Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach; Tite Kubo does. If I did, Ishida wouldn't have that haircut he has 2.5 years later. Do not want.

A/N: Very short; 287 words. Can you guess the prompt? From today's prompt on 15_minute_fic on LiveJournal. I need to get myself used to writing quickly and efficiently, but with fluidity. So this is practice for that. It's also practice with description, which I also need to refine. Oh, and the current arc in BLEACH kind of screws this drabble up in continuity, so you can say this is semi-AUish; or you can just assume this happens after the fight with Ginjo. Happy New Year to anyone reading!


Fading


She calls his name as if she's seen him everyday these past two and a half years.

"Ichigo."

But him, he's wide-eyed, and he can't begin to guess what kind of face he's making. The leaves are crunching below her feet with every step she takes towards him.

"Rukia..." Her name is foreign on his tongue, a different language. It tastes nostalgic, evokes a sense of familiarity within him.

"What," she smirks suddenly, "cat got your tongue? So happy to see me that you're speechless?" Her stance is confident, almost defiant, but her eyes are friendly, scanning his emotions like radar. Her hair's shorter, the tresses billowing around her neck. Countless times, he'd swear he'd seen her shadow on the streets before it disappeared with the twilight. "Hey, quit spacing out," she cuts in, snapping him out of a trance.

She's not a hallucination, he hopes. He reaches out to her, arm outstretched, and places his hand on her head. Tangible, concrete. He ruffles her hair to reaffirm the fact, silky black tresses standing on end, electric.

"Hey, what do you think you're doing?" she fumes, eyes hardening. A punch to his stomach.

An acute pain in his stomach, and he knows she's the real thing.

"Rukia," Ichigo manages, holding his midsection; a painful smile on his face. He's not even angry, for once.

"So, did ya miss me?" she asks, lighthearted.

Say yes, say yes. Tell her you missed her.

But all he can manage is objectivity.

"Welcome back."

Well, maybe the smile gives him away.


A/N: If anyone's curious, the prompt was Trace.