Rukia snuck into the kitchen, making sure none of the men saw her. Luckily for her the cook was out of the room so she was more able to move around. Using her quick fingers she gathered together a plate of various foods. Cheese, bread, meat, and a cup of water. Not too much, but what else was there? The pirate girl hurriedly left the kitchen and made her way to the captain's quarters.
Once there she took a deep breath. Be calm, be calm... Composing herself she pushed the door open, saying, "You in here, miss?"
Shizuka was sitting at the other side of the room. Since the last 'incident' she'd been sure to obey Ichigo and stay in his room...but it was just so dull. After a time she'd taken to counting the treasure inside the cabin; coins, bars, rings, etc. It was something to pass the time. But when she heard the voice of another in the room, she turned to the door and smiled brightly. "Yes, I'm over here!" she said. Standing up carefully, she smoothed out her tattered skirt and stepped out of the corner. This person was the one Ichigo had given the task of protecting her, and if Ichigo trusted this pirate, so did Shizuka.
Rukia cleared her throat slightly, making it sound deeper than it really was. Remember, be gruff like a pirate. But don't sound like a brute. She took a few steps forward to the girl, examining the girl. Just like the men had said her dress was now in tatters. Those imbeciles. Bringing her mind back Rukia awkwardly said, "Here you go. I thought you might be hungry."
There was something odd about the pirate's voice, and Shizuka couldn't quite put her finger on it. "Oh, thank you!" Shizuka said brightly and stepped over next to the bed. She'd become quite familiar with the layout, and she no longer needed to feel her way around. "I was getting a bit hungry. That was thoughtful of you!" she smiled.
Rukia blinked slightly. Oh yeah, the girl was blind. How could she have forgotten? In consideration of this Rukia went a few more steps closer so she was directly in front of her. Slowly, she held out the plate. "Here you are."
Shizuka reached out carefully and took hold of the plate. She thanked her guard again and sat down on the bed. Moving her head up, she made a motion for the other to join. "Would you like to share? No fun eating alone, after all!" she grinned.
"...Sure." Rukia wasn't too hungry but it was hard saying no to a girl that cheery. And she wouldn't be able to tell if she took only small bits anyways. Rukia also sat on the bed, legs crossing slightly. After a moment she asked, "Are you doing okay here?"
Shizuka had already taken a small bite of bread and cheese, but smiled once she'd swallowed it. "Oh, yes!" she nodded. "Though it is a bit boring. I've never liked being cooped up like this." She took the cup of water and sipped. "Even if it is for my own good."
To fill the awkwardness she felt Rukia took a small bit of cheese. Then she said, "Yeah, a pirate ship isn't meant for ladies." Like she was one to talk. "Especially after that... incident."
Something about the pirate's voice still seemed a bit off. But then it hit her. It just..wasn't quite masculine, and had a more gentle air to it. She'd never head a MAN with that quality in his voice. Well, then that settled it. "You seem to do well though," Shizuka said curiously.
Rukia hadn't taken in the meaning of the words at first. Her eyes widened a little and she coughed slightly on the bit of cheese. She quickly thought of something to play it off. "Well, I'm just a small boy and they don't mind me."
But now Shizuka was quite sure of herself. "Mm-hmm," she smiled knowingly. "I don't think I ever caught your name. Could you tell me please?"
Awkwardly dropping her voice a few more decibels she gruffly replied, "Rukia. Rukia Kuchiki."
Shizuka stifled a small giggle. "Sounds like a pretty name for a girl. Perhaps not so much for a girl trying to be a pirate," she said lightly. "You must be a good actor!"
Rukia stared dumbfoundedly at the girl. "W-what? I don't know what in the world you're talking about. My... mother wanted a daughter so she named me like a girl."
"Amazing things happen when you lose your eyes, Rukia," Shizuka said almost randomly. "You learn to listen to people very carefully, and sometimes you learn things about them you wouldn't have otherwise." She paused for a sweet smile. "But I won't tell. Promise!"
Although she knew Shizuka clearly knew by now Rukia kept on. "Miss, since you can't see me you can't see that I'm just a young boy. My, uh, em, voice hasn't broken." She mentally hit herself for the lame excuse.
"Oh, alright," Shizuka kept her soft smile upon her face. "If you insist on it, I'll play along, little boy," she said. "But really! You don't have to pretend with me! It must be hard to be the only girl on a ship full of pirates! Even if they do accept you as one of them."
Unable to argue anymore, Rukia let out a sigh of defeat. Great. She had been found out by someone she had just met. "You were able to find out merely by my voice?" By now she had allowed herself to speak in her normal voice. It surprised her, actually. She hadn't spoken like that in so long.
"Like I said, I sort of have to listen very carefully," she told Rukia with a light laugh. "But like I said, I swear not to tell!" Shizuka held up her hand as a sort of oath. "Cross my heart!"
"You really promise me that?" Rukia asked, not looking at her. Because if the men did find out... "Especially Captain Kurosaki?"
"ESPECIALLY Ichi-the captain," Shizuka nodded with a slight stammer. "I would never put anyone in my position here. It'll be our little secret," she put a finger to her lips and grinned.
Rukia finally brought herself to smile a little. She was quite sweet. "Thank you so much. I can't imagine what the men would do. They think I'm just a twelve or so year-old boy."
"Well you must do a very good job!" Shizuka said brightly. "After all, the captain did tell you to watch me, and he said he'd have to get someone he really trusted!"
"Well, compared to the other lunkheads around here," Rukia replied, although she was smiling. Then her smile dropped. "But I didn't protect you when you were in danger. For that I'm sorry."
Shizuka's smile fell, and she gave Rukia a puzzled look. "Oh, don't apologize for that!" she shook her head and reached for her piece of bread and cheese. "That was my own fault. I didn't listen to the captain like I should have."
Rukia leaned back slightly and stared at the ceiling. "I still can't help but feel I should have done something. Anything at all."
"Please don't feel bad about it. Everything worked out!" Shizuka said. "After all, no point in asking what if!" Shizuka calmed a bit though. "I just should have done what Ichigo told me and stayed here."
At least now the men know to be more careful." She had heard the men talk about Ichigo threatening to send them off the plank. "Captain Kurosaki is adamant on keeping you safe."
Shizuka could feel the slight blush on her cheeks as she sheepishly smiled. "Yes, he is," she said almost dreamily. "I'm very lucky he was the captain here.”
Furrowing her brows slightly Rukia gave her a puzzled look. She shook it off. "He's a true man of honor, despite being a captain of pirates. The captain's a good man of honor."
"He is," Shizuka agreed, sipping at her water cup. "He always has been."
"Yeah." She paused. Wait... What did she just say? Rukia stared at her. "What do you mean by that?"
"Hm?" Shizuka muttered, startled out of her own little world. "Oh!" Oh no! She wasn't supposed to let anyone else know about Ichigo's life before he was a pirate! "Oh, um. Nothing!" she squeaked, laughing nervously.
Rukia frowned slightly. "You said he always had been. Did you know him before?" The captain never spoke about himself, so no one knew too much about him.
Shizuka was about to protest further, but well...it didn't seem fair to. "...Well, I suppose it's only fair I tell you a secret now," she sighed with an exhausted smile. "...Ichigo was my big brother's best friend when we were growing up. I knew him very well."
Her mouth dropped open slightly. "You knew Captain Kurosaki when he was a kid?" Well, it would explain why he wanted to protect her.
Shizuka nodded. Her smile became wistful and nostalgic. "I did. I used to follow him and my brother around all the time. He used to call me little names like 'ugly twit.' Every now and then he still does," she giggled a bit.
"Wow..." Rukia just couldn't picture the captain like that. Or calling a girl names. It was... strange. "So its a kind of like a reunion between you two?"
"You could say that," Shizuka hesitantly said. "For the longest time my brother and I thought he was dead. So it was quite a relief to me to know that he was alive....even if it was because I was kidnapped."
Rukia didn't respond for a few moments. She was beginning to realize that protecting this girl had grown far more important. If she meant something to the captain then she knew she'd defend her. "Has the captain said what he wants to do with you?"
"What he what?" Shizuka practically squeaked. What did that mean?! Oh. Wait. She knew. "...Oh," she let out a nervous laugh. "I...don't entirely know, I guess," she said. "Just told me to stay here for now."
Her eyebrow arched slightly at her first response but she didn't press. "I'm sure he'll return you to your home in proper time." She paused. "It may be a little difficult though. The men will have lots of questions about it."
"I really hope I'm not causing Ichigo too much trouble," Shizuka said thoughtfully. "The last thing I want is to be a burden, and I know it's hard for Ichigo to keep me here."
"You're not a trouble," Rukia told her, smiling slightly. "If Captain Kurosaki wants to keep you here then the men will just have to deal with their little superstitions. I've been here for a while now and we haven't had too much troubles. The whole curse bit is rather ridiculous."
"Oh, yes, it is," Shizuka smiled and nodded. "And thank you." She paused for a moment. "It's nice to be able to talk to someone. Especially another girl," she told Rukia, sweetly grinning. "And much more fun than counting coins all day."
Shizuka giggled slightly. "I suppose it's been a while since I've talked to anyone besides my mother in the past year," she thought out loud. "But now we can have little chats if you like! Since we’ve gotten so close and all.” Aw. Shizuka made a joke.
Rukia blinked slightly at her. Close? Was that what she called it? It might not be a smart move. But Shizuka looked so happy that she just couldn't say no. "Sure. That might be nice."
Shizuka sensed the hesitation. "Oh, we don't have to if you don't want," she said, sipping her water again. "I just thought it might be easier for you to 'protect' me if you stayed in here! I'm sure Ichigo won't mind."
Rukia glanced down at the floor. "Well, its just been so long since I've been anything but a pirate boy. Maybe I'm not that interesting."
"Oh I doubt that!" Shizuka smiled. "After all, not many girls have pretended to be boys so they could live on a pirate ship. I think there might be a bit of story there."
"Perhaps." She paused. "It would also be interesting to hear more about your childhood. I want to find out more what Captain Kurosaki is like. I don't know him too well."
Shizuka paused. "Well, alright. But you have to promise not to repeat anything. Or Ichigo might kill me," she said sheepishly. "I'm sure he wouldn't want people to know about the time he dressed up like a pirate and tried to swing on a rope and just fell flat on his face!”
...The captain did what? Rukia was silent for a moment but then she couldn't help but laugh. Captain Kurosaki did that? It was so hard to imagine. "I promise I won't tell."
"Oh, please don't!" Shizuka laughed, covering her mouth with her hand. "Oh dear, if Ichigo knew what I was saying...Oh!" She laughed harder, burying her face into her hands. "He wouldn't be very happy!"
Rukia smiled gently. Maybe talking to this girl would be a good thing. She couldn't have conversations like this with the other men. "It must be nice having such a wonderful childhood friend."
"It was," Shizuka nodded, calming down. "I...sort of wish I could see how he's changed though," she added solemnly. But it wasn't long before she perked up again. "Oh well. It's truly not a big deal! I'm just glad he's doing so well."
Rukia ran a hand through her hair, thinking. She lightly said, "Maybe I could ask the captain if I could take you outside now and again, as long as I stay by your side. How does that sound?"
Shizuka paused for a moment. She could go outside into the fresh sea air?! "Oh, I would LOVE that, Rukia!" she squeaked. Unable to contain herself, she threw her arms around the other and hugged her. "That would be so great!"
Rukia sat lamely for a long moment, eyes wide. A little awkwardly she returned the hug. How long had it been since she could do that? "Um, your welcome, I guess..."
After a moment, Shizuka realized...just how awkward this was. She pulled back and smiled sheepishly. "Sorry~" she apologized. "I just...really like being outside. Especially around the ocean."
Smoothing down her shirt Rukia replied, "Well, at least I know you're excited." She stood from the bed and said, "I should see if I can find the captain and ask about it."
"Alright!" Shizuka said happily, then heard her stomach growl a bit. "Oh, I was so into our conversation I forgot how hungry I was!" she sheepishly admitted. "I'll just finish eating I suppose."
Rukia smiled and began to head for the door. "I'll be back as soon as I can. Hopefully the captain will agree."
"Okay," Shizuka nodded, reaching for the plate and pulling it closer. "I'll...be here!"
Rukia nodded and then went out the door. She stood outside for a moment, glancing up. Despite herself she chuckled slightly at the thought of Captain Kurosaki playing pirate. She forced herself to stop and cleared her throat. Back to being a boy again.