A/N: Happy November!

Late updates are late. Enjoy!


March 17

Rukia spent most of her time with Ukitake at his studio. She needed to paint something new for the tour. She finished five small abstract paintings and now was working on an acrylic self-portrait. When she wasn't here painting she was with Rangiku.

Her wedding was almost finished. They had the cake ordered, the place set, the dress ready, and invitations had been sent out. Rangiku couldn't chose what she wanted though, a photo montage or a collective home video. Rukia didn't pressure her—the woman was so wound up due to stress that anything would set her off.

Rukia pursed her lips as she dipped her brush into the blue paint. 'Rangiku has been acting rather strange...it must be something to do with the wedding. I'd be stressed out too.'

&3&3&3

Ichigo was trying to finish work early so he could go and see Rukia. She'd been talking about this painting all week and she wanted his opinion.

"Ichigo. I have someone I want you to meet." Zangetsu said appearing behind the young man.

Ichigo turned around and saw a girl, she looked to be about a year younger than he was. Her eyes were a strange pink color and her hair was dyed purple. A red ribbon kept it tied away from her face.

"I'm Senna!" She held out her hand and Ichigo shook it.

"Senna will be your student, Ichigo." Zangetsu explained calmly.

"Huh...alright...I'll show you around..." Ichigo wouldn't tell Zangetsu that he was annoyed at this sudden surprise. He wanted to see Rukia not train some newbie.

Senna was a sweet girl and funny. But she reminded Ichigo far too much of the petite girlfriend he had waiting for him. Ichigo would have sent Rukia a text but his cell phone rarely got service in the hospital. With Senna at his heels every second, it would be unprofessional to duck away and make a phone call.

He checked his watch and his stomach dropped to his knees. He was late...

&3&3&3&3

Rukia sighed as she locked up the studio. Ichigo didn't show. 'He's busy at work...I know how stressed he is since I'm not making anything right now. I just wished he had called or something...'

Rukia's phone began to buzz in her pocket.

"Hello?"

"I hate having arguments with Hisagi." Rangiku said on the other end of the line.

"Ah...what happened?"

"I don't know! He brought me flowers and I just yelled at him, telling him I didn't have time for his sexual desires and we had a wedding to plan." Rangiku gave a frustrated sigh

"Oh Rangiku...did you apologize?"

"Yeah, I called him. He understands that I'm freaking out but I don't wanna freak out! I love him, I want to be married and have a family with him. I just felt so bad..."

"Deep breaths, everything will be okay."

"Yeah...so how did Ichigo like your painting? It's so gorgeous!"

"He didn't show up..." Rukia said quietly as she got onto the train. Taking her seat beside a business man with a newspaper covering his face.

"Oh...you don't think?"

"What?"

"Once a cheater, always a cheater."

"No!" Rukia spoke a little too loud, causing the man next to her to jump. She gave him an apologetic smile.

"Ichigo wouldn't...he's not like that...we're solid." Rukia whispered.

"Okay, I'm sorry I even said it. Oh I gotta go, Hisagi is calling me. Bye!"

&3&3&3&3

Rukia didn't take the train home. She got off about three miles away from Ichigo's work. The walk there was quiet and filled with a thought of dread. 'What if he's not at work? Ichigo wouldn't cheat on me...we love each other. We're fine. We're fine...right?'

The automatic doors slid open and Rukia felt her heart twist. Ichigo was standing by the desk with a woman. He was dressed in his scrubs but the girl had on a red skirt and brown top. She was smiling and laughing—Ichigo's back was to Rukia.

'No...'

Rukia turned around on the spot, jealous tears filling in her eyes. Her hands were shaking as she took out her phone.

"Ukitake? I want to go...tonight."

"But Rukia, that's a bit early. Are you sure?"

"Yes." Rukia ground her teeth together to hold her composure. "I'm sure."

"I can have a cab pick you up within the hour."

"I'll be ready."

&3&3&3

Rukia packed up her paintings with the help of one of Ukitake's friends. She didn't leave a note. Why bother? Ichigo seemed perfectly happy with his new 'victim'. She turned off her phone before entering the airport. Her stomach doing flip flops and her heart clenching each time she thought of that girl.

The questions plagued her mind. 'I thought we were okay. Why didn't he say something? Who was she?She was flirting with him—I could see it in her eyes. How obnoxious.'

[Sometime in August]

Ichigo and Rukia spent that day on the beach. It was warm but there was a playful breeze that made the day seem almost perfect.

"Make a sand-bunny with me." Rukia said pulling on Ichigo's hand.

"Only if you go swimming with me."

"Hell no!"

"Why not?"

"That water is freezing!"

"Have it your way." Ichigo said with a mysterious grin. He hoisted Rukia up and over his shoulder.

"Jerk!" She squealed before he dropped her into the water.

It was freaking cold!

"I hate you!" She said when she resurfaced. Rukia splashed a handful of water at him. The sun reflecting off their skin and hair, making everything brighter and more surreal. The water went to Ichigo's waist while it reached just below Rukia's chest. He splashed her back.

"I hate you more." He smirked.

Rukia tackled him into the water, the bubbles rushing around them and the salty taste pressing against their lips. Rukia never kissed anyone under the water before. It was a strange feeling, almost like drowning but at the same time it was blissful. He came back up with Rukia in his arms.

"Still hate me?" He questioned.

"N-no...well maybe." Rukia slapped his shoulder and after that, he did agree to make a sand bunny with her.

"Uh...miss?" A stewardess said leaning over Rukia.

"Yes?" Rukia snapped out of her daydream.

"Here." The woman set down some tissues and then walked away. Rukia frowned a little before realizing that she had been crying. She didn't know when it started but she certainly knew why.

&3&3&&3

"I'm home!" Ichigo called out. He tossed his keys onto the table and picked up a note with his other hand.

Rukia & Ichigo,

Thanks so much for taking me in. I love you, both.

I'm going back home tonight to patch things up with Hisagi.

--Rangiku

Ichigo had tried calling Rukia but he assumed she returned home and was sleeping. She was no where to be found.

Plan B : Call Rangiku.

"Sorry Hun, I haven't talked to her since this afternoon."

Plan C: Call Renji

"Rukia? I'm sure she didn't go far. Have you tried leaving her a message?"

Plan D: Call Urahara

"Gorgeous Rukia-Chan and I haven't spoken since she quit. Sad, isn't it?"

Plan E: Call Ukitake

"We're sorry, the number you have reached is currently unavailable."

"Fuck!" Ichigo growled with a slam of his fist onto the table. Worry and panic had set in and now anger was slowly creeping over. Where the hell was she?

&3&3&3&3

4:28am

One new voice mail:

--Hey Ichigo. Sorry, something came up. We took an early flight.

I...I...I'm sorry I didn't say goodbye. It was all so sudden. You were at work and...I...Goodbye---

Ichigo placed his hand over his eyes to block the light of his cell. Her message was broken up but he got the gist of it. She sounded upset...even though she was trying to hide it. Was she upset because she had to leave? Did something happen to her?

Ichigo called her number one more time before he'd fall back asleep.

"Rukia?"

"No, it's Ukitake. She's asleep."

"It's Ichigo. Can you...tell her something for me?"

The man on the end of the line gave a violent cough. "Ah...sure..."

"Tell her...that I...love her."

"Will do."

&3&3&3&3&

Ukitake hung up the phone and looked over at Rukia. She was fast asleep on the hotel bed. She briefly told him what happened and why she wanted to get out of town. He calmly told her that decision was very rash, but the young Kuchiki wouldn't listen.

"I know what I saw! Maybe it was stupid to run off...but I didn't know what to do." That's what she said before the two artists dropped the topic. He didn't know what to think about the whole ordeal. On one hand, Rukia had every right to be suspicious and worried. But Ichigo had the right to explain his side of the story.

Ukitake coughed into the white cloth that was originally resting in his pocket. He just hoped this wouldn't affect her performance. He glanced over at the pile of paintings scattered about the room. Tomorrow would be the tough job of moving them all around. Ukitake laid back down on his bed and closed his eyes. There was too much to worry about and too little time—even though they got here early.

&3&3&3

Rangiku yawned and snuggled closer to Hisagi. Ichigo's phone call a few hours ago had her worried. But Rukia did text her roughly thirty minutes ago. Rukia told Rangiku not to worry, that something came up and she had to go to Europe early.

Rangiku sighed, she was sad that she couldn't have her maid of honor for a little longer. But that was okay...Rukia needed to focus on her career.

'But that doesn't mean she should neglect her love. This wedding almost made me push Hisagi away...'


A/N: Sorry for the short chapter.

I just really wanted to get a new chapter up!