakuya like you said you did, then you should know he is an only child."
"Well, I never really thought about it. I can't really imagine him with any siblings or acting sweet and brotherly," he said, scratching the back of his head.
"One would think that, but he's been very kind to me actually. He's been really supportive of my education and everything… and I know he tries his best to be like a true older brother to me, but I feel like he doesn't know what to really do with me most of the time." She sighed, looking outside at the rain, a faraway look in her eyes. "He doesn't truly understand me. He treats me like what other people would picture as a good brother, but that isn't what I want. I appreciate all he has done, but all I want is for him to take the time to know me and acknowledge my ideas and dreams."
She smiled sadly, mindlessly stirring her coffee.
Ichigo stared, speechless, not knowing what to say. This girl, no, woman, just sincerely poured out her feelings to him, a stranger who she didn't even know the name of. He could tell she cared deeply about her brother and what he thought of her. This is the kind of sister every brother would want.
Now he suddenly understood his own sisters and how they always tried to impress him, well, at least Yuzu tried.
"If you want him to acknowledge and be proud of you, then you should tell him what you feel. If he really does try like you say, then he will listen and consider it seriously." He watched her intently, making sure she understood what he was saying. "The first step to getting someone to understand you is to show him how you really feel. And maybe next time, you won't have to tell him, he'll already know," he said at last, meeting her eyes.
Rukia sat observing him, taking what he said into mind. "And what if he doesn't listen?"
"Then you follow your own dreams and try to reach higher. Give him something to be proud of, Rukia." She widened her eyes and really thought about what he said.
"I never really thought about it that way… and how do you know my name? I don't remember telling you," she said, realization coming to her.
"Yoruichi told me. And I'm Kurosaki Ichigo," he said, extending his hand.
She smiled genuinely and took his hand, shaking it. "It's a pleasure to talk to you, Ichigo.
"My views have changed for the better because of you. Thank you."
He grinned sheepishly, "Nah, it was nothing. I just answered as sincerely as I could." He quickly looked at his watch and widened his eyes, "It's three already? That was fast. I should leave now."
Rukia widened her eyes, "It is? I should go too. I want to try and talk to Nii-sama in the morning." She got up and rashly shoved all her papers in her bag, wrinkling them in the process.
After shoving everything she could in her bag, and cleaning her mess on the floor, she picked up the remaining books and left the amount of money due on the table before walking towards the entrance.
"I can carry those for you. Your bag looks heavy," offered Ichigo, surprising Rukia.
"You're still here?" she asked, blinking. Unknowingly, she handed him her books when he made an effort to take them.
They walked to the door and peered outside at the heavy rain. "Fuck…," they both said in unison.
"I can walk you to your car since I'm already holding your books," said Ichigo, frowning at the rain.
"No, it's okay, I'm taking the bus," she said, groaning at the thought of running outside in the rain.
"Well, then I can just give you a ride home then since it's more convenient." She looked at him, unsure, to which he laughed. "Don't worry, I'm not going to rape you or something."
She frowned, smacking him with her bag, "I didn't think you were going to! I just didn't want to bother you!"
"Well, it's fine. I'm not going to let a young girl walk around alone at night in the rain." He smirked ruffled her already messy hair.
"Thanks, I guess. So shall we enter the downpour, Monsieur?" she said, gesturing to the rain as he opened the door.
"You first, m'lady," he said jokingly, dreading having to go into the rain. He threw his doctor's jacket at her, "Here, this should keep you from getting too wet since your bag has more important things in it than these books."
"Thank you, Kurosaki-sensei," she said with a sugary high school girl voice.
He cringed but shook his head as they exited the diner.
Running across the parking lot, he reached into his pocket, taking out his car keys and unlocking his car.
They got in quickly and sighed in relief at surviving. "Not too wet, right?" asked Ichigo.
"No, not really. Come on, let's just go, it's getting later… erm, earlier."
As he drove, they learned little tidbits about each other. Rukia learned that Ichigo was a pediatrician who liked to read Shakespeare, and Ichigo learned that Rukia's art abilities were not limited to deformed rabbits. Apparently, she was good at all forms of art except for things that included rabbits, strangely.
Arriving at the front of the Kuchiki mansion, he returned her books to her and she returned his doctor's jacket to him.
"Thanks for the ride, Ichigo," she said, turning and smiling at him.
"No problem… and press on, Rukia," he said, holding up his fist, his fingers facing her way.
She blinked, but grinned, "Yeah, press on," she met his fist with her own. "Let's meet again, Kurosaki Ichigo."
"Yeah, let's. You'll be at the diner tomorrow right?" he asked, grinning.
She nodded her head, "Always."
A/N: Here's that story I promised from An Umbrella For Two. It's nothing special, but I wanted to make a more casual adult-ish story unlike my other childish ones.
Should I continue this? I'm really considering it. I actually like this one!