Okay I got this idea from Kita Kudai, don't kill me Kita for using it:

Byaku-bo, say my disclaimer for me!

Byakuya: Kimsa Ki-Lurria does not own Bleach...meh.

Rated T for mild language and a good chunk of violence. Otherwise, it wouldn't be Bleach-worthy.

Spoilers: A couple...just a couple.


One

Her Silent Monster

Her footsteps rang in her ears, flitting through her consciousness as yet another sound to remind her of what she was running away from. She ran and ran, not exactly knowing what from but that it chased her quicker than thought. The girl's silky black hair whipped about her head as she tore down the deserted street, her breath hot and frantic in the cold night air. Her eyes were wide, her turquoise-colored pupils tiny in a sea of white. The sound of the creature behind her got closer, huge, thudding footfalls that shook her to her very core. It could be completely silent when it wanted to be. It only let itself be heard to terrify her.

It was not safe here. She had to get away.

Why couldn't anyone else see the creature? Why was she the only one? Everyone thought she was crazy here…no one believed her when she told them of the giant, hulking thing that followed her everywhere she went, not even the police. Or maybe, especially not the police. She'd tried to make an effort of avoiding them years ago.

It drew closer. The girl could feel its presence behind her, making the hair on the back of her neck rise with fear and her skin erupt with goose bumps. When had it started to follow her everywhere she went? This was the second time it had shown itself blatantly to her, a misshapen monster towering thirty feet above her, its face a hideous, sharp-angled mask with strange markings in black and blood-red. Its four arms were long and bony, its legs just as lengthy as its upper limbs. Long talons reached hungrily for her from skeletal fingers, and the creature would always let out a hideous screech like nails scraping down a chalkboard before it attacked.

The girl tore around the corner of the street, seeing the lights of a well-populated neighborhood over the hill it passed. She hurried for it, sensing that the creature was closing in. It stepped behind her, so close that its footfalls sent tremors through her entire body. She was not going to make it

Her head turned as her movements slowed, her legs feeling as if they were trying to run through molasses syrup. The girl's eyes grew even wider, so wide tears came to her eyes, as she saw the…thing…towering over her. A slit in its mask peeled open to reveal huge, straight tombstone-like teeth as it smiled a chilling smirk of triumph.

"Insect," it wheezed, its very voice a wailing scream of tortured pain.

Her legs were still moving. Maybe she could get away. Maybe the creature would not follow her into the city, where there were too many people around to move freely…it'd always attacked her in remote areas.

Talons tore through her skin, and brilliant red blood spurted into the air in front of her unbelieving eyes.

And for the second time that night, the girl's sharp scream split the night air.

Four months later, Karakura Town

The winter night's temperature was uncomfortably cold, raising small goosebumps on Ishida Uryu's skin as he arrived at the door to his apartment. He frowned in displeasure at the freezing weather and opened his apartment's door, stepping quietly inside and shifting a bag of groceries in his clammy hand as he did so. His home was a small one for him to live in, but he made a tidy living anyway, and it suited him well as he was the only one occupying it. The boy set his groceries down on his table and walked over to his desk, rubbing his scalp beneath his raven-black hair. He pressed a button on his phone, and his answering machine popped up.

1 new message, the screen read. Wondering who it could be from, Uryu pressed the button reading "play."

"Um, hi, Ishida-kun!" a girl's bright voice said cheerfully. "I was just calling to say hi and remind you that tomorrow is the first day of school back from the winter break. Yay! I know you probably know that already, but I just wanted to remind you…and…um…anyway, I look forward to seeing you tomorrow in school! It's our first day back in a long time, and we're going to see all of our friends! Yeah! I can't wait to see you, Ishida-kun! So, umm…Bye-bye!"

Uryu felt a gentle smile cross his otherwise serious face. "Inoue-san…" he murmured fondly. Although the winter war was dangerously close, their group had been acting as if nothing was wrong. Maybe it was just their way of thinking that Soul Society could take care of itself, just their way of denying that they were all tired and needed a long break from the fighting involving Hollows. Uryu knew Soul Society would call Ichigo and Rukia back to fight in the war, and when it did, Orihime would follow. And if Orihime followed, Uryu would follow.

It would be hard; he'd been avoiding his friends ever since they got back from rescuing Orihime in Hueco Mundo, his broken promise to his father riding on his conscious every time he saw them. He knew he'd already gotten a reluctant and disapproving admittance from his father that since he had shinigami for friends, he could not stay away from them as he had promised, but Uryu was prone to obliging the forces of habit. This particular habit, it appeared, was paying attention to his guilt-ridden conscious and trying to run from it.

Uryu's smile melted away as he remembered the day he had faced his father, recalling the way he had felt cold and shaky on the inside, but had remained steadfast and strong on the outside…

"What are you doing here?" Ryuuken asked coldly, refusing to look up from his newspaper. Uryu's mouth became a straight, narrow line as he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and faced his father.

"I cannot fulfill my promise to you, Ryuuken," he said quietly. "I think I made that quite clear in my letter to you before I left for Hueco Mundo, but I just wanted to make sure you understood."

Ryuuken looked at him over the edge of his newspaper. "I knew you were weak," he said, "but I did not know you were this weak."

Uryu frowned. "They are my friends, Ryuuken. I could not just sit by and let them be hurt—"

"Two of them are shinigami and the others are not even as good as that. Why trouble yourself over them? You swore, Uryu. You swore to me."
Uryu's eyes fell to the ground. "I apologize," he said sincerely. "I never should have made that promise." He raised his gaze to his father's, suddenly becoming determined. "But I must break it, no matter how you react nor how much you call me a worthless coward."

Ryuuken's hard face did not change, but his eyes narrowed slightly. "…I see," he said after a long, drawn-out pause. "So you've made your choice?"

Uryu nodded.

Ryuuken heaved a detached sigh, and his eyes flicked to his newspaper again. "No son of mine breaks a vow to his father for a pack of shinigami and still remains my son. I will have nothing further to do with you."

Uryu said nothing more, understanding that these were his father's final words to him. If he were to see him again, it would not be as his son. Ryuuken had always seemed to be disappointed in him, and this last mistake had cost him their relationship.

"I understand," the young Quincy said quietly, and let himself out.

Uryu sighed and brushed the memory away. It was those kinds of memories he could do without. The boy fixed the position of his glasses on his nose and returned to his groceries. Tomorrow was an important day, the day he would finally force himself to see his friends again, and he had to get up early. If he wanted to be awake for the first day back to school from Hueco Mundo, he had to eat quickly and get plenty of rest.


The school yard was littered with dozens of students milling about, reacquainting themselves and getting settled down with their friends. The beginning of school was not far away, and some of the students were already inside their present classes, trying to settle in and get the feel of the place after being home for two weeks.

Kurosaki Ichigo sat at his desk, absently flicking at a chip in the small table's surface with an irritated scowl on his face. Most would have thought that he was annoyed at something, but this was Ichigo's normal attitude. The bright-haired boy looked up as he heard light footsteps skip over to his table, and he smiled awkwardly as a slender girl walked up to him, tucking a lock of red-orange hair behind her ear.

"Hello, Kurosaki-kun!" Inoue Orihime said in her airy voice.

"Hey, Inoue-san," Ichigo greeted her, and Orihime smiled. "I haven't seen you lately except for the business with the Hollows," she said. "How have you been?"

"Not bad," the boy replied. "My dad's been a real pain, though. You wouldn't believe what he can get me into…"

"ICHIGO!" he heard someone call his name, and looked up to see his friend Keigo speeding through the door towards his desk. His hand flew up and smacked itself into the hyper-active boy's face, holding him there as his arms wind-milled in a blur.

"Keigo, when are you going to stop running around like that?" he asked in irritation. "I just barely managed to keep you from barreling into me."

"I never learn, you should know that!" Keigo replied, and backed away from Ichigo's hand, a red hand mark covering his face. He turned to Orihime. "Hey, Inoue-san, is my face okay?"

Orihime smiled weakly as her eyes glued themselves to the brilliantly shaded hand-mark on his face. "U-uh…"
Ichigo opened his mouth rudely, his gaze flat. "Yeah, it must be fine because it looks like a pig's —"

A small hand placed itself on the back of his head and forced his face hard into the wood of his desk, muffling his last word. Ichigo snapped his head back up and spun around, his hand going to his throbbing nose. "Hey, what the hell was that —?!"

The petite girl in front of him smiled, flexing her diminutive hand with a wicked intent. "You're one to call Keigo a pig, Ichigo," she said.

Ichigo stared at her. "Rukia…!" he growled.

Kuchiki Rukia smirked at him and lifted her head. "What, no hello? Didn't you like mine?"

Ichigo bristled, his spiky-orange hair rising to the point of looking like he'd been struck by lightning. Orihime watched it rise in alarm and exclaimed a small, "Oh!"

Firm footsteps announced Chad's arrival, and the group turned to face the tall, dark-skinned boy.

"Hello, Sado-kun!" Orihime said brightly. "It's good to see you!"

"Hello, Inoue-san," Chad said in his deep, quiet voice.

"Hey, how'd you get off yesterday? You took a hard blow from that Hollow…" Ichigo said, referring to a fight they'd had the day before with a Hollow. It had not been hard to defeat, but Chad had taken a heavy hit to his shield-arm and had looked to be in need of medical assistance.

"I'm fine. Inoue-san healed me," Chad said bluntly. Though never one to say anything in a rude manner, he was a boy of few words and always spoke to the point. "Thank you, Inoue-san. Your healing came in handy on the day before school started."

Orihime raised her hand and saluted him sharply. "Yes sir, I'm always here to help my friends!" she said, her voice rising to the point of bordering on childish. "You can always count on me, Sado-kun."

Ichigo looked up, and a friendly smile disrupted his otherwise "whatever" attitude as a boy appeared in the doorway. "Hey, Ishida," he said as his friend stepped into the room. "Welcome back."

Uryu was a thin, slender boy of seventeen with skin the color of creamy milk and eyes the shade of a deep ocean. His bangs hung in front of his narrow face, as deep a blue-black as the rest of his hair. He frowned at Ichigo and pushed his rectangular glasses up his nose, eyeing up the other youth's spiky orange hair with distaste. "Hello, Kurosaki," he said in a cool voice that verged on the point of being cold. "I see your hair is still as…reviving…as ever."

Ichigo scowled. "And I see you're still as much of a cold-faced priss as usual," he replied snappily. "Way to greet a friend after avoiding us for so long."

Uryu sniffed without comment.

"Now, now," Rukia said, sensing that the two boys were already starting an argument. "It's the first day of school for us in a long time. Lighten up a little; you haven't seen each other for a while."

Never one to — at least not blatantly — start an argument with a girl, Uryu stood by and remained silent as Ichigo pointed at him and protested to the raven-haired Rukia. "It's his fault!" he objected. "All I said was 'hey!' Besides, he is a priss."

Uryu tried to ignore the comment as well, but he had to acknowledge in the back of his mind that Ichigo bordered on telling the truth. He always kept his shirt neatly pressed and tucked in, and where others would not wear the standard ties of the school uniform he always did. His pants were always straight and unwrinkled, and his shoes were always of high, boring quality and shined with careful precision. His shy and solitary attitude did nothing to cheer him up either; Uryu had always been the quiet class genius in the back of the room that hung out with the popular and well-known Ichigo but never anyone else.

Uryu felt his pale skin easily flush a bright red and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose again. The motion always seemed to calm him down.

"And you're a jerk but you never hear me saying anything!" Rukia was shouting at Ichigo as Uryu contemplated these thoughts. She walked right up to the bright-haired youth and slammed her hands down Ichigo's desk, standing and yelling at him. "Why do you always have to be such a punk?"

"Who's a punk, miss beat-you-till-blind?!" Ichigo yelled back, rising as well and glaring Rukia straight in the eye as the two went off on another of their famous yelling matches. Their classmates had experienced all too many of these, and those who knew the two well and were unfortunate enough to be around them for a long time had experienced even more.

"Oh, not again," one of their classmates muttered to himself.

"They're impossible to be in the same classroom with," another agreed, this time a girl.

A stocky man in a cold gray shirt and pants ushered in the last straggling students just as the bell rang, and walked over to stand in front of the room. "Alright, break it up, break it up," he said as he spotted Rukia and Ichigo having a shouting match. The two students immediately stopped and stared at him, wondering who he was.

"I've heard about you two," the substitute said. "Kuchiki and Kurosaki, isn't it? Yes, yes, take a seat. If everyone will be seated, I will introduce myself. My name is Mr. Morioka, and I am going to be your substitute for today as your teacher, Ms. Ochi, caught a slight cold. She did not really have a lesson plan for today...ah...she merely said, 'They'll find something idiotic to occupy their time,' so I consulted the other teachers in this school and got a probable lesson plan for you today."

He was a stout man, tall but heavily built, and had short cropped hair that did nothing to relax the fact that he looked like a military officer. He did not look Japanese with his strong chin and green eyes, but his last name was and so no one questioned it.

The teacher picked up a clipboard and ran his eyes down the list of students in his class. "I am going to take attendance now," he said. "First off the list, Keigo Asano?"

"Here, Sensei!" the overzealous Keigo called out, waving his arm high in the air for his teacher to see.

"Yes, very good. Inoue Orihime?"

"Ah, here!" answered Orihime in her innocent, girlish voice, raising her hand.

Mr. Morioka ran down the list until he reached the very bottom. "Well it seems we have a student transfering into this class today. An odd time to start, but...is Yamazaki Yume present?"

No one answered, and the classmates looked around the room to see who was a stranger in their class. Uryu scanned the seats, only to find that everyone here had always been there. Only one seat in the entire classroom remained vacant, blatantly stating that Yume Yamazaki was obviously not present.

"Yamazaki Yume!" Mr. Morioka called out again. "Is Yamazaki Yume present? No? Hmm."

Mr. Morioka raised his pencil and made a quick mark on the attendance list. "Absent," he said with finality. "And on her first day, too. Well, as almost everyone is here and I do not think anyone else is coming, why don't we just assume no one else is absent and get started? There is not much work to do since the lesson plan is rather slap-dash, but we will start off our day by talking about what we are going to do today. First we will go over the rules. There is no gum-chewing, no spitting, and no eating in this classroom…"

Uryu sat up straight while he listened to his teacher go on about his personal rules, keeping a straight face but letting boredom enter his eyes. His gaze shifted to Ichigo, and to his irritation he found the boy slouching over his desk and staring at the substitute with vacant eyes. Uryu was surprised that he did not see drool leaking out of the corners of his mouth…oh no, wait, that was Keigo.

Loud footsteps sounded outside the classroom, running at a fast and heavy pace. The sound was oddly accompanied by the sound of jangling, small bells. Uryu instantly became alert, as did Ichigo and the rest of their group; they had been through too many surprises together not to be on guard at all times. Mr. Morioka stopped talking and hesitated, his words dwindling into silence as the footsteps reached the class's open door. A girl stood panting in the doorway, her long black hair falling far past her shoulders and her lengthy bangs pulled up and back by a bright blue barrette. A streak of turquoise-blue hair ran from her hair above her left eyebrow all the way to the end, disrupting the shiny black color of her hair and standing out and drawing attention to itself. Her large, delicately-shaped eyes were the same color as the turquoise streak in her hair, and they seemed to shine brightly with a bright cheerfulness despite the fact that she looked as if she had run a marathon. The girl's uniform was in disarray; her shirt was un-tucked and her bow was lopsided, and one of her shoes was unbuckled. However, none of these things were what caught Uryu's attention the most; hanging about her neck from a long, black satin string were three small bells, explaining the ringing sounds he'd heard as she ran, each of them with a letter engraved on them: Z, Y, and S.

"And you are?" Mr. Morioka asked, sounding a bit peeved by the sudden interruption.

"Yamazaki Yume, sir," the girl answered confidently. Her expression faltered, and she looked around the classroom. "Am I in the right class?" she asked.


A/N: Okay, that was the first chapter finally up! Yay! No flaming please...constructive comments would be nice, this is my first fanfic. If I don't get a couple reviews, then I'll know this isn't worth continuing. And I know this chapter was a little lengthy, they all will be...if I continue and you are kind enough to review!!