Well, this is my first story, so please be gentle on your reviews... But be honest in your critique, so I can progess from my mistakes.

I should just say this... if I don't update for awhile, it means I have problems at home/friends/computer/, or I'm busy. I actually have a social-life, though almost nonexistent.

I've had this idea with no ending, so I'm not sure what will happen; I'll just let the spirit of the story and the charachters take me there. It is a BLEACH fanfic (authored by: Tite Kubo) which I have currently seen. It is also an Ichiruki fic, because I admire both the charachters. Both are a bit more serious in here; I wanted to touch the "warrior-side" of Rukia, not just the elegant lady or the ravenous, chappy loving girly-girl. Of course I will incorporate all of the above, simply because they ARE a part of her charachter. Ichigo is a tad bit older and therefore more thoughtful. This will not be a lovey dovey (OOooooh, take me now) kinda fic. This is about the "real-deal" love. And mistakes that happen, regrets, happiness, sorrow, anger, etc.

Note: There will be Other Charachters introduced. I have gone over them meticulously, making sure that they are not some sort of subconcious "carbon-copy" of myself, and doing my best to make sure they aren't a "Mary-sue" or stereotype. I want this story to seem more realistic, so therefore people will have faults; it's human. Some people dislike OC's; I like them if they're done well. I do them simply to practice with creating one, complete with habits, personality, and so forth. Also because I have a fear of twisting another author's charachter to suit my benefit into something that does not fit the original charachter. I present this story as I see them.

Now enough talking on my part.

Well, here you go...

oOo

Rukia quickly peeked out of Ichigo's bedroom door, though she knew that he and none of his family members were due home for at least another day, and she could relax. She would clean up all evidence that she had once again come to sleep in "her" closet and return back to the room she shared with his two sisters. Even though she was thankful for the Kurosaki's generousity, with a bed and more space, she somehow felt unsecure, and the closet was a welcoming as ever; the closed in comfort, like a childish secret hiding place, the smell, and the even the dark wood paneling; she had become so used to it, made her feel safe, and though she didn't really want to admit, it was always satisfying to know that he was just outside the door. Finally, after her senses were satisfied, she shut the door tightly and proceeded to open the window, letting in a cool, fresh breeze and the afternoon rays. It was a perfect day. And she had it all to herself.

She flopped contentedly on Ichigo's bed, stretching her limbs and sinking into the rich sea of fabric. Why had they left again? Oh, right. Some sort of "Stupid-ass-family-fun-time". (As Ichigo had so blatantly announced to her,) From what she had overheard however, it was some sort of camping trip, for almost a week. She felt a twinge of loneliness inside of her before it ebbed away. What was his problem anyway? If her family had asked her to go on a trip with them, she would have been thrilled. Or if anybody had asked at all.

Suddenly she smiled, hugging the fluffy pillow tightly to her chest. But she knew better. He didn't really mind all that much. He would want to go, she knew, he would go to watch over them and keep them safe. It was just his way, that's all. His scowling, grouchy, and yet somehow, comfortable way.

And on the plus side, Kon had gone with him, in case Ichigo ran into trouble and needed " a quick change".

She got up and stretched her arms gracefully over her head, like a elegant bird about to take flight. First on her list for today, she wanted to take a nice, warm bubble bath. She opened the door and headed confidently to the bathroom.

oOo

Oh, sweet heaven.

Sweet, sweet heaven!

She sank deeper into the warmth around her, the fragrance tickling her nose pleasantly Oh it was heaven, and choclate, and Chappy, all mixed into this moment. When was the last time she had had a good bubble bath; two, three years? It sure felt like it, anyway. The bubbles spread out across the surface of the water like a fluffy blanket; playfully, she blew a bit of the foam into the air, tried to see how long it would stay afloat before sinking back down and dissolving to nothingness in a patch of open water. Eyes of midnight darkness became thoughtful as the water lapped against her skin.

How long did she have before she too, would have to dissapear again? She had already done so once, and in the end, he had brought her back. But even so, what if one day...

She shook her head from such thoughts. She shouldn't be brooding over such things! Especially today.

Finally, she emptied the tub and rinsed herself off in rather frigid water, watching the last of the bubbles dissapear down the drain grail and out of sight. After she had wrapped her small form in a towel and returned to Ichigo's room, she quickly changed into something of Karin's, (A set of ominous looking red and black pajamas,) and went back to her closet. No, correction. Ichigo's closet. She fished around underneath the blankets of her makeshift bed, until she felt the weathered cover. She smiled to herself and whisked it into the open air, a tattered looking black sketchbook, and one of her most guarded secrets. She spun into Ichigo's chair and set the book with a thump on the matching desk. Yes, this was it, one of her most treasured items. She opened to the first page.

The first picture was crude, an attempted sketch of a hell butterfly she had seen, back when she still lived with Byakuya in Seritei. It was nowhere near the delicate ebony wings and light form, more like a dark smudge on the paper. She flipped a few pages forward; the pages blurred past, slowly becoming more shapely, more like what she had been attempting to draw. It was as if she was watching her skill grow from being cramped and unsure, to flowing and easy. She stopped at a page near the middle, a vibrantly red rose. A few gems of dew clung to its would-be frgrant petals, still and so real it looked as if it would rise up from the page and spread itself toward the sun beaming in through the open window. She felt a bit or pride well-up; this picture had been her first real-good one, had spent a lot of time and care, making sure to catch every detail.

She flipped to another page, a rather childhish sketch of Renji sitting in his favorite tree outside of the Academy. Her fingertips glided lightly over the red-headed figure before turning the page.

Finally she came to an empty page and stopped, drawing a black colored pencil from the holder on the inside of the cover. She brought the point down to touch the page and suddenly paused. What should she draw? Her face became thoughtful before lighting up, swiveling her chair with it's back to the desk, and she began.

oOo

She had been so intent on putting the finishing touches to her sketch of Ichigo's room that she missed the beeping of her cellphone. When it finally did register, she dropped her pencil and quickly fished the gadget out of her pocket, flipping it open.

A hollow was nearby. She would have to do this alone today, which wasn't a problem.With the recovery of her powers, she was slowly becoming more and more like the warrior she had been in her prime. Quickly, she went over to Ichigo's underwear drawer and began fishing through his clothes. Finally, she fished out the Soulreaper badge, and placed it gently against her chest.

There was a small vibrant pulse, and her gigai collapsed to the floor. She stood now in soul reaper garb, Shirayuki clasped tightly in her small grip. Silently, she leaped out the window and was racing across the tiled rooftops, intently watching her phone as she rushed away like a swallow on the breeze.

Back in Ichigo's room, a few pages of the sketchbook fluttered towards the back in a sudden breeze, before settling on a delicate drawing of a boy and a shorter girl, sitting nonchalantly together on an old wooden bench in an old park somewhere. A scene of two people that simply were content in each others prescence.

It was only half-finished, as if the artist had been interrupted, or simply decided to discontinue.

The room was still.

oOo

"OOOooookay Family! Our extremely wowza, fantastical, super cool camping trip is almost over!!" Isshin screamed, as birds in the surrounding forests took flight, chattering in terror. Tears streaming down his face, he grabbed his two daughters into a bear-hug. "Oh, let us say goodbye to this oh so beautiful, glorious-"

"Shut up you old goat!" Karin snarled, knocking themselves loose from his grip with a well placed hook-kick to the chest. Ichigo was a short distance away, lying on his back in the cool blue grass and his arms resting behind his head. Ignoring the conflict going by, he took time to enjoy the thousands of stars, the near full moon, the evening breezes, the darkness... He breathed it in.

He was cut short when a jolt passed through his chest. Suprised, he passed a rouch hand over his torso, feeling. A growing uneasiness suddenly began to plague him. Unsure of the cause, he sat up, looked around. He couldn't see anyone, otherthen his oblivious family, but the feeling that suddenly plagued him, did not seem to come from his surroundings. Danger...

A pair of unseen eyes watched the orange-haired teen, glanced once more over their familiar target before vanishing into the darkness.

"Ichigo!"

He turned towards the voice; his little sister stood beckoning, smiling. "Come have some dinner! Its curry!"

"Uh...kay." He replied. Stiffly, he got up, glanced around him then returned to the site. He soon forgot his previous feeling of being watched, but the tenseness in his stomach refused to leave...

oOo

Rukia alighted weightlessly upon the flickering streetlight, checking her phone again. She was getting close and it was huge; the dark riatsu meters were going off the scale. She rushed off again, heading straight for the darker side of town. Abandoned buildings coated in grafitti, broken and boarded up windows soon became common surroundings; she made a turn to the right.

It was an old decrepid playground, the equipment rusty and colors looking as if they were being leeched away by it's grey surroundings. In the diminishing evening light, the shadows became huge and distorted, dissapearing away from her. It had been a longwhile since children's laughter had been heard here.

She stood waiting calmly, the orange light of the sunset dying her hair in streaks. Another streetlight flickered to life, casting a dim light over the playground, barely illuminating her ominous surroundings. Years of experience made her senses grow in sharpness; she could practically smell the coming exchange of battle. It was rapidly becoming darker; the air was tense.

In an instant, she blocked the huge javelin-like tentacle that erupted behind her, leaping to the side and diverting the blow. A second one burst from the ground below her, lashing chunks of earth into the air. Shirayuki sliced easily through the first tentacle, it's white ribbon trailing from its hilt. A sudden forest of tentacles sprouted from the ground, all seeking to snag her limb. She dipped and flashed in and out between the writhing madness, slashing here and there in an attempt to drive the masked head of the hollow out into the open, waiting. She dived under the slide, sumersaulted, and quckly drew something in the air with her finger, did some quick handsigns before presenting her hand palm out. "Ye Lord! Mask of blood and flesh, all creation, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Inferno and pandemonium, The sea barrier surges, March on to the south! Red Shot of Fire!" An orb of red energy materialized in her palm, crackling dangerously. She cast it before herself where it hit two of the larger tentacles and ignited them.

There was a deep scream from beneath in the ground, and the hollow fully emerged.

It was immense, indeed like some, distorted, dark green octopus, with the exception of the giant spike-like growths at the end of its quivering tentacles and the bloodthirsty hunger. Larger then the entire playground. It turned it's bloated masked face to her, it's eyes latching on to her as a horrible grin spread across it's features. "Well, well, a tasty shinigami. I havn't had one of you in a long while now." A huge, purplish tounge licked across it's boney teeth. She remained calm and still, bringing Shirayuki up to her side at shoulder-height, closed her eyes and breathed slowly, letting her riatsu flow up to her waiting hand naturally. Like a river. Water. Calm. Cold-

Countless number of tentacles writhed up from the ground, lashing the air. In an instant they shot toward her, a wave of writhing flesh. Her body, her reflexes screamed at her to move, to leap out of the way. She was calm.

Suddenly her eyes snapped open; the pressurised energy screamed into her blade.

"Tsugi no mai, Hakuren!"

A barrier of ice shot erupted around her shielding her, it's crystal plumes catching the streetlight and exloding with shimmering colors. A wave of ice flowed over the incoming tentacles, freezing them instantly, looking as if they were coated in glass. She flashed out into the bizzare-looking forest of tentacles around the icy shield, was racing straight toward the hollow's glimmering white face. Everything was going according to plan.

And then everything went terribly wrong.

Time slowed, seconds became a complete standstill. She was running towards the beast; she stepped up onto one of the hollow's crystalized limb; then she saw him, a little freckled faced boy with messy brown hair, a spirit watching from behind the jungle gym, his eyes wide. She turned her face and saw him, dumbstruck, the hollow followed her eyes; grinned maliciously. A single tentacle lunged towards the small boy, it's gruesome point aimed with deadly accuracy straight towards the little spirit's chest, her mind screamed at him to move, to run...

Rukia felt a searing pain in her shoulder as she intercepted the hit, scooping up the shocked boy in her arms. She gave a little gasp of pain as the spike drove deep into her flesh, flew backward and tucked her body around the boy, taking the blows repeatedly as she bounced against the concrete. She slammed into a brick wall; gasped and blood came with the sound, dribbled from the corner of her mouth down her chin. Quickly she regained her footing and groggily flash-stepped a short distance away, an abandoned alley across the street before collapsing to her knees in the filth. The little boy was silent with fright, his large eyes met her pain-filled dark ones. She slowly regained her footing, staggered, and set the boy on the ground. She felt light-headed and dizzy; as her vision blurred in and out of focus. She also felt sick to her stomach, and yet strangely detached from the events going on around her. As if she was watching from a distance. Shaking her head, she forced herself to focus, prepare for the young soul's Konso. She set her hand gently on his shoulder and brought Shirayuki up, hilt downward. The little boy suddenly gave a yelp of fear and drew away from her, his eyes filled with fear. Rukia's eyes became gentle and she lowered her sword. "Don't be afraid, young one. I'm not going to hurt you." A wave of nausea came over her and she squatted down in front of him, both to quellit and to seem less threatening.(Though that hardly was possible with her height.)

"My name is Rukia. What's your name?"

The little boy stepped hesitantly towards her, his large eyes(almost unproportional to his face,) calming. " Torao."

She smiled. "That's a nice name."

"Are you an angel?" the boy suddenly asked.

Her smile became sad and her eyes became distant. "No. Far from it. But don't worry," she added, noticing the fear in his eyes again. "I'm a shinigami. We help people like you to the 'other place'."

"..Will mommy be there?"

Rukia could sense the riatsu of the hollow growing angry as it continued to search the area; its distant, frustrated roars echoed eerily agains the cold walls around her. She would have to hurry. But her heart went out to the poor soul. "..I'm sure she will be."

"...Rukia?"

"Yes?"

"Will it hurt? Going to the other place? Is it a good place?"

"...It won't hurt at all. And yes, it is very peaceful."

"...Rukia?"

"Yes?"

"Will you visit me? I like you. You're like mommy."

She smiled down at him, her deep eyes sad and soft like velvet.

"...Of course... I promise. But you have to go now, I have to go take care of that bad monster."

"...Okay...I'm ready..."

Rukia got to her feet and patted his head gently. "...Be brave, little tiger." She set the base of the hilt against his forehead, his eyes still wide. Soon they became peaceful, then closed.

A lone hell butterfly flew out of the alleyway into the night sky.

Rukia watched it solemnly before returning her thoughts to her current situation, the transition from caring mother-figure to calculating warrior, instantaneous. She felt a little better from her temporary rest, but that strange pit of nausea in her stomach stayed. Outside, the hollow raged in the playground, crumpling the old equipment as if it were made of aluminum foil. It was obviously an abnormally strong one; she mentally cursed herself for miscalculating it's strength and giving it the upper hand. She wiped the blood from the corner of her mouth and began to think of a new plan of action.

Flashing back out into the open, she took the hollow by suprise. By now however, several of the limbs had thawed, though there flexibility was stiff and uncertain. She drew her blade before her, slashing through any obstacles, focused towards its face. It scowled at her and tried to wrap a few tentacles round her. One stray tentacle caught her ankle and dragged her up toward it's face. A dark grin of victory crossed it's face as it opened it's jaws, ready to swallow her whole...

The illusion evaporated, leaving the tentacle empty and a very confused looking hollow. "Wha-"

Shirayuki easily penetrated the grotesque mask, burrowing through the flesh behind as she suddenly flashed to the side, grabbing ahold of the top of the hideous white mask and thrusting her blade deep through where the nose would have been. The hollow screeched a final death scream and thrashed about sending a splash of black blood across her features; she went flying off and hit the pavement, skidding backward, but on her feet. The hollow shrunk in on itself like a insect drying up from the inside and lay still, it's inhuman howl still ringing in her ears. Very slowly, it ebbed away, the particles of energy drifting away into the wind.

The street was silent again.

She fell to her knees and flopped onto her back, breathing hard. The bleeding in her right shoulder had finally oozed to a slow trickle, but continued to send searing pain through her entire torso whenever she tried to breathe. It was deep. Her whole body was racked with pain, and the strange nausea in her stomach had spread outward in the previous fevor. She flipped onto her front and tried to stand again, but threw up, coughing horribly. She struggled weakly to get to a sitting position, wiped her mouth on her sleeve and using Shirayuki, to stand. She even managed to take a few wobbling steps before she fell flat on her face again.

Her eyes grew dull, before closing completely, and darkness mercifully overtook her.

oOo

Rukia's eyes snapped open, and her first thought was of how viciously thirsty she was and how her whole body was screaming in agony and heat. The sun blazed uncaringly above her, baking the concrete beneath her and her skin. An image drifted to mind; herself, sitting in a giant frying pan, lightly sauteed with lemon. She would have laughed, had she not felt like she was going to throw up again.

Around her the sounds of the daylight activity bustled around her. (Being in shinagmai stage of course, no one could see her.) She sat up only to regret it immediately as pain echoed sharply from her wound and yet another wave of sickness came over her. How long she had been unconcious she didn't know, but she staggered to her feet. If today was the day after yesterday, Ichigo and his family would be coming home this evening. She had to get back before they dicovered her lifeless gigai. In a deep place in her heart she futiley wished as well that he (Ichigo, of course,) would be late so she could take her time getting back before he knew what had happened, but quickly dismissed the thought. She had to get there, today. Using a little Kidou, she patched herself up well enough the to walk the distance back to his house, though the nausea refused to leave, continued to smash into her every nerve. Using Shiryuki like a cane, she slowly crept the first step and began her painful journey.

oOo

It seemed like an eternity, but she was finally around Ichigo's district again. It was odd, walking as shinigami. She was invisible to the life bustling all around her as it continued on, oblivious to her beaten prescence. Her whole body was burning now, and she limped like an old beggar down the street, leaning aginst a wall now and then for support. Sweat dripped down her face in the unbearable heat of the late afternoon. Never, in her entire life, never had she felt so tired, so thirsty, or so sick.

Just when she felt she would lose conciousness again as the tell-tale tremor swept painfully through her with a vengeance, she rounded the bend and nearly cried in releif as the clinic came in view. She stumbled her way to the entrance and using the last of her strength, leaped in through Ichigo's still open window. She collapsed instantly onto his bed with a few coughs, nearly blacking out again; just lay still, feeling the blazing pain inside her body slowly diminish to a dull, searing ache; slid off the sheets, coming face to face with herself, the lifeless gigai. She looked away.

Breathing hard, she lay limply on his floor, exhausted beyond thought. The familiar room flew in and out of focus, spinning out of control, and her pulse fluttered wildly about. But she was releived. She had made it before he had gotten home. The promise. Unable to move, she fell into an uneasy sleep, strange, twisted images accompanying her retreat into the feverish darkness. Her last thought was how she was disappointed she was so weak, could not stay awake. A warrior's pride. She had a promise to keep. But she would just close her eyes. Just for a minute, just to rest.

Just a minute.

Outside, the sun slowly sank past the rooftops, dying the world in orange.

A sketchbook lay forgotten on the desk.

A woman lay still upon the floor.

And a good distance away, speculating eyes gazed up at the setting sky.

oOo

So anyway...how was it? Not too horrible I hope.

Yeah. Rukia can draw. I had this idea floating around for awhile; it just seemed suiting. The sketchbook will play a part in the story. As well as the introduction of my first OC; (Torao, motif being my baby cousin) he will show up later on. Next chapter will be posted this evening, hopefully if all goes as planned.

Reviews and critique are welcome. Pointless flames will be ignored.

Oh yeah. It's not a one shot.

-Rayne