Thankful

AN: Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

After Rukia had warmed up, he had let her go. Together they had started the walk home. The outlet store was a mere few blocks away from the house, so they had walked there earlier instead of bugging Isshin for a ride. It was almost 6:00, and dinner was surely almost ready. Soon they'd be home for a nice Thanksgiving meal, thanks to little Yuzu.

But things rarely worked out that smoothly. It had snowed the day before, which was a bit unusual for November. In any case, the snow wasn't that deep.

But when it started raining, things went south. Ice and snow made slush, which although cold and unpleasant, wasn't exactly hazardous. But the lightning that accompanied rain was, especially when a bolt of it hit a major power grid.

Halfway through the walk home, the power in Karakura town, and in a few neighboring cities went out. Needless to say they weren't happy.

"Do we keep walking?"

"In the dark? I don't think so."

"We're almost there." Ichigo protested.

"It's getting dark out. It's freezing and raining, and neither of us have cell phones with us." Rukia laughed harshly, "And you want to walk home?"

"It's only a few more blocks. And if we walk fast we can get home before dark. And get dinner."

"Suit yourself. But I'm not going to risk my ass just so you can get home in time for dinner." Rukia told him.

"So you're scared?"

"No!"

"Then why are you freaking out? It'll be fine!"

"Fine! Let's go!" She sighed in exasperation.

The snow and ice had melted together to make a cold mixture that sank deep into their shoes after awhile. It wasn't long until they were by a street that they recognized as being close to the Kurosaki Clinic.

That's when Rukia's hollow detector went off.

"Right now?" Ichigo demanded.

"No, not right now. My hollow detector's just chirping at me for no reason."

"Really?"

"No! It's this way!" And with that she dashed into a side street, leaving him chasing after her.

The hollow was small, but Rukia immediately noted its intense spiritual pressure. Ichigo felt weird watching her fight it. He couldn't even see it.

Only he kinda could. He could see a few flashes of color, a shiny and distorted surface to one section of air.

'Does that mean my powers aren't completely gone? Just really weak?' He wondered hopefully.

Nel had lost her powers, and she had them back. She had gotten smaller and childlike because her powers had recessed back into her body.

He hadn't turned into a little kid but that didn't mean something similar hadn't happened.

"Ahhh! Damn it!" "Rukia!" He cursed himself for not watching the fight. Then again it's not like he could have done anything anyways.

She had a wound along her side, and although it didn't look serious, it seemed that it caused her quite a bit of discomfort.

"Here! Let's get you home!" It was dark now, and colder still. They were still close to home. He was sure they could make it back.

"Yeah! We don't want to scare Yuzu to death." Rukia winced and started following him back home. Ichigo noted with some distaste that she was really falling behind.

"You still back there?"

"Yeah."

"Hurry up then."

"I'm trying!" Ichigo frowned and turned to look at her.

"Just how injured are you?" He looked at her torn clothes and still there wasn't much blood.

"I'm not cut badly. That's not the problem. I just feel strange." She told him.

"Strange how?" He wondered curiously.

"Just strange. I feel like my body is very tired."

"Maybe you should sit down a minute." Ichigo took hold of her elbow, and guided her to sit down. She held herself in an awkward way, and seemed clumsy.

"What did he hit you with?"

"His tail. And it stung, but it didn't hurt that bad. It's weird though because I felt my skin tingle where he cut it. I'm wondering if it were some kind of poison."

"Do you know that for sure?"

"No." She sighed. "But I really suspect that's the case."

"Well then we should take you to Urahara's. He'll be able to help."

"That'll take forever. Especially since it's dark now."

"Well we need to do something. First I need to tell my dad. He'll be worried about us. He can even give us a lift there." Ichigo thought aloud.

"Okay." Rukia nodded. "But I don't want to walk. That'll speed up whatever's in my system." Ichigo nodded, and picked her up gingerly. She felt incredibly light, and yet tense. She had trouble holding onto his neck. He frowned and wondered just how ill she was.

It was hard walking in the dark, but he had walked in the areas around his house so often that he knew the way. He was worried about her, but he had to admit that he loved how her small body felt nestled in his arms. Even though she was tiny, his arms hurt a little bit by the time he set her down on the couch.

Yuzu was frantic, and the smell of food was strong in the air. It looked like it had barely been touched, and Ichigo felt bad for worrying everyone.

Karin even seemed worried. Isshin quickly whisked Rukia into the car, and within a few minutes they were at the Urahara shop.

"She definitely has been poisoned. The posion creates drowsiness, and weakness. Eventually it will paralyze her. Luckily, antidotes are Tessai's specialty." Urahara sat Rukia down on a spare cot. Tessai was already playing around with various cures.

It took a while to find an antidote that Tessai was certain would work. She was given the medicine. They were told that she would perk up after a few minutes.

The power was still off, and Ichigo knew that many workers would be out trying to fix it. Yuzu and Karin were at home, and Isshin swung by and got them after a short while. They brought dinner for everyone.

It was cold, and dark, but as they ate in the dark, Ichigo finally felt hopeful. His powers were weakened greatly, but they were still there inside him.

They were his for strengthening. For improving. And even though he had to start all over again, he really didn't care. He already had what was important.

When the antidote kicked in and Rukia came to, he knew that he was truly thankful this Thanksgiving. She was on his side, when he was strong and when he was weak. Ichigo may not now what he should do with his life, or who to be, but he knew that this complex little woman was going to a be a key piece to whatever he did.

He needed someone reliable to hold onto, and for him, that was Rukia.