Chapter 21

Search Party

Author's Note: Alright guys, I know this edition is very late, but you'll have to excuse me. I was forced to take a babysitting job over the summer and have to watch four kids every day from 7am to 5pm. I am typing this chapter up at the beach that we're vacationing at. I have been so busy I haven't even been able to start this chapter yet until now. I am extremely sorry and I hope to get faster updates soon. Thank you all for reading and reviewing!

One last thing. I am in the market for a Beta. I don't particularly like the editing process on my own stories since I've written them and don't like to reread them. I usually spell check them and then I post them which has proved to show many mistakes as I read earlier chapters. I need someone who can reread things and fix the mistakes and maybe someone to shoot ideas off of. If you feel up to the challenge, feel free to PM me.

Pairings: Hichigo x Ichigo, Unasaki x Urahara, and Byakuya x Renji

Warnings: cussing, OOCness, violence, a slight mention of rape, and yaoi

Disclaimer: I in no way own Bleach or the Linkin Park song "Numb". I do not in any way own the characters from Bleach and am not making a profit off of this fic.

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'Rukia's Thoughts'


It was a long night for Hichigo. He knew in the back of his mind that Ichigo had not simply run out of the house. Ichigo would have told him if he had to go anywhere especially this late at night. Even if it was an emergency, Ichigo would have called, left a note, or something. Ichigo wasn't one to let anyone worry over him and to just up and leave didn't seem like him.

As soon as Hichigo got to the clinic, he ran up the stairs and barged into Ichigo's room hoping that the red-head had returned. However, to his disappointment, the bed remained empty. The sheets were still a mess, all tangled up in one another and one pillow lay dangerously close to falling off the edge of the bed. The window was also still wide open and a light breeze caused the curtains to move in and out slowly. The room's vibe felt depressing and simply standing in the doorway caused Hichigo to be overcome with doubt and sorrow. Every fiber of his now mortal body screamed at him to go out and hunt for his lover, but the rational side of him held him back.

He shut the door to Ichigo's room and sat in the hallway. He couldn't bear to stay in that room though. Not now anyways. He leaned back against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest and his legs underneath him. He closed his eyes in a vain attempt to sleep.

Sleep, however, evaded him. Worried thoughts plagued his mind. Thoughts about Ichigo being hurt and thoughts about all the horror he must be going through. Other thoughts told him not to sleep in case the beauty came back home. Also, even if a noise as small as a shuffle or creak came from within Ichigo's room he had to check it out just to be sure his lover hadn't returned. Ichigo never did come back that night. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, he drifted off to sleep.

The sleep he entered into was not peaceful. Dreams beleaguered him throughout his short slumber. Many were short dreams that simply showed a battered and bruised Ichigo while some were a bit more detailed showing Ichigo's kidnapper or kidnappers torturing the young teen while he spewed Hichigo's name out of his mouth, in a futile attempt to be saved. At some point, he entered that phase of sleep where a part of your mind knows you're awake, but you yourself don't realize it and continue to slip in and out of your dream and the real world.

Finally, he awoke with a groan. Sleep filled his eyes and his muscles were sore and stiff thanks to sleeping on the hard wall and sitting up all night. The morning sun was just starting to come through the open window yet Ichigo had not returned. He checked the room up and down for the red-head. He opened the closet, checked the bed, checked under the bed, and even looked out the window. He sighed as he realized that Ichigo was not here and he was just making it worse for himself. He stood up straight and closed the window and he winced as he did so. He felt if he closed the window then he was closing Ichigo out of his life. After all, how would Ichigo get back home? Sure, there was the front door and all, but the open window would say to him that they had not forgotten him. In fact, they were waiting on him to return.

Hichigo gave one last gaze out the window before heading over to Urahara's to get a search party going.

The roof leaked and the terrible sound of water falling on the concrete floor repeated itself over and over in an upsetting pattern.

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.

The rain beat down on the roof and it grew darker in the building. It was already dark in the daylight because of the lack of windows, but now it was almost pitch black. She narrowed her eyes and looked over at the still form of Kurosaki Ichigo.

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.

His sleep had not been disturbed and he had yet to wake up. The bags under his eyes proofed to her that he was exhausted. That hollow had probably made him stay up all day and night to do what it wanted. Perhaps it even raped him constantly. She gave a low and long sigh.

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.

She stood from her place on the hard ground and walked over to his sleeping figure. She looked down at him. He looked peaceful while he slept, although his famous scowl was still somewhat on his face. It had softened in sleep, but not gone fully away. She again blamed it on the hollow for filling his life with misery.

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.

She kneeled down and placed her weight on the tips of her toes. She could see the rise and fall of the teen's chest and she could hear his low breathing. Her eyes softened as she looked at him. She could fill his life with happiness again. She would be his savior from the life he was living against his will. She would break the hollow's shackles and take Ichigo far, far away from that monster.

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.

Ichigo mumbled in his sleep and she watched as his eyebrows creased and his scowl deepened. 'A nightmare.' Another sigh escaped her, but this one was short. She wanted to cry for the love of her life. He had gone through so much in such a little time. She reached her hand out.

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.

She cupped his cheek and watched as his face scrunched up at the unfamiliar touch. The hollow probably hadn't shown him any kind of gentle touch. She ran her thumb over his smooth skin and looked at him with wide, tear-filled eyes.

Drip. Drop. Drip. CRACK.

A burst of lightning filled the sky temporarily brightening the building. Shadows danced across both of their faces before the light was gone. Ichigo was starting to sweat a bit on his forehead. She ran her thumb over his cheek one last time.

Drip. Drop.

"I'll protect you." she whispered.

Drip. CRACK.

Another burst of lightning came and she dropped her hand from his cheek.

"He didn't come back?" asked Unasaki as Hichigo opened the shop door and came in looking quite downtrodden.

Hichigo shook his head and shut the door behind him. Unasaki sighed and ushered him in.

"Sit. I'll get some tea going."


Hichigo sat and ran his fingers through his white hair.

"I see Kurosaki-kun didn't return." said Urahara as he came in followed by Byakuya.

They both took a seat and Hichigo sighed.

"I knew something wasn't right. I mean, I can't even feel his reiatsu! And you all know how it spews out all over the place."

"That is strange." concluded Urahara.

Unasaki chose that moment to come in with a black kettle in one hand and a few small tea cups in the other. He set out cups for everyone and slowly began to pour tea for them.

"I may be able to get some help from Soul Society to help find Kurosaki." suggested Byakuya, but Urahara raised his hand to stop him.

"We don't need to get Soul Society on this. What if someone were to see our albino friend here? That would not end well."

"Soul Society? Are we going back there, Bya-chan?"

Everyone turned to the doorway to see a sleepy Renji come in rubbing his eyes. [1]

Byakuya sighed.

"I told you not to call me that." he mumbled.

"Still sleepy, Freeloader-san?" asked Urahara with a mischievous smirk on his face.

Renji leaned on the doorway and scratched at his stomach. At Urahara's name, however, he grew a shade of pink and appeared wide awake.

"I'll help you out with some things later, Urahara." he said softly.

Urahara nodded.

"Tea, Renji?" asked Unasaki as he held the kettle up.

Renji shook his head.

"What brings you here, Hichigo?" asked Renji finally noticing the albino.

"Kurosaki disappeared last night and hasn't returned. You would have known this if you hadn't been sleeping at the time."

"Ichigo's missing?"

"Yes and we need to get a search party going." added Hichigo.

"Yes. Unasaki and I can cover the east part of town."

Unasaki took a sip of tea and saluted them.

"Renji and Byakuya can check Hueco Mundo. Perhaps he ran off there or was taken there."

"Wait! We can recruit Asashin as well. Maybe even Hoshi." said Hichigo looking happier.

"Good idea. Hichigo, you and Asashin can cover the west part of town. If Hoshi agrees to help, she can stay here and offer assistance if needed. Perhaps stay at the clinic to make sure Kurosaki hasn't come back."

Hichigo nodded and Renji stood up straight.

"Are we all clear?"

Everyone nodded and then the search party was off.

"Asashin!" he yelled as he pushed open the large door that led into the throne room.

He ran to the center of the extravagantly decorated room and heard the sound of something breaking. He looked over to his right to see Asashin behind his lab. He appeared to be working on something judging by the goggles over his eyes and the test tube in his hand, but on the ground below him lay shattered glass and a substance that had turned brown thanks to coming in contact with the posh, red rug.

"Did, uh, did I do that?" he asked sheepishly and Asashin sighed as he took his goggles off.

He carefully placed the test tube with the purple substance back in a test tube rack on his small counter that served as a lab. He looked at the mess on the rug with a forlorn look.

"It's fine, Hichigo. I'll just make it again from scratch tomorrow."

He blushed a shade of pink and scratched the back of his head as he made his way over to the counter. He took a seat on one of the chairs and Asashin looked at him with a small smile on his face.

"It is fine, Hichigo. Really. I have all the time in the world to make it again. You, however, rarely visit."

Hichigo chuckled softly.

"That's nice of you to say, Asashin. Um…I don't really know how to tell you this now. I was so ready to explain it all a minute ago, but now I don't know."

Hichigo stared down at the table. Asashin wasn't accustomed to human interactions, but judging by how unconfident and worried the albino appeared he thought he could use some encouragement. So, Asashin placed his hand on top of the one Hichigo had placed on the counter. Hichigo looked up at him with a deeper blush on his face. Asashin continued by wrapping his hand around the other's fingers.

"You can tell me whatever's on your mind." he said trying to encourage the hollow turned human to speak.

Hichigo looked at their hands and then squeezed them. Then, he nodded.

"You see, I went out last night to kill some hollows because Ichigo looked exhausted. I left him for maybe 20 or 30 minutes. When I came back, he was gone. The sheets on his bed were messed up and the window was wide open. I ran to Urahara's to get help, but they said to wait until morning to see if he came back."

"He didn't, did he?"

Hichigo shook his head and sighed. It was a short and breathy one that suggested he was frustrated with the whole situation.

"No. I knew from the beginning that he was truly gone, but no one believed me! Ichigo wouldn't just leave like that! He wouldn't do it and I knew that and now he's…"

Tears streamed down his face. Usually, Hichigo wasn't one for crying, but he felt as if this whole thing was his fault. He had left Ichigo alone. He didn't look for him last night and he wasn't looking for him right now. Instead, he was crying his eyes out to Asashin. Suddenly, one of his dreams from last night returned to him.


He was asleep, that much he knew for sure. Something was calling his name though.


It was an eerie and haunting voice. Low and echoing.


That soft voice suddenly turned into a shrill shriek and his eyes opened at the intensity of the sound. Red filled the edges of his vision and his hearing appeared somewhat clogged even though the scream had been so clearly heard. The walls around him were a brown color as if they had been stained…he didn't want to know what they had been stained with. The thing that stood out the most in his vision was the dot of orange that was slowly coming towards him.


The voice was coming from the dot in the horizon and it all clicked.


The dot stopped moving at the mention of his name and then with lightning speed Ichigo stood in front of him. His orange hair was damp with sweat and his chocolate eyes were hazy. They shifted back and forth as if he couldn't focus his vision, but they always came back to rest on him. He eyed his lover and noticed that he was beaten…badly. Bruises and scars wrapped around his chest like some sick quilt pattern. Surrounding both his eyes, was this revolting shade of purple and black. He had two black eyes.

His arms were scratched up and down and some looked deep enough to reveal bone. Blood still poured out of some of the wounds and some wounds were shut with dried, black blood. Red handprints littered his entire body, but the most severe of them were along his face and neck. His wrists, ankles, and neck were chaffed as if he had been chained up and had struggled against the bindings. His legs were bending at odd angles like the bones had been broken.

"Hichigo…" he said again and he looked up to his lover's face.

His eyes shifted again and he slowly lifted his arm. It seemed to take a great amount of effort to do this minimal task. His frame shook as he did so. Once his arm was raised, he pointed a finger right in Hichigo's face. His nails were yellow and overgrown and he could see dried blood underneath the nail.

"You did this."

The accusation stung because a part of him did think it was all his fault. The red in his vision flared for a moment and a throb started in his head.

"This is…"

Ichigo took a deep breath because it seemed like he couldn't get enough air in his lungs to breath much less speak. Hichigo took the opportunity to slowly stand. He placed a hand on the floor and pushed up. He stood on his feet and placed his palms on his knees to catch his breath as well. His body felt weak and tired, but he didn't know why. He heard a wheezy cough come from Ichigo and he pushed himself up to a standing position.

He wobbled a bit and the red in his eyes seemed to flash from a bright, siren red to a dark, faded red. Ichigo had ceased his coughing and stared up at his lover with wide eyes that screamed he was scared.

"YOUR FAULT!" he screamed and Hichigo's ears rang with the sound.

He tried to reach out and comfort his lover. To reassure him that he was here now and nothing was going to hurt him, but Ichigo flinched when he brought his arm up.

"Don't touch me!" he yelled at a lower decibel.

"What…what do you mean?"

Hichigo reached his hand out to wrap Ichigo in an embrace, but Ichigo trembled violently and stepped back.

"I said don't touch me!"

Hichigo was determined to grab his lover and get him somewhere safe. He didn't know what he was talking about. He was in a traumatized state of mind…he couldn't possibly not love him anymore…could he? He stepped forward and watched as tears escaped his lover's eyes.

"Don't…touch me…" he said with less vigor.

Hichigo brought his arm around Ichigo's waist and was about to pull him forward when Ichigo let out a blood-curdling screech. It reverberated throughout the room and made his ears burn with the sound.


Then, Ichigo was gone in a shroud of blinding, white light. His ears rang, his head throbbed, and the red in his vision turned black around the edges. His legs suddenly gave out from below him and he fell to the hard ground on his knees. His eyes stung and he felt something hot traveled down his face. He touched the burning substance with his hand and saw it was blood. His vision finally blackened all the way through and he could no longer see anything yet Ichigo's scream still filled his head.


"It is not your fault, Hichigo."

He hadn't realized it, but he had been mumbling it's all my fault, it's all my fault into the other man's robes. He looked up and realized all of that had not happened. It was just a memory of a half-forgotten dream. There had been more to that dream, yet it had all escaped him. His mind focused on the most traumatizing parts of the dream and forgot the details. [2]

He suddenly realized the compromising position he was in and wiped his tears away before moving out of Asashin's chest.

"Thank you, Asashin…"

He waved a dismissive hand.

"It is no problem."

A throat was cleared from across the room and both men turned to see Hoshi standing in the doorway.

"Ah, just in time, my sweet! Hichigo here-"

"I know what's happened. You seem to always forget I too have ears." She glared at her lover and then turned to Hichigo with a soft smile on her face.

"I'd be more than happy to help you find Ichigo by staying at the clinic."

Hichigo returned her smile and Asashin abruptly stood and clapped his hands together.

"What are we waiting for then?! Let's go find Ichigo!"

He felt cold and his muscles ached. He wasn't fully conscious yet though because he couldn't open his eyes and he had a feeling he was about to experience another dream. He had been overwhelmed with the amount of good and bad dreams he had been having during his sleep. His one chance of a good night's rest tainted by the never ending dreams he had been experiencing.

Right now, he felt as if he were in limbo. He was not conscious yet, he knew he was somewhat awake. In this half-perceived reality, he could think, but as soon as his mind grew tired of staying in this limbo state, he would fall asleep into another dream. He could feel his consciousness fading as he tried to understand why he was cold and sore. Nothing came to mind before he had slipped back into unconsciousness.

He found himself in a dark place and knew right at the start that this was going to be a bad dream. Ancient torches lined the walls here and there giving little to minimal light. The walls themselves were a rusted color and made of brick. From what he could tell at the moment, he was in a very long corridor almost like the one in The Hollow King's castle. He finally noticed the dull pain coming from seemingly everywhere on his body. Aches throbbed and wounds stung. He felt himself getting dizzy, but just as he was about to fall down, he felt strong arms grab him.

"I've got ya."

Hichigo had appeared out of thin air, but he didn't care. All that mattered was that the albino was here to help him. Hichigo placed his arm around his shoulders and grabbed Ichigo's left hand with his left. Then, he wrapped his left arm around Ichigo's waist. They walked slowly down the hallway together and every now and then Hichigo would whisper reassuring words of escape.

He had no idea where they were, but he didn't want to be here. This place didn't settle right with him. They trekked on and just like the King's hallway, this one too seemed to go on forever. Finally, the duo found themselves at a door. Hichigo released Ichigo's hand and opened the wooden door that creaked with age.

The room they entered had no light whatsoever and shadows danced in Ichigo's vision. Was that a hand coming for him or just his mind playing tricks? Hichigo seemed to feel the same as his yellow eyes, which could be somewhat seen in the dark, shifted here and there. They shuffled together deeper into the impending darkness. Dark colors swirled in his sight as they moved into the center or what he believed to be the center of the room was.

Hichigo took a step forward to continue walking, but instead of meeting hard surface his foot met something wet and slippery. The smell of copper made its presence known and the floor squished beneath them. The sound was sickening and the mere thought of what he could be crushing made him nauseous. For once he welcomed the darkness, because it hid what he wished not to see. At one point while walking, he stepped on something large and crushed it with his weight. The sound of crunching and squishing mixed together and the thing burst on his feet and lower legs. The coppery smell once more penetrated his senses and the need to vomit grew. Hichigo pulled him along, however, and made sure he didn't faint or vomit.

This room seemed to be never-ending just as the hallway and the darkness was making them both paranoid. The only sound that echoed throughout the room was the squishing beneath their feet. Suddenly, there was a creaking that filled the silence. It sounded much like the door that they had come through opening, except this sound came from in front of them and not behind them. The creaking stopped and a door was slammed shut and silence fell upon them once more. After the noises had disappeared, the room held an eerie atmosphere. It was as if a thick presence was slowly engulfing the pair to the point where Ichigo found it somewhat hard to breath. This "presence" was not reiatsu of that he was sure as it held a mysterious quality to it.

He knew in the very depths of his mind and soul that they were not alone.

A breeze whipped by his face sending shivers down his spine and his mouth suddenly felt like it was filled with cotton. The moisture had literally been sucked out of his mouth. He clutched Hichigo's hand tighter as the breeze came again, but from the left this time. "This presence" appeared to be assessing them, seeing how big of a threat they were much like a hunter and his quarry. Or perhaps the thing was trying to see how much it could scare them. If so, it was working.

What sounded like rain began reverberating off the walls. It had a simple pattern to it and it would have seemed calming, but in this room it just made them more fearful.

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.

The squishing and the rain mixed to create the most unsettling of melodies. The darkness stretched on and on without any sign of escape and the horror was just beginning.

Hichigo remained silent throughout all of this most likely trying to appear brave for his beloved, but truth be told the atmosphere and "presence" in the room shook him to his very core. He had never experienced anything like this and the chances of them escaping became less and less as they continued on.

Out of nowhere, an animalistic shriek filled the room and their ears. It sounded like a guttural howl. It at first was at full volume, but as the seconds passed it grew softer and ended with a yelp or sob, they both weren't too sure. The rain continued, the squishing continued, and their journey continued. The howl had not deterred them from their goal yet it had stopped them for a brief moment. In fact, the sound had implanted fear in them allowing adrenaline to course through their veins and give them the edge they needed to escape. Maybe not all hope was lost.

The mind tends to look on the brighter side of things when in a grim situation and his was doing just that. The thought of hope had no sooner rooted itself in his thoughts when another throaty growl was heard and they found themselves face to face with a wide, gaping mouth filled with the sharpest of fangs. They were both paralyzed by the mouth's manifestation and their hearts simply beat faster. Not a sound was heard as they literally stared at the belly of the beast.

There was no more squishing. No more rain. And no more unsettling sounds.

The mouth opened up wider as if to adjust to the amount of human flesh it was about to ingest and then it shot right at them at an inhuman speed. He finally let out a screech of terror, but the mouth phased right through them and then it was gone. Hearts thumped vigorously, minds swirled at what they had just seen, and bodies trembled with what was to come. Ever so slowly, they found their senses and moved on. They could not look back now.

The squishing and the rain began as soon as they took their first steps.

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.

Neither one of them were breathing heavily and it baffled them when they heard the sound of carbon dioxide exiting from someone or something hidden by the veil of darkness. He told himself to just ignore and it would go away, but oh how he knew this was not true. Not after what they had just witnessed. The breathing became more exaggerated and started to sound like panting or perhaps hyperventilation. Footsteps echoed closer and closer to them and the breathing never faltered. He could feel his body ache with exhaustion as they walked further and further. Hichigo tried his best to keep him up, but even the albino was beginning to drift off into a state of mind that simply wanted to sleep. Their bodies almost seemed to drag themselves as they walked.

Finally, the breathing became so close that they could hear it right beside their ears. They both braced themselves for whatever terror they were about to face, but nothing prepared them for what stalked out of the darkness.


Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.

This was not the normal, hormonal girl that they both knew. This beast standing in front of them was a horrid creature built out everything a nightmare was based upon. Yet, even through the horrifying appearance of this creature, Rukia still shined through. She was much taller than both of them and towered above them so much that they almost had to crane their necks all the way up to meet her gaze. Her face was deformed, distorted, and lop-sided.

Her eyes were a dull red that shimmered in the dark. Her right eye was normal looking, but the left was twisted so it was vertical on her face. The eye blinked at them and its position disturbed them in more ways than one. Both were slightly sunken in. Her hair was still its black color and it appeared unchanged as it rested atop her misshaped head. The once tiny mouth that had spoken volumes was now stretched and pulled out to the point that it revealed her gums. Stitches held her mouth in place. The right side of her mouth was stretched vertically in a sharp, angular line that tilted to the right. The left side of her mouth was pulled out to the left and was stitched right below her ear on her cheek. The left side pulled out to a triangular point that appeared sharp enough to cut. Her face was elongated and pale.

On the top of her head, lay two devil horns that were long and slender. They came up and then tilted down to a point. They were white, but the tips were red. Her attire consisted of a long, white robe that had a green stripe of either side of the fabric. They could not see her feet due to the darkness below. Her arms were long and almost stretched down to her knees.

No, the beast before them was not Rukia, but at a time it had been. Something had done this to her and it wouldn't surprise him in the least if it had been herself who had caused this to happen.

The breathing had been coming from her and even now her nostrils flared and her mouth pulled at her stitches as she tried to suck in air. They two of them were mortified at what they saw, but no noise of fear escaped them as they were too shocked to even think at the moment. Her eyes blinked and the left was slower than the right and it appeared to strain to even accomplish this small, trivial task.

Both parties refused to move and they simply stared each other down.

Suddenly, her blue tongue made its way out of her morphed mouth and it strongly resembled Hichigo's own. The way it licked her now almost nonexistent lips disturbed them beyond belief. Instead of the usual fast, circular motion used to wet one's lips, her pattern was elliptical and slow as were most of her movements due to her transformation of sorts. It started at the corner of her mouth which was stretched out to the left in that triangular shape. Delicately, as if she didn't want to cause even more harm to her damaged body, it skimmed the surface of her somewhat visible lips and moved at the speed one would expect of a snail. It crossed her lower lip and dug itself into the right side of her mouth. Then, it went up the angle of her mouth and got to the top of the angle and then went back into her permanently opened mouth. She did not cover the top lip at all and this weird movement unsettled them because of its foreign quality.

They probably should have run at that moment, but both were stuck by their own fear. What would this beast do to them? Why was Rukia like this? What was going to happen? Questions like this plagued their fear-ridden minds as she stood in front of them not moving.

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.

Then, slowly, she extended her right arm out. Her arm and hand were pale and her blue veins stuck out. Her fingers were longer than usual and little claws replaced her fingernails. Through the darkness, he saw that in the middle of her arm was cut out as if something had torn her flesh and skin apart. It was a semi-circle shape that was right below her elbow. He could see her lifeless tendons and muscle desperately try to keep up with her somewhat living tissue as her arm reached out. Perhaps that was why she was so slow. Her body had been weakened and the muscle had been turned to mush.

Her hand reached out and cupped his cheek. He flinched at the touch and her claws lightly scraped against his skin. Her eyes showed pain and concern yet all he could see was the monster standing in front of him. Her short thumb which was much smaller than any of her long, spidery fingers, rubbed his skin.

Drip. Drop. Drip. CRACK.

Lightning was heard from inside the room and a small flash of light filled it. Even with the light, they could still see no exit in sight. A tear that looked so small it could have been mistaken for a drop of rain, traveled down her cheek.

Drip. Drop.

"I'll protect you." she whispered.

Drip. CRACK.

Her hand released his cheek and she turned to Hichigo. Realization filled his eyes and he let go of the hollow so, he could defend himself or something. He dropped to the ground where the copper smell was much stronger. He landed with a loud squish and he felt something wet cover his lower body. He stared up at Rukia, who appeared even taller from down here, and watched as she reached her right arm out to grab Hichigo. He wanted to scream out something to his lover, but the words never came as her tendons stretched with vigor and she grabbed him around his wrist.

He tugged at her vice grip, but her claws dug into his skin and he hissed at the pain. He tried to stand, but something held him down. It was the dark presence from before and it was now suffocating him in its hold. He realized that the "presence" had been Rukia all along and now she held him back so, he could not try and save his partner. She looked down at him one last time and then she wrenched the two of them back into the darkness. The "presence" lifted off of him and copper smell faded. The floor no longer squished, but the rain continued on as if to comfort him in his sorrow.

Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop. [3]

[1] Renji is just so tired~

[2] Cookie for anyone who can recognize the phrase that I put in this paragraph~

Hint: It's from a movie.

[3] I told everyone she was a monster, but no one believed me.

Author's Note: Again, I am super sorry for the delayed chapter, but hopefully the size makes up for it? Thank you all for reading and reviewing! It really makes my day.

RQOTD: How were the dreams by your standards?

Did you like them, were they scary, or whatever else you thought of them leave me your answer in a review.

*Apologizing a million times*