Disclaimer - I do not own Bleach


"Come on Rukia," Ichigo called out from his position at the base of the stairs. He had no idea what was taking his fiancée so long to get ready to go on a simple picnic. The thoughts of the picnic brought back pleasant memories and Ichigo couldn't hold back the smile that spread across his face. It had become tradition for the two of them to go out on a picnic on the anniversary of the day that he had proposed to Rukia.

That had been eight years ago and the two of them still weren't married. Not that anyone who saw the two of them together would be able to pick up on that fact.

"I'm ready," Rukia called out as he descended the stairs and placed a kiss on Ichigo's cheek.

"You look beautiful," Ichigo murmured as he caught her lips with his own.

"Thank you," Rukia murmured as she pulled away from him and slapped him gently on the chest. "So where exactly are we going today?"

"We're going to that place that Urahara keeps telling me about," Ichigo replied as he and his fiancée made their way toward the front door. "Just so that I can tell him that we went so he'll shut up."

Rukia chuckled as she linked her arm in his.

Ichigo only vaguely knew where the river that Urahara kept telling the two of them to visit was located but it was okay because he and Rukia had taken the entire day off, having left Tomori in charge of Squad Five. This was the one day of the year when they took a day to themselves so the couple were just out to enjoy themselves, no time restraints and no distractions.

"So how do you feel about having left Tomori in charge?" Rukia asked as she and Ichigo traveled down a road that they had never been on before. She knew that Ichigo wasn't overly fond of his third seat officer and yet had left him in charge for the day.

"Stupidest thing I've ever done in my life," Ichigo said, shaking his head. "But I told Kaiya to keep him from doing something stupid."

"Good call Captain," Rukia said, playfully jabbing Ichigo in the rib cage.

"You know," Ichigo said, tilting his head to the side and gazing at Rukia with a little smirk on his face. "When you call me captain it takes on a whole different tone."

"You like?" Rukia asked, batting her eyelashes.

"I do like," Ichigo said, leaning forward and planting a kiss on her cheek.

The two were laughing and talking when they passed by a rather glum looking building. It was a two story brick house surrounded by a six foot black iron fence, which was covered in vines. As they passed Rukia glanced over at the yard and her eyes grew wide. She gasped, gaining Ichigo's attention.

"What is it Rukia?" Ichigo asked, turning to gaze at her.

"Look," Rukia said, pointing toward a large cherry tree.

Ichigo's gaze followed her finger and his eyes grew wide as well. Standing under a tree, dressed in a pair of torn jeans and a plain white t-shirt was a small boy. And it wasn't the child's haggard appearance that held the two Shinigami spellbound. No, this child bore an uncanny resemblance to a friend of theirs who'd died in the battle with Aizen.

"Ichigo, we have to find out what this means."

Nodding Ichigo led the way over to the iron gate. Reaching for the latch, he had the gate halfway open when he and Rukia heard a harsh voice call out, "Shiro! What the devil are you doing out here boy? How many times do I have to tell you not to wander off? One of these days I'm going to. . ."

The small white-haired boy gazed up at the middle aged woman who was hurrying over to him, a scared look in his eyes, but didn't say a word.

"Excuse me," Ichigo said as he and Rukia walked toward the pair.

The woman turned toward Ichigo and the sour look on her face immediately turned into a smile. "How can I help you sir? Are you and your lovely wife looking to adopt a child?"

"So this is an orphanage," Ichigo thought to himself. He offered the woman a charming smile. "Yes. We were walking by on our way out for a picnic when my wife saw this sweet little boy standing in the yard and she simply fell in love with him."

Rukia fought the urge to smile, marveling at Ichigo's acting skills. The man who was talking wasn't even remotely similar to the Ichigo that she knew and loved. Apparently, contrary to the popular opinion of everyone in the Seireitei, Ichigo really could use manners when it suited his purpose.

"Oh," the woman said, her smile fading. "I'm sure you'd be much happier with one of our other children. Shiro is sweet but he's also a little strange. The boy's been here for over six months and he's never once said a word to anyone. And sometimes he just stands around staring off into space with a terrified expression on his face, like he sees things that the rest of us can't."

Rukia and Ichigo turned toward one another and a look passed between them. Both understood what they had to do and Rukia turned back to the woman. "Oh no it has to be this boy. He's the cutest thing I've ever seen."

And to illustrate her point Rukia walked over, knelt down, and threw her arms around the child.

The little boy tensed as the strange woman wrapped her arms around him, as though he expected to be struck. Releasing her hold Rukia stared into the boy's eyes and saw that they were a vivid blue-green, the exact same shade as Captain Hitsugaya's.

"It has to be him," Ichigo said.

A/N - and this is where the story comes to an end. The last part was taken from Reincarnation, which continues the story so if you haven't read that fic then you really should. Hope you enjoyed this story, please leave a final review and tell me what you thought.