For the last time, thank you for all the reviews, alerts and favourites and I can't believe the story has over 120 reviews now!
A few reviewers pointed out that Ichigo is actually a descendant of the Shiba clan. The blurb does say that the story is set about 20 years after the Lost Agent Arc and doesn't take into account the 1,000 Year Blood War Arc mainly because I didn't feel comfortable writing a multi-chapter fic when I didn't know what was going to happen in the final arc. Consequently I had to come up with another reason for Ichigo becoming a noble (I thought it would be simpler to do that rather than try and explain why and how he found out he was a member of the Shiba clan). Hope it didn't spoil your enjoyment of the story.
Without further ado, here is the Epilogue of Moving On. It is sort of in two parts, but all will become clear as you read. (And you better make yourself comfortable as it is over 7,500 words long...).
Disclaimer: Don't own Bleach.
Ichigo sighed as he looked at the sleeping face of his beautiful wife. 'Wife' he thought to himself, still somewhat in a daze after the day's events. After all the planning and stress, he and Rukia were now man and wife. He was a husband and together they were heading towards the newly constructed Kurosaki estate to start their life together.
It had been 6 months since Byakuya had discovered his and Rukia's relationship, 5.5 months since the Kuchiki clan had given their blessing for Rukia and he to start courting, and 4.5 months since their engagement. Ever since Byakuya had given his blessing for their courtship they had been chaperoned practically everywhere they went, whether that was at the architects to discuss the plans for their new house, helping out at the orphanage, the wedding planners, or on an official "date". Evidently Byakuya didn't quite trust that Rukia would remain innocent until their wedding night having witnessed their little make out session in the stationery cupboard that fateful day and they hadn't been alone together for months.
But today Byakuya had given Rukia away to him and she was officially his, as he was officially hers. At Byakuya insistence the wedding had been held at the Kuchiki's estate and he had to admit the Kuchiki's had thrown a fabulous wedding. In another unusual twist Byakuya had given his permission for all their friends from the Gotei 13 to attend the wedding ceremony as well as the Saito's from the orphanage, in addition to all the obligatory invites for the Kuchiki relatives.
When he had first seen Rukia walk down the aisle today he had barely recognised her. Her whole face had been painted white whilst her lips had been highlighted in vivid red, but her eyes had just shone with happiness and love and he'd had no doubt that it was his Rukia who was being escorted down the aisle by the Head of the Kuchiki clan. The ceremony had gone by in a blur and before he knew it they were drinking the san-san-ku-do and rings had been exchanged. Rukia had then retreated into her rooms to change into her first outfit for the kekkon hiroen and he'd been escorted to a different room so that he too could change.
A full course meal had been served at the kekkon hiroen and numerous speeches had been given wishing them well in their marriage. They had changed once again before being handed the matrimonial candle and lighting the candles that had been placed on their guests tables. A mixture of traditional and original wedding songs had then been performed by their friends and family and he'd been surprised at just how talented some of their friends were. Finally Rukia and he changed their outfits for the last time and they had undertaken their first dance as man and wife, something that they had been practicing together for weeks.
Several hours later and after much celebrating with friends and family Rukia and he had left the Kuchiki estate in their new norimono (one of the many gifts that Byakuya had presented them with) to begin their life together as man and wife. Although the thought of people carrying him made Ichigo feel uncomfortable, he had reluctantly agreed to its use for tonight only seeing as Rukia had wanted to uphold the tradition. Almost as soon as she had been settled into the norimono she had been lulled to sleep against his shoulder by the gentle rocking motion. He wasn't annoyed though, her day had started much earlier than his and although the wedding had been a fabulous affair, it had been tiring. He was just glad that finally they would get to spend some time together, and seeing the moon highlight his wife's features and seeing her peaceful, content face - complete with a tiny smile - was enough to make him just want to stare at her all night as she slept. All that time they had shared a room together when he was a teenager and he'd never really seen her sleep and there was something quite comforting and warming about it.
Feeling a jolt as the norimono was set down, and breathing a sigh of relief that the jolt hadn't woken Rukia from her sleep, he looked up to find that they were back at his new house - their new home.
As soon as Rukia had found out about his new noble status she had insisted on helping him design the house, and although the designing had caused numerous arguments between them, the end result had been worth all the stress and aggravation. The Royal Family had not only gifted the land upon which the Kurosaki estate was to be built, but also given him a substantial amount of money towards its construction. Although the area was yet to be landscaped, he had been amazed that in 4 short months the construction company he had hired had managed to build and decorate the property in time for him to bring his wife back here after their wedding. So far only the living room, bathroom, kitchen and of course, their bedroom had been furnished, but he knew that Rukia had plans for the rest of the house and he was more than happy to let her handle that aspect - provided that nothing rabbit themed made its way through the front door.
He waited for the attendant to open the door of the norimono before he exited and carefully picked his bride up, thankful that once again she had not stirred from her sleep. He started to wonder if his wife was a heavy sleeper or if she was just exhausted from the wedding, as it was starting to dawn on him that there were, in fact, many things he did not know about his wife.
Carefully he carried her into the softly lit house and made his way towards their new bedroom. He had given his staff a few days off so that he and Rukia could enjoy the first few days of their married life together, but he was grateful that they had left enough light for him to make his way through his new house. As his job in the Rukongai had grown over the past 6 months (10 districts now had a Police Force and each Force was growing in strength and numbers each day) it had quickly become apparent that neither he nor Rukia would have time to maintain their new estate. Reluctantly he had employed a few residents from the Rukongai to help with the running of the estate and he currently employed a cook, a housekeeper, a gardener, and a general handyman to look after things whilst he and Rukia were at work. Rukia's personal attendant from the Kuchiki estate would also shortly be joining the Kurosaki residence at Byakuya's insistence and there was little doubt in his mind that Byakuya had instructed the woman to spy on them and report back to him. He'd learnt over the past 6 months that behind the stoic appearance, Rukia's adopted brother really did care for her and he was sure that was why he had eventually given his blessing for Rukia and he to marry. After all, he would fight until his last breath left is body to protect her, as would Byakuya.
As he opened the shoji door to their bedroom a small smile tugged at his lips as he saw the rose petals that had been scattered across the floor and the futon that his staff had laid out for him and Rukia. He was lucky to have such caring and forward thinking staff and he was saddened and a little disappointed that Rukia wasn't awake to see the romantic setting that had been laid out for them. Gently he set her on the futon and turned to shut the shoji door.
Rukia's eyes fluttered open and her hand immediately started tugging at her hair trying to remove the hair ornament that was currently digging into her head. Sometimes she really hated having long hair! As her senses became more alert she realised she was not in her room at the Kuchiki manor or her quarters at the 13th Division. Hearing noises coming from the side of her, her senses immediately sharpened and a kido spell was already building in her head as she turned towards the sound. As her eyes came into focus she saw a shock of orange hair that she recognised immediately.
"Ichigo?" she asked in a confused sleepy voice as she rose on her elbows and looked around the room.
Ichigo started as he heard his wife's voice behind him and quickly shut the shoji door before coming back to the futon and perching next to Rukia.
"Hi" he whispered tenderly as he smoothed back the stray wisps of hair from her face.
Rukia blinked up quizzically at him. "Where am I?"
Ichigo smiled softly as he cupped Rukia's face and placed a gentle kiss on her lips "We're home" he replied tenderly.
Rukia's brow creased in confusion until her eyes widened in realisation. The wedding...the reception...Ichigo and she were married!
"Ichigo!" she gasped in surprise.
"I know we're married" he replied in the same tender tone with the soft smile still highlighting his face. "We're at our home now. You fell asleep in the norimono".
"Oh" Rukia replied dumbly as she took in the room. It was softly lit in candlelight and moonlight streamed in through the shoji door that led outside to their private veranda. Rose petals were scattered everywhere and the whole scene screamed romance. Realisation suddenly dawned on her and she sharply drew in her breath.
"Ichigo, it's our wedding night" she stated hesitantly as butterflies started to flutter in her stomach.
Ichigo peered into his wife's eyes and could see the nervousness hidden in their depth. He swallowed thickly and suddenly realised how close he and Rukia were. "Yes, it is" he whispered softly as a heavy silence filled the air.
Rukia's heart beat rapidly as her nervousness grew. She wasn't dumb, this was her wedding night and she knew what was expected of her. She was a wife now and she had to perform her...wifely duties. Rangiku and the other members of the SWA had certainly given her a detailed description of what she could expect, as well as some useful tips, and she had thought she was ready to give herself to Ichigo, but now the time was here she was feeling incredibly nervous. Granted Ichigo and she had fooled around a little before their secret had been discovered by Byakuya, but their exploration had been kept to touch only and they had not seen each other naked yet. What if he didn't find her attractive? Admittedly she'd only seen Ichigo without his shirt on a few times and mostly when he had been in the 4th Division, but she knew he had a body like a god. She, on the other hand, barely had any shape and her bust was small to say the least. Physically she couldn't compare to his physique and what if he didn't like what he saw?
Ichigo's brow creased in consternation as he took in the slightly scared and withdrawn expression on Rukia's face.
"Hey, what's the matter?" he asked in concern as he gently caressed her face.
Rukia could feel the panic and insecurity rising within her. What if she wasn't enough for him? "Ichigo..." she gasped.
Seeing the panicked expression on his wife's face he suddenly realised why she was so nervous. "Shhh, it's ok. We don't have to do anything you don't want to" he reassured her as he pulled his wife against him in a gentle hug and kissed her temple softly. "I love you and I want you to be happy."
Rukia found herself nodding against her husband's chest but she still felt incredible anxious. She'd missed Ichigo's touch, his kisses, his scent, and she'd admit that she had been fantasizing about this night ever since Ichigo had given her her first orgasm, but now that she could freely touch him as his wife, she was scared to. She didn't want to do something wrong.
Ichigo's brow creased further as he held Rukia's tense body against his own. Normally holding her like this relaxed her, but tonight he could just feel her becoming more and more tense.
"Rukia, what's wrong?" he asked with concern as he gently removed her from his embrace and tilted her head so that he could look into her eyes. Despite however much she tried to hide what she was feeling from him, he could always read her eyes. Her eyes were the window into her soul for him and he was slightly disturbed by how tormented they looked.
Rukia felt her heart contract as she peered into her husband's eyes and she hastily turned her head away from his breaking their eye contact.
"I...I haven't done this before" she mumbled with embarrassment. She knew Ichigo had slept with other women in the Living World, what if she was bad in bed and he wanted someone with more experienced?
A small smile appeared on Ichigo's face as Rukia's words reached his ears "I know that, midget! Don't you remember our first kiss when you told me?"
The look of hurt and despair that flashed across his wife's face took his breath away.
"You're seriously worried about your inexperience?" he asked in an incredulous tone, before running his hand through his hair awkwardly as a thought crossed his mind. Never had he had to have a conversation like this with a woman before sleeping with them before. He'd never made love to a virgin before! "I..I know it's supposed to hurt the first time for a woman..." he mumbled
Rukia closed her eyes in mortification and she could feel her cheeks heating in a embarrassment. Right now she wished the ground would open up and swallow her, or a hollow would attack, or the Kenpenchi would suddenly come in and challenge Ichigo to a fight... She didn't want to be having this conversation!
She nodded slightly before she spoke softly. "What...what if I'm no good at this? I want you to be happy and if..."
Rukia was cut off as Ichigo's lips met her own. Instantly heat flooded through her and she gasped, only to have Ichigo twin his tongue with her own. Her stomach clenched with desire and her heart beat frantically in her chest. What with the constant chaperoning of their dates, her job, Ichigo's work in the Rukongai, the house, and the orphanage, she had not kissed him like this in months and she had forgotten how good it felt. She thought she had remembered his taste, his touch, his smell, but she had been wrong. Being with him here, now, was so much better than what she remembered and she felt her nervousness and insecurity start to rescind as waves of heated passion flooded through her body.
Ichigo couldn't get enough of Rukia. How had he forgotten how good this felt? How her body fit against his perfectly despite the differences in height? How those little whimpers that escaped from her throat would make his blood boil with lust? How soft and silky her hair and skin was? Reluctantly he broke the kiss and both Rukia and he panted as they looked into each other's eyes.
"Don't you feel that?" he asked breathlessly "Don't you feel that pull? That desire? That heat?"
Rukia simply nodded as she took in the golden glow of Ichigo's eyes and felt the apprehension fade further away with the love she saw shining from his orbs.
"I love you for you Rukia, not what you can and can't do in bed. We can work on that if necessary, but if you feel what I feel every time we kiss and touch then I really don't think that we have anything to worry about" he stated earnestly.
A wave of love washed over Rukia as she heard her husband declare his love for her, and it was her this time that instigated the kiss. Lips mashed together, tongues fought for dominance, and passion built between the two newlyweds. Eventually the kiss slowed and Rukia pulled away before looking coyly at Ichigo. Slowly she twisted around and away from Ichigo so that she could kneel in front of him. She looked back at him over her shoulder with what she hoped was a seductively look and her breath caught in her throat at the look of love, passion and desire he was giving her. But she wanted to take control of this situation. Ichigo had reassured her of his love for her and she loved him with her whole being. She wanted to make love to him.
"I could really use some help with my obi..." she asked in a tone that she hoped was flirtatious.
Ichigo swallowed thickly as he looked at his wife. That look she was giving him...it was hot! But he wanted to make sure that Rukia wanted to make love to him tonight because she wanted to, not because she felt obliged to as it was their wedding night.
He stared at his wife in the eye, a serious expression on face "Are you sure?"
Rukia smiled up into her husband's eyes and a blush rose on her checks. "Yes"
"I love you" Ichigo whispered in his wife's ear as he leaned forward and started work on the elaborate knot of her kimono, placing gentle kisses along her neck as he did so and enjoying the soft moan that escaped from his bride. He owed this woman so much. She was his solace in the storm
Rukia's breath hitched as she heard Ichigo's declaration which was full of earnestness and love.
"I love you too" she whispered. Never in her life had she felt this content and happy and she couldn't wait to spend the rest of her life with Ichigo. The loneliness that had engulfed her for most of her life had been slowly melting away ever since Ichigo had arrived in Soul Society permanently and finally she felt whole, complete, and her soul felt at peace.
Captain Ukitake paced the floor of the 4th Division's Accident and Emergency department anxiously. Today had not been a good day.
The morning had started off well enough, he had managed to finish the quarterly reviews, taught an advanced swordsmanship course, and had lunch with Kyoraku. However, this afternoon one of the 13th Division's patrols had been ambushed by several Menos Grande's whilst patrolling a village in the 20th Division of the Eastern Rukongai and he had received an emergency call from them. Rukia and he had headed towards the scene and he had immediately relieved the tired and injured soldiers and sent them back to the barracks. Together both he and Rukia started battling the Menos Grandes that seemed to have appeared from nowhere. They were doing well and they were down to the last two when disaster struck. Somehow one of the Menos' ceros had hit Rukia and she went tumbling to the ground, momentarily knocked unconscious. He managed to land the final blow on the Menos he had been fighting and immediately headed towards Rukia, who was now laying unconscious on the ground and was completely defenceless. The Menos was closing in on her and it was with sickening realisation that he realised he was not going to make it in time.
But then something strange had happened. Rukia's spiritual pressure had surged to a level beyond that of even Yamamoto-sempei's level, so much so that even he had been gasping for breath and had been forced to drop to his knees. The surge in spiritual pressure had been enough to obliterate the last Menos, as well as a good proportion of the village they had been fighting in, but seconds later it disappeared and Rukia lay injured and unconscious on the ground.
Immediately he had rushed her to the 4th Division himself, desperately trying to ignore the broken collar bone he could see protruding from her damaged uniform, and upon arrival had sent a hell butterfly to Ichigo. That had been 40 minutes ago and he wondered just how far out in the Rukongai Ichigo was.
"WHERE IS SHE?!" came a bellowing voice from the courtyard of the 4th Division and Captain Ukitake sighed as he recognised the voice. Not 3 seconds later he saw Ichigo come running into the building and skidded to a stop right before him.
"WHERE IS SHE?!" the orange haired man yelled again as he grabbed the collar of his white Captain's haori. "WHAT HAPPENED?"
Several members of the 4th Division gallantly tried to pull Ichigo off of the Captain of the 13th Division to no avail. Captain Ukitake could clearly see the panic in the young soul reaper's eyes and waved away the 4th Division staff. If needs be he could restrain Ichigo himself anyway.
"There was an insurgence of Menos Grandes in the 20th District and she got hit by a cero and knocked unconscious. She took a nasty fall to the ground and I believe she broke her collar bone" he informed his Lieutenant's husband and co-third seat of the 1st Division calmly.
"WHAT!" Ichigo yelled as he tightened his hold on the 13th Division Captain's haori.
"Now what exactly is going on here?" came a soft voice from behind him.
Ichigo turned towards the Captain of the 4th Division as soon as he heard her voice. One look in her eyes though and he could tell she was not happy with him, and it was only then that he realised he was holding Captain Ukitake in a rather aggressive manner.
"Sorry" he muttered as he released Captain Ukitake and headed towards Captain Unohara.
"How is she?" he demanded.
"She had a badly broken collar bone and some cracked ribs which I have healed. She also sustained a concussion and hasn't regained consciousness yet, although I am confident she will shortly, but my main concern is how unstable her spiritual pressure is at the moment. We've stabilised her for now and we're running a few tests. You can see her if you'd like " she answered serenely.
"YES" Ichigo yelled. He had to see his wife and make sure she really was ok.
"Very well, follow me"
Ichigo hurried after the Captain of the 4th Division. He wanted to tell her to move faster, to flash step through the Division to Rukia's bedside, but quite frankly the woman scared him. Plus, she was the one in control of Rukia's care and he would not do anything to jeopardise that.
"Here she is. Now I would ask that you please control your spiritual pressure because as I said, her spiritual pressure is very unstable right now, understand?" Captain Unohara asked in that same serene voice.
"Yes" he answered seriously as in clamped down his spiritual pressure even tighter. Seeing Rukia's small frame lying peacefully on the bed calmed him despite the fact that she was here in the Fourth division with tubes and wires attached to all parts of her body.
"Good. Please let me know when she is awake so that we can discuss her test results further".
Ichigo nodded his response and slowly entered the room. He sat down next to his wife taking her small hand in his.
"What have you gotten yourself into, midget?" he muttered to the unconscious form beside him. "Didn't I tell you to be careful?" His heart clenched painfully as he took in the cuts, bruises, and scorch marks that had formed all over her body from the cero blast and her fall. He hated seeing his wife like this and he hoped either his wife or Captain Ukitake had taken care of the Menos that had done this to her otherwise he would hunt it down and make it suffer.
Two hours later Ichigo was still sat by his wife's side and there was no change in her condition. She looked so peaceful and calm when she slept and he wished he could crawl into the bed with her and hold her close like they did at home. It had taken them a couple of weeks to figure out their sleeping pattern, but now he loved nothing more to lie on his back and hold Rukia against him as she curled herself into a ball at his side. But now she was lying on her back with all sorts of equipment monitoring her. Tenderly he swept that stray of hair that always fell into his wife's eyes and tucked it behind her ear. How was it that that strand of hair always made its way to the centre of her face?
Rukia felt like she was stuck in the bottom of a well. She could see a faint light in the distance and she tried with all her might to move towards it, but it was like something was holding her back and she was making very little progress. But she knew that light was important and she had to reach each, so she inched forward bit by bit. The light became brighter and brighter and then she felt an incredible warmth on her face.
"Ichigo?" she mumbled as she blinked her eyes open and he immediately withdraw his hand from her face.
"Rukia! Oh thank goodness" he exclaimed quietly as relief flooded through him. "How do you feel?"
"What happened?" she mumbled "Where I am?" Her mind was groggy and her body ached.
"Captain Ukitake said you were attacked by a Menos. You broke your collar bone and cracked some ribs which Captain Unohara has healed. You've got a concussion too, but Captain Unohara is most concerned about your spiritual pressure as it keeps fluctuating so she's running some test" Ichigo informed her gently.
Rukia's brow creased in concentration as she tried to remember what had happened today. There had been an emergency call...Captain Ukitake and she had gone into the woods somewhere...there had been Menos...lots of fighting...her and Captain Ukitake were fighting the last ones...something had distracted her...something from inside her. Then she'd been hit. She remembered falling to the ground and hearing bones break. She remembered the white hot pain and gasping for every breath. She remembered the darkness as it fell over her as she slipped into unconsciousness and she had watched helplessly as the Menos had encroached on her, but just before she had passed out she had a sudden feeling of power surging through her - but it hadn't been Sode No Shirayuki's power that she had felt. She didn't remember anything after that.
Suddenly a wave of nausea washed over her. "Ichigo!" she exclaimed suddenly.
Ichigo watched as his wife thought back through the day's events. Suddenly she went very pale and he instinctively knew she was going to be sick. He grabbed the cardboard sick bowl that had been left beside her and helped her sit up as she emptied the contents of her stomach before she flopped back onto her bed.
"Ugh!" she exclaimed.
"Would you like some water?" he asked his wife kindly.
"Please" she whispered.
Once again he helped Rukia sit up and take sips from the cup of water that was beside her bed.
"I better go get rid of this and tell Captain Unohara that you're awake. She said she wanted to know so she could discuss you're test results".
Rukia nodded her compliance and closed her eyes once again. She was so tired and all she wanted to do was sleep. She didn't know how much time had passed, she guessed only a few minutes, as the next time she opened her eyes Ichigo was sat beside her and Captain Unohara was writing the results from one of the monitors onto a clipboard.
"Is everything ok?" she asked Captain Unohara groggily.
"Rukia, it's nice to see you awake. How are you feeling?" Captain Unohara asked with a look of concern on her face.
"I'm ok. I ache a bit, I feel really nauseous, and I feel exhausted" she answered honestly.
Captain Unohara smiled at them both. "That's normal given your current condition".
Rukia closed her eyes as another bout of nausea washed over her. "I hate concussions" she groaned.
Captain Unohara smiled again "That's not exactly it. Your test results show you're pregnant Rukia"
"What!" she heard Ichigo exclaim, not that she could blame him as she was equally as shocked by the diagnosis and her eyes flew open. They had only been married for 2 months, they hadn't even talked about children yet!
Besides she had only achieved her bankai a few weeks before the wedding and she needed to train more, the house wasn't finished yet, the orphanage needed more work and they were in talks about opening another orphanage, Ichigo was busy setting up the Rukongai Police Force, next month they would be getting a new influx of graduates into the 13th from the Academy and they would need more training and supervision... the list was endless. They simply weren't ready for children yet.
"I...I can't be pregnant Captain Unohara, we use protection" she denied as forcefully as she could, her cheeks heating in embarrassment as she discussed her sex life with the Captain of the 4th Division.
"She's right" Ichigo confirmed "We use the kidou contraceptive, Rukia uses it every time"
Rukia's head whipped towards her husband and she fought down the dizzying effect it caused. "What? I don't use it baka, you do!" she exclaimed.
Ichigo shook his head emphatically "No, you do. You know kido isn't my best skill " he argued.
"No, you're the man, it's your responsibility!"she yelled back as forcefully as she could.
The sound of Captain Unohara clearing her voice stopped the pair from arguing further. "It appears that there has been a lack of communication between you two" she began.
"More like we've communicated too well" Ichigo muttered stroppily, earning him a glare from Rukia.
"Anyway" Captain Unohara began again after staring Ichigo into submission "The diagnostic kido, blood test, and urine test all confirmed that you are pregnant Rukia. It would also explain what happened earlier on today and why you're spiritual pressure levels are fluctuating. When you were in danger the baby's own spiritual pressure sensed the danger and reacted to protect its mother - it seems your baby is just as protective of you as his father is. I have to admit I haven't seen a foetus develop its spiritual pressure this early before, but you both have strong spiritual pressure so it is possible.
Rukia stared at Captain Unohara blankly, her mind in overdrive. What had happened early on today? Her baby had protected her? She was pregnant? She was going to be a mother? But she didn't know anything about babies! How was she going to look after a baby whilst running a Division as a Lieutenant? Kami! She had gone drinking last week with the other Lieutenants and she remembered from Momo's pregnancy that alcohol was a no-no when you are pregnant. Had the fall today injured the baby?
"Is the baby ok?" she asked desperately, panic and worry flooding her soul. She wouldn't be able to live with herself if something had happened to her baby.
"The diagnostic kido did not show any injury to the baby but I'd like to perform a dating scan to see how far along you are, as this seems to be an unplanned pregnancy, and to check that everything is ok with the foetus. Would that be ok with you?" Captain Unohara asked politely.
"Yes" Rukia whispered.
"Thank you. I'll be back in a few moments with the ultrasound machine" Captain Unohara replied before gliding out of the room effortless.
Ichigo felt like he was in a dream. This couldn't be happened, it just couldn't. He wasn't ready to be a father. He'd only just started working in the Rukongai, he couldn't give that up as it was making such a difference to the people there. And how were they supposed to raise a kid when they were both working full time? The house was barely together. Hell! They had only been married a few weeks, they were just starting to learn how to live with each other. The sound of Rukia's voice broke his reverie.
"Are you mad at me?" she whispered.
Ichigo turned to look at his wife. Was he mad at her? They'd never discussed birth control and he's taken it for granted that she would use the contraceptive kidou. But as the saying goes, it takes two to tango and this was as much his fault as it was hers.
"No" he stated in a monotone voice.
"Do you want me to...get rid of it?" she whispered in a choked voice, suddenly feeling extremely protective of her baby. She didn't want to be a mother, but yet she knew she would do anything now to protect the soul that was growing within her.
Ichigo considered Rukia's question. Did he want her to get rid of it? Life would be a lot simpler if she did. They could carry on with their life together as newlyweds and try again for a baby in the future when the time was right. But the baby was his flesh and blood. Could he really live with himself if he made Rukia get rid of it? Thankfully he was saved from answering as Captain Unohara returned to the room with the equipment.
Rukia choked back a sob at the lack of Ichigo's denial. If Ichigo did not want her or the baby she would ask her brother for his help, the baby had been conceived in a marriage so it was not a bastard. If her brother would not help her she would find a way to raise this baby on her own. Kami! How quickly could a person change? Not 30 minutes ago she was a newlywed utterly in love with her husband and the Lieutenant of the 13th Division. Now she was a pregnant woman with a husband who possibly no longer wanted her and a career in jeopardy because she had not thought to use a kidou spell.
She felt numb as Captain Unohara explained how the sonogram would work and helped position her for the scan. She felt completely mortified when she had to remove her underwear and spread her legs wide open whilst sitting on the bed so that Captain Unohara could insert the probe. All the while Ichigo had sat there stoically and silently staring at the opposite wall and she felt like her heart was breaking.
As she felt Captain Unohara move the probe around her vagina she desperately wanted to hold Ichigo's hand. It didn't hurt, but it wasn't exactly a comfortable sensation either. However, Ichigo's arms were folded and he still refused to look at her.
"Would you like to see the baby?" Captain Unohara's gentle voice asked.
"Yes" she whispered and she watched as the medic pointed to something that looked like a kidney bean on the screen.
"That's your baby" the Fourth Division Captain announced happily.
"That thing there?" she asked in confusion.
"Uh-huh. I'd say you were about 8 weeks along" the Captain informed her happily. "Everything looks good so far but we'll know more at the 12 week scan."
8 weeks. 8 weeks ago she had married Ichigo and on their wedding night they had made love - and evidently created a baby.
She'd had no idea until that night just how gentle, caring, and loving her husband could be. He'd done everything he could to make sure her first time was enjoyable and magical, and it truly had been. When he'd entered her that first time she'd really felt like their souls had been fusing together, that two half had become one. Tears had slid down her cheeks as she had been overcome by the emotion of the moment and Ichigo had kissed every single one away as he'd moved inside her. For the first time in her life she had given herself over to sensation and allowed her body to move and feel at its own free will. The experience really had been beautiful and afterwards he had held her all night long as she slept, until she'd awoken in the morning and they'd spent their first day as a married couple in bed making love to one another over and over again. They had of course made love since then, and had make up sex, and desperate, mad, 'have to have you now sex'. Both of their desks had been christened, as had the storage cupboard at the orphanage. They had even been a round of public sex in one of the forests in the Rukongai, and somehow Ichigo had even managed to convince her to have sex in one of the bathrooms at the Kuchiki Manor on one of their (mandatory) weekly visits to see her brother. She had very much been enjoyed their sex life, but one way or another things had changed.
"We may be able to hear the heartbeat. Would you like to hear that?"
Rukia nodded her head frantically completely in awe of what she was seeing. Suddenly she wanted to know everything about her child. It may only be the size of a kidney bean but she already loved it more than anything in either Soul Society or the Living World. It was simply perfect.
Ichigo was aware of everything that was going on around him, but he still felt like he was in a dream. He could sense how uncomfortable Rukia was with the ultrasound equipment and he knew that she wanted his comfort, but right now he could not give that to her and he stubbornly sat with his arms folded against his chest. He had barely been in Soul Society for 14 months and in that time he had graduated the Spiritual Arts Academy in record time, become a noble, was in the process of setting up a successful Police Force, built a house, got married, and now evidently was going to become a father - because he could tell by the look on Rukia's face that there was no way she would be able to get rid of their child and he was not some dead beat who wouldn't look after his own kid.
Kami! Had he really been serious about getting rid of it? He'd loved being an Uncle to Yuzu's kids and he'd wanted his own some day in the Living World, but everything was happening so quickly! He wasn't ready to be a father! He loved Rukia, he really did, but was a baby going to be too much for them to handle with their already hectic lives? He selfishly wanted her to be just his for a while.
His dream like state was suddenly broken when he heard a whoshing thumping sound coming from the ultrasound equipment. His gaze, which had been staring at the wall opposite him for quite some time, suddenly whipped round to the monitor and he easily identified the foetus on the screen having worked at his father's clinic.
"Is that its heartbeat?" he asked incredulously as he watched the kidney bean shaped thing jerk around on the screen. He could just make out the beating heart and it took his breath away. Rukia and he had created a baby? It was amazing!
"Yes" Captain Unohara replied warmly.
That was his...son?...daughter?...on the screen.
Wait! What had Captain Unohara said earlier? " It seems your baby is just as protective of you as his father is"
"We're having a son?" he asked in astonishment as he grabbed Rukia's hand and leant towards the monitor.
Rukia's head turned to Ichigo upon hearing his question and feeling his hand in hers. For the first time since finding out she was pregnant he suddenly looked interested, and awestruck. But why did he think they were having a boy?
Captain Unohara looked at Ichigo quizzically and he clarified his statement. "Earlier you said 'it seems your baby is just as protective of you as his father is'"
The medic looked at the couple rather sheepishly. "When I ran the diagnostic kido I sensed the baby was a boy and the blood tests seem to confirm this. I'm sorry if I spoiled your surprise".
A dopey smile lit up his face and within seconds he had stood up and was leaning over and kissing Rukia. "We're having a son, Rukia!" he exclaimed excitedly as he broke the kiss and started hopping from foot to foot with barely contained excitement.
Rukia looked at her husband as if he was an alien. 2 minutes ago he looked like he hated her, now he was excited about the baby and acting like his father? Was this how it all began for Isshin? she thought in a panic.
"Ichigo..." she began cautiously.
"I know, I know. I acted like a jerk before, but we made a baby Rukia. A new soul! Something that is part you and part me. It's amazing!" he exclaimed happily.
Rukia smiled up at her husband. "I love him so much already" she whispered shyly.
"Me too, Rukia, me too" he reassured her, as he gently pulled his wife into a hug and placed a kiss on top of her forehead.
Captain Unohara watched the exchange as she printed off some pictures for the expectant parents. She cleaned up Rukia and wheeled the ultrasound machine to the far corner of the room. It had taken the couple a while to accept their current situation, but she had no doubt they would make wonderful parents.
"I'd like to keep you in overnight to monitor your spiritual pressure levels. I think that now the imminent danger is over the baby's spiritual pressure will settle down, but I don't want you under any stress and my recommendation is that you are restricted to desk duty for the duration of your pregnancy. You're signed off work for the next two weeks and I will have to inform your Captain immediately of your condition and of my recommendations" she informed them seriously, her heart melting at the loving smiles on their faces. It wasn't often that she got to give such good news to soul reapers.
"I understand" Rukia replied seriously. She would do whatever was necessary to protect her child.
"Good. Make an appointment with me in 4 weeks time for your 12 week scan" Captain Unohara said before leaving the newly expectant parents alone. Technically she should send Ichigo home, but she had a feeling Rukia's spiritual pressure levels would be better if her husband was with her tonight.
Several hours later and after a brief visit from Captain Ukitake who couldn't have been more thrilled at their news, Ichigo lay on his side on Rukia's bed tenderly staring down at her as he rubbed her stomach. She looked so happy and serene, if not a little exhausted. He imagined a similar expression must be on his face.
"I love you" he whispered "And you" he said as he wriggled down the bed and placed a tender kiss on Rukia's stomach causing her to giggle.
"I love you too baka, even if you did get me pregnant" she whispered back, leaning up to place a loving kiss on her husband's lips.
"Sleep" he whispered as they lay back down wrapped in each other's arms and a wave of contentment washed over him as they curled themselves around each other. He thought Rukia was asleep and he was just starting to doze himself when suddenly she sat upright in bed.
"Rukia?" he queried and panic rushed through him as Rukia turned to him with eyes wide in terror.
"Everyone will know!" she exclaimed.
Ichigo's brow creased in confusion. "Know what? About the pregnancy? Well eventually they will but we don't have to tell anyone for a few weeks and I'm sure Captain Ukitake will keep the news discreet". Although now that he knew she was pregnant he could feel the slight bulge in her stomach and he wondered why he'd never suspected something before.
"No! I mean, everyone is going to know we had sex!" she exclaimed.
Ichigo had to force himself not to laugh at Rukia's statement. "Rukia, we're married. I'm sure most of Soul Society thinks we've had sex by now" he replied in a teasing tone.
Rukia's eyes only widened more "My brother will know!" she whispered.
"Oh kami!" he muttered as images of pink swirling blades heading towards a certain part of his anatomy flooded his mind. Because he had a feeling that even though the baby had been conceived after they were married, most likely on their wedding night, the 28th Head of the Kuchiki clan was not going to be happy that his little sister was pregnant so soon.
Sensing Rukia's panic he sought to reassure his wife as he gently pulled her into her arms and rubbed her back tenderly "Hey, it's going to be ok. I mean he was married to your sister, right? And they didn't have a child so he might be happy to become an uncle".
"You think?" she asked hopefully.
'No' he thought sub-consciously but was also conscious that Rukia was not supposed to be under any stress. "Of course. Now gets some rest" he reassured.
He mentally breathed a sigh of relief as he felt Rukia snuggle into him. "Love you" he whispered as he tightened his hold on her.
"Love you too" she mumbled before falling fast asleep minutes later.
As Ichigo lay there with his pregnant wife in his arms he contemplated just how much his life had changed in the last 14 months, and how much it was no doubt going to change beyond all recognition when his son arrived. But he finally felt at peace with himself. He was happy and he was content.
Finally he was home.
I've never been to a Japanese wedding and the wedding I've described is from research done on the internet. I hope it's vaguely right. Here are a few translations about certain customs apparently done at Japanese weddings:
San-san-ku-do = Sake drunk by the bride and groom at a wedding
Kekkon hiroen = Wedding reception
Norimono = Carriage carried by humans
This wasn't the original ending I had planned for Moving On, as originally it was just going to be a detailed smut of their wedding night activities. However, as I started writing the scene it felt like it was cheapening the story and I wanted to do something that would set the scene for the future. A review by Yankeedouche made me think of the final part of the Epilogue, and I admit it is very cheesy but I hoped you enjoyed it.
It's been a pleasure.