Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. I'm just a fan.

Author's Notes: It is what it is and nothing else. Might contain slight Ichigo/Rukia depending on your point of view.

Six Feet and Slipping

He was dying and he felt wonderful.

Well, why shouldn't he. He had been around death all of his life, even going so far as to let one of its heralds sleep in his closet, not to mention becoming one himself for a short time. It was no big deal. Che, he had known worse.

The beepings of the machines, the push of the IV in his arm, all of it annoying and a waste of time. He was dying, didn't they know? Despite their attempts, tonight was his night, boys. He could still remember her telling him about it, vaguely, her words occupying a dusty space in the back of his mind.

He smiled slightly as an image of her filled his mind, someone brighter than anything else he had seen recently. She was still a teenager in his mind's eye, and he was not much older, barely into his twenties. That was cancer for you, never knocking, just dropping in whenever it felt like it. Bastard.

Ichigo coughed and wondered if that was blood he felt in the back of his throat.

Outside, thunder rumbled, shaking the glass in the window pane and making him smile wryly. No sunshine and halos and shiny trumpets for him. Even his family had gone home for the evening after spending their usual three hours entertaining him. No, all Ichigo got were rain clouds, sterile sheets, and a punt-sized shinigami.

She came through the wall of his room and landed on the foot of his bed.

Breath misted against his oxygen mask as he smirked. "Yo."

Her answering scowl sent him back to high school. "Ichigo," she answered evenly, her black eyes watching him like dark stars. "You really have the worst timing."

"I could say the same thing."

She sniffed and folded her arms, her expression softening a little. He could have teased her for worrying about him, but he had always rather liked that aspect of her. If nothing else, she had always been aware of him, like a tiny radar. A radar that would chirp annoyingly if he got into too much trouble.

"Are you ready?" she asked after a moment, words clipped and short and straight to the point. Ah, that was his Rukia alright. Never one to soften the blow. He could have kissed her.

Instead he closed his eyes. "I'm getting to it."

Five minutes later, Ichigo died.

And Rukia was there to catch him.

The End.