Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach; Kind of glad for that, too, it would be a horrible romance if I did.

It was a pale thing, her memories, floating and merging in her head as she fought to keep her eyes open, breath constant. It was a phantom, reminding her of forgotten words and actions never quite taken. Her eyes stung and watered as a fresh well of tears pooled in them and then deserted her. She let out a hollow laugh at that, her tongue darting out to lick her lips as her throat clenched at the motion. Everything did that in the end, deserted her that was, why should her own body be any different? Her body fell forward as she found it too difficult to hold herself up any longer and she rested her head against the cold floor. Just a few moments, that's what she told herself.

She chided herself for thinking so negatively, not everyone deserted her. A face formed in her mind and a small smile crossed her face. He was such an idiot but he was such a good person that she always forgave him for that. Forgiveness… that thought led her mind to wash away the image of the orange haired boy with another. Someone with their back to her, such a familiar back… she was always there in his shadow. Waiting for him to turn around, it seemed. When had he become so tall? She didn't remember. It seemed like just yesterday that they were lying side by side, trying to collect warmth in the deep cold of the Inuzuri winter. Her lip quivered and she let out a small moan as she closed her eyes tightly.

Couldn't she just forget it all? She'd been trying so hard for so long. After all, she was equally to blame. How could she expect him to know what she had wanted? How could she expect him to give her something she'd never asked for? Instead she had waited and given him glances and stares where she'd tried to imply her true desires. Desires that never saw the light of day. She had sworn from that point on that she would never hide her true feelings. Once she'd made that demand of herself she'd promised that someday she would try again.

Someday… she would give herself the chance possibility that someone wouldn't abandon her. There was that face again, smirking down at her with Zangetsu over his shoulder. She winced, her fingers clenched a bit on reflex. Hadn't she told him that she didn't want to be rescued? To die would have been freedom! Freedom? Freedom from what? Another face… one so similar to the last. No. She had made her peace with that. The specter didn't linger, dragging her vision and returning her to that shadow, to that familiar back… standing firm as if nothing would break it down.

Forgive me. That is what she wanted to say, to plead as she pulled against the black cloth covering his torso. Hate me. That is what she wanted to scream, to allow as the tears fell from her eyes. Love me. That is what she wanted to beg, to request as her legs gave out and she fell to the floor beneath him. Whatever you do, I will be happy, just don't leave me.

Her breathing was labored as she lay there in a pool of her own blood, her hand still gripping the hilt of her now broken zanpakuto. Why had she never said those words? Instead she had merely acted like a fool, crying like that. Finally he turned, giving her a concerned look and kneeling down to pull her close into a hug. Telling her that it was okay, that he knew what she needed. Was this what she needed? To die without ever admitting the truth? No. He hadn't meant that. He meant… him. Her thoughts went back to the orange haired boy, screaming in annoyance at her. Why would she need i that /i ? What could she possibly gain from that? Painful lumps on the head. Her lips quivered as a small laugh tried to escape her.

Maybe she was meant to never know the real answer to that. To any of it. She remembered somewhere someone saying something about zanpakuto, how they took after the wielder's heart. She wondered if that was why her Sode no Shirayuki was as it was… considered the most beautiful and yet… it was so cold. Could she never escape that? Never find the hope to remove herself from the lonely world she lived in?

The specter returned to bring another image of the boy she'd met not too long ago, staring up at her from a bloody mess on the streets. Her breathing slowed a bit and she let out another pained moan. Why did he keep surfacing in her mind? It wasn't that she didn't like him, he was a wonderful person and amazingly powerful. The kind of person that always kept you guessing, so of course she enjoyed his company… still… he was… well, obtainable.

What a selfish little bitch you are, Kuchiki.

Her eyes opened only slightly to reveal a fresh wave of tears and she grimaced as she attempted to shift, sending a new streak of pain through her. It was true. She really was that selfish. Here she was, bleeding to death… alone… and all she could think about was not how grateful she was to have someone who understood her desire for company… but the company she'd been denied.

It had always been that way for her.

When she had met Kaien she had wanted his presence, his essence, his spirit… simply because she could not have him. Yes, he was strong and of a well family. Certainly, he had status among the Gotei 13. And he was amazingly kind. All of those were wonderful qualities that caused her to enjoy knowing him… but they did not make her want him. He was married to another woman. He was just like him, unavailable. That caused her to desire him.

Ichigo was exactly the opposite. He had needed her so desperately from the beginning. Without her he and his family would likely be dead and after she had given her spiritual power over to him and turned him into a shinigami he had needed her to guide him. He needed her to kick him in the head and tell him what an idiot he was for not doing what he already knew he should. To promise him that he was a great man, able to do anything.

But… he was not like either one of them and yet… both of them wrapped into one. They'd met so easily, a spontaneous moment that could never have foretold of the relationship to come. He didn't need her. She didn't need him. Then they became shinigami, under her suggestion. Now he was strong and had status among the Gotei 13 and was unobtainable… because he still didn't need her.

She shivered, pulling her zanpakuto closer as she drew her arms into her chest and her eyes fell open to stare out at the sunlight as it fell in through the crater she'd created. Her eyes widened and she let out a small gasp as she watched in awe as the ribbon that was so white began to turn red. A broken sword that has lost its purity… it really was just like her.