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03 January 2008 @ 01:42 pm
Fanfic - Defining "Family" - IchiRuki  
Title: Defining "Family"
Fandom: Bleach
Characters: Kurosaki Ichigo and Kuchiki Rukia
Prompt: 024 - Family
Word Count: Not a clue
Rating: G
Summary: Is it really so simple to define such a thing?
Author's Notes: Ok, so I finally decided -- after much agonizing -- that I am going to have all of my fics for this challenge make use of the OC Kurosaki family that I tend to use in roleplay. Which would be IchiRuki and their 4 kids. Not every fic will necessarily have everyone listed in it, but they are all going to be just little snippets out of the same continuum. Just bc I want them all to somehow relate in my head. XD. Please enjoy, and if you are curious ABOUT my OC family, feel free to go take a jaunt into my personal journal for a summary, seeing as I've been toying with writing a little profile for my OC children. XD.

"What does family mean?"

It was a question she honestly hadn't expected to hear, and one that didn't have an easy answer -- mostly because there wasn't just one answer. Family was an important word in Soul Society. Especially to those growing up amidst the harsh realities and settings of the lower districts of Rukongai. "Family" meant more than a simple collection of individuals who were related by blood. Even one such as she, who'd grown up alone in the wealth of chaos and despair that characterized Inuzuri and so much else of the dregs of Soul Society, knew that much. She'd been taught that at a young age, taught that the word "family" meant so much more than relation, that it meant sharing, and watching out for each other.

That "family" could be made up of a rag-tag group of kids struggling and fighting and clawing for survival every day of their life had never seemed an oddity to her. In her world, that was family. Family was what you made of yourself, what you formed in order to survive, to get by in a world where being on your own -- at least for many -- spelled nothing but loneliness, despair, and hardship. Family was a necessity, even to those like her who had spent much of their youth alone, stubbornly mired in the idea that they could be self-sufficient.

It had been Renji and the other children, welcoming her into their circle, that had taught her that family could be more than that. That amidst the survival and the hardships and the necessity there was a sense of comeraderie, of closeness and caring that served to fill an emptiness where she'd never really noticed it before. Growing older, watching those she loved slip away, she'd learned yet another facet of the word "family". Sorrow. Heartache. The resolve to move foreward and never look back and know that those who had been lost would look down on them and be proud. The knowledge that "family" stretched beyond the boundaries they could see.

Years had passed, and the definition of family had been stretched and warped and expanded ever further. Family came to mean a far-reaching, lofty pedestal, crowned with the mark of nobility. A nigh-unreachable platform that those around her coveted and envied. To belong to a real family, to share one's very name with others, not to have some mock-up gathering of miscreants and lost souls. "Family" became a symbol, a pinnacle to strive for, and something that she couldn't quite see the sparkle that others saw in it.

"Family" was still what she'd once had, the easy familiarity and joviality she shared with Renji, the memories of afternoons spent fishing in the canals, kimono rolled up and tied to keep it out of the water, sleeves held back while she determinedly tried to spear one of the elusive morsels of food that swam by. Family was the laughter, the joking, the number of times she'd made her best friend fall on his face in righteous payback for some comment or action. It was something... warm.

But all too soon, that had changed, as she'd been swept away into the coils and sterility of the Kuchiki clan, bathed in it's white and pristine colours of perfection and taught how family "should" and "must" act. She'd watched over her figurative shoulder as the warmth in her life had faded, turning it's back and walking away; letting her go and never sparing a last glance. He'd said it was the best for her, but she'd failed to see how that was true. But regardless, the old days were gone. "Family" would never be the same. And so she'd bowed her head and resigned herself.

Come to know the formality, the stiffness and distance that came with belonging to a real family. Watched the back of her brother's head in silence, inwardly craving something, anything, a commonality that would allow her to know that somewhere, deep inside, there was more to "family" then simply an adopted relation. That the man who had taken her in, who had made her his sister, cared for her beyond the simple fact that as a member of his clan she should do well to uphold the noble name as it was fit.

And then that cold had been broken, a shaft of light had illuminated the cobwebs surrounding what she'd once termed "family", a pair of green eyes and a shock of unruly black hair that treated her not with the stiff and distantly formal ways that others around her did, but with an easy and casual manner that she'd grown so unused to that she hardly knew how to respond at first. And amidst the awkwardness and fumbling that came with her own insecurities, she'd grown to love her new family. Love the people of her division, love her gentle captain, love the fun and often-loud ways the two third-seats behaved. And most of all, loved the man who'd reminded her what "family" could really be.

That illusion, for she came to realize that nothing so wonderful could ever be anything but, was shattered one night in a flash of steel and a downpour of rain. She'd watched, horrified and stunned, as the keystone of her family slipped from life in her hands, quietly thanking her for doing what she considered unthinkable. And at that moment, she'd turned her back on family. Family was something that brought you pain, that was merely an illusion slipping through your fingers. It was better, perhaps, to simply content herself with the cool and smooth coils of duty, to cling to the simple thought that "family" meant an obligation. It was duty, purpose, obligation and honor.

But even that had been challenged. Challenged when another, so like the first, had barged into her life -- or her into his, it was hardly a matter for speculation -- and had simply refused to accept such a thing. No, he hadn't suggested she change her outlook, he had outright demanded it.

She'd stood there, in a stunned half-aware state, the Hollow's presence -- along with the rest of the world -- seeming miles away as she'd watched the orange-haired boy struggle against the kidou, risk everything to save HIS family. And somehow, something about the way he strove, the way he fought... it touched something in her. And before she could even stop to think about it, think about how she was risking everything, potentially throwing away all she had and all she was, and for a boy she didn't even know, she'd stepped in, offering her aid, as something inside of her screamed out in protest at simply standing by. A part that wanted to protect, to safeguard something that was so like the image of "family" she'd hidden away deep in her heart.

How could she have known that her one simple action, her one refusal to back down would have changed her life so much? And yet it had. She'd seen the boy grow, seen him fight and risk life and limb, first for her, then for another of his nakama, his "family". And she'd watched, felt herself drawn into it, like a thread woven into a tapestry until she'd come to realize that her family had become his, at least in part. That among those he counted dear, were also those who were precious to her.

And his ways had created upheavels, seen the change of worlds and so much in between. She'd seen her brother begin to shed the cold mask of ice, begin to gradually open up and make an attempt at creating a "real" family with her. It would never be perfect, never be that loud, boisterous ideal, yet that strengely mattered little anymore. She'd watched as her best friend, the first one she'd called "family", walked back into her life, working to heal what both had finally realized was broken. And though things would never be exactly the same, even that brought with it a sense of warmth, of closeness.

The others around her had grown and changed, knitting her into their fabric of family, making her as much a part of it as each of them was. And in doing so, they'd taught her so much that she'd never even realized was missing.

And she'd seen the boy grow. In power, in resolve and strength, and finally, into the man he was today.


Violet eyes blinked and refocused, shaken out of their momentary reverie by her son's tug at her hand, shifting to rest on the nearly-identical pair that stared up at her from the floor beside her chair. Smiling, Rukia reached out and ruffled her son's unruly orange fringe with a chuckle, the boy beaming and setting down the marker he was colouring with.

"I'm sorry, Kaien, I got distracted for a minute."

She watched as the 4-yr old nodded, once again busying himself with colouring his picture. What does family mean? A few moments ago, it had seemed like such a difficult, complex question. But now, as she sat and watched her son draw red smiles on the scribbled faces of her family.... the answer wasn't really so hard after all.
Psyche: goodgood