Hello. I'm so sorry if I forgot about this story. I haven't been updating and I don't have any excuse to that. Hopefully, you'd like this chapter…well…I'd also like to say that the story is nearing its end…

Anyway, before we go to that, let me thank the following first: onlyluna, XLightningX, XBlueSkyX, yume girl 91, Polaris-Sakura, sunlightangels, Hitsugaya Rani and satomika.

By the way, uhm…there is no Orihime in this chapter but in the following ones, she'll be back…

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.

It was the burial day and reporters hovered the private place, wanting to hear some statement coming from Ulquiorra who reportedly owned that orphanage. Though she was not invited to join the rites, Rukia attended still.

She noticed how he stood by a small group, the ones she met at the hospital. With the ceremony over, she made it a point to leave discretely, without being noticed by Ulquiorra. After all, she just wanted to be there in quiet support.

She had denied herself the warmth of being with him once more and thus she wanted to keep him now…to make up for the lost times if only he would allow her that.

"So, I heard about you," a deep voice called her attention and she immediately spun to see the stocky man from the hospital room.

"Oh…hi, ahm," she started awkwardly, not knowing what to talk about.

"I heard about Kira Ryuzaki you know…heard a lot about it from T.V. some years back," he continued while Rukia paled. Is he going to put the blame on her? She sought for escape from that but the man continued, noticing how she paled at it. "I'm not going to blame you or whatnot. After all, it was in the past."

"So then…"

"But more importantly, before that happened, I heard you were his girl."

"I was," she agreed and forced a smile. "It appears, you care for him a lot."

He nodded. "I kept tab on his life just in case…I saw how happy he was back then…and after he returned here, he was a changed man…I somehow hope, whatever happened, you both could repair it. I want that boy, the one we knew as Kira, I want him to be happy at the very least."

Rukia forced a smile once more before asking. "Why are you telling me those?"

He leaned at the nearby tree where she was staying a while ago. His left hand brought a small packet of cigarette and lit one. "Me, Apache and the rest are…leaving. He does not know about our plan and we don't intend to let him know about it. He had helped us a lot…but with our background, we know we could and would just ruin the name he is starting to establish here as well as the name he has in Europe."

"You wish to protect him," she concluded and a deep sense of respect arose from inside her towards this man.

"It's what we always did since his bitch of a mother raised her hands on him."

That part about his past was something Rukia wished to know. When she was still with him, he refused to talk about that part of his life. All he told her was he was working under an illegal organization. Despite his scary face, he managed to give a soft smile towards Rukia. "You must mean a lot to him because he came back for you – no matter how he does it."

At that, she gave a bitter smile. "He came for revenge," she stated, her tone even sounded like it. "For betraying him, his trust…and for a baby – our supposed to be child."

"If he wanted revenge, then I'm pretty sure, he would not keep you by his side," he offered his opinion as he puffed smoke before leaning away. "I expect a lot from you girl."

"I'm not a girl. The name is Rukia."

This time, he grinned. "Sure. Man, Mila Rose would have liked you had she met you earlier. Don't mention about our plan to him."

She nodded. "I won't. I promise. Do you need anything before you go? Maybe I could help in a little way," she offered but he shook his head.

"We wouldn't want any money. Apache and Cullhourne had saved a lot for all of us so that should be enough. You really seem like a nice woman to me and I am sorry about your brother."

She smiled wanly. It still hurts to remember about that. "Thanks," she whispered and opened the car where her driver was waiting for her to step in. Somewhere, a man lighting his smoke called his boss.

.

.

.

"You did not even talk to her," Neliel spoke to Ulquiorra in low whisper after the casket was laid down. The man turned at his friend and gave him a questioning look.

"Who?"

"Rukia was here," it was Mashiro who informed him as they all now made their way to their respective cars.

The reaction was genuine as Ulquiorra looked surprise, his head moving around to find the woman who kept on plaguing his dreams. But she's nowhere to be found so he gave Mashiro and the rest a dubious look.

"She left already," Mashiro said with a shrug, not afraid at the glare he was giving her. Her arms were linked with Kensei who was walking stiffly as if he's on military training.

"I see," he only muttered. Then his eyes caught a car parked at a distance, one man leaning on it, giving him a small wave of the hand as if taunting him. Immediately, his eyes sharpened as he stopped on his tracks making the others look at him before following the direction of his eyes.

Grimmjaw's face darkened while Neliel suddenly paled, her hands immediately grabbing Grimmjaw's arms for support. Only Mashiro, Shinji and Kensei looked clueless.

"That bastard," Grimmjaw hissed, anger apparent in his face while Ulquiorra's face remained impassive, giving the man an unfathomable look.

"Who is he?" Shinji asked with curiosity.

"Nnoitra Jiruga," Ulquiorra answered and shifted his gaze, his feet started moving. However, his mind reeled. He finally showed himself huh? Perhaps he heard from television already…unconsciously, his hands fisted as he opened his car and stepped in while Grimmjaw and Nel followed.

Kensei, Mashiro and Shinji did not enter their car first and tried to make out the face of the man. Of course, they knew the name. they knew all about Ulquiorra so the name is not new to them…he was the man who introduced Ulquiorra in the underworld, the man who framed him up as well…

"Looks like he finally appeared eh?" Kensei muttered, unconsciously holding Mashiro tightly, not wanting to let her go.

"Things are going to get messy from this point on," Shinji said and entered his car.

Ulquiorra's head snapped and turned to Neliel. "You said Rukia was here?" he asked while cursing inside. "Damn."

Reaching for his mobile, he immediately contacted the woman, while fear inside started to resurface. Damn, but he was being careless lately. He forgot that Nnoitra would always use any means to get to him and what better way than Rukia.

"Hello?"

He was not aware he sighed in relief upon hearing her voice. It shocked him to even realize that he does not want Rukia to be harmed in any way especially in the hands of Jiruga.

Noticing his silence, she spoke again. They parted ways badly the other day after they came out from the hospital and from then, he did not make any attempts to contact her or even see her because he was busy with the arrangement of Mila Rose and the others' burial. And she did not contact him as well, a fact he was aware of and used to since that was her way of sulking especially when mad.

"What is it?" she asked casually again.

"Nothing," he finally spoke while Grimmjaw rolled his eyes. Why can't Ulquiorra just admit that he still loves her? That way, it would avoid some necessary emotional conflicts inside him. Besides, Orihime would not count in the list already.

He doubted if Ulquiorra knew what she did at the party and if he did, Orihime lost her only chance with him. Knowing the man, he never tolerated anything especially hurting or in any way humiliating someone he cared and that would be Rukia.

"Oh,"

"Where are you right now?" he asked and leaned at the backseat, his mind not forgetting that wide grin Nnoitra was giving him. The man is up to something and he knew it.

"I'm on my way home."

She sounded so casual and curt, meaning, she is still annoyed at how their conversation the other day turned out. Not that he could blame her.

"I see. Kindly tell Yumi I'd be dropping by…" he said as an excuse.

At the other end, Rukia stared at her mobile in surprise. Did he just sound like Kira again? And what's the deal with him suddenly calling her? As far as she could remember, from the time he returned as Ulquiorra Schiffer, he never contacted her through her mobile.

"Uh, well, yeah sure," she stated.

And once again, she was surprised by his next statement. "Take care. Go home directly and be careful with strangers."

He sounded like a father giving advice to his son but somehow, she knew something was on his mind. He used to say this when they were dating especially on rare occasions when he was unable to fetch her from school and she had to wait for her driver to fetch her.

She really could not understand this man…one moment, he was okay, the next he was mocking her…

"Uh well, yeah sure."

"Good."

And the call was cut already while she was left there staring dumbfounded at it. What was that all about?

Grimmjaw gave an involuntary smirk at his friend through the rearview mirror while Neliel was so quiet, having to remember when she was about to be kidnapped by that man, Toussen.

"You really should hear yourself speaking…you sounded worried," the blue-haired commented.

"Hm."

"I want to pound that man to pieces, Ulquiorra, I haven't forgotten what I had to endure," Grimmjaw spoke seriously this time.

"There is no point talking about that now while he is still free to do what he wanted…your priority is your wife," he advised coolly this time, already relieved that Rukia is safe.

.

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.

Rukia was busy reading a magazine when he finally appeared, his eyes sought her first before finally greeting Yumi who was busy cleaning the figurines.

"Hi Yumi."

The old woman smiled. "Why, if it ain't my boy…I heard about those whom you took in…I'm sorry about them," she said sincerely.

He simply nodded and strolled towards Rukia. Ever since declaring to each other that they belong to each other, he always felt comfortable coming here – this place which held a lot of memories for him together with Yumi and Byakuya as well as Gin.

"I'd be preparing some food, you'd have your lunch here, yes?" she inquired.

"Sure."

And when out of sight, he bent down and pulled the woman towards him before giving her another torrid kiss while Rukia simply responded while at the back of her mind, she started wondering what kind of relationship they have now.

Ulquiorra is, after all, still engaged to Orihime.

With the kiss finally over, she was surprised yet again when he simply pulled her in his arms, him bending over her and she leaning towards him while seated on the couch.

"What's got into you?" she finally asked when she noted that it was alright to finally speak.

"Nnoitra is back…" he whispered before he finally released her and took a seat beside her. Rukia's eyes widened at the mention of the name.

"W-What?" she squeaked.

"He was at the cemetery," he informed her and Rukia realized he was worried. But Ulquiorra, worried about her? How much was true from what Yammy had said to her? Does he still care about her and not simply for revenge?

If that is so, wouldn't that explain why he suddenly acted out of the ordinary? She wasn't dealing with Ulquiorra but with Kira once more…and it surprised her that the man could be both at the same time…the man she loved before and the man right next to her this time…

"W-Why are you…" her voice trailed off. She wanted to ask why he's acting weird like he's worried over her but she can't find the courage so she chose to ask something different. "What do you plan to do now?"

She was aware of how his features flexed in quiet anger. "Find him and make him pay. That's one reason why I came back here. And of course, you as well…"

"Your vengeance huh?" she whispered, hurt about it. He is back to being rude. "As proven by the tattoo you left me."

He was quiet for a moment before he leaned on the couch. If only she knew…but how could she when even he was not aware of the real reason why he wanted her still…

He opened his eyes when he felt her looking at him with question. Then she spoke. "I'm still the Rukia you knew…despite everything that happened…so I wish…you can be that man once again…"

Her smile was full of regret as she took the courage to speak her mind. "I've always wanted for us to talk like real matured people…for me to know more about what happened to you in the past five years without having to argue about what I did…I hope we can still do that…"

He could see the pain she hid for so long suddenly etching her face as if she found the right moment to strip all of her pretense and show how she still feels…he wondered why he blamed her for their child's death…

She too had been suffering…it struck him now that she had always been suffering…

He gave a small smile and closed his eyes once more. For once, he forgot about what happened five years ago as he reminisced on his time with her. "You've always been Rukia for me…" he said softly before pulling her down to him once more.

One truth was revealed to both of them that moment: they were not simply playing a game of possession. They also knew that they still feel the same way for each other…

And that fact would be what Nnoitra would use against him…