Does not own Bleach or any of it's characters, nor do I own sea salt ice cream! But I do own Sakura, Tamaki, Ryukuro, and Kurotama. They're mine, so please don't use without my permission ^_^

Thank you all for reading this far! I'm planning on updating on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but decided to do it early this week ^_^;; So please stay tuned!


Sakura was floating in a white space. Before her floated something akin to a copy of herself, except this other had brighter, cat-like eyes that glowed, her hair fell in a way that hid half of her face, and instead of the shihakusho that Sakura wore, she wore a sleeveless white mini-dress.

"Akai…" Sakura whispered softly, reaching toward her zanpakuto.

"Sakura." Akai whispered back just as softly, simultaneously reaching toward Sakura.

"Why?" Sakura asked gently, taking Akai's hand. "Why did you try to kill him?"

Akai pouted. "He was being too familiar." She replied, gripping Sakura's hand. Sakura sighed.

"You can't kill everyone that becomes familiar with me, you know." She said, slightly worn.

"Wanna bet?" Akai asked with an impish smile on her face, then seeing Sakura's face waved it away. "Fine, fine. I won't kill your lover boy. I'll just…play with him a little. He is handsome in a scary, rugged way I guess." Sakura flushed a little.

"He's not my lover boy!" she said, her voice becoming slightly shrill. "Akai! You have to promise not to use bankai around him again!" Sakura commanded. "I don't even know what possessed you to do it in the first place!"

"He was crowding me! It was freaking me out! Besides, I had it under control…"

"No you didn't! Akaibara-no-Ai!" Akai winced, hearing the name, and started to float off, sniffling. Sakura exhaled, reining back her temper, and floated after Akai.

"I'm sorry. I know how much you don't like that." Sakura hugged Akai from behind. "I just don't know what to do anymore. I know you saved me before, but I think I need to learn to fight for myself, too." Akai nodded slightly.

"I know, but at the same time I don't want to let you go." Akai whispered, holding tightly onto Sakura's arms. Sakura felt a tug on her body, and sighed again.

"It's time for me to go." She said gently.

"I know."

"Ah! Ken-chan, she's coming around!" chirped a voice.

"Well no wonder, with the way you were smacking her cheeks!" a deep gruff voice replied.

"Shut up Ken-chan, I was just helping her wake up!" The cute voice chirped again.

"Of course you were." The gruff voice muttered.

Slowly Sakura opened her eyes. Yachiru's face was inches away from Sakura's.

"Good morning, Yummy-chan!"

"Mmm. Yachi-chan, good morning! Wait, morning? How long was I out for?" she asked feeling slightly muddled. She noticed bandages on her arms and midsection and tried scratching at them.

"Three days." Kenpachi answered, thinking, 'Yachi-chan? Yummy-chan? What the hell did I miss?'

"Three days?!" Sakura exclaimed, trying to sit up. Kenpachi got up from the chair he had been sitting in and easily pushed his finger against her forehead, making her fall back onto the bed.

"We have plenty of time to go over all the things you've been hiding. For instance, you know bankai. Or maybe the fact that you can materialize your zanpakuto and seemingly hide it at will. Or how about these scars you have?" he asked, pointing at her throat, where a long scar covered her neck from side to side. "Before, this was hidden by that choker you were wearing, and the scars on your back. How did you get them?" He demanded. Sakura looked away from them staring at her.

In a steady voice she began her story. "Well these scars are probably the easiest starting point. I was sent to the 80th District of South Rukongai when I died. I was found by a kindly old grandmother on the outskirts of town, but of course in that kind of place it didn't last long. Before everything was destroyed, I would have dreams of a young woman who looked exactly like me, calling my name. Then some bandits came by. Burned down the tiny cottage we lived in. Killed the old grandmother in front of my eyes. Used me over and over again. Tried to kill me. That's when things…got out of hand. What I think happened was somehow the woman from my dreams…my zanpakuto, Akai …became me. Somehow having her within me healed me well enough to keep me from death's door, and she cut down the bandits that had tried to kill me. I think it's from the trauma, and the chaotic way my zanpakuto was pulled from me that causes me to lose control…" she finished, shrugging her shoulders. Kenpachi and Yachiru sat in silence, absorbing all they had heard.

Finally Yachiru piped up, "So the bad guys…they're all dead now?"

"Yes." Sakura smiled gently. "The bad guys are all dead."

"That's good." Yachiru said, smiling back.

"I think we're going to have to find a way to seal your bankai." Kenpachi said thoughtfully.

"That means a trip to Mayurin's!" Yachiru exclaimed. "Nemu-rin gets me yummy snacks too!" she chirped.

"Not just yet," said Kenpachi. "I think first we should check on Sakura-san's wounds." Sakura blushed a little. "Oh right, you'll probably want me to leave." Kenpachi grunted. "First thought, let's check your arms." Again with that strange tenderness he gently unwrapped her arms. "Why didn't these heal up immediately like your other wounds?" he asked, checking her arms. They had faded to little scars that would easily disappear with a little time.

"Well…Akai kind of has two sides to her. The bankai side, the part she can't control? That side…uses my life force, my blood instead of my spiritual energy. Normally wounds that are inflected on me are easily healed with my zanpakuto's spiritual energy, but since my bankai takes directly from my blood, it has a different effect, I think. Something like that." Sakura smiled.

"It's not something to smile about." Kenpachi said gravely. "You almost died. You worried everyone."

Yachiru grinned. "Even you, Ken-chan?" she asked coyly.

"Of course not!" Kenpachi shot back. "I was only worried that we'd lose a powerful ally." He didn't notice Sakura's face fall slightly.

"Get out." Sakura said in a low voice, looking away. Kenpachi almost winced, expecting to find a sword at his throat any moment.

"Um…Ken-chan, get out, come on, get out!" Yachiru started to shoo him away. The moment before the door closed, he glanced back at Sakura, and saw a single tear fall onto the blanket, before Yachiru slammed the door in his face. That left him confused, which was not a state he enjoyed being in.

"Sakura-chan, are you okay?" Yachiru asked worriedly. "Does it hurt?"

"I'm fine." Sakura said, quickly wiping away her tears. Yachiru jumped onto her bed, and threw her arms around Sakura which surprised her. She smiled, and hugged Yachiru back. "I'm okay, really."

"I'm glad!" Yachiru pulled away and grinned.

"Alright, can you check my back for me?" Sakura asked, starting to unwrap her midsection.

"Of course!" Yachiru chirped, happy to have a friend.

Akai: *raises eyebrow* this big idiot is supposed to be the love interest of this story?

Sakura: Akai!

Me: What can I say? =^_^= I guess I just like big strong crazy guys.