Disclaimer - I do not own Bleach, just having a little fun with the characters

A/N - this story is a request from miawpyon and is thus dedicated to them. It's AU and doesn't closely follow the storyline of Bleach so if some things are different or even just downright wrong trust me it is supposed to be that way. Hope you enjoy.

Chapter One - Prologue: How it All Began

Third seat of Squad Ten, Midori Hara, had been issued her orders to travel to the world of the living and take care of a particularly pesky Hollow that seemed determined to terrorize a town there despite the best efforts of many Shinigami. Several of their lower ranked squad members had been dispatched to destroy the Hollow and had never returned from this mission. Reports now were that it was stronger than your average Hollow however Midori was confident that she could destroy it and she assured her captain that she would return.

"I will be fine," Midori said as she tied her zanpaktou to her sash and prepared to leave the Squad Ten barracks. There was a confident look in her teal eyes, as though she could take on the world. "I'll take care of the Hollow, avenge our fallen comrades, and return to the Seireitei before the sun sets this day."

The captain's eyes still held a look of concern as he gazed at the confident young woman however he nodded and watched as his third in command walked out the door of his office. He hoped that this mission wasn't too much for her to handle, hoped that he hadn't just made a grave mistake in sending her out. After all Midori was fairly young by Shinigami standards and had only been on a handful of missions on her own since joining the Thirteen Court Guard Squads.

"He really shouldn't worry so much," Midori thought to herself as she followed her hell butterfly toward the Senkaimon that would take her to the world of the living. "I can handle this."

With these thoughts in her mind Midori followed the hell butterfly through the Senkaimon and toward the world of the living. Emerging in a crowded plaza Midori paused for a moment to get her bearings and then pulled out the communicator that she had been issued, flipping it open with one swift movement of her hand. As soon as the screen was visible Midori's eyes locked onto a red dot in the upper right hand corner.

"Gotcha," she whispered in a deadly serious tone of voice a second before using her flash-step to disappear.

The man couldn't believe his luck as he stared up at the huge monster that those around him seemed completely oblivious to. Strange things had been happening to him for as long as he could remember but this had to be the worst. This thing had every intention of killing him, it had told him as much, and he had no way to fight it.

His paintings lay scattered on the ground however that was the least of his worries as he watched the beast that was approaching him. His first thought was to run but to what purpose? He had witnessed first hand the speed of the thing and knew without a doubt that it could move faster than he could and would catch him in a matter of moments.

Resigned to his fate the man sank to his knees however he was shocked as a blue aura of energy suddenly surrounded him, deflecting the attack that had been meant to end his life. His eyes widened in shock and he couldn't keep his body from trembling slightly. This wasn't the way that things should be; he didn't want to die, not like this, not when there was so much left undone.

"That's the power that I was after," the monster growled, it's red eyes glowing menacingly, jumping back and preparing for a second attack. "Now that the power inside you has finally awakened I can kill you and absorb that power for myself."

The beast made a move toward the man however faltered as it felt a white hot pain in it's arm. Howling in pain and anger the beast whirled around and locked gazes with Midori. The young Shinigami glared at the Hollow, her eyes filled with hatred. "So you're the bastard who killed my comrades. I promise you that you will not live to repeat that mistake. Ever."

The Hollow issued another roar of displeasure as it turned to attack Midori.

The man whom she had saved watched in awe as the beautiful young woman fought against the beast that had been after his life. She was truly beautiful, even in the midst of battle. Her long black hair, left loose and flowing, whirled in the wind that seemed to be produced by the sword that she was holding and as she turned slightly the man caught a glimpse of mesmerizing teal eyes, a look of determination in their depths.

The desire to run now completely forgotten the artist watched this strange dance of death as the woman fought against the beast. The dance was fierce and yet at the same time strangely beautiful and he found that he couldn't keep his eyes off the young woman. He knew that he should be scared but for some reason he was completely fascinated by the woman and didn't want to leave.

The battle was fierce however Midori emerged victorious, as she had known that she would. Sheathing her zanpaktou she turned her attention back to the human who's unnaturally high reiatsu had lured the Hollow to the city where it had resided up until mere seconds ago. Her breath caught as she got her first glimpse of the man and realized how handsome he was. He had unruly black hair, which stood up in spikes, and an intense expression in his eyes, which were a lovely shade of lightest brown.

Midori took an uncertain step toward the man who quickly rose from his spot on the ground and walked toward her. The young Shinigami could tell by the expression in his eyes that he could see her and she waited to see what he was going to say.

"I don't even know who you are," the man said in a quiet and yet at the same time intense voice, kneeling on the ground in front of the woman. "And I know this is going to sound strange to you but I find that I have fallen in love with you. I'll understand if you say no but I have to ask, will you marry me?"

Midori gasped at the question, completely unprepared for it. This man didn't even know her name, didn't know that she was a Shinigami from one of the four noble houses, and yet here he was proposing marriage. The rational part of her brain knew that this relationship didn't stand a chance however as she opened her mouth to tell him this the strangest thing happened. The words that she had planned to speak refused to come. In stead she nodded ever so slightly and whispered only one word. "Yes."

The young man jumped to his feet, a wide grin on his face. "Great! My name is Toushirou Hitsugaya, by the way, and I'm an artist."

Midori's eyes scanned the paintings that still littered the ground. From what she could see of the scattered paintings it seemed to her that the man possessed a measure of talent. "Your work?"

Toushirou nodded as he hastily bent to gather up his scattered paintings. "Yes and I need the money that these will bring so I'm really glad that nothing happened to them."

Midori smiled. "My name is Midori Hara and my background is unimportant."

Toushirou smiled, knowing that her background was strange and had he not just witnessed her battle with the monster he probably wouldn't believe it. And if she wanted to keep it a secret from him then he was okay with that. Some things were better left unsaid.

Midori knew that the choice that she had just made would make life difficult for her and Toushirou. Soul Society didn't tolerate deserters and yet she knew that she didn't want to go back to that life. She wanted to remain here in the world of the living with the man that she now found herself in love with. There was nothing to be done for it, she would simply have to disappear and allow Soul Society to believe that the Hollow had killed her just as it killed three of her peers.

"It's better this way," she thought to herself as she allowed Toushirou to take her hand. Relationships between humans and Shinigami were strictly forbidden so it would just be better for all concerned if they never knew what had happened to her. She was sorry that she would never see her friends in Soul Society again however she truly thought that she could find a happiness that she had never known if she ran away with Toushirou and started a new life. Life as a member of one of the noble houses had never afforded her freedom and she longed to do something that was solely for her. She knew that it was selfish in the extreme however it was what she wanted and for once she found herself willing to reach out and grasp that which she desired.

Soul Society had received no word from Midori in several days and when the Captain of Squad Ten sent out a search party to look for signs of her and the Hollow nothing was found except traces of reiatsu where a battle had obviously been fought. Unfortunately it was impossible to tell from this data who had won the fight however since Midori hadn't returned from her mission the Shinigami all assumed that the Hollow had won.

"Midori," the captain whispered as he filed the paperwork that would label her missing in action. He couldn't officially classify her as killed in action without absolute confirmation of death however her reiatsu had completely vanished.

"I should never have allowed her to go out on this mission alone," the captain thought to himself, consumed by guilt over the death of his subordinate. It was true that she was gifted, having finished the Academy in a mere two years, however he she was relatively new to missions. He should have known better than to send her after a Hollow that had already claimed the lives of several of her peers.

"Why did I let her go? I know she said that she could handle it but I should have sent someone with her just in case."

As the months passed Midori grew more and more pleased with the choice that she had made. Toushirou was a caring and considerate husband who was completely devoted to her. Despite the fact that he had very little money he had still provided her with a cute little cottage nestled in a little clearing in a beautiful forest and they always had food to eat. For the first time Midori found that she was happy, not just content to do as others told her but actually happy.

"I love you Toushirou-san," she whispered as she lay beside him, content just to be by his side. He was her entire world and she wouldn't trade this humble life that she had with him for all that Soul Society had to offer.

"And I love you Midori-chan," Toushirou whispered as he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. He still couldn't believe his luck. When he'd proposed to her he hadn't in a million years dreamed that she would actually accept his proposal. "I must have done something good to deserve her love." the young man thought to himself as he ran his hand lovingly through Midori's jet black hair.

Midori snuggled closer to him and smiled as he wrapped his arms around her. "I hope the baby looks like you."

"B-baby. . ." Toushirou stuttered.

"Mmm," Midori said in a quiet voice. "We're expecting our first child."

A broad smile appeared on Toushirou's face as he once again leaned down to kiss his wife. Finding her had been the best thing that had ever happened to him and he would be forever grateful to the powers that be for sending her to him.

A baby. Toushirou couldn't keep the broad smile from growing even wider as he thought about a baby that would be a part of both of them. A symbol of the love that they shared with one another.

Toushirou had traveled to a nearby town, intent on selling some of his better paintings in order to gain some extra cash for when the baby was born, and he was rather pleased by the outcome. The paintings had brought more money than he had expected so he had spent a little of it on a gift for Midori, a butterfly comb that she could wear in her beautiful raven hair. Pleased with the gift that he had purchased Toushirou was anxious to get home so that he could see the expression on his wife's face when she saw what he had brought her.

The couple didn't have a lot of extra money so gifts between them were few and far between. Toushirou knew without a doubt that Midori would be delighted with the gift and he looked forward to seeing the smile that it would bring to her face. He lived to see his beloved wife smile and his heart beat faster just thinking about her.

Suddenly the air was pierced by an other worldly roar and Toushirou's blood ran cold. He had been haunted by strange beasts for months now however everytime that he had been attacked his wife had came to his rescue. He couldn't explain the powers that she possessed however he knew that without them he would have died the first time that he saw one of the monsters.

Forcing himself not to look back in search of his unseen attacker Toushirou sprinted down the trail. He could hear the beast crashing through the underbrush behind him however he didn't dare look back to check it's location. Stray branches from nearby trees swiped his face, arms and legs as he ran however he paid no attention to the minor pain. His mind was focused solely on escape, even though something deep inside was telling him that escape was not likely.

As he ran though the forest Toushirou's thoughts flashed back to the family that was waiting at home for him, his wife and their unborn child. He could feel the blood flowing from the various wounds that he had suffered before breaking free of the Hollow and he knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he would not be returning to them. Tears formed in his brown eyes as he thought about the wife that he cherished and the baby that he would never get to see.

He felt blessed to have been able to spend these months with Midori and only wished that he could have had a little more time, could have seen their child at least once.

Suddenly Toushirou's feet were knocked out from under him. Hitting the ground with a thud Toushirou had time for only one brief thought before blackness enveloped him. "I love you Midori, please take care of our child."

Midori had no idea what had happened to the husband that she had cherished. He had left one day to sell some of his paintings in a nearby town and had never returned. Never giving up hope that he would return she had remained in the small cottage that the two of them had shared and it was there that she gave birth to their son. The child that Toushirou had been looking forward to since the day he learned of the baby's impending birth.

Midori named the baby for his father, Toushirou Hitsugaya, and vowed that she would protect the child with everything that she was.

As the child grew Midori saw that he was the exact image of his father, with only one difference. He possessed her teal eyes. But that was the only thing that connected her son with her. He had his father's spiked black hair and the same mannerisms. And as he grew Midori found that her feelings for her child changed. Every time she looked at the face that was so much like his father's she felt a momentary desire for him and that made her angry. And she took this anger out on her child.

For his part Shirou as he was called had no idea why his mother had changed from the loving woman who had raised him to an angry woman bent on destroying him but try as he might he couldn't blame her for it. She was his mother and he loved her, even when he wanted to hate her for what she did to him.

The young boy often wandered the forests that surrounded their home, wanting a brief respite from the abuse that had became an every day occurrence in his life. On one such day, just as the moon was rising and illuminating the forest, Midori's discovered that the boy was missing. She didn't like for him to be out of her sight for more than a few brief moments, being very possessive of him, and his absence set her anger off.

"Shirou!" Midori shouted, searching the woods for her son.

Shirou heard his mother calling out his name and he knew by the tone of her voice that she was angry with him. He hesitated, scared of what she would do to him if he answered her call, but in the end he obeyed her summons and slowly made his way through the snowdrifts to the spot where she was standing.

"You little. . ." Midori snarled as she roughly shoved her son to the ground. Shirou fell onto his back in the freezing snow and his teal eyes widened in horror as his mother pinned him to the ground and pulled a knife from her pocket.

"Mother. . ." the boy said in a quiet and trembling voice.

"Shut up!" Midori screeched, taking the blade of the knife and pulling it slowly across both of the child's wrists. Beads of bloods formed where the blade broke the boy's skin and Shirou began to tremble as he felt the pain of the wounds and watched as his blood discolored the snow that lay beneath him.

"Mother," he whispered. "Please. . ."

"I said shut up!" Midori said, tears forming in her own teal eyes.

The pain was unimaginable as Shirou lay on the ground and watched as his blood slowly pooled on the ground beneath both of his wrists. He was terrified and almost certain that he was going to die by his own mother's hands. And even so he still couldn't bring himself to hate her. All he could think was what had he done to deserve such treatment.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, growing weak from the blood loss. These were the last words that the child spoke, an apology for a wrong that he never committed.

Midori held her only child pinned to the ground as he slowly bled to death and as the color drained from the child's face a strange thing happened. His jet black hair, the hair that he had inherited from his father, turned to a snowy white. A strange expression appeared in her teal eyes as Midori leaned down and whispered in her child's ear, "Toushirou-san. . ."

A second later the child drew his last breath and was still.

Releasing her grip on Shirou, Midori slowly got to her feet and was struck with the realization of what she had just done. She had killed her own child, her last link with her beloved Toushirou. Standing over the lifeless body of her son Midori let out an ear piercing scream of anguish.

A/N - so here's the first chapter. This is the prologue, to give the back story, but in the next chapter the real story will begin. Hope you enjoyed, please review and tell me what you thought. Til next time this is Hitsu-taichou signing out.