Disclaimer - I do not own Bleach

Sacrifice

Rain is steadily falling down from the heavens, as though God himself is crying over what has occurred here this day, and Ichigo Kurosaki finds that he has to fight hard to keep himself from crying himself. Pain, an emense pain that defies description, is pulsing through every part of his body however the young boy finds that the physical pain is completely overwhelmed by the vacant feeling in his soul.

Rukia is gone.

Despite everything that he had gone through, despite the fact that he had defied the odds, he had still lost her. He had fought against the duo from Soul Society, the two that had been sent to bring her back to face the consequences of what she had done, what, she had done in order to save him and his family. He had fought them with everything that he had and yet in the end none of it had mattered. With tears in her eyes she had still gone with them, returned to Soul Society to face her punishment, but not before telling Ichigo that if he followed them then she would never forgive him.

All of it had been for nothing and now Ichigo is lying on the ground, completely unable to move. It had been this immobility that had prevented him from following Rukia, from continueing the fight with her so called brother. He hadn't wanted to watch her leave but what else could he do? He couldn't even speak to call out to her and as the door closed behind her Rukia had only spared him one, passing glance.

Once the trio from Soul Society departed through the strange gate that had appeared as though out of nowhere all Ichigo can do is lie on the ground, his body in immense pain and his soul screaming out the injustice of the situation. As the rain continues to fall Ichigo feels his body become consumed by cold and, a second before losing consciousness, he sees a pair of sandals in front of him.

Then all is black and Ichigo feels no more.


As Ichigo regains awareness he;s struck by the fact that his body is no longer racked by pain. The cold that had consumed him earlier is also gone now, having given way to a blessed warmth. This only serves to further confuse the young man, who frantically worries that he is dying. That's the only way that he can rationally explain why all of the pain from his wounds is now gone.

Fighting hard to emerge from the darkness that surrounds him Ichigo forces his eyes to open, despite the fact that they feel as though they are being held in place by lead weights, and there, staring him right in the face, is a huge man wearing glasses.

A horrified scream pierces the air. "Aaagh!"

Ichigo pulls back, a horrified expression on his face, as he realizes that the man is lying on top of him on a pallet in the floor.

"Oh," the man says, completly unphased by Ichigo's reaction to his presence. "What a good reaction."

"What the hell are you doing?" Ichigo sceams out in indignation, attempting to shove the man away from him. It's in this moment that the young man realizes that the man in glasses is not only lying on top of him but is also under the same covers.

"Boss," the man calls out, gazing over toward a door that led out of the room. "Kurosaki is awake. You wanted to know when he woke up and he's awake now!"

Recognition hits Ichigo in this moment and he realizes where he has seen this man before. A memory briefly flashes in his mind. "Wait a minute, you work for Mr. Hat and Clogs don't you? What are you doing under the covers?" Forcing some of his strength to return by sheer will power Ichigo shoves the man away. "Get off!"

The movement causes some of the pain that he had been feeling before to return and, sitting up and grabbing his shoulder, Ichigo thinks to himself, "Hey, I'm not dead. I wonder why not?" With this thought fresh in his mind Ichigo surveys his surroundings and realizes that he isn't at his own house. He finds himself completely confused by his current surroundings. "Where am I?"

His wounds were wrapped with clean bandages so someone had obviously helped him out after his battle with Renji Abarai and Byakuya Kuchiki, but who?

"Kurosaki, you shouldn't be up."

Hearing the voice Ichigo turns around, in search of it's owner. A man enters the room, holding a fan in front of his face and wearing a green and white striped hat on his head. His face is virtually hidden and he walks calmly toward the spot on the floor where Ichigo is lying.

"Your wounds haven't closed yet. If you move around to much, you'll die."

"Is that so?" Ichigo mutters, his eyes focused on the man. "So this is your house, Mr. Hat and Clogs?"

As the conversation progresses Ichigo learns that Urahara also helped Uryu out after the battle with the two Shinigami but that the Quincy had refused to come to his shop to rest. In stead he simply told the shop keeper to take care of Ichigo because he was the only one that could save Rukia. Ichigo's eyes widen in horror as he processes Urahara's words and thinks back on the battle that he fought to protect Rukia.

Now she is back in Soul Society and completely out of his reach.

"Don't you understand?" Ichigo bursts out as soon as he hears those words, his eyes narrowing in anger and the hopeless feeling from before descending once again. "Rukia's gone back to the Soul Society! So how do I go after her? How am I supposed to save her? I can't do it, I can't."

"Do you really believe that?" Urahara asks the young man, his voice remaining calm. "There is a way into Soul Society."

That one simple statement serves to effectively light a fire under Ichigo's ass and he immediately jumps to his feet, his hands clenched into fists. "There's a way! How? How do I get there? Tell me!"

Urahara agrees to give Ichigo the information that he seeks however before he does he asks that the young man train with him for ten days so that he is completely prepared for what lies ahead once he infiltrates Soul Society. Ichigo is hesitant at first, claiming that he doesn't have time, however Urahara uses his powers of persuasion to convince him otherwise.

Ichigo takes a moment to think about the proposition of training with Urahara, about the sacrifices that he will have to make in order for the plan to work. Urahara warns him that the training will not be easy but that it's the only way for him to even remotely stand a chance one he arrives in Soul Society.

He knows that the shopkeeper had a point, he was virtually powerless against Byakuya, so the young man agrees to undergo the training. Whatever is necessary for him to be able to save Rukia, after all he is in her debt. And it's his fault that she's in her current situation. If she hadn't given her powers to him so that he could defeat a Hollow then none of this would be happening now.

"It's all my fault," Ichigo thought as he stood in front of Urahara. "And I owe it to Rukia to train hard so that I can rescue her. I will do whatever it takes."

Making this promise to himself Ichigo turns his attention back to Urahara, who is standing patiently, awaiting an answer from the young man. "Alright Mr. Hat and Clogs, let's get to work."

"Right," Urahara says with a nod, a somewhat evil grin appearing on his face. "Ten days to torture you."

Despite Urahara's enthusiasm at the thought of torturing him he doesn't begin the training right away. Ichigo is given a day of freedom to come to terms with the ordeal that lies ahead. Ichigo is grateful for the chance to get his thoughts together and to make up a cover story for why he wouldn't be around all summer. It's during this day that he finds out that everyone except for Orihime seems to have forgotten about Rukia's very existence. This fact seems wrong to Ichigo, who can't keep his thoughts off the raven haired Shinigami girl whose fate remains unknown to him.

"I promise I'll save you Rukia," Ichigo whispers as he makes his way toward Urahara's shop, fully prepared for whatever he has to endure in order to rescue the girl who had saved him.

A/N - I have no idea why I decided to write this, other than the fact that I was bored and the muses didn't want to cooperate on my other fics. Hope you enjoyed.