A/N: so, I was in the mood for some holiday fluff. Hope you enjoy!
I don't own bleach
Yoruichi walked outside of Urahara's shoten, feeling the sudden bite of the cold, snowy weather. Though the wind was light, the small flecks of snow that it carried made her shiver. Shrugging on her coat, she made her way out into the snowy lot.
The night had been interesting, as Kisuke had decided to hold a Christmas party for his shinigami and other friends here in the living world. While she was always one for a good time, parties often tended to annoy her more than entertain. From her experience as a noble, they were often just a bunch of gathered people looking for an excuse to show off their status, money, or some other pointless bullshit.
Tonight hadn't been too bad though. Kisuke and Tessai had enjoyed the chance to play host, even going so far as to have the larger man dress up as 'Santa with Shades'. She had to admit, she had laughed her ass off at the kids' expressions to him were exactly as they had envisioned.
Inoue and Keigo had, as expected, played along and had shown the expected excitement. The others had caught on too late, as the excited duo's enthusiasm gained them a larger stack of presents than the rest received. Chad had remained quiet, tensing only when Urahara had jovially offered to provide him with an outfit to be 'Santa's Little Helper'. Uryu and Tatsuki had, of course, remained stoic with a large 'I'm too grown for this' stick up their asses. Everyone got a laugh though, as Tessai made it a point to surprise the Quincy, showing up behind him out of nowhere at random intervals.
Isshin had added his own flavor to the night. After a few mock fights over who got to play Santa, he focused a bit of his energy to make sure his daughters had a great time. Whenever he wasn't playing the goofy dad, though, he had been working to get Ichigo to lighten up.
Yoruichi smiled in the pale light of the streetlight as she thought about her berry-headed protege. Of course, he had donned his trademark scowl for the night, trying to seem above the festivities. This had only made him a larger target, as everyone seemed to be participating in a subconsciously organized game of 'Poke the Berry.' She had heartily participated too, always relishing the chance to ruffle his feathers.
Her smile faded though, as she thought on Ichigo's reactions. He had acted true to form with almost everyone who antagonized him. Knocking Keigo on his back, arguing with Tatsuki, shouting at Uryu's insults and having impromptu wrestling matches with his dad were completely expected, therefore thoroughly hilarious.
What struck her as odd, though, were his reactions to her. She loved teasing the younger Kurosaki male, and could always count on a good blush and round of stuttering. It was always a combination of hilarity and frustration for the violet haired woman, but she could guarantee a chuckle when dealing with the strawberry.
Tonight had been different. Actually, Ichigo had been acting differently towards her ever since he had gotten his powers back during that debacle with the Fullbringers. He had resumed his training at the underground facility, wanting to get stronger and she had been more than happy to help. As such, she had seen no reason to not continue acting as she had when she had trained him previously-why fix what isn't broken, right?
Where he would normally blush, shout and stutter to her teasing, flirting and advances, he had turned much more silent and sullen. He wasn't blatantly rude, but anytime she would make a suggestive comment, he would instantly change the subject. Whenever she touched him, his body would tense and become unresponsive until she removed the contact, and sometimes he would simply leave. Yet, throughout it all, he would never comment on whatever occurred.
Yoruichi sighed in frustration and confusion as she watched the softly falling snowflakes. She could, in some ways, understand why he was acting differently. Ichigo had gone through more over the course of a few years than most did in their lifetimes. He had dealt with unbelievable dangers, many of which absolutely stunned her when he had recalled them. He had seen friends and family hurt, and worlds almost torn apart, only to save them by sacrificing a part of himself.
What was most telling, was a sense of loneliness that she could sometimes detect. After his seventeen months of a complete reversal to the life he had become so fond of, she knew that he was having a hard time readjusting...sometimes.
When he was around his shinigami friends, he was the same Ichigo-loud, brash, and rude. In training, aside from his lack of response to her flirting, he was still as fiery and aggressive as he'd always been. What was different was that she had been catching glimpses, more and more it seemed, of a difference in his demeanor in their downtime.
Oftentimes, usually by unspoken consent, Yoruichi and Ichigo would simply hang out when taking a break from training. Some of those times would be spent recuperating in the hot springs, while others would be spent together talking at a coffee shop or something of the sort.
During these times, they would talk about whatever seemed to cross their minds at the time. Sometimes, they would have a serious discussion of what each had experienced in the war, while others would be spent simply learning more about the other.
This is where the confusion came into play for Yoruichi. During their conversations and time together, Ichigo seemed to block out the rest of the world besides her. He would always keep eye contact, seemingly mesmerized by what she would say. He would ask questions, acting completely engrossed in the minutiae of her life. When they walked together, he would always be closer to her than he would be with anyone else, and she often caught him looking at her when he thought she wouldn't notice.
At first, this had been encouraging. The golden-eyed woman could not deny a growing fascination for, and attraction to Ichigo. He had always been a good looking kid, but ever since their first trip to Soul Society, she had become more and more interested in the person that was Ichigo Kurosaki. A shinigami with seemingly unlimited potential, a heart of gold, resolve of iron, and strength of character that any would desire, would look at and talk to her like she was only person in the world. He made her feel...special.
She wasn't particularly needy, nor did she require extra attention, as Yoruichi was fully aware of the effect she had on men. She was used to stares, comments, whistles, etc. What made it so different with Ichigo is that he seemed far more interested in what was between her ears that between her legs. He seemed interested in her, and their time together had begun to mean much more to Yoruichi than simple training sessions.
Yet, whenever she would try to return the feeling and show any interest in him or attempt to flirt, he would just shut down, sometimes even acting offended. It was maddening, and tonight had been even worse!
She had made several attempts to get through that thick barrier of his, each with seemingly less degrees of success. Yoruichi had even tried to get him to loosen up by catching him in a doorway with a piece of mistletoe, which only caused him to flush slightly and say that he needed some air.
'Kami, that is one frustrating boy.'
Watching her breath rise in the cold air, she searched for Ichigo's reiatsu. Surprisingly, she found it almost instantly, almost directly above her. Taking a few steps outward, she spun to look up at the roof of the shoten. Sure enough, the subject of her thoughts was sitting there with his back to her, looking out into the distance.
Deciding that she wanted some answers, Yoruichi silently climbed up the side of the building. Coming up behind her orange-haired pupil, she was stunned when he didn't turn around, but said, "Hello, Yoruichi."
Huffing at being caught, she walked over to where he was, brushed some snow off of the roof and sat down. Looking to her right, she watched his profile for a minute. He was wearing a high-necked white coat with a furry rimmed hood, and she could only make out his bright orange hair and brown eyes above the rim.
"Awfully cold to be out stargazing, you know?", she said, trying to get some sort of conversation going. It seemed to work, as Ichigo quietly chuckled.
"I guess so, but it beats hearing old goat-face shout like a moron," he replied.
Ichigo didn't know how he felt about Yoruichi following him out here. On one level, he was incredibly pleased. Ever since he had gotten his powers back, Yoruichi had been a near constant presence in his life. After burying Ginjo, he had immediately come to Urahara's shop looking to resume his shinigami training, and Yoruichi had agreed to help out. From that moment on, he saw the Flash-Goddess at least six days a week.
What made it so enjoyable was not the fact that she had helped to train him again, but that they would spend time together outside of the battleground. Ichigo quickly discovered that he absolutely loved learning more about his mentor. She had lived an incredible life thus far, and was someone he truly enjoyed being around. The flirty neko-woman seemed to have a knack for bringing out the best in him.
Watching his own breath in the cold air, Ichigo considered the other side of his feelings. His enjoyment of the time spent with Yoruichi had brought a very troubling awareness upon him, making it difficult to fully enjoy her company. The truth is, that Ichigo was becoming more and more aware of Yoruichi, not just as his mentor...but as a woman.
Though he had been able to appreciate her femininity the first time she shifted forms in front of him, Ichigo found himself becoming increasingly attuned to the smaller things about Yoruichi. The depth of her eyes would always give him pause when he gazed into them, and the brightness of her smile would always make him want to return the gesture. The way she moved would often mesmerize him, and her scent...Kami, her scent would always make his heart beat faster.
This quickly became an issue for Ichigo, as it distracted him from much else while in close proximity to her. However, the biggest problems came from her flirting. He didn't think any less of her for it, far from it actually.
In all honesty, Ichigo absolutely loved the feel of Yoruichi's warm skin against his, and the way her presence seemed to engulf him, saturating his senses. He also loved the feelings he got when she would act like she desired him.
No, what bothered the orange-haired shinigami was that it was simply teasing him to her. Ichigo, even as dense as he was, had come to the realization that he carried strong feelings for her...far above those of a mentor/pupil relationship. Ichigo had often wondered what would happen if he were to flat out tell her what he felt, but always shot down the idea as he knew that she couldn't possibly reciprocate his feelings.
Yet, the idea that she simply saw him as an easy teasing target and the perfect mark for a good laugh cut him deeply. It was the desire for her feelings to be real that made it so difficult.
Slightly shaking his head, Ichigo brought himself back to the present. "Did you get tired of the nonsense too? Did their antics finally drive you out into the cold?"
"Not really. As annoying as they can get, I just came out here to check on my berry-headed pupil. You've been awfully distant lately, and I just wondered why? Did I do something to make you mad at me?", Yoruichi asked, trying to get straight to the point.
Eyes widening, Ichigo quickly answered, "No! No, I'm not mad at you." 'No, I'm just in love with you and I pretty much amount to punch line for you, that's all.'
"Then what gives with the cold shoulder? You used to get all flustered and funny if I ever flirted with you, but now you just shut down, and sometimes you even walk out. Is it that bad to be around me anymore?", she asked, trying to not let how much it bothered her show in her voice.
Ichigo chuckled. He couldn't help it. If Yoruichi really knew what was bothering him, she would probably get the biggest laugh yet.
"Something funny, berry?", she asked with a raised brow. She was curious to know just what was so funny about him making her feel so much for him, then rejecting all of her responses. 'This better be damned good, or I might just have to kick his ass as my Christmas present.'
"Sorry, sorry. It's just...", Ichigo started before pausing. 'Shit, no way out of it this time, it seems. What the hell, maybe she'll just laugh it off and we'll still be able to be around each other.'
"Just...", she encouraged.
'What the hell, let's just go for broke.'
Sighing, Ichigo reached into his pocket. Pulling out a box the size of the palm of his hand, he handed it to her without meeting her eyes. "Here, this is for you."
Yoruichi's eyes widened. 'He's been acting weird because he got me a gift? Well...this is Ichigo...this is actually kind of big for him.'
Unable to stop herself, she asked, "You bought me a Christmas gift?"
Scratching the back of his head, Ichigo sheepishly said, "Uhhh, not exactly. You'll see what I mean when you open it."
Looking into his eyes for a moment, Yoruichi searched for something, anything, that might give her a clue as to what he was thinking. Seeing his nervousness, she quickly turned her attention to the small, white box in her hands.
Once she opened it, her brow furrowed slightly as she pulled out a moderately long necklace. The metal was a highly polished, dark, metallic grey with small links. What struck her curiosity, though, was the two links of chain that were different from all of the others. Holding the necklace up, she saw that one and a half links of jet black chain dangling from the main piece.
Looking to Ichigo, she was surprised to see a look of pure worry and nervousness on his face. "What's wrong, Ichigo? It's a beautiful necklace. Did you make it? Why do you look so worried?"
Taking a deep breath, Ichigo exhaled slowly as he thought, 'Here we go.'
"I didn't exactly make it. Um...actually, I had a little help from Zangetsu. Do you see those black links? Those are actually from the end of my bankai."
"You're giving me a part of your bankai?!", Yoruichi asked, shocked. She was unable to process much else, as she stared at the chain with new eyes.
"Yeah," Ichigo replied. Steeling his nerve, he continued, "I talked with Zangetsu about what to give you, and we both agreed on this. I've encountered several chains since becoming a shinigami: My chain of fate, my saketsu, and even this chain from my zanpakuto. The thing about all of these is that they are connected to something that makes me, me. That's why I wanted to give you this, Yoruichi...because you've become such an important part of my life that I feel that you help make me, me. Zangetsu agreed because he said that you stop the rain."
Tears began to fill Yoruichi's eyes as she listened to him speak. Never would she have guessed that he felt that deeply about her, however deeply that was, but she was suddenly desperate for clarity. His words were beautiful, but a little vague. 'What does that mean? I stop the rain? Does he see me as a sibling? As a woman he could love? What?!'
Before she could speak, though, a blushing Ichigo quickly leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, saying, "Merry Christmas, Yoruichi," before trying to stand up and escape.
Quickly grabbing his hand, she pulled him back down. "D-Don't go! What does this mean, Ichigo? What does this have to do with how you've been acting?", she asked through her tears.
Looking back at her, he couldn't identify the emotions on her face, but they stirred something within him. Sighing again, Ichigo said, "It means that...that...", he paused to take another breath. "It means that I love you, Yoruichi. It means that you mean so much to me that you even affect the weather in my inner world. It affected my behavior because every time you teased me or flirted...I mean, I'm glad it made you smile...but I just wanted it to be real. I wanted and want it to be real so badly that I have to leave sometimes just to get my thoughts in order."
Seeing her eyes widen almost comically and her hand cover her mouth, Ichigo wondered if he had made a mistake. "Yoruichi, I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I just...I...I'm sorry. Please, don't think-mmph!"
His words and thoughts were cut off as Yoruichi launched herself at him, locking her lips to his. After a moment of thought-shattering kissing, she pulled back to look into his eyes. "Do you mean that, Ichigo? Do you really love me?"
Returning her gaze, Ichigo saw what he could only describe as hope in her eyes. 'Dontletthisbeadreamdontletthisbeadreamdontlethisbeadream', he thought.
"Yes, Yoruichi. I am in love with you."
A few more tears escaped, but her smile showed their true origins, and she replied with a dazzling smile, "I love you too, Ichigo. Kami, I've been waiting ages for you to feel the same!"
Both were smiling widely at this point, and Yoruichi quickly pulled Ichigo into another searing kiss. After several minutes, Yoruichi pulled away and grabbed her necklace. Smiling, she kissed him lightly once more and said, "Thank you for this. It means so much to me...but we better get back to the party before they send someone to check on us."
Chuckling, Ichigo nodded as he stood up. As they walked to the door, he said, "You may want to hide that necklace. Dad and Urahara wouldn't let you live it down if they saw us coming in together with you wearing part of my bankai."
"Is that so?", was all she said as she played with the necklace resting on her shirt. 'Don't worry, Berry Boy. I'm going to give them much more to talk about than a necklace.'
Ichigo knew something was up by the devious smirk on her face, but decided not to push it. Walking back into the back room where Kisuke had set up the party, though it seemed to be winding down, they were able to slip in without too much notice on them.
"Ichigo! Have you finally quit sulking like a baby and decided to enjoy the party?!", Isshin shouted as he launched himself at his son to end up with the boy in a headlock. He had seen both he and Yoruichi leave the party, and also noticed the necklace she wore back in. He knew that they had both been fighting feelings for each other for a while, and couldn't find it in himself to call them out yet.
'Looks like she finally got him,' Isshin thought to himself. 'Its about damn time, too. This is perfect. As good looking as they are, I can expect some beautiful grandkids!'
Shrugging his over eager father off of him, Ichigo yelled, "I haven't been sulking, you ass! I just wanted a little air!"
"Is that all, Kurosaki-san?", Kisuke asked airily behind his fan as he came to stand next to Yoruichi. Looking to his side at his oldest friend, he exclaimed in an over-the-top manner, "Why Yoruichi-san, what a lovely necklace! You weren't wearing it when you left, were you? I remember seeing you just when Ichigo left, right after he freaked out about that mistletoe you and he were under, and you weren't wearing a necklace!"
All of the men gathered cringed in fear at the smirk that crossed her lips, and the look that came into her eyes as she moved next to Ichigo. "But of course, Kisuke! This is a Christmas present I received. And don't worry about the mistletoe," she laughed. "As if need I would anything like that!"
As she stopped speaking, she grabbed the front of Ichigo's shirt, bringing him down into another kiss that blanked his mind. Pulling his arms around her waist, she pressed herself closer to him, causing gasps and cheers to erupt around the room.
Deciding that the 'break' he was giving them was now over, Isshin shouted at the top of his lungs, "MY SON FINALLY BECAME ATTRACTED TO WOMEN! NOW HE CAN CONTINUE THE KUROSAKI LINE AND GIVE ME GRANDCHILDREN!"
Instead of punching his father, as he normally would, Ichigo simply stood there in awe as he tried to recover from Yoruichi's hottest kiss yet.
Kisuke added a few wolf-whistles, while the others gasped and laughed. Even Yuzu and Karin came up, "Onii-chan, why didn't you tell us that you had a girlfriend?!"
Before he could answer, Isshin hugged the girls and called out, "Don't worry about your delinquent brother, girls! Daddy will take you home and give you 'The Talk', so that you can be prepared for when you are swept off of your feet!"
Everyone laughed hysterically at the looks of horror on the twins' faces as Isshin led them out. This started a chain reaction, with everyone soon following suit and leaving. As Urahara and Tessai had walked to the front of the store to bid everyone a goodnight, Ichigo and Yoruichi found themselves alone.
Looking at the violet-haired goddess next to him, he sheepishly asked, "So you wanted everyone to know, huh?"
"Of course! I've been trying to get you interested in me for a while, Berry. I wanted everyone to know that you're mine, now," she replied with a hungry look in her eye.
"Yours, huh?", he asked with a raised brow. Stepping closer to her, he added, "I have to admit, I kind of like the sound of that." Softly kissing her, he whispered, "I love you."
Grabbing the front of his shirt again, Yoruichi pulled him in for a quick, intense kiss. "I love you too. It's good that you like ok with it, Ichigo, now come on." Quickly shunpoing, she dragged him until he was standing outside of the doorway to her bedroom in the back of the store.
"What are we doing here?", Ichigo asked, his heart pounding in his chest.
Pushing him backwards slowly, Yoruichi shut the door behind her, engaging the lock. Locking eyes with him, she slowly ran one of her hands under his shirt, trailing her fingertips along his abdomen while the other one played with the links on her necklace. Giving him a gentle shove onto the bed, she slowly climbed up next to him and lustily replied, "It's time for your Christmas present, my Ichigo."