They're two corners away from the clinic when they sense it. It being several very powerful captain level reiatsus coming from their destination. Ichigo and Rukia spare a glance at each other before breaking out into a run. Rukia recognises her brother's reiatsu easily enough and that's enough to make her worry because nii-sama doesn't venture much to the Living World — outside of official captain business or the SWA's needling — so there's no reason for him to be at the Kurosaki Clinic outside of Very Big Emergencies.
Ichigo is cursing under his breath. Rukia can feel his worry. His spiritual pressure poking and swirling, barely in control.
They reach the clinic's door in about three minutes of what's normally a seven minute walk ready to charge in and find out what's going on—what's wrong, who's hurt— when the door slams open.
Rukia blinks. Next to her Ichigo does too.
Renji look at them, blinks, and before they can even ask him what's wrong, what's happening, who's hurt, he promptly bursts out laughing.
Full out, deep bellied laughter and then claps Ichigo's shoulder ("Renji, what the fuck?" Ichigo scowls at him) and ruffles Rukia's hair ("Renji!!" she exclaims, patting at her hair), rushing past them. "Good luck!"
Ichigo and Rukia look at each other, again, and then warily stare at the open door. It can't be too bad if Renji was laughing. (This really should have been their first clue, though.) Together they walk in, slipping their shoes off at the door, both of them curiously eyeing the extra pairs of shoes alongside Yuzu's pink flats and Karin's dirty trainers.
Moving towards the kitchen, where they can hear sounds and voices, they soon see Byakuya is sitting at the kitchen table, his eyes widening just a hair as Isshin slaps him heartedly on the back, the tea in Byakuya's cup sloshing out a little as Isshin says:
"Don't worry so much Byakuya-kun, I had the safe sex talk with Ichigo years ago! He still thinks that it was just out of the blue—ha! My son! But really I had noticed Rukia-chan's reiastu in his room for weeks. Can't have grand-babies before they finish high-school after all!"
Ichigo and Rukia's eyes widen at the exact same time. (They should have left with Renji.)
Ichigo and Rukia can't even look at each other, faces pale. Ichigo's reiatsu spikes and soon everyone's eyes are on them.
It's silent for about a second.
"GOD, DAD! SHUT UP."
Byakuya blinks, "Rukia."
"SON! RUKIA-CHAN! We have company! The in-laws hav—" Isshin dives towards them, his arms out ready for a bear hug, when he drops to the floor. Ichigo's punch, even stronger than usual, is already leaving an imprint on Isshin's face right next to Rukia's. It's very rare that she reacts to Isshin the way Ichigo and Karin do but she feels today is one of those rare days.
Leaving Isshin to his son, she hops over his prone body and makes her way towards the brother. Vaguely she notices that her brother isn't the only other captain in the room. Her own captain is sitting on the floor with Yuzu making what appears to be origami animals and Kyoraku-taicho is sitting on the sofa, Nanao on one side, Karin on the other. Rukia hears the familiar sounds of one of Karin's games coming from the television along with the random shouts from her and Kyoraku-taicho as they shoot zombies. She'll say hello in a second. First, she has to do some damage control.
Byakuya blinks when she reaches her side, sliding into the chair across from him.
"Rukia-san." His tone says a lot. Too much, possibly.
She flushes at her name and god she wants to kills Ichigo's dad right about now. Too bad it probably wouldn't work.
"Nii-sama! I was not aware you were coming to visit," she hedges.
Byakuya looks towards the living room, as if he can't meet her gaze right now. (Rukia understands the feeling.) "Ukitake-san insisted I join him on his visit."
"That was nice of him," Rukia eyes slide to the left where she sees Ichigo moving closer to her. Slowly; very slowly. He's looking at her brother like he's waiting for the room to fill with cherry blossoms. Rukia has to admit she's slightly surprised it isn't already. Then again nii-sama has great restraint.
"Yes, quite." Byakuya's eyes narrow behind her all of a sudden and Rukia straightens as she feels Ichigo's finger curl on the chair behind her. His thumb brushes the back of her neck, over the ridge of the necklace she wears, and while she knows her brother can't see the private move, she feels her neck flush and her muscles tense.
"Hey, Byakuya," Ichigo mumbles, but doesn't move away. Rukia has always thought he's rather careless with his life at times.
Byakuya ignores him, unsurprisingly, eyes now on Rukia. "He thought it would be good for me to see where you spend so much of your time."
She nods, "Of course."
"I was not aware you had slept in a closet of all places for months," he says and Rukia is thankful that she's a Kuichiki because that means her face gives nothing away when she answers her brother.
"It was comfortable enough." For what little time I actually slept there, she does not say.
"I see." Byakuya says, and Rukia wonders why hers is the ice sword for a second. Probably because nii-sama doesn't need the extra coolness, she guesses.
"Don't worry, she didn't sleep there long." Ichigo, clearly not yet attune to the subtleties of her nii-sama, brushes his fingers across her neck and shoulders again, and moves towards the fridge where he grabs a couple juice boxes. Rukia wants to smack her head on the table, but refrains. When Ichigo hand her one of the juice boxes she accepts it mostly out of habit. Still she smiles at the slide of his fingers against her before he sits next to her.
However Byakuya's glare at the words is hard to miss.
Ichigo turns red and fumbles with his straw. "W-What I mean is that when she came back old goat chin there," he thumbs over to where his father is regaining consciousness, "put her in the room with the girls. She has her own bed and everything."
Ichigo cringes at the words then at the kick Rukia sends to his shin.
"What the hell, midget!?"
"Don't help," she hisses.
Ichigo is about to reply, with what she doesn't doubt would have been a ridiculous retort when Byakuya says their names.
"Kurosaki-san. Rukia." His tone is pretty much telling them to sit back and shut up. Rukia still hopes one day to be able to do that; it's pretty handy.
She swallows, her fingers twist on her skirt and she almost starts in her chair when she feels Ichigo's fingers close over them. Sending a careful look between her lashes, she presses her lips together as not to smile at what she sees in his eyes. He's with her. He's always with her. Also, thank god for the table. Her fingers uncurl on the hem of her skirt and twine with his. She breathes out slowly, her back relaxes. In front of them they miss the quick shift of Byakuya's brows before his face smoothes.
"Nii-sama," she looks up and meets her brother's eyes, waiting for his words.
"You seem happy, Rukia." Byakuya says, barely glancing at Ichigo.
His words are simple but she reads all the layers between the letters and notices how his eyes have lost of some of the hardness they held.
"I am." The back of her neck feels hot and her fingers tighten around Ichigo's. His thumb rubs a small circle on the thin skin of her wrist. A knot in her stomach unfurls.
Byakuya nods. He turns to Ichigo, "Your father is — and has always been — an annoying man."
Ichigo huffs out a laugh, looks behind him at where Isshin is pushing himself off the ground.
"Fucking tell me about it." He takes a loud obnoxious sip from his juice box, the sound making Byakuya eyes narrow imperceptibly. Rukia busies herself with poking her straw through her own juice box, her hair falling across her cheeks, to hide her grin.
Behind them Isshin has woken up and is crawling Ichigo's mom poster talking about cruel sons and in-laws.
Ichigo rolls his eyes. "Jeez pops, you know all this crazy shit comes from your side of the family, right?"
Isshin turns, clutching at his chest, flailing dramatically at his old friends. "Shunsui, Jushiro, do you hear my ungrateful son?! Why did I do to deserve such an ungrateful son! Without my side of the family he wouldn't even have meet dear Rukia-chan!" His pouts is pretty amazing. Rukia's pretty sure even his beard is pouting.
"He is right, Isshin," Ukitake-taicho glances up, his attention more on the paper he helping Yuzu fold.
"Betrayal!!!" Isshin cries.
Kyoraku-taicho laughs and moves towards Isshin, slinging an arm over the man's shoulders and nods gravely. "Come Isshin-kun, nothing like a little sake to soothe the pain our children give us." He drags Isshin to the other side of the table, pulling a sake bottle from his sleeve.
Nanao snorts from the sofa, "Like you would know. And I thought I said no drinks."
Kyoraku makes a frowny face, but then he winks at her, waggling his eyebrows. "But maybe one day Nanao-chan, we will know. And it never hurts to practice."
Nanao rolls her eyes at him, but Rukia sees the soft blush on the woman's cheeks.
"Ukitake, you joining us?!"
From where he's smiling at Yuzu's happy face as pulls on the origami swan's wings Ukitake-taicho shakes his head. "Yuzu and I are nowhere near the amount of animals we need for our zoo," he says as if it's a detail of the utmost importance. Yuzu nods gravely next to him. It's explanation enough for everyone.
Isshin sets down three glasses anyway. Kyoraku pushes one to Byakuya grinning, "Why don't you join us, Byakuya-bo!"
Her brother closes his hand around it a little too gratefully and Rukia knows better than to smile. Standing, she pulls Ichigo away with her, announcing that they're going to go change out of their school uniforms and will come back down for dinner. She pushes Ichigo towards the stairs. Behind them she can hear the loud sound of Isshin and Kyoraku toasting as Karin starts explain how to kill monsters to Nanao.
Once they're in the relative safety of Ichigo's room, Rukia snickers, leaning back on the closed door. Part of her wonders what her brother was thinking about as he watched them head up the stairs together, but decides not to dwell on it. He's not stupid, far from it, but Rukia knows she's going to have be extra careful and discreet about certain details of her and Ichigo's relationship. For a while at least.
Ichigo, who has already shed his button down -- it's hanging from where he almost missed his hamper -- drops back on his bed in a thin t-shirt, eyes her. "What?"
Rukia shrugs and pushes of the door. She tugs off her tie, wrapping around her fingers for a second before it falls, uncurling on his desk, and moves towards the bed and crawls over him. She rests her chin on the muscle of his shoulder. The fingers of her right hand trace the line of the silver that slips under his shirt and rests her hand over the middle of his chest where she can feel the imprint of the chain and ring he wears under his clothes.
"I don't know; family." Rukia touches her forehead to his neck.
"Weirdos, all of them." His arm wraps around her waist, fingers sliding under the edge of her shirt.
"All of them?"
"Well, maybe not Yuzu and Nanao-san, but yeah."
"You love them."
"You love them, I tolerate them."
She grins, shifts and bites at the edge of the cotton, pulling it away from his skin before closing her lips over the newly exposed skin.