Hello, it's been a while! Being on hiatus was hard as I didn't have Office 2007 for quite a while so typing anything felt like a hassle. Now that things have gotten straightened out for me, I came back from hiatus with a new one-shot!

Bleach is owned by Kubo. Enjoy!


We are nakama.
But to me, you're more than that.
-

Ichigo stared off in the same direction he could feel Rukia's reiatsu was. He could also sense Renji's in the same direction, and Inoue not far away. Ishida and Chad were both near Inoue in the 4th division headquarters. They were all resting after the harsh Winter War. The fight against Aizen was over now, although he was able to escape at the last minute and was still out there, but everyone needed some time to rest. They were back in Soul Society, whichwas well even with damaged buildings and many injured and some dead.

Ichigo had recovered well enough to go walking around Seireitei, and the first place he headed for was the Kuchiki mansion, where he knew Rukia was. He could feel her familiar reiatsu as he singled her out from the hundreds of others around, and headed in her direction. She was just fine now, but he could still remember when had felt her reiatsu shrivel, and Ulquiorra appearing in front of him back in Hueco Mundo.

-

"...Kuchiki Rukia is dead." Ulquiorra deadpanned, no hint of sadness or even sadistic happiness. Ichigo could feel his heart stop for a moment, just staring at Ulquiorra. He finally managed to open his mouth and speak.

"What... did you say?!" He asked him. He couldn't even comprehend the statement. Rukia... dead?

"She and the Noveno Espada defeated each other. Her body was slashed to pieces, and skewered on a spear. She is no longer among the living." He explained, but Ichigo couldn't believe- wouldn't believe him

"I don't want to anymore of this bullshit. How would you know if you haven't even fought her?!" Ichigo grated out, angry. Rukia wasn't dead- her reiatsu may be small, but she was still alive. And then Ulquiorra explained about the Noveno Espada's ability of sending the image of his opponents to comrades. Ichigo just stared as he explained, speechless. After his explanation was done, Ichigo turned on his heel and started walking- almost running away back where he had came from.

"Where are you going?" He called out.

"To save Rukia."

-

But he didn't. He didn't save her, again. Byakuya had made it just in time before another one of the Espada could finish her, and he was the one to save her, again.
Ichigo could even remember the tremendous releif he felt when he saw her again after that.

-

"Rukia!!" Ichigo yelled. He couldn't help but smiling even larger when he saw the sight of Rukia again, looking just fine. He really wanted to stop and talk to them again- talk to her again.

"Save the reunion for later! Hurry up, and go, Ichigo!" She called back, looking at him with a stern face. He could only look at her small form for a moment before he locked eyes with her, and the message sunk in. That's right- we still have to save Inoue. He stared back, now determined.

"All right."

-

And they did. Inoue was finally back again. She was so glad to see all of us safe again. Ichigo thought the same thing, and couldn't help but glance at Rukia, who was glad to see Inoue again, along with Ishida, Chad, and Renji.
And now, they were all back here in Seireitei, recovering from the war that had past. The sun was bright and a warm breeze past through, but Ichigo felt somewhat anxious.

'Was Rukia really all right? How did a spear pierce her? Why hasn't she told any of us about her fight yet, like we all have?'

He had to find Rukia, and finally ask her the questions. He needed reassurance she was fine, and of course, hearing her tranquil voice and violet eyes staring into his own auburn.
He was in front of the Kuchiki mansion, and he looked up at the great doors. They weren't intimidating to him, since he had beaten the Kuchiki Byakuya- but it made him even more anxious knowing Rukia was even closer. He walked down the wooden floor outside, when a voice called out behind him.

"Ichigo?" Ichigo turned to see Renji behind him, mildly surprised.

"Oh, hey Renji. What are you doing here?" Ichigo asked out of curiosity as he turned to full look at his friend.

"Ah, doing some paperwork for Kuchiki-taicho." Renji explained. He gave Ichigo questioning look.

"Oh- I'm going to see Rukia." Ichigo explained, seeing his look. Renji gave a nod and a wave as he walked on. Ichigo watched him for one moment before turning back forward and continued walking to where Rukia was.

He turned a corner and reached the gardens in the Kuchiki mansion. He looked up at the trees; none ready to bloom until spring. His eyes traveled down until they stopped as he gazed at the back of Rukia, her black hair distinctive even in the back by all the separate strands that would sway from anything.He could only watch her unmoving figure stand so straight until he snapped out of his daze, and opened his mouth.

"Rukia." Her name rolled off his tongue so easily like every other time he said it. Rukia smoothly turned her head to look over her shoulder, and he could see her face brighten a little seeing the sight of him.

"Ichigo!" She turned around. Ichigo start walked over towards her as he placed his face on. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm allowed to walk around now." Ichigo explained as he got up to in front of her. "... And didn't you say save the reunion for later?" He gave a smirk at her and saw her face change when she remembered back then. Her face softened.

"You're right." She murmured, and looked back up at him with her sharp look. "What is it you want?"

She was right on the point. Ichigo looking away from her look trying to look irritated even with a small smile.

"Ah... I want to ask you something..." Rukia's eyes widened as she looked at him to listen.

"What is it?" She asked, prodding him to ask the question. Ichigo sighed as he dropped the smile. He looked straight at her eyes.

"What happened to you with that fight with that Espada, the Noveno Espada or something." He said it straight out, watching for her reaction. He watched as her faced changed from surprise and shock back to calm.

"I see... Why?" She looked at him wondering why he would ask. He looked at her annoyed.

"Why? You haven't said anything, and I know how close you were to death." Rukia noticed Ichigo's voice turn pained at the last part. She then realized why he had asked.

"I'm fine, aren't I? I didn't actually die." She said as she crossed her slender arms.

"But tell me how you were pierced with a damn spear!" Ichigo retorted impatiently, seeing she was dodging his questions.

"It wasn't a spear, it was a trident." Rukia corrected him, but continued staring at her waiting. Rukia sighed as she stared forward into space, and stayed silent for a moment.
"I had killed Shiba Kaien, my vice-captain. He had been fighting a hollow Aizen had created that infused with a shinigami, which is what happened to Kaien-dono." Rukia said, her face and voice with no emotion, Ichigo had a pained expression on his face. He knew she had killed him- but he never knew he had gotten infused with a hollow- specifically one Aizen had made. Then he remembered something- he had a hollow inside of him. Rukia and everyone accepted him having a hollow and using his powers- she had reacted better than when Inoue first saw him with his mask.

'How could she accept me having a hollow, even before we went to save Inoue when her vice-captain died from being infused with one?'

"Then, after we had split up in Las Noches, I reached this large area, that had a fake sun. I was on a bridge leading to a large building when he appeared. I followed him inside." Rukia continued explaining. Ichigo looked at her intrigued by the mention of the fake sun in Hueco Mundo that had no sunlight.

"He?" Ichigo asked uncertain of who she meant, but he was certain who it was.

"The Noveno Espada." Rukia told him. "But when he took off his mask, he had the head of Kaien-dono." Ichigo could see Rukia's almost dream-like gaze as he leaned against the tree right to him.

"And he greeted me, like Kaien-dono would greet me. He then told me the story of how he was still alive, and was so happy that I was the one to come... Saying he had something important only I could do." Rukia murmured. Ichigo felt a pang inside of him, and he knew what it was.
"And then he cut me with his sword when I was off guard." Rukia said. Ichigo looked at her alarmed.

"What?! Where did he cut you?" He asked. Rukia looked a little surprised at his out burst, but pointed to her cheek.

"He caught my cheek." She said. Ichigo looked at her pale and smooth skin that didn't have a cut or blood anymore. "He told me, he should kill me since I was the one who killed him." Rukia went on, as she looked forward. "And then he asked me if I wanted to die to repent for killing him." Rukia said. Ichigo's eyes widened as he looked at her.

"What did you tell him?" Ichigo hesitated asking the question.

'Would she really say...?'

"I said yes." Rukia stated simply, not seeing Ichigo's shocked pained expression. "But, I told him I had to save Inoue first. But then he said he was just joking." Ichigo made a weird face at her. "He then reminded me I how he had something important that only I could do." Rukia said. Ichigo stayed silent, intent on hearing what it was. He noted how Rukia furrowed her eyebrows in sorrow and almost disgust. "He told me I had to go the heads of my nakama." Ichigo's widened in even more shock as he looked at her sullen face.

"What?! You couldn't have believed him then!" He said as he stepped towards her.

"Of course I didn't. Kaien-dono would never say that, not even as a joke, saying if I did he would forgive me for killing him." Rukia's tone bit Ichigo. He could see from her frame she was trying not to shake so much.

"Rukia…" Ichigo murmured.

"And I didn't believe him when he said that. I had gotten so angry, I released Sode No Shirayuki and we started fighting." She said. "But both of my dances, he remembered when he watched me practice the dances before. He had almost gotten me if I didn't use kidou- but I missed him when it hit the wall, creating a hole, letting the light in. He could have easily finished me off, but quickly backed off when the light hit him." She explained, Ichigo listening to her with interest.

"I was able to bind him and exposed him to the sunlight. His skin melted off, revealing the true form of the Noveno Espada." Rukia said. Ichigo inwardly cringed at the thought of skin actually melting from sunlight.

"And after that, he released his zanpakutou. He explained how he had eaten souls and other hollows and would gain their abilities, bodies, and memories of any shinigami eaten. He was able to use all the abilities of the shinigami at once, so I was fighting against a power of an army of shinigami." Rukia explained.

"Wait… he could gain the abilities, bodies and memories of a shinigami? That means…" Ichigo said as he stared down at Rukia. She was looking down, but he could see her palms shaking and clenched.

"…Yes. It was Kaien-dono's body, and he had his zanpakutou Nejibana, his body and all of his memories up until after I killed him." Rukia's voice cracked only once, but it stayed smooth.

"… What did you do?"

"Nothing." She answered. "I had thought I saved Kaien-dono when I killed him, but then… I really didn't. I couldn't fight against Kaien-dono or his body. That was when he took the chance to impale me with Nejibana, breaking my zanpakutou." Ichigo looked at her in shock. It pained him to hear she really was skewered on the trident of her vice-captain's zanpakutou.

"But then… how did you defeat him?" Ichigo's voice cracked as he tried not to get anymore upset.

"I had remembered the first time I had trained with Kaien-dono. But it was when Kaien-dono had given me that speech, about fighting for heart, and how you shouldn't die alone- you would pass your heart onto your friends, I remembered something." Rukia said. Ichigo looked as she slowly raised her head.

"Of course he wasn't Kaien-dono; Kaien-dono passed his heart onto me when I saved him from hurting anyone else when the hollow possessed him." Rukia raised her hand up as she clenched it, and looked at it with a soft look.

"I held my broken zanpakutou and preformed the third dance which Kaien-dono never knew of. The blade was formed as ice as it went through his head, killing the Espada." She finished her story as she looked at Ichigo. He looked incredibly relieved she was fine even though she standing there wasn't proof enough, but also saw something else in his eyes, but she couldn't place a name for it.

"Ichigo?" She asked as she turned to face him.

-

But I don't know if it's the same with you,

How could you accept me even as a nakama when I have a hollow?

Wouldn't you worry I would lose control?

-

"Well, you're fine now, right?" He asked. Rukia rolled her eyes at him.

"Of course I am!" She sighed.

"Then why don't you tell everyone else what happened?" Ichigo asked her, in his straight-forward manner. Her eyes widened at his sudden seriousness, and hesitated.

"I will- but I don't need to tell them everything. They don't need to know any of the unnecessary details." She stated. Ichigo just gawked at her in surprise.

"R-really?" He asked, still surprised.

"Of course. You're probably right too- Renji and the others must want to know what happened. I was pierced, but managed to pierce the Espada with my zanpakutou." She said, a ghost of a smile on her face.

"But Rukia, what about-" Ichigo began saying, but Rukia stopped him.

"Unnecessary details that are not worth mentioning." Rukia answered.

"But aren't you going to tell-"

"Ichigo, didn't I already answer you question?" Rukia asked him as she raised an eyebrow. Ichigo closed his mouth, opened to say something, but closed it again.

"Yeah, you did." He muttered out finally.

"Good. I'm hungry now anyway, get me some food!" She looked at him. He was caught off guard by the sudden change of subject, and he went back to scowling.

"What the hell are you ordering me around for? We're in Soul Society at your place- go get it yourself!" He yelled at her. She gave a smug smirk, and crossed her arms.

"You're right- then would you like anything then?" She had began walking out of the garden towards the mansion but stopped and turned back at him.

"Eh? Oh- sure." Ichigo was confused, but snapped at the realization at what she was saying.

"Then come on, baka! What are you just standing there for?" She said as she turned back and continued walking. Ichigo hastily caught to her small strides and followed her, watching her walk.

-

You never answer all of my questions,

But you know which question to answer,

And it takes me a moment to realize when you tell me,

In your own soft way,

How I'm more than a nakama.

-

"Che, what kind of reunion is this with no food?! How could a place like this have no food?" He scoffed. Rukia glared at him, even though she was also displeased there was no food inside the mansion for them to eat.

"We can just eat somewhere else, fool. Come on." She turned around and started heading toward the entrance to leave the property.

"W-wait, Rukia!" Ichigo called out slightly panicked.

'If rumors about us spread in school just from a television broadcast, who knows what will happen in Soul Society with all the craziest people here! They'll twist all sorts of lies if they see us together!'

"What the hell, Ichigo?! I'm hungry, so we're just going to a bar or something!" Rukia exclaimed. She just wanted to get something to eat as soon as possible before her stomach could become any louder, and the idiot behind her was delaying her by holding her wrist. "Why are you just standing there?" She asked, looking at his odd face. Ichigo snapped when he heard her words, and looked down to notice he had grabbed her wrist as an attempt to stop her. His face flushed at the contact.

"I-I was trying to stop before you ran off!" He hastily let go of her small wrist and backed away, in case she tried to kick him everywhere. She gave him an annoyed and amused look, and he thought he saw a small smile appear for a second.

"Fool, let's just go now, or else you will pay for letting me starve!" She reached for his arm and began pulling him away. Ichigo remain dumbfounded as he let her lead him out- the only thing in his mind was her soft hand holding his arm.

Rukia noticed how concentrated Ichigo seemed on her hand leading him, and gave a small smirk as she continued pulling him through Soul Society. She was kind of glad they couldn't eat at the Kuchiki mansion- a proper reunion should be done outside- even with less privacy.


Hope you enjoyed, so comments are very much appreciated(and that does include critque and suggestions because I need it)! Thanks!