Disclaimer: I do not own bleach....wAAHHHHHHH!

A/N::sorry so short. I never dreamed in a million years I'd get so many reviews for my little rinky dink story! applaudes Thank you all!! Hope this is what you were looking for! I know this took forever and I apologize. I had some real medical problems with my elderly parents here recently (mom had a stroke and dad missed his back surgery) and couldn't find the motivation to write. Thank you all for reviewing anyway and this chapter is for you. I really couldn't think of anything else to write, but if you all want me to keep going I've got some ideas now. Just let me know rather I should continue or not and I will! . Rukia and Ichigo forever!!!!

Chapter 3

A Promise Better Left Unsaid

What exactly was that look Ichigo just gave me? she thought curiously as her first ever taste of chicken slid down her throat. He was so serious about her not reading him suddenly and she could have swore that he had been smiling at her. Something he never did unless it was sarcastic. This was something totally new...something he wanted to hide. What was up with this?

"Would you like some more Miss Rukia?" Keigo asked interested and pulled her out of her reverie. She was about to answer negatively when Ichigo once again smashed his face in with his fist. Keigo landed backward on his butt and groaned with irritation.


"I told you not to give out my food!" Ichigo snarled and Rukia grinned. Then that grin turned into a chuckle and before she could stop it, it became a full blow laugh that had everyone looking at her confused, especially the one she was laughing at. He had raised and eyebrow and his eyes were reading volumes of weirdo-insult thoughts. She couldn't help it though. How did he go from being so serious to pounding Keigo? It didn't make sense.

"Are you alright Miss Rukia?" Mizuiro questioned worried.

"Yeah, you're acting kinda creepy," put in Keigo. Ichigo mentally rolled his eyes at the down play of her strange behavior. She wasn't just being creepy she was being weird and that was almost worst. In fact, when he thought about it, he'd never heard her laugh. He'd seen her smile and fake a chuckle but this was genuine. Did he miss something that was this funny? She stopped laughing almost immediately, the red color of a blush staining her cheeks furiously.

"I'm sorry. I-- it was just-- excuse me," she flushed and stood up with her lunch in hand. The dumbfounded boys watched after her as she headed back downstairs to where all the other students typically ate their lunch.

How could they? she thought darkly as she slipped into the cool air of the roof stairwell. Who were they to say my laugh is creepy? I guess that's what I get for laughing... Painful anger was welling up inside her. She had not really laughed in a long long time and now that she finally did she was told that it was creepy. Worse, the look on Ichigo's face. She cringed and fought off the hot tears that were burning the rims of her eyes. If she could have her choice right then, she would leave this damn school and that damn Ichigo and go back to the soul society. Common sense slapped her in the face then. If she went back she'd be killed or worse she'd probably have to be dead to go there. Every echo of her own footsteps was beinginning to enrage her more until she finally stopped dead where she stood and permitted a growl of effort to release from her. That didn't do it though. She could still feel the fury boiling inside her.

Looking up into blackness and silence she felt more alone in that instant than she had ever felt in her life. She felt not only unwanted but rejected in the same breath. Her fist balled involunatarily. Why should it matter to her if that boy didn't want her? Why did it have to come down to his not wanting her? Because she didn't want to be a problem for anyone and she didn't want people to be near her against their will. Taking in a deep breath she hoped the emotions would subside.

Get a hold, Rukia..you can't let this happen. Even once could get you killed, feel lucky that this didn't occur in the mist of a Hollow attack, she tried vainly to reason it away, to strengthen herself without words. Nothing was working! Reaching out suddenly she punched the wall to her right without even looking over to see if it was there. In fact she wasn't sure if it would have mattered if it hadn't been there, just so long as she could get the physical reaction. The pain, the hardness of the wall all seemed to dim the pain in her head. It seemed to bring her back to reality a little. She was shinigami, top notch shinigami if you don't mind, and she didn't even belong in this world. In fact she should be rejecting them for the ignorance they had...the damp feeling at the end of her knuckles could have been blood but she didn't bother to look.

Ichigo, however, was completely aware of the velocity of her blow and what it had to have done to her hand. He had followed her, worried that something had been said wrong or somehow she had gotten hurt..he couldn't have her misunderstanding them. His friends had even called him back, said it was a girl thing, but Ichigo knew full and well that Rukia wasn't a girl and she had a lot more to her than someone like Orihime or Tatsuki. And he was right. He watched her growl, watched her fist ball, watched her stand motionless for excruiating seconds on end with the desire to say her name and then this. Something had definately gone wrong.

Her foot tapped impatiently, matching the red shade of aggitation on her face perfectly. Her eye was still swollen, probably worse now, since she had neglected it all day, but at least it wasn't throbbing. It's absence left her with the space to feel blunted aggravation with Ichigo and repulsion toward every other face she saw. Orihime waved and called a goodbye to her and, of course, she couldn't despise Orihime, but she could despise the akward looking girl standing next to her. She hated to feel this way most of the time, but right now, it was what she needed.

Ichigo came down the stairs and took in a deep breath. No detention, no homework, no hollows all day...life was good. The only downfall was that he hadn't really seen Rukia since lunch and assumed that was the way she wanted it. She had probably already headed home too. He sulked his way down the steps. He couldn't explain, couldn't put his finger on what was plaquing him, but something about not having Rukia next to him was...bothersome. His friends had irritated him all day long and the teachers had been especially technical....he growled.

This was such a mess. All of it. What would happen if Rukia went off and vanished on him? How would he know to operate his powers? How would he get out of his body? How would he win his fights? She'd probably get hurt too. Some hollow who'd lost to her would show up and wanna gobble up her soul. He cringed visibly at the idea. He recalled how bloody she had gotten in that fight long ago and how vulnerable she had been. Actually if he hadn't saved her, she would more than likely not be around to be missed. He looked over at the sun setting on his left and the bright pink and oranges that were beginning to grow on the clouds. He was fighting, thinking, what it was he should have said in response to her laughter. Should he have voiced the raw thoughts from his head? Oh yeah, that might have worked..not!

Gee Rukia, I don't think I've ever heard you laugh like that. Yuck

I like it when you laugh Rukia. No

I wish I could hear you laugh that like more often, even if it is weird...whoa, where'd that one come from? He couldn't think like that, what about his reputation?? C'mon man, what's up with you? he thought exasperated.

"Ichigo, are we walking home or not?" Her voice pierced through the cotton that had been blocking his ears at the moment and registered in his head like a gentle bell. She was frustrated sure, but she was talking to him. He turned to look at her, face blank with surprise and effort to process what she'd just said. All he could find, though, was a return of anger and a snippity voice.

"You should really put some ice on that eye," he replied tartly, and started off. Really what he was thinking was much more destructive. Damn that eye! He couldn't even bark at her without feeling guilt pound through him. This was ridiculous. He needed to get ahold of himself.

Rukia watched after him somewhat confused. He hadn't even been rude with her. Only his voice was a little sharp because his eyes certainly had not been in it. They were too busy reading something that resembled tiredness. She slowly started to follow him when he looked back at her with a raised eyebrow. It was comforting, she had to admit that. To know that he expected them to stay the way they were even when they clearly weren't understanding each other. She walked home silent, her head to her chest in thought. It was going to be a long night.

It was much later in the night when she finally started to think properly. She had put a piece of frozen steak to her eye almost as soon as she got home, as per commandment of Ichigo and Kon combined. Truth be, she didn't know they could agree. Afterward she did her homework, took a long bath in Ichigo's place and now she was sitting on the edge of the roof staring out over the block of sleeping houses. She now knew why it mattered to her that they had rejected her presence. Because no matter how much she tried to fight it, she liked this world much more than her own. She appreciated more than any of them the ignorance of being truly alive and protected without knowing a thing about it. Also she could explain the look in Ichigo's eyes based off his behavior when they got back to the house. He was just taken off guard by her action. Really she hadn't given any of them an excuse as to why she was laughing so they had every right to look at her like she was weird.....she sighed and finally she regretted punching the wall. It had obviously cut up her knuckles and bled, just as she thought it had. Thankfully no one had noticed though and she was in the clear for an excuse.

Her deep velvety eyes dancing across rooftop after rooftop. She was in the process of her nightly routine...check out the house, check out the block, and finally check out the pillow on her bed. She was currently stuck in checking out the block. She just didn't feel like laying down yet and besides, her brain wouldn't stop until it had answers anyway. Ichigo and the others, most of the town actually, had all conked out around two hours ago. Only she was the idiot sitting on a rooftop in the chilly night air. She sighed again without worrying over who might hear it. She really did like life here.

Ichigo, meanwhile, was tossing back and forth under his covers. Something wasn't right, his dreams were taking a strange turn and it was like he was missing something...He was fighting a hollow, beating the crap out of it actually, but it just wasn't right. What wasn't there??? His second of hesitation got him killed and he awoke instantly. God I hate it when that happens, he thought as he rubbed his eyes. He sat up in bed and glanced around the shadows of his room. Everything in place, every sound accounted for...but one. He turned to the closet, to assure himself everything was okay and found that it wasn't. Shit! I should've known that if it took me so long to go to sleep it would take her forever to do her rounds and then fall asleep. She must be out there now, he considered and laid back down.

An hour later he could tell you how many tiles there were on his ceiling and how many dots there were on the two that covered his bed. This was stupid, where was Rukia? He glanced over at her bed. She was what was missing in his dream and in his room. Rukia, his closet monster, miniature package death, and friend was missing from him and it was killing every cell in his body to know it. He was long past worry. It would not have taken her an hour to check everything out even if she had left just before he woke up. That was the last straw for him, he got out of bed and put on his shoes faster than he had ever remembered doing so.

What if she had found a hollow? What if her bloodied, emptied gigai was laying somewhere in a dark cold corner now? What if he could have saved her? What if she never came back to him? Suddenly he stopped. This line of thought was exactly the same that he had traversed shortly before sleep. He was completely obsessed with having her near him... A revelation at last!! Still, he couldn't let anything hurt her or worse kill her while he lay sleeping. Over his dead body would he just allow such a thing to take place. Lifting the window she came and went through he stepped out onto the steep incline of his father's roof and shivered slightly. It didn't matter though, nothing was going to stop him from finding Rukia.

"Ichigo?" He jerked around and nearly fell off the roof when he saw her sitting a floor above him, her feet dangling and her cheeks rosy with chill. Her eye had even gone down enough that he could see the slight sparkle of her eyes again. What the hell did she think she was doing??

"What the hell do you think you're doing!" he snarled loudly. She stared at him.

"I was just about to ask you the same thing, only not so rudely," she snapped quietly. He blinked, blank from any other thought than joy at the sound of her voice.

"I to look for you," he admitted slowly. He was shocked to find the changing expression on her face. Even from where he stood, far beneath her, he could see the pain and disbelief that his words caused her. "I was afraid you'd bitten off more than you could chew," he added quickly and put his hands on his hips in frustration. She nodded and then looked out over the block again.

"No...I always do this," she explained softly. In the silence her slightest whisper was booming for him, increasing it's volume as if only for him.

"I know but you don't always take this long," he growled and crossed his arms both for warmth and out of indignation. It was actually pretty chilly out here, how long had she been sitting there anyway? "When d'you leave?"

"You knew I left?" she asked with concern in her voice. Uh oh, she didn't want him to know she was checking the area every night before she went to sleep....DUH of course he knew that! She'd waited every single time until he'd gone to sleep. Shit he was getting to be real dense.

"Well, when I woke up and your bed was empty..it was a clue," he said sarcastically. She glared at him before getting to her feet and moving to get down from where she stood. Instinctively he stepped toward her while extending a hand up to help her. She stopped and looked at him through confused eyes that flickered different emotions his way. He smiled at her, warmly and more genuine than he'd ever smiled, hoping it would help her to trust him. And it did, for what he expected. She took his hand, gripping it slightly as she stepped down to the roof below. He grinned, satisfied with her reaction.

Rukia looked at him. Her mind was still racing with questions and the answers she couldn't believe, but mostly it was with the promise in his eyes. He was promising not to let her get hurt, he was promising to be nice, he was promising to be there if she needed him. So many promises...if he'd said them out loud she never would have believed him. But now, in his eyes was so much truth, so many answers to the questions. She wondered if he had questions, if she was giving him answers....no, she couldn't. She couldn't answer anything for him, she wasn't allowed to feel this way.

Her foot touched down heavy with the weight of her body but her other foot couldn't find it's tread and flailed aimlessly. She fell forward and landed hard onto Ichigo's chest prepared for the worst, them both falling from the roof, but he had his footing pretty sturdy and they didn't budge an inch. She blushed furiously and looked up, hoping that he wouldn't interpret this as more than it was, but she found more than she bargained for.

The mere touch of her hand in his hand sent chills down his spine again, but this...this was more than he could handle. His face went red without asking and heart sped up so fast that he was sure she could either hear it or feel it. He held her tight, assuring that neither of them stood the risk of falling and part of him liked it. Part of him strengthened his grip on her and held her closer than necessary. He was liking this...he really was. That was when the damn girl choose to look up at him.

"You okay?" he asked, his tone as normal as he could manage. She nodded vaguely and stood up straight, pushing a strand of ebony hair behind her ear as she continued to blush. A moment of silence went through them unlike any they had ever experienced. "You cold?" he asked and crossed his arms again--pretending to still be cold himself. Again she nodded, wrapping her arms around herself for warmth and looking anywhere but into his eyes. "C'mon, let's get back into bed. It'll be morning in a few hours," he suggested and turned to walk back to the window. She followed him quietly, running over every millisecond of occurence in her mind. She watched him push the window back up and then stepped back for her to go before him. She smiled, despite her will, and came forward.

"Thanks Ichigo," she said softly and flashed that lovely grin at him again. He felt that chill run up him once again.

"What for?" he asked, truly confused. She already had one foot in the window and was sitting on the sill when she stopped and looked back at him.

"For catching me before I could fall," she said simply and crawled back inside. Ichigo smiled to himself and shook his head. He didn't know what had just happened but for once he could say he didn't care, he liked it.

A/N: sorry it took so long, lemme know what you think though. Any ideas you have on the story will be welcome too. Please, refrain from flaming me for technical details though. Where I live we've only gotten to the third issue and most of my info comes from other fanfics and the internet, therefore I am not capable of knowing all the little details. I do my best though so please be nice. Otherwise..SHOUT OUTS!

Midnight Raven3



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