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Title: What You Wish For.

Rating: NC-17.

Pairings: Rukia/Kaien and with all the implications this would have on Rukia/Everyone Else.

Summary: “Drown not thyself to save a drowning man.”  An AU wherein Aaroniero really was Kaien. Rukia comes to terms with what it would have meant for Kaien to be alive.

Part One

One | Two | Three | Four | Five



What You Wish For

Part Two


"I want it to be over
Turn the boat around and bring that girl in
I stumble through the error
Hope deferred makes the heart sick sick sick
The circle rules and ruins
Yet again we are on our own
I don’t need your opinions
What I got is alright

I know you’re bleeding baby,
But you’re not bleeding blood.
"

— “Blood” by Band of Skulls.


Chapter Six


           She’s just leaving the mansion when she hears a series of raised voices coming from the edge of the Kuchiki compound.

          Going to investigate, she discovers Shiba Ganju arguing with the guards at the gate.

          “She knows who I am, you idiots!”

          “You do not have clearance to—”

          “I don’t give a shit about your clearance! I just want to talk to— Oh, hey, Kuchiki-san! Over here!” he yells, waving an arm over his head as if she could miss him from only a few feet away. Under his free arm, he holds some kind of bag.

          Rukia does her best to mask her surprise at seeing him and says to the guards, “Please, open the gate.”

          “Kuchiki-sama,” they acknowledge, bowing. But then one of them says, “Your honored brother has given us strict orders not to allow access to any member of the Shiba family.”

          “The hell?” Ganju says, clearly affronted. “What’s his problem?”

          Astonished, she gapes at the guard. “When did he give that order?”

          “Sixty-two years ago, Kuchiki-sama,” he promptly answers. “He assured certain death to anyone who allowed a Shiba onto the compound.”

          Rukia almost chokes and only saves herself by turning it into a cough. “That… was a very long time ago.”

          Thinking back, Rukia realizes that Kaien never did come to the Kuchiki estate. Not during her time as a Kuchiki anyway. But that never seemed strange because Niisama has never cared for Kaien, whom this rule must have been designed for.

          “We have received no contradictory order.”

          Fair enough. “Please, open the gate.” When they go to protest, she finishes, “So I may exit. I’m leaving for an assignment.”

          They dutifully open the gate for her.

          “Good morning, Shiba-san—”

          “Shiba-san? Naw, after everything we’ve been through, it’s just Ganju, Kuchiki-san.”

          She does not point out the contradiction in his statement.

          “Plus, Neechan would never let me live it down if she knew we were being so formal!”

          “I see.”

          An awkward silence settles over them as neither seems to know what else there is to say. Why did he come?

          Ganju doesn’t look at her as he fiddles with the bag he brought. “Um…”

          “I was just leaving for—”

          “The living world? Yeah, I know,” he says, looking relieved. “That’s why I’m here.”

          “Oh?”

          “I packed Aniki some ohagi for the trip,” he says, holding up the bag. “They’re his favorite.”

          I know, she thinks.

          He must not have ever visited the living world if he doesn’t know the trip only takes minutes. “I made them myself,” Ganju boasts, “while Aniki and Neechan were busy yelling at each other.”

          Rukia’s breathing stops. “They were arguing?” she asks before she can stop herself.

          He shrugs as if it’s no big deal. “Eh, they fight a lot.”

          They do? she thinks anxiously. Were they known to fight before? She doesn’t remember.

          “Neechan doesn’t want him to go with you.”

          She drops her eyes. “I know. But Kaien-dono—”

          “It’s all right, Kuchiki-san,” he says, waving off her excuses before she can offer them. “Stubborn runs in the Shiba blood. Aniki won this battle, and Neechan will win the next one. Just the way it goes. And it’s only a vacation, right?”

          “Yes,” she murmurs, though she cannot account for her own unease. She feels guilty for taking Kaien away so soon after they just got him back, but there’s something else bothering her about this plan and she doesn’t know what.

          “Still,” he says, laughing nervously. “If you happen to speak to Neechan, maybe you could not mention I was here…”

          “I’ve already forgotten,” she says loyally. She isn’t in a hurry to talk to Kukakuu anyway.

          Grinning, he holds out the bag again and says, “Please, give these to Aniki when you see him this morning.”

          “If I may ask, why didn’t you give them to him yourself?”

          Ganju flushes. “Oh, well… You know, I thought he might think it was lame or something coming from his little brother. It would be better if you gave them to him.”

          Rukia once saved up two month’s worth of her salary so she could buy her brother an extremely expensive scarf for his birthday. But when the time came to give it to him, she became so plagued by self-doubt and embarrassment that she ended up leaving the gift on his desk at work. Without a card.

          She never sees him wear the scarf, but that doesn’t surprise her. Byakuya is not the type to accept gifts from anonymous admirers.

          She's still learning how to be Byakuya’s sister, just as she imagines Ganju is re-learning how to be a younger brother to Kaien.

          Her chest feels tight as she accepts the ohagi from him. “I’ll make sure he gets these… Ganju.”

          To their mutual embarrassment, Ganju’s eyes fill with tears. Turning his face away, he mutters, “Yes, well, I should really be going…”

          She’s watching him walk away when he suddenly stops and cries over his shoulder, “Please, take care of him, Kuchiki-san!”

          He takes off running before she can respond.

          Rukia clutches the bag of ohagi tight against her chest. She knows she’s just been entrusted with the most precious thing in the world to Shiba Ganju.

*   *   *

          When Renji, holding a bag and a scowl, meets her at the gate to the living world, Rukia simultaneously realizes several things.

          Primarily that they don’t want her alone with Kaien. She can’t quite squash down that paranoid little voice this time, not when she and Kaien have been alone and without supervision countless times before without any concern from anyone. Only now it makes them uncomfortable. Why? Well, she knows why they should feel that way, but do they?

          Also, at some point in the very recent past, her brother and her captain must have held a conference where they decided she and Kaien would need a chaperone in the form of Abarai Renji. Her brother’s collaboration can be the only explanation for why his otherwise very busy vice-captain is currently standing here with her.

          Ideas about what Ukitake could have told Niisama to convince him she and Kaien were not to be left alone fill her with horror. But, then again, if Byakuya really had any inkling about what she’s been up to recently, Kaien would not likely have all his limbs still in tact.

          So… what’s going on?

          There’s a small comfort in the fact that Renji seems just as uncomfortable with this arrangement as she feels. He looks so gloomy, barely grunting a greeting at her, that Rukia finally snaps from all the pent-up emotion of her endless morning.

          Rukia waits until he glances her way and then makes a face at him, fingers tugging up her eyebrows in gross imitation of his own. Renji blinks, barely catching her parody before she’s once again statuesque. A ridiculous thing to do, but she manages to surprise a real, honest laugh out of him.

          “Idiot,” he says affectionately.

          Inexplicably relieved, Rukia gives up the act and grins at him. Renji rolls his eyes, but the corner of his mouth stays up in a half-smile.

          “Let me guess,” she says. “Karakura assignment? Conveniently timed to leave, say, about now?”

          “Shut up,” he growls.

          When he arrives, Kaien already looks a little worn out, which she attributes to what must have been an epic battle with his little sister. He seems surprised to see Renji. “You coming with us, Abarai-kun?”

          Instantly sullen again, Renji stares somewhere over Rukia’s head. “Looks like.”

          Kaien gives her a questioning look, but Rukia only shrugs.

          They’re about to step through the gate when Rukia suddenly gets an idea and stops. Dipping her hand into the bag, she pulls out one of Ganju’s ohagi.

          “Kaien-dono, you should eat one of these as we walk through.”

          The expression on his face tells her he’s questioning her sanity, but he still pops the treat into his mouth as they cross the threshold.

*   *   *

          Having Kaien along poses some unique challenges.

          The most prominent involves lodgings. Rukia can hardly expect the Kurosakis, generous as they’ve proven themselves to be, to take in all three of them, and something tells her that leaving Renji and Kaien alone together without her along as a mediator would be a bad idea. After what she confided in him, who knows what Renji would say?

          She also worries about leaving Kaien, period.

          Much to his surprise, Urahara finds himself with three shinigami crowding his doorway.

          “We’re staying here,” she informs him shortly. She shoves past, not waiting for a response.

          Urahara’s fan flaps in front of his face. “So aggressive, Kuchiki-san!”

          “Yo, Urahara-san,” Renji says, following her with an embarrassed hunch of his shoulders.

          “Abarai-kun,” he acknowledges, though his eyes hover on Kaien. “Don’t I know you? You have a very familiar face.”

          Kaien frowns. “Huh?”

          “We’re all going to need gigais,” Rukia says, reaching past Urahara to pull Kaien inside. “If I were you, I’d get started on that.”

          “Always a pleasure to see you, Kuchiki-san,” he says wearily.

          At first, Urahara lazily attempts to shove them all in with the children. “I’m not running a hotel, Kuchiki-san. I don’t have unlimited free space.”

          But when Rukia threatens to take over his room, he finally caves in to her wishes and prepares proper rooms for them. Kaien and Renji will share Jinta’s room— they exchange wary glances— and Jinta will temporarily move in with Ururu, despite grievous complaints from both parties. Tessai generously offers Rukia his room while he shares with Urahara.

          “You’ll owe me, Kuchiki-san,” Urahara warns in a particularly sulky tone, “because Tessai happens to be a cuddler.”

          Rukia rolls her eyes and tells him she’ll take her chances. She purposely does not ask how Urahara came by this information.

          Their arrangements are cramped and uncomfortable, but the situation is what it is.

          In Tessai’s room, Rukia carefully unpacks her dress from Ishida and presses out the wrinkles with careful, loving hands. She pauses over the school uniform she packed before her plans became complicated. Will she have a chance to wear it on this trip after all? Probably not. There’s no way Kaien could pass for a student.

          She’s disappointed.

          A scratching sound from the shoji catches her attention, and she turns to see Kaien slipping into her room.

          She quickly shoves the school uniform back into her bag.

          Chuckling, he says, “Urahara-san’s kind of a weird guy.”

          “You have no idea,” she mutters, smoothing out her dress again.

          Rukia squeaks in surprise when Kaien presses up against her back.

          “Not here, Kaien-dono,” she says half-heartedly.

          “I’ve never seen you like that,” he says, grinning against her hair. “All take-no-prisoners…”

          She blinks. He hasn’t? Well, no, he wouldn’t have, would he?

          A blanket of heat against her back, his hands go up and down her sides. Up. Down. She releases a pleased sigh and allows herself to relax for the first time since realizing this plan was actually going to happen. Kaien can never know, but she sided with Kukakuu and against Ukitake on this one. He spent so many years in Hueco Mundo, and she’s only just brought him back. To take him out of Soul Society again, away from his family, so soon after…

          Rukia gasps as Kaien’s hand slips between her legs, and all doubts and worries get temporarily pushed away. “I always knew you had it in you,” he murmurs, biting down on her earlobe.

          Did he? She warms at the thought, and then she warms for an entirely different reason.

*   *   *

          Ichigo’s window is already open when she arrives.

          Rukia slips easily through the window and glances around the empty room. He must not be home yet from school. She wonders why he would leave his window open.

          While she waits for Ichigo to return, she contentedly snoops through his things. The picture hasn’t changed much, and the nostalgia tastes sweet. She runs her hands over his books, touches the bedspread, and opens the closet and inhales the familiar scent. This room feels like home. She wonders if it always will.

          By the time she hears his footsteps coming down the hall, Rukia has finished her investigation and waits sitting on his bed. He’s yelling something over his shoulder to Yuzu as he comes in, so he doesn’t notice her immediately.

          “Ichigo.”

          Startled, he whips around toward her voice. “Gah!” Ichigo blinks several times at her, as if expecting her to disappear. “Rukia.”

          It’s almost strange to see him wearing his school uniform again. He looks tired, she thinks. She hopes that weariness comes only from a long day at school.

          Ichigo glances at the open window. “Did you…?”

          “Yes.”

          “Oh.”

          They stare at each other.

          Ichigo scratches his head awkwardly. “So… You’re back.”

          “And you’re somehow still in one piece.”

          Ichigo snorts. “Of course,” he says with an echo of old cockiness. Rukia feels herself smile. That’s more like it.

          “How’s school?”

          He looks at her as if she’s lost her mind, and the expression is so reminiscent of the same look Kaien gave her just hours earlier that she can barely stand it. "It's fine. It's school."

          “And your family?”

          “Fine.”

          He seemed so relieved to see her in Hueco Mundo, and her heart pounded all the way from Urahara’s, but now that the time’s come for another reunion, she feels tongue-tied and uneasy. Something feels off. She almost wishes he would do something stupid so she would have the excuse to break the ice by kicking him in the face.

          “Your friends—?”

          “They’re fine, Rukia!” he snaps. “Everyone’s fine!”

          Her eyes narrow as she rethinks that kick. “Renji’s here, too, by the way.”

          “What? Why?”

          “What do you mean ‘why’? None of your business why.”

          It could be her imagination, but she thinks she sees relief in his eyes before it disappears behind a grumpy scowl. “Well, he can’t stay here. Just seeing him in our house would give Yuzu a heart attack.”

          With those eyebrows, she doesn’t doubt it. “That won’t be a problem because we’re staying at Urahara’s.”

          His eyes widen. “We? You’re staying there, too?”

          “That’s what I just said.”

          “Why?”

          Misreading her hesitation, Ichigo quickly says, “Whatever. Not like I care. It’s just that my sisters think you’re visiting relatives in Okinawa. So if you’re gonna be hanging around here, then make sure they don’t see you.”

          Rukia experiences a pain of longing for her little bed in Yuzu and Karin’s room. There’s a heart that beats in this house, and it was nice to feel like a part of it even if only for a short time. But staying here isn’t an option this time, so she pushes the feeling away.

          Clearly unable to help himself, he adds, “And you were the one who was all ‘I can’t sleep anywhere else, blah, blah.’”

          Rukia struggles for patience to avoid aiming for a sensitive area. That isn’t how she wants to broach this topic. “Ichigo… something’s happened. No, nothing bad,” she says when he immediately tenses. “This is… something good.”

          The threat erased, Ichigo immediately relaxes. He drops into his desk chair and starts unpacking his school bag. “Oh, yeah?” She tries not to look longingly at his textbooks.

          Rukia takes a deep, preparing breath before saying, “In Hueco Mundo, I found—”

          “Is this about your old vice-captain?”

          The floor falls out from under her. Ichigo isn’t really looking at her, so she can’t read his face. “How…?”

          “Yoruichi-san told me.”

          It takes several seconds for that to sink in. “But how did she know?” Rukia doesn’t mean to sound so indignant. She really doesn’t.

          Ichigo shrugs. “She’s friends with Kukakuu-san.”

          “Oh. Then, you know Kaien-dono is—”

          “Her brother? Yeah.”

          That wasn’t what she was going to say, but she realizes she doesn’t really know what she was actually going to say.

          “I didn’t realize you were so plugged into the Soul Society gossip mill,” she says dryly.

          Ichigo’s face flushes bright red. “Shut up! I’m not! She only told me because— Oh, forget it.”

          “Uh-huh.”

          Her grin fades as Ichigo’s expression becomes serious again. “He was an espada, right?”

          Without ever consciously thinking about it, Rukia realizes in this instant that she didn’t want Ichigo to know. Though, there’s no logical way she could have kept that detail to herself or even really a reason to keep it from him. Still.

          “Yes,” she says reluctantly. “He was. But he wasn’t in control of himself. He’s… better now.” The words feel disingenuous, but Ichigo doesn’t need to know everything.

          “Because of you?”

          She’s startled into meeting his eyes. “What?”

          His expression is unreadable. “Yoruichi-san said he tried to fight you, but you helped him remember who he was or something.”

          It’s an abbreviated version of the truth, but then Yoruichi wasn’t there. She probably doesn’t know that Aaroniero stabbed a released Nejibana through her body, and she certainly couldn’t know that Rukia gave up and lost her will to ever lift her blade against his face again. No one need ever know that, especially not Ichigo, whom she promised to return to after the battles were finished.

          Now, she’s the one not looking at him. “I suppose.”

          There’s obviously something else he wants to say, and Rukia holds her breath as she waits. She doesn't like the idea of him, after everything they've been through together, being unable to tell her anything. Then again, she's hardly in a position to make that judgment.

          Oh.

          Of course. She wondered why this felt so off, and now she knows. They feel off because she's off. There are things she can't-- won't-- say, and they stand between them as physically present in the room as she is.

          “I’m… happy for you,” he says finally, staring somewhere over her head. She looks up in surprise. “People don’t come back from the dead every day.”

          Rukia suddenly understands, and her heart aches for him. What wouldn’t Ichigo do to have his mother back?

          “No,” she says gently. “They don’t. But Ichigo—”

          “I figured something must have been up over there when you didn’t come back.”

          Guilt starts creeping up on her, though she doesn’t think he intends for that to happen. Of course she would have come back— eventually. She’ll always come back. She would have returned to his side immediately after Hueco Mundo, but Kaien needed her more.

          You wouldn't have come back at all if Kaien-dono had really wanted your head, whispers a traitorous voice that she instantly shoves away.

          Rukia hadn’t considered that Ichigo would be waiting for her.

          After that speech about nakama and scolding him for not waiting for her, maybe she should have.

          “I’m back now,” she says quietly, hoping he’ll hear all the things she doesn’t say— the apologies and the reassurances.

          “Yeah, why is that?”

          She cringes. So much for understanding. “Ichigo—”

          “I mean, are you back for good?”

          He speaks casually, but the question feels weighed down by a subtext. Or maybe she’s just projecting out of guilt.

          Rukia purposely unclenches her fists from his bedspread and smoothes down the edges of her dress. “The assignment’s just for a few months.”

          “Oh.”

          In an effort to relieve some of the tension she feels knotting up her back, Rukia brings them back to business.

          “What happened with Kurumadani-san?”

          “Huh? Who?”

          “The shinigami assigned to your town,” she says with a roll of her eyes. "My replacement."

          “Oh. Him. What about him?”

          “Ichigo, he reported that you were hindering his work here.”

          He doesn’t look terribly concerned. “He did, huh?”

          “Ichigo—”

          “What was he even doing here, Rukia?” he asks, already sounding irritated with the subject.

          “What do you mean?”

          “I mean I’m here. And Ishida, Inoue, and Chad,” he adds with a touch of reluctance. “We don’t need that guy. He just got in the way.”

          Stung, Rukia stares at him. “You’re saying… you don’t need Soul Society?”

          She should have seen this coming. He’s so much stronger now than when they first began their partnership. It’s only been a matter of time before he would outgrow her. She just didn’t think it would be so soon.

          Some of what she’s thinking must be showing on her face, because Ichigo flinches. “That’s not what I meant.”

          “Isn’t it?” she says icily.

          “Rukia…”

          She stands abruptly, cutting him off. “Well, Soul Society isn't finished with you. Not yet. And there’s one last thing.”

          “What?” he asks warily.

          “It’s not just Renji and me. I also brought Kaien-dono.”

          Now, he really looks confused. “But why—?”

          He stops at her harsh look.

          Rukia hefts herself up onto the windowsill and says over her shoulder, “Starting tomorrow, you’re going to start training with him.”




Due to a re-read of some key chapters, I've been feeling the Ganju love, y'all. Also, according to Bleach Official Bootleg, Kaien's favorite food really is ohagi.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-15 08:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bishyme.livejournal.com
i just cant waaaaaaait for the next update.
this is just.. awesome (cant think of epic adjective)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-16 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starvinbohemian.livejournal.com
Thank you! :)

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May 2010

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