I've redone this chapter for a second time. The next few chapters seem to be stuck in my brain, so I'm hoping that rewrites will help me get them out.

I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: Bleach is not mine!


Chapter 1: Dreams

In two separate worlds two men sat at their individual desks finishing paperwork into the dead hours of the night. One had short, spiky bright orange hair and intense brown eyes while the other had long black hair and reserved dark gray eyes. They looked as different as two people could possibly look, but their actions seemed to mirror each other perfectly.

They were both bent over their desks intently reading the papers in front of them with quiet concentration, the dim lighting causing them to lean closer to their work. Their breathing was even and seemed to be in time with each other as a clock in the background ticked loudly in the silence of the late hour.

Suddenly, both of them stopped writing and looked up as a presence simultaneously impinged on their consciousness. It was a familiar presence – one they had felt fleetingly every now and then for the past ten years, but they were never able to discover its source. They both stood abruptly from their desks and followed that weak pulse to its origin in the bedrooms of their charges. When they reached their respective rooms, they started to raise their hands to open the bedroom doors, but they paused for a moment – almost as if they were afraid of what they might find once they opened it. They remained frozen at the door, but after a few moments, they finally reached their hands up slowly, opened the doors in front of them and looked into the rooms just in time to see… nothing.

The two men gave simultaneous sighs of disappointment as they studied the rooms carefully from the doorway to see if they could still find traces of the energy that had disturbed them.

Pale moonlight shined gently on the faces of the sleeping children in their rooms and everything seemed to be in order. The children's faces were peaceful, and the presence they had felt seemed to have disappeared like smoke in the wind. They had made this nightly trek many times over the years, but they never found anything no matter how quickly they hurried to their rooms. They were always unsure of what they hoped to find in their rooms because they knew that what they wished to find was an impossible dream. They both gave a little shake of their heads at the thought that they were going crazy, but a small part of them didn't really believe that. As they closed the doors behind them a soft light began to glow by the side of the children's sleeping forms.

___________

Ten year old Isamu Kurosaki tossed and turned restlessly in his sleep. In his dream he could see a hazy figure standing in a field of brilliant white snow. He couldn't see the person's face clearly, but he could see her lips moving silently, desperately trying to tell him something. He knew in his heart that it was something very important so he listened as hard as he could, but it was almost as if someone was snatching the words out of the air before they could reach him. He tried to wade through the knee deep snow that surrounded him to get closer to them so he could finally hear what they wanted to say, but a cold wind blasted against him and blinded him with a flurry of snow.

What do you need to tell me? Isamu tried to shout out to the figure in white as he brought his arm up to protect his face from the stinging wind and snow, but his voice seemed to also be stolen by the raging storm around him. He marveled for a minute that he wasn't actually freezing to death, but he shoved that thought out of his mind as he remembered that this was just a dream.

Suddenly, the wind stopped and Isamu was engulfed in a silence so deep that he wondered for a moment if he had gone deaf. He lowered his arm and saw that the figure had somehow moved instantaneously to his side, and if he just reached out his hand he would be able to touch it.

Who are you? He tried to ask, but the storm suddenly kicked up again and his voice was lost in the roar of the wind. He wiped away the flakes clinging to his lashes that were clouding his vision so that he could see, and realized that the figure was a woman dressed in a gossamer white gown made of snow and ice. Even though she was so close he still could not make out any features on her face, it was almost as if a censor had blurred the image to protect her identity.

"Can you hear me now?" he asked as the wind died down again.

She held a delicate white hand out beseechingly towards him and he reached his hand out to try to grasp her hand in his. He felt that if he could only touch her then everything in this stark white world would suddenly make sense, but as he tried to grasp her hand, his hand passed right through her and she disappeared. Her sudden disappearance startled him so much that he leaned forward too much and he started to fall, but instead of hitting the ground he was suddenly falling into a dark cavernous pit that had suddenly opened up beneath him. He screamed as he fell and then bolted straight up in his bed.

Just a dream, it was just a dream.

The thought raced frantically through his head as he tried to calm his breathing and racing heart, he was drenched in sweat from head to toe. He had been having similar dreams on and off for the past few months, but this was the first time he had encountered the dark yawning pit at the end. For some reason falling into that pit had scared him more than anything else he had ever encountered in his entire life. Although the pit had seemed like nothing, but empty space, Isamu couldn't shake the feeling that he had been falling into certain doom.

I've got to relax and calm down before…

A soft knock on his bedroom door shocked him out of his fear and prompted him to pull himself together in a hurry. He his father probably heard him awake from his nightmare and was checking up on him. He didn't want to give him cause to worry so he wiped his sweat drenched face quickly with his blanket and managed to arrange his face into a calm mask just before his father stepped into his room.

"Are you alright, Isamu?" Ichigo Kurosaki asked as he opened the door to the room, his bright orange hair seemed to glow in the light from the hallway behind him and his brown eyes were filled with concern as he regarded Isamu with a small frown. He was still wearing his white doctor's coat so it must it must still be night time instead of early morning. "I thought I heard you screaming."

"I'm okay Dad," Isamu replied, he didn't want his father to worry so he tried to sound as nonchalant as possible even though he could still feel his heart trying to beat a hole into his chest. He glanced at the clock on his desk in an effort to avoid his father's intense, searching gaze and saw that it was 1:30 in the morning. "Why are you still up, Dad? Don't you have an early meeting tomorrow morning?"

"I do," Ichigo answered slowly as he took a couple steps into the room and closed the door softly behind him. "But I'm more concerned that you've been having quite a few nightmares lately."

His father was obviously aware that Isamu was trying to deflect him from his nightmare with his questions. He walked all the way into the room and sat next to him on his bed and stared at him squarely in his face. Isamu squirmed a little under such intense scrutiny. He knew that his Dad was probably noticing his sweat drenched hair and pale face.

"Is there anything you wanted to talk about?"

Isamu sighed and ran his fingers through his damp, unruly black hair. Now that his Dad was here with such a concerned look on his face, Isamu felt himself calm down. In the safety of his room with him, his dream that had scared him so much at first began to seem silly and he felt embarrassed at having disturbed him with something that was starting to seem a bit trivial.

"No, Dad, I'm sorry that I bothered you," he said with a very small smile, he was trying his best to look completely fine, but Isamu could still feel a little tightness in his expression. He rubbed his face vigorously with his hands to try to get rid of the last bit of tension and muttered his next words from behind his hands to avoid his father's intense gaze. "It was just my imagination running away with me. I probably shouldn't have watched that horror movie on TV after dinner."

"Why don't I believe you, Isamu?" Ichigo asked as he stared at him with a look that spoke of huge volumes of disbelief. Isamu moved his hands away from his face and could only shrug in response to his father's question.

"I can't think of anything else that it could be," he answered calmly, it was easier to be calm now that his heart had finally slowed down to a normal rhythm. Part of him wondered why he didn't just tell his Dad all about the nightmares he'd been having, but for some reason the woman in the dreams seemed important to him and he didn't want to share her with anyone else just yet.

Ichigo looked as if he was going to say more, but he seemed to think over several things quickly in his mind. He gave his head a little shake and sighed as he stood up from the bed and reached over to ruffle Isamu's hair. It was a comforting gesture that his Dad had done ever since he was small. That loving gesture chased the last of Isamu's unease away and he felt himself finally begin to relax.

"I'll let it go for now, Isamu, but remember that I'm always here for you," he said as he regarded his son's face carefully. He ruffled Isamu's raven black hair one more time and then stood up from his bed.

"Goodnight, Isamu."

"Goodnight, Dad."

__________________

Masumi Kuchiki always felt like she was searching for something in her dreams. She would often find herself wandering through the many streets of the Seireitei or the cast halls of Kuchiki manor where she would search and search for something that she could never name. Her dreams were almost always like that, and the only thing she knew for certain was that it was something very important and she needed to find it soon. At other times she would find herself chasing it and right when she could touch it with her fingers it would vanish into thin air.

She would always end up lost and all alone in the dark at the end of all of her dreams, but this one was different. Instead of endless streets or corridors she stood in a white field of snow in the middle of a snow storm. She could see the flakes swirl violently around her, but she didn't feel the biting cold or the sting of the wind whipping around her. It was almost as if she was a visitor to someone else's dream and she was just an observer.

Why am I here? She wondered as she gazed curiously at the foreign landscape around her.

In the distance, on a mound not too far from her, she could see a dark haired boy about her age struggling against the wind through the deep snow. He was trudging slowly towards a figure clad all in white in the far distance. Although Masumi was far away from both of them and she couldn't make out either of their faces, she felt that she should know who they were. She started to move towards them, a feeling of desperate need suddenly appearing out of nowhere and filling her entire being. She needed to reach them.

Wait, she tried to cry out to them, but her voice was lost in the howl of the storm around her.

Masumi managed to take one step forward, but a sudden gust of wind whirled the snow around her and blinded her for an instant. When it stopped, the two others in the snow were gone and she stood in the brilliant white field all alone.

"Don't leave me!"

Masumi's eyes snapped open in the dark as she tried to muffle her anguished cry with her hands. She felt a stab of loneliness pierce her heart as her heart beat heavily in her chest. Tears welled up in her brown eyes as she sat up slowly in her bed. A single tear managed to escape and it traced its way from the inside corner of her eye to the tip of her nose. It hung there for a moment before it fell and landed without a sound on to her futon.

What's a matter with me? Masumi wondered as she stared at the small damp circle her tear had made on her futon. Why do I feel like I just lost something important to me again?

Her head quickly turned towards her door as she heard the faint rustling of someone coming to check on her. She rubbed her tears away just in time as the sliding door to her room opened and her uncle, Byakuya Kuchiki, regard her quietly from the doorway. To anyone else his expression might have seemed aloof and maybe even a bit cold, but Masumi could always read the true feelings beneath his mask and she could see his concern loud and clear.

I don't know how he does it, but he always seems to know when I'm not sleeping well…

"What is the matter, Masumi?" he asked in a quiet voice as he entered her room. He made his way to her side and sat down on his knees by her futon on the floor. "Did you have a bad dream? I thought I heard you crying."

"It's nothing, Byakuya Oji-sama," she replied with her usual bright smile plastered on her face. She felt that he sometimes worried about her too much and she didn't want to give him another reason to. "It was just a silly dream. It wasn't even bad enough to be considered a nightmare."

He regarded her again without saying a word, carefully studying her face. His silence made her want to babble on a little more, but she knew that if she kept talking she might end up blurting out how bad her nightmares were becoming, son instead, she simply brightened her expression by a couple of notches to try to convince him that everything was fine.

"You seem to be troubled by many of these 'silly dreams' lately," he finally replied softly as he finally realized that she wasn't going to explain anymore to him. His expression was stoic, but Masumi could see the increased concern in his eyes. She wondered for a moment if he realized how just how much these dreams bothered her even though she had tried to hide it.

"I'm fine, Byakuya Oji-sama," she replied earnestly in an effort to wipe the concern from his eyes. She adored her uncle to no end and the last thing she wanted was to cause him any worry. She forced a small laugh, made a face and placed her small hand on his much larger one. "See, I'm back to my silly self already."

He closed his eyes and tilted his head down for a moment before he answered her. He clearly seemed to realize that this was an act, but she knew that he wouldn't push her on it if she kept insisting that she was ok.

Believe me Byakuya Oji-sama… please believe me…

"Very well Masumi," he finally answered after several moments had passed. "But if anything is troubling you, please let me know."

Then he stood up silently and walked towards the door, casting one more parting look over his shoulder before he walked out. Masumi smiled once more and made a shooing gesture with her hands. She made a big show about settling herself back into her bed by fluffing out her pillow and taking exaggerated care to make sure that her futon was spread out nicely over her. Once she finished doing that she lay down, turned her back towards her uncle and pretended to fall back asleep. She waited for what felt like an eternity before she heard her door slide close and her uncle's soft steps move away from her room.

What could that dream have been about? She wondered as she turned onto her back and stared sightlessly at her ceiling. I felt like it was so important that I help that boy although I don't remember ever seeing him before; and who was the woman standing so far away in the snow? I felt like I knew them both somehow…

Masumi's thoughts swirled around her head like the snow from her dreams until, sometime near dawn, she finally fell back asleep.


Thanks for reading! I hope this rewrite fixed any problems there might have been, but I know I always miss something.^^

Remember reviews are always appreciated!