AN: I have been given the great honor of adopting this story from xXxMiserableLoveFairyxXx. Like many of you, I was hooked with this story line and when she stopped and placed it up for adoption; I had to put my name in the hat. I saw a lot of potential as to where the plot could go. I have made an outline and while I'm marking this as Toshiro x Rukia however, you will see a lot of traces of Ichigo x Rukia and a tiny bit of Ulquiorra x Rukia if you squint sideways cause that's just how it is. Also, while I have not firmly decided on the ending, where I'm going with it is definitely outside the "lovey dovey romantic" realm. Want romance? Visit: On the Way to Alaska... (shameless plug, I know...)

A ton of angst (as usual from me) and hopefully an enjoyable story that you will love reading as much as I love putting together.

So, thank MiserableLoveFairy for this wonderful story (and bug her to update her others) I hope I can do it justice...

AU OCC and all that jazz…

I still don't own Bleach… If only…

By Myself

Originally by: xXxMiserableLoveFairyxXx

Retold and continued by: Abarai Starsha

Chapter 1

Toshiro hated seeing the tears that ran down her face. He had to hold himself back from brushing them away with his thumb. Instead, his hand twitched at his side. Ever since he made his decision he was dreading this moment. Rukia was the last person he wanted to see hurt, yet here he was, doing just that. He sighed and ran his hand through his white hair. He rehearsed this many times and was prepared for any reaction…But preparing for it and seeing it are two different things. He wasn't prepared for the hurt he felt, compounded by the knowledge that it was his fault, his decision that made it this way.

He had no choice, right? He made a promise and he was a man of his word. He could never back out of a promise. Even if that meant sacrificing his own wants and needs; even if that meant sacrificing her.

He decided to show as little emotion as possible. If he could get her to hate him, think that he never cared for her, it would be ok. She would bounce back as she always does. Wasn't she the queen of sad stories? She had Renji and Ichigo. Surely her brother would help her through. Make her well, help her move on.

He didn't want to look at her, watch her break in front of him. He didn't want this, he didn't want to hurt her but it had to be done. It didn't matter; he said what he came to say. It was done. With a curt nod, he forced himself to turn around and leave. He wasn't sure of his own resolve if he stayed much longer.

Rukia hated tears, they were useless but she couldn't seem to stop herself. Why did it have to hurt so much? She should have seen this coming and cursed herself for turning a blind eye to the signs.

She watched as he left without saying good-bye and thought about how it got to this point.

As they prepared for war, their friendship blossomed, their cold elements bringing them together. They spent many days together, training and soon many nights, talking. It didn't take long before she started to fall in love with him. She thought he felt the same… The way he looked at her, the things he said…

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

She sighed as she leaned back against the tree. She didn't know when she fell to the ground and didn't really care. She choked back a sob and decided she was done crying. She felt the sadness drain, slowly replaced by anger. She was angry with her, angry with him, angry with herself.

Everything was going great until she decided to come back into his life again. Then it was a missed evening here, missed training session there and missions he alone had to accomplish that would take days at a time. Looking back, Rukia hitched a laugh. She always wondered why Matsumoto would always look at her with that sad face as he "prepared" for a mission. She had wondered why no one else spoke of his "missions" or why they were never discussed at the meetings. She trusted him completely.

She sighed at how cruel her life was. She knew how wrong it was to love, she knew the consequences, and she had thought she prepared herself. This was why a Shinigami didn't rely on feelings, they were useless in combat; nothing more than a distraction. Yet, here she was, falling stupidly in love with someone who shoved it right back at her.

She stood up and decided to take a walk in her divisions gardens. It was one of her favorite places to think. It comforted her when he would cancel one of their sessions together, although now she knew where he was. What he was doing. Who he was with. She mulled over the conversation in her mind.

"Hey, you're back!" Her blood pulsed with excitement as he gave her a weak nod. He had been gone on another two week long "mission" and just returned. She rushed to his side, eager to see him, talk to him, when she saw the look in his face. Something was wrong. He fidgeted as she neared.

"Hey, yeah…I guess so." He muttered and saw her standing right in front of him staring at him with her violet orbs. He looked away, almost losing his nerve. She was so beautiful and innocent; she didn't deserve to have her heart broken.

"What's wrong?" She asked as he took her hand without saying anything. He saw the concern in her face as he tensed up. He didn't dare look at her. He couldn't. He took a deep breath.

"I'm with Momo now…I can't see you anymore. That includes training." He replied and looked up to see her face harden. He let her go as she removed her hand from his.

"What? I thought we– "

"You thought wrong," he said, cutting her off. He saw the tears as they started to well up in her eyes.

"I see. She means more to you than I ever could." That reply stunned him. His first instinct was to fiercely deny it. But then… why was he here?

"Rukia, it never would have worked out. It's better this way." He took a step back and shielded himself as he watched her break before his eyes. He looked up to see her face, her tears brimming over and falling slowly down her delicate features. She did her best to hide her breaking heart. She quickly dried her eyes as more tears spilled.

"Go then," she managed to whisper. "Be happy, Toshiro."

He stood there as his hand twitched at his side. His eyes hardened and he gave her a nod. Just like that, he was gone.

The gardens did little to sooth her breaking heart. If her brother saw her now, surely she would be labeled a disgrace; a disgrace to Shinigami, a disgrace to the name Kuchiki. Crying over love, ha. She dried her eyes again and sniffed. She looked at the wet ground, full of her tears. She narrowed her eyes and scanned her surroundings. No one was around.

She turned the corner and walked to the training grounds. Her heart was heavy. It hurt. She drew her Zanpaktou and swung her around and into a tree. She was angry. She was angry at herself, angry at him. She swung again and again, harder and faster with each blow. She hated how she felt. Hated it.

It took her a long time for her to admit to herself she was in love with him. Even after he started leaving her, she loved him. She was never quite sure how he felt about her. They spent a lot of time together and maybe it was all one sided. Maybe it was all in her head. Had she deluded herself into thinking he cared about her?

She definitely knew how he felt now, didn't she? She thought bitterly as she swung her sword again. He didn't love her. He didn't want to have anything to do with her.

It hurt.

Her human life was cut short due to an accident. Her sister couldn't deal with the harsh conditions and a baby so she was left behind. Tossed away, unwanted. She managed to survive until she met up with Renji and his gang. They were a family for a while until the academy where he all but pushed her away into the Kuchiki family. That was a prison in itself. She couldn't do anything right. The clan hated her, the only reason she was there was because of a promise a man made to his wife. She killed Kaien, destroyed Ichigo's life.

Tears were not allowed. Emotions were not allowed. She was forbidden to feel yet she felt everything. She was a burden to everyone around her. She wasn't tall enough, she wasn't fast enough, she wasn't good enough, she wasn't strong enough.

She was a fool.

Time after time when she allowed herself to become happy something would happen to take it away. A piece of her heart would be lost. She gave what was left to Toshiro only for him to give it back, broken.

She was always left to pick up the pieces. She couldn't do it anymore.

She swung her blade into the ground and panted as she leaned on the hilt. She couldn't do it anymore. She couldn't do anything anymore.

She was shocked to hear a low chuckle behind her.

"My, my, Rukia-chan, why so sad and angry?" A chilling voice said. Rukia's eyes widened as she stood and jerked her blade out of the ground. She swung it around and faced the man who dared return to Soul Society.

"What are you doing here?" She demanded. Her voice cold, filled with confidence she didn't have. "Ichimaru." How the hell did he get through the barrier? How did no one know he was here?

"Put down your sword, I'm not here to kill you." He responded with a smile. Rukia narrowed her eyes. This was the same man who got off on torturing her, taking the last of her resolve and laughing before her execution.

"No. Sorry, but I don't trust you."

"Come on now, if I wanted to I would have already done it as you were exerting yourself a few moments ago."

Her eyes widened, "How long have you been here?" she demanded.

"Long enough to know someone was dumb enough hurt you," he said in that silky tone. Rukia found herself lowering her sword. "I'm sorry whoever it was didn't realize what it was they had," he said as he let his eyes roam over her figure. Rukia shivered in response.

"What do you care? Why are you here?"

"Aizen sent me here to make you an offer. Wasn't it just a few moments ago you were upset because you weren't good enough for these pathetic souls? You were not strong enough? Come with me and I will make you strong. You will make them regret hurting you." He held out his hand as Rukia looked at him. Her eyes narrowed as she stepped back.

"No! I am a Shinigami! I fight to protect!"

"And who protects you, Rukia-chan?"

"I don't need protection!"

"Oh? Momo-chan does. Momo-chan needs a lot of protecting and Hitsugaya is the man to do it, isn't he? I mean, he did choose her over you, am I right?"

Rukia felt an invisible hand close around her throat as her heart sped up.

"How did you…?"

"Doesn't that make you angry, Rukia-chan?"

"I-I-I don't care!" she said as she brought her sword up and pointed it at him. "I don't know why you're here, but you can leave!"

"Rukia-chan, I'm here to offer you power. Aizen can unlock your potential, make you stronger, make you forget all of this pain these people have put you though. All you have to do is come with me."

"Never! I will never go with you! Aizen tried to kill Renji and Ichigo and Nii-sama! Power isn't everything. Being strong isn't everything. Not when you have…not when you have people you care about." She finished in a whisper.

"Ah, and we all know how much Hitsugaya cares about you, right?" Rukia winced at the low blow.

"It doesn't matter; I will not betray my friends."

"I'm sorry, but you don't have a choice in the matter."

Rukia readied her stance, her eyes fixed on him, "Mae, Sode no Shirayuki!" He shook his head at her.

"Poor little Kuchiki," in a flash he was behind her. He brought his palm up and knocked her out in one swift movement. He caught her limp body as she lost consciousness; her sword, falling to the ground. "Trust me, Rukia-chan, you will be much better off with us." He picked her up and retrieved her Zanpaktou and smiled.

"Taicho!" Matsumoto barged into the office and found Hitsugaya calmly working at his desk. The setting sun shone through the window behind him.

"Matsumoto, I assume you have a reason for your outburst?"

"Hell butterfly…Yamamoto is calling an emergency meeting…All Taicho's and Fukutaicho's…are to be there." She panted out as her big chest rose and fell with each breath.

"When?" He asked as he put his brush down and stood up.

"Five minutes, sir!"

"Five minutes? Why the hell didn't you tell me sooner?" He grumbled as he used shunpo once he was clear of his office door.

"I just got the message! It's not easy to run with these big boobs you know!" She pouted.

He gave her a glare as his hand reached the door to the meeting hall in the first division. He entered the hall and noticed right away that he and Matsumoto were the last to arrive. Momo smiled at him as he came in but he didn't seem to notice. His eyes wandered around the room. Byakuya stood at attention with Renji beside him. They didn't seem to be upset. That was a good sign. He looked at Ukitake, surely he would have seen Rukia since this morning, but he gave no indication anything was wrong.

He inwardly sighed. This was stupid. It was like he was waiting for everyone to point fingers at him for what he had done. He glanced at Momo who instantly smiled. He snapped to attention as he realized Yamamoto was staring at him.

"Almost late, Hitsugaya," Yamamoto addressed. "Now that we're all here, I'll get right to the point. There's been a break in the barrier."

Several gasps could be heard from a few of the Fukutaicho's as everyone else was silent.

"Ukitake, do you know where Kuchiki Rukia is?" Yamamoto continued. Toshiro's breath hitched.

"Erm, no Sir. I'm afraid I was undergoing treatment for the past several hours at the 4th and was recently awoken by the Hell Butterfly."

"I see," he replied. "I understand the majority of your division was out on a training mission today. Was Kuchiki Rukia a part of that mission?"

"No, she was the only one who stayed behind. She had some paperwork to finish up for me. Sir, what happened?" He asked as he shifted nervously. He had a sinking feeling that the breech in the barrier and his questioning about Rukia's whereabouts were related and not in a good way.

"According to the 12th Division, about an hour ago a Garganta opened up in the 13th Division training grounds. Ichimaru's reiatsu was detected."

Yamamoto was interrupted by several gasps, this time coming from a few Taicho's. Hitsugaya stood in shock. The 13th Division… Rukia would have been in no condition to…

"Soi-Fon, your report." Yamamoto said.

She cleared her throat and addressed the hall. "As soon as Ichimaru's reiatsu was detected, I along with a team was dispatched to the area. I'm afraid by the time we got there we were too late. The Garganta was closing. According to one of my men, who saw Ichimaru through the gate, he apparently got what he came for."

"What do you mean?"

"Ichimaru was carrying someone who was either dead or unconscious and in his hand was a pure white Zanpaktou."

"NO!" Renji yelled.

"Abarai," Byakuya warned.

"How awful!" Momo said.

Hitsugaya remembered the tears that fell from her beautiful eyes earlier that day. How happy she was when she saw him. How broken she was when he left her there. He suddenly felt sick to his stomach as his mind twisted with guilt.

"This is all my fault," he whispered.

"What do you mean it's all your fault?" Renji demanded stepping out of the lineup.

"She wasn't strong enough to hold him off until help got there! If it wasn't for me…"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Renji burst out again. Matsumoto put her hand on Hitsugaya's shoulders. Momo looked just as guilty.

"Would someone please tell me what is going on? How is this your fault, Hitsugaya?" Ukitake pleaded.

"I…she…" Hitsugaya turned red as all eyes were on him.

"Speak now!" Yamamoto said angrily. "We don't have time for foolishness, boy. If you have something to say do it!"

Toshiro sighed. "We've been spending a lot of time together. I guess, I led her on, or maybe I loved her too, but…I told her I couldn't return her feelings. Maybe I would have before... I had to be with Hinamori. She needed me and…I...left Rukia…I left her upset and in no condition to fight."

"You fucking bastard!" Renji yelled as he stepped out of line with his hands clenched.

"Abarai, need I remind you where you are and the fact you are addressing a superior?" Byakuya said in his cool and even tone. He turned and addressed Yamamoto, "What do you propose we do about this?"

Renji stood back in line and shut his mouth, but glared at the short Taicho.

"We have no choice. She will be deemed our first casualty of the war."

More gasps and whispers among those in the hall. Yamamoto banged his staff down on the floor, instantly quieting everyone.

"Aizen had a reason to take her, more than likely he will use her for whatever purpose that is and then dispose of her. Of course, he could turn her into an Arrancar. If that happens then she will be deemed a traitor."

"What?" Ukitake said, "If he turns her, it will be against her will! She would never betray us! To label her as a traitor…" Exhausted, he slunk back. Unohana and Isane supported him on either side.

"If he turns her she won't be the Shinigami you know nor will she ever be again. Once there is proof she is an Arrancar, she will be deemed as a traitor! You will fight her like any other enemy if she shows up at the winter war!" Yamamoto said as he slammed his staff back on the floor.

"What about a rescue effort?" Hitsugaya asked. "Why can't we assemble a small team and get her back before that happens?"

"Because I can't afford to lose any of you before this war actually starts! We cannot risk the greater good for the sake of one. Now is the time for training. If she's still alive when the war starts this winter and has been untouched, we can reassess the situation."

"But sir – "

"NO! That is final!" He said as he brought his staff down again. "Be on your guard in case any of those traitors come back! Dismissed!" Yamamoto stood up and left the room.

Byakuya stood in his position, eyes closed with Renji beside him, fuming. Ukitake had to be taken back to the 4th by Unohana and Isane, Kyoraku followed. Kenpachi and the rest filed out, all refusing to look at Hitsugaya as he stood there.

"We can't just leave her there!" Renji said.

"You heard the Soutaicho. We must follow the orders given." Byakuya said.

"How? How can you just leave her to that mad man for him to do whatever he wants to with her?" Renji pleaded, but Byakuya had his eyes closed, his expression unchanged.

"Because that is the will of the Soutaicho; we are the ones who uphold that will." He said as he turned and left the hall. "Come, Abarai, we have work that needs to be done." Byakuya silently walked past Hitsugaya not sparing him a glance.

"It's not your fault, Shiro-chan," Momo said as she put her arm around Toshiro.

"Like HELL it's not!" Renji exploded. Toshiro's eyes never left the floor. "Do you have any idea what you've done? You know what Aizen is capable of! And Rukia's just…"

"Renji…" Matsumoto said softly. She was caught between her current love and her Taicho. She put her hand on Renji's shoulder but he shrugged it off and gave her a glare.

"You knew, didn't you?"

Matsumoto gasped. "Wh-what?"

"You knew that bastard was going to destroy her, didn't you?" he sneered.

"Even if I did, what was I supposed to do?" She said as she looked at him. He was tense. He loved Rukia and has always been protective of her. She closed her eyes. She did know what was going on although she pretended she didn't. She was there when they became close, she was there when he first deceived her about his "mission", she was there when he decided he needed to be with Momo. A tear slowly fell down the side of her face. "Renji…"

"Fuck you, Ran and FUCK YOU you little bastard! If he hurts her…If she's…" Renji couldn't finish as the gravity of the situation hit him. He closed his mouth and stormed out.

The three of them were left in the now quiet hall. Yamamoto's words were still reverberating inside Toshiro's head. Aizen had a reason to take her, more than likely he will use her for whatever purpose that is and then dispose of her. Of course, he could turn her into an Arrancar. If that happens then she will be deemed a traitor… Use her…Aizen was going to use her. Toshiro felt his brain pound against his skull, wanting to come out. He felt dizzy and nauseous. He vaguely heard Abarai, but knew he deserved whatever it was he was spouting.

Her pale delicate features came to his mind. Her huge violet eyes pleading with him to stop, stop hurting her. His knees buckled as he fell to the floor.

Momo rubbed his back as he knelt down. Matsumoto gave him a sorrowful look before quietly leaving the hall. She knew Renji was hurting and she had to do what she could to make it up to him; especially before he did something rash.

"It's not your fault, Shiro-chan."

"Stop! Stop calling me that and stop telling me it's not my fault!" he growled as he turned on her. Her brown eyes grew big as they started to water.

"I was only trying to help you! Everyone wants to blame you, but…but it's-it's not your f-f-fault!" she wailed as the tears were now flowing freely. Toshiro looked at her and started to feel sick again.

"I need to go lay down for a while. I need to think." He said his voice low.

"O-ok," Momo said as she dried her eyes. She sniffed as she brought herself back under control. She smiled at him. "A good nap will clear your mind and you'll see it's not your fault and you'll feel better!"

"Are you going to be ok heading back on your own?"

"Of course."

"Fine, I'll see you later then, Momo." He walked out of the meeting hall. The sun was almost set and as he turned and looked out over the city he realized it wasn't as bright and colorful as it used to be.

"Kuchiki Rukia…" Gin said. "You were set on killing her not too long ago and now you have me retrieve her. What do you have in mind?" He asked with interest. Aizen sat on his throne looking smug.

"I take it she is with Aporro?"

"Yes. He was quite excited to get his hands on her when I brought her in."

The man smiled. "It's her tie with the Hogyoku that has me interested."

"What tie? I thought she was just the container?"

"That was the intention when it was placed there, but something happened along the way. Maybe it was the fear of her execution that woke it up a bit and became a part of her."

"A part of her?"

"Self perseverance, Gin."

"So what now? Are you going to give it back to her?"

"No. My plans with it have not changed. I've just added a little detour."


"We're going to complete the process and extract her full potential."

"You're going to turn her into one of them?"

"Yes. As it stands now what we have can barely keep up with the rest of the Gotei 13. She will be the key to victory. Not only will she be the most powerful Arrancar in our arsenal, but because of who she is, she will cause all kinds of chaos for them. Can you imagine Abarai raising his Zanpaktou towards her?"

Gin shared his leaders smile. "Why no, no I can't. And that brother and Taicho of hers," he added as he nodded.

"Indeed. They'll be more set on trying to save her."

They both laughed.

"They won't be able to undo your handiwork. Central 46, when it's reestablished, won't allow her in Soul Society because of what she will be. She will have nowhere to go."

"Which will keep her in line with us."

"Ah." Gin smiled at her as he stepped closer. "I don't suppose we can have a little fun with her first?"

An evil grin spread across Aizen's face as he looked at her. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt, much." His smile grew as he heard Rukia's screams from down the hall.