A/N: So, in between all the writing I've been doing recently to update my stories, I decided to write something in honor of Isshin and Masaki, who win the award for Unexpected OTP, 528 chapters into Bleach :P

Seriously though, they're freaking precious, and if any of you aren't caught up with the manga, go read it! I really wanted someone to write this story after their mini arc, but since no one did, I just did it myself.

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or any of its characters.

He wonders if it means something that he's so damn used to her visits by now.

There's something cozy and familiar about knowing that the door will swing open at right around the same time every day, and she'll come strutting in, a grin on her face that she never seems to leave home without. There's exhaustion in the corners of her eyes from a day of university classes, but mostly that grin.

"How's the doctor doing?" she'll always ask him, snorting slightly in laughter at the sight of his coat. It makes him so damn self-conscious, to the point where he'll tug at it throughout the day, but she never takes back those giggles.

She's never once complimented him on his looks.

"Shouldn't you be doing your homework, brat?" he chides her back, earning him a pout.

"It's hard," she wails, plopping herself down backwards on his rolling chair. "So much harder than high school!"

"What did you expect?" he says, watching her wheel herself around and rolling his eyes. "It's meant to be harder. You told me that yourself when you got accepted."

"I didn't think it would be this hard," she whines, her eyebrows scrunching.

"Just get some help," he suggests with a shrug of his shoulders, turning back to the paperwork that needs to be done. Neither of his beloved squad members is here anymore to kick him into shape or help him out, and it's strange to have to do it all himself. He misses them each and every day. At least she still has people on her side for the times she needs them. "Don't those friends of yours go to the same school?"

"They're no smarter than me." She lays her head on her arms, folded against the back of the chair, and her eyes shift to the ground. There's something gut wrenching about that sad little smile on her face, so different to the grin he's used to. "The smartest friend I had was Ryuu-chan, but he hasn't returned any of my calls since I... left."

That bite to her lips to keep herself together has him feeling like his stomach's coiling. He knows this is his fault. She wouldn't have lost such an important friend – a family member – if she hadn't needed to save him that rainy day. He can't ever forgive himself for that sad little smile.

"I'll, uh, help you out, then!" he offers, grasping at straws.

Her eyes go wide, sparkling with gratitude. "Really?"

"Sure. I mean, I don't know much about humans just yet, but I am centuries old. Some of this stuff is bound to make sense to me! And we've got Urahara to call for emergencies. He's a genius, you know."

"Thank you!" she squeals, spinning in the chair repeatedly to work out her excitement. When she stops, she makes a grab at the pen in his hand and beams. "I'll help you out in return, too! I don't know much about medicine or doing paperwork, but I'm pretty good at forging signatures."

He smiles, genuine and warm for the first time since he'd taken up a life here. Of course, there's not a chance he'll let her near official paperwork, but it's nice to know that, even without his squad, he still has people on his side.

.. ღ ..

She catches him taking a smoke break out back one day.

He curses himself for having lost track of time. He hadn't realized it was already time for her visit, or he would have taken it much sooner, because he hadn't wanted her to find out about his habit. It's the one human vice he allows himself.

(Except for lust, but he doesn't think it counts, because he's never acted on it and Masaki probably doesn't feel anything for him).

"You smoke?" she asks in shock, sneaking up behind him. He jumps, already patting the cigarette against the ashtray in haste – not that it would destroy any evidence, or make her unsee.

She giggles at his jerky reaction. "I don't particularly mind, you know."

"Really?" He scratches the back of his head, slightly sheepish, though about what, he doesn't know.

"Really." She takes a seat beside him, even though he'd never offered – but that's the way their relationship has always been. "There are a lot of people at my university who smoke, and..."


"You look cool when you're smoking," she muses, smiling up at him.

It's the first time she's ever complimented him, and he tries to squash the happiness so he can say something manly. "Thanks," he replies coolly, gazing off into the distance.

"But it's bad for you, you know," she carries on, putting a finger to her lips in thought. "And what if you kill me with the secondhand smoke?"

The happiness drains away in an instant, to be replaced with irritation. Did she have to ruin his one shining moment? "No one asked you to stick around, brat," he snaps.

Instantly after he says it, he regrets it. He doesn't want her to leave.

To her credit, she just ties her hands behind her back and hums knowingly, and the silence manages to save the moment.

He wonders how long it'll be before he gets another compliment from her, because he rather likes that feeling of happiness.

.. ღ ..

He hadn't expected anything from her on the human holiday called Valentine's day, so this situation is a shock to say the least.

"Well, are you going to take it?" she huffs, bowing her head even lower and holding out a box of neatly wrapped chocolate.

She hadn't even been slightly embarrassed when he'd seen her completely naked, yet now, her cheeks are so red he's surprised she hasn't burst into flames yet. And, unfortunately, it's making him react in a similar way.

"Of course," he replies hesitantly, tapping a manila folder against his shoulder and holding out his other hand. They avoid eye contact as she hands it to him, and the differences in their palms are prominent when they touch; hers, dainty and soft to match her figure; his, callous and rough after years of sword training.

"This is that gift they call 'obligatory chocolate,' right?" he grunts, peering closely at the package and wondering if he should take the pink hearts to mean something.

She scuffs her toe against the ground, hating how shy she's acting. "Well, actually..."

And then she catches sight of a red box inside his office, innocently sitting on his desk, and she feels her temper flare. Marching over with a purpose, she snatches it up and thrusts it in his face.

"What's this?" It's an unnecessary question, because it's rather obvious that it's Valentine's chocolate. "Someone else already gave you some? I thought it would be nice to celebrate your first Valentine's day with you, since no one else would, but I guess I shouldn't have bothered!"

"It's not like that!" he exclaims, rubbing his forehead anxiously. "A patient dropped it off. It was a thank you!"

"A thank you just for doing your work?" she spits out incredulously.

"Well, I may have made special trips to her home." He falters at the sight of her glare. "It's just because she couldn't make it, I swear!"

She sniffs, tossing the other chocolate aside and snatching her own back from his grasp. "I guess you won't be needing this, after all."

"M-Masaki, don't be like that." He follows her all the way out the door, still attempting to make her see reason.

He really wants her chocolate, even if it means groveling at a human girl.

.. ღ ..

He accidentally oversleeps one day, all thanks to that cursed snooze button that he presses one too many times.

In a rush, he pulls on clean clothes and hops into the bathroom with one foot halfway in a sock, mentally calculating how much time he has before his first appointment. As he washes his face, his hands hit something rough, and one look in the mirror tells him that his morning stubble needs a shave badly. He eyes himself from all angles, poking at the hairs in thought.

I'm sure it'll be fine, he reassures himself, reluctantly looking away to reach for his toothbrush. One day without shaving won't do anything. It's not like it's a doctor's law.

He's out the door in five minutes, only to find that his first patient is already waiting patiently by the clinic door. Internally cursing, he apologizes profusely and unlocks the entrance, sheepishly ushering in the nice old woman with the kind smile.

Masaki comes for her visit that afternoon, just as he's bidding goodbye to another patient with medicine in hand, and her face wrinkles up at the sight of him.

"Ew, what did you do with your face?" she whines, standing on the tips of her toes to run a finger down his jawline, unabashed as she feels the bristles. "I like you better when you shave."

He swats her hand away, no matter how much he likes it, because his nurses are all over the place and he'd rather they not find out about how a university student has him caught in her wild orbit. He'd like a little control in his own clinic, at least.

"You'll get my handsome face back tomorrow," he promises her with a smirk, hoping she's awed by his ruggedness. He's been keeping time since her last compliment about his smoking, and it's really been too long.

She scoffs, deflating his ego in one shot. "Don't get me wrong. You just look really ugly with a beard."

Out of resentment – but mostly witty humor, if he's being honest – he doesn't shave the next day. Or the next. Or the next.

.. ღ ..

She visits one day at the same time as a delivery truck arrives outside, and she eyes it curiously on her way in.

"Doctor, there are people here to see you!" she hollers inside, waving at the startled family watching her from the waiting room. The two twins playing with building blocks giggle and wave back, much to her delight; she's always loved twins.

"There are other people here, you know," he grumbles as he steps out to the front desk, a kid tagging along behind him. He speaks briefly to the waiting family about their son's cold and offers them a prescription.

"Your last patients?" she asks, noticing how empty the clinic is.

"I closed early today for the delivery," he explains, posting a sign on the clinic window. Masaki rushes forward to help him out of his coat, much to his surprise, but he's slightly pleased all the same. She drapes it over herself rather than putting it away, and he narrows his eyes when she traces the lining and tries to stifle a laugh. Of course she'd only done it for her own amusement.

The delivery man has him sign a few papers before the men in the back start unloading the cargo, leaving it all inside the house attached to his clinic.

"What is all this?" she asks, wide-eyed at all the enormous parcels.

"Furniture," he explains, just as they pull a couch out of the truck. "I finally have enough from working the clinic to buy some."

"So your house has been empty?" she gasps. "Where have you been sleeping? Not in the clinic!"

"Urahara lent me a futon," he assures her, but it doesn't quite work. Her eyes glaze over in sympathy.

"Idiot. You should have told me. You didn't have to sleep on a futon in the middle of an empty room all this time! I mean, you could have stayed with me."

"I don't think young ladies who live alone should be offering their apartments to men they barely know," he mumbles softly, though after remembering their first meeting and appraising her carefully, he has to admit, "Though, you could probably take care of yourself..."

Once the movers finish with their work and drive off, Masaki follows him inside, insisting on helping him unpack. It would certainly take a long time, even with two people helping, and she shoots him down even when he tries to refuse.

"What are you being so shy for?" she demands, finally slipping her arms into the sleeves of his doctor's coat. "There are no secret between us, Doctor. You've seen me naked and everything!"

As he splutters by the front door, she happily starts unwrapping all the packages – though not before rolling up the sleeves of his coat, which are too big for her in a surprisingly comforting way.

.. ღ ..

He's not sure exactly when her opening the doors to his home became as common as her opening the doors to his clinic, but by the time he realizes they've fallen into the routine, it's too late to protest.

"Aren't you going to be late for class?" he grumbles one morning when he finds her already in his kitchen, making a fresh pot of coffee. It's normal for her to see him looking this mussed up, with nasty bed hair and bristles on his chin and bags under his eyes. He feels even worse when he compares himself to her.

Just how does she manage to glow like the sun, even so early in the morning?

"Morning!" she chirps, looking back from the frying pan to flash him her usual grin. "I made you breakfast."

"What I want to know is when you managed to make a copy of my house key without me realizing." Even so, he's already taking a seat at the table, ignoring the way his stomach grumbles shamelessly because she's heard it many times before. It had taken her just one look at his charred and inedible cooking before she decided to make this morning visit a habit. In the afternoons, of course, she'll still march into his clinic without fail.

"I took a cooking class in high school," she'd explained to him that first time, when he'd still been shocked to find her. "Katagiri and the other maids wouldn't let me practice at the Ishida home, though, because it was their job, but I think my cooking's at least better than yours. It's the least I can do."

After only a moment of hesitation, he'd ruffled her hair from behind and offered a grin. "You don't need to be doing things like that, brat. I told you it was my fault I'm here; it's my punishment for breaking the rules."

"Hmm..." She'd just hummed softly, offering him a different sad smile that made it clear she didn't quite believe him, and probably never would.

So he breaks fast with her without complaint, and he doesn't even mind when she takes over one of the rooms of his house and makes it her own. It was meant to be a one night arrangement – when a visit to his clinic had lasted until dark, and she'd taken Urahara's futon into the extra bedroom – but then the room is decorated with posters and a cabinet filled with her clothes, and he ends up spending a whole day off trying to find out why the plumbing in her sink suddenly isn't working right.

It's much later, when an elderly neighbor congratulates him on finding such a pretty girlfriend, that he realizes they can't keep this up.

Masaki's a young, unmarried woman, and she's wasting her youth away visiting him every day and sleeping in his home and fussing over him like an actual girlfriend. He knows the way humans look down on this behavior from young women, and he doesn't ever want to be the reason she gets shunned by her own kind – not again.

But he just can't bring himself to kick her out, to say anything, when she grins at him like that, so carefree and unsuspecting. Just when did protecting her start to mean never letting her leave his side? When did he start liking the way she looks in his white coat, or the way it feels to wake up to the smell of her cooking? When did he start pretending he's exhausted from work so she'll push him down on his couch and cover him with a blanket and stay with him until he's asleep, just so he can enjoy watching her worry for him like no one before her ever has?

I'm so despicable, he thinks of himself, but he never tries to change it.

He's selfish and he's cunning, but he wants her here.

.. ღ ..

The next time she visits his clinic, it's to drag him out rather than shut herself in.

"There's a movie playing at the theater tonight!" she explains, excitedly dragging him away by the arm. "Come with me!"

"At least let me take off the damn coat," he grunts, throwing it over a nearby chair and hastily turning off all the lights. "Is it really worth all the hype?"

She recounts everything she's ever heard about it, and he feels himself become more and more unimpressed. There's already thousands of movies about simple love stories, so do they really need another?

Masaki is absolutely enchanted by it, however, and he's amused by the amount of tears she sheds in the theater, despite how hard she's trying to hold them back. When they make their way out of the building and into the night air, she can't stop pattering on about it to her unenthusiastic audience.

"And, gosh, the reunion, and the kiss," she remembers breathlessly, wiping at a few stray tears. He immediately dabs at her cheeks with a handkerchief, cleaning away the smudges.

"It was all right, I guess," he adds on.

The flat reaction isn't what she'd wanted, apparently, because she shoves him playfully. "Oh, admit it, you cried when the guy almost died, but then woke up at the hospital and told her he loves her."

"I really didn't." He would say much more passionate things if he woke up at a hospital and found Masaki waiting for him.

"And the way he tells her she's like the sun!" she gushes, cupping her red cheeks and sighing at the romance of it all.

"Except you're brighter than the sun," he murmurs, just as a strong wind sweeps past the two of them and ruffles their hair and clothing. It's just like those cliché scenes in movies, when the hero says something mushy and profound, but his heroine can't hear because the sound of the wind overpowers him, and the important things never get said.

Except they're not in a movie, and she hears him.

"Isshin..." she breathes, and he looks away gruffly, embarrassed of his words, of the fact that she'd accidentally heard them, of the way she's looking at him, and of the way his name sounds so perfect on her tongue for the first time.

She figures it's the best confession she's going to get from him (for now), so she throws her arms over his shoulders, stands on the very tips of her toes, and kisses the life out of him.

It's like someone pushes him from the back so he can jerkily react, because he doesn't even recognize himself as he brings her close and practically devours her, running his lips over her mouth, and then her cheeks, her eyes, her nose, her neck. He just knows he's wanted this for Kami knows how long, and he finally has her in his arms, and he wonders if she's willing to move out of the extra room and into his room instead.

"Isshin," she mumbles again into his shoulder.

He growls against her skin and pushes her against a wall, disliking the swaying because he just can't kiss her hard enough that way. He doesn't let her talk again for several minutes, keeping her mouth occupied to the point that it's bruised when he pulls away, and she looks up at him glassily when he gives her a chance.

"Issh –" And he devours her all over again, pounding a fist over her head and leaning down so he can keep those lips that say his name in such an enticing way all to himself.

"Masaki?" he breathes out against her lips a moment later.

"Mmm?" she mumbles sloppily, her eyes closed and a satisfied smile playing out over her face.

"What do you say to marrying me?"

.. ღ ..

The last time she opens his clinic doors, their twins are trailing behind her, clutching at her skirt and rubbing at their sleepy eyes.

Karin's face lights up at the sight of her father, busy at his desk, and she sprints into his lap without a moment to spare, knocking the breath out of him in the process. Yuzu is much more refined, and she carefully climbs up the seat, pats down his doctor's coat, and settles herself until she's comfortable. He and Masaki share a smile.

"I'm going to go pick up Ichigo from class," she informs him, leaning in for a kiss goodbye. Experienced neighbors had warned them nine-years was a terrible age filled with superheroes and dangerous stunt attempts, but they've never had to worry when it comes to Ichigo.

"It's supposed to start raining soon," he replies, anxiously looking out the window to peer at the darkening sky. "Do you want me to go?" Already, he's halfway up his seat, but with the twins on his lap, he can't do much more.

His wife chuckles, shaking her head and pushing him back into his chair. "A little rain never hurt anybody, dear, and it's not like he's in the next town over. I'll just take an umbrella with me." She grins down at her daughters warmly. "Besides, you know how strangely attached they get to you after they wake up from their nap. I don't think they'll let you go anywhere anytime soon."

"All right," he relents with a sigh. "Be careful. I'll close up after you get back so we can all make dinner together."

"Sounds lovely," she chirps on her way out the door.

He sets the twins on the couch against the wall, fondly telling them to behave so he can finish his work quickly, and then he'd have all the time in the world for his beloved angels. They giggle and nod, occupying their time playing hand games with each other as they wait, and every time he spies them from over his desk, he's hit with the feeling of how blessed he is to have his family.

Soul Society had nothing on this, he muses.

The weather outside, however, begins to progressively get worse as the minutes pass, and though the rain hasn't started yet, he can hear the odd rumble of thunder. It reminds him of the night he first met his wife, when she'd risked her life to protect him.

She's just that kind of person, who would put her own life on the line to save someone she cared about.

Eventually, the downpour starts, and it's a hard rainfall that sounds like thousands of bullets. The twins huddle up together when it startles them, and he shushes them soothingly from his desk, telling them there's nothing to be worried about because their mother will be home soon and they can all cozy up together until it stops storming.

"And we wouldn't want to worry your mother and brother when they get home, would we?" he coos.

The girls sniffle but shake their heads. "No, Otou-san."

Except they don't come home, even way past the usual time they return, and a sickening feeling begins churning in his stomach. It could possibly be the storm, slowing them down.

As he's reassuring himself with that thought, he feels a sudden surge of reiatsu from his son, somewhere close to the river in their neighborhood. It puzzles him for a moment, trying to figure out why he would be panicked, but then sets it aside as a simple rush to get out of the storm. At least they're somewhere close.

But the pressure continues to rise jerkily, and it's not long before his wife's joins in, raging along with a Hollow.

Masaki! He jerks up from his seat, hands slamming down on his desk as he tries to get an understanding of what's happening. Are they in some kind of trouble?

"Otou-san?" Karin asks from the couch curiously, looking at him through her wide eyes. "What's wrong?"

His breath hitches, and he forces himself to smile at her as he takes a seat again. "Nothing's wrong, my angel. Otou-san is sorry he worried you."

He sees the uncertainty in their eyes and it makes him smile even more warmly, trying to put them at ease while he's anxious on the inside. There's worry in his thoughts about whether either of them is hurt, but he does his best to quell it.

Urahara had told him, after all, that Masaki still has remaining powers from her Quincy bloodline, and she's strong enough to survive Hollow attacks without so much as a scratch. He can feel the reiatsu of both, and there's no doubt in his mind that Masaki is stronger – and she's skilled, as he's seen himself over the years.

The worry really does start to disappear once he starts thinking rationally, and he doesn't need to force himself to relax in his chair any more, or even make himself smile at his daughters.

"They should be home soon," he tells them. "What should we make for dinner?"

"Okaa-san would never let you near a stove!" the girls giggle, and it warms his heart to see them start brainstorming about what to help their mother make.

It'll be fine, he assures himself one last time. I couldn't do anything anyway. And my darling wife is plenty strong.

He returns to his work, wondering how long it'll take before she opens his clinic doors again, just like she's always done.

A/N: Nothing to say except I hope you enjoyed it, even despite that ending :)