A/N: I never thought I'd say this, but I love changing my stories to this account. It feels like redecorating a room. Anything you didn't like about it the first time can be changed!
This was kinda my way of redecorating. This particular story wasn't very popular the first time I wrote it, I'm hoping that with a little editing you guys will like it somewhat more second time round!
Thanks to all you guys who commented and Favourited this story when I wrote it first by the way! Trust me, you haven't been forgotten! ^^
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach... or IchiRuki.
It's a new world,
It's a new start,
It's alive with the beating of young hearts.
It's a new day,
It's a new plan,
I've been waiting for you,
Here I am.
Blood dripped from every possible source; his head, his torso, his arms...
Ichigo stared down at the limp body before him. In the end, his injuries didn't matter...
It was finished.
Aizen... was dead.
He let out a rasped breath as the few remaining fragments of his mask fell to the ground, disintegrating to dust that blew away with a gentle breeze. He began to cough, spitting up what he could only guess was blood. The substitute Shinigami fell, landing hard on the stone sold floor, and everything went black.
But, before consciousness left him, before the glimpses of Inoue rushing to aid and the images of Ishida's horrified face had gone from his mind, his last thoughts dwelled on one person. His true Nakama, that was not there...
The surroundings came to his ears before he dared open his eyes. To his left Renji was boasting about his fight with a 'top Espada' while Chad quietly grunted in response to the Shinigami's detailed story. To his right Inoue and Ishida were in the middle of a rather hushed conversation, consisting mostly of whispers and incoherent words. All around him were captains and lieutenants of the Gotei 13, his allies, and friends...
But hers was not amongst the voices he could hear.
Ichigo forced his eyes open, blinking back a few times to focus his vision more. He groaned softly as he gingerly raised his hand to his throbbing head. Inoue seemed to be the first to notice his return to consciousness, "Kurosaki-Kun!" she exclaimed, immediately rushing over to his side.
Ichigo looked over to the girl, and she blushed furiously when he met her gaze, "Hey..." he acknowledged weakly.
The copper-haired girl never got the chance to respond. A slapping sound echoed through the room. Ichigo yelped clutching his cheek as Renji returned his hand to his side.
"What the hell, Renji?!" he tried shouting, but realized he was still very weak, thus his angered cry came out as a pathetic mumble.
Said man only grinned down at him, "Aww, is lil Ichi gonna cry?"
Rage boiling inside him Ichigo made a jolt, trying to jump to his feet. Not a smart idea, as he suddenly felt a searing pain in his chest that only made him roar out in pain and fall limply back onto the makeshift bed. He clenched his eyes shut in an attempt to let the agony pass. Ichigo looked up through his still half shut eyes to see Renji, now wearing a guilty expression.
"S-sorry Kurosaki... I didn't realize..."
"Shut up!" he snapped, but his voice had a light tone to it as a small smile tugged at his lips. He noticed a smirk return to Renji's face as he nodded.
"Ichigo will be fine," Ishida began, walking over to the two hotheads, "He just needs to rest."
Ichigo only really acknowledged the know-it-all at that moment, "Are the others Okay?"
For a split second, he saw something troubling in the Quincy's eyes, but he replaced it almost immediately, "There's nothing for you to worry about, Kurosaki." He replied flatly.
"That's not what I asked..."
Ishida looked down at the orange-haired Shinigami with a shocked expression as Ichigo started again, "Is everyone else Okay?"
He knew Ishida understood his question.
At that moment it seemed like all eyes fell on him, and a deathly silence took over the large room they inhabited. A wave of panic suddenly hit Ichigo square in the gut, "Where's Rukia?" he asked, looking around. He hadn't seen her once since...
"Kuchiki Rukia... is dead"
Ulquiorra's voice rang through his memory. Ichigo snapped into sitting position again, this time ignoring the sharp pains emitting through his body, "Where's Rukia?!" he repeated once more, his breaths were laboured as he fought back the urge to wince at the pain. This was too important to let pain get in the way.
Ishida looked away, unable to meet his gaze. He had never seen Ichigo like this, so frantic, scared... worried, "We... don't know..."
His words cut through Ichigo like a jagged blade, "Don't know..." he repeated, "How can you possibly not know?!" Ichigo pushed his sword into the ground, using it for support as he pulled himself up. Now standing, he could see that everyone's face held the same expression as Ishida's. No one dared to look at him.
"Ichigo..." Renji called from behind him, causing Ichigo to turn around. The red-haired man seemed a mess now that Ichigo was looking properly. He looked the exact same way Ichigo felt. Renji closed his eyes for a moment, before meeting Ichigo's glare, "She... hasn't come back. Not since..."
Ichigo's breathing instantly quickened, "No..." he gasped, shaking his head at the thought, "No!"
"Captain Kuchiki went to look for her. We all sensed her spirit pressure drop... I haven't seen either since then. Ichigo, I think she's-"
"Shut up..." he cut in, his voice dangerously low. Ichigo was looking at the ground, but his comment was addressed to everyone, "If anyone dares even think about finishing that sentence..." he looked up, his eyes circling the room, "I will break every bone in their body."
Everyone looked at the injured boy in a state of disbelief. He would not accept this possibility. He refused to face the probable reality that is that Kuchiki Rukia may well be... dead.
"Ichigo..." Renji started again.
"You got a death wish, Abari?" the orange-haired boy spat, not even looking up at him. Taken aback, Renji did not respond.
There was a long silence. The type of silence where nobody would even look at each other. Then Ichigo spoke up once again, "We have to search for her."
"No." came a stern voice. Ichigo turned on heel to see Yamamoto holding his stare with equal force.
The old man looked down at him, "Because, you cannot command this force, Kurosaki. Look around you. You are not the only one who sustained injuries during the course of this war. We need to prepare to leave this place. We must return to our home, you will soon understand when it is the right moment to mourn the loss of an ally, Kurosaki Ichigo."
"She's not dead!" He shouted, his voice unsteady. He was trying to convince himself, rather than others. Renji couldn't look at him in this state. Ichigo had always seemed like the 'tough guy' stereotype. He never would have imagined the teen to crack, even if this was because of Rukia.
"Silence!" Yamamoto shouted with equal volume, "Do not prolong anyone's gloom with your false hope! Know your place, boy!"
Ichigo said no more. He pulled his sword from the ground, held himself on his own two feet and stormed from the room as best he could in his weak state. Renji went to go after him, but felt a hand grip his shoulder. Ishida shook his head, "Ichigo knows he can't do anything on his own, he needs to think things out. Give him space. This has to be toughest on him."
Renji slowly nodded. He sighed, "Ichigo... really needs her to be Okay."
He ran through the halls, oblivious to the stabbing pain shooting through him with every step. His mind was on more pressing matters now…
Ichigo ran his blade through Aizen once again, "That's for what you did to Inoue!" he spat.
Aizen and the others had returned to Hueco Mundo after noticing that Ichigo killed their number four Espada, Ulquirra Schiffer. Of course the Gotei 13 followed the Arrancar back to this place, and there the battle continued. In the midst of the frenzy of fighting, Ichigo saw Aizen, and then... their blades had met.
That had been over six hours ago...
Choking on his own blood now, Aizen still managed a grin as he stared Ichigo dead in the eye, "What about Kuchiki... Rukia? Do I get anything for that?"
Ichigo lost concentration at that name, using this Aizen squeezed in a strike. Ichigo gasped in pain as blood splashed from the fresh wound. Around him, his allies had fallen... not even Yama-ji was able to take on the majority of these Espada, but Ichigo paid no notice to the odds of him winning, nor to the fact that logically... he was already doomed. At the sound of Aizen's insane laughter,
Something inside Ichigo... snapped.
"Rukia..." Ichigo repeated in a twisted voice, making his opponent look at him apprehensively, "Well... For what you did to Rukia..." Aizen's eyes flashed with fear as the hollows mask began to form around the Shinigami's face, "I'm going to make you wish, I'd killed you with that last strike!"
Without a doubt, Ichigo had lost it then. He had fought with such recklessness that even he could admit it was stupidity at its best. But in the end... when Aizen was lying on his back, looking up at him wide-eyed... Ichigo would not have done anything different.
"Say goodnight, Bastard!" At that Ichigo rammed his zanpakuto through the man's skull, his blade running through the traitor's head and crashing into the ground under it. Ichigo ignored the fact that his allies were now watching in horror. He slid the blade from Aizen's head, allowing blood and any other fluids to drip from it.
Ichigo tried to rid this crazed memory from his thoughts,
"My King, he did everything to deserve it. If anything... you were merciful"
Ichigo had never agreed with his inner Hollow more then at that moment, he sighed. He was not a barbaric person, but what he had done...
"He did deserve it..."
He continued to run. He ran until he had reached the exit of this building and stopped once he was out side.
Hueco Mundo seemed so much different without the Arrancar infesting it. There was almost a sense of peace, but Ichigo wasn't able to take in this sense… his mind was in turmoil. Once he had left the confines of the building and felt the desert sand beneath his feet; once he was outside then did Ichigo cry out at the top of his lungs. His voice echoed out into the oblivion until he became breathless.
"Rukia..." he gasped, falling to his knees, "You can't be dead... I need for you not to... not to…"
He remembered all the times they had fought, had argued, had laughed, had cried... had been together. She had brought Ichigo's life crashing around him on so many occasions, and it seemed that he only began to appreciate it now. Only began to appreciate how she made the rain stop, how she made him move on, how she made him fight for what he believed.
He closed his eyes; "Rukia..."he muttered achingly as the tears began to roll down his cheeks.
He heard a movement behind him, but paid it no heed. At this point, if anyone even thought of disturbing him, it would be the last thing he or she ever...
A pair of weak arms wrapped around his neck as their owner leaned gently on him, "Ichigo... you shouldn't show weakness at a time like this." A female voice said in a faint whisper.
His eyes shot open.
He knew that voice.
Ichigo jolted around. The woman still had her arms wrapped around his neck as he turned to face her, "Rukia?!" he gasped, unable to believe what he was seeing. Behind her was Byakuya Kuchiki, his back turned on both of them, allowing them some privacy.
Rukia said nothing; she just looked into his eyes. Ichigo would not accept her silence. He pulled her down so she too was kneeling on the ground. His eyes examined every inch of her, as if uncertain whether he should believe it was her. He slowly raised his hand, gently tracing her jaw line. She raised her hand to touch his.
When she did this, she could see something in his eyes sparkle. She saw how realisation blessed his features. His expression changed in an instant as he wrapped his arms around her waist, embracing her tightly, he buried his face in her hair, taking in her precious scent, "You stupid midget! I thought I'd… lost you..."
Pressed against his chest, Rukia's eyes filled with tears. She nuzzled herself against him, burying her face in his robes, "Fool... you can't get rid of me that easily."
Ichigo pulled away, looking at Rukia with an expression that worried her.
What if she had died?
What would have happened to Ichigo then?
The thoughts troubled her, but she never got the chance to dwell on them, for in an instant Ichigo's lips had crashed down onto hers, in a kiss that seeped with desperation. He pulled her body as close to his as possible, and she tensed. He froze, his lips still touching hers. She felt a single tear roll off Ichigo's cheek and against her own.
Kuchiki Rukia immediately gave in.
The kiss wasn't desperation; it was how Ichigo expressed everything he wished he had said before they parted for battle days ago.
She couldn't think anymore, didn't want to thing anymore as his hand began massaging the small of her back, causing her to lean into him. Rukia's moan was dissolved into the kiss as Ichigo continued to caress her tenderly. He used her moan as an access point to deepen the kiss. He was rough, but incredibly passionate. She in turn lifted her hand to brush away any tears that had escaped the teen's eyes.
He had tried to tell her everything in that kiss…
But one kiss wasn't enough.
Not for a life-time's worth of emotion.
They parted, both holding the others gaze breathlessly, their foreheads still leaning against each other. In one swift movement, and without breaking eye-contact, Ichigo reached down and clasped her hand in his. "Rukia…" this was followed by three words that made Rukia's stomach flip is happiness. She beamed as he continued, his voice a little weak now, "Please, don't ever leave me."
She looked into his eyes, shocked by his words... but she already knew the answer, "I won't." she wrapped her arms around him once more as he tightened his hold on her, "I love you, Ichigo Kurosaki."
He held her for what seemed like an eternity. When he looked up from her raven locks, he could see Byakuya Kuchiki watching from the corner of his eye.
After a moment, Ichigo felt her go limp in his arms as her breathing came out in even, quiet snores. Ichigo stood, lifting her with him as he rose to his feet. She curled into him, her hand resting gently on his chest. Looking down at her, he had to smile, even laugh a little. Sheer joy had left the orange-haired Shinigami at a loss for words.
Walking back through those halls. Seeing the expressions of his friends as he returned carrying Rukia in his arms. Realizing himself, what the small girl in his arms actually meant to him...
Made it all worthwhile.
The war had ended.
He had won.
They had won.