With the power he stole from her came little pieces of what he understood to be her heart. Not enough to affect his own feelings or actions, just enough to make what was a curious thing a complete mystery. In his dreams he would push a dark lock of hair out of his eyes while running behind another girl, straight and tall, dressed like a boy, with flaming red hair. If Ichigo wasn't absolutely certain they were in danger, he would have let the pure joy take him over. After all, they were having fun, really. When he would wake and gaze upon the uniform and the frown he could not reconcile the running girlchild with the the cold, haughty shinigami. That was how he was certain the dreams were not memories.

In exchange for the power she gave him came the humbling sense that she, of all people, had made an error. Several, really. She was unused to making mistakes. Had her brother known, he would have been irritated with her apparent lack of good judgment. She would lay awake at night pondering how she would explain herself when it was all over. But every scenario ended the same and if she were the type, she would have wept at night, every night. The only thing that seemed to soothe her was in the morning he would roll out of bed, the same mess he always was, and she knew for certain that while she was flawed, at least Rukia was not human. When she considered the boy in front of her, however, she had to concede that there were worse things to be.

They got on like gangbusters. Long before she allowed herself into his bed, he was inside her, yelling, insulting and praising her at the same time. We fit, he said. We fit. Thank you, she said back

They were always clashing. He hated her will, hated her face, hated her smug intelligence. And loved the whole package in ways he did not think possible. He refused to say it aloud, though.

"Would you change anything?" she asks.

"Would you?"

She nestles closer into the crook of his arm, old enough to know better, but with enough of him in her not to care. His hand runs lazily down her thigh and his head is blissfully clear.

Of course not, they both swear silently.