kay Satsuki's back with another one-shot! For those of you who read Unwanted Visitor, the next part should be up in a couple weeks.

Disclaimer: me no own Bleach

Warnings: BEWARE OF FLUFF! yaoi, ByaXIchi, Slight IchiXHime, Ichigo emo-ness (cutting)

Of Bleeding Hearts

It had been just three months since the war with Aizen had ended. Soul Society had been in tatters, but they were steadily rebuilding. A much needed calm had settled over the Seireitei as the Gotei 13 worked to rebuild itself. But for a certain orange haired shinigami, the war was not over yet.

Bodies everywhere. They stench of them almost made him want to puke, but he kept running. He needed to find her and he needed to find her now. He stopped as he felt her reiatsu close by.



Ichigo whipped around, searching for her. He spotted her by one of the dead trees dotting the barren landscape. Relief spread through him. 'She's alive...' He ran to her, intending to take her home where she'd be safe, only to freeze in his tracks, staring at her with horror.

Her left arm was completely ripped off, and there was a large gash in her stomach. She weakly pressed her remaining arm to the wound, trying desperately to stop the blood. Next to her, her hairpins lay shattered, the Shun Shun Rikka dead. Her last hope gone.

"Inoue!" Ichigo snapped out of his horrified stupor and ran to her side. "Inoue," he choked. "Hold on, I'll get you to 4th Company, but please hold on!"

"Kurosaki-kun," she murmured weakly. She raised her shaking hand and gently caressed his face.

"Kurosaki-kun, I love you," she smiled and went limp in his arms.

"Inoue? INOUE! NO!!"

Ichigo woke up with a scream, cold sweat drenching his body. He whipped his head around, taking in his surroundings. He calmed down slightly. He was in his temporary room in the Seireitei. Inoue's face flashed through his mind and he burried his face in his hands and started sobbing.

/Aibou/ Shirosaki whined. Ichigo ignored him.

'She didn't deserve to die, it wasn't her war to fight!' The tears came faster.

/Dammit Aibou it's pouring in here! Do something about it!/

'WILL YOU SHUT UP!' Ichigo screamed to the hollow, who for once remained silent. 'I'll take care of it ok?' he calmed down a bit.

/ You're not gonna do that again are you?/

'It's the only way I know to cope.'

It was one of the few moments in Kuchiki Byakuya's life that he actually felt at peace with the world. Though he kept his stoic mask in place as he took his daily stroll around Seireitei, it was hard for him not to smile. It was just one of those days.

Suddenly he felt the familiar reiatsu of the orange haired ryoka boy, Kurosaki Ichigo. He sighed. Even after fighting a war the child still couldn't control his spiritual pressure. He frowned as the level spiked suddenly. Something wasn't right. Was that despair he was feeling? Whatever it was, it wasn't good. Slightly worried, (though it would be a cold day in hell before he admitted it) he made his way to the source of the reiatsu.

Fighting a life and death battle for several months can change one's perspective about other people. The same holds true for Byakuya's view of Ichigo. Over the course of the war Ichigo went from being a brash, loudmouthed brat, to a powerful, levelheaded warrior. But no matter how much one can grow from these situations, Ichigo was still a child, even by human standards. A child who had seen things people twice his age couldn't handle.

He found the boy sitting with his back to him against a Sakura tree at the edge of the city. Frowning uneasily at the instability of Ichigo's reiatsu, Byakuya quietly crept closer to where he sat, making sure to mask his own reiatsu as he went. Still unnoticed by Ichigo, who was too preoccupied with what he was doing, Byakuya made his way around so that he was standing directly infront of the teen. He caught sight of what the child was doing to himself and gasped, recoiling in horror and disgust, stoic mask shattered and replaced by fear and worry for the teen infront of him.

Hearing the gasp, Ichigo looked up. The knife was still poised above his wrist, which was covered in blood from where he repeatedly slashed his arm with the knife, digging deeper and deeper as he tried to force the pain away. His eyes widened. He was caught.

"W-wait Byakuya! It's not what it looks like!" Ichigo managed to stammer out. He hid his shredded arm behind his back, but Byakuya had already seen all the damage he had caused to himself.

In one swift motion, Byakuya leaned over the teen and ripped the knife forcefully out of his hand and threw it a few yards away from where they were sitting. The fresh blood on the blade glistened in th sunlight, dredging up horrifying images of those lost in battle. Byakuya pushed the memories to the back of his head and focused on the shell-shocked teen in front of him.

"What in the hell do you think you're doing!?" he hissed. Not wanting to hurt the boy's injured arm, he pressed Ichigo's shoulders to the tree, pinning him down and fixing him with a steely gaze.

"It's my way of coping okay?" Tears were forming at the corners of Ichigo's eyes. "All the pain that the others suffered...that Inoue suffered.." Ichigo choked back a sob and lunged for his knife, but Byakuya pushed him back.

"So you think to make up for the pain they suffered, you need to harm yourself, is that it Ichigo!?" The boy refused to make eye contact with him. "Foolish boy!" He spat. Screw the noble mask. Screw his pride. This child needed help and he needed it now.

Tears streamed down Ichigo's face. "Why?" he choked. " Why do you even care? Why can't you just go about your life and let me rot dammit!" he started thrashing wildly, but Byakuya's grip was like steel.

"I'm sorry but I can't let you do that," Byakuya stated calmly.

"WHY!?" Ichigo shrieked.

"Because I respect you." He stated simply. "Though you are only a child you've proven yourself many times in battle, and your iron will and kind heart is most admirable. Now you of all people should know how difficult it is for me to admit this, so take my words to heart and stop hurting yourself!" He looked at Ichigo and noticed that his eyes were unfocused and hazy.

"Were you even paying attention!?"

"Yes, Byakuya...I.." Ichigo slumped forward unconscious.

Panicking slightly Byakuya felt that his robes were wet and heavy and looked down. They were sitting in a pool of Ichigo's own blood. Standing up Byakuya gently lifted Ichigo into his arms and shunpoed to the Kuchiki Estate. Upon entering he quickly shunpoed to a guest bedroom so Rukia wouldn't see the condition her friend was in. He layed the boy gently on the bed and decided to clean the wound himself instead of calling in his servants.

He winced slightly as he wiped the blood and cleaned the cuts. Ichigo had really done a number on his arm. Holding it gently, Byakuya carefully wrapped the bandages around the teen's arm. Satisfied with his work, he pulled a chair up next to the bed and waited for Ichigo to wake up.

'Something's not right. He should have woken up by now.' Byakuya looked at Ichigo with concern. He got up and walked over the bed, inspecting the boy's face closely. Ichigo's face was twisted into a pained expression as he mumbled in his sleep.

"No.. please don't kill them, they don't deserve to die...take me instead please!" He began to thrash wildly. Deciding enough was enough, Byakuya grab Ichigo's shoulders and tried to shake him awake.

Ichigo awoke with a shout and jerked his head around, taking in his surroundings.

"Are you alright?" Byakuya asked calmly. He was still leaning over Ichigo's bed.

To Byakuya's utter shock, Ichigo leaned against his chest and started sobbing, his fist clenched around his white haori. Slightly alarmed by this display of weakness from the teen, Byakuyua wrapped his arms akwardly around the boy's torso and let him sob it out. It was the least he could do. After all, this was better than his other way of coping. He gently stroked Ichigo's vibrant hair, trying to calm him down.

After letting it all out Ichigo looked up at Byakuya's face. Byakuya's heart twinged when he saw the broken look in the boy's eyes as well as the tear stained face.

"Thank you Byakuya," Ichigo mumbled. He looked at his bandaged arm. "I know it was stupid, but I didn't know what else to-" he was interrupted when Byakuya grabbed his chin and pressed his lips gently to Ichigo's.

Eyes widening for a fraction of a second, Ichigo soon melted into the kiss. He wrapped his arms around Byakuya's neck and let their tongues tangle in a gentle dance. They broke apart for air and Byakuya stroked the boy's cheek tenderly.

"It's alright Ichigo. Just promise me you won't ever do it again."

"I won't."

"Good." Byakuya looked outside. "It is very late. I insist that you stay here for the night and recover."

Ichigo nodded and Byakuya turned to leave. Quickly Ichigo reached out and grabbed his sleeve. Byakuya stopped and turned around, shocked.

"Stay with me, please?" Ichigo asked hesitantly.

Byakuya graced him with one of his rare smiles and shed his kenseikan and haori and got into bed with the teen. Ichigo immediately snuggled up against his side and Byakuya wrapped his arms around the boy possesively. Ichigo was soon asleep. Byakuya gently kissed the bright orange head under his chin. He was happy to help Ichigo. The boy had done it for him on several occasions.

He sighed contentedly and followed Ichigo into the world of sleep.


hopefully not to corny eh? Now see the little button with the word Review on it? Click it and I'll give you a cookie.