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Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. Tite Kubo does.

He had always known death since aged nine yet that time he does not know how to call it. He does not know yet of the kind of death that took his mother from him yet he knew pretty well of the pain inside.

He grew up seeing things no normal human being could actually have a glimpse of it. He talked to them…befriended some…yet they always go away to a distant place he knew nothing about at that time.

Until one certain midget appeared in front of him and offered him power to protect those he cared most. Reluctantly…he took it…and there began his understanding of death…of those empty souls seeking out to devour other empty souls…of those spirits that comes down to purify those souls…

For the two months she lived with him, he had found a companion, a confidante, a friend despite her irksome superiority. He had always thought things would go on like this forever…until he felt that foreboding threat…

He felt it in the air. He could tell something big would come on. Added to it, he saw how much she suddenly became so quiet like there was that impenetrable barrier…like she had become someone he does not know…

When she slept at night, he would take a peep at her to search for something yet her calm face unveiled nothing…she never gave anything away.

He never knew of her awaiting destiny that was decided even before she actually reached the Living World…it was a destiny that was decided when something was placed into her yet she knew nothing of it.

The boy walked under the rain as he continued reminiscing the past that haunted him for over ten years now…ten years after their successful rescue of Inoue Orihime.

The rain kept on pouring onto him as if taunting him…teasing him…

He smiled bitterly as tears mixed with the rain…

They always wondered what would become of him for his aimless wandering for the past ten years. They worried about his sanity as he became delusional that someday she would come back…that nothing has happened…

Yet inside he knew better.

Hueco Mundo…

It was a place where everything ended for him…his life…his dream…and his will to protect those whom he loves…because there…they took her away…

Because they made a promise altogether that they would make it all alive…that they would meet after getting Orihime…he had been confident enough to trust her…yet…

Among all others…only she was unable to come…back…alive…

Because his top priority was to save his friend, he had forgotten about her dying there. He had actually succumbed to a cruel provocation and completely forgot about her. Even when reinforcements came, he forgot about her as he continued to go seek out the man who took his friend from them and defeated him…

Yet unknown to him…

There was a price to pay and was decided even before he went to fight the forest-eyed Espada.

He remembered going after said Espada and his friends came to help…yet only she did not come…unconsciously, he sought her presence…his anchor…unconsciously, he had made himself believe that since his friends are alright, since reinforcement came, she is fine.

By the time they gathered altogether with the captains , that was the time he took notice of the absence of one certain Shinigami…and that was the time the noble walked towards them with a blank expression on his face as he carried her in his arms.

He could very well remember the shock that rippled through him as he stared at her with wide eyes. No healing technique healed her…not event that of Inoue's…

He continued walking until he felt a presence just beside him. He saw him. He too was terribly hurt and he too is just like him…wandering…always howling to the moon like the stray dog…

What they lost that time is something more valuable…more precious than what they have allowed themselves to believe…

The only one who was able to bring forth a smile on both their faces had faded away…and they were not there to save her…

Gone is the woman with big purple eyes that never tells the story of her pain, of her sorrow, of her own turmoil. Her eyes only tells that of strength and hope when all odds are stacked against them. Because no matter how small she looks like…she had a strength and courage none can ever match…not even him…not even the captains…

His family inquired where he had been but he only pointed outside then he went up to his room not even bothering to answer his sister. The old man who had known about all of it sighed sadly and stared upwards…

The boy lay on his bed stiffly…replaying everything on his mind…then unconsciously, his eyes flicked towards the closet where she had lived for sometime…

Around this room…he could always smell death…because she is death…her scent of long ago still filled him…growing stronger as time passed by…

"Perhaps it is time you remember and let go."

Not once did he look at the one who spoke through the window…it was easy to say remember and let go…because they never knew of his pain…of the pain that cuts too deep that it always bled…because what they took from him is not just a friend…it was his life…his anchor…

"Kurosaki-kun," the sweet voice of his friend called him just as he towered over the fallen Espada. Slowly, he glanced back at her and smiled gently.

"Are you alright Inoue?"

She nodded with her cheeks flushed. He nodded and stared at his nakama who came to help him…to aid him in this empty world…

"Glad it is over here," a gentle voice spoke. It was the captain of the 4th division as she stood beside her vice-captain.

"Yeah…it was a tough fight," the Quincy said as he adjusted his glasses and sighed. All of them looked exhausted. He could see Zaraki Kenpachi grinning widely as he sat on a rock with his vice-captain on his shoulder.

He could see Mayuri smiling crazily over what he had come to discover.

"Glad everyone is alright," he said and again eyed his friends then frowned when he saw one missing. Nervously, he looked around. Perhaps she was just out there. Renji too had noticed.

"Where is Rukia?" they both asked at the same time and silence immediately followed as they looked at each other…fear starting to creep on them.

"Crap," he said and shunpoed away from them…intending to go back to where she went a while ago…to where he felt her a while ago…

Then he saw him coming over.

Horror and fear enveloped his being as he came closer and stood in front of him.

The next thing he remembers is the panic…the fear suddenly choking him as combined forces tried to bring her back. But of course…you can only heal but not to bring a dead one back to life.

"It was the only way I would remember her," he said bitterly to the man who spoke a while ago.

"If you wish to remember her, then remember the times you both shared together with laughs and smiles but never pain."

"Leave me alone."

"It had always been raining inside you again and I guess no one is capable to stop that. Not even the lady who loved you dearly…"

Then he left.

A bitter smile curved his lips.

Of course no one is capable of stopping the rain except the one who went away. She had been the one who stopped the rain inside him. She became his umbrella.

And with the umbrella torn away…the rain would start pouring over him…

Of course not even the lady whom the man referred is ever gonna be able to do what the one who went away had done…it would always be her…

And in his room…he somehow felt the comfort of her presence…in his room…the rain would slightly stop…as if she was there all the time…not physically…not even her spirit…but her presence is always there…he always felt it…

Silently, he shut his eyes as his face focused on the closet.

"Rukia."

As he closed his eyes, the small black butterfly fluttering just outside had left like it always does every night.