Even as time passes, I will never forget you. No matter how hard I try, my heart still beats for only you. No matter how hard I try, I cannot escape the pain I feel for you. No matter how distant we are, I can still feel you. I guess this is love.

Chapter One: If Only I Could Find You…

The rain clouds were passing, the sky dark and dismal, but no rain to accompany them. I sighed, and thanked the clouds for holding in the rain. This city was an old memory to me now. I had moved on, hadn't I? Yet, as I stood on one of the taller hills and watched the rolling grass spread my memories throughout the land, I couldn't help but feel remorse for leaving this place and never returning. Sweet spring air filled my lungs, with a much different relief than that of the Soul Society. My eyes tempted to carry me towards all those moments I remembered with him. I tried hard to fight back the tears, and the pain that filled my chest as I gasped out the air that should have been soothing.

"Are you ok?" Renji's voice was soft, but hesitant and distant. I tilted my head towards the ground and sighed, telling him I would be all right. He stepped in by my side now, and in this moment, he felt completely different from what he felt to me through all these years. I had grown to love him. Now though, I was broken just from the sight of this place, and Renji seemed like a friend again, just a friend. I didn't know what was causing all of this to torture my soul, but I knew I had to see him.

"I need to find Ichigo, he's got to be here somewhere," I whispered, and my eyes slid shut. I felt the wind whirring around me, tossing my hair around my face in a familiar essence of home. I concentrated to find him, all of my thoughts centering on him. Ichigo. Where are you?

"Rukia, we came here for a short mission. We'll stop by Urahara's quickly, and get out of here," Renji sounded hurt. Obviously, since I was damaging his pride by being this desperate over someone else. But, I needed to feel him. I wanted to reach out and touch him, and let him know life was still all right. I couldn't feel him though, and that life I wanted to tell him was alright began falling into a desperation that was hurting.

"Why can't I feel him, Renji?" I gasped lightly, opening my eyes again to see the world in a darker light.

"He may not live here anymore Rukia, I don't know. Why do you care so much?" Now he covered his sorrow with an agitated tone. I took in a deep breath before facing him. I wanted him to think I was just being my same ridiculous self, and that I didn't care either.

"I only care, because I just want to know he's alright. It's been a long time Renji, who knows what could have happened while we were gone. But… you're right, we should get moving." I glanced across the town one last time before we turned away and headed into the twilight.

Walking through the streets bothered me even more. I still couldn't feel him, even at this closeness. Either he had gotten really good at covering it, or something wasn't right here. Maybe he didn't live here anymore… but that didn't seem likely. He had everyone here, why would he leave when he had so many connections here?

Urahara's shop was yet another place that connected back to Ichigo. When it first came in sight, I instantly remembered the two of us traveling there for multiple reasons. Renji looked at me somberly, then continued ahead of me while I drew in a deep breath. My one worry was that no one would know where he was.

I walked in with a serious face, but soon softened when I saw Urahara sitting alone, as though waiting for us to stop by.

"We're just here for a checkup on suspicious activities," Renji said with authority while I stood by like a hopeless kid, expecting something good to come out of this mission that didn't involve dull news of hollows.

"Well hello Rukia, been a while," he tipped his hat before standing up, completely ignoring Renji's question.

"Hello, sir."

"These suspicious activities wouldn't have anything to do with you worrying over Ichigo, would they?" He asked with a grin as he walked in closer to us. My eyes widened when he mentioned Ichigo's name, and I immediately looked at Renji for the right words.

"We aren't worried about Ichigo unless there's something wrong."

"I have been noticing a slight change around here ever since he disappeared, but that was a while ago, why don't you have a seat," he guided with his hand, waving towards the mats around his table. I nodded eagerly, and took a seat beside Renji. It was the same place as five years ago, even Urahara's temperament was the same, as if Ichigo's disappearance didn't bother him at all. He always had faith in Ichigo, so why wasn't I that collected all the time? My eyes drifted around the room quickly trying to note anything different, but it seemed the same. It felt like it was still five years ago, but now Ichigo was the main subject at hand, for me anyway.

"What's this slight change? It must be what we were told to investigate," Renji spoke up for me, as my mind was still mostly in a haze.

"I believe those Arrancar that manage to escape during the war may be here," his voice never sounded completely serious, but the edge in it made me know he was telling us something important. I snapped out of my Ichigo trance and focused on his words, though with every one of them I knew Ichigo had something to do with it. "In addition to that, as I already said, Ichigo has gone missing. Of course, we all figured it was normal for him, he has a life of his own in the city now," he looked at me directly for a brief moment, knowing I wanted an update, "But his spiritual pressure has disappeared completely."

"Do you think he could be after the Arrancar?" Renji took on this conversation, noticing I hadn't been stable since we first stepped into this town, he must have decided it was his role to take to make me feel comfortable. I had to give him credit for that, and I felt sympathy for him since my only view of us was friendship.

"It's possible, but I'm guessing he's got other priorities." He knew more than he was telling us, I was certain of that. Why was it a secret? Something he wanted to keep from the soul society perhaps. Still, it was odd considering we had been so close before, maybe the distance does wear on trust.

"What other priorities would he have?" Renji noticed too, and I could tell by his determined voice that now Ichigo mattered.

"Ichigo's probably just wandering, you know him," I spoke up, knowing whatever Urahara was hiding, had to be for his protection.

"I did know him, but when we left him he was still unstable, Rukia."

"Actually, he's gotten along well with controlling his hollow," Urahara started up again, "Whatever it is he's doing, it's not what you're looking for. You're looking for the runaway Arrancar, and I'm sure the soul society would be happy if you had just that," he smiled with a lazy line, and looked toward Renji to see if he was convincing enough. I knew him well enough, Ichigo was in more trouble than he was allowing us to believe.

"I guess you're right," Renji's backing down surprised me and I shot a wondering glance towards him. I noticed right away that his stubborn attitude giving up on this was only because he had his own thoughts on uncovering this. Should I let him?

"Nice to see you both," Yoruichi's voice surprised me at first, but her welcoming smile brought back other feelings I had missed while in the customary life of the soul society. I smiled at her, and she nodded back.

"Do you know where Ichigo might be?" Renji asked her, though I knew if Urahara was hiding something, Yoruichi was sure to follow the same pattern.

"Looking for Ichigo? I don't keep track of him anymore," she shrugged with exaggeration, her eyes still fastened on me.

Renji glared at her and stood up, "Fine. I guess neither one of you know what's going on around here. I can see why the Soul Society got rid of you both," he complained. Yoruichi's smile only widened at his attitude, as if he was effecting them at all with his joking words that should have been cold. This moment should have been warm and uplifting, but my mood was still depressed and worried. I wanted to know what Ichigo had gotten himself into, but I knew as well as they did that when the soul society found out secrets that broke too large of a law, they wouldn't hesitate to stop it. No matter what it was, neither Renji nor I could be trusted with it if it meant the safety of Ichigo, or them for that matter.

"We'll be going now," I spoke for both of us as I joined Renji in standing. Yoruichi's appearance was to back Urahara up in trying to convince us they didn't know what was happening, which was also unusual. They were trying to be as convincing as possible, and the way she posed herself almost seemed defensive. The way she had said her words made her seem secretive. She wasn't as good at keeping a cool mood like he was, but the fact that she made a special appearance just to have us get out of there made my worries deepen. I hoped right now that Renji hadn't noticed all these strange things, he usually wasn't that observant.

"See you later, Rukia," Urahara's gesture was friendly as usual, almost too friendly, but it didn't bother me this time. When we left the building I automatically looked up at Renji, waiting to hear his explination of how they were telling use garbage and that they were obviously hiding something the Soul Society needed to hear about. Instead, he inhaled the cool evening air, and let out a long sigh.

"I'm guessing you want to look for him?" He asked, looking at me with considerate eyes, but I could see the draining agony behind them as he tried his hardest to remain whole with his personality. I smiled lightly at him, and shrugged, "We were only here to ask about what we had detected, nothing more."

"You're pretty good, but not convincing," he joked with a sour expression, though his lips were tugging towards a smile. There it was again, the odd feeling between us when I knew he was affectionate towards me. I didn't feel the same way, I couldn't when I knew Ichigo was around here somewhere, so close to me. I wanted to be with him again, I enjoyed the time we spent together. Not that I didn't enjoy Renji, but his presence was like that of a good friend, not the same intense caring I felt when I was around Ichigo.

"Hey, I tried," my smile remained as I elbowed him in the side. We were walking slowly now, both of our minds concentrating on something else. Mine, was in its obvious state of wondering about Ichigo, and wondering if Renji was thinking that was what was on my mind. Did he worry about me like that? Or was that just my kind of thing to do. I didn't know if him and Ichigo would be as good of friends the next time they met. Ichigo was older now, and though I didn't know how much he had changed, I did know Renji was his same, stubborn self. And to top it off, he thought him and I were part of something beyond friendship. I wished he would realize we weren't before I broke his heart later on. I could almost feel it tear slightly every time he noticed the concern I had towards Ichigo, yet I had hardly any for him. Everything between Renji and I was fun and games to me, but I had the feeling he saw it from a different perspective. It was true, I did have slight feelings towards him at random times, but those feelings I had for him, I also had for Ichigo at a much higher, more sure level.

"He's alright, you don't have to act like you're not caring about it. I can tell you're wondering about him," he said in the silence of the evening. The city was still fairly busy at this point, but we had drifted away from the dense part of the city, and we also remained away from any familiar routes.

"Don't sound so concerned yourself," my lips went into a pout as I kept looking ahead towards the sky, but I knew he was looking at me.

"Why would I worry about him? I know he can handle himself, Im surprised you haven't figured that out yet."

"Really? You couldn't tell something weird was going on back there?" I asked, this time my voice more annoyed with his uncanny way of sounding so relaxed when even the air was carrying a feeling of wrong.

"I'm not that stupid," he glowered, "Of course I noticed."

"Then you don't think there is something wrong, that he might be in trouble?"

"I don't know. But if he was, those two wouldn't stand around and pretend like nothing was happening," his hand gestured into a fist with his thumb sticking up and pointing back towards the direction we had come from. His eyes remained calm, and irritated.

"Urahara? He almost killed Ichigo before, he lets things slip by all the time."

"Maybe, but has Ichigo ever actually died?"

I stared at him now, noticing our walking had slowed. He stopped as I did, and he could sense the uneasy feeling I was having all the sudden.

"Do you feel that?" I asked him, my eyes wavering.

"No…" he stopped before he could ask what I was talking about, and he grabbed the hilt to Zabimaru. It was a familiar feeling as the one we had felt around the Arrancar, but I couldn't tell which one it was right away. Only five had escaped, and we didn't know how many were still alive yet. All of them, probably, since we had done little to look for them – or because they had remained so well hidden.

"How many are there?" I asked him, unable to sense beyond the immense pressure I was feeling.

"Just one," he said, with fierce tenacity.

If I could find you now, I would hold you forever and never let go. If you found me now, would you turn your back and walk away? Or forgive me for the years apart?

I wanted to start up an interesting Ichigo and Rukia story, so I went beyond just regular mush that I usually write with these two. I decided to add a more interesting plot, that I hope will be nice to read. Anyway, along with Ichigo and Rukia there will be another of my favorite couples, but I don't want to spoil it just yet. I can't say much right now, but I'm sure right now some things may be a little obvious. Thanks for reading. Reviews are always appreciated. I like to get critiques on whether or not the characters are in character, because that's what I usually worry about messing up on. I will add another chapter within the week ^.- Once again, thanks for reading.