Disclaimer: Bleach is not mine.


There are so many shades of red in this world, Ichigo mused as he stared at the gently disappearing sun. Red as blood, red as a fire truck, red as wine. There were an infinite amount of reds – some shades didn't even have a name. And yet they were all categorized under "red." How could one thing so unlike another – fire red and rose red, for example – be lumped together under the same title? It didn't make sense.

A small hand tapped his chest softly.

"Ichigo," Rukia's voice floated to him as she rested her head on his shoulder. "What are you thinking about? You look so…pensive."

He smiled at her, adoring the peaceful contentment in her sleepy voice.

"The sunset," he replied. "What would you call this shade of red?"

Rukia stared for a minute. The sun dropped farther below the horizon, leaving the sky a rich, fresh red bordered by radiant gold and rich blue.

"Love. The sky is as red as love right now, Ichigo," she murmured. "The bright golden edge…that's the happiness, the good times, the wonderful memories. And the blue, that's for sadness and pain. Day and night. And love is the red in between. This red…you can't have love without the happiness and the sadness. You must have the whole thing. But even still, with the blue of sadness you know the sun will rise again tomorrow to bring more brilliance to your life. That is love."

And Ichigo entwined his fingers with her small ones. Because he understood exactly what she meant. Because it was all he could do. Because he recognized the blue in their sky.

Rukia was leaving for Soul Society tomorrow. She would leave forever, and he couldn't stop her nor follow her. He wouldn't try.

"Rukia…" he began, not quite sure what he wanted to say.

"It's getting dark, Ichigo," Rukia said, closing her eyes again. "But tomorrow the sun will be out."

Ichigo caught the wealth of meaning in her words and nodded. As the last of the sun began to fade, he listened to her soft and even breathing.

No, he thought to himself fondly. This sunset…This sunset is Rukia-red.