A/N: This is the final drabble in the Ichigo Torture series. Thanks to the IchiRukia Live Journal community for a fun event.

Happiness and Pain

"Hopelessly Tied"

By Nessie

Every time she tries to leave it feels like daggers tearing into his ribs, cracking bone and ripping veins. There is physical hurt, God yes, but it is nothing compared to the way her departures antagonize his feelings. He feels angry when she is gone, as though all potential for happiness is swept away in the closing of spiritual doors.

It is one of the many reasons why he followed her when she was escorted back to Soul Society. Anger is useful, it can be a tool to help refine his power, but Ichigo hardly wants to be angry all the time.

And when she returns, it is a reminder to count his losses but double-count what he has gained. Rukia is like the sewing of long, bloody gashes, like salve. The hurt is soothed, the anger ebbs, and by the time she is back in his arms, he cannot even remember what it is to hate.

It will return, that anger. But so will she.

Because in the end, Ichigo understands that destiny or fate or whatever the hell it is has them tied together, bound, whether he wants it to be that way or not.

So this time, he guesses he's just lucky. Because he needs it that way. He has always needed her.