Until We Meet Again - Prologue

Author's Note

This was supposed to be a small flashback in chapter 2, but as I continued to write, it became to the point that it was long enough for its own chapter hehe. This is the prologue to the story of "Until We Meet Again", at the time of the separation between Ichigo and Rukia five years prior to the actual story.

Goodbyes are not forever.
Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean I'll miss you
Until we meet again!
Author Unknown

Five years ago

One could question whether the heavens knew what was to ensue that day. For even though there was nothing but the bright rays of the sun filtering each corner of Soul Society for the past few days, this day it was completely blanketed by thick ashen clouds. Thunder could be heard from afar, and it seemed that rain was imminent.

Rukia walked along a small field near the edge of Soul Society, where the rest were to meet to say their goodbyes. The soft blades of grass brushed against her bare feet as she walked back and forth, staring at the skies above. A soft crunching of the leaves behind her made her turn. Ichigo was walking up the hill towards her, a sullen look apparent on his face. He looked up briefly and his eyes met hers immediately. He stopped abruptly and continued to watch her. Rukia could feel her cheeks flush slightly as he resumed his pace and stood next to her within a moment. There was nothing but silence as the two stood next to one another, staring at the remains of Soul Society. There was still so much that had to be rebuilt, and they knew it would be a long time before it could once more become what it used to be.

For a while, Rukia willed herself to look only at the city, but her eyes betrayed her as they slowly turned to the corner to see what Ichigo was doing. His eyes were closed, as he appeared to be deep in his thoughts. Rukia watched him for a moment before shifting her eyes back. A heavy sigh of frustration caused her to turn her head towards him again. He was now scratching his head, his eyes still closed and his eyebrows dangerously furrowed.

"I still don't understand the need for this…" he replied in irritation.

Rukia smiled gently as he slowly descended and sat on the cold grass, his face still wearing his usual frown. She too gently took a seat next to him, beginning to play with a strand of grass in front of her.

"There is a need, Ichigo. Your place right now is with your family, your friends…"

"And what are you then?" he interrupted.

Rukia shook her head before punching him lightly in the arm. He flinched slightly as she made a face at him. "You know what I mean…"

Ichigo crossed his legs and made such a face that Rukia was instantly reminded of a five year old that had just been scolded. She hid her smirk, knowing he was waiting for just one opportunity to begin an argument.

"Anyways," she resumed, "You need time. It's as simple as that. So much has happened, and so much still needs to be rebuilt…and you have obligations yourself to fulfill, Ichigo …"

They looked up to see a few figures in the far distance walking towards them. Rukia meant to get up, but at that moment she froze as she felt his fingers slide around her wrist firmly, holding her there. She looked at him, startled. He did not return her gaze.

"Will…I not see you at all until the time comes?" His voice quavered slightly even though he attempted to sound completely indifferent to the matter.

Rukia smiled gently, nodding. "We will…"

"What about your training? You said you would be gone from here as well for the next few years…"

Rukia hesitated, biting her lip as she thought of a way to ease his doubts, but in truth even she knew that the chances for them meeting anytime soon was unlikely. But perhaps the thought that they would could be comfort enough until the time came. "I promise I will come to meet you, Ichigo…very soon…don't worry; I have my ways…" she added, sticking her tongue out.

"Rukia…I…"

The wind howled and the sound of thunder began to make its way closer to them. There was nothing but silence between them. Rukia seemed to have lost her complete composure as he continued to hold onto her wrist, realizing just how close they were to one another. With a sudden swift motion, Ichigos' eyes met hers, his gaze piercing her with such a strong force that Rukia found herself slightly trembling as his face moved dangerously close to hers.

"Oye, Rukia, Ichigo, there you are!"

The two turned quickly, having forgotten that there were others making their way to them. Renji was in the lead, followed closely by Ishida, Inoue, and Chad. Rukia quickly pulled her wrist free from Ichigo and got up. Ichigo followed her over to Renji, slightly frustrated at the interruption.

Ichigo followed the rest of the group quietly, paranoid at the thought that Rukia was deliberately ignoring him now. She remained very close to Inoue, refusing to look at him or say a word. After walking for nearly fifteen minutes, they made their way to the designated portal, finding Captain Ukitake and a few others waiting for them there.

As everyone began their farewells, Rukia finally turned to Ichigo. "I guess this is it…"

"Yeah…until we meet again, of course…" Ichigo reminded her.

Rukia shook her head, smiling. "Yes, until we see each other again…and…oh…"

She pulled out a folded page that she had been keeping since he found her by the hill. She opened it, softly straightening the creases on the paper. She handed the page to him, beaming with pride. Ichigo looked at her curiously and then to the paper. "Um…"

It was a…well, Ichigo had no idea what it was. It was definitely a drawing of Rukia's. There was one of her usual rabbits, except this time it had some very distinguishing qualities to it; for one, a big spiky mess of orange hair on top of it.

"Um…Rukia…what the hell is this?"

Rukia pouted slightly. "It's you, of course, Ichigo. A parting gift…I stayed up all night working on it…"

Ichigo smirked, shaking his head as he looked at the drawing again. "I can never understand your drawings, Rukia…" he joked.

He suddenly felt an enormous amount of guilt as he had not gotten anything for her. She had spent so much time on this. He continued to look at the drawing of the bunny, complete in a shinigami outfit and a zanpaktou in his hand.

"Tsk, Ichigo, give it back to me then if you don't want it…"

Ichigo moved his hand away as she made a swipe for the paper. "No, I'm keeping it…"

Rukia could feel her cheeks flush as her patience began to wear thin. "Ichigo, you ba-"

She stopped almost immediately as she felt his cool lips swiftly brushed against her cheeks. His face lingered there for a moment, his breath lightly touching her face. "Don't forget your promise…" he spoke very quietly.

"Ichigo…" She said in barely a whisper.

The soft patter of raindrops began seeping into the dry earth.

'It's…starting to rain again…' they both thought sadly.

He finally pulled away, a visible fluster on his face as well. "See ya, Rukia…"

He walked over to where everyone was. Apparently no one had witnessed what had happened, as they were still talking happily amongst one another. He turned once more, and smiled at her. Her hair had started to become damp from the rain, her eyes misty.

'I will see you again, Rukia…and when I do, I will not hesitate anymore …'

With that, he turned to the portal, for what he hoped was only a small parting.