Title: The Familiar Stranger
Genre: Romance/Drama
Rating: M
Summary: An assassin was trained not to hesitate to kill. How could he had second thoughts in killing her, someone he has never met? Why did she call him Ichigo when he had a different name? Who was she? And why was
she so familiar to him?

Chapter I: The Chance Encounter

I, Quince, had one and only one job to do and I always did it right. Get in. Finish it. And get out unnoticed. It had always been like that for the last hundred years. Not that I that had grown tired of such repetitive work. But, I could not find the reason that I hesitated to kill her that night. I would have gotten rid of her the way I always did with all the witnesses: with stealth.

Maybe I should have waited for the assigned target to blow out his lantern. But then, the man was old and sickly. He was a nuisance to soul society that Central 46 needed to dispose of him no matter what. I could kill him with my hands tied behind my back. Still, I had no reason to wait for her, his vice-captain, to enter the room before I killed him. Moreover, I would have pierced his throat without hesitation despite her staring at me.

Even more, I should have killed her along with her captain.

She gazed at me for a long time. Her deep amethyst eyes seemed to search my very own. I swallowed a lump on my throat. I gave her the same look. She took a step closer but, I stepped back. She smirked. This woman had just gotten the better of me.

"So," she chuckled, "are you going to kill me too?" Her small frame was opposite her forceful aura. Somehow, she knew that I could not bring myself to kill her. She took another step closer. However, this time, I was too stunned to move. I snapped myself out of it. No cheap tactics were going to work on me.

"We'll just see, shinigami," I replied. I flash stepped and pinned her to the wall with my bear hands. I told myself that I should enjoy killing her. After all, it's been awhile since I killed someone just for the heck of it. I planned to slit her throat with the dagger in my hakama. I looked at her intently. I smirked. Who's in control now?

"You think you scare me?" she replied confidently, "go ahead, make my day."

I ground my teeth. No woman dare played with me. I chuckled. She just made it more interesting than it already was. I thought to myself that if I was going to kill her anyway, why not toy her a little bit. It wasn't my first time playing with someone and then killing her at the height of ecstasy. Having fantasized on those ideas, I decided to go through with it.

What could possibly go wrong?

I invaded her mouth with my own. My tongue explored. I expected her to struggle, but instead she twined her tongue with mine. She entered my mouth and did the same thing. Maybe she figured that if she was going to die why not end it with a bang. Our lips pressed and our breaths mingled. She had already lost that heartless look in her eyes.

My hands were longer restraining her movement. They were already unraveling her shihakishou. I began massaging her ample bosoms. She started moaning beneath our kisses. I pressed harder, both my tongue and hands. Her arms wrapped around me. She just gave me the signal. I glided my lips down her neck and began planting my lust on her shoulders.

"Shinigami," I grumbled between my kisses.

"It's not shinigami," she said alternating with moans, "it's Kuchiki Rukia."

I grunted as I continued tasting her breasts. She was no longer as invulnerable as before. My right hand explored the rest of her body. I slid it down her abdomen making her shiver. I moved down underneath her hakama until I felt her wetness. She slid down my robe. I began feeling her with my right hand. She moaned ecstatically.

"Please don't," she breathed in my hair, "Ichigo…"

She called me again by that name, a name I am not familiar with. I did not realize immediately that she referred to me by that name. I stopped and gazed into her eyes. It wasn't desire that echoed there but sadness. I released her from my hold and I turned away from her. I put back my shitagi and wiped my mouth. I could no longer look her in the eyes. I stepped away and turned my back towards her. I could not bear to break a creature like her. I just could not bring myself to kill her.

"Wait," she shouted, "Ichigo!"

I stormed out of the room. I sensed that she tried to follow me because she screamed again that name. It was first time I heard that name to be honest. Could she have mistaken me for someone else? Or did she know me by that name? It didn't matter because the next time I would see her, I vowed that I would have the resolve to finish what I should have done.

I was an assassin, after all. Stalking was as natural as breathing. I was trained not only to kill but to kill without second thoughts. It bothered me so much that I hesitated that night. So much that I tried to remember if I had ever interacted with her in past; any reason that had caused me to hesitate. Sadly, everything about a hundred years prior was too hazy to even recall. It was like I had wiped out something in my head yet I could not pinpoint what it was.

However, I had more pressing matters at hand.

Protocol dictated that I eliminate her as soon as possible. Central 46 forbade me to have individuals know my existence, moreover see my face. However, denying that I was interested in her calling me with a name aside from Quince is impossible. Something inside me ticked to find what reason there was. So, I followed her around Soul Society.

Perhaps, it was a mistake on my part that I was discovered. I had already been investigating her five days. I was surprised that when I hid behind the fusuma to her quarters, she declared that she was aware of my presence. Still, I did not respond and remained motionless.

"Come out," she demanded, "I know where you're hiding."

I kept quiet and clenched my zanpaktou. I was prepared to attack. I continued to observe her. She had just prepared afternoon tea and she poured it into two cups.

"Come out," she said again, "I prepared o-cha."

I made no sound.

"I thought you were going to kill me."

I finally gave in. I showed myself to her. I could not let her win over me again. I walked towards the table she prepared. I gave her threatening look. No funny business. She smiled and offered me to sit. Instead, I clenched my teeth and unsheathed my katana.

"So, are you going to kill me with that thing?" she chuckled.

"Don't mess with me, woman," I replied.

In frustration, I pointed my sword to her throat. I focused all my hatred with the look I gave her. However, her resolve did not waver a bit. My hands began to shake. My determination to kill her was faltering.

"I'm wait—ing," she answered playfully.

I brought the blade closer to her neck. She swallowed a lump on her throat. I was expecting more teasing from her. When I looked at her again, I was surprised that she was at the brink of tears. However, I knew at the depths of my soul that her teardrops were not a materialization of her fears. It meant something deeper, something more painful. And I itched to find the reason.

"So, tell me, woman," I said, "who is this Ichigo you speak of?"

She did not respond but looked at me sternly.

I repeated my question. "Tell me or else,"

She was still silent.

This time, I growled, "tell me and I might have second thoughts of killing you…"

I did not care if she was playing me on the palm of her hand. The curiosity was already killing me slowly within. At that moment, I would have given anything to find out the answer to my question. I lost grip of my zanpaktou and fell on my knees. I wailed and buried my face in my palms. The situation had gone out of my control.

"Please tell me," I pleaded desperately, "I beg you."

"Just kill me now, Ichigo," her voice quivered. I looked back at her. She was no longer the invulnerable woman moments ago. She had broken into tears. She cried, "I'm sorry. It was my entire fault. I couldn't do anything. I had no other choice. Please kill me now. You deserve justice. "


"Because I was the one that killed you,"

Author's Notes: After almost two years of not updating, I write this! Yehey! This fiction is pure indulgence (for me). I ran out of 'smutty' manga to read. It's my first time writing such mature themes so, I look forward to your criticism.

*Fusuma- A japanese sliding door
*Hakama- Shinigami uniform pants
*Shihakishou- Attire Shinigami uniform
*O-cha- Green Tea