Unanswered Questions

Rini ran through the lunch-deserted hallways, clutching the photocopy of the yearbook to her chest. She huffed, and then cursed never actually working out during PE. When she ran throughout the whole school, she skidded to a stop and leaned against the wall, panting. She furrowed her brows, and thought. If each shinigami had this "reiatsu," shouldn't she be able to track each signature if she concentrated? Every time she was with Ichigo, she could feel his reiatsu, strong but gentle. If she could just concentrate on how that felt…

She closed her eyes, and took a couple a deep breaths, slowing them to a sleeping rate. Suddenly, hundreds of white ribbons (with the occasional red one thrown in) appeared and seemed to wave around her. Her reiatsu rose, concentrating on finding just one special reiatsu.

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Tatsuki strolled the quiet hallways of Karakura High, back from the hollow extermination. She was whistling to herself, when she suddenly stopped. On the floor, innocently on its side, lay a Chappy Soul Candy dispenser. She cocked an eyebrow. Only one person she knew had a Chappy one, despite it being the most popular brand. She sighed and shook her head. It was really unlike Ichigo to let this thing get lost. She stooped down and pocketed it, turning a corner. And nearly ran over Rini. Tatsuki stopped, looking curiously at Rini. 'How did she…? No… That's impossible! So far, Ichigo was the only human capable of doing this. Maybe she really is the reincarnation of Rukia.'

Suddenly, Rini's hand shot out, grabbing a red ribbon. Tatsuki's eyes widened. She did it. She found him. Clearing her throat, since Rini was about to dash off, Tatsuki shoved herself off the wall with her elbow (she was leaning on the white walls, legs crossed, and her hands in her pockets).

"How'd you do that, Rini?" Tatsuki slowly asked. Her expression was unreadable, and it was creeping Rini out.

"Uh… concentrate?"

Tatsuki nodded (again, slowly), as if the feeble explanation made all the sense in the world. She inwardly frowned, wanting to further this investigation, if not for the new hollow approaching. "Stupid hollow…" she muttered. She shook her head, as if suddenly tuning into reality. "Anyways, Rini, could you take this to Ichigo? I know you're looking for him, and I would've given it to him myself if it wasn't for the stupid hollow showing up right now. I should go back up to the roof and get Keigo. That idiot needs practice." And she stalked off, hands in her pockets, head slightly lowered in contemplative thought.

"How did she…?" Rini muttered. Apparently, she had no idea of the visual phenomena she had created while she had her eyes closed. No idea that every member of Ichigo's crew went much further than just high school friends. What they had gone through together before death. She peered at the thing hurriedly pressed into her hand.

"Cuuuuuuuute!" she squealed. She tilted it to the side, reading the fancy script. Soul Candy. Hmm… wasn't this the candy she wanted to steal from Ichigo (though she called it "sharing." Since sharing is caring, after all)?

Flashback—

Rini looked at her desk, and saw the Soul Candy.

"How cuuuuuute!" she squealed, "A rabbit!" She picked it up, examining it. "Soul Candy…" she muttered to herself, and shrugged. It wouldn't hurt to try, right? Just then, Ichigo came barging in, and grabbed it out of her hands.

"Don't eat this. Just… don't," Ichigo said, scowling. Rukia's look-alike, holding her old Soul Candy dispenser… it was eerie. That and it really wouldn't be good to have her soul pushed out, only to be replaced with Kon instead. He pocketed the Soul Candy, and walked out of the room to Karin and Yuzu's room, shutting the door behind him.

End Flashback—

She scowled at the memory. Why was the jerk so sensitive about this candy dispenser anyways? She shrugged. "Let bygones be bygones," she supposed.

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Ichigo wandered aimlessly around the empty school hallways, hands in pockets. Suddenly, his substitute shinigami badge started blaring. Ichigo jumped, clutching his chest. Why did he still use that thing anyways? He was no longer just a substitute… because it reminded him of the old days. The happy days between Rukia's execution and Hueco Mundo.

He chuckled. He was reminiscing! Now he felt really old. He shook his head, allowing himself to indulge in his memories once again…

Flashback—

Ichigo scowled, but didn't retort. They finally saw it. The doorway leading into the throne room… the large, ornate gold doors, engraved with dragons and the names of previous King's. The royal family… on the door, only the first names were written, since it was a given that they were a part of that family. And they pushed open the doors.

There sat Aizen, in the King's throne, the real King's body strewn carelessly to the side. It was a bloody mess. "Aizen…" Ichigo growled. His eyes narrowed. "I want to take care of him myself. He will pay for trying to harm my family."

"Don't get cocky, konso. We will—" Byakuya started, but then Yamamoto held out a hand.

"Let him do this. We should take this opportunity to find out just how powerful Kurosaki is. He has, no doubt, improved since his last visit to Soul Society. He's also a candidate for taichou, and although his power from his earlier visit would've been enough to be appointed taichou, I think we should see this," Yamamoto said, an air of finality around him as he rested both hands on his sword cane.

And with this, Ichigo leapt forward, grinning.

Suddenly, the room filled with menos.

Ichigo's eye twitched with annoyance. "I thought you guys took care of these brainless idiots! What happened?"

Byakuya scoffed. "As always, Kurosaki, opening your mouth before putting that sorry excuse of a brain of yours to work. Have you never heard of NOT dispatching all of your forces in one place? Aizen obviously snuck these in, using his zanpakto."

Ichigo scowled, suppressing the urge to Getsuga Tensho him one.

Instead, he just turned back towards the enemy, and with one giant Getsuga Tensho, rid the room of the lowest of the greatest hollows.

Aizen laughed. "Byakuya, so quick to show your superiority as always! In fact, little Ichigo-kun was correct… these menos couldn't have gotten in, even with the help of my zanpakto. It would be too risky to double task chanting our way into the King's Realm and sneaking in hundreds of menos at once. Besides, I couldn't care less if I dispatched them in one spot and had them all annihilated. They are ONLY menos grande," he sneered, "How does it feel, Byakuya, to be bested by a youngster?"

Apparently, this was a man who loved to gloat.

Ichigo's eye twitched, and a vein popped. "Shut up, old man. You have the nerve to pick a fight with someone who's not your opponent? Getting cocky, eh? Thinking you could handle two at once? I told them: I will personally kill the man who tried to hurt my family, and…" he paused, taking a deep breath, " my closest friends."

And with that, Ichigo took an uninterrupted leapt towards Aizen's face, bankai at the ready. Aizen sneered and easily deflected it with his hand, never even leaving the throne. Ichigo cursed, twisting his body in midair and slashing at Aizen's outstretched hand. He lopped off two fingers of his right hand. Ichigo grinned. Great. So not only was Aizen not undefeatable, but he managed to take out two of his fingers in his right hand. Which grew back. Ichigo paled. 'Shit!' he thought, 'His fucking sword showed me an illusion.'

This was going to take a while.

End—

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!!

Ichigo started up, his eyes snapping open. He groaned, ruffling a hand through his hair, standing straight up. Lunch was over, and he walked towards the class. As he neared, he frowned. It seemed as if somebody was raising his or her reiatsu, but he didn't recognize it… only one person could do that. Rini. He concentrated… yes! That was her reiatsu… but why was she raising it? She was doing it consciously too, so she wasn't in danger. That was good. But… if she wasn't in danger, why? And it was then that Ichigo turned the corner and walked into Rini, who happened to have been running towards Ichigo, now that she found his location. Rini's small frame was easily knocked back, the paper she clutched in her hands flying out. Ichigo, on the other hand, just blinked and stood there, unaffected. After a second pause, he started up, and bent down to help her up, extending his hand. Rini "hmph'ed" and turned her head, gathering herself and sitting on the floor, arms crossed. Ichigo rolled his eyes and remained there. Rini sighed, taking his hand, and dragging herself up from the floor. When she brushed herself off, she kicked him, hard, in the shins.

"E-tai! What the hell was that for, you sadistic midget?!" Ichigo yelped, grabbing his shin.

"You should learn to be a gentleman and apologize immediately," Rukia sniffed.

Ichigo's eye twitched. "Why were you running anyways?! Proper ladies shouldn't run around like idiots when it's time for school." He did an uncanny impression of her voice.

This earned him another kick.

As Ichigo hopped around on one leg cursing loudly, Rini walked towards her dropped copy of the yearbook, and looked at the picture, comparing the photo of Ichigo to the real thing.

"It's crazy, really. I mean, to look exactly the same as you did when you were fifteen… for that to happen, you must've died when you were fifteen… wait. What? And his friends were with him, looking the same as well. So they didn't separate and reunite. But what could've possibly have happened to have killed them all? Ichigo… who are you?" Rini thought.

Ichigo looked up from his spot on the floor, gingerly picking himself up. He looked curiously at the piece of paper Rini was holding, and paled. She seemed to be comparing him to the photo, and from what he could tell, since the light was shining through, it was the old group picture. He bounded up, and grabbed the paper from her hand.

"Where did you get this?" he demanded, scowling more than usual.

"Excuse you," Rini said haughtily, snatching it back, "If you wanted to see this, you could've asked."

"May. I. See. It?" Ichigo asked through gritted teeth, not wanting to bother with another argument, so he just cooperated.

"No."

A vein popped.

"What?!"

"You didn't let me finish, dumbass! Not until you tell me everything about Rukia and why she looks like me."

Ichigo sighed, and rubbed his temples. "Alright. Fuck class. I'll tell you everything that happened between Rukia and I during our high school years."

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"Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeee's IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIchigo?!" said Keigo in a very long, long, drawn out wail. The rest of the returning class covered their ears.

Ishida wrinkled his nose in disgust.

Tatsuki smacked him one on his head, and hissed, "Shut up!"

Keigo cried. He suddenly stopped as he noticed a certain someone's seat empty.

"Ichigo! That bastard! And… And… Rini's gone! I bet he took her with him to—"

"DON'T finish that sentence." Tatsuki raised a fist.

Too bad she couldn't do the same with the rest of the class, 'cause now they all have a very vivid image involving 'Kurosaki-kun' and 'Rini-chan'. Murmurs racked the classroom, everyone turning to their neighbor and discussing the exciting new installment of "Karakura High Romance! (Now with 5x the romance)."

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Meanwhile, just when Ichigo was about to tell Rini the secrets of his high school life with Rukia, they both started sneezing, over and over again.

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Isshin looked at Urahara anxiously. "So? I've given you my thoughts. What do you think about this whole 'Rukia-Rini' issue?"

"Ah… Well!" he shouted, waving his fan, "Only time will tell, ne?"

Isshin sweat dropped. "So far, out of your whole entire life, that was the most half-assed, horrible reason I've ever heard. And you're the founder of the Bureau of Technology!"

"So?" Urahara asked, fanning himself once more.

Isshin's nose wrinkled in disgust, and turned to leave. "I have to reopen the clinic. I don't have time to do this. Next time, when I come back, I expect a full answer."

Urahara nodded, his face sober. Whatever he was thinking, it couldn't be good.

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Ichigo gritted his teeth. "Tell her as little as possible! She shouldn't be involved in these things. Just enough to satisfy her curiosity, and that's it," he thought.

"Absolutely nothing."

Rini gaped at him for only a second, before her confusion gave way to anger.

"WHAT?!"

"Nothing happened between Rukia and I."

"No shit, I'm asking you why she looks like me, and why it says 'High School Sweethearts' next to a picture of you and Rukia!"

"What?! Lemme see that!" Ichigo grabbed the paper from her loose hands, and squinted down at the caption, disbelief etched in every feature. "Stupid Keigo…" he growled. "Oh my God!" he ranted. Rini twitched back in surprise, with 'What the fuck?' written all over her face.

"Stupid Keigo! I told him… I told him not to do that! We weren't even fucking going out! No wonder everyone suddenly assumed that we were going out after the yearbook came out! At first, some were doubtful, but then 'poof!' wup! We were going out! Fucking Keigo…" Ichigo muttered darkly, "I am going to kill him! Going to go to my fucked up crazy sideways world, lock myself into a room with Keigo, and tell my stupid hollow 'Here! Knock yourself out! Just give control back to me when you're done.'"

"I… Wait… What?!" Rini stared blankly at him, utterly confused.

"Huh? Oh… yeah, just forget I said anything," Ichigo said, chuckling nervously and scratching the back of his head. "Alright, basically, Rukia was a shinigami who saved me during my mortal life. She made a big sacrifice, and nearly died for my family and I. That's all. I don't want to talk about it anymore."

Rini nodded. "Whenever you want to tell me… I will be here." She thought.

Ironically enough, it was similar in context to Rukia's past words of comfort, regarding his mother. But he didn't know that.

They were in fact, more closely intertwined than Ichigo knew at the moment.

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Later…

Rini yawned as she lay sprawled across her bed. She rubbed her eyes tiredly, and didn't even bother to change as she drifted off to sleep. Then something poked her in the gut. She groaned and pulled out a rabbit head topped candy dispenser. She looked at it bemusedly. Ichigo wasn't here… apparently, he freaked out when he searched his pockets for something, and decided to run back to school to search. She popped one out into her hand and examined it closely. Didn't seem dangerous (who knew what that Soul Society place could crank out, right?)…

Downstairs, a door slam and a 'I'm home!' could be heard.

Rini shrugged and popped it into her mouth.

Ichigo jogged up the stairs and opened the door.

At the very same time, a soul popped out, wearing all black, with a katana strapped to her side with a black belt. But something was very wrong. There was another soul, who looked exactly like the other, with a chain attached to the body. The plus soul looked confused, and a little scared. The shinigami just stared at her hands, then looked up.

Then smiled.

And said those fateful words, words of recognition.

"Sashi-buli, ne, Ichigo? (Long time no see, huh, Ichigo?)

"Rukia…" Ichigo gasped, gaping at her.

She grinned. "Who else would I be, baka?"

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A/N: Okay, okay, go ahead. I know you want to kill me. Now, some things I want to make clear: I will most probably not update in a while. I will work on it every chance I get, but I like reading. And I have a shit load of crap to take care of, such as marching band. Yes, I am in a marching band. That and I have better things to do, no offense. XD

Anyways, for those of you ppl who wanted her to regain her memories (Rini gains Rukia's memories), I can honestly say that I wouldn't like that idea. Cuz it's IchiRuki! Not IchiSome Random OC/Reincarnation the Author Made Up! See? Aren't you glad you waited? OH YEAH, I WOULD LIKE TO SAY THANKS TO 'A FRIEND OF A READER,' 'ELMONL,' 'HIKARI (WHO WAS MY 100TH),'CADAURNY,' 'DAEHAGLNAUD' FOR REVIEWING! ALSO, CADAURNY AND DAEHAGLNAUD DESERVE SPECIAL THANKS FOR REVIEWING NOT OUT OF OBLIGATION.

Hmm…, what else… can't think of much else, except stats as of right now:

Words: 18890

Chapters: 7

Reviews: 102

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WOW! Thanks to anyone who contributed to any of these stats. Please review!

Geez, I just looked up 'offense' compared to 'offence.' Sorry, that was random. But I think you should know, in the US, offense is more generally accepted, while offence in the UK is more generally accepted. Offense as in 'no offense.' Offence as in a law offence.