the final chapter.


Ch.9

xXx Orihime xXx

Her sullen eyes scanned the corners of the dimly lit room. They searched for anything familiar, but nothing was found. She rested her aching head on the cool steel bars that contained her in the dreary room. She had no idea how long she had been here, but she just wanted to sink into the floor and disappear from this place. She wanted to be back with her friends, where all the pain of loneliness was unknown of. She did not stir when the sound of a steel-plated door screeching open pierced her ears. Although, when light footsteps echoed off the walls, her eyes slowly rose up to see him, with something cradled in his thin arms. As he moved further into the light, she saw it was a person, a person that looked exactly like her. This caused her raise up and stare blankly at him.

"The resemblance is remarkable, is it not? It's almost perfect." He kindly smiled at her as he discarded the lifeless doll to the bitter cold floor.

"What is that?" Her voice was desperate and hoarse, every word stained out.

He cocked his head at her, "What do you mean? This is you.. or at least, that's what your two friends believe."

"What do you mean?" Her voice had withered away to a faint whisper, plagued by fear.

"They believe that they fought, and probably, killed you. You should have seen the look on that young boys face." he chuckled softly to himself.

"You tricked them?"

He leaned down to her, for he was much taller than she was, and began to twist a stand of her hair with his finger, "Why do you care so much for that man? He doesn't care for you."

"Ichigo does care for me." Her voice became harsh, but very uncertain.

"True enough, but not in the way you care for him." He smiled at her sweetly again in a way that only made him appear more frightening.

". . .He does."

Haku's smile turned to that of a frown full of pity. He leaned in closer to the cell door, holding Orihime tightly in place when she tried to back away. She twisted under his rough grip and avoided all eye contact with him. Even though she tried to ignore it, she could feel his cold stare. As he leaned even closer the door across the room burst open, causing both Haku and Orihime to look up in shock. The figure that stood in the doorframe was shrouded in darkness, only the outline was visible. Angrily, he pushed Orihime away from him, causing her to fall on her backside. He stood and faced the shadow that lingered in the doorway.

"Ichigo?!?!" Orihime gave a hopeful, and grateful, look.

As light poured on the figure, the light in her eyes died a little. Uryu stood in the doorway, not Ichigo. But nevertheless, she was happy that someone had come for her. She watched as his eyes filled with anger caused by the man that stood so confidently in front of her. In one second, as she blinked, Haku was thrown across the room by one of Uryu's arrows. She could only stare blankly and watch as Uryu blasted apart the cell door. She gasped as he quickly pulled her out of the cell and out of the room, leaving Haku behind. Uryu said nothing as they ran down the twists and turns of the hall, he didn't even look at her. She couldn't make any since out of direction they were going, it was almost as if they were just going around in circles.

"Uryu, where are we going?"

"We're getting out of here, what else?"

"So you know how to get out!?" She smiled up at him, hoping he would say yes.

There was a short pause before he spoke again, "My guess is, that guy back there, is the only one who knows how to get out of here. We just have to keep going and hope we get lucky."

"What about Ichigo and Rukia? We can't leave them."

"I'm sure we'll run into them before long." For the first time since their discussion in the hallway at school, he looked at her and smiled.

She half-heartedly smiled back at him. She was surprised, how could he smile at her so warmly when he knew she didn't love him? Why would he still care so deeply for her? She knew the answers to these questions, and a few that were not asked, in the back of mind. She looked away from him and frowned as she thought about him, and about Ichigo. She refused to listen to the answers, they tore her away from Ichigo. As her eyes aimlessly wondered around her, she blushed as she realized that Uryu was holding her hand as they ran.

xXx Rukia xXx

She watched Ichigo as he silently sat on the ground, with his head resting in his hands. Without a word she kneeled down behind him and laid her head on his shoulder. The slow seconds ticked away in the darkness as she listened to Ichigo's heart slow down to a normal pace. The tension pouring off Ichigo was so thick that it almost caused her step away from him, despite this she stayed with him.

When the silence became so unbearable she spoke, "Ichigo, you know that couldn't have been her. She's simply not capable of that, she's not a fighter. You know that."

He looked down at his bloodstained hands in disgust, "It looked like her." His voice was hollow and empty, it was so foreign, even to him.

Rukia saw his point, but she wasn't about to agree with him so he could beat himself up about it even more. When she moved to look at his face, she saw that he was still looking at the blood that coated his hands. Quickly, she took out a handkerchief and hid his hands from his view with it. Still, he didn't look up as she gently wiped away the blood. When she moved to his face, he closed his eyes and sighed deeply. Before she realized what had happened she was in a lip-lock with Ichigo. His arms were wrapped securely around her small waist and at some point during all this, she had swung her arms around his neck. He moved his hand to the back of her head and twisted her hair around his fingers. The other arm which was still wrapped around her waist pulled her even closer to him. Slowly, Ichigo fell back to the floor, dragging her down with him. Instead of pulling back up, she moved one of her hands down to rest on his chest. She smiled as she his heart beat away beneath his skin.

"Oh, dear, I'm not interrupting something, Am I?"

Both Rukia and Ichigo looked up to address the sarcastic remark, but they remained quiet as they saw who it was that stood in front of them. They stared at the man who had departed only moments ago. Ichigo quickly tossed Rukia to the side and stood, going into a fighting stance. Rukia watched as he pulled out his sword, how the other man just laughed at Ichigo's red face. She felt a twinge in her stomach, something was wrong. He looked different than last time, he looked more serious, almost bitterly mad. The hatred in his voice didn't match the light-hearted tone he had used earlier. She gave Ichigo a worried glance, but it went unnoticed.

xXx Uryu xXx

Out of breath and tired, Uryu finally stopped, with no complaint from Orihime. He watched as she fell to her knees and clutched at her chest. He loved everything about her, her innocent eyes, the way her hair fell across her even more innocent face. There was even a bitter love belonging to the way she had unknowingly ripped out and burned his heart. What was left of his heart was screaming at him to either say or do something, that it had to be now. Something else was screaming too, reminding him that he had already tried, and she had turned him down. He sighed and sat down beside her, too tired to stand. He forced his mind to focus on the situation at hand; they had been running for far too long to come across nothing. Every door they entered had either lead to a dead end, or to another corridor. It seemed as if they were going in circles, that this place didn't have an exit. As he pondered on it, the idea became more believable; he had no clue on how they arrived at this place, perhaps this was only an allusion. As he came out of his thoughts, he noticed that Orihime was looking up at him quizzically.

"Did you hear me?"

"Huh, oh... no, sorry." He locked onto her eyes, not intending to put much thought into what she would say next.

"I asked if you knew where we were, we've been running forever."

He smiled slightly at her whining, he even loved that about her, "No, I don't where we are, I'm beginning to think theirs no way out of here." His smiled faded as he saw the anxiety scrawled across her face, "I mean... I'm sure theirs a way out, we just have to keep searching."

He made a move to get up when Orihime spoke again, "Uryu, about what you said before..."

He stopped himself and sat back down, "Um, what did I say earlier?"

She didn't look up at him, she practically moved away from him, "About Ichigo... about Ichigo and me, and us."

For her sake, he didn't look at her, "What about it?"

"I was thinking that... well, maybe Ichigo doesn't care for me the same way I do. Not the way he cares for... Rukia."

"What do you want me say, that he does care for you?"

"No, that's not it. It's not far for Ichigo or Rukia if I keep going out with him. She cares as much for him as he cares for her."

He didn't want to hear her speak so sadly anymore, so he did the first thing he could think of to make her stop talking. Gently, he grabbed and turned her to face him, with that done, he pulled her into a light kiss, but quickly pulled away.

"I'm sorry, I just... you sounded so sad... I don't want to hear you sad."

"Uryu, that was..."

"I know, it was horrible of me to do, I'm so sorry." He looked away from her.

"Well, actually, I was going to say it was sweet. That you don't want to see me sad. The kiss was... sweet too."

His heart froze in his chest when she leaned over and kissed him on the check. It jolted back to life when the dark walls around him faded away. He looked around in astonishment, it looked they had never left Orihime's house. Further down the street he saw Ichigo and Rukia, he pulled Orihime up and ran over to them. Ichigo head was placed on Rukia's lap, which was surrounded by a pool of blood.

"Rukia, what happened?!"

Rukia looked up shocked to see them, "Ichigo fought with him, when he finally beat him, that place disappeared. But he's really hurt, I think I should take him to Kisuke's."

"Yeah, that's probable best."

xXx Ichigo xXx

xXx later xXx

Ichigo's eyes slowly opened, revealing nothing but a blurry mass of bright colors, his ears herd nothing but a low mummer. With time, the image started to make sense, and the mumbles became clearer. Rukia was looking down at him with heavy eyes, a small smile plastered on her face. He smiled, or thought he did, as she brushed the hair away from his forehead. He winced as he became aware of the pain that plagued his body. He hade temporary relief as Rukia's cold hand cooled his scorching skin.

"Your okay, were at Kisuke's. Everyone else is fine."

"Good." That was all he managed to choke out, his throat hurt more than he thought.

"Kisuke says you can leave anytime you want, but I think you still need to rest. I can't imagine your dad being able to ignore you coming home all beat up like this."

He leaned up half way, "Yeah, but he'd freak out even more if I didn't come home at all. Come on, lets get out of here. Maybe if we're lucky we wont run into Kisuke."

"You could at least thank him for saving your life..." She gave him a disappointed look, which he ignored.

Without any more objections she helped him walk out of the room. When they reached outside, managing to not run into Kisuke, he saw that Orihime and Uryu were waiting for them.

"Hey, Ichigo, knew you weren't going stay here to rest. We thought we'd come see you."

"Heh, so you managed to not get yourself killed, huh?"

Rukia sighed from beside him, "All right you two, that's enough."

"Um, maybe we should go, Uryu. I'm sure Ichigo need's he rest, he should go home."

He smiled as he watched Orihime walk away hand in hand with Uryu, "Well, it looks like it only took a life threatening situation to make her see that it's you I want."

"You shouldn't joke about this."

He smiled and dropped down to the sidewalk, dragging Rukia down with him. He intertwined their fingers and looked up to the sky. His smile deepened as she cuddled closer to him. As she looked up at him, he leaned down and softly covered her lips with his. With his free hand he ran his fingers through her soft raven hair, pulling her closer into the embrace. He had her half way pushed down to the sidewalk when something gammed into the back of his head.

He jerked away from Rukia to see what had hit him, "What the HELL?!?!?!"

"Hey, now, none of that in front of my shop! What are people going to think?!"

His face flamed with furry, "I don't see why anybody's opinion would change, this doesn't affect how weird you are!!!"

"Oh, why would you say such a thing?" He acted truly offended and backed away.

"Come on Rukia, we've wasted enough time here."

He grabbed her hand and guided her away from Kisuke's shop. When he calmed down, he bent over and gave her a soft kiss as she smiled sweetly at him.