A/N: Hi guys! tii-chan17 here and I've got my very first multi-chapter story! *cheers* I haven't done many fanfics before, so please be kind and DO NOT FLAME! But review...please? Constructive criticism accepted! I already have all the chapters up to Chapter 7 on my computer already, so I'll update fairly regurlarly, IF I GET REVIEWS! (Yes, I am blackmailing you. Deal with it. :P) Now, on with the stroy, but first, a short Disclaimer!

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or any of the characters in it. All credit goes to the completely awesome Kubo Tite.

Chapter 1

Thud.

Thud.

Thud.

Thud.

Thu—

"Shinji, will you stop banging your head on the wall, please. I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say it's immensely irritating."

Shinji scowled at Lisa, the cause of the interruption to his self-inflicted punishment.

"Look, I know you feel guilty and all, but seriously, when are going to stop blaming yourself and acknowledge the fact that there was nothing you could do short of physically restraining her and causing yourself to be beaten senseless. Which wouldn't have helped much, either." Lisa deadpanned.

"You know, mate, if you're this cut up about it, just go say sorry, ya know?"

"I can't Love, because she just happens to be unconscious right now, like she has been for the past three weeks!"

"Oh yeah..."

"Oh, for the love of God. You're all idiots. Shinji, you come with me." Lisa said, grabbing a protesting Shinji by the collar and dragging him to the room where she was lying, mortally injured.

Hiyori lay, pale-faced and unmoving, in the bed she'd been occupying since last month. Sweat beaded on her face, leaving shiny trails down her temples. Shinji sighed, and sat down on the chair next to her bedside. Lisa stood slightly behind him, both of them concentrating on the little blonde girl in the bed. There were a few moments of silence, until Shinji said,

"She will get better, right?"

"You know better than I do."

And he did know. Unohana-san's words echoed in his mind.

"If her will to live continues, she will eventually wake up."

Hiyori never gave up. He was grievously insulting her for even worrying about it. But, God, how he wished he could turn back time, to that fateful day three weeks ago, so he could stop her, hold her back, leave her at home, anything to stop Ichimaru's blade from cutting her in half. It was worth anything to have her unharmed. He would have rather taken the blow for her himself than see her hurt. Because, ever since that day when he first met her, and they were sprinting down side streets in Rukongai to escape the angry store holders who's wares they had taken, he had vowed to protect the little monkey girl that was his most important thing in life.

He was running as hard as he could. Behind him, cries of "Stop, thief!" were ringing out. He turned his head, and stuck his tongue out at his pursuers. No way was he going to give back the bread stuffed down his shirt. He needed it more than they did, anyway.

Shinji turned a sharp corner, only to bump into a small colourful thing racing the opposite way. He fell hard on his backside and looked at the tiny girl lying in the dirt, her arms full of fruit. It took him only a few seconds to comprehend what she was doing before he had run into her. She was like him, a thief. Who right at this moment had a bunch of angry grown-ups chasing her. And, with those legs, catching her pretty soon, probably.

Shinji scrambled to his feet and held out a hand to the scruffy girl in the red yukata, only to have it slapped away. She got to her feet, and was about to push past him when he blocked her path.

"Hey, are ya bein' chased?" she nodded curtly, scowling at him as if to say, "None of your business, ya damn baldy!"

"You'll never outrun 'em." That earned him another glare. "I know a secret hiding place. Wanna come?"

She considered for a second, but when she heard the sounds of heavy footsteps quickly closing in on them, she nodded hurriedly.

"Well, come on then." He said, leading her down another alleyway.

A few minutes later, they were both sitting in an abandoned house, staring at each other from opposite sides of the room. At least, he was staring. She was downright glowering at him. Shinji decided to break the awkward silence by prompting conversation.

"What's your name?"

"Hiyori."

"Ya full name, baka."

"What did you just call me?"

"Hey, hey, calm down, I didn't mean it, please don't kill me! But seriously, what's your name?"

"I already told ya, Baldy, it's Hiyori!"

"Baldy? I'm not bald! Whaddya think this is?" he said, grabbing a fistful of his hair.

"Talkin' bout your face, not your head. And my name's just Hiyori, nothin' else."

"You gotta have a family name, everyone does!"

"Don't have no family. And I forgot my family name ages ago."

There was a long silence.

"I don't have no family neither." mumbled Shinji. "But, your family name's easy enough to fix! I'll just give ya one!"

"Why can't I give myself one, Baldy?"

"Cos it don't work like that. So...from now on, your name is...Sarugaki Hiyori!"

"Huh? Sarugaki? How'd ya come up with that?"

"Duh. Your face reminds me of a monkey's butt, obviously."

Needless to say, he'd ended up with his face pounded into the floor. After a good half hour of him nursing his bleeding nose, she broke the silence again.

"So what's your name, Baldy?"

"Shinji. Hirako Shinji. And no, I didn't make it up. So, are ya gonna keep the name I gave ya?" he asked, grinning.

"Hmph. May as well. 'S not like I care."

Shinji's grin stretched even wider. Somehow, he knew that the bad-tempered, violent girl in front of him would be a part of his life for a long time to come. He'd have to do something about the stupid nickname, of course. She'd probably forget it in a week or two, anyway...

A/N: Thanks for reading everyone! Now, click the button just below this note! You know you want to... :) x