Bleach Fan Fiction ❯ A Woman Behind These Clothes ❯ Chapter 2 ( Chapter 2 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
A Woman Behind These Clothes

Summary: After concealing her true gender for years, Juushiro Ukitake thought she had the art of hiding mastered...but then Ichigo, in all his brash glory, happened to stumble across her secret. Is there a way to keep the loud orange-hair substitute soul-reaper quiet? Probably not...

Pairings: No real pairings, only if you squint and tilt your head just right. Also a brief mention of Renji/Byakuya.

Disclaimer: Don’t own any of the characters associated with the Anime of Bleach.

Warnings: Juushiro Ukitake is dictated as a female in gender in this story. Yes, I am well aware that he is male in both Manga and anime, but work with me here.

AN: Hello again. I wasn’t expecting this chapter to be as long as it is. I guess I was on a roll or something, lol!

Comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated. And if you think I should continue this, let me know as well. Any ideas for future chapters will be greatly appreciated and welcomed as well. Thanks in advanced. I hope you enjoy reading.


Chapter 2:

“Ichigo...?” Ukitake’s could do nothing but stare back into those light brown eyes, her throat suddenly constricting with the ever familiar sense of fear and dread, mixed well with disbelief and humiliation.

"You're a woman!?" Ichigo shouted as he tried to scramble away, his back hitting the closed door of the bathroom, his eyes comically wide and his expression an array of shock and disbelief.

Ukitake clutched her towel tighter around her sickly thin frame, her mouth opening to reply in some way to his outburst, but the other familiar sense of spiritual pressure heading this way at tremendous speed cause a flash of panic to shiver through her. Without thinking, she moved forward abruptly to place a hand over Ichigo's mouth and pressed herself against him, trying to conceal his spiritual pressure with her own and keeping him as quiet as possible.

"Shh!" she hissed into his ear. "He's coming."

Then, not a split second had those words left her mouth did the rumbling roar of Kenpachi's voice drifted through the walls as he seemed to perch himself onto the roof of the complex.

"Ukitake! Where's Ichigo? I know he's around here somewhere."

"I'm taking a bath, Captain Kenpachi," Ukitake replied as calmly as any woman in her position could. "Is there something wrong?"

"Tch," came Kenpachi's disgruntle response. "Never mind."

Then, as abruptly as his spiritual came, it left, ready to hunt every square inch of the Sereitei to find his strongest opponent. He won’t rest until he finds Ichigo or the human male somehow flees back into the world of the living.

Ukitake waited until her fellow captain was at a safe distance before breathing a sigh of relief. “He's gone now,” she muttered and turned her attention back to the human male in front of her.

“Ichigo?” she asked with a sense of concerned when she noted how red he looked in the face, his body stiff and his eyes closed tightly. It was then that she realized that she was literally pressed up against him half naked, her bust crushed against his chest as she placed her hand over his mouth.

A light blush immediately made its way onto her features and she released her hold on the orange-haired youth, stepping back and raising her hands in front of her in a peace-like gesture. “Oh, sorry!”

Ichigo tried to press himself flatter against the bathroom wall. “What the hell?!” he all but spluttered at her.

“Shouldn't I be saying that?” Ukitake retorted as she placed one of her hands on the knot of her towel, the other resting on the curve of her hip to give Ichigo a very stern looking appearing, but the dark blush adorning her cheeks seemed to ruin the look completely. “Do you make a habit of running into other people's bathrooms?”

That question and light scowling caused Ichigo to stutter with a sense of indignity. “I thought you were a guy!” he said as he tried to explain himself, his arms flailing about wildly at his sides.

“It shouldn't have made a difference if I was a guy or not,” Ukitake continue to scowl before a shiver raced over her visible flesh and she clutched her only source of warmth and protection closer. That sickly feeling of tightness in her chest returned and she soon found herself sinking to the floor as a series of harsh coughs wracked at her slender frame.

Please, don’t let her start coughing up blood in front of Ichigo, now. And don’t let Kiyone or Sentaro hear her. The last thing she needed now was to be paraded through the streets half naked. She would die from humiliation right there and then.

“Er, are you ok?” Ichigo asked as he slowly came down from the shock, now concern taking form. His worry only increased in ferocity with each cough. “Shit, what do I do?!”

Ukitake cursed her condition’s ability to erupt at the worse possible moments inwardly, trying hard to draw in enough air into her burning, aching lungs to at least answer the uncomfortable teen. She could taste the metallic feeling of blood at the very back of her throat and she willed it desperately to go away.

This was no helping the situation at all!

Suddenly, something soft and light was draped over her trembling form as a gentle hand appeared on her shoulder, the other soothing back her hair with seemingly talented fingers. Those hands, though callous from wielding a large sword and harden from many fights were soothing, as were the words that tumbled from her comforters mouth. She first thought that perhaps Kyouraku had somehow came to her aide before realizing that the one helping her had a different spiritual pressure altogether.

“Just take it easy.” It was Ichigo’s voice; she could feel his presence kneeling right in front of her. Despite being wild and brash at the best of times, he was also well equipped for serious matters, especially toward the medical side of things because of his father who was a doctor. “Take long, deep breathes. In and out, that’s it.”

Soon, Ukitake’s coughing began to subside and then disappear altogether. She still felt weak from the attack and her body still trembled, shivering from a light chill. She pulled her hand away from her mouth and looked at her palm, relieved to find only a speck or two of blood.

“Sorry,” Ichigo suddenly apologized, causing Ukitake to gaze up at him through a veil of pure white hair that was still damp from her bath. Ichigo still appeared somewhat uncomfortable by being in the presence of a half naked girl, but his discomfort was overridden by the fact that he was concerned about her well being.

Peering up at the orange-haired youth, Ukitake began to understand why Rukia was so fond of this human.

Removing his hands from her shoulders, he climbed to his feet and took a couple of steps backwards, scratching the back of his head in a bashful manner. “I guess this is my fault, huh?”

“It’s alright,” Ukitake found herself saying, drawing closer the light blue kimono that Ichigo must have wrapped around her shoulders. “Thank you. For helping me, I mean.”

“Yeah, well,” Ichigo muttered as he continued to scratch the back of his neck. “It was the least I can do.”

An uncomfortable silence quickly fell over them, Ichigo leaning against the door while Ukitake sat on the floor of the bathroom trying to find the strength to climb to her feet. In the silence hung the question; why are you disguising yourself as a guy?

There was no way out of this one. Not that Ukitake had the strength to do anything but talk anyway.

“Let me explain things in my room, ok?” she said as she ran a hand through her wet hair, mildly wondering just where in the world that cold draft was coming from. “It’s down the hall, to the left. Kenpachi won’t be back for a while.”

Although thankful for an excuse to leave, Ichigo still looked hesitant, concerned for her well-being it seemed to her. “Ah, sure.”

“I’m ok now,” Ukitake reassured as she shakily made her way to her feet, with a lot of help from the wall. “Just let me get changed into some more appropriate.”

Ichigo flushed at her choice of words, but silently crept out of the room nonetheless.

“Unbelievable,” Ukitake muttered to herself with a loud, weary sigh as she set about quickly drying and dressing. “After centuries of hiding, he had to find out like this.”

Of course, no one had ever barged into her room so unexpectedly before.

Feeling more confident dressed in her usual attire for relaxing and resting, Ukitake stepped out of the bathroom and quickly made her way into her bedroom, half expecting Ichigo to have made a runner, but instead finding him sitting near her bed cross-legged and arms folded tightly over his chest, his Zanpakuto removed from his person and leaning against the wall.

Drawing a deep breath, Ukitake stepped into the room, shutting the door tightly behind her. It’s been years since she’s had to have this conversation with anyone.

“You should probably lie down,” Ichigo suddenly suggested, unwounding one arm from his chest to jerk his thumb toward her bed. “You look like crap from you coughing fit.”

He could be rather blunt in his concern, can’t he? Well, Rukia did tell her once that she liked his honesty.

Paddling over to her bed, Ukitake slipped onto the bed, but did no climb under the covers, even though that was all she wanted to do at the moment. Having a nice nap sound lovely, but she had other more pressing things to do before resting.

If Unohana ever finds out she had another attack today, she’s dead!

Taking another deep breath, Ukitake decided not to waste any time and quickly launched herself into telling Ichigo why she had been dressing as a male for all these countless years. She told them about her younger siblings, how she felt she had to provide for them all to how every generation of Ukitake’s before her were males and she felt obliged to keep that tradition going. She was not forced to dress as male by her family, but rather out of her own need to prove to others that she could handle anything that life in the Soul Socity threw at her.

And boy, had she been thrown some curve balls!

The other reason was more simplier; the tight bandages around her chest helped with the pain of her ribs whenever she had a severe coughing fit.

“Breast binding actually helped with the recovery of my attacks,” Ukitake explained the other reason why she was bandaging her bust, however that only caused Ichigo to appear more confused and she wondered if Rukia told him about her condition.

“Attacks?” He queried. “You mean the coughing fit you had in the bathroom, don’t you?”

“Yes, Unohana and I think I have a condition called Tuberculosis,” Ukitake told him, a weak smile gracing her lips when she noticed how Ichigo physically reeled back in surprise.

“Are you sure?” Ichigo asked, his folded arms tightening over his chest as his eyes took on a hard look, one he always wears when he’s in deep thought and worried about something.

Ukitake’s smile warmed at his concern. “I have violently coughed up blood, suffer from fevers daily, night sweats are common, I even pass out on occasion and no matter how much I eat, I never seem to gain any weight at all,” she said and shrugged lightly as if she was used to all of this. “I don't know what else it could be.”

Ichigo seemed to mull over these words, his eyes narrowing as he appeared in deep thought. She wasn’t sure, but he had this look of interest in his eyes, as if he wanted to head home to do some research on the subject.

Perhaps modern medicine from the world of the living could help make her condition more tolerable? Was that what he was thinking?

Suddenly, Ichigo nodded his head sharply once and gave her a pointed look. “I'll keep your secret,” he said as he lifted a hand and pointed a finger in her direction, a light smirk spreading across his lips. “If you do me one little favour.”

Ah, Ukitake had been waiting for something like this. “Which is?” she asked, surprisingly only a light feeling of dread in her stomach.

A tense silence fell over them before Ichigo snorted and folded his arms over his chest again, the smirk turning into an annoyed look. “Let me crash here whenever that Kenpachi wants to battle me.”

Ukitake blinked. “That's it?”

One of her greatest secret revealed and all he wanted in return is to hide out at her place for a while? Hardly seem appropriate when he could easily ask for something far greater. When her best friend Kyouraku found out, he promised to keep it a secret if she wore the female academy uniform for him and paraded around in it.

The pervert...

She made sure to royal kick his ass the next time they trained together after that.

What else Ichigo could ask for, she wasn’t sure, but there had to be something the young man from her wanted more than just a place to hide for a while.

And why her, of all people? They weren’t exactly close and his likeness to her deceased lieutenant was uncanny, not to say a little unnerving. Was it because she was Rukia’s captain and he could visit her in peace here?

Maybe it was because she was the only captain that didn’t treat him like an outsider?

“I...sure, I guess I don't see why not,” Ukitake said as she gave a light shrug, smiling softly when Ichigo practically pumped his fist in the air in relief.

She really didn’t see any harm in Ichigo hanging out here to hide from Kenpachi; although the other male might crash the place once in a while if he was certain Ichigo was inside, but at least it gave her squad members something else to worry about instead of her health all the time.

Anyway, Rukia will enjoy having Ichigo here as well.

“But, surely, you have other places you could hide, right?” Ukitake couldn’t help but ask.

Ichigo settled back down and gave a one shoulder shrug. “Not really. I mean, for some reason Kenpachi doesn't crash this joint but is more than willing to destroy all the other captain's places. It's like nothing's off limit to him except for here. Well, that's what I've come to learn, anyway.”

“Really?” Ukitake found herself asking as she blinked in surprise.

Wait...he came to learn? Did that mean he has hidden himself in her bathroom before?

She didn’t know whether to laugh or be concerned at the number of times Ichigo could have found out about her secret without her realizing it.

She shook her head lightly to will away the blush that threatens to flitter across her cheeks. “What about Byakuya or Renji?”

A wince rippled through Ichigo’s posture. “I can't hide out at Byakuya's as he would merely chase me away with those servants of his, or if he's really pissed, he'd chase me out himself.” He then grimace and looked rather flustered. “Besides, I doubt Renji will let me after what happen last time.”

Ukitake tilted her head to the side to show that she was interested. “Last time?”

Again, Ichigo lifted his hand and scratched the back of his neck, something he did when he was feeling uncomfortable about something Ukitake noted. “I kinda ran into Byakuya's bed room...while Renji was there.”

This was getting interesting and Ukitake shifted a little in her seat, wanting to know more. “And?”

The blush on Ichigo’s cheeks darkened a shade or two and he fidgeted in his spot. “They were...ya know?”

Ukitake continued to look at him, trying to meet his eyes but he wouldn’t meet hers. He had this look on his face that he didn’t want to say what they were doing, but from that redness on his cheeks she had some idea.

He caught them in a moment of intimacy.

No wonder Byakuya would twitch whenever they saw each other. “...Oh! I see.”

Ukitake didn’t know whether to laugh or squeal loudly. She always had this inkling that there was something going on between Byakuya and Renji. Well, it looked like she was right! Kyouraku owed her a fist full of cash now!

“Scarred me for life, let me tell ya,” Ichigo muttered as he appeared somewhat thankful that he didn’t have to say it.

Again, Ukitake tilted her head to the side. “Do same sex couples trouble you?”

“It's not that,” Ichigo immediately replied, his face creasing in his usual serious frown. “It's just I had no idea that Byakuya could be so...submissive.”

“Meaning?” Ukitake pressed with a sense of hope in her eyes.

Ichigo’s face immediately went bright red again, the blush burning from his neck to his ears. “Meaning he was on the receiving end!” he all but shouted to her. “Jeez, do I have to spell it out to ya?!”

Ukitake suppressed a giggle. She knew he would have this kind of reaction. She just couldn’t help herself.

Make that two fists full of cash that Kyouraku owes her now!

“What about Kyouraku?” She continued, wondering about Ichigo’s relationship with the other captains. “I'm sure he wouldn't mind?”

“No, he wouldn't mind,” Ichigo muttered as yet another shuddered raced through his posture. “But that lieutenant of his would! The old man takes off during the commotion and I get in trouble for letting him escape!”

Again, Ukitake found herself laughing. That was definitely something Kyouraku would do. Always looking for an opportunity to get out of doing paperwork. He probably wouldn’t hesitate in sending Ichigo and Kenpachi a Hells Butterfly if he knew he would be able to sneak away for a while.

“Sounds like something he would do,” Ukitake said with light amusement in her voice. She was actually enjoying herself speaking to Ichigo and felt comfortable in his presence, even though she was feeling a little bit tired from all the excitement.

As if reading her body language, Ichigo climbed to his feet and practically ripped the blankets out from under her, causing her to topple back against the pillows. She made a noise of surprise, her eyes widening when he gently draped the blankets over her slender frame, his eyes not meeting hers again.

Normally, she would have protested at being treated so...abruptly? But then again, this is Ichigo, as stubborn as they come. And besides, she really didn’t have the energy or the will, surprisingly, to fend him off, so she let him subtly fuss over her in his own brash way.

“Thank you,” she said instead, which earned her an indignantly bashful look.

“Don’t mention it,” Ichigo said as he stepped away from the bed.

“What about Captain Hitsugaya?” Ukitake continued down the list of captains as she rolled over to her side, her head still resting on the pillow to look up with sleepily eyes at Ichigo, who had returned to his previous spot.

“Yeah, right,” Ichigo snorted loudly. “And get ice shards permanently shoved up my ass? I'd rather not.”

That caused a light chuckle to slip pass Ukitake’s lips as she thought about her fellow Shiro-kun. He did have a right little temper on him, doesn’t he? That’s what makes him so cute!

“What about Unohana?”

A shiver of absolute fear passed through Ichigo at the mere mentioning of the Squadron Four’s captain. “Yeah, well, let's just say she can have a mean streak when she's concerned over the wellbeing of her patients.”

“She's just motherly,” Ukitake corrected sleepily, her eyes drooping close.

“Call it what you want, she's still dangerous when she's mad,” Ichigo retorts as he leans his back against the wall, seemingly getting himself comfortable in his spot on the floor. “So, includes the reason why I’m staying at your place for a while. What do you say? I’ll keep you secret and you let me hide out here and we’ll call it even.”

“Sure,” Ukitake replied as she nuzzled her cheek into the pillow, just about to fall asleep. But, before she does, she opened one of her eyes and peered up at Ichigo, an almost teasing smile on her lips. “But Ichigo?”

Ichigo tilted his head to the side in question. “Yeah?”

“The bathroom’s off limits, ok?”

Indignant spluttering was the last thing she heard before drifting off to sleep. Even now, she could still feel his spiritual pressure and it was comforting to know that he was watching over her while she slept, making sure she didn’t have another attack while she rested.

He was a considerate young man. Brash and reckless at the best of times, but still very kind.

She could see why Rukia likes him so much. She likes him as well. It might actually be nice having Ichigo hang around for a while.

Well, he should make things interesting, at the very least, right?