My first effort, so I had to edit some stuff in this first chapter. It's basically the same, but I patch up some of my spelling and grammatical errors. I also added a few more details to the story.

I appreciate all the advice and reviews from everyone so I hope I fixed most of the things that were mentioned. I apologize in advance if any info I have in this story is wrong.

Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach!


Chapter 1: Separation

The war was over and soon she would never see him again.

Rukia Kuchiki was waiting for her other half, Ichigo Kurosaki, to join her atop the bluff overlooking the lights of the Seireitei. She could hear the sounds of wild celebrations going on all over the Soul Society clearly, even though she was quite a distance away. Everyone was crazy with happiness because their long battle with Aizen and the Arrancar had finally come to an end. Aizen was dead, the Arrancar were subdued and the human world and Soul Society were safe again. She should have been down there enjoying the celebrations with the rest of her comrades, but she had something important to do that left her feeling sad and alone.

Rukia shivered a little as a cool evening breeze blew by her. She sighed and hugged her knees close to her, but another breeze blew by and caused her to shiver. She hugged herself a little tighter and rested her chin on top of her knees in an attempt to protect herself from the chill in the night air.

But then again, she thought as she turned her head to rest her cheek against her knees, maybe the cool breeze has nothing to do with my shivering. This feels more like it's coming from somewhere inside of me.

If only Byakuya Nii-sama hadn't seen Ichigo and me on that rainy day that I almost died again, she thought bitterly. Although the memory was tainted with bitterness it also was a sweet memory of the day that Ichigo finally revealed his true feelings for her.

Then maybe I wouldn't be forced to stay here while Ichigo has to go back to the human world, she thought.

Her face softened as she thought back to that day they had been patrolling together in the Soul Society about six months before the war ended. The Winter War had turned into the Four Winter War, but the end was in sight. They had defeated most of the Arrancar and were planning what they hoped would be the last siege against Hueco Mundo. Ichigo and Rukia had just been scouting a recently destroyed section of the Rukon district to see if there were any survivors still lingering in the ruins. They had been attacked suddenly by the Arrancar Grimmjow who had come to settle an old score with Ichigo. Rukia had tried to help, but had been beaten an inch from death before Ichigo had defeated him in a blind rage. He had thought that she had already died from the injuries she had sustained.

His pleas still rang clearly through her mind even though it had been nearly six months ago.

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"Please don't die, Rukia," he had whispered desperately as he clutched her limp form to his body. He chanted that simple phrase over and over, as if it were some kind of spell he could use to bring her back.

"Please, Rukia," he had finally said as a heavy rain began to fall down upon them. "I love you… I need you…I promise to protect you next time so you better stay the hell with me! Please don't die!"

Rukia found the strength to respond to his pleas then. She had slowly reached her blood stained hand out to him and gently cupped his cheek. He had loosened his grip on her so that he could stare at her in wide eyed amazement. She thought that he was crying, but the heavy rain masked any tears that might be falling.

"Stupid, Ichigo," she had whispered as she had struggled to maintain consciousness. "You should make sure I'm dead before getting all emotional on me."

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Maybe if her brother had remained ignorant of their feelings toward each other she would be going home to Karakura. Maybe if she hadn't almost died again he would feel less protective. Maybe if we…

"Maybe, maybe, maybe!" she berated herself out loud, shaking her head violently back and forth in an effort to clear her head.

This is stupid, she thought. "Maybe" would not change anything.

It couldn't change the fact that she would probably never see again him until he was dead. The thought left her feeling colder than she already was, but she knew what she needed to tell him that by tomorrow they would be separated for years.

If I'm not going to be able to see him for such a long time, she thought. There's one last memory I want before he goes.

It was with that last thought that Rukia felt Ichigo's presence a second before she felt his strong arms wrap around her small frame. He enveloped her with his body and tucked his head into the space between her head and shoulders in one easy motion. It would never cease to amaze her how well he fit in to the shape of her body.

"You little idiot, you're going to catch your death sitting out here in the cold," he said, his annoyance with her actions dripping from every word.

At this point, she would have normally elbowed him in his ribs and snapped something about being perfectly fine, but tonight she couldn't bring herself to feel enough anger to do it. So she sat there in his arms, breathed in his warmth and wished for this moment to never end.

"Rukia? What's the matter?" he asked, his tone becoming instantly concerned once he realized the blow that he was expecting never came. When she didn't answer immediately, she felt him loosen his grip and turn her around so that she was facing him.

"Rukia?" he said again, giving her a little shake to try and get her attention.

She looked up at him then and found his intense brown eyes studying her face. His brow was furrowed and the expression on his face was his usual look of annoyance mixed with intimidation. But behind that look she could see the softness of his love and concern for her etched in every line and angle of his face. She reached up to run her fingers through his unruly orange hair and took in every feature so that it would be burned into her memory forever.

"Ichigo…" she began, hesitating because she wasn't sure she could go on without breaking down.

"What is it Rukia?" he repeated testily. She hesitated once more and took a deep breath, but before she could answer Ichigo's impatience exploded.

"Come on and answer me already! You're driving me frickin' crazy!" he exclaimed, shaking her again with enough force to whip her head back and forth.

That was enough to snap her out of her mood. She glared at him once he stopped shaking her, the tears and sadness forgotten.

"Were you just born an idiot or did someone bash your brains out to make you that way!" she cried out in fury as she punched him hard in the gut. "You don't shake a girl so hard that her head is going to snap off!"

He doubled over from her punch. "Who said anything about you being a girl!" he snapped back. "You're more like a manly little monkey!" But she saw a look of relief come over his face to see her acting like her usual self again.

She was about to snap something back at him, but he suddenly wrapped his arms around her waist and brought her up to his lips for a kiss. The moment she felt his soft lips against hers she felt the world melt away. The only thing that mattered was the feel of his lips on hers, the scent of his skin and the strength of his arms around her. Her hands reached around to embrace him, but instead her hands touched the hilt of his Zanpakutou. Suddenly, memories of earlier events flooded her mind and she remembered why she was here. She deepened the kiss for one moment then gently pushed herself away.

"Rukia?" he said, sounding confused, but he didn't say anything else as he gently lowered her to the ground.

"Did Commander Yamamoto explain to you what is happening to our worlds at the meeting today?" she asked as soon as her feet touched the ground.

"Yeah," he answered while he scratched the back of his head. "The old man said something about how nobody can cross back and forth between Soul Society or something so he said something about taking care of Karakura by ourselves or something like that."

"Something about the something or the something so he said something?" she said, feeling completely exasperated with him.

"What am I ever going to do with you Ichigo?" she sighed as she slid out of his arms.

"What?!" he snapped, obviously not liking her tone which clearly said she thought he was an idiot.

"Apparently you weren't really listening when you met with the Commander and the other Captains today!" she snapped back falling into their old habit of bickering with each other. "Look you stupid idiot, there was a lot more to it than that!"

"What are you talking about!" he growled at her. "I think I got what he was saying right!"

"Listen you idiot, I'll explain what's happening to you again, so pay attention!" she shouted as she hit him hard on his head.

She made him sit down while she stood in front of him. Once he was seated (after a lot of grumbling and a couple well placed smacks) she began her explanation.

"Shortly after we beat Aizen, Division 12 discovered that because of the many battles we fought in the human world, there was a great deal of damage done to the barrier which separates the Soul Society from there. It was especially weakened in Karakura town which was the center of many of the battles," she explained, glancing at him to see if he was paying attention.

He nodded his head to let her know that he was listening and mumbled something that sounded vaguely like "Uh-huh" so she continued.

"In trying to find a way to repair the barrier they discovered that too much travel between the human world and Soul Society would further weaken it. To keep the barrier from crumbling anymore, select groups of Shinigami are going be sent to the human world to protect them from the Hollows. The people in those groups will stay in the human world until the barrier is repaired. They are estimating that it will take about 100 years or so because of the size of the barrier," she lectured on while drawing him a picture using bunnies and bears to help illustrate her point.

"Are you still with me?" she asked him as she showed him the finished drawing. When she looked up into Ichigo's face he had a look of severe pain.

"I get it without the crappy pictures so could you please stop with kindergarten drawings!" he grumped at her.

She promptly rewarded him by hitting him hard on the head with the notebook she was drawing on.

"Take this seriously, you idiot!" she fumed, as she towered over his crumpled form.

While he held his head, Ichigo looked up at her and grimaced. "I know all this already Rukia!" he yelled back. "What's the hell is the problem anyway? We'll all go back tomorrow and that's all that matters!"

"But I'm not going back with you tomorrow!" she shouted at him, tears beginning to fill her eyes.

Rukia watched understanding flow over his face. "What did you say?" he said hoarsely as he grabbed her shoulders and gripped them tightly. "Did you just say that you're not coming back with me?"

She looked down at her feet and nodded. "I received my orders today that I am to stay here and help defend the Seireitei," she said quietly. She saw tears falling down to the ground.

When did that start, she wondered. She hadn't even realized that her tears had spilled down her cheeks while they were talking.

"Well, that's a load of crap!" Ichigo shouted. He startled her enough to cause her to snap her head back up to look at him. He let go of her shoulders and started to stride purposefully away.

"Ichigo!" she cried, as shelunged and caught a hold of his arm before he could go any further. "Where do you think you're going?!"

"I'm going to fix this!" he shouted at her. "I'm going to go see whoever the hell it is I have to see and make this right! And if they aren't going to listen then I'm going to start kicking some ass until they do!"

"I've already tried Ichigo!" Rukia cried as she tightened her grip on his arm. "There is nothing we can do to change this!" she shouted at him. Then before he could argue with her anymore she began to explain to him what had happened this morning.

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That morning Rukia had been in the Squad 13 barracks to receive her orders from Captain Ukitake. She was sure that she would be ordered back to Karakura town to help Ichigo, Orihime, and the others.

This is just a formality, she had thought happily. After today, we will be leaving together to protect the human world.

Rukia sat in front of Captain Ukitake. He seemed to look a little uncomfortable as he watched her sit down.

"Good morning, Kuchiki," he saidwith a slight nod of his head.

"Good morning, Captain," she greeted him with a bow. "I'm here to receive my orders."

Captain Ukitake cleared his throat before he started. "Just to let you know, you have done great work in the human world and during the war, and it's been decided that you are needed here."

Rukia gaped at her Captain in astonishment. It took a full second before her brain started to process his words fully.

"I'm sorry, Captain Ukitake," she stammered out. "But did I just hear you correctly? Did you just say that my orders are to stay here?"

"That's correct," he said with an understanding look. He knew what Ichigo meant to her and could understand her reaction. "It was determined that Kurosaki and his comrades would be sufficient protection for Karakura town."

"But Captain, they still don't know everything. I have almost 50 years of experience as a Shinigami and have been a part of Soul Society since I was a baby. They would need someone with my experience," she argued.

"I'm sorry Kuchiki," he replied with a sympathetic shake of his head. "But this was a decision that was made by all of the Captains."

"All the Captains?" she whispered as she leaned back in her seat.

Or was it just one of the Captains, she thought.

Captain Ukitake began to respond to her question,n but she suddenly jumped out of her seat and hurried out the door.

Rukia ran. She ran as fast as she could to the barracks of Squad 6 and stormed straight into the office of her older brother, Captain Byakuya Kuchiki.

"Why!?" she had shouted as she burst into her older brother's office. She ran straight to his desk where he was sitting and slammed both of her hands down on the desk in front of him.

"I don't understand Nii-sama! Why are you keeping me from my old post at Karakura town! I know you must have had something to do with it once Captain Ukitake told me my orders!" she continued angrily.

Her brother's eyes widened slightly at her sudden entrance, but once he gained his composure he just stared coldly at her.

"Answer me! And don't deny that you had something to do with it because it's the only reason that I can think of as to why I have to stay here!" she shouted.

Her brother took in her flushed, angry face, shaking limbs and answered her question in a calm, but chilly tone.

"It was determined that the Substitute Shinigami, Ichigo Kurosaki, and his comrades would be sufficient protection for Karakura town since they already reside there," Byakuya Nii-sama told her flatly, no emotions showing on his cold, handsome face. "They have shown sufficient skill and since Karakura town is the weakest point for the barrier it was decided that having too many people with a strong reiatsu there would be detrimental. Especially since Karakura town has so many people with a high level of reiatsu already."

Well he hadn't admitted that he had something to do with it but he had just repeated, practically word for word, what Captain Ukitake had just told her. This only made her angrier because it seemed to confirm her suspicions that he was the one responsible for her current situation.

"That's what Captain Ukitake said, but it doesn't make sense," she exclaimed, slamming her hands on his desk again for emphasis. "Everywhere else has at least a group of four or five! I would be the only one going to Karakura town!"

"Besides," she continued. "How will they communicate with Soul Society if there is no Shinigami with them?"

"Kisuke Urahara will still be there," he replied, his face still expressionless. "I'm sure that he will find a way to contact us if anything should happen."

"That may be true, but he can't be expected to take care of the day to day business and everyone else has to go on with their human lives too!" she retorted heatedly. "They need someone who isn't tied to all of those human things!"

She took a deep breath and tried to calm down so she could explain herself better.

"My friends may all be experienced fighters but they would still need someone with a better understanding of Soul Society and the Hollows. Someone who can help them when they have other things to do," she finished, trying to keep her voice from shaking with emotion.

"It is my belief that Uruhara has sufficient understanding of all those things and I'm sure they will manage everything quite well on their own," he replied, still seeming unruffled by her outbursts.

"You seriously don't believe that do you?" she asked incredulously. "Uruhara can't help them all the time because of his special projects for the Soul Society and Karakura town attracts the most Hollows because of all the people there with a high level of reiatsu."

"Are these the real reasons Onii-sama, or is it just because you're worried about me?" she asked.

Byakuya looked at her sternly. She thought she saw a moment of conflict cross his features, but just as quickly as she had the thought his face became his usual unreadable mask again.

When he just looked at her and didn't answer right away she leaned back and looked at him again. A thought crossed her mind and her eyes widened with sudden understanding. The rest of her arguments vanished into nothingness as she read the hidden meaning in his silence.

"Is it because of my relationship with Ichigo that I'm not being sent back?" she asked softly. "Is that the real reason Nii-sama?"

He paused a moment, a flicker of an emotion she couldn't quite place flashed across his face. His dark eyes considered her carefully before he answered.

"I know about your feelings for each other, but you must understand that nothing can come of you being together. He is a human and you are a Shinigami of a noble family. It's best that you break from him now before it goes any further," he stated plainly.

"But Nii-sama…" she cried out as she raised her arms to slam them on his desk again, but before she could complete her sentence or her actions he cut her off with a cold glare.

"This is the end of this conversation. You will be staying here and there are no arguments that will change this. I expect you to have better control of yourself the next time you speak to me," he said with a grim tone that clearly said this was the end of the discussion. Then as if to emphasize his point, he turned his face back toward the paperwork on his desk and pointedly ignored her.

At this point, she could only swallow back her protests once her brother had spoken to her with such finality. She knew that anything else she might have said would only fall upon deaf ears.

"I'm sorry for my outburst Onii-sama," she said brokenly. "I will take my leave now." She bowed deeply to him, straightened and then turned and walked quickly out of the room.

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Rukia's chest began to ache as she remembered all her efforts after that to get someone to listen to her arguments and change her orders. Sadly, the only thing that her pleading and arguing had accomplished was to get sympathetic looks and stern reminders about her responsibilities.

Her tears of embarrassment and sadness overflowed at the memory. Embarrassment at how she had acted in front of her brother and Captain Ukitake, sadness at how it had all been useless in the end.

"I really can't believe that you did that," Ichigo said softly to her when she finished, he wrapped his strong arms gently around her.

Then he laughed a little to himself. "I would have paid good money to see the look on Byakuya's face when you burst into his room like that."

"Oh, well, too late to change things now," Rukia muttered to herself, she buried her face into his chest as her cheeks heated from the memory. At least Captain Ukitake had been understanding once she had gone back to Squad 13's barracks and apologized. Her brother would be a different story.

She could hear Ichigo softly laughing to himself again, but he suddenly turned quiet and let her go so he could look into her face.

"I know you tried your best Rukia, but now it's my turn to try," he told her quietly. "I am not going to let you go so easily now that I've got you."

"I know you have to try Ichigo," she said as she gripped his arms. "But I need you to stay with me tonight just in case we really are separated."

"It won't happen…" he started to say, but Rukia reached up, put a finger up to his lips and pressed gently to quiet him.

With her eyes full of tears, she did the one thing he probably never expected her to do.

"Please, Ichigo," she begged softly as she wrapped her arms around him and looked up into his face. "Please do me this one favor. You can kick everyone's ass tomorrow but please, please stay with me tonight."

Surprise was written all over Ichigo's face. She had never begged him for anything. She ordered, demanded, and, on very rare occasions, asked, but she had never ever begged.

She placed all of her love and need for him in her eyes and prayed that he wasn't about to step on her heart by not listening to her.

Ichigo was quiet for a long moment while he studied her tear stained face. Then he took his Zanpaktou from his back, kneeled down and laid it on the ground beside them. He reached an arm around her waist and drew her close again.

"If you want me to stay with you that badly tonight then I'll stay," he said as he gently raised a hand to her face and brushed her hair out of her eyes. His fingers traced her jaw line till he got to her chin. He tilted her face up to him and leaned forward to place a soft kiss upon her lips.

Rukia wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down to the soft grass.


Ran into some writers block for Chapter 12 so I went back and typed out my edits for this chapter.

Got my inspiration back so I hope to have it our soon.

Thanks for reading! I hope you found it at least a little enjoyable!

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