I am a newly-appointed private in the army. The HitsuRuki army. Look up Blackbelt's profile on this site and you'll see what I mean.

Yeah. Well. Bleach. Never done a fanfiction of this before. Great story, great characters, lots of detail and action and cleverness and mixes of everything an anime fan needs. Can't believe it took half a summer vacation of my brother's bickering to get me to watch it; this series is great. After we watched like 50 episodes together last summer (I was in the middle of the Rukia Rescue Arc before he decided we should watch some together, and we skipped the fillers) I'm finally into the Vizard/Arrancar thing. I actually haven't watched an episode in weeks—gotta change that—but it's mostly Blackbelt's fanfiction "Conversing the Dragon" that got me.

Beware the OOC-ness. Oh, god, the OOC-ness. At least there's comfort in the fact that there are fanfictions that feature him being even more OOC.

Oh, and since I haven't watched Bleach in awhile and it's going to take awhile for me to catch up, some of the information—captains, which people know and can do which things, who's dead and who's alive—may be inaccurate. I'm using the classic, easy Wikipedia since I want to write at least some of this down now and I like my research done quick for these things. So deal with it.

Well. Let's go.

November 30th, 7:53 PM

Of all places to be, of all in the world, this was one of the many thousand where no one would ever guess to look for her. The gigai she'd chosen this time was actually a useful one, one that could keep up with her speed and power. If a regular human looked at her right now, they would see nothing more than a short college-age brunette girl wearing a plaid sweater and slacks. Only she herself, or a human who was spiritually aware, like Ichigo or one of his friends, would see her true appearance hidden beneath. It had been hell to get a gigai that worked this way, and so much work had been done to it that she wondered if it could still be considered a gigai and not an outright costume.

Thankfully, though, no one spiritually aware was around. She'd sense it, surely, with all the work she'd put in to making herself scarce. She'd pulled all the strings herself—anonymously, of course—to make sure no one would be sure where she'd gone. No one would know whether she'd been kidnapped or killed or had run away or had just disappeared off the face of the earth completely. She hadn't, of course. She was still very much on Earth, sitting in a tree one cool autumn evening in Zürich.

Once again she curved her lips in a smile over the candy necklace she was eating, biting off three more little flavored rings from the string. One of the last places they'd ever look was here in Zürich.




None of her comrades, or enemies for that matter, would think she would leave Japan. She had no reason to, or so they would think. But she did. She had a reason to leave Soul Society, Karakura Town, and everything surrounding it. It had nothing to do with shinigami duties, or hollows outside the country that needed disposing of or any assignment she'd been given. No, it was a reason she alone knew.

It was a secret she'd kept to herself for weeks. No one could possibly know about it, as she'd never written it down anywhere and she never spoke of it; it was just a series of thoughts in her mind, and in her mind, her clever mind, no one could know. But soon, however, they would. The secret was going to be revealed very soon. There was just some work to be done first, and she would be finished, and she would bring the secret back open and revealed with her to Soul Society. And she had plenty of time to get this secret work done. As long as she finished up before the twentieth of December, everything was dandy.

And while she was taking a break here, she reasoned, why not get a quick snack and build up here energy? She thought of comparing Ichigo's food to the food here in Switzerland, and—at least this particular candy—tasted almost exactly the same as the candy sold in his town.

She'd gone into the first candy shop she could find—she'd learned a few vital German phrases and words to be able to understand where she was going, and thusly knew the German word for "candy" when she saw it—and spent a few Euros on a long candy necklace. She'd found a quiet spot near the outskirts of the city, nearer to the suburban sort of area, climbed up a tree and began stargazing while enjoying her treat.

There were only a dozen or so colored candy rings left on the string. Once she was finished eating, she'd toss the string into a trash can and begin her work again. She had a lot of things to find, and a lot of places to go to find them.

Zürich was just one stop in a series of dozens. She had many other countries to visit, many other items to fetch, many other documents to read and retrieve.

A lot of work to be done.

As she blithely nibbled off the last blue ring, the end loop of the candy necklace's string caught the little pendant around her neck and she tugged it loose gently, trying to avoid damage to the charm. She wouldn't know what she'd do if any damage came to that pendant.

Hooked onto a silver chain was a small charm hardly the size of her thumb: a little white dragon.

She fingered the dragon's tail, then tucked the damp candy string into her pocket and leapt down the tree, preparing to leave Zürich. After all, she had to be out of the country by midnight, in order to make her swift and silent way to a ship bound for Egypt which would leave at that time. She had to be in Aswan, an Egyptian city, by sunset the next day to fetch her next item and bring it back to Prague within the week. After that, her work decreed that she fetch a certain something from the Sydney Opera House and retrieve that three days after leaving Prague. Instructions would be given to her on what item to fetch next, and where from. Thank god for having a such a gigai as this.

Kuchiki Rukia, in the disguise of an English brunette college student, sped like lightning down the Switzerland city's streets, unseen and unheard.

She had been missing for five days.

In That Nameless Time And Place Where You Learn What You Need To Know

Matsumoto was probably the first one to notice it. But we can't really be sure; you never know with Matsumoto. Sometimes she would fool around by hiding things for a long time and then popping up with said thing when no one expected it. It was mostly so she could get a good laugh, since with her captain being himself, she got few from him.

What is this thing that Matsumoto noticed? Well, Hitsugaya-taichou started acting strangely…absent.

Not absent in the fact that he wasn't there—my, aren't we intelligent—but absent in the fact that he often missed the things that other people said to him. Often when speaking with the 10th Division's captain, one would hear him say, "What?" or "Say again?" more than twice in a conversation. This went on for a month until the entirety of the Seireitei wondered if he was coming down with some brain-eating disease. Unfortunate Hanataro was even forced to ask the captain if there was any treatment he felt like he needed. Eventually, after a month or so of mild worry from everyone, he brushed the whole thing off with an irritated, "I'm just thinking."

So, life went on. Here we insert Kuchiki Rukia, a shinigami everyone knew and respected. Now nearly every shinigami, captain or lieutenant or average Joe, saw each other at some point, delivering messages or working together in Hollow extermination or just passing each other in the street, and it was during the second-to-latter that Hitsugaya Toushirou and Kuchiki Rukia had their first true "meeting."

Karakura's neighboring town, not three miles away, was called Fukuoka. It was here Rukia, Hitsugaya and Ikkaku went to dispatch four new hollows, affectionately named "Mammothmouths One through Four" by Ikkaku due to their disgustingly large mouths and fangs.

These four were just a handful out of hundreds of hollows that decided that lovely April day was Thanksgiving and Karakura and its entire surrounding district was the feeding area of choice. Over six hundred came from Hueco Mundo within two and a half minutes, and countless more appeared following, and the numbers were taking their sweet time in going down. Thusly, nearly every shinigami was in a panic struggling to slay and purify them all. Divisions were forgotten; there wasn't enough time to organize them. Shinigami needed to be out there now, whether they were on their usual teams or not.

Hanataro, meek, close-to-having-a-seizure-at-the-time Hanataro, was forced to take his Zanpakuto to the human world for some very frightening hollow-slaying. (Rumor has it that he really did have a seizure.) Proper squads could not be taken in together. Members of the Eighth Division and the Second Division worked together to purify hollows in the same area and not get in each other's way. It was very hectic, and the Japanese media in the human world had a field day with all the spontaneous destruction—terrorism was blamed.

So, Ikkaku, Hitsugaya and Rukia ended up transporting themselves to the human world together, with their instructions being to kill the four "Mammothmouths" and slay as many as possible from there. If possible, find a shinigami from their unit and work with them, if not, deal with what comrades they had now.

So Rukia was there, crouching still as stone on the green canopy of a coffee shop, with Mammothmouth Two sitting in the road staring up at her. Mammothmouth Two appeared to be some kind of overly furry werewolf with kinked spikes poking out of its back. It had long arms tipped with freakishly long fingers, each one longer than an average human was tall, and these only added to its horrible appearance. If that wasn't enough, the hollow's mask pictured a gigantic ghostly, smiling face painted with symmetrical stripes.

An unfortunate driver, naturally not seeing the hollow, crashed into "nothing" which was really the monster's leg and died. Somewhere nearby, a female shinigami screamed in what Rukia hoped was victory. Glass and stone and steel and plaster fell from an office building that was having its roof torn off.

Did I mention that in all this Rukia was quite wounded? Well, she was.

The constant bleeding cuts and the sore bruises were things she could handle, the blood she was spitting out her mouth…well, she'd seen worse. The fact that a slash wound on her neck was giving her breathing problems? It could be fixed when she got back to Soul Society. No, what was really annoying the heck out of Rukia was that she was sure a rib of hers had been cracked or bent, and was now pointing inward at some vital organ. Every time she took in a breath, there was that pointy jab in her gut, the little painful jolt, another tiny mouthful of blood that needed to be spat or dribbled out.

Mammothmouth Two was smiling wide now, enjoying her pain as a human would enjoy a film. It noticed Rukia's hold on her Zanpakuto, Shirayuki, was faltering, and smiled wider. Seven hollows and three shinigami, including Yumichika, dashed in between Rukia and Mammothmouth Two while their staring contest went on.

Mammothmouth Two opened its mouth and chuckled when Rukia gasped out of nowhere and spat yet another mouthful of blood on her little spot on the canopy. She was now crouching in a tiny pool of blood, blood she'd spat up and blood that had oozed out her wounds.

The hollow standing in the road looked at the petite shinigami in a little blood pool and saw a sumptuous meal. This, one could tell by the fact that Mammothmouth Two had begun to drool.

Rukia accidentally took too deep a breath and her bone poked viciously into her body, forcing up another mouthful of blood that she began to choke on. Surely she had internal bleeding. Mammothmouth Two's drooling intensified. Its prey was weak and it knew it. So, bracing its long legs and curling its frighteningly long fingers, it lunged.

Rukia had raised Shirayuki and had been prepared to defend herself, despite the fact that she could no longer breathe. Mammothmouth Two couldn't have been more than five feet away from her; for a moment the hollow seemed to float in mid-air while Rukia stared down his throat.

Another sword came crashing down into the hollow's mask, straight between its eyes. Mammothmouth Two's eyes went wide and crossed comically to stare up at the shinigami standing on its head.

There was Hitsugaya-taichou, who had saved Rukia from potential death.

The hollow faded away hissing and screaming, but Rukia didn't notice, being too busy trying to force her limp arms to pound on her chest in an effort to cough up the blood in her throat. Hitsugaya turned his distinguishingly teal eyes on her and jumped off the hollow's head the second before it dissolved to nothing. He landed almost shakily on her store canopy, set Hyorinmaru down, set one arm on her shoulder and slammed the other fist into her back.

Immediately Rukia coughed up the clot of blood that'd been stuck in her throat, and defending the fact that she was not weak, stood up and tried to hack and cough blood as dignified as possible. At the same time she picked up her Zanpakuto and prepared to speed off for more hollow-purifying. Then, realizing her life was more than likely saved by the captain, she turned to him and said, "Thank you, Hitsugaya-taichou. I owe you my life…" She would have said a bit more, had she not felt the rib bone jabbing into her body again. Her face must have contorted into some weird expression, as Hitsugaya raised a white brow at her.

Saying "excuse me" while coughing up blood was not the most polite gesture, and after this Hitsugaya certainly deserved politeness, so she didn't bother excusing herself. Instead, knowing just how stupid she must have looked hacking up blood and trying to apologize for it, she bowed quickly and took off. She jumped off the green store canopy they'd been standing on, and dashed down the street, ignoring the furious pain in her ribs and speeding fast as lightning as far away as she could.

'Gods, how embarrassing…How foolish I must have looked…' was the only thought going through her mind now.

Since she didn't dare turn back to see if he was still there, Rukia missed the strange expression with which Hitsugaya watched her run off.

We're going to stop this encounter right here.

You see, nothing else important to our tale goes on here. The fact that the innocent town of Fukuoka was practically demolished and that the humans couldn't possibly fathom how all the destruction came about and how World War III almost occurred because of flying governmental accusations really doesn't matter, so let's not go into that. No, we're going to skip to Rukia and Hitsugaya's next encounter, which took place two days after the above meeting.

Yamamoto-genryusai, who was to say the least absolutely fucking furious with how poorly the mass hollow extermination went, had left Seireitei for some unknown reason shortly after verbally exploding in front of a frightened Ukitake Jushiro and left the division captains in charge of things. Most assumed he left to blow off some steam, and once they said this to their gossiping friends it became such a strange and downright scary thing to talk about that most couldn't keep up a conversation about it. Because, honestly, when did old Yamamoto get angry?

It was during this awkward times of "So…the captains are governing for now?" and "Kenpachi-sama's probably going to be a tyrant…" Rukia decided she should really thank Hitsugaya Toushirou for saving her. One thank you and a coughing fit were not proper ways of gratitude for a captain. At the least, she could go to him and thank him personally, clearly and up front.

She did just that, feeling nothing but rightness and politeness in her actions the entire walk there. She found him standing under a tree in a secluded, quiet area, reading some kind of document that was crinkled and old and likely something important. Rukia almost didn't go up to him that day, thinking he would have liked his reading time to be undisturbed. But she had gone up to him then, and that made so much difference…

"Hitsugaya-taichou," she called, walking as straight and yet as casual as she could manage without looking foolish. He looked up, and Rukia blinked in surprise—somehow she'd been absent-minded enough to not notice how tall he had grown. He was still not towering over most other boys and probably never would, but like many people, he towered over her, and thusly to Rukia he was to be considered "tall."

She stopped precisely four and a half feet from where he stood, and, skillfully being able to ignore the way those eyes of his were boring into her, said, "I thought I should come by to thank you properly for the other day. The hollow could have seriously injured me and you saved me, possibly from death, Hitsugaya-taichou. I'm afraid I don't know any other way to show my gratitude," And she bowed again, low and respectful.

"You're welcome," he said, and to Rukia the voice did not sound formal. "I did what anyone would do, Rukia. It'd be a shame to lose you."

'Calling me by my first name?' Confused at the verbal gesture, she bowed again and sidestepped that subject, easily controlling her voice to hide the confusion and slight embarrassment. "Thank you again. That means a lot to me. If there's anything I can do to make it up to you, tell me and I will gladly do so."

He rolled up the scroll he'd been reading and held it out to her. "Fine. Start by taking this to Matsumoto, on the other side of Seireitei. As fast as possible, please."

'And saying "please"?' Rukia thought. And, not being able to come up with a better explanation she settled for a stupid yet plausible one: 'Perhaps Matsumoto-fukutaicho put something in his drink?' Unknowing she spent nearly ten seconds staring at the rolled-up scroll in her hand, thinking up reason after reason as to why Hitsugaya was acting this way.

"Rukia. Rukia." Rukia's dark eyes turned to him, hiding her surprise at how she could have just stood there staring at the scroll right after he'd told her to take it away. "Yes, yes, of course." She turned and walked back the way she'd come. She hadn't taken five steps in that direction when she swore, swore, she heard Hitsugaya say something. Was it to her, to himself, or to some other individual she couldn't see? Whomever he was speaking to, the phrase was so strange to Rukia she nearly shivered: "Run, rabbit."

She didn't, run, though. No, she took her time jogging at a fair pace that wasn't slow nor fast, mind awhirl with thoughts of who the hell the captain had been talking to just now. And as she made the journey to find Matsumoto Rangiku, she convinced herself that Hitsugaya's lieutenant truly had put something in his drink.

And that ended their second encounter.

There were many after.

Rukia was beginning to assume that the scrolls she thought were crinkled, old and important were nothing more than written messages between the 10th Division captain and his lieutenant; when Rukia approached Matsumoto the lieutenant ordered Rukia to take a scroll to one of them at least once per day, sometimes more. She never once looked inside the scrolls. Matsumoto and Hitsugaya never told her why she was chosen to do this for them and she never asked.

She was given scrolls tied with string to take to either captain or lieutenant, and when she got to the receiver they made light and pleasant and even relaxing conversation: "Hitsugaya-taichou! Here's Matsumoto-fukutaicho's scroll. You're always somewhere different, aren't you? May I ask what you're doing with Yumichika-san's division? I don't remember you being fond of them." "Ah, there was some screw-up by Kyoraku-san…He, Izuru and Hinamori are going…it's very complicated." "Could you think up a quick summary?"

It was the middle of April when Rukia's "carrier pigeon" business began. It never occurred to the girl, not once, that a hell butterfly could have done her delivering business twice as fast.

This and the rest of Rukia's business and everyone else's lives went on. Rukia never noticed the people of Seireitei and Rukongai staring at her, as she was usually deep in thought every hour of the day. Indeed, the people were also surprised to see Kuchiki Rukia going to see the Hitsugaya Toushirou every day. This didn't mean that they thought badly of it, though. They knew she was merely carrying a message scroll, but it was the fact that Hitsugaya was more than often found in public places when awaiting a message from her. Thusly, other shinigami and people would see them together. Surely he knew this.

All smiled, nodded and silently cheered for Hitsugaya's choice, the female shinigami who disregarded her own beauty, and never noticed when others admired it.

Rukia, never noticing the people gazing at her when with the captain, grew used to seeing him and his lieutenant. She delivered at message per day, at least, from mid-April till mid-June. After the first four days or so, she grew used to it, but not quite "comfortable" with it. To know that captain Hitsugaya addressed her by first name and not her family name was just so very bizarre, she wasn't sure if she'd ever get used to it.

At this point, when she didn't deliver a letter to Matsumoto or Hitsugaya, she considered it to be an unusual day, indeed—every other resident of Soul Society thought this, too, and no one enjoyed a day when Rukia and Hitsugaya were not seen together.

It was late June, the 28th—so says the group of cheering and squealing girls who often followed the two around in hiding—when Hitsugaya took his scroll from Rukia. Rukia stared up at the sky, politely looking away from the captain's private message. "I visited Ichigo last night. Caught up on several things. He brought you up in conversation, called you several…unsatisfying names. I thought that you may want me to take back some retaliation-message to him?" The last sentence was spoken with a joking smile.



"I want you to call me Toushirou from now on."

A few seconds of silence. No cricket dared chirp.


"You heard me."

"I'm sure you mean Toushirou-taichou…" Rukia knew her voice, her voice that could hide emotion so well, faltered for once. She had sounded unspeakably stupid and shocked.

"No. You will call me by name."

"I…That's a great honor! Thank you."

"…" He was staring at her. Accusingly.

"Thank you very much, Toushirou…"


"Can I ask the reason why you'd let me do this?"

His eyes had been back down on the scroll, reading. With his teal eyes still lazily on the document he raised a hand and put it on her head. The captain was petting her. "You will find out later." Rukia was silent and dumbstruck and growing increasingly frightened under Hitsugaya's casual and surely meaningful touch. Deciding now would be an absolutely wondrous time to make herself scarce, Rukia began backing away, hoping the captain's hand would slide off. It didn't.

No, he moved his hand from the top of her head to her shoulder and pulled her back, closer than she'd been before. Rukia kept her expression mostly calm, but couldn't keep back a few blinks of surprise. Frantically searching for a reason, she told herself that Hitsugaya—no, Toushirou—wanted her to see something on the scroll. But no. He kept reading the long document like he had all the time in the world, once even drumming his fingers on her lean shoulder bone.

After three and a half nervous minutes of waiting, the petite shinigami asked, "When do you plan to let me go?" Hitsugaya turned oddly dark eyes on her, expression grave and serious, and said, "Never."

As you may guess, Rukia, being unknowledgeable in such areas, had no idea what he meant. She grew indignant, thinking he was playing some childish game. Slightly irritated, she retorted, "Never? I'll have to be back home very soon. Nii-sama will worry, and if you'd like to answer to him—"

Hitsugaya interrupted her. He had laughed, an unfamiliar and warm sound to Rukia's ears, and smiled. It was possibly the first happy and genuine smile she'd seen him give. And after this, I'm sure we can all guess what happened next. If you cannot guess, then I shall tell you: Hitsugaya moved Rukia closer using the hand he had on her shoulder, and kissed the top of her head.

"Fine." he said. He turned her around with the same hand he'd pulled her close with, and used the other to drop the scroll into her own hands. "Take that back to Matsumoto. She won't be blaming me if she doesn't get it immediately, rabbit."

"Rabbit?" she parroted rather dumbly. "Yeah, what else?" he replied as though the answer were quite obvious. "Now, run." This time Rukia did run. She glanced backwards at Hitsugaya, tensed at the look in his eyes she'd never seen before and ran as though hellhounds were chasing her.

That was the day, June 28th, when Kuchiki Rukia was unofficially spoken for.

Rukia delivered the scroll to Matsumoto Rangiku before going home that night. Matsumoto acted as though it were a normal day. That is, she acted, in that she spoke normally and did normal things, but the look in her eyes showed pure mischief, showed the fact that she knew something had happened just before Rukia came to her. Matsumoto, the tricky bitch, had known about, maybe even planned, the event with Hitsugaya that night. One look at Rukia's flustered face told her that tonight was the night when her taichou had finally decided to make his first move. The group of teary-eyed, squealing girls who'd been hiding in the bushes near Hitsugaya and Rukia nearly fainted of excessive nosebleeds that night.

The next day Rukia took a scroll from Matsumoto early in the morning, who insisted it be taken to her taichou as soon as possible. Rukia, now understanding that Matsumoto was in on it—whatever "it" was—knew that it really didn't need to be there as soon as possible, but Hitsugaya wanted it as soon as possible.

She'd found the captain at his usual "seclusion" spot, standing under a single tree in the largest of clearings. Of course, Hitsugaya didn't need the scroll as soon as possible. For some reason, he wanted to talk to her. Rukia, ridiculously, brought along her Zanpakuto, as though she would need it to defend herself. Then again, the ridiculous had already happened: The icy 10th Division taichou had bloody kissed her, so taking a sword on this visit wasn't that absurd. He'd been sitting against the tree trunk instead of standing next to it, a change Rukia took note of immediately. She sat down next to him, handed him the scroll, and said quite bluntly, "What were you trying to tell me yesterday?"

Looking relaxed and lazy and quite content, Hitsugaya spent a few good minutes explaining. Apparently, he'd had his eye on her for several years now, and how she was never aware of it was incredible. He had been waiting for a much more peaceful time to approach her and the silly letter-delivering was the most convenient little device Matsumoto had ever thought up for him. With the incidents of Aizen and then the Arrancar plaguing the entirety of Soul Society for months and months on end, he'd thought it would be plain ludicrous to stake a claim then. Rukia did not ask what that phrase was supposed to mean. Now nothing was wrong with the world except the constant but mostly controllable existence of hollows, and there was no better time than now, and did she accept him, and if not, was she prepared to face the consequences?

She ignored the bluntness of the whole thing, ignored especially the last bit about "consequences" and stared at him. She was giving the impression of staring him right in the eyes and searching his soul when she was truly deep in her thoughts and not really seeing him. Rukia said, half-joking and half-serious, "I think I'll need more than three weeks of being your mail carrier…" Why did he appear to be fighting down a smile when so far her response sounded negative?

"And—perhaps if…" He wasn't even fighting the smile now.

It may have been the smile that made something click in Rukia's mind: for whatever reason, the memory of him saving her from Mammothmouth Two. "And since you saved my life not long ago, I owe you a chance at the least." But Hitsugaya knew had had her now, no matter how unsure she sounded of herself. One could say their relationship truly started there.

Two months later, in mid-August, Hitsugaya, after weeks of showing off his claim of Kuchiki Rukia, (Byakuya, though never liking the idea of "sharing" his sister, grudgingly agreed to the relationship as there were few better men than he to take care of her) Hitsugaya did perhaps the most human cliché romantic move he could have possibly done: he got her jewelry. A single piece of jewelry.

On a silver chain was a little charm made of some stone or jewel Rukia couldn't recognize. This charm, the size of Rukia's thumb, was fashioned into the shape of a white dragon: Hyorinmaru. When Rukia wore this it showed, if not Hitsugaya's immense feelings for Rukia, that said Kuchiki belonged to Seireitei's own possessive white dragon, Hitsugaya Toushirou.

Despite all this, Rukia still called the captain "Hitsugaya-taichou," which said taichou did not enjoy, and would sometimes go so far as to give chase or pounce on her when she called him by the wrong name. But that was alright; Rukia had speed on her side when being chased or pursued by anyone, and it was a challenge even for Hitsugaya to catch her.

Another trait of Hitsugaya's was the occasional meddling, the meddling he insisted was for her own well-being and no, Rukia, it was not childish. This was mostly evident in the fact that he disliked her hiding anything from him, be it a lunch she packed or a wound received during a fight with a hollow. There were no secrets kept from Inspector Toushirou, and if there were, the punishments were dire. Hitsugaya made it no secret that he enjoyed the punishments. Rukia did not, and he was making a point to change that.

There was also the (according to Rukia's female friends, "sexy") possessiveness, the trait that made him like some child that wouldn't share a favorite toy. He had problems with her visits to Ichigo or Inoue in the human world, with her sparring with Renji, hell, with her going anyplace he couldn't go with her. Rukia found this laughable while many others found it immensely attractive—she did, too, but she wouldn't dare go around telling this. For the time being, she was alright with Hitsugaya—Toushirou, she always said in her mind—growling at any unidentified or identified-but-unwanted male that came near her. It was in one of these moments, when Yumichika was shamelessly and teasingly flirting with Rukia just to ruffle the captain's feathers.

Rukia had been smiling, knowing it was a joke and knowing laughing out loud at it might not be best for Yumichika's well-being, when one considered who she was standing next to. But the man next to her, who after weeks of meeting her day after day somewhat selfishly considered himself her lover, found no amusement in the narcissist's behavior. Brimming with anger he'd pulled Rukia away from Yumichika and gladly stole Rukia's first kiss.

Yumichika was the only one to see it, but boasted to everyone it lasted precisely four and one fourth seconds, and was possibly the most stunning thing he'd seen in the last month. The little, loving nuzzle he gave the speechless girl afterward made the event seem even more spectacular.

Once she'd gathered her wits, though, Rukia had been furious, mouthing off to and even threatening one very satisfied and smug captain who would not stop smirking down at her.

Hitsugaya Toushirou had been a much happier man after that day, and all others took notice.

After the kiss he seemed to remember the nickname "rabbit" and whenever his love failed to call him by his name he retaliated by "forgetting" her name and replacing it with the nickname. Often he did this in public, letting the other souls around them remember that Rukia was his pet rabbit, and enjoying it when they nodded and giggled approvingly at the two of them together. Rukia, being very used to Hitsugaya indeed, tolerated it all the time, and even she acknowledged (not out loud, however) that they were a "thing" and when others asked who her boyfriend was, she would easily answer. She still felt slightly shy about admitting things like that in front of him, though, and he was helping her work on that.

With all these things working in their favor, it seemed to everyone that Hitsugaya and Rukia would be one of the happiest couples in Soul Society. Some wondered why in the hell Hitsugaya hadn't asked for her hand yet. (The common reply was "Byakuya, you baka!")

Two more months passed. November was here now. It was bringing chilly breezes and warm, earthy colors of autumn and warning of the colder weather to come in later months. It was in November that the shock of the time occurred. November the 25th, it was.

Rukia and Hitsugaya had requested permission to dispatch the most recent hollows together, and had come back from three hollow-filled, content hours with each other late at night. Hitsugaya insisted she be given a reward for doing two-thirds of the slaying; Rukia insisted she'd had a lot of energy to burn that night and no reward was needed, thank you. Hitsugaya was firm, and gave a reward that lasted several seconds, a little tongue action mostly on his side, and a good-night caress on the cheek from his little rabbit afterward.

He'd watched her enter the Kuchiki house without looking back as she usually did, being defiant in her own way as always. He'd left that night for his home feeling tired and ready for a good night's sleep and a good-morning kiss as soon as possible.

Hitsugaya never got it.

November 25th, 8:44 AM

Rukia was fifteen minutes late for their sparring.

That never happened.

Renji became worried the moment he found she was five minutes late. Fifteen made three times the worry burn in his stomach. There was always the possibility that Hitsugaya-taichou or Matsumoto-fukutaicho had held her up. That wouldn't be surprising, considering how the captain wanted her all to himself whenever he could have her, and Matsumoto would often stand by commenting on how cute they looked and pointing out the fact the anyone who passed by.

Renji told himself that until half an hour had passed. Even Hitsugaya-taichou would have let her come to him for sparring by now. He never kept her longer than this when he knew she had something to do in the morning. Come to think of it, didn't he usually have something to do in the morning? Being a captain probably commanded more work than Renji bothered to care about. Yes, even Hitsugaya would realize he had work to do and leave Rukia alone.

But she never came.

'Fuck waiting!' he thought, and practically tore down the fighting ground's gates to get through them. Something here was wrong.

Renji turned the corner and jumped to the side, narrowly missing a painful collision with Hinamori Momo. The dark-haired lieutenant cried out and jumped like a frightened deer when Renji almost crashed into her. Renji, hopping rather stupidly on one foot in preparation to get running again, said, "Hinamori-fukutaicho, sorry, sorry. Have you, er, seen Rukia anywhere? She's really late for—"

"Late?" Hinamori interrupted and echoed with a blink. "No, I haven't seen her. Yamamoto-genryusai, he sent me to fetch her because she's late to meet him this morning. He said…t-that at this time of day she's usually with you."

'Oh yeah, I forgot she said she had to go see him today before coming to meet me. Real smart, Renji.'That didn't solve the problem, though. He was already feeling edgy enough that she'd been late to their sparring, and even though he should have known she would be late to meet the Captain Commander, Hinamori's news only made it worse: She'd been late to meet Yamamoto.

Something was so very wrong. He didn't need that goddamn shiver in his spine to know that.

"I haven't seen her yet. She was late to meet me, too." Hinamori's eyes showed fear instinctually, but she pushed it away with a generous piece of courage. "Well, perhaps she's already there. I can go check, i-if you'd like me to."

"Nah, nah, I'll do it! Thanks, Hinamori." He didn't really care that he'd missed the honorific on her name, the female lieutenant would forgive him, and once he told Rukia the humorous story she'd probably force him to apologize, anyway. The Captain Commander's office was only a dozen leaps and bounds away at the speed he was going. Adrenaline, thank whatever god that made it, gave him speed and combined with shunpo, he found himself knocking on the door before he had taken five more breaths into his lungs.

Renji sensed no reiatsu in the room but waited almost thirty seconds anyway. He opened the door the moment he counted thirty-one, and found there was no one inside.

Someone came up behind him.

It was a comrade, not an enemy, he knew that without looking. There was Byakuya-taichou, with such a stressed expression it was a wonder his gritted teeth weren't grinding and cracking against each other. "Byakuya-taichou, Rukia's—"

"I know."

"Yamamoto-genryusai said she was supposed to—"

"I know."

He took a different path this time: "Do you know where she is?"

His fists clenched. Kuchiki Byakuya was angry. "Blood was found in her room. Signs of a struggle. We believe someone took her late last night." Renji's eyes went wide, his other features were expressionless. "Any individual connected to her is being told to come to the manor immediately," Byakuya went on. "We must see if anyone knows anything." Renji nodded, feeling something horrible and ominous bounce around in his stomach. Things like this were to be expected in times such as when Aizen was still alive…but a kidnapping out of nowhere, when nothing had gone wrong in months?

Shunpo had them both at the Kuchiki manor within minutes. Several shinigami and even Rukongai residents stood outside, murmuring and whispering with wide eyes. Renji entered through Rukia's window, knowing she had a habit of not locking it. Byakuya, strangely, followed him. Yamamoto, the Captain Commander, stood in the doorway, and Hinamori Momo was in the corner opposite the window, a communicator in her hand. She was pressing buttons rapidly, too many to be dialing a number. She was typing letters, messaging.

The room itself didn't look that bad, excluding the spatter of blood on the floor next to the bed, the scratched floorboards and the patch of wallpaper near the blood spot that looked like animal claws had torn it away.

"Do you have any idea?" Renji asked fervently. The question was directed at both Hinamori and Yamamoto. "This was kidnapping." Yamamoto stated hotly. "There are reiatsu traces here…but they're human. A human has stolen Kuchiki Rukia." Renji heard Byakuya's knuckles crack as he clenched his hands. Feeling nothing else could be said, he asked, "…And Hitsugaya-taichou?"

Yamamoto turned blank eyes to Hinamori. "Momo, are you nearly done?" She nodded quickly but her button-punching pace never slowed. "He's known for almost an hour. He's searching everywhere. M-Matsumoto-fukutaicho and Komamura-taichou are the only ones that don't know yet…I'm notifying them…"

It had to be asked. Renji got it over with. "And is Hitsugaya-taichou alright?" Yamamoto opened his mouth but Hinamori interrupted whatever he was going to say with a short, nervous attempt at a laugh.

"He's…he's furious."

Wow. Did I eat Hitsugaya's character or what? Well, I love the possessive element in anime guys, so I added that and all the qualities that come with it. (One of those is apparently making Hitsugaya a flirt? What?) Ah, I find comfort and justice in that there are so many worse fics out there that have him doing so many worse things…his character as portrayed here can't be all that bad. I already warned you about this and you're the one that read it.

Well, it's 2:30 in the morning here and I'd better post this before I lose anymore sleep. Thank god it's a Saturday—or Sunday morning?—and I'll be able to sleep in Sunday morning and get back most of my lost time.

Yes, I know the beginning is contrasting: Rukia saying that she left Soul Society without anyone knowing and then at the end we find she was actually kidnapped. Did she leave on her own accord or was she taken by someone and find escape? And what are these random items that Rukia has to travel all over the world to get before December 20th? Here is the most classic expression on this site: READ AND FIND OUT.

Join the HitsuRuki army, you fools. I DID!