Last Time

His attempt to save me was what caused his unneeded death. A waste of a perfectly good life, and I was the cause. I held onto him tightly, sitting down on the cold ground, his head resting against my stomach, the rest of his body spread out before me. His clothes, and body were torn to shreds, and the tears in my eyes began to appear more frequently. The white outfit I had been stuck in for nearly a month was stained with his blood, blood he shed for me. Please don't let him die.

"Why did you do this? Why?" I screamed the last why, tears falling down on top of Ichigo's head, my eyes closed tightly as I tried to force the tears away, I wanted a clean sight of my brother.

"He interfered, Rukia," he replied, his voice so calm, as though the life he had just taken was nothing to him. My life was nothing to him, it never had been. It was almost as though I was a burden to the Kuchiki family, the way he seemed to take my execution so lightly. Almost too lightly, in fact, like he was happy I was going to die soon.

Ichigo's eyes opened slightly, and I jerked my eyes opened wide, thinking I may have been seeing things. He was alive.

"Ichigo…" I said under my breath, embarrassed by my tears, but I feared they were still there for a reason, the little bit of life he had left in him wasn't going to last him much longer.

"What are you doing sitting there?" he mumbled, barely able to say anything through his weakness.

"What do you mean? I'm sitting here to be with you," I replied softly, ignoring Byakuya's lingering eyes.

"You idiot, you could have…"he said, but his voice shut off, and his eyes closed lightly.

"No, Ichigo, I couldn't have ran. What would that make me?" I replied softly, not allowing Byakuya to hear the shame in my voice. Maybe I should have ran, and made his effort worth while, so he could have at least gotten what he came for, so he could have the respect of winning. No. I couldn't do that, I couldn't risk loosing him. Somehow it felt as though being around him would make it all better.

"Rukia…" He said, chocking out the word, it was barely understandable.

"Don't talk, I'll get you out of here alive," I told him, more so hoping in some possible way it could happen. It couldn't though, why was I foolish enough to make something like that up? There was no way I could manage to make it out of here with Ichigo. I was struggling hard enough to stay conscious with the overwhelming spiritual pressure around me.

"Get yourself out," he said, his arm moved into the stand of him trying to pull himself back up.

"No, Ichigo, don't do this, please," I begged, hoping for once he wouldn't let his stubborn intentions get in the way of the smartest thing to do. That for the moment, was to lie there, and hope he could stay alive, like he managed to do that night I left him.

"Get her back to her prison cell," Byakuya ordered a couple other bystanders, lower seated Shinigami that were watching with awe as I sat there trying my hardest to keep myself together.

"No, let me stay here, please brother? Just till he dies." The word dies came across my mouth softer, more silent than the rest. He was going to die…wasn't he? Was there any possible way to save his life? Not on my own, and there was no one willing to help that was nearby, at least no one who would stand up and actually try to help.

"So be it," he agreed, but stood where he was, watching, and waiting for his death to come. He was enjoying it, I could tell, he liked watching the sad aura coming out of me, and the death of the one person he feared might have been able to destroy him. Ichigo could have… if he hadn't rushed into things, if he would have gained more strength and avenged me rather than trying to save me. He had more strength than I had seen come out of someone who had been a Soul Reaper for as short of a time as he had been. He had high potential, he could have been a great addition to the Soul Society, that clearly wasn't an option in their eyes, they were strict on their rules and format.

"Just leave me, and go," Ichigo's eyes opened back up slowly, and he did his best to look at me. I shook my head, "I can't do that."

"What was it you said before you left me before?"

"If you came after me, I would never forgive you," the words echoed in my head, the day so vivid in my mind, that alone made me want to scream.

"No, I was a filthy human."

"Don't take that the wrong way… I was doing it so you wouldn't do something like this," I clearly remembered insulting him, and as he reminded me of it, I felt horrible for doing so. He was anything but filthy, he was perfect.

"Heh, is that so?"

"Yes."

"Don't give up," he told me, as though there was another way I could escape. Was there? Did he think of something I couldn't think of while I sat lonely in the repentance cell for those long days?

"On what?"

"You're life. You can still save yourself," he told me, confident that something else was going to save me.

"No, I can't. And I won't, don't be surprised if I don't kill myself before I make it back to the cell," I replied to him with a twisted smile. That would be nice, death before they could kill me. At least that way they wouldn't get the enjoyment of having an audience to watch me die.

"Don't. I didn't do this for…nothing."

I paused for a minute, did he save me because I had saved his family, or did we have some bond that was unseen through all the times we 'fought' with each other over petty little things.

"You did this for your family, right? Because I saved them?" I was hoping he would give me an honest answer, if he was going to die, wouldn't that give him the confidence to admit why he really did it?

"That, yeah," he replied, and closed his eyes again, only to open them more quickly than the last time, his body still remained calm, and unmoved, he was limp. Maybe he had no strength left to even move slightly. Was he holding on for something else? He wasn't going to live. The thought of that sent shivers through my body, and my eyes swelled up again, I could feel tears roll down the side of my face, but I caught them before they would land on him again.

"You're crying over me? Or because you're not being saved?" He asked, almost sounding amused by my weakness, the weakness he had never seen in me before, the weakness I only showed during times like these. Like the last time I lost someone close to me, Kaien. Both times it was my fault, both times I was involved with their deaths. Was I a walking magnet for misfortune to those I cared for?

"Over you, Ichigo," I admitted softly, waiting for his response, it showed in his eyes first, they grew soft, caring, like he understood, and he could come out with what he had been waiting to say.

"It was worth it, to at least try to save you," he replied, both of our eyes connected, the whole world around us seemed to disappear, it was just me and him, for the last time.

His eyes slowly shut once more, I feared this was it, and I would never hear his voice again, or see his amber eyes looking back to mine.

I waited for a long moment, unable to say anything, trying to hold the tears inside of my eyes. It was ridiculous how in love I was with him, we didn't even know each other for very long. Yet I felt so connected. The connection faded, the tension between life and death faded, his spirit gone, only his limp body remained lying there, cold, dead, lifeless.

"He's gone," I said, brushing my hand across his face one last time, and gently removing his head from my lap, to the floor, as though he may still be able to feel it. I walked obediently to the two Soul Reapers waiting to escort me back to my cell.

"Wait," I said and walked back to Ichigo's side. I kissed his lips softly, and whispered as silently as possibly, "I love you." This was the last time I would see the outside world, and the last time I would see him.