Exposed

By TG

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Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach or anything. It belongs to the amazing and imaginative Kubo Tite. I do own the story.

Author's Note: So my friend has talked me into doing our very own NaNoWriMo in the month of March, only it's going to be 30,000 words instead of 50,000. I have wanted to write a chapter fic for Bleach for a while, but considering how my last chapter fic came along, It'd be six years before I got this one completed. So I figured this was a great time to get a complete one done before posting! So here you go!

Warning: This is slightly AU by the way. I've always wanted to read a good fic where Ichigo's friends find out about him being a Shinigami by following him and seeing him fight or something, but I have yet to find one that's to my tastes… So I'm going to write one. I'm all caught up in the anime, however not in the manga and so that's why this is probably going to be slightly AU. Plus I'm ignoring some stuff that's happened. So please no reviews whining about how this stuff wouldn't/hasn't happened. This a fanfiction, people. I'm using my imagination to make it how I want it.

Anyway, sorry for rambling. Please enjoy!


Exposed

Prologue

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Ichigo resisted the urge to groan.

The orange-haired dork was currently sitting in his last class of the day, his chin in his hand, propped up by his elbow that was resting on his desk, his eyes continuously darting toward the clock that seemed to be stuck.

This class bored him most of all because it was Shakespeare; Ichigo already knew all of his plays by heart. He did not usually bother with paying attention to his sensei, especially today as it was a Friday. He was too busy dreading the movie night his friends had planned and were forcing him to attend.

The Substitute Shinigami broke his own thoughts and took a moment to switch his gaze from the clock to the window so his sensei wouldn't get suspicious and scold him in front of the whole class again. Now that was an embarrassing experience. He was thankful that none of his Shinigami friends were in this class to make fun of him, especially Renji… or Rukia.

Just then the bell rang, startling Ichigo from his thoughts. He wasn't sure whether he wanted to smile or scowl further at the thought of the approaching weekend; on one hand, he was now free from attending school for the next two days… But on the other hand, he was meeting up with his friends at Tatsuki's house later that night for the movie marathon that he didn't really want to attend.

'Well,' he thought as he gathered his things together to leave the classroom in search of Rukia, 'I can at least get the movie night over with tonight and have the rest of the weekend to myself. And at least Rukia will be there tonight,' he added as an afterthought.

Someone's hip bumped into his and he felt fingers twine with his. He didn't really need to look down to know that Rukia had found him instead of vice versa. Even though they were still just friends, their relationship had become more physical in the two years that they had been partners (AN: Ichigo is now 18). Ichigo had never been a touchy-feely kind of guy, but he felt a connection with Rukia, as cliché as that sounds, and he didn't mind holding her hand occasionally or just plain being near her as much as he used to mind touching other people.

"Ichigo," Rukia said quietly, looking up at him. "How was your day?"

Ichigo squeezed her fingers briefly and grunted.

Rukia's laughter almost made him want to smile. "That bad, huh?"

Ichigo sighed and ran his free hand through his orange hair; it was a habit Rukia recognized and it usually signaled that Ichigo was uncomfortable or nervous about something.

"I'm guessing it has to do with going out with your friends tonight, right? Well too bad, mister! If I have to go, you have to go!" Rukia said, poking him hard in the stomach.

He let go of her hand in order to rub at what would surely be a bruise and turned to send his harshest glare her way; of course it didn't work. She was practically immune to his death glares by now. They walked down the hallway, ignoring other students and glaring at each other until they met up with the rest of their friends –Tatsuki, Chad, Ishida, Inoue, Keigo and Mizuiro; the Shinigami group had gone back to Soul Society for the weekend to report back.

The group chatted happily, all except Ichigo, who kept silent as usual. Out of the corner of his eye he watched Rukia work her magic as she smiled her disgustingly sweet smile at Keigo, who was nearly crying out of happiness. Not for the first time, Ichigo thought about how lucky he was to be the one to see the real Rukia on a regular basis, even if it meant that he had to nurse more than a few wounds. He hated this fake Rukia. Slowly the group split up and went their own ways, promising to meet up at Tatsuki's house at 8 for the movie marathon.

Rukia looked over at Ichigo, who seemed bothered by something. Was he really that bothered by having to spend time with his friends? No, he had to have something else on his mind that was bothering him. She reached out and took his large, warm, rough hand in hers and smiled gently at him when he glanced at her. The gesture screamed 'If you need someone to talk to, I'm here,' and she knew that Ichigo understood her. They had been partners for the past two years; if they didn't understand each other, then they had a problem, especially when fighting a dangerous Hollow. He sighed, let go of her hand, and before she could miss his warmth he had his arm wrapped around her shoulders in thanks. She smiled to herself and they continued to walk to the Kurosaki Clinic in a comfortable silence.

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Four hours later found Ichigo sitting grumpily on Tatsuki's couch, surrounded by friends who were eating pizza and chatting and generally enjoying themselves before the movie started. He sat near the armrest of the huge, squashy leather couch with Rukia beside him and Keigo next to her. Ishida and Inoue were sitting on a love seat and Chad, Mizuiro and Tatsuki were sitting on the floor in front of the television, their eyes glued to the mystery they were currently watching.

One glance out of the corner of her eye told Rukia that Ichigo was paying absolutely no attention to this movie. She frowned and poked him the leg. Hard. His head swiveled toward her and he glared at her, but she could tell he wasn't angry with her. She frowned at him, mentally telling him to watch the movie, damnit! He sighed and just as he was about to open his mouth for some kind of retort he probably would have been hit for, Rukia's cell phone went off. Ichigo could see Ishida, Inoue, and Chad trying not to look at each other. Rukia caught his hand and dragged him from the room, saying something about needing some fresh air and wanting Ichigo to accompany her in case some men ambushed her in an alley. Ichigo resisted the urge to roll his eyes as Tatsuki, Keigo and Mizuiro bought her lame story.

Beside him Rukia whipped out her phone to get the coordinates of the Hollow while smacking Ichigo in the head to get his spirit out of his body. They stuffed the lifeless body into some bushes and took off toward Karakura Park.

Five minutes earlier, Tatsuki, Mizuiro and Keigo, against the wishes of the other three, snuck out of the house behind the two Shinigami, thinking that something romantic was about to happen. They followed the pair, who were looking intently at Rukia's cell phone for some reason. Behind them, Inoue, Ishida and Chad caught up to them, panting and trying to get them to go back to the house.

Suddenly Rukia smacked Ichigo hard upside the head, which in itself was not that unusual. The group gasped silently, however, as they watched Ichigo's lifeless body fall to the ground. The three friends who didn't know about Soul Society looked at each other, their mouths gaping open. If that was him, then why was another Ichigo standing on the sidewalk in a black Shinigami outfit, and why did he have a huge-ass sword? Why did Rukia suddenly have Shinigami robes on as well? And what was this huge pressure?


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Author's Note: Okay, I am developing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, so I hope you all like this story lol. Damn, nothing like trying to type when you can't feel your fingers!

Also, I wanted to say that no, this story will not really be focused on Tatsuki, Keigo, or Mizuiro. It seems like it for the first couple of chapters but there will be three or four focuses; those three, Ichigo and Shinigami friends, Ichigo and Grimmjow, and Aizen's company.

I'll be updating twice a week starting next week. I'm thinking Wednesdays and Saturdays, but not necessarily. Sorry for the huge amount of space my author's notes are taking up, but I'll remind you this IS a prologue and therefore is meant to be short :)


TG © March 2008