Ichigo had to admit he was a bit surprised when Byakuya showed up on his doorstep, claiming to be looking for Rukia. Not
that he minded letting the older man wait. Rukia was at school and Ichigo had had to stay home in order to take care of a
sick Yuzu. It had been like pulling shark's teeth trying to get Isshin to go to work and Karin off to school, but with Rukia's
help and his own assurances that he'd watch Yuzu like a hawk, he'd somehow managed.
So, he'd been alone in the quiet house, dozing off in Yuzu's chair sometime around one in the afternoon, when there was a
knock on the front door. He didn't hear it at first and it took Yuzu attempting to answer it for him to hear the third knock.
"I got it, Yuzu," he assured her. "Go back to sleep, okay?" He tucked her back in, pressed a kiss to her forehead, and left
the room. He recognized the reiatsu, of course, but it didn't really register until he pulled the door open to see Kuchiki
Byakuya standing on his doorstep.
"Um... Come in?" he asked.
Byakuya nodded and stepped inside, toeing his gigai's shoes off at the door. He wore a pair of form-fitting jeans and a dark
blue t-shirt, and his hair was tied back. This all served to make Ichigo wonder why he managed to look good in jeans
of all things. Was it some sort of inherent grace? He had no clue.
Ichigo shifted once they were settled in the sitting room, a pot of untouched tea and two full teacups between them on the
coffee table. "Um... So... Was there something you wanted?"
The noble nodded. "I wish to speak with Rukia," he answered, his voice its usual bored monotone.
Ichigo frowned. "She's at school."
Byakuya lifted a brow. "Oh? Then why do you remain in the house?" he asked.
"Yuzu's sick," Ichigo answered. "I had to stay home to watch her. I don't trust goat-face and Karin needs to be in school.
And it's not Rukia's problem, so I told her to tell them why I'm home." He shrugged and reached forward, taking a sip of
his tea. "You're welcome to wait, if you want. I need to be upstairs with Yuzu, but Rukia'll be back around three thirty,
so it's only a couple of hours. Unless you're in a hurry?" He raised a brow, prompting the Kuchiki head to explain.
"I am not," Byakuya replied instead. "I will wait."
Ichigo shrugged again and set his tea cup down. "I need to go up with Yuzu. You're welcome to join me, I guess. Just be
quiet if you do." His only reply was an inclined head.
He got to his feet and climbed the stairs, aware of Byakuya's near silent steps behind him. Yuzu stirred when he stepped
into her room and looked at him. Her eyes shifted beyond him and she smiled slightly. Ichigo could have sworn he heard an
intake of breath, but ignored it.
"Hey, Yu'. How ya feeling?" he asked, sitting in the chair beside her bed.
"I feel a little better, Ichi-nii. I'm sorry for making you stay home," she murmured, averting her gaze.
"Don't even think that way," he scolded gently. "Just get some rest, Kami knows I don't mind staying home with you."
He kissed her on the forehead once more and wrapped her blanket more fully around her. "Okay?"
She nodded. "Okay, Ichi-nii," she said before yawning. "Who's he?"
Ichigo glanced behind him to see that Byakuya was still standing at the door, watching them impassively. He'd also let down
his hair at some point, though Ichigo had to admit he was glad the kenseiken were missing. Those things were weird. The
teenager motioned to another chair in the corner and the man nodded, heading toward it.
"This is Rukia's older brother, Kuchiki Byakuya," he answered, jerking his head in the Kuchiki's direction. "Byakuya, this
is my little sister Yuzu."
"Pleased to meet you," he said softly, pulling the chair up next to Ichigo and seating himself, back ramrod straight.
Yuzu smiled sleepily. "You," she was interrupted by a yawn, but continued through it, "look like a noble. I love your hair."
Byakuya inclined his head, absently plucking at a few of the raven strands. "Thank you, Yuzu-chan," he said.
Ichigo shook his head. "Yuzu, c'mon, honey. Time to sleep, okay?"
She nodded. "Kuchiki-sama, will you be here when I wake up?"
Byakuya blinked, obviously taken off guard by the question. "I... suppose," he replied, then nodded with decision. Well,
nodded nobly, which was really just a couple of nods done real slowly. Ichigo had to refrain from rolling his eyes.
"I will, Yuzu-chan. You need to sleep."
She smiled again and closed her eyes, quickly slipping into slumber. Once her breathing evened out, Ichigo shot Byakuya a
look. The Kuchiki shrugged in reply before staring at the wall in thought.
They settled in a comfortable silence, neither really wanting to break it. Finally, however, a couple hours later Byakuya
turned his head back to Ichigo and lifted a brow.
"What?" Ichigo whispered, unwilling to wake his sister.
"Perhaps we could go downstairs and sit. I don't wish to wake Yuzu," he replied just as softly.
Ichigo nodded. "Yeah. 'Kay." He untangled his legs from where they were crossed on the chair and rose, wetting his lips.
Halfway to the door, Byakuya's hand grabbed his elbow, stopping him. Ichigo turned, blinking in surprise, and for some reason,
Rukia's words from a few days before surfaced in his mind.
"'Nii-sama seems so lonely," she muttered, sighing. "I wish I could do something to help him."
It must have been the half-masked look in the noble's eyes that made him think of it. And of course, her words must have
made him do it. But before he really realized what he was doing, Ichigo leaned in and captured the noble's mouth with his.
Byakuya's eyes widened for a moment and he went stock still. Wincing internally, Ichigo started to pull away, but Byakuya
wrapped an arm around his waist, pulling him back.
Byakuya's tongue had just slipped into Ichigo's mouth when the door flew open and Isshin barreled inside. "Not in front of
my precious daughter!" he screeched.
Instantly, Ichigo was turning and blocking the blow from Isshin before flipping him onto the floor on his stomach and grinding
his face into the carpet with his foot. "Idiot!" he hissed, missing the regretful sigh behind him. "If you wake Yuzu, I'll
skin you alive!"
Isshin mumbled something that wasn't understandable due to his mouth being full of carpet threads. Rukia walked by the doorway,
then backtracked, frowning. "'Nii-sama?" she asked. "What are you doing here?"
"I was waiting for you to get home," Byakuya answered softly, glancing worriedly at Yuzu only to see she'd awoken and was
watching Ichigo and her father's display worriedly. "Ichigo," he snapped, gaining the boy's attention. "Your sister."
Ichigo gave Isshin another kick and was then at his sister's side. "Go back to sleep, honey," he whispered.
"Okay," she muttered. "Ichi-nii? Will you cuddle with me? I'm cold," she said.
He nodded and turned to the others with a glare. "Out. All of you. The only one that seems to know how to be quiet is Byakuya,
so he can stay if he wants. But if anybody else steps foot in here, I'll skin you alive," he growled.
Rukia let out an 'eep' before darting out the door, dragging Isshin with her. Byakuya glanced at Ichigo, then nodded and
sat in one of the now empty chairs. Yuzu reached out a hand and he blinked, looking unsure of what to do.
"Take it," Ichigo ordered as he climbed into the bed as his sister had asked.
Byakuya hesitantly took her hand in his and she smiled, closing her eyes and snuggling into Ichigo's chest. Once again, she
fell asleep fairly quickly.
When Karin arrived home from school, she found Isshin cowering in a corner with an angry Rukia glaring at him. She sighed
and headed up to her room, slipping inside silently and smiling at the scene before her. Both her brother and her sister
were out on the bed and Rukia's older brother had dozed off in the chair, head in his arms on the edge of the bed. Yuzu's
small hand was still clutched in his. With a soft chuckle, Karin discarded her backpack and lay down next to her sister.
God Bless the Child ->