" This is stupid," Ichigo said, his tone bordering on the "what-the-fuck-are-we-doing-here" side of things. The grass he sat in was far beyond what could be called damp- the river had swelled the past couple days- and he was pretty sure that his exceptionally saggy rear end had gone numb. Not to mention the fact that it was an ungodly three in the morning and that he had a test today.

Yet she had dragged him out of bed( "Get up, brat!") out into the biting early morning chill( "Who needs a sweater?!") and sat him down on a hill, refusing to let him up, refusing to tell him why he was here in the first place.

Ichigo glanced down at his companion. He'd never taken Kuchiki Rukia as the type to gang-press people into doing what she wanted( she wore frilly dresses, and drew bunnies, after all), but he could see now that he was very, very wrong. If anything, she was a conniving vixen of a girl under the façade of a sweet, innocent child if he said so himself. When he repeated this aloud, she elbowed him in the ribs.

" Stop whining," Rukia snapped as Ichigo clutched his side and howled. " No one's forcing you to stay."

" Yeah, you kind of are." The strawberry grated between his teeth; she hit hard with those bony elbows of hers. He gestured with his free hand to its not so lucky counterpart.

She held his wrist in a vice like grip in a way he was sure would leave a mark, and, truly, it was a bit frightening. Rukia held him so tightly that he half-believed she would anchor him here for the rest of his life.

"-and if you would be so kind as to let me go…"

"Shut up." her voice had a lighter, drawn in breath sort of quality to it, and Ichigo paused as she pointed. " It's starting." He followed the path of her finger and gasped.

An explosion of light blue had burst across the sky like a ginormous gusher. Pinks, then oranges and golds and maroons and jades and an unprecedented amount of other colors rolled in one by one, each overlapping the last until the sky was as colorful as a million tubs of skittles. Clouds drifted, giving off a bluish green hue and adding to the magnificence of the spattered canvas. It seemed like the trees were stretching the way they reached out, and off in the distance a bird took up its melodious tune. And there, right in the thick of it, was the sun. Glorious in her dress of melted gold, she took to the sky, and when she entered it, the sky only became more awe inspiring.

Rukia smirked up at his open mouth. " You glad you stayed now?"

He looked down at her. " It was 'aight."

They smiled at one another, and then the sky.

It was a new day.