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stardust_rain in ship_manifesto

Kurosaki Ichigo/Kuchiki Rukia (Bleach)

Aiyeeee, this is late. I've suffered severe writer's block and heavy schoolwork, and hadn't had time to turn on the computer. Is it still...allowed? *swallows*


Title: Temporary Heaven
Pairing: Kurosaki Ichigo x Kuchiki Rukia
Fandom: Bleach
Author: stardust_rain
Spoilers: Not really? Most of the plot involving IchiRuki is mentioned, but that’s all.

Comments:

* All names are in surname, given name format.

* Because of an over-complicated double plot, I’ve skipped quite a lot of episodes and manga chapters – thus, the plot summary is not whole and pretty damn unreliable. Also, this only covers up to Soul Society arc, and nothing afterwards because the current arc is still ongoing and imcomplete.

* The lines and quotes come from subtitles and scanlations by Lunar and manga-rain or manga7 respectively. For Urahara’s line I used the manga7 translation instead of Lunar's subs since, technically, it was more correct.

* And lastly, but most importantly, all my thanks goes to the wonderful penguin_sensei and bonita_chaotica for their beta reading and conductive criticism.

With that said:



“From his eyes and his words, Ichigo’s strength flows endlessly into me. You really have gotten strong, Ichigo.”
–- Rukia, (thinking) after Ichigo has broken the execution stand.

“The power in my hand was gained for [Rukia’s] sake!”
–- Ichigo showing Byakuya his bankai.


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Temporary Heaven – an IchiRuki ship manifesto



Meet Kurosaki Ichigo. He’s a fifteen year old high school student with orange hair, a large attitude and the ability to see ghosts. He’s short-tempered and grumpy, with a frown that never seems to leave his face, has pretty good grades and except for his unnatural hair colour, he is – or rather was – a perfectly normal boy.

Meet Kuchiki Rukia. She’s a one hundred and fifty year old Shinigami, with bucketfuls of sarcasm and snark. She comes from Soul Society, the after world, and her job is to wipe out Hollows. After a Hollow leaves both of them defenceless, she gives Ichigo her Shinigami powers and flips his life upside down.


“Let us pray that this doesn’t become our last greeting.”

We start from the beginning; they meet in Ichigo’s bedroom. Rukia enters from the window, stands on his desk and says “It’s close” and jumps down onto the floor. Ichigo, mistaking her for a robber, kicks her across the room, shouting “what’s so close, retard?!”

Startled, she replies with, “You can see me?”

Rukia proceeds to explain about Hollows, fallen souls who attack and devour the living, and Shinigami, whose job is to wipe them out. Most people are unable to see either. Next moment there’s a scream, and speak of the devil; a Hollow has appeared in front of the house. Karin and Yuzu, Ichigo’s younger sisters, have been attacked and so has their father. Apparently, Rukia’s missed because her senses has been blocked by a more powerful presence – namely, Ichigo’s who the Hollow is originally after. “So that’s why Yuzu and Karin and Dad were attacked.”

He steps on to the road and in front of it. “If you want my soul, come fight me for it!”

It attacks; Rukia rushes out to block it, but gets beat up pretty bad in return. The Hollow is damaged to a point, distracting it from them but only for a while. Now that Rukia is defenceless and extremely weakened, there is one last way to save them both; by piercing Rukia’s Zanpakuto (a Shinigami's sword) through Ichigo, making him a Shinigami and taking half of Rukia power. It’s pretty risky though, and he might be killed in the progress, but they don’t have time to hesitate.

He looks down at her. “Lend me your sword, Shinigami.”

“It is not Shinigami,” she replies. “I am Kuchiki Rukia.”

“I see. And I am Kurosaki Ichigo!”

The Zanpakuto pierces through him, there’s a flood of light and Ichigo emerges in a black kimono and a sword as large as himself.

Enter new worlds, enter craziness, enter Ichigo’s new life. Rukia can’t return to Soul Society, now that she’s lost her powers, so she’s sticking around. With Rukia staying in Ichigo’s closet, for two months they’re going to be trying to bear with the other.

“If you try to follow me, I’ll never forgive you.”
The first goodbye


Episode seventeen is the last we see of Ichigo and Rukia together for a while. In episode fifteen Rukia’s brother, Captain Kuchiki Byakuya, and his Vice Captain, Abarai Renji, come to send her back to Soul Society and kill Ichigo. It turns out that it’s a crime to lend one’s Shinigami powers to another human, and Rukia is going to pay the price for it. Ishida – a Quincy (exorcist) – comes to help after he felt spirit power, but not before long he too is down. Just as Renji lifts his arm to make a final blow, Ichigo comes to the scene.

And we carry on into episode seventeen.

There is a fight between Ichigo and Renji; the first part that Ichigo loses badly, receiving heavy injures in the shoulder, and the second part where Ichigo gains sudden energy and speed and attacks back, pushing Renji back on to his heels. Enter Byakuya. He cuts through Ichigo’s sword without breaking a sweat, and the next second appears right behind him, piercing his sword through his back. Ichigo falls. Rukia runs towards him, but is stopped by Renji who pins her to a lamppost.

Renji: Look closely! The brat’s dead! Just touching him right now will get you another twenty years in jail. What the hell is the reason to worsen your crimes for a dead guy?!
Rukia: I involved Ichigo. It’s my fault that he’s dead. Since it’s my fault that he’s dead, what’s wrong with me running to him?!
Byakuya: Even though it will add to your crimes, you still cannot bear not being near him? I see now, Rukia. I understand. This boy truly is like him.

Before we find out about this mysterious “him”, Ichigo regains consciousness and grabs onto Byakuya’s leg. “Already dead, huh? And being a lot like someone eh? Don’t move the conversation on without me, dammit!”

“Oh? You won’t have that arm for long.”

Suddenly, Rukia runs forward and kicks Ichigo’s arm out of the way. “Filthy human, " she says. "How dare you grab onto Nii-sama’s leggings like that? Know your place, boy!”

She continues. “After seeing this crude behaviour, I, Kuchiki Rukia have finally opened my eyes. Please, take me back to Soul Society. I will humbly atone for my crimes.”

Ichigo makes to stand up, but--

“Don’t move! If you try to come after me, if you try to take one step, I’ll never forgive you.” When she turns back to look at him, we see that her eyes are full of tears. Renji opens the gate and they leave.

Rukia is taken away, Ishida is down and Ichigo is beaten half to death and left bleeding on the road after Byakuya’s attack. Cue the violins, cue the rain, cue the angst.

However, Urahara Kisuke, a Shinigami-turned-shop-keeper who helped Rukia before, manages to save his life. After being treated, Ishida leaves immediately and asks Urahara to “please take care of Kurosaki.” Because “even if we have a chance to beat those bastards, it is not me. The only person who can save Kuchiki-san is him”. Ichigo hears this when he wakes up in Urahara’s shop.

Ichigo: Only me… huh? What am I supposed do?
Ichigo: Rukia’s gone back to Soul Society! How can I follow her there?! How am I supposed to save her?!
Ichigo: …I can’t. I can’t!
Urahara: Do you really think so? That there’s no way to save Kuchiki-san?
Ichigo: Is there? Please tell me!
Urahara: Of course I’ll tell you. But only on one condition.

(Emphasis mine. Italics identifies Ichigo shouting his lungs out.)

And that condition is: training. Urahara will only allow Ichigo to go into Soul Society if he trains with him for ten days. When he hears this, he goes berserk. “There’s no time for that!” he yells. “We don’t know when Rukia will be executed! We need to get into Soul Society as soon as possible!” As soon as possible, but it’s impossible. Ichigo is weak and has been left powerless after Byakuya’s attack. Going into Soul Society in his condition is suicide, Urahara explains. “You need to train. And that needs to come from the bottom of your heart. Anything that isn’t pure will, throw it away. A strong will is stronger than steel.” Soul Society usually allows a 35-day grace period before executing a prisoner. That’s ten days to train, seven days to open the gates to Soul Society, and thirteen days left to find and save her.

“Plenty of time,” Urahara adds. “For ten days, are you ready to face a life-or-death battle with me?”

“Do even you have to ask?” Ichigo replies.

Ah, episode seventeen. This is what made me a shipper in the first place. Still brings tears to my eyes.

“I have heard everything about you from Rukia-san, Kurosaki Ichigo-san.”
Second-hand communication


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Ichigo enters Soul Society as a fully fledged Shinigami once again, along with his classmates Ishida Uryuu, Inoue Orihime and Sado Yasutora and talking cat Yoruichi who follows as a guide. They come in to the Seireitei (where the Shinigami live) through the sky via Shiba Kuukaku’s cannon along with her little brother Ganjyu. Once inside the barrier, the cannon ball explodes and everyone flies off in different directions. Ichigo and Ganjyu are surrounded by Shinigami almost as soon as they land – so Ichigo kidnaps a nearby Shinigami and takes him hostage in order to escape. Said Shinigami turns out to be Yamada Hanatarou of the Fourth Division and he’s willing to help them upon hearing their plans. He leads them down into the underground sewage system for the quickest way. It turns out that he’s been cleaning Rukia’s cell before she was moved to the White Tower (a.k.a Tower of Penance.)

“Rukia-san started to converse with me,” he says. “She talked mostly about you, Kurosaki-san. She said that she had been with you for only two months, but she had unbelievably high faith in you. Also, because of her, your life changes forever and you suffered a lot of pain. So she can never make it up to you, not matter what she does. During the time I’ve seen her, her face always became gloomy and sad.”

The next moment Ichigo is sprinting down the walk, with a distressed Ganjyu and Hanatarou following. “Moron,” he thinks. “Those are my lines. I won’t let you die no matter what, Rukia!”

Let’s skim twenty or so chapters. Ganjyu and Hanatarou are now at bridge leading to the White Tower; Ichigo is injured but recovering from a fight with Zaraki Kenpachi, 11th Division Captain. He’s now in a cave with Yoruichi, who has found and healed him, when they sense Byakuya’s spirit pressure coming from the Tower. He mentions that Hanatarou and Ganjyu are there, grabs flying device (a wing that she used to bring him to the cave) and takes off.

Ganjyu has been cut down by Byakuya but fortunately Ukitake, Rukia’s captain, has shown up to stop him before he caused any more damage. Rukia and Hanatarou are now out on the bridge leading away from the Tower when a sudden spirit pressure hits them. Ichigo descends from the sky and lands on one knee in from of Rukia. He stands up, folds the wing and walks past without a word, seeming to be concerned about Hanatarou.

Then turns to her. “Rukia, I’m here to save you”.

Rukia is shocked. She gets tears in her eyes, then tells him he's a fool, that he shouldn't have come and now he's wounded everywhere. Ichigo glances over Ganjyuu and Hanatarou, then faces Byakuya. “You can get mad however you like later. After I defeat him!”

However, the then-current Ichigo was too weak to fight Byakuya. Yoruichi saves him and drags him away to train. “In three days I will make him stronger than you,” are her parting words to Byakuya.

Skip to the execution and Ichigo has achieved Ban Kai, the ultimate strength of a Zanpakuto, after three days of intense training. He breaks the stand that Rukia is tied to and after throwing her down to a waiting Renji and telling him to get the hell away, proceeds to fight Byakuya. He wins, but get beaten up in the process.

When they reunite again, Rukia says that she’s staying in Soul Society. Ichigo accepts this.


“Lend me your sword, Shinigami.”
The characters


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While the saying “opposites attract” goes for most ships, Ichigo and Rukia never seem to stop bickering because of that. There is also “like attracts like”, but they seem to be the exact polar opposites. What builds this ship is not what the characters have in common; it’s what they differ to the other with.

Kurosaki Ichigo is full of pride and determination. Bound to finish what he’s started, be it a fight or rescue mission, he doesn’t really pay attention to what anyone else has to say. He wants to protect and he keeps close hold on the people around him, but it stretches further than that. “I don’t think I’m ready to risk my life for someone yet,” he tells Rukia at the end of the third episode. “But I’m not some selfish asshole who can stand and watch as someone else suffers.”

Ichigo isn’t a trained Shinigami; he’s a self-made one, taking all the shortcuts there are to take, but he’s still ready to save others, tumbling his life upside down and inside out while he’s at it. For him, pride comes as a side-dish.

Kuchiki Rukia is full of pride and self-confidence. She came to Soul Society as a baby and grew up in one of the districts with worst conditions in Rukongai. After entering the Shinigami Academy, she was picked up by the noble Kuchiki Byakuya and from then on learned how to behave, how hold her head up, how to act and talk in a respectable way. She snarks, she smirks and Ichigo becomes her punch bag if he decides to mock her.

But like Ichigo’s Shinigami title, her nobility was not born with but made; she was moulded into what was necessary to continue living in the Kuchiki House. For her, pride comes as a default.

“I won’t thank you for this, idiot.”
Around each other

There are, however, two notable likenesses that should be mentioned here. Both have lost an important person in their past lives, afterwards blaming it on themselves.

When Ichigo was nine, his mother was killed by the Grande Fisher, a powerful Hollow, while trying to protect him. He didn’t know that Hollows existed then , so he thought he was the one who caused her death. Forty years ago, Rukia’s vice-captain Shiba Kaien died in her hands. Kaien’s wife was killed by Hollow, so he sets out for revenge without knowing that said Hollow was able to merge with Shinigami. Thus Kaien was fused into an insane half Shinigami/half Hollow monster. There was no way out, so Rukia, out of desperation and on orders, killed him.

The guilt stayed with them for a long while, and it could be argued that that’s what made Rukia try desperately to keep Ichigo alive. While Ichigo overcomes this after confronting Fisher, Rukia never really got over it until after apologizing to Kuukaku and Ganjyu, Kaien’s remaining family. The “It’s my fault s/he suffered” stays with them, most vividly shown when Hanatarou spills and tells. However, it’s scratched on in episode seventeen where it is first revealed and where we see the development of their relationship.

From what we’ve seen of Ichigo and his personality, it was pretty predictable that he would do anything to save Rukia. He said it himself; “I want to save mountains of people”. It was Rukia that saved him so he could save those people, and now she is going to be executed because of that. It would only be his nature to march in to Soul Society, kick down the walls and drag her back.

But it’s not really Ichigo’s rescuing that I’m looking at; it’s the sheer force of willpower behind it. Ichigo is simply not used to losing. Wait, correction: Ichigo’s not used failure, least of all the bitter helplessness of it. When he failed to avenge his mother, both he and the Fisher were unable to carry on fighting – he couldn’t change anything on his own. This time he’s still alive, he's kicking and he has a flicker of a chance to change Rukia’s fate. When Urahara offers him that chance, he throws away all reason and demands to “go into Soul Society as soon as possible”. It’s not ‘how do we save her?’ or ‘what do I have to do to save her?’ but rather ‘I have to save her now!’ That was much more desperation as opposed to his usual determination.

Although determined, Ichigo is very controlled by his emotions; he’s a hormonal teenager. He reacts to people around him, strongest to those he holds close and many times during the Soul Society arc he reacts to Rukia. When she is taken away, he’s mad at himself for being too weak to save her. When Hanatarou says that she talks about him, he’s mad because he’s the one who made her sad. Before his training with Urahara started, he notices Rukia’s vacancy. The empty seat beside him and nobody noticing that she was gone all made him feel uncomfortable and he describes it as though ‘it doesn’t feel real’. He makes up his mind to rescue her because he knows that there’s a place for her in this world.

Throughout the fights, he has one motto and one only: save Rukia and bring her back no matter what. When they reunite on the White Tower and he says it to her himself; “It doesn’t matter how you say it, I’ll drag you out of here if I have to.” This keeps him going during his fight with Byakuya, and he doesn’t listen to a word Rukia has to say when she tells him countless times to “go back” or “don’t save me”. To put it simply, Ichigo is plain stubborn bastard.

All this doesn’t change until chapter 181. Rukia announces that she’s staying in the Soul Society and Ichigo, amazingly, accepts it; no questions asked. Which comes as a bit of a shock - after all that blood and struggle, why is he ready to let her go that easily? The answer: he wants to Rukia to be happy, nothing more. He recalls it himself - that’s the real reason he came to save her in the first place.

And then, we have Rukia. Equally determined as Ichigo, Rukia, on the other hand, is very self-controlled when it comes to emotions - it was something she was moulded into, something expected of her as one of the Kuchiki clan. When informed that she’s due to die in twenty-five days, she doesn’t allow for sadness, just like she doesn’t allow herself to get attached to her life in the living world.

Rukia doesn’t express her feelings openly, but it’s easy to interpret what she hides under the surface. Brought up in one of the four noble Shinigami houses, she learned to hold a calm attitude and a cold mask, building a wall around the sensitive side of herself and only adding bricks to it over time. From what we’ve seen in the flashbacks, there are very few people that she allows within that wall: Ukitake, Kaien and occasionally Kotsubaki and Kiyone, the first- and second seated Shinigami in her division.

Ichigo, technically, is not invited in; he breaks it down. He’s one of the few who can actually provoke her emotions and make her lose control of the mask she carries, bringing out the “human” side against her will. As proof, Rukia desperately, but indirectly, tries to keep Ichigo from dying whenever and however she can, even if by wishing it silently.


“I’d never slip up bad enough for you to worry.”
Why IchiRuki?

This ship is most commonly known as ‘Death and strawberry’, ‘deathberry’ and sometimes even seen as ‘princess and knight’ in the fandom, with several rival ships such as Renji x Rukia and Ichigo x Orihime in between. Not very surprising, since in canon the IchiRuki ship is more or less subtle. There are hints, but no solid fact that there are romantic feelings between them. There’s the proof that Orihime has crush on Ichigo, that Renji wanted to beat Byakuya because he took Rukia away, but when it comes to IchiRuki, it’s more of seeing subtexts, analysing and reading signs. And, really, what’s more fun than subtexts in a pairing?

Ichigo and Rukia are the two of the more typical protagonists in a shounen series – Ichigo is the normal boy exposed to a new and dangerous world, Rukia is the exotic alien girl who guides him along and shows him the ropes. From the starting plot, I can honestly say that they were the last couple on earth I expected to be together. But the starting plot was only the build-up. We haven’t even come to prologue yet. Throughout the beginning of the series, in the two month spent together, their relationship starts to grow, change and finally start to take the so-called ‘romantic’ form. In episode seventeen, we see just far it had stretched.

Around five to ten minutes in into episode two, Rukia shows up in Ichigo’s school, dressed in the uniform, talking in a overly polite (read: her version of modern) voice, able to control and annoy the hell out of Ichigo at the same time - already, she can read him like a book. But this is only the tip of it. Later on, there’s the “That’s my line” going on. When Hanatarou tells Ichigo about Rukia and when the gang is about to leave Soul Society, they’re both voicing each other’s thoughts, even though the emotions and situations there are the total opposites.

There is no argument that they are one of the most mismatching couple out there. Firstly we have Ichigo; inexperienced and clueless when it comes to love, showing as much understanding of women as an average watermelon and often and easily losing his temper. Secondly we have Rukia; professional snarker, sharper than her Zanpakuto when it comes to wits and loves poking Ichigo’s most sensitive buttons. But, can it work? Yes, it can; as miss-matching as they look, as the many arguments turn to elementary-school level, they work.

Rukia can both look through and understand Ichigo – goal, pride and motives without him having to say anything. Meanwhile Ichigo, in his devotion and hell-bent to bring her home, trusts her entirely. They work both as a balance and support, mentally as well as physically, but neither depends on the other more than they’d like to admit. Although he gives her hope, although she manages to kick him out of his “angsting state”, both keep behind their masks they’ve built, but still respecting the other’s privacy. You can see them as a princess/knight or as the two-people-team, but in the end it’s hard to deny they love each other, even if in the strictly platonic way.

It’s just like Urahara said: they’re stronger than steel.


Extra: (for the hell of it, and because I can)

After scrounging through manga chapters and episodes, I found this line that made go wide-eyed. Takes place before the Soul Society arc. In which the mobile phone that provides orders about Hollows is malfunctioning.

Ichigo: Seriously, do something about that worthless phone.
Rukia: Are you saying it’s my fault? I just tell you exactly what happens on the command receiver.
Ichigo: So I’m telling you, hurry up and get it fixed.
Rukia: Believe me, I would love to.
--episode 14

They’re acting very …husband-and-wife like, no?


For me, I can’t pinpoint when I started to ship them – wait, I can actually. It was during episode seventeen, when Ichigo started shouting that he couldn’t save Rukia and I got tears in my eyes.

“It wasn’t easy coming all this way, you know.”

So – you’ve stuck with me through my rambling plot summary, the analysis and the personal opinions. Good job. From here on, I guess it’s however you want to interpret it. Bleach is an ever growing fandom and I am very proud to say that IchiRuki is one of the most active ships yet.

Note to newcomers: I’ve left out a large chunk of the plot and characters here and major plot twists mainly because of it’s insane complication. If you want to find out more (but of course you do), I've provided links below.

General:

Bleach Portal - Bleach fansite with manga chapters and anime episodes
soul_society - discussion, info, merchanise and media
kurosaki_clinic - fanworks

Community:

ichi_ruki IchiRuki community. Everything is posted here, holds a Discussion of the Week and two competitions per year.
The official fanlisting


Fanfics

Flutterby by goldberry
Six degress of separation" by anime_babble
24 frames per second by didnti
Memory Lane" by lemonyloyce
Personal Buddha by goldberry
Preserving You" by llamrei

The Problem with Post-Its by starswing
To the Wind by AdventWing
A Word of Thanks by Kouri

Fan art

Aile M's IchiRuki fanart site
Devianart club

Two halves of a Whole by malena_sama
Stars and Ladders by fanartist
chapter 190 doujinshi by tastyrobot

Comments

Thanks so much for doing this! I was hoping someone would do an IchiRuki essay!

AND AHHHH, MY LITTLE FICLET'S UP THERE. *sobcling* ;.; Thank you!
blue by darkhavens

January 2018

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