These Days

By LoverofLove

Eight years. Eight years went by and all he could do was pretend none of it was real; none of it ever happened. Everyone else seemed to have moved on; why shouldn't he? Every night when it all came flooding back to him, he always started at the beginning. And every night he always started with her…


A/N: Here's the next one. I would like to explain that this story is going to focus on emotions more than anything. And also, I plan on making everything happening in here is more believable to happen in the actual Bleach. So here it is. Introduction. This first chapter is the name of the story, which should give you a good idea of what the story is about because of the song, "These Days," by Rascal Flatts. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I own my dreams. Nothing more.


Chapter 1: These Days

"Alright. It's all done now. See? It's not so bad now, is it?" he said setting down the needle and smiling back at the little girl with pigtails sitting in the doctor's office.

She sniffled slightly and shook her head. He bent down, putting his hands on his knees so he could be more at level with the girl. "Hey, you wouldn't happen to be a fan of Chappy, would you?" he said with a smirk.

Her sad, droopy eyes immediately widened and a smile grew across her face as she began to nod anxiously. He chuckled in response as he turned and opened a small draw where he pulled out a Chappy band-aid. He placed it on her arm and smiled at the girl's cheerfulness.

She looked up at him and asked, "Do you have any lollipops?"

He went to open his mouth and respond, but her mother held out her hand to help her daughter down, "You don't need a lollipop, honey. We have to get going so I can start dinner." She turned to him a smiled sincerely. "Thank you, Doctor Kurosaki."

He smiled, "No problem." He looked down at the little girl, who seemed somewhat sad. The mother began to walk out of the room.

"Lollipops rot your teeth anyway," he said looking at the retreating woman over his shoulder. He then held his pointer finger in front of his lips and said softly, "Shh," as he pulled out a Chappy lollipop from his white coat pocket and handed it to the little girl.

She smiled wildly, showing some missing teeth, and hugged his leg quickly before her mother saw.

She ran to hold her mother's hand and waved back, "See you soon!"

"Hopefully not too soon!" he yelled back as they exited the building. He smiled and turned to see his sister at the desk typing away at the computer.

"Only you can make children want to come to the doctor's, Ichigo," she said with a smirk without looking away from the computer screen.

"I've always been a sucker for kids, I guess," he said looking at the clock on the wall.

"Do we have anymore appointments today, Karin?" he questioned with exhaustion in his voice.

"Nope. We're all done," she said leaning back in her chair and letting out a deep breath.

"Then do you mind if I head home?" he asked with great hope.

"Go ahead. I'm gonna finish things up here."

"Tell Yuzu and Dad I'll drop by this weekend for lunch or something," he added hanging his white coat up on a hook in the corner, along with his stethoscope.

"Will do. Later," she said as she started typing again.

The air was getting bitter. It hit his skin and caused him to shiver. He took a deep breath and let the crisp air overwhelm his lungs. He zipped up his jacket and proceeded to put his hands into his pockets.

He looked across the street from the clinic at a particular streetlight; a streetlight that held a memory that would affect him for the rest of his life. His amber eyes seemed to flash with desire, but once he blinked, it was gone and his exhausted stare returned. He then pulled up his coat collar to shield him from the harsh breeze and turned to begin his walk.

It was quiet and already dark outside when it had just turned into the evening hours. He walked on the sidewalk as the streetlights came on above him. The wind brushed through his still unruly vibrant hair as he looked up at the clear night sky.

For a year now, he had taken over for his father, allowing him to retire from medicine. His sisters helped him out as nurses and receptionists. He realized that he was going to go into the family business his last year in high school and made it his major in college.

Every night after work he took the same walk home. And every time he couldn't help but think of the same things. It was a past that he had trouble believing if it truly occurred or not; a past that seemed so out of reach.

Everything that happened to him; everything that shaped him to be the man that he was then, was gone. To have made such an impact in the world and then have it all just dissipate without anyone ever knowing how much you made a difference in their life leaves you with an emptiness; an emptiness that craves to be filled with meaning; a purpose.

Now he was ordinary. Well, to everyone else at least. He no longer was gone for unexplainable absences and he no longer disappeared for any apparent reason. To everyone around him, he was like the next guy sitting next them.

He stopped for a moment as he heard the all too familiar screech of a hollow. He froze for a few seconds and stood straight up from instinct, but then relaxed and began to walk at his same pace in the same direction.

He could still see spirits. He even saw a few hollows in the past few years, but did nothing about it. He knew there was a shinigami in the area; it wasn't his job anymore. He let it all go.

He walked until he reached his two story apartment. Stepping inside, he hung his coat on the rack and walked into his living room. He turned on the television with the remote, and then walked straight to his small kitchen, which connected to his living room.

He looked through the mail set on his kitchen table and filed through them, seeing how most of them were bills anyway. One thing did stand out though. He opened the envelope.

Dear Ichigo Kurosaki,

You are cordially invited to the wedding of:

Uryuu Ishida and Orihime Inoue

He smirked at the invitation. His friends had been engaged for about a year now. They had been dating for four years and then Ishida finally worked up the courage to propose. He never was a very confident guy in that department.

Orihime had shyly approached Ichigo one day before his life seemed to take a totally turn around. They were still in high school at the time, but when she laid her feelings out on the table for him, he had trouble finding the rights words to let her down easily. In fact, he had trouble finding any words at that moment. That kind of love was something he could never give her. She was upset for what he assumed was probably a month and then returned to her cheery-self.

He thought back to that time and then was brought back to the invitation. He smiled genuinely at it.

Then, his cell phone began to ring. He quickly flipped it open without looking to see who it was. "Hello?"

"Hey Ichigo. What's going on, man?"

"Chad! Hey man! Nothing really. How's Mexico treating you?" Ichigo smiled into in the phone at a friend he hadn't seen in some time.

"Pretty good. I'm not complaining. I was calling you about the wedding," he said, leading into the conversation.

"Oh yeah. I was actually looking at the invitation when you called."

"Yeah. I got it today too. I was wondering if I could crash with you when I come up?"

"Oh no problem, man. Stay as long as you want."

"Great. So I got to go. I've got to head off to the club now. I'll see ya then."

"Alright. I don't know who would want to cause a scene with you as a bouncer, but don't let anyone manhandle you, got it?"

There was a chuckle on the other side of the phone. "Don't you think you've taught me that already?"

"Yeah, you're right."

"Okay, I'll see ya man."

"Later." He hung up the phone and walked over to the living room with the remote in hand.

"Don Kanonji is back in Karakura Town! He had been away in the United States for ten years, but he has finally come back home to Japan! Don, tell us why you came to Karakura Town before anywhere else in Japan first?" a reporter said on the television holding the microphone out to him.

"I came here because Karakura Town was always a great place to do my job. There were so many unique people in this town and I would like to reunite the Karakura Superheroes! But first I would love to see my number one pupil! Plus, I'm here for all the fans! Don't forget to buy the new Don Kanonji t-shirts and season four dvd! It's only-"

Ichigo raised an eyebrow and quickly hit the power button on the remote. He scowled at the black screen and threw the remote on the couch as he made his way upstairs.

Hey baby, is that you?
Wow, your hair got so long.
Yeah, yeah, I love it, I really do.

Eight years. Eight years went by and all he could do was pretend none of it was real; none of it ever happened. Chad moved to Mexico and became a bouncer. Uryuu took over his father's hospital as Orihime started her own cooking program, which surprisingly was very successful. Tatsuki was coaching at the dojo that she and Ichigo attended when they were kids.

Norma Jean, ain't that the song we'd sing in the car
Drivin' downtown, top down, makin' the rounds
Checking out the bands on Doheny Avenue.

Everyone else seemed to have moved on; why shouldn't he? He dragged his feet up the steps as the weight of the past overpowered him. It was so tiring; so painful to let go. For the past few years he hid himself from the world. Everyone reminded him of it all, so he scarcely saw them. But at night, he was left in the silence and the dark, and his strong demeanor broke.

Yeah, life throws you curves,
But you learn to swerve,
Me, I swung and I missed,
And the next thing ya know, I'm reminiscing...
Dreaming old dreams, wishing old wishes,
Like you would be back again.

He kicked his shoes off and sat down on the side of his bed. He was hunched over with his elbows on his knees and his face buried in his hands. He remained like that for a few moments and then looked over at the table next to his bed. He was tempted to open the drawer, just in case. So after a few seconds, he opened the drawer and pulled out the shinigami phone and flipped it open. His heart sunk. Why would there be anything anyway?

I wake up and tear drops; they fall down like rain,
I put on that old song we danced to and then,
I head off to my job, guess not much has changed,
Punch the clock, head for home,
Check the phone, just in case,
Go to bed, dream of you,
That's what I'm doin' these days.
Yeah that's what I'm doin'

He frowned and flew himself on his bed. He stared at the ceiling, but his mind was nowhere focused on that. The dark only allowed his thoughts to come to life; thoughts that he had been trying for almost a decade to get rid of, but he couldn't. He wanted his old life back; the life where he could protect; the life where he knew he was understood.

Someone told me, after college, you ran off to Vegas,
You married a rodeo cowboy,
Wow, that ain't the girl I knew,

Me, I've been a few places,
Mostly here and there once or twice,
Still sortin' out life, but I'm doin' all right,
Yeah, it's good to see you, too.

Every night when it all came flooding back to him, he always started at the beginning. And every night he always started with her. He thought about it all. He saved her. He protected her like everyone else. But the more he thought, the more he clenched his fists. He furrowed his eyebrows even more and turned on his side quickly; slamming his left fist on his mattress as he faced the window with his eyes shut tight.

Well, hey girl you're late, and those planes, they don't wait,

But if you ever come back around this sleepy old town,
Promise me you'll stop in, to see an old friend, and until then

He let a large amount of air exit through his nose as he kept his eyes closed with furrowed brows. He opened them after a moment and stared out the window. The moon was full and large, so unlike his soul. It always reflected him, as if showing him to the rest of the world, but now it failed him. It only showed who he wanted to be and that hurt even more, knowing he couldn't go back.

I wake up and tear drops; they fall down like rain,
I put on that old song we danced to and then,
I head off to my job, guess not much has changed,
Punch the clock, head for home,
Check the phone, just in case,
Go to bed, dream of you,
That's what I'm doin' these...

He closed his eyes tightly again, but this time, a tear strode down his face. He took a deep swallow and opened his eyes lazily; revealing his cold, emotionless ambers. He wiped the lone tear away and then closed his eyes again; this time, falling asleep into a world much happier than his own.

I wake up and tear drops; they fall down like rain…


That is the first chapter. I hope you got the main emotion and thought process out of it. Okay, so make sure to let me know. Thanks! Later