I DON'T OWN BLEACH

For BelletigerBt; I really hope you like it hun =D HUGS!

Antebellum is Latin for; Belonging to the period before a war

Antebellum

Chapter 1; Waking up in the Manor.

"Someone used her as a pin cushion..."

"The head wound... it's a bigger problem..."

"Ehhh, I'm not a problem." Ichigo's eyes open, the voices vanishing with a loud ringing sound in her ears. "Rukia?" she whispers leaning up in her bed a looking around the large empty room. "Am I in the Kuchiki manor?" But her eyes burn and drip with water forcing her to rub them with her fingertips. Once she can focus she rises from the small futon sleepily dragging her body toward the door. Lifting a hand to open the dark blue partition she stumbles and almost falls when the door opens. "Rukia?" Arms circle her waist, and before she can say another word, her toes leave the floor. "U-Um?" Looking up she is shocked to see dark blue eyes piercing into hers. "B-Byakuya!"

"Hello, Ichigo." His reply is low and calm, the shock on her face only slightly amusing as he carries her back to the futon. The moment she woke he could feel the vibrant wave of her reiatsu bringing a light feeling in his chest. "I expect Captain Unohana will arrive shortly. She will have many things to discuss with you."

"O-Ok?" she responds nervously as she is returned to bed. Since when does Byakuya call her Ichigo?But it seems like he has before... It's the weirdest thing. The last thing she remembers is...

"I will show you true despair..."

"Ulquiorra!" Scrambling from the bed she grabs Byakuya's arm, as the pain begins hammering at her head. "Inoue! Ishida! Where-?" Her head feels like it's splitting open, touching a hand to her head she suddenly realizes her hair is touching the floor. "M-My hair is long?"

"Please return to bed." he whispers placing a hand on her wrist. "Everything will be explained by Unohana-san." Slanting his eyes to her face he can see her pupils turning golden just for a brief moment then back to the warm amber he remembers. His throat goes dry at the sight of those pupils. Ichigo must not get upset, she needs to be eased back into things at a slow pace. But he is sympathic to her, the confusion is understandable. "You were in an accident."

"Fighting Ulquiorra? How did I get here?"

"Ulquiorra Cifer, the espada?" he shakes his head pointing a finger back to the frumpled bed. "Return to bed. And I will tell you what I know."

"Alright?" she says sticking her lower lip out. Since when does Byakuya care about her health? Plopping back down on the futon she folds her arms in front of her chest with a frown. Then she notices the shiny diamond ring on her finger. "Am I married?"

"Just say you will marry me and I'll be... so very happy."

"Not to you..." Ichigo stares at the diamond trying to remember the man who's voice echoes in her head. "It's..." It's impossible she can't make out a face, just shoes. Black boots. "not you."

"No." Byakuya is getting annoyed... very bothered by her constant questions and the pouty look on her face. "You were attacked. I brought you here to recover." The picture is starting to form in his mind. Ichigo can't remember... she can't remember anything before the Winter War of Aizen's uprising. "You were in a coma."

"I'm getting this really strange feeling. Like when you dream you go to school naked..."

"It must be from the head wound you received." Turning toward the door he is relieved to see Rukia and Unohana appearing in the doorway. He doesn't want to be the one to tell her. There isn't a cell in his body that wants to see the expression she will make. "I will leave it too you, imouto."

"Thank you, Nii-sama." Rukia says peeking in the door and looking at Ichigo's dazed look. "H-Hello Ichigo."

"Hey Rukia! Think you can get your brother to let me outta bed? I'm his prisoner!" Ichigo chuckles at the glance from the dark-haired noble.

"There seems to be some memory damage." Byakuya adds before drifting down the hallway and escaping her presence. That is typical Ichigo, she just hides all the real hurt coating it with jokes. "Must you wear the mask even now?"

"Why do you look so upset? I'm fine!" Ichigo stands up and pats Rukia on the back. "I just need to know a couple of things." she says lifting her hand up and showing the diamond. "Like... why can't I remember getting this?"

"Ichigo... a lot has happened since you have been asleep." Rukia takes a step back to allow Unohana-san to explain.

"Kurosaki-san..." Retsu lowers a hand to Ichigo's head and begins a healing kidou. "You have been in a coma for ten years."

"Ha..h-" she stops laughing and starts to think, really think about Byakuya's behavior and then the ring, and then her hair, and then... "I think I need to go..."

"You can not leave Soul Society yet." Unohana says giving Ichigo a smile.

"No... I-I have this bad feeling." The panic in her throat rises and she begins to sweat. Something is missing... gone, it's gone... it's just fucking GONE. "I need to see my family!"

"Kurosaki-san." Unohana puts a firm hand on Ichigo's shoulder. "The emptiness you feel is your reiatsu. Right now you are weak. Returning to the human world is impossible, for the moment."

"For the moment?" she stops and suddenly feels calmer. For the moment means it's not impossible and to Ichigo these are welcomed words.

~/~

Walking into his study Byakuya sits at his the large desk and lifts his pen to continue writing but the words don't come. Instead the memories that Ichigo has lost echo in his aching mind.

Flashback;

He is preparing for bed when he finds out. The black hell butterfly flutters into his room and circles his head waiting for his long finger to perch on. Pausing to listen, Byakuya Kuchiki's eyes grow wide in shock. Everyone is gathering, of course they would, this is Ichigo Kurosaki we are talking about. Re-tying his belt he grabs his haori and darts out the door. By the time he arrives it's already over, the captains are clearing out.

Rukia is there holding Ichigo's limp hand and shaking her head. No one can understand how this happened. Even through the pouring rain he is stunned at the amount of blood left in her wake as they carry her away.

"It looks like someone used her as a pin cushion." Renji says earning a strong smack from Rukia. "I don't get how anyone could sneak up on Ichigo."

"I'll have to call her boyfriend."

"Abarai is correct. The only way to harm Ichigo would be to deliberately hide your presence." Byakuya adds turning toward his sister and cringing inside at the tears on her face. "Why would anyone want to harm Ichigo?"

Since the Winter War and regaining her powers she has mastered the shinigami abilities. All of them except kidou, and to be honest no one is interested in teaching her. With her vast reiatsu it would likely rip apart an entire division just to train her in the basics. Dismissing the mental image, Byakuya returns to the manor only to be summoned again, this time by Rukia and Captain Unohana-san...

"Nii-sama! It's Ichigo! It's Ichigo..."

"Imouto, I will go."

End of Flashback;

"Ichigo... ten years is a lot to miss... and another three years is a lot to forget." For some reason he feels like finally grieving her loss. That after ten years of waiting for her eyes to open only to find out the three years after the war are missing is devastatingly horrible to Byakuya. If only he had been there, it would never have happened to her and he would still have had her around. But it was a simple mission to Rukongai and back. It never occurred to Byakuya that Ichigo would be hurt.

It never occurred to anyone...

Back in the guest room Ichigo is feeling tired. She is grateful that Rukia and Unohana have left and she can process everything they told her. Sliding open the outer door she tugs the thin blue yukata closer around her chest and sits on the porch. Exhaling a puff of air she watches her steamy breath fade in the cold night sky. Same sky, and moon, stars too. But then a gust of cold wind whips her long hair around the ends stinging at her face. "What am I gonna do with all this hair?" she says not expecting an answer.

"You should consider keeping it long." Byakuya says wrapping a blanket around her shoulders. Another gust of wind blusters the long orange locks and Byakuya lifts his hand up capturing a few strands through his fingers. "It's lovely."

"Oh, thanks." Ichigo tries not to startle at his attention, but it is so weird. Pulling the blanket closer around her neck she watches him sit down next to her. "Ok, why are you so nice to me? It's kinda freaking me out."

"Would you like me to leave?"

"N-No! I'm sorry!" Waving her hands in front of her face she looks back at the dark sky sprinkled with stars and sighs, "I guess... I'm used to..." Clearing her throat she tries to sound like him. "Kurosaki Ichigo... you are a brat. Leave my house at once before I cleave you in twain."

"I never threatened to cleave you in half."

"Haha! I know but really... Why do you suddenly seem... nice."

"My behavior isn't sudden. A lot happened after the war." he says unwilling to go into any details. After all this Ichigo isn't prepared to hear the truth. However he glances at her face and the very pronounced smirk and decides to burst her bubble a bit. "You and I became..." Byakuya says leaning toward her and tugging the blanket back over her shoulders. "friends."

"My god... how did that happen?" Ichigo blinks in shock watching his lips turn up into a smile. "Y-You are smiling... I didn't know you could smile! " She feigns dodging lightening from the sky. "It's a miracle or... a sign of impending doom."

"Nothing that extreme. It took a while." Shutting his eyes, the sounds and images, the deep patterns of orange swirl into one woman on a hill.

Flashback;

And he is there... running up that hill towards her swaying hair and the long black blade sticking in the ground. The relief that she lives streaks through his heart as his foot touches down on the ground next to her and the body.

"What have you done?"

"I killed him."

"I was his next target?" Standing over the man, Byakuya barely recognizes his face after the transformation.

"He told me he wouldn't stop until he destroyed everything you cared about." Pulling her sword from the ground, she starts to walk away only to feel a hand on her shoulder. "Don't tell me you are surprised I would protect you too? I protect all my friends."

"Since when are we friends Kurosaki Ichigo?"

"Oh. You are right." Holding out her blood covered hand she gives him a smile. "How about it, Captain Kuchiki? Friends?"

Kuchiki frowns at her tone until he looks in her eyesand sees the hint of water. It must have made Kurosaki sad to kill him, yet she did out of loyalty to the Gotei... to the Kuchiki clan and most of all to Byakuya. His hand moves on it's own, sliding inside hers, blood sinking into his fingerless gloves.

End of Flashback;

"Captain Unohana told me I might be able to get my memories back."

Clearing his thoughts he looks at the fragile woman sitting on his porch. "She did?" he says masking the hope in his voice. Is it unforgivable if he misses her? After what she has lost...

Thinking about himself has never been a sin before. But is it her heart that will be broken? Or his? Even though it's been so long, he can't help but want to have her back. Even at the price of the pain she will experience. Even if... Ichigo knows what happened while she slept.

But all those thoughts are pressed to the back of his mind. Instead he is thinking about how to protect her. The person who attacked her was never found, and Ichigo isn't the type to hide in his mansion and wait for Byakuya to find this attacker. "I will protect you, Ichigo."


I know this is different, but it's a very specific request. Give it a chance ok? A lot of mysteries in this one^^ I will answer them. I really hope... I don't get the comment Byakuya is Out of Character! I think I am explaining why he is different but still himself. I love you all and please be kind Fuzzi