A/N: Well… this is the last chapter – as in there will be no more for me to write when you finish reading this. I hope it doesn't disappoint. It's named after "Say Goodbye," by Skillet. So in order to not delay… Enjoy.

Disclaimer: For the final time… no.

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Chapter 25 – Say Goodbye

It had been five months since she stood up from being on her knees in front of the door to her house. In five months, she proceeded to live a normal life. She woke up everyday, showered, ate when necessary, wrote, had little visitors and slept. That was typically her life. It was only until a month ago that she realized something significant. Her brother had come to visit and she was ready to admit everything to the only family she had left.

"What is it Rukia? What's so important that we had to sit down and formally talk? Wait. You aren't…" Byakuya began to question with wide eyes.

She stared back like a confused puppy. "I'm not what?"

He leaned forward onto the table they sat at in one of the nicest restaurants in the city. "You know," he began again. "You haven't missed anything… extreme, have you?"

She continued to stare with a bewildered expression until suddenly, the light bulb switched on. "No!" She then let out a relieved laugh. "Oh god no. I'm not pregnant. Not at all." She laughed again, but this time a bit awkwardly seeing as her brother was the one questioning her.

He sat back in his chair with the weight no longer on his chest. He exhaled slowly. "What is it you wanted to talk about?"

"Well," she started slowly. She took a deep breath. "I want to leave."

His eyebrows shot up. "I trust you aren't talking about the restaurant."

She gave a chuckle to ease the tension. "No." She took another deep breath. "I want to get out of this city. Actually, I want to get out of this country," she added with amusement. "Maybe see the world. But still write of course."

Byakuya stared at her as if trying to read her. He was always able to see how she was feeling and what her intentions were. That was one of his specialties in his field of work anyway.

"You want to escape," he declared casually.

Rukia's eyes widened in surprise and then she bowed her head with a slight smile. "I forgot who I was talking to for a second," she said with a soft chuckle as she stared at her lap. She looked back up at her brother with affectionate eyes. "I'm trapped, brother. I can't get away from something that isn't even here anymore. I've tried to live through it. But I can't."

He stared at her with a surprising smile coming to his lips. It wasn't a grin, but instead, a kind, understanding smile. "I know exactly what you mean."

"How?" she asked in confusion.

"Even though Hisana was still with us, she couldn't hold me back," he swallowed slightly in secret, but Rukia saw the falter of his cold eyes. "I would visit her everyday when I was not working, but the days that I was called back allowed me to breathe again. I was always holding my breath. Breathing was always too painful," he explained with a strong jaw. He then pushed back into his chair. "So I was given an escape whenever I got called away."

Rukia frowned. Her brother-in-law was more family to her than anyone. He was her brother. He was there for her. He understood her.

"I can't believe you even needed to get out of there," she admitted.

He gave a single chuckle, which surprised her yet again. "I think you might think too highly of me, Rukia. I'm not as strong as you believe."

Rukia laughed. "But you're supposed to be. You're my older brother," she joked with a smile.

He shrugged. "We all get trapped sooner or later."

"So you're okay with this?" she questioned with disbelief.

He stared back at her trying to read her again. "You've made a home here, Rukia. Are you okay with this?"

She stared down at her plate with a sad smile. "I'll miss them. I'll miss everyone I leave behind," she began to explain. She looked back up at him with determination. She had already made her decision. "But there isn't anything left for me here. I need to get out and find where I should be; where I can move on."

He nodded once and then stared silently. "I think you need to do whatever makes you happy."

She smiled at him. "Thank you."

"But I will be visiting you wherever you may go," he said sternly.

"Oh of course," Rukia said incredulously. She smirked as she watched him pick up his fork.

"Now eat. Your food is getting cold," he ordered with the hint of a smile.

And since that night, she had planned out her escape route. She told her friends lightly, knowing it would cause mass hysteria. Tears came to most of her female friends' eyes and frowns were displayed on the men. Renji even looked like he was going to cry. Surprisingly, Uryuu gave her a sad smile and a nod as if he knew and understood. He never questioned her though. The annoying part was that Rangiku figured a party was the way to go out in style. Rukia couldn't complain. She still felt guilty about what she said to her about Gin five months ago.

The party was something she would deal with in order to leave. Especially after he came back. It was a little after she decided to leave. A day or two perhaps. He seemed happier the one time she saw him on the street, but other than that - that was it. He stayed away from her. He realized how broken he had left her. He didn't deserve her and he had accepted that she wouldn't take him back. But he had to do it. If not for himself, for his mother.

Ichigo had gone back to his hometown, Karakura, and located his old friend, Keigo, who currently was head of the police department. He needed answers and his friend was hesitant, but eventually gave in. He found where the murderer had resided.

So he traveled the hour and a half to a monastery. Apparently he was devoting himself to the Lord. It swayed his thinking for a moment, but the hatred quickly took its place again. He wouldn't give into this ploy.

As he walked up the steps of the grand monastery, he knew exactly what he was going to do. He was going to deliver as much pain as he had caused for every victim's life he took.

"How may I help you, sir?" a monk asked with tranquility.

Ichigo stumbled for words. He had to calm himself. "Um, I'm looking for someone," he began.

"I can lead you to the courtyard where many are currently doing their daily chores. Would that be alright?"he asked with a kind smile.

"Uh, sure. Thanks," Ichigo said with a slight smile in return.

He followed closely and once he reached the courtyard, he scanned the individuals. Some were sweeping, some were praying or meditating. He didn't know the difference. All he knew was that his eyes landed on the one person he came for. He was sitting Indian style with his eyes closed.

He began his slow walk towards this man that gave him so much misery. It was his entire fault. Everything went back to him. If it hadn't been for what he did, his life would be so perfect; so happy.

Ichigo stood in front of him with his eyebrows furrowed, teeth clenched and jaw set. After a moment, the murderer's eyes opened.

They were brown narrow eyes; the eyes of a killer. He stared up silently. He wasn't even surprised.

"You've been looking for me," he said calmly as he stared back into Ichigo's ambers.

The orange headed man bent down on one knee to be at eye level. "Do you remember me?" he asked with a fierce voice.

The brown eyes man stared back curiously as he absorbed his appearance. Then, he finally spoke. "I'm sorry. I don't." Silence filled the emptiness between them.

Ichigo refused to remove his eyes from him. He slid the neck of his shirt down to reveal a scar on his chest. "You gave me this fourteen years ago," he said with his fierce voice but it was much softer. "The same night you killed my mother."

The older man took a deep breath and relaxed his position. "If you've come for revenge, then you can have it. I won't fight you," he replied. Ichigo continued to stare deep into his brown eyes. He believed him. He wouldn't fight back. This man had moved on with his life. He had accepted what he had done and was repenting for it.

Ichigo closed his eyes and bowed his head to the ground. His hands formed into fists. After a moment, he then stood up. The older man watched intently; slightly confused.

Ichigo's eyes blazed in the sun. They were intense and powerful as he stared down at the murderer of his mother. "After everything you've done; after everything you took from me," he began with furrowed eyebrows. His face then smoothed out as he took a deep breath. "I forgive you."

There was no doubt that the man on the ground was surprised. His brown eyes widened and his mouth hung open slightly. He was left speechless. And just like that, Ichigo walked away. It was done. It was finally over.

He had taken a week or two off to stay with his family back in Karakura after that. He never told anyone what he had done except one. It was something he needed to do for himself and possibly for his mother. He knew she would never hold a grudge on anyone; not even her own murderer.

The one person he told was his mother. He visited her grave with a bouquet of sunflowers and told her everything. He knew she was probably smiling at him. It took him so long to come to terms with her death and what had happened. But it was finally over. He just wished he could share it with someone else.

There was no chance left for him. He had ruined it. One day after he returned back, he saw her walking out of the café. She looked broken, only it was as if she was hiding the pieces. He doubted anyone could see how hurt she was. And it was a fact that it was because of him. So he watched as she walked towards him across the street. He smiled weakly and let her go along her way. It was something he had to do. One day she'd be happy would be happier without him.


The party was blazing. She figured it would be once she took a step onto her wooden floor and heard the roar of a surprise. She was flattered, really; despite her complaints. It was just that it was her last night in her own home and she was content on reflecting back on her years in that comfy house. She smiled and enjoyed people's company, but at one point during the night she started to feel somewhat sick to her stomach. She excused herself from a conversation with Rangiku about sending her a postcard of a hot foreign man; Rangiku's request of course.

Rukia exited out of her house and walked down the few steps to where her driveway began. She breathed in the night air as she started to walk down the long and winding driveway away from the loud roar of the party. It wasn't really her scene anyway. Walking in the natural sounds of the night as the moon hung over head; that was her scene. She continued down the asphalt all the way to where the main road met up with her path. She could no longer see her house as it was now around the corner behind the trees.

The road was surprisingly desolate, but then her mind clicked. Anyone who would be passing by was most likely already parked on her front lawn anyway. She sighed and walked out into the middle of the road. Even if a car was coming she could hear it. She would get out of the way in time.

Her stomach still felt bothered. She now realized it wasn't anything medical, but in fact it was her mind trying to tell her to do something. And she finally understood when her eyes met the situation she faced in front of her.

She stood with her back to one side of the main road. What she was facing was her driveway to her right and the other half of the road to her left, which curved around the corner after about thirty feet. What was in front of her was a fork in the road.

The party was now completely out of ear shot and now the wind blew leisurely through her loose strands of hair around her face from her bun and her white skirt, which went a few inches above her knees, tossed and turned in the breeze. Her violet button down blouse was thin and the air gave her goose bumps.

She stared down her driveway. It was a path in which she knew the destination despite not being able to see it at that exact point in time. It was completely planned out; she knew where she was starting and where she would end. This kind of path was new to her.

Then, her eyes caught the sight of her other path. Her head then slowly turned towards its direction. It was the same road that she had been on for years; the same road she was standing on now. But after being on it for all these years, she still was just out of reach of that bend in the road. She's been in arms length since as long as she could remember, but it was still just out of her grasp. She stared down that road wondering what was around that mysterious bend, seeing as she had been waiting ever so patiently to find out just what it was.

A car came driving down her driveway. She stared at it calmly as it interrupted her thoughts. It then stopped as the window rolled down. "Yo Rukia! What are you doing out here? The party's that way," he said with a smirk.

Rukia smiled softly at him. "Thanks, Kaien," she said sarcastically with her arms crossed over her chest. "But I should be asking you the same thing. Where are you going? You're not one for skipping out on a party like that."

He chuckled and ran a hand through his hair as the other still gripped the steering wheel. "Yeah, I know. I don't have a choice though. Miyako is coming back from over seas in about a half hour. I'm picking her up at the airport."

Rukia smiled big this time, "Replacing me so soon?"

Kaien chuckled, "Ah, I could never replace you, my dear Rukia. I'd kidnap you if I could."

Rukia began to laugh, "And then you'd have my FBI agent of a brother after your ass."

Kaien smirked, "I like a challenge."

Rukia chuckled and shook her head. "I can't believe you're engaged."

"You had your chance, Kuchiki," he said with another smirk. He met a woman while he was representing a client of his back in Karakura. The client's daughter was the woman that had caught his attention. In three weeks time, he had explained how madly in love with her he was. He asked her to marry him before he came back five months ago.

The raven haired woman put on a fake expression of hurt. "Oh I know. I know," she said, then changing into a smile which reflected back at him. She then heard the stereo from his car and her smile fell as her heart began to listen.

'So I'll run to you. I will run, I will run… I will move right on through all these things that I have done…' The words floated through her ears. She felt her jaw begin to tremble and her fists tightened as her arms remained crossed over her chest.

"Rukia?" Kaien asked; his smirk faltering. He became concerned.

Rukia blinked out of her trance and swallowed. She put up her fake, reassuring smile. "I'm fine."

Kaien gave a slow nod. "You know, you don't have to go…" he said so casually.

Rukia was taken by surprise from his statement as her eyes widened. She then saw him staring back at her with seriousness and she gave him a soft smile.

"I know that, Kaien," she said in return. "But I need to."

He asked in a childlike, not understanding, soft tone, "Why?"

Rukia put on a soft smile as she walked slowly towards the car and stopped right next to his open window. "I need to move on," she said softly yet sincerely.

He stared into her eyes. The violets revealed for the first time in a long time the hurt she was really feeling; the pain that circulated through her heart and mind. Kaien broke the eye contact as he stared down at the speedometer in his car.

He took a deep breath and then sighed heavily. He finally heard the song on the radio. "Man, he really messed things up, huh?"

Rukia's eyebrows furrowed slightly as she looked down to the asphalt between her feet and the automobile. "No, I… I wouldn't say that," she said softly as she looked back up at the man who was now staring back at her.

"I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for my time with him. He was the one who pushed me to follow my dream of being a writer," she gave him a sad smile and then looked away towards that bending road. "He led me here."

"But you're leaving…" Kaien added quietly.

She stared at the bend for a few seconds and then turned back. She looked down for a second as a small smile was placed on her lips. She looked into his eyes then. "You can only be led so far. At some point or another, you have to take the lead."

He gave a sincere smile, "You've always been so strong. I could never figure out how someone could do it. You're one hell of a woman, Kuchiki. I'm gonna miss you."

Rukia gave a sad smile. Her heart sunk a little. She then placed her hands on the door where the window had been and leaned down and kissed his forehead gently. She leaned back a little but kept her face close to his. "Don't ever change, Kaien. You're an amazing guy."

All he did in return was smile sadly at her. Rukia began to turn away from the car as one hand remained on the door. She then stopped with her body half turned. She looked at the asphalt as she hesitated, but finally she spoke as he watched her movement carefully. "Take care of him," she said softly before turning to look into his eyes one last time. "Okay?" she asked with sadness.

He gave the smallest smirk and nodded. "I'll catch ya later, Kuchiki," he said with finality. All Rukia did was nod as she took a step backwards. She watched as he drove off around that bend. She took a deep breath and walked into the middle of the road once again; getting into her previous position.

She was ready to take that new road; that already predicted road. Her hand subconsciously rose from her side to her neck. Her fingers traced the necklace hanging delicately. She then looked down at the violet butterfly. The moon reflected on its shiny surface. Reaching behind her neck, she unclasped the fragile necklace. She brought it in front of her as she held the butterfly in her palm with the chain hanging over her hand between her thumb and index finger. Her eyebrows furrowed and she gripped the necklace firmly in her hand.

She looked up at the mysterious bend once again as she let her fist drop to her side. 'I'm done stretching for something I'll never reach,' she thought. She closed her eyes tightly as she let the necklace fall from her fist to the dark asphalt. Then, she opened her eyes again; this time, revealing acceptance.

She stared at the bend in the road not with anger, frustration or sadness; but instead with a feeling of remembrance. She took a deep breath and found herself smiling softly at the one thing she could not achieve. It had caused her to give up and for that, she would congratulate it. Then, silently, with one last hope and breath, she exhaled and began to walk towards her driveway before she heard someone coming around the corner. She stopped after only making it two steps onto her driveway and watched the motorcycle come around the bend.

Her chest felt heavy as her eyes watched every move he made as he parked across the road, kicking his kickstand open and ripping off his helmet quickly. He placed it on his bike and then turned to stare silently at her from across the road.

Rukia found herself at a loss for words. He stood in front of her with his leather jacket unzipped, revealing a red t-shirt underneath. He slowly placed his hands into his jeans' pockets.

"Hey," he said softly with his head tilted slightly to the side.

Rukia moved her arms so that they were hugging her waist. "Hey," she said just in the same manner.

"You do realize that the party is that way," he said pointing behind her as if he could see the house.

Rukia raised an eyebrow and smirked. "What's up with you Kurosakis thinking I don't know my sense of direction?" she said more to herself, knowing the orange headed man would be confused.

He squinted for an explanation, but Rukia just shook her head. "Nevermind. Kaien just said the same thing, that's all."

"Ah," he said moving his head with his tone changing voice. "So," he said trying to lead back into it. "What are ya doing out here?"

She let a sigh escape her lips as her head turned back to the bend, "I was just thinking."

"Thinking? Must have been pretty important to make you leave your own goodbye party," he said not trying to pry. In fact, he never did. She realized that at that moment. Whenever something was bothering her, he never really had to ask what was wrong. He could say a single line like that and it would end up all tumbling out of her mouth as he let her lean on him. He was always her shoulder to cry on even though he never outwardly offered it.

She tore her eyes off that bending road that she no longer stood on and stared back at Ichigo. "Yeah. I guess so. But I'm done now."

He raised an eyebrow, "You sure about that?"

She squinted in frustration at him as if he had challenged her. "Yes. I'm completely sure about it," she said somewhat bitterly to show confidence.

He didn't look offended by her sudden bitterness or even surprised, for that matter. He just stared at her as if he could easily read her like a book. "You always could fool the world, but never me. I used to just watch how you went on from one person to the next with your fake cheerfulness; always hiding what was bothering you because you hated anyone thinking you were weak. But, ya know, whenever I got you alone, you always cracked."

Rukia began getting defensive. "So? What's your point?"

Ichigo just stared at her with no change in his emotion. "I don't think I ever told you… I always thought you were the strongest when you let it all out to me; when you stopped pretending."

Things are changing
It seems strange and
I need to figure this out
You've got your life
I got mine
But you're all I cared about

Rukia's eyes went wide. She hadn't expected that and she felt herself getting weak at the knees. She broke eye contact and looked at the asphalt between them. "Goodbyes are just hard."

Ichigo gave a chuckle. "Hell yeah, they are. That's why I never did 'em," he smirked. Rukia glared, but couldn't help but laugh. It was too long ago; grudges were stupid now.

Yesterday we were laughing
Today I'm left here asking
Where has all the time gone now
I'm left alone somehow
Growing up and getting older
I don't want to believe it's over

Ichigo then smiled softly at her. "But ya know hellos aren't much different."

She looked at him curiously; her arms still hugging her abdomen. "How so?"

"Well first of all, a 'hello' can cancel out a 'goodbye'. It takes something with just as much difficulty to cancel it out. And second, think about how we met. I called you a midget after I found out you were my age with that height and then you beat the shit out of me," he said with a chuckle.

Don't say goodbye
Cause I don't wanna hear those words tonight
Cause maybe it's not the end for you and I
And although we knew
This time would come for me and you
Don't say anything tonight
If you're gonna say goodbye

Rukia laughed. "And why would you want to be friends with a girl that beat you up?"

"Or a boy that made fun of your height?" he added in amusement.

"Good question," Rukia said with a smirk.

Ichigo then looked sincerely at her. "Because you stood up for me after some older kids pushed me down. They didn't like my 'bright' hair," he said with a smirk while he shook his head.

She gave a single chuckle, "They were just jealous."

"You said you liked my hair," Ichigo added sincerely causing Rukia to look at him with surprise.

Her face then relaxed. "I did," she agreed.

Ichigo frowned in wonder, "But I always wondered why you would help me after I made fun of you."

Rukia smiled at him. "I guess I just saw something in you."

Do you remember
In December
How we swore we'd never change
Even though you're leaving
That our feelings
Would always stay the same

Ichigo smiled and the looked down at his feet for a second. He then looked back up. "So when are you planning on coming back?" he asked changing the subject to a more serious matter.

Rukia took in a deep breath. She looked up at the moon for a second, "Well if all goes to plan," she began and then looked back at him, "I won't be."

I wish we could be laughing
Instead I'm standing here asking
Do we have to end this now
Can we make it last somehow
We both know what we've gotta say, not today
Cause I don't wanna leave this way

The orange headed man's face showed shock, but he quickly tried to hide it. "Oh," was all he could say. He looked down at the road between them and then after a few seconds, he looked back up.

"Senna wants to move in together. She, uh, went house hunting two days ago. She told me about this house she found that's right on the ocean. It's got a picket fence and everything," he said watching her reaction closely.

Don't say goodbye
Cause I don't wanna hear those words tonight
Cause maybe it's not the end for you and I
And although we knew
This time would come for me and you
Don't say anything tonight
If you're gonna say goodbye

She furrowed her eyebrows as she squeezed her stomach tighter. "Why are you telling me this?"

Ichigo just stared back at her; knowing he didn't need to explain; she already knew.

She sighed and looked away from him and then looked back. She put up a smile. "I'm happy for you, Ichigo. I really am. Senna… really loves you," she said slightly hesitantly.

He stared at her with disappointment. "Yeah," he said softly.

"I, um," Rukia began with regret. "I should probably get back inside," she said motioning her head in the direction of her house. She began to turn when Ichigo felt instinct kick in.

And if it's over
It hurts but I'm giving you my word
I hope that you're always
Happy like we were
Happy like we were

"Rukia," he said urgently as he made a few quick steps into the center of the road.

"Don't," she said with force. He froze where he was. She turned back around and stared at him. Her eyes were now saddened and he noticed tears were quite possible.

"Don't make this harder than it has to be," she said sternly, but simply.

Ichigo frowned and bowed his head for a moment. Then he looked back up into her violet eyes.

Don't say goodbye
Cause I don't wanna hear those words tonight
Cause maybe it's not the end for you and I
And although we knew
This time would come for me and you
Don't say anything tonight
If you're gonna say goodbye

Rukia was stunned to see such emotional ambers. She got shivers down her spine from the look in his eyes. Then he spoke. "Goodbye."

Rukia's chest felt as if it completely caved in. A tear managed to freely fall down her cheek. She swallowed and gave a sad smile. "Hello," she whispered just loud enough for him to hear.

He gave a sad smile in response as they stared into each other's eyes for another moment or two. They knew that once all eye contact was broken, it would be the end; they didn't want to let it break. But Rukia finally turned around and walked a few steps up the driveway.

Yesterday we were laughing (if you're gonna say goodbye)
Today I'm left here asking (if you're gonna say goodbye)
And although we knew this time would come for me and you

Ichigo watched her begin to leave him behind. He felt a part of himself fall deep into a huge body of water while a weight was tied to his ankle; not allowing him to swim up to the surface. His fist clenched tighter by the millisecond. He looked down to the ground as he struggled not knowing what to do.

Don't say anything tonight
If you're gonna say goodbye

Rukia had stopped her steps. The wind had picked up at that moment and she watched as the tree branches swayed above her. She then looked down at her feet and saw the grass move in a wave towards her left as a leaf also blew by.

'I let her walk out of my life all those years ago. And then I walked away from her. If I let her go this time… I'll lose her forever,' he thought as his heart raced. Then, his eyes caught the reflection of something on the ground. He slowly bent down and picked it up. His heart fell even farther into his body by the mere sight of the violet butterfly; her violet butterfly.

She then found her head turned into the direction of the mysterious bending road that was just in her view. She frowned as another tear traveled down her cheek. And then, she heard it; the sound of a car coming around the turn. Her head turned slightly and as she saw his crouching form in the middle of the road, her body reacted before her mind.

He had decided. 'I'm not letting her go this time. I can't,' he said gripping the necklace tightly. He looked up and opened his mouth, "Rukia!"

"Ichigo!" she yelled simultaneously with him. She was sprinting towards him as the car was now visible.

He looked at her in confusion and then the headlights were then seen from the corner of his eye. He stood up as fast as he could and once he did, he found she had already pushed him backwards out of the middle of the road.

The only thing he could process next was his ankle being hit by the passing truck as she went flying onto the hood of the truck before rolling off onto the asphalt. It never stopped.

He reached out for her before the back of his head finally smacked into the road. His vision went blurry before he could no longer see the moon lit night.

His eyes blinked open as he lay on the road motionless. He raised his hand slowly and felt the back of his head as he leaned up slowly. He brought his hand forward and saw the blood on his fingers. He saw his foot turned in an awkward position. He then looked over and saw Rukia lying on a stretcher on the ground.

He immediately began to crawl over, knowing it would be useless to attempt to stand. He grimaced at the pain, but continued as he gritted his teeth. His mind was set on one thing.

He finally reached her and saw her temple and lip bleeding. Her arm looked broken and eyes were shut. He felt tears begin to sting his eyes. "Rukia," he whispered with a shaky voice as he placed his hand against her cheek gently.

Her eyes slowly opened and he felt a bit more relieved. "Ich-igo," she pushed out of her mouth. He could tell the effort she had to use in order to speak.

His eyes were now completely filled with water. "Why did you have to push me out of the way?" he asked desperately, seeing her in a much worse condition.

She slowly moved her hand and placed it on his, which was on the ground next to her.

He continued to speak in a hysterical tone. "Why do you always have to protect me?" he begged.

Rukia's eyes began to water. She went to open her mouth, but he continued. "You're gonna be alright, Rukia. Just hang in there for me, okay?" he said, swallowing hard afterwards.

"Ichi-go," she said cutting in. He looked into her strong violet eyes; the only thing that didn't seem weak at that point in time. "What?"

"My… entire life has… been," she winced in pain causing Ichigo to wince as well. "A story," she finished. "Ea-ch word… contained… truth," she added breathing heavier. "But there," she took another breath, "was one fact… that's re-mained… unwrit-ten."

Ichigo frowned trying to understand. He moved his hand gently on her cheek to calm her and not to push her if there was no need.

Her violet eyes were completely locked with his amber ones. "I'll… al-ways… love you."

Ichigo felt tears fly down his cheek. He leaned over her and placed his lips gently on hers with his hand still holding her cheek. And as he felt her lips push against his, he no sooner felt them relax. He then knew it. He held his lips against hers for another second. He kept his eyes shut tightly as he leaned his head back slightly and rested his forehead against hers. It was then that he let himself sob. "Come on! Stay with me! Don't give up! Oh god, please don't give up!" And in the background, he finally heard the muffled sound of the ambulance as the paramedics made their way towards them.


"Daddy! What are you doing?! You promised a piggyback ride!" the pouting little girl with bright orange hair said in an angry yet disappointed tone.

"I did, didn't I?" he said with an apologetic look. "Well then I guess we've got to do something about that, huh?" he said with an evil grin.

The little girl looked at him curiously as he moved swiftly and grabbed her waist causing the little girl to scream. He then moved her rapidly through the air in all directions as she continued to scream. He smirked and after a few good seconds he placed her swiftly over his head and onto his back.

He began to walk across the grass as he looked back at her over his shoulder and saw her stunned face. She then smiled from ear to ear. "Again! Again!" He laughed and began to shift her off his back for round two before an authoritive voice interrupted.

"If you move one more inch in an attempt to repeat that action, Ichigo Kurosaki, I will make sure you pay for any out of place hair on her beautiful head," a raven headed woman said with a smirk as she sat in a chair looking out at the tide.

He raised both eyebrows in fear and then looked back at his little girl. "I guess we'll do it later," he whispered as he let her down to the ground.

"I heard that," the authoritive figure said with a smirk as she watched a little boy with raven hair chase the tide and then run as it chased him back. The little girl began to join him.

The little boy stopped and saw his father arrive. "Hi daddy!" he yelled waving. The man waved back with a grin as he walked over to the woman in her chair. The boy went back to playing his game of tag with nature.

"Hey there," he said suavely looking into her violet eyes as he leaned down and captured her lips.

"Hey there, yourself," she said after their lips parted. There was a smirk on her face. They both then looked over at their children playing in the water. Then, he turned and smirked mischievously as her.

She raised an eyebrow. "What on earth are you thinking?" she said with a bit of fear.

"Oh nothing," he said with a convincing face. She squinted at him suspiciously and then he quickly reached down and picked her up out of the chair.

She began to scream and squirm but he continued to laugh as he made his way quickly towards his children in the water.

She swung her fists causing him to dodge expertly, otherwise he would have already been knocked out. "Damn, Rukia! Watch it!" he yelled with a grin remaining on his face.

Finally, he made it into the water deep enough so that he could drop her in. He began to laugh very hard when she popped back up out of the water with her mouth wide open from disbelief.

The little boy giggled at his mother's reaction while the little girl stood with her mouth wide open like her mother's. "Mommy?" she asked hesitantly.

"Kids…" she began with her eyes boring holes into her laughing husband. "I need your help in drowning your father!" she yelled with a smirk as she dove onto a completely shocked orange headed man. The two children cheered and made their way into the water to help the mother achieve revenge.

"Ichigo."

He jumped up from his slumber and looked around the room frantically. He was where he fell asleep; in a chair in the hospital waiting room.

"I'm so sorry," she sobbed. Rangiku was a mess and Kaien was trying to pull her away, but she refused to be moved. She was on her knees in front of him as she held his hands in hers. "I told him not to drive. I told him to give me the keys, but he just told me to shut up and get in the car." Her crying took over as Ichigo stared emotionless at her.

"What do you mean?" he whispered.

"I yelled for him to hit the breaks," she forced out as tears flooded down. "I yelled and screamed!" she said louder as she tried to make him believe her.

His mouth fell open as he tried to process the information. She gripped his shirt to grab his attention. "I'm so sorry!" she cried incredibly.

"Come on, Ran. Let's give Ichigo some space," Kaien said with tear filled eyes. He pulled her up and away from him as she continued to scream. "I'm so sorry! Forgive me!"

He sat emotionless in the hospital chair. The pain from the stitches on the back of his head or his sprained ankle was nothing to him. Hours passed without him realizing. A coffee sat on the table in front of him yet he had no intention of drinking it. He was running on his natural caffeine; fear and shock.

His family and friends made attempts to talk to him, but he pushed them all away. He never searched for comfort from anyone; only her. But she couldn't be there for him right then and that thought was burning him to the core.

"Ichigo," Orihime said softly as she took one of the many empty seats around him. He ignored her at first; well, to put it correctly, he was deaf to her. Every sound she made was unrecognizable to him until she placed her hand gently on his forearm located on the armrest. He looked up unenthusiastically.

"I…" she hesitated after seeing his empty orbs stare back into her. "I know you want to be alone," she began. "But… I think there's something you should have."

He looked at her; his face unfaltering. He stared, waiting for an explanation.

She pulled the large manila envelop from her side and held it out to him. "She finished it and gave it to me yesterday. Probably as a personal gift before she left. I finished it this morning. Stayed up all night trying to finish it in the waiting room down the hall," she explained with a saddened tone. "I… think it's important you have this," she said with her voice quivering. A few tear drops slid down her cheeks. She kept her eyes staring directly into his, which surprised him how strong she was trying to be regardless of her obvious emotions.

The envelope was still being held out to him and he finally gripped it in his hand and took it out of her grasp. She gave a sad smile, wiped her eyes, and then quickly threw her arms around his neck.

His eyes grew wide as they blinked from her sudden impact. He did not embrace her back though. And after a few seconds, she pulled away and made her way quickly down the hall back to her many friends and boyfriend.

He didn't say one word during that conversation. His eyes spoke the most. But as they stared down at the envelope he had placed on his lap, he wondered if he should bother; if he should just wait for Rukia to tell him what Orihime thinks is so important. But who was he kidding? His hope was high, but his 'what if' train of thought was always higher.

He slowly undid the metal clasp and reached inside. He pulled out a stack of papers; an already edited story that had yet been sent to be made into an actual book. He read the large bold letters on the front page.

A Love That Never Dies

Written by and based on the life of Rukia Kuchiki

And with that, he turned the page.


Thirteen Years Later…

He looked out at the tide moving up and down the shore. The ocean air filled his lungs as he breathed in as much as he could. His hands rested in his dress pants' pockets and the wind blew through his curly locks. He had almost completed his yearly ritual. He had stayed up all through the night reading the now award winning novel that he held under his arm at the moment. He had just finished it and was about to perform his next ritual.

"Uncle Ichi!" a little girl with dark raven hair yelled as she ran along the white fence up to his side. Her smile was huge as she approached the standing man.

"I want you to remember me like I am right now." Her voice echoed in his mind as her image took over his senses. 'Those beautiful violet eyes…'

He continued to stare out at the water; the sea's foam growing more than usual at the moment. "Uncle… Ichi?" she asked hesitantly.

He then turned his head at her slowly and smiled. "Hey there," he said before turning to look back at the water; his smile falling.

She saw his eyes in that short moment. She was too young to really know much about life, but just by a simple stare into his ambers, they looked very aged and haggard; more so than her own parents' eyes. Her little violet dress was flowing in the wind.

"Mommy told me to come and get you. She said we're going to visit Aunt Rukia. Daddy's waiting in the car."

He took a peak at his watch. 'Orihime and Uryuu are always so early,' he thought to himself.

She looked at his unchanged face curiously. Her eyes grew sadder. "Uncle Ichi… are you okay?" she asked softly with sad eyes.

A small smile grew before he turned to look at her. "I'm fine. Just enjoying the sight of the ocean," he said turning his head to look back at it.

The little girl then turned to face the water as well and watched the tide move up and down the shore. "It's pretty," she said with an enthusiastic smile.

He smiled even bigger at her and stared down at her captivated face. "I figured you'd say that."

"Uncle Ichi?" she began; not knowing how to continue. "Do you… ever get lonely?" she asked so softly and so innocently that his mouth fell ajar and he had no idea how to reply at first.

He then put on a smile. "How could I ever get lonely? I have you always coming to keep me company," he said tossing her hair slightly before his hand fell to his side.

She giggled at his action, but then it fell silent again. She then spoke. "But every year on this day you always get so sad. I thought you'd be happy to see Aunt Rukia."

Ichigo's heart sunk into his stomach and he felt his jaw begin to tremble. He couldn't look at the little girl at that moment. He bit down hard and took a deep swallow. "It's… not like that," he said trying to regain his demeanor. He looked back down into her caring violet eyes. He stared for a moment. 'How is it possible that she looks so much like her?'

He then spoke. "I just…" he cleared his throat. "I just miss her very much," he ended with a sad smile.

"You'll see her again!" she yelled with confidence. "I asked Mommy one night before she tucked me in if I could ever meet her," she said somewhat embarrassed. But her perkiness came back immediately. "And she said if I tried really hard, I could see her when I closed my eyes! And then one day when I'm older, I'll be able to stay with her and Mommy and Daddy and you forever!"

Ichigo felt his heart fill with love for this little girl in front of him. He continued to nod as his eyes filled with tears ready to fall. "That's right," he said still nodding. "That's right." He turned his head back to the water as a tear fell down his cheek.

She then reached up and grabbed his hand. He looked down at her as certainty was revealed in her eyes. "She's waiting for us, Uncle Ichi," she said so innocently.

He couldn't help but smile at her. He gave a nod and then began to walk away from the sea with her still holding his hand.

"Hey," he began causing her to look up. "What do you say we get some ice cream afterwards?" he said with a sincere smile on his face.

Her eyes widened and her mouth opened wide. "Really?!" she yelled in excitement. He chuckled. "Really," he reassured.

She then let go of his hand and ran ahead into his house. "Mommy! Daddy! Uncle Ichi said we could get ice cream!" she yelled disappearing through the backdoor.

He chuckled and then stopped walking. He felt the wind blow through his hair and engulf every one of his senses. He closed his eyes and took a long, deep breath. He turned his body slightly back towards the sea.

"Uncle Ichi! Are you coming?!" the little girl yelled from the door.

He turned back at her with a smile. "Yeah, I'm coming, Rukia," he said with a smile to the little girl. The little girl giggled and ran back into the house.

Ichigo turned his head back to the stretching ocean. "I'm coming," he whispered into the wind before turning and walking towards the door.

Fin


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Wow. I can't believe I finished it. I am kind of wondering how many people hate me for the ending. Well. Please don't attack me. Hah… I can't end every one of my angst stories happily. Well that's it. No epilogue – there isn't anything left to say about it. And obviously there won't be a sequel. I hope you enjoyed it though. All the crazy ups and downs. Anyways… let me hear your screaming thoughts. Thank you for sticking by me for so long. So until the next story… Later