Aaaah sorry for the long time since updating but alas my major is such that heavy hours of studying are required :(

Sorry, not to quote a song but life gets in the way

* Ah, one thing to note, I realize I have Rukia dressed in her band attire that involves a skirt in chapter 19, it should be slacks. She's still Tamako after all. I will make sure to fix that later.

Thank you and appreciations to:

Stupid Illusions, Bombat1994, Reiha No Arashi, darkestlight33, loving myth, yeah9fun, Aizawa Li Syaoran Vessalius, riveting tale chap, buchielle, Mari Kia Resha Aishiteru, muffnbootz, Aprilup, nchan, SmilexForxBleach, Lightning Rain, Sponges Fan, KurukiXV, Bubii, Shrilaraune, MONST3R, Keynn, minimechan, kayla12000, w. cyan, lovelose05, sallythedestroyerofworlds23, FacingLoveEmbracingMelody, Pantastic45, zan, SakuraNoKaze and patbby

ichirukitard - you are beyond awesome, love when people review multiple chapters :) let's me experience what the reader sees each chapter has to offer, thank you for all your encouraging and wonderful words :)

Llyssa-maiden - oh man oh man, I keep hoping that I will be able to end this story soon, but then something else always jumps into my head and demands to be written/typed. So, at least another 2-3 chapters ... Hope this is a good thing :) Thanks for the review!

MindlessAbandon - Ah, glad the emotions were able to come through in my writing :) always one of my goals. Lol to IchiBya love ;) Thanks for your very insightful, obviously well thought out and wonderful review!

Your reviews are like food to my writing and all of you are write some amazing gems :) thanks so much for reading!

The timing is a bit confusing for this chapter, but just kinda take Rukia's and Ichigo's parts separately, they're not dependent on each other nor do they really interact.

Disclaimer: I do not in anyway own Bleach or anything else under the protection of copyright (7/7/11)


oOo

oOoOoOo

oOo

Ichigo

Ichigo's thoughts were in a million places at once.

The situation was tense, as it always seemed to be lately. With Senna causing troubles, and Rukia, and being in the middle of a rumored gay-love-triangle, and Rukia and having an incompetent nurse on the loose, and Rukia and that upcoming audition and Rukia and … why wouldn't she just tell him already?

He felt guilty, anxious, annoyed and panicked all at the same time. His phone buzzed, a text message, from some number he didn't know. He didn't have time for this ...

"Ichigo, I was hoping I could maybe meet up with you in private and discuss something important, please - Tamako."

Rukia

Had it been any other time, any other situation he would have been there in an instant, at her side, near enough to be immersed in her tantalizing scent. The decision was a difficult one to make, but ... Rukia would have to wait. Even if she wasn't there when he returned, he would find her, he wouldn't rest until he did.

'No,' he sent the message. What would she think about this? Please Rukia, please don't take this the wrong way. He almost hoped she would call him back, snap at him in her snippy voice about he was a stuck up jerk or something along that line.

He knew he had to go, get moving once more but his gaze was fixated on his phone. Still no reply, maybe he had hurt her. Granted it had only been about five minutes since he sent his answer ... but still each second that ticked by grated on his nerves.

The screen lit up before the phone buzzed. He hit the open button, "Well, when you have time, I hope we can talk because I have something very important to tell you."

That was it? He was relieved and sad. But something important? Could it be ... Ah the timing of his life right now. "Really?" he shouted to the empty air, "just when we could finally start ..."

He needed to do this. He hit the 'end call' button on his phone, turning it off. "It's too tempting."

He didn't have time for this right now.

Ichigo grabbed a few things from his dresser and threw them in the general direction of his bag. His roommate, Hitsugaya was gone, as always but Ichigo knew the smaller boy had his own preparations to make for the night. Yeah, tonight was the night huh? The finale concert, the one he wouldn't be attending. The other students around him were dressed up for the concert, last minute touch ups and the likes were all that was left.

Ichigo hadn't even bothered changing into his performance attire.

Grabbing the single satchel he had packed, he was out his door and hurrying down the stairs, taking the steps two at a time. No one else was out in the halls, not that he really took note.

He pushed open the front door, stepping out into the balmy weather. It was warm, but the weather was overcast. The sky was unusually grey, heavy clouds creeping in from the horizon.

The quiet phone was heavy in his pocket, moreso than usual. It weighed upon his mind. He glanced backwards, towards the school, in the direction she was.

No, he had to take care of the task at hand. His eyes scanned the roads that round their way throughout the campus. Cars were parked in every available spot but what caught his eye was the silver Lexus cruising his way. He ran to the parking lot, meeting the car near the side.

Through the tinted windows he could make out a single figure, sitting in the driver's seat. Ichigo went around to the driver's side as the window was rolled down. "Yoshino," it was his dad's secretary, "I thought you were in the U.S."

It seemed she felt no need to answer him, "Get in," she jerked her head in the direction of the passenger's seat.

"Like hell," Ichigo pulled open the driver's door. "Let me drive."

She narrowed her eyes, but sighed, un-clicking her seat belt and getting out. "You better not kill us," she waited for him to take his seat before slamming the door shut and hurrying over to the passenger's side.

"Che, who do you think you're talking about?"

"Just buckle up, your father will have my head if all of his children end up hospitalized."

oOo

oOoOoOo

oOo

Rukia

Kuchiki pride?

What can pride do for you when the world has become enveloped in by the physical realm alone? I cannot escape from this moment no matter how preeminent my pride is.

Rukia didn't know what she was feeling.

Relief?

Sorrow?

Anger?

No, she shouldn't be angry, at least not at Senna. As much as it troubled her to admit it, the problem she faced was partially her own doing. But still ... taking that microphone and shoving it down Senna's throat didn't sound like a bad idea either. Maybe if the situation called for it.

Was this one of those situations?

Either way, the play had begun, and as the self-proclaimed heroine, Rukia did not wish for the story to end on a tragic note. She knew that to emerge from the ordeal in an unscathed manner would be ideal but unlikely.

Rukia stood before her greatest tribulation. She wrapped her hand around the phone in her pocket and with a steady heart, Kuchiki Rukia made up her mind.

oOo

oOoOoOo

oOo

Hitsugaya

Cold exterior that everyone whispered transcended all the way to his heart and a noticeable contempt for inept fools, Hitsugaya Toshiro could care less about the labors of others. He wasn't typically one to involve himself in potentially troubling events, but Hitsugaya did not like the current situation one bit. Even though he wasn't entirely sure what Senna's intentions were, he knew they were not in Rukia's best interest.

Why did he care?

Yes, why indeed?

Rukia looked both pissed and panicked as she took the microphone.

Hitsugaya kept his gaze forward but his sea-colored eyes roamed around, where was Kurosaki? Causing unannounced distraction and drawing the crowd's attention was usually a task right up his alley, so where was he when you actually needed him?

He really, really didn't want to, but if things looked like they wouldn't go well, Hitsugaya would intercede.

But as to what he should do … he had no idea.

Rukia stood before the crowd, directly in the middle of the stage under the spotlight. Her small form appeared all the more fragile standing center stage alone. Her aura had changed in the short walk to the front, when she had come to face the full weight of the crowd's scrutiny.

To feel alarmed at this moment in time would be expected, but Rukia's pride or perhaps her own natural dignity overwhelmed any traces of fear that tried to overtake her. Her body no longer shook with fear or rage and for the first time in his life, Hitsugaya felt the need to devote his full attentions to somebody, not out of anxiety nor love nor fear but because something in his mind screamed that to not watch this girl would be a heavy mistake.

Head held high, shoulders square, Rukia held the mike in one hand and with the other, pulled the wig from upon her head and released her raven locks. Her silken hair fanned about her shoulders. Rukia loosened her tie, throwing both the ribbon and wig on the floor behind her.

Although he did not see it, the white-haired boy knew that the expression upon her face during this moment of veracity unnerved the hearts of everyone before her. Her silent declaration rang out that she stood before them not as some trapped coward, but instead, all were there to pay heed to her decision to unveil the truth.

Whether this had been her intention or not, she had enraptured every soul in that prodigious room.

And he found, he couldn't take his eyes off her.

oOo

oOoOoOo

oOo

Szayel

She had more strength than he thought. Szayel smiled, how very entertaining.

He had never been interested in anything or anyone he deemed unworthy, but Kuchiki Rukia standing before the crowd in a spectacular show of intrepidity had caught his interest. That girl's presence flared and smothered the essence of everyone else around her.

It was a tantalizing sensation, watching one so undemanding in mien to suddenly enrapture the attentions of so many. He would have loved to stay and allow the events to continued falling together but he had his own job to do.

He met the portentous gaze of Senna's orange eyes and gave her a smooth smile.

His part in this whole affair was about to begin.

Kuchiki Rukia, just how strong can you really be?

oOo

oOoOoOo

oOo

Hitsugaya

"Evening everyone," eyes downcast and a hand flat to her chest, Rukia bowed her head to the crowd. "My name is Kuchiki Rukia." Returning to her upright posture, she paused, as if in a moment to collect herself. "I would like to welcome you all …"

Hitsugaya was anticipating her words as much as anybody else but Szayel's movements caught his attention. His childhood friend quickly and quietly got to his feet, pushing past the others in his row and disappearing between the curtains on stage right.

Szayel's departure was strange. There was no reason to believe so, but a sinking feeling caused Hitsugaya worry that it had something to do with Senna's plan. Without causing an upset, Hitsugaya stood, taking off after Szayel.

Luckily, the pink-haired boy hadn't gotten far. He was rushing down the back hallway, his cell phone in hand and a key in the other. Hitsugaya followed at a safe distance behind, not that he need have bothered. Szayel was absorbed in his task, not even flinching when a large horde of reporters rushed past him.

Hitsugaya trailed him up two flights of stairs before Szayel finally came to his destination. He was outside the monitoring room for the stage below, usually kept locked at all times, but apparently this was the key Szayel now had. He unlocked the door, disappearing inside.

There was a small window in the door, and Hitsugaya crept towards the room, making sure to keep in the shadows and out of Szayel's field of sight. Szayel pulled out a DVD case from inside his jacket, slipping the disc out and placing it into the media player. He pressed a few buttons, frowning as he worked.

The monitoring room had a clear view of the stage below, through a large window that took up the majority of the space of one wall. Rukia still stood alone on the stage below, her voice too low to be heard or picked up by the microphone.

"So, what do you think?"

Hitsugaya cast a hurried glance about the room. There was no one else in there, and no cell phone or intercom to be seen. Who was Szayel talking to then?

"Toshiro," Szayel stood directly on the other side of the door, his face inches from the glass, "What do you think of the plan so far?"

There should be no surprise that Szayel had known he was there, yet Hitsugaya still felt his fingers clench and his mouth go dry. "What plan?"

"Hmm, so you really had no idea what you were getting into when you followed me?" Szayel made a tsk tsk sound. "I guess you'll just have to adopt a wait and see demeanor then."

"Szayel, what's on that disc?"

"Ah, so you did see that?" Szayel didn't seem to care one way or another what Hitsugaya knew. "Well, I found out a rather interesting secret from Miss Ryodji about a certain Kuchiki Rukia."

"And?"

"I'm just helping Senna set her trap. It's mostly her doing, I'm here for support and the pleasurable enjoyment that comes with crushing a strong existence."

"What does that entail?"

"It's like hunting," Szayel grinned, an almost animalistic like glint in his eyes. "First you have to stalk your prey, then back them into a corner that they can't escape from. Once you have them trapped ... you can go in for the kill."

He laughed, fully enjoying whatever he knew. "Technically, there won't be any real murder involved, but I guess you could still consider it social murder. Although Miss Kuchiki is in no way easy prey. But the harder the trials, the more pleasant the reward."

"I'm asking you not to, Szayel, whatever it is you're doing, stop."

"Hmm …"

Hitsugaya took the smallest step forward, "Please, I'm asking you," the word flowed from his mouth as a distasteful lie, "as a friend."

"A friend?" Szayel apparently found the word as disagreeable as Hitsugaya. "Oh that's right, we're childhood friends aren't we? Funny thing friendship. Tell me Toshiro, since we're such good friends, what do you know of my family?"

"Your family?" Even if this was some sort of game, Hitsugaya hoped that Szayel would yield to his request if he played along. "You're parents, they were doctors, but they passed away, and you and your older brother were raised by your uncle."

"Yes, that sounds about right, well at least that's how the publicly known story goes," he grinned. "By any chance, do you know how my parents' death occurred?"

"… No."

"They were killed, by one of their patients. My parents you see, they were neurologists, who believed in old methods to cure psychologically ill, like lobotomies. One day one of their more … aggressive patients got out of his bindings. I heard he made a big mess."

Why did he have just a bemused look on his face as he said this? Hitsugaya resisted the urge to curl his lip in repulsion, "...I'm sorry to hear that," he said.

Szayel nodded, jutting out his lower lip in thought. "So, did you hear about my brother too?"

Hitsugaya stiffened, "I heard a little about it, but …"

"It didn't sound realistic, right?"

"Yes."

"Well, what you heard probably contained a sliver of truth. My brother really was murdered, and none to kindly I will add. And the one who did it was never caught."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Are you?" Szayel's fingers glided along the cord that controlled the blinds. "I'm not," he tugged the blinds closed, blocking Hitsugaya's view into the room. "I didn't want to go to jail."

oOo

oOoOoOo

oOo

Senna

"I would like to welcome you all the Euterpe," Rukia's voice had a pleasant timbre and the words she spoke flowed evenly, forming unfaltering sentences that she graced with amiable smiles. "Not to be too sure of myself," she continued adding a short tinkling laugh, "I believe that there are many questions that I need address in light of my recent divulgence. I assure you that there will be opportune time for those questions later but currently Euterpe is scheduled to give the summer concert and I would not like to be the cause for any further delay."

No

"So, to now proceed onto the main event of this night, I shall begin the introduction to our concert."

This isn't going like I wanted

"The summer has allowed us to mature and nurture our musical talents as well as friendships with students just like us. Friendships we may have never been able to form if not for this event."

Stop!

"For this, we thank you, our benefactors, our teachers, our family."

Stop acting like you're the one in control!

"So, as our time draws to a grand close and we give our final performance, I pray that the memories made here are of the greatest kinds, the enjoyable ones that are meant to last forever."

But I will be the one to be victorious.

Senna banged her fist upon the stand behind her, stop acting so calm!

oOo

oOoOoOo

oOo

Rukia

Rukia was feeling anything but calm, but she hoped this didn't come across in her expression or words. She continued to spout whatever came to her mind, a conglomerate, restructured performance of all the past introductions from all her previous concerts.

Ichigo, could he see her now? It shouldn't have mattered, but just the thought that his brown eyes were upon her, watching her ever move quelled her fluttering heartbeat.

She heard Senna hit something behind her with a dull thud but ignored it and continued speaking. Inside her head though, Rukia felt an insuppressible satisfaction.

Hahahahahaha take that cow!

She would buy herself some time and when the time came to face the questions, she would be ready, just not at this moment. Ha, I make it through this yet.

oOo

oOOoOo

oOo

Senna

I hate her

I hate her even more than I thought possible

"Fine, fine," Senna muttered, she pulled out her phone, "let Rukia have her last few moments where she can still hold her head high." She typed two words into her phone, her finger hovering over the send button.

"Rukia," Senna called, halting the introduction and diverting the attentions of the crowd. "One question, just one question before we begin," she spoke into her own microphone, coming to stand near Rukia.

"You'll grant me just one right?" she put on her best smile. "I mean after all, you did drop quite the surprise on everyone."

Rukia frowned, "That is fine," she said, continuing in her calming voice from earlier.

Senna let her smile widen, "Ah, you are as kind as always Kuchiki Rukia, so," their eyes locked level with each other's but neither showed any sign of backing down. "May I ask the question that is burning on everyone's tongue, what were you hoping to hide by dressing as a boy"

Rukia's eyes narrowed a fraction, but she didn't divert her eyes. "I'm not sure what you're-"

"You began to dress as a boy because you had something you were trying to hide."

"Wha-"

"And the convenient timing of it all, how ideal that you decided to take up a new identity … just days after the investigation of the murder of that lady reopened." Senna hit the send button on her phone. Do it.

"What are you talking about?" Rukia's voice had returned to its normal tones, a deeper, even threatening quality.

Finally, finally, she had broken through Rukia's defense.

"How great was the guilt you felt that you had to hide from the world?"

"What-"

"Maybe you need a little something to jumpstart you memory," Senna glanced upward. The light from the overhead projector flickered and an image was magnified hundreds of times of the white wall behind the band.

Even with the uneven textures of the wall, Rukia recognized the person immediately. It was the lady that frequently visited in her thoughts, the one that had created many of her childhood dreams. Rukia's lips parted and she uttered a single name, "Masaki."

oOo

oOoOoOo

oOo

Ichigo

"Ha … hahaha," Ichigo slapped a hand against his forehead. "You have got to be kidding me. Are you serious right now? I dropped the concert and flew from China to the U.S., got smashed by dozens of suitcases and dealt with handfuls of annoying people just to come home and find out you called me here ... because the twins got colds?"

The message Ichigo had received was that the twins, his younger sisters, had been taken ill by a terrible sickness and had been sent to the hospital for an indefinite period of time. Ichigo's heart had dropped reading these words and he had arranged for the earliest flight home.

He had arrived home to find that the twins were indeed gone, but they were out on a camping trip with their class. The sickness they had come down with was the common cold. One visit to the hospital visit later, along with some bed rest and cold medicine and his sisters were as lively as always.

And let's not forget gone, not even home.

His dad's secretary had looked ready to kill. It looks like his dad hadn't told her the truth either. She had dropped Ichigo off at his house, with a loud sigh of, "I'll let you take care of him."

Ichigo currently had his father in a headlock, as he shouted at the top of his lungs in the middle of the living room of his house. "What kind of brother are you?" his father managed to gasp out. "Your precious sisters were sick and you didn't want to be by their side?"

"They're not even home old man! They're already over their colds, were they even sick in the first place? Eh?"

He had turned down Rukia, missed what ever chance she had been offering to her ... just on some over reaction by his father? If that man hadn't been his father ... well the goat chin didn't know it, but he should just be glad he was related to Ichigo.

His father managed to free himself, jumping a good five feet away and raising his fists, ready to spar. "What can I say, they have my resilient genes, unlike some delinquent son of mine. But they're my precious daughters, we have to guard them with the utmost care."

"When I got the chicken pox, you sent me to the mountains by myself," Ichigo blocked his father's punch.

"I couldn't have you infecting your adorable sisters."

"I was seven years old!"

"Don't be such a pansy!" Isshin managed to land a hit on his son, flooring him.

Ichigo groaned, "Haha, another win," Isshin towered above him, "You're too soft."

The orange haired teen kicked the older man's limbs out from under him and Isshin landed flat on his back with a loud thud near Ichigo. "Ouch, well played."

"Shut up."

Isshin attempted to grab Ichigo in a headlock and his son punched him square in the nose. "Ow, that was a good one," Isshin wheezed.

He rubbed his nose, "So boy," Ichigo's father said, "Was there something important, some reason you wanted to be at Euterpe?"

"No."

"Really?"

"Yes."

Isshin stuck out a finger, prodding Ichigo in the side of the head, "Come on, come on, you can tell me."

"Leave me alone, I have to figure out what I should do now."

"Is it a girl?"

Ichigo lay still on the dark hardwood floor, staring upwards. Rukia, what was she doing right now?

Did she notice he was gone?

If she did … did she miss him?

"Hey," his father sat up, "Everyone once in awhile it's best to take a step back from the situation and take another look at it."

"What are you talking about old man?"

"Nothing really," his father sighed loudly, taking to his feet. "But son, you should take this time away from Euterpe to sort yourself out before your return tomorrow night."

"Wha … what the heck are you talking about?" Ichigo looked up, craning his neck to watch his father walk away. "And what do you mean return tomorrow?"

Isshin reached into his pocket, pulling out a fold white envelope. He threw it at Ichigo, the teen caught it midair. He sat up, slipping a finger under the top of the envelope and slitting it open. He pulled out the plane ticket inside, "What's this?"

"That's yours," Isshin said. "Go take care of what you need to. I'll support whatever you decide to do."

"Dad …"

"And you better be gone by tomorrow, you're making the house all dreary with your stupid moping."

"Thanks."

"What was that?" Ichigo knew his father had heard him

"Nothing," he laid back down on the ground, in the middle of the floor. Rukia, will you be there to welcome me when I get back? Were you about to open up to me? Tell me who you really are?

"Rukia," he said softly. He pulled his phone from his pocket, hitting the power button. Patience urged him to wait as it powered up. Nothing, nothing from Tamako, Rukia, not a single text. "Rukia or Tamako, I don't care who you pretend to be, I just want to hear the truth from your lips so I can tell you what I need to get of my freakin' chest already!"

oOo

Ichigo had one hand shoved into the pocket of his blue jeans and the other held the handle of his bag, slung over his shoulder. The heel of one his black boots tapped in irritation and he glanced at his Rolex once more. Time was still moving, but he wasn't. He stood in the middle of the large line in the airport, screaming children behind him and gabbing women in front. The ladies fluttered their long lashes in his direction and flashed him their best smiles.

Ichigo pulled the sunglasses from the collar of his white v-neck and slid the aviators on. He hit play on his iPod, tucking his ear buds into place. The music drowned out the chatter around him, and he allowed himself to drop further into his own thoughts.

Too far away for him to touch, too far away for him to hear or even see …

What was that girl doing?

Kuchiki Rukia …

"Sir, sir," someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned his head slowly to look at the woman behind him, "Uh, the line …"

There was a gap in the line before him, "Right," he said shortly, in an almost automatic manner. He closed the space, ready to zone out once more but someone caught his eye. Turning quickly, Ichigo whipped his glasses off. He was almost certain he had seen her, but … there was no way that would be possible. She was hundreds of miles away right now. Rukia, it couldn't have been her … yet.

He looked once more in the direction the petite, raven-haired girl had gone and shook his head. Perhaps he did want to see her more than he was willing to admit. He hadn't been away from her for more than three days and his mind was already making illusions of her.

"I must be going nuts," he muttered softly. Ichigo melded back into his absent thoughts, running with almost autopilot like movements as he was checked through security.

He glanced at his watch once more, he still had an hour before he could board. What to do now? It took longer than he had wanted, but Ichigo managed to find a seat in one of the less populated sections of seats. He leaned his head against the plastic back of the seat.

Rukia

His fingertips tapped on the seat back and he tsked loudly. Reaching into his bag, he pulled out the digipad. It had been awhile since his penpal had written him. The screen had been blank and silent. He didn't expect today to be any different. The light flickered after he touched the power button and the blank, white screen shone before him. Something was different this time.

Up in the upper right hand corner was a black arrow, pointing to the left. Underneath it the pixilated numbers read, 20m. He extended his index finger, tapping at the arrow. The screen offered no response and the arrow remained the only item on the white expanse.

"What is this," he prodded the icon a few more times. "Something twenty meters away?" he looked up and left. The only thing in that direction was a wall, about ten meters away. "Is that the location of other digipad perhaps?"

He got to his feet, holding the digital screen aloft before him. "Sure," he said, as if speaking to the arrow, "I have time to burn."

As he walked, the number below the arrow began to decrease.

15m away

12m away

He was at the wall he had seen earlier. Ichigo glanced around the corner of the small room. The wooden door was closed and a rather boastful sign read, Private.

"A private waiting room," Ichigo inched closer to the door. Ah, it was actually open.

Tempting?

8m away.

Ichigo put a hand on the doorknob, pushing lightly on the door. Yes, too tempting.

He slowly peeked into the room, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dim interior. The only light inside came from a crack in the long white curtains. Golden light from outside streamed inwards, creating long shadows on the polished floor. Inside was a collection of cushy looking chairs, polished wooden side tables and a large basket of assorted fruits and snacks on the middle coffee table.

But, he saw no sign of the other digipad, nor another person. "What nonsense are you telling me?" Ichigo scoffed at the digital arrow.

"What nonsense?"

Ichigo nearly dropped the digipad. His head jerked upward. Apparently the room was not as empty as he had first assessed it to be. A single person stood near the very corner of the room, as if she had been looking out the window. She smiled gently at him, "Oh my that was rather startling wasn't it?"

The slender woman was angelic like, the gold beams creating a glowing aura about her. Her round face was turned sideways in his direction and her hands were clasped before her. Ichigo swallowed, feeling an unexplainable draw to this mysterious woman. He walked slowly, further into the room, stopping to waver five feet away from the woman.

Not it wasn't just her appearance, something about this woman was bewitching.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to barge in here," Ichigo mumbled, looking up at the petite lady. Her inky black hair was cut short, fanning out about her neck. She wore a dark maroon dress that contrasted greatly with the pale, alabaster color of her skin. Her eyes were a dark blue color, framed by thick black lashes.

Ichigo's heart tinged, was he just imaging things or did this woman resemble her just a bit too much?

"It's fine," she smiled. "I was just lost in a memory."

He took another step closer, "Excuse me, but I was just wondering if I knew you?" No, Ichigo didn't even need to ask, he knew that he had seen her before.

"Know me? Well, if it helps, my name is Hisana," she held out her hand. "Nice to meet you."

"Hisana?" he finally came to stop right beside her. He took her petite hand in his large one, "My name is Kurosaki Ichigo."

"Kurosaki?" her eyes raked through his hair. "I should have known. You resemble her after all."

Ichigo frowned, "Resemble who?"

"Your mother of course, Kurosaki Masaki."

oOo

oOoOoOo

oOo

Senna

"Wha-what are you talking about?" Rukia's voice was barely audible.

Senna raised her eyebrows, as if in honest curiosity. "That's not an answer," she said.

"I don't know what you think you're trying to say right now," Rukia attempted to push the microphone down, away from the range of being able to pick up her words. "Why … why are you talking about M-masaki?"

"Rukia," she said, "I can't seem to find any reason for a perfectly normal girl to disguise herself as a boy for a whole year and try and forge a new identity for herself. Except when there is something she wishes to bury along with her old identity."

"Let's discuss this la-"

"And the timing of the beginning of this whole façade of yours, it was almost too convenient," her sly smile stretched ear to ear. "Did you know that Kemuri Masaki's death was no accident?"

Senna could see the tension settling into Rukia's face.

Not an accident? If not an accident that meant …

Victory, Rukia had danced right to her tune.

Senna continued, "The case was reopened, as a murder investigation," her voice was almost a whisper, "It was reopened almost a year ago … around the same time you disappeared as Kuchiki Rukia and began to live as Itsuwari Tamako."

Rukia's eyes were heavy with depression but she looked up at Senna and anger flared out from those mauve irises.

Time for finishing piece.

"And Rukia," Senna wrapped an arm about the other girl, pressing her cheek lightly against the other girls. "As far as I can tell, you never heard about who Masaki married. You forever knew her as Kemuri Masaki but after she married she took on the last name … Kurosaki."

The bombshell had an even more grandiose effect than Senna had imagined. Rukia's body shivered as she drew in a shaky breath and her slender body slid to the ground. She kneeled before Senna, her eyes gazing upwards, defeated. "I-Ichigo?"

"Yes, Masaki's son is Kurosaki Ichigo."

oOo

oOoOoOo

oOo

Ichigo

"You knew my mother?"

"Yes, I knew Masaki," Hisana said, "she used to be very close with my family, when my sister and I took piano lessons with her."

"Well, I don't know if you were aware," Ichigo felt his hands begin to shake and he placed one atop the other to steady himself. "But she passed away years ago in a car accident."

"Yes," Hisana murmured, "I heard of her passing and I'm sorry for your loss."

"No, it is fine, I have come to terms with her passing," Ichigo eyes darkened just the slightest, and a wave of emotion washed over his face. Clearing his throat, and forcing a weak attempt at a smile he steered the conversation from his own sadness. "Can I ask what brings you here today?"

"Ah," Hisana smiled. "I am on my way to visit my sister."

"Rukia?" Ichigo almost shouted.

Me FIRST!

Collecting himself, he placed a hand palm side on the arm of the nearby couch and tried to casually carry on the conversation. "So, uh go and see your sister huh? Your sister, Rukia that is."

"Yes, it's a surprise visit."

"That's great, great."

I really want to see her …

Hisana gazed at the desperate face of the boy before her and felt a guilt assault her heart. It wouldn't be wise to have those two meet up. Yet …

"Ah, I believe boarding is soon," Hisana said. She picked up something from the windowsill and started walking towards him.

"That digipad!"

"Oh," Hisana stopped, holding up the digital device. "So, it's called a digipad?"

"Yeah," he looked down at his own. The arrow flashed, pointing straight ahead.

"I see," Hisana nodded, "I'm not immersed in the latest technology, in fact I only discovered how to turn on this thing today."

"Today?" had he heard her correctly? "But aren't you the one that I've been talking to for …"

She blinked, "Talking to?"

"Never mind …"

"This doesn't actually belong to me," Hisana said. "My brother accidentally grabbed it and brought it with him the last time he was visiting our sister. So, I'm just bringing it with me to return it."

Brother, right, that would be Kuchiki Byakuya, visiting their sister … "Wait, the one I've been talking to is Rukia?"

oOo


I hope everyone is feeling the "DUN DUN DUN and so the plot thickens" vibe right now :)

Let me know your thoughts!