A/N: Hello fellow readers! Welcome back to another one of my stories! If you are new and this is the first story you are reading of mine, may I just say hello! And welcome! Thanks for clicking and deciding to read this one-shot! Don't forget to review :). For those returning readers that have been reading all of my stories, GLAD TO SEE YOU CONTINUING! Thanks for staying with me! I'm taking a little break from Collapsed. "Little" turning into a month or two…I ran into some plot problems…

But, besides that! Here's a nice little one-shot, dedicated to Pupcake125! I hope you enjoy it! This has to be the longest one-shot I've ever written! And thanks for helping me out when my brain couldn't figure out what to write!

I will be returning to Collapsed soon! As well as Reality and Last Chance! So watch those update dates be…updated, haha.

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, manga nor anime. The rightful owner is Tite Kubo.


**Playlist**
When The Day Met The Night by Panic! At the Disco
Find A Way by SafetySuit
Blackout by Breathe Carolina
The Art of Falling by Greg Holden
Be Still by The Fray
Look After You by The Fray
Please Don't Go by Barcelona
Lullaby by Chase Coy
Slide by Goo Goo Dolls
Saving Grace by The Maine


Ichigo's POV

The feeling of the sun warming up my face as I came into consciousness was both peaceful yet annoying. I hadn't gotten much sleep last night and I didn't want to wake up just yet. The way I was laying on my side with my arm wrapped protectively around Rukia felt like home. I didn't want to leave this moment. I could sink back into the wonderful abyss of sleep if I really wanted to. I sighed contentedly, with my eyes still closed. This bed was so ridiculously comfortable, I might as well enjoy it a little longer.

Wait a second…

I never wake up with the sun on my face. I always need to be up before the sun…and Rukia as well. This could only mean one thing.

My eyes snapped open and without looking at the clock, I just knew I slept in. I knew I forgot to set that stupid alarm clock!

"Dammit!" With new found energy, I flung back the covers and sprang out of bed. "Rukia!" I immediately shouted as I grabbed my Captain's uniform and ran to the shower. "Wake up, we're late!" I slammed the door in the next second without knowing if she even acknowledged my harsh yelling, brushed my teeth, started the shower, and jumped inside in record time. In my haste, I didn't realize I used Rukia's stupid strawberry scented shampoo until it was too late to switch to my shampoo. Maybe no one would notice.

As I was rinsing it out of my unnaturally bright orange hair, I heard the bathroom door open.

"Are you almost ready, Rukia?" I asked, hoping she didn't just fall out of bed

"Just about," I heard her voice state. "It smells like strawberries in here."

"Shut it."

"Did you use—"

"Drop it!" I cut her off.

She laughed, and just the sound of hearing her happy had me smiling. It was a rarity for her to be in a good mood in the morning. She seemed unnaturally awake from waking up only moments ago with the threat of being demoted hanging over her head. She was up to something. I had to be on guard. "Here, this should make you hurry up."

"What do you—" Before I could comment any further, the curtain to the shower quickly slid open and I was bombarded with a bucket of ice cubes and cold air. I didn't have time to shield myself, nonetheless even have the thought to cover myself. I knew it! That sneaky little vixen!

"Midget!" I growled, wiping the water out of my eyes, and recoiling against the back of the shower.

Her eyes were filled with devious amusement as she laughed and closed the curtain. "Revenge, Ichigo! Now hurry up! If your lieutenant were to show up before her captain, Head Captain Kyoraku would have your ass."

I kicked the chunks of ice toward the drain. The hot water from the shower melted them quickly enough, but I still had some red marks from where the impact hit. They weren't the normal smooth ice cubes. They seemed to be rigid chunks, hastily made. How did she make ice so fast? I shut the water off and ran my hand through my wet hair that continued to drip into my eyes as I heard Rukia shuffling around, opening and closing drawers.

"Uh, Rukia, could you leave or throw me my towel over the shower?" I asked from the inside of the shower, starting to shiver from the draft.

"Come out and get it."

I balled my hands up. "Then close your eyes!"

"Ichigo, it's not like I haven't seen you naked before."

I could feel my face turn scarlet. Yes, Rukia and I were…intimate with each other and even before that we would walk in on one another on accident as one of us were changing when I was still living at home and she occupied my closet. Plus, there was that time with the Soul King and the fact that I saw her ass sticking out of the water of the hot spring. And that jerk had the nerve to call her a peach. I'm still glad she was unconscious for that and to this day doesn't know that we were in there together…naked.

I sighed. "Fine." I slid the curtain back and stepped out with the steam, grabbing my towel and wrapping it around my waist. I saw her smile softly as she was leaned forward to the mirror over the sink, putting on some eyeliner.

"That wasn't so hard, was it?" she asked, smugly.

"How did you get the ice?" I wondered, grabbing another towel to dry my hair.

"Sode no Shirayuki."

I paused from scrubbing my hair. That made sense. "That's against rules and regulations."

She looked at me sideways. "Is it, Ichigo? Is it really?"

"I think so." Suddenly, I wasn't so sure.

"Not if Sode no Shirayuki practically begged me to get you back after you swapped Chappy with Kon! That pervert was having too much fun with my body!"

I rubbed the back of my neck, forgetting about the towel that was draped on my head and stared at the ceiling as she swapped her eyeliner for a hairbrush. "Yeah…that probably wasn't the smartest." I brought my eyes down to smirk at her. "Well, you deserved it."

"I don't believe I did," she replied, looking hurt.

"You did."

She dropped her hairbrush and huffed. "Take that back."

I smirked even wider. "Nah. That's okay."

Her hands clenched into fists. "Do I need to Bankai your ass?"

"Ooh, Midget. Are you threatening me?" I brought my hand down on her head. "As I recall, you don't even have a Bankai."

"That you know of," she smiled, evilly.

I frowned as I started pulling on my clothes and hanging up my towel. "You're lying."

"Perhaps. Perhaps not. Oh, I say we go out to dinner after work."

"Today?" I made a note to talk about that whole Bankai subject later since she completely changed the subject.

"Why not?" she shrugged.

I smiled. "That would be nice. I know a nice place back home. Lots of cucumber and egg dishes for you."

Rukia fastened her Zanpakuto around her waist and smoothed down her shihaksho. "I do love cucumbers and eggs. Sounds like a plan! We should get going."

"Yeah." I followed her out of the room, shutting the light off and grabbing Zangetsu by the bed.

Walking outside, Soul Society was the same as ever. Our house sat close to my Squad's barracks in case I was needed for anything highly important. Although our house wasn't exactly a mansion like Rukia was used to living in, it was perfectly sized for the two of us and sat secluded from any activity—exactly what we both wanted. The barracks to my squad was a good twelve minute walk, which gave us plenty of time to talk. We couldn't exactly take our time walking since we were running late and we found ourselves jogging slightly, which probably wasn't fit for a Captain, but what the hell, I did not want to be late.

"Did you file that case on the recent Hollow sightings?" I asked Rukia, as she easily kept pace next to me despite her short legs.

"Yes, Captain."

"You really don't have to address me as 'Captain'," I mumbled, feeling slightly awkward.

"But I'm your lieutenant. See this badge?" She pushed her left arm up into my line of vision. I pushed it back down.

"Obviously. Okay than, Lieutenant Kuchiki."

She frowned. "Huh, that kind of does sound a little funny, especially coming from you. I didn't really notice until now." She shrugged. "Oh well, it's needed, I guess."

We ran for a few minutes more until we got closer and we slowed to a more graceful walk.

"Good morning, Captain Kurosaki! Lieutenant Kuchiki!"

Rukia and I both stopped and tuned our heads as Momo came smiling up to us.

"Lieutenant Hinamori," Rukia nodded. "Good to see you."

"Oh, you as well, Rukia. You haven't happened to see Little Shiro anywhere, have you? I need to ask him something," Momo tilted her head softly to the side.

"No, I haven't. Sorry," Rukia frowned.

Momo placed her hands on her little waist and stated at me begrudgingly. "You two just got here, didn't you. Late!"

"Shh!" I brought my hand out in front of her face. "You saw nothing!"

She smiled. "This will be the sixth time I'm covering for you."

"Yeah, well, you're the only one we ever run into when we are late," I grumbled.

"Momo!" a new voice called and a short white haired Captain came over to us. "Kira said you were looking for me?"

I pulled Rukia's arm and slyly took a step around them.

"Captain Kurosaki," Toshiro's turquoise eyes glared up at me, stopping me in my tracks. "I see you are late again. It seems you are taking after your father's etiquette when he was Captain of Squad Ten."

I gave a sheepish smile. "Aw, come on, Toshiro. I'm here now."

His eyes hardened. "It's Captain Hitsugaya to you."

I shrugged. "But we are both Captains so formalities aren't needed anymore."

"Anymore? I don't recall you ever using them."

"You're starting to sound like Byakuya."

"Um, Shiro-chan?" Momo quietly spoke up.

I saw Toshiro clench his jaw slightly at Momo's name for him, but it soon disappeared with a sigh. "Oh, sorry, Momo. What did you need?" He turned his eyes to her and I took this as my getaway.

"Come on, Rukia," I hissed, grabbing her hand once more. "Now, when the shorties aren't looking!"

She slapped her hand out of mine. "Hey! I happen to be the same height as them!"

"And you'll always be my midget."

She rolled her eyes but grabbed my hand anyways. "You're impossible."

Right after walking in my barracks, both Rukia and I were bombarded with papers, reports, and questions. From our different positions, we had to go our separate ways. Rukia ran off with Kiyone to check out some problem among the subordinates while I was handed report after report. Sentaro stayed in my office, keeping me updated on everything related to Ukitake's illness as well as degrading Kiyone any chance he got without her around, but it was clear to me that he secretly missed having her by his side and the throwing under the bus was given halfheartedly. Interesting.

Finally, after nine hours, Rukia came into the office we pretty much shared but she never occupied.

"All right, I'm off, Ichigo. What about you? I'm also quite starved," she posed.

I solemnly looked up from my papers. "Shit." I stood up and walked around the desk to her. I placed my hands on her tiny shoulders. "Don't get mad, but it looks like I'll be here for a while. But I'll get it done quick enough for dinner. I promise."

She sighed and I felt her shoulders slump under my hands. "Fine. Don't work too late."

I smiled and dropped my hands. "I'll be home soon. I love you."

"I love you, too," she smiled and I tilted her chin up to kiss her. She immediately threw her arms around my neck and stood on tiptoe. I chuckled softly against her mouth and pulled back.

"Hey, not in front of everyone." She frowned and I tapped her nose. "What if Byakuya walked by?"

She grinned and brought her hand in a fist in front of her. "Then I would say you came onto me and I tried so desperately to fight my way free!"

My eyes widened in mock horror, "You just want to sign my death sentence!"

She laughed and turned to the door. "See ya, Strawberry. You better not be late!" She waved behind her without a look back and left the room, leaving me in unwanted quietness.

I sighed and went back to my desk. I couldn't be late tonight. I had to finish this. But as I continued to stare at all the reports, I just knew with a sinking feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach that I couldn't pull it off. Maybe I could ask Kiyone for help. I really didn't want to hand off my work to my subordinates and appear like a free loader, but I had a good reason. It was already five at night and dinner would be at seven. Damn.


Rukia's POV

Was I mad that Ichigo may be late to our dinner plans tonight? No. Disappointed? A little. I couldn't be mad at him, it wasn't his fault he had a lot of work to do and these plans were spare of the moment.

I kicked another rock as I walked down the streets of Soul Society. The sun was still out but starting to sink low into the horizon and the remaining warmth felt nice on my face. What could I do to pass the time? From the looks of the stack of papers Ichigo has, that would take at least two hours. I didn't want to go home just yet and be in an empty house with nothing to do.

Passing by Squad Four, I decided to see how Captain Ukitake was doing. His sickness had been getting worse and I didn't like seeing my past captain miserable with not a lot of company and it had been a while since I visited. My feet lead me to the door and I raised my hand to knock.

"Ma'am?"

I blinked, confused before the voice became familiar and I spun around surprised to see a woman with long, light lavender hair, icy blue eyes, and wearing a long white Kimono. My eyes widened. "Sode no Shirayuki!" I gasped as my hand immediately flashed down to my side to find that my Zanpakuto was indeed gone. How long was I without my sword? How did I not even notice? "Why are you manifested?"

She smiled. "Are you upset?"

I shook my head. "Of course not. I'm actually glad to see you again, it's been so long. I'm more caught by surprise than anything."

She nodded. "Zangetsu wishes to speak to you. He sent me to retrieve you. It is important."

"Zangetsu?" So Ichigo's Zanpakuto was manifested as well. Why would Zangetsu want to talk to me? What was so important? Was it about Ichigo? The Hollow within him? His Spiritual Pressure? Curiosity and worry got the better of me. "Okay, where is he?"

"This way, if you would follow me." She turned and headed down the way I came and I went after her.

"So does Ichigo know his Zanpakuto is manifested? Does anyone know, for that matter?"

Her perfectly arched eyebrows pulled together softly. "I would assume not. Kurosaki-san was very into his work."

I stopped in my tracks, the whole picture becoming clear. Sode no Shirayuki's eyes turned down to me and she, too, stopped. "Milady?"

"This is a trap!" I realized.

Her face dropped to confusion. "A…trap?"

"From the ice cube incident we pulled earlier!"

Her eyes widened. "I seemed to forget about that. It was quite mean. Although, Zangetsu could not possibly have something in mind."

"Nonetheless, I'm not seeing him," I declared. But…what if it really is important? Should I take the chance?

Sode no Shirayuki bowed slightly, closing her eyes and clasping her hands delicately in front of her. "I understand."

I sighed, looking ahead. "But Zangetsu doesn't seem like he would prank us. He just wasn't the type. Sode no Shirayuki wasn't either until I got through to her. Zangetsu wouldn't crack under Ichigo's pleas. But the Hollow within would. "He didn't specify why he wanted to talk?"

"He wanted to talk about Kurosaki-san."

I sighed, heavily. "All right." I gestured with my hand out in front of the path. "Lead the way."

We walked again and I could tell Sode no Shirayuki was trying to form a back up plan in her mind. "Forgive me for being so bold," she started. "But…" she gave a light sigh and stared down, a sad look crossing her features.

"Sode no Shirayuki?" I asked, worriedly.

She shook her head, her decision clear. "Perhaps another time."

"Oh…all right," I was confused and slightly worried. What had she wanted to tell me? I wouldn't push her and pry, she would tell me when she felt she could. I wouldn't hold her for that.

"He's over there by the tree," she pointed and I nodded, seeing a silhouette. "Be careful, ma'am." She tried to leave.

"Where are you going?" I gasped out. Never have I been worried or even a little scared to face Zangetsu, but she better stay by my side!

"I am going to see Senbonzakura and give you privacy."

"No way! You're coming with me!"

She smiled. "As you wish ma'am."


"Well, I guess I can't say I didn't see it coming," I grumbled as I stalked off.

"I am terribly sorry, ma'am," Sode no Shirayuki apologized genuinely as she practically glided with just a hint of anger. With her dignity and stature, she would not be stalking with hands clenched in fists like I was, so gliding settled that. "I did not think Zangetsu had it in him."

"That Hollow got the best of him."

"Technically, Zangetsu didn't lie. He did talk about Kurosaki-san," she explained.

I scoffed. "Yes, well, saying that Ichigo's Hollow is becoming stronger and about to take over his consciousness wasn't very funny, nor a great prank."

"It was the best Zangetsu could come up with in a pinch, I suppose." She gave a soft laugh. "He was never good with this sort of thing."

"I guess I'm a tad glad. Although that did give me a little scare with how serious he was." I frowned, remembering how natural he was and normal, like what he was saying didn't affect anything. And then the nerve to look me in the eye and say, 'Kidding', with his neutral expression was when I snapped.

I was anticipating Ichigo missing the time for dinner so I decided that once I got home I would just change into some comfy clothes and lounge on the couch; perhaps draw. Sode no Shirayuki followed softly behind me and I got the sense that she enjoyed being out and didn't want to go back into sword form anytime soon.

I turned to her once I reached the wooden steps leading up to the front door. "It's all right with me if you want to stay manifested the rest of the night. I'm sure I won't be in any danger inside."

Her head perked up and a lightness showed in her blue eyes. "I would very much appreciate it, ma'am."

I smiled. "It's settled then. Go and have fun." Before she got any ideas I hurried to continue. "Just don't throw another drinking party."

A hint of scarlet tinted her pale cheeks. "Yes, that was not what I expected." She smirked. "But it did serve it's purpose."

"That was quite a night," I remembered resting my hand on the door. "I'm glad I had you by my side."

"As am I, ma'am," she bowed. "Goodnight."

I smiled. "Night."

She disappeared in the shadows that were stretched long on the ground, the sun giving it's last light before finally blinking out and being replaced by the light of the moon.

I walked inside the quiet and dark house, flipping on lights as I went, all ready having the distant feeling of missing Ichigo only though I just saw him no more than an hour ago. Once I showered and changed into one of Ichigo's shirts, I grabbed my sketchbook and settled down on the couch. Glancing at the clock, there was no way we would make it to that fancy restaurant. Oh, well. My hopes weren't up that high.

…damn. They were. I felt a frown on my face as it suddenly became more real that I wouldn't be going. I guess a little part of me had some faith that it would all work out. I would give Ichigo ten more minutes until I would cook something up. It was already 8:20 pm.

I tried to relax and concentrate on drawing Chappy, but it seemed every five seconds I would find myself looking at the clock again and again. Agitated, I fidgeted with my pencil and pumped my leg up and down.

8:27…

8:28…

Maybe I would give him fifteen minutes? He could have run into Renji…and those two do get to talking.

8:29…

No, I would stick with ten minutes. But that would mean he would only have a minute to get here.

8:30.

I threw my pencil down. "That dummy. Fine. I'll make dinner."

As I was untangling myself from the couch, the front door harshly banged open and I heard someone barreling to where I was.
Ichigo came huffing in, his face slightly pink from what I assumed came from running, and his eyes locked on me, in sleeping clothes and my hair pulled back in a loose bun. His eyes widened as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing.

"What!?" he pants, bending over with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. "I rushed for nothing? Go change into something nice! I'll be ready in five minutes!"

I open my mouth, stunned. Was he blaming me?! I stood up and crossed my arms. "I didn't think we'd make it and you're an hour and a half late!"

He glares at me. "Well I'm here now. Did you have that little faith in me?" He smiles and straightens up. "We are going!"

"Well…if you insist," I try to reply cooly, but I was practically jumping up and down, I was so happy. I ran down the short hallway into our bedroom and to the closet, pulling out a short black dress and matching heels. I shook my hair out of the bun and gave it a quick brushing, placed some make up on, and I was ready to go.

"All set?" Ichigo asked, standing by the front door wearing a deep violet dress shirt and black pants with shiny black shoes.

"Well don't you look handsome!" I joke, hurrying to his side.

He smiled, taking my hand. "And you look absolutely gorgeous."

I laughed, feeling slightly giddy at the simple compliment and we walked out the door.

"To the World of the Living we go!" I sang.


"No way. No way!" Ichigo yelled at the closed restaurant door and darkened widows.

I pointed to the sign in the door. "Looks like they just closed."

"But this was suppose to be romantic! And this place was known for that!" Ichigo continued to yell.

I shrugged. "It's fine, Ichigo. Let's just go home."

"But we came all this way. No, we're finding another place," he grabbed my arm and pulled me down the road. We were practically running as Ichigo scanned every shop window. "There!" he pointed somewhere in front of him and my eyes focused on a little restaurant that didn't exactly look fancy, but at this point, I would go anywhere to eat.

"Hmm, I've never been here before," Ichigo mused as we stopped at the steps to the front door. It looked okay on the outside, and it seemed like a lot of people were inside from all the laughing I could hear outside.

"This will do," I quickly stated. "I'm settling. They serve food, so that's all that matters to me."

Ichigo smiled, "As you wish."

And we went inside.


Ichigo's POV

"So, what do you plan on ordering?" I asked Rukia, lowering my menu.

Rukia smiled and looked up to me. "I think I'll be having the cucumber salad," she answered. I couldn't help but laugh. Rukia's love for cucumbers followers her everywhere.

"You're just like a rabbit, Midget," I commented with a sneer. Rukia rolled her eyes at me. I always teased her for the littlest things, not that she didn't. That's how we got along. Bickering and arguing like a married couple.

"What about you?" Rukia asked. I shook my head and looked down at my open menu. Oh, right, food. I seemed to completely miss picking out food and instead was watching Rukia over the top of my menu.

"Hmm…the chicken Parmesan sounds good. I guess I'll be having that," I answered, truthfully just picking the first thing my eyes landed on. "As for alcohol, I guess I'll have a few shots of Sake." I smirked. Rukia eyed me suspiciously over her menu and I realized why. I never drank often, but tonight was different. It was our date after all.


Rukia's POV

Here we go… I thought. I couldn't just have a simple dinner with Ichigo. No, I had to have a dinner which included alcohol. Not that I minded, though Ichigo did get a little bit…touchy after he has a little too much.

"Are you sure that's a good idea, Ichigo?" I asked him, raising a suspicious eyebrow. "You tend to get very frisky when you're drunk," I stated firmly.

Ichigo nodded. "That's just the thing. I don't plan on getting drunk," he said with a soft smile. "At least not in a place like this. I need to keep my eye on you tonight, though, I wouldn't mind if you were to take my place tonight," Ichigo said, winking at me. I gave a sarcastic frown and rolled my eyes. As if I would get drunk in a place like this. That's just what these men want. A drunk, beautiful woman who's vulnerable and weak. No, Rukia. Not tonight, not tomorrow, not ever.

The waitress finally came to the table with her little notepad and jotted down Ichigo and I's order.

With a smile she said, "Your food will be here soon," and walked away to another table, stating the same thing. Seconds later she came back with the Sake and Ichigo poured a tiny glass for me. I accepted it after resisting and giving lame excuses like it'll stain my teeth but settled for lightly sipping it. Ichigo smiled at me and I noticed. I lowered my glass and tilted my head slightly.

"What are you staring at?" I asked him.

Ichigo shrugged his shoulders. "Nothing…just looking at how cute you are when you sip like that," Ichigo answered. "Like a little fawn drinking from a creek."

I raised an eyebrow at him. "Are you drunk already, Ichigo? You only had one glass," I asked sarcastically, although I was a little on edge. Why was he acting so weird? Then something dawned on me. His Hollow talked like that. This wasn't…no it was Ichigo. I could tell. His eyes were his normal amber after all and not that golden black. Why was I always worried about his Hollow. It wasn't like Ichigo didn't have control over it and his Hollow seemed to calm down after Aizen's defeat. I just had to relax. Maybe this Sake would help in the long run. I took another sip, a little longer than before and swallowed.

Ichigo chuckled, "No. I'm just playing around. You're beautiful by the way. But you already know that," Ichigo said, putting his own glass down and taking my hand, kissing my fingers gently. I smiled and blushed heavily. I knew why Ichigo was doing this. It was to show every scum bag and peeping tom eying me that I was his, and he wasn't to be messed with. Oh, protective Ichigo…I'll never get tired of him…

I lost the willpower to reject the Sake any longer and joined Ichigo.


Ichigo's POV

It was Rukia's sixth glass and I noticed a very noticeable blush streaking across the bridge of her nose. I smiled, feeling a little tipsy myself. I should have known better not to partake in alcohol before I ate something. I was heavier—a lot heavier than Rukia, so my body wouldn't absorb it as fast as her. She's probably feeling the effects more than me on an empty stomach. I hoped the food came soon. Rukia needed it, or she'll get real sick real fast.

As if luck was on my side, the waitress came back with two plates and set our food in front of us. I sighed in silent relief. Thank God, I thought I was going to have to clean up vomit pretty soon. I thought as I began to cut into my food. I looked up to Rukia and noticed she was only picking at her salad with her fork. I raised an eyebrow at her, a little concerned.

"What's the matter, Rukia? I thought you liked cucumbers?" I asked.

Rukia looked away and scrunched her face with distaste. "It's not that, it's just I'm not very hungry now…" she kept her gaze down at her food, but I could see that she didn't want to show that she was tipsy. I narrowed my eyes at her. As I expected…

"Rukia, you feel that way because of the amount of alcohol you consumed. If you eat, you'll feel better. It'll counteract the alcohol in your system. So, eat!" I ordered. Rukia finally looked up and gave me a death stare.

"Who do you think you're talking to like that, Ichigo Kurosaki?" Rukia asked in a threatening tone.

"I believe it is my lieutenant, so I command you to eat! That's an order!" I almost yelled. Rukia shook with fury before grunting in surrender, she picked up a fork-load of salad and shoved it down her throat. I chuckled again. I knew she couldn't resist her Captain. In the Human World or the Soul Society.

A few minutes into dinner, I poured some more Sake for myself and Rukia. We had finished our meals and as I predicted, Rukia felt better. So better that she had four more glasses, and was now getting giggly. I knew she was at her limit. Her face was bright red and her eyes were looking heavy. Wiping my mouth on a napkin, I cleared my throat.
"I think you've had enough for one night," I said firmly. I didn't want her to get sick but I think that was too late.


Rukia's POV

I let out a long sigh and nodded. With the amount of people that increased over the time we were here, it quickly became stuffy and hot and the scent of sweat and cigarette smoke was making my stomach churn uncomfortably. Ichigo called for our waitress and got the bill. He took his coat and swung it across his broad shoulders. After standing up, he walked to me and held out his hand, which I accepted and gripped it tightly. When Ichigo pulled me to my feet, I stumbled in my heels and fell into him, Ichigo wrapping his arms around me tightly. "You okay?" he asked, worriedly.

I tried to straighten myself up, my knees buckling slightly and I nodded. "Y—yeah, I'm okay…I just need some air," I decided. "This atmosphere is making me sick…" I put my hand up my mouth and leaned into Ichigo again. Ichigo grabbed my coat I was wearing and draped it over my shoulders, ushering me towards the door. As we walked, I felt Ichigo stiffen slightly and I followed his line of sight to a bulky looking man with a cigar hanging from his teeth, smirking and winking at me. One icy stare shot from Ichigo's dark eyes made the man cringe and he looked away, forming a fist and slamming it on the table.

"That's what I thought, you disgusting bastard…" Ichigo mumbled under his breath as his grip on my shoulders tightened. He pushed our way through the crowd and we were finally at the register. I sighed heavily and Ichigo looked at me with a worrisome look.

"Are you sure you're okay?" he asked again. I nodded, looking at him with droopy eyes.

"Do you mind if I wait outside to catch my breath?" I asked, trying to fan myself with my hand. I could feel small beads of sweat forming on my forehead and from Ichigo's gaze, it was clear he saw it as well. He nodded, agreeing to letting me go out for a little bit.

"You go outside and get some fresh air and I'll meet you after I pay the bill." Ichigo told me. Nodding a thank you, I made my way out the door and was hit by the cool night air. I sighed, relieved to be outside and not inside with sweaty older men and the smell of tobacco and cigarettes, but I could still smell the rancid odor from inside and I decided I had enough of this cheap place and started walking.

"I won't go far…just around the corner," I said to myself as I began to walk down the street in my black dress and heels. I buttoned my coat up and tried to keep my mind straight. I was still a little off balance from the Sake. Damn that Ichigo…why did he have to encourage me to drink tonight? He knows how I get!

Turning suddenly, I noticed I had walked down an alley. Just my luck…a dead end. I huffed and turned to walk back to the restaurant when a black silhouette had appeared in front of me.

"Hey, sweetie. A pretty girl like you shouldn't be walking alone around here," A deep voice slurred, clearly belonging to man. I looked up at the guy who had to almost be 5'10, with thick muscles, a balding scalp, and a cigarette clasped in yellow teeth. He began to walk towards me. I took a step back, shooting the man a glare. This wasn't the way I wanted my night to end. If I had my Zanpakuto, he wouldn't be grinning at me like this and eying me up and down.

"As a matter of fact, I'm not alone," I spat back. The man looked around with a disgusting smile etched onto his face and looked back to me.

"I don't see anyone else here. What? Is it your imaginary friend, ya little bitch?" the man's breath hit my face and I looked away, feeling sickened and slightly frightened. What right did he have to call me that? Were people always this vulgar in the World of the Living? I never experienced this before and I for one did not like it.

The man continued to walk forward, cornering me. I couldn't lay a hand on him, he hadn't even touched me yet. What do I do? This stupid Gigai! If I wasn't in one he wouldn't be able to see me! Dammit! Where are you, Ichigo?! I mentally screamed as I felt the brick wall hit my back. The man was now towering over me and all I could do was stare up in horror as the man made his next move.


Ichigo's POV

I sighed as I walked out the door. The cashier had gotten drunk and was barely able to focus enough to give me my change without dropping it on the floor. This is one place I was never coming back to.

"Damn dumb ass…" I growled. I then noticed that Rukia wasn't outside of the door like she said she'd be. I looked around, frantically for my lieutenant and girlfriend, but she was nowhere in sight. "What the hell? Rukia, where are you?" I called. My reply was answered by a short shrill scream. I knew that all too well. It was Rukia. "Rukia!" I shouted, running down the street towards the sounds of her screams. I turned my back for five minutes! What the fuck is happening? I panicked as I heard Rukia's cries for help.


Rukia's POV

I was pounding my fists up against the man's face. He had pinned me to the wall with one hand against my throat while his other traveled up my leg. I shivered at his rough touch and felt sick.

"I like it when they struggle. It makes it more fun," he sneered, spitting his cigarette on the ground. I was helpless. I couldn't possibly fight against this brute. Struggling was hopeless, and I unwillingly let my hot tears stream down my face. What could I do?! I didn't have my sword and I was in such a drunken state that I couldn't even balance on my own, so hand to hand combat was a losing match. Wait…Kido! I could use that!

I untangled my hand from his grasp after much effort and opened my mouth to scream, "Sokat—"

A harsh blow to my stomach had the incantation rush out in a whoosh of air and I doubled over in pain. The man forcefully shoved me back up straight. "Keep quiet!" he hissed.

Anger flared in me and I glared at him. How dare he? There was only one other thing Ichigo always told me to do in positions like this. So I kicked him where it hurts. His grip released, as expected. He swung with a fist as he crouched down and I ducked, narrowly missing the onslaught. Without a second thought, I booked it. I ran for the restaurant where Ichigo was. Heavy footsteps pursued me and a second later, large burly arms wrapped around my chest from behind and yanked me face down. I fell to the ground, scraping my legs on the pavement, with him on top of me, making my breath leave my lungs in an instant with his weight.

"I—Ichigo!" I cried. My airway was constricted and I could see my world turning black when suddenly, the man was pulled away and I rolled to the side, gasping for air.

"Keep your hands off of her, you fucking bastard!" I heard the familiar voice shout. I finally caught my breath and looked up to see Ichigo wrestling with the man, who pushed him into the wall behind him. Ichigo collapsed to the ground with the man on top of him and Ichigo looked to his side to see a piece metal lying on the ground. The man grabbed Ichigo's neck and started to squeeze to crush his neck. "Obviously you haven't learned how to treat a lady. Maybe I should give you some lessons!" Ichigo shouted, his voice coming out hoarse from being choked. He grabbed the piece of steel and began bashing the man's head with the piece of metal.

I panted as I watched Ichigo beat the man senseless until he stopped moving. After a few more good whacks with the piece of steel, Ichigo chucked the bloody thing away and stood up, straightening out his clothes.
"I wasn't planning on fighting tonight, but you can't always get what you want out of this world, can you?" Ichigo grumbled. He looked towards me and saw my eyes wide and my dress slightly torn, and scraped legs. He walked over to me and bent down, picking up my chin and tilting it upwards so my large violet eyes were looking at his amber ones. "Rukia, are you hurt?" he asked me with deep concern.

I shook my head and threw my arms around him. "Hey, it's okay. I'm here," Ichigo tried to sooth me, but my body began to shake and I just knew he felt my hot tears sting the skin on his neck.

"Ichigo… I didn't know what to do! He had me! Why did I freeze like that?" I cried, not letting go of him. Ichigo held me tighter and didn't let go. "I'm sorry I walked off like that…I'm so sorry, Ichigo! It could have been worse!" I continued to cry. Ichigo stroked my back gently, trying to get me to calm down.

"No, I'm sorry…" Ichigo apologized, and I realized he was feeling guilty. "I should have never brought you here in the first place. Please, forgive me, Rukia…" Ichigo begged. I sniffed and nodded against his neck.

"It's okay, Ichigo…we couldn't have controlled this if we wanted to," I whispered. Ichigo let me go and looked at my tear-stained eyes. I had a painful smile on my face.

We heard the man begin to grunt and groan and Ichigo shot him a death-look. He clasped my hand tightly and stood up with me.
"Let's get out of here before that ugly bastard gets back up." Ichigo glared, and we ran out of the alley. What a way to end the night… next time, we're getting take-out!


Ichigo's POV

Another day. Another harsh awakening. At least this time I didn't wake late, but that alarm was quite annoying. I growled from where my head was under the pillow and quickly jerked my hand out from under the covers to slam down on the nuisance. The beeping shut off at once and I sighed.

"All right, Rukia, let's get going," I mumbled with my face still muffled against the mattress.

She moaned and I took that as agreement. I unwillingly threw back the warm covers and sat up, rubbing my face with a yawn. Last night was something else. I couldn't believe there were people like that. At least Rukia seemed to forget about it once we got back to our house, entangled in each others arms and stumbling over chairs, which evidently had us falling to the floor…with me on top. One thing led to another and it even had me forgetting about the bastard.

Rukia was still a huddled form under all the blankets next to me. I poked her. "Come on, sleepyhead. Wakey, wakey."

"If you poke me again, I'll kick your ass," she threatened from somewhere under the pillows and blankets.

"Again with the threats? Are you feeling hungover?" I asked but heeded her warning and dropped my hand. "If you don't get up now, you'll be late and I'll be forced to punish you."

"Pervert," she growled.

"What! No! That's not what I meant!" I tried to explain.

"Ichigo, quiet down. You're too loud, you're making my head hurt."

"Yup, you're hungover. Sorry." I slid out of bed and walked out of the room to the bathroom. I took a quick ten minute shower, brushed my teeth, and changed. As I left the bathroom into our room, I saw Rukia still in bed. My nervousness got the best of me.

"Rukia?" I asked quietly, crouching down on one knee beside her.

She cracked open one violet eye. "Yes?"

"Are you feeling okay? Normally you're up be now and the one that's kicking me out of bed."

She sighed softly. "I'm only tired. not hungover for your information. I've been hungover before and I don't feel like that. I mean there's a tiny bit of that feeling…I don't know. I just wanted a few more minutes of sleep. But I'm up now. I'll be in the shower soon. Go make breakfast or something."

"All right, then," I agreed and left her and went into the kitchen. We only had about half an hour before we needed to leave. I made us a quick breakfast and as I was sitting down to eat, I heard the shower turn on. Finally, I thought as I took a bite of my food. I made Rukia a plate also and it sat next to mine.

It seemed she was never getting out of that shower as I cleaned up the dishes and noticed she'd been in there for over twenty-five minutes. She never takes this long. Frowning, I grab her plate of food that turned cold and placed it in the microwave.

"Hey, Rukia!" I knocked on the closed bathroom door. "Hurry up, will ya? You're food got cold!"

The water shut off. "I'm not very hungry today," I barely heard her reply. Wasn't hungry? She barely ate last night! "And quit with the shouting!" she all but shouted back and opened the door. She stood with her short damp black hair and a towel wrapped around her body. I could feel my face instantly heat up. It seemed I could never get used to these situations. She gave me a smile but it seemed a little forced.

"I'll just change and we'll go," she informed me and went to the closest.

I grabbed various things off my dresses like my wallet and Substitute Soul Reaper badge. I figured I would help Rukia out by retrieving Sode no Shirayuki from where she normally kept her Zanpakuto by her side of the bed but stopped when I didn't see it there. That was strange. Where was her sword? I turned and left the room to the living room where I know I ended up leaving Zangetsu. To my shock, mine wasn't where I left it either. What the hell? Where were they?

"Umm, Rukia?" I called down the hall. "Where's our Zanpakutos?"

Her head poked out of the door. "Out."

I furrowed my eyebrows. "What do you mean out? Manifested?"

"Well yes, and out and about. I'm sure they will show up once we get to the barracks. You worry too much," she smiled and went back in the room. I rubbed the back of my neck. Zangetsu and Sode no Shirayuki…hmm what were those two up to?

"Okay, let's get going," Rukia's voice suddenly spoke from behind me. I took her hand which was oddly cold, and we left for the barracks.

Only a few hours into work, I was called into a meeting and Rukia was steadily working at her desk a few feet away. I slid back from my desk and walked over to her.

"Hey, I have a Captain's meeting in a few minutes," I kissed the top of Rukia's head as she smiled up at me. "Are you okay?" I asked, studying her more as I traced a finger down her cheek. "You look a little paler than normal."

"I'm just nervous about this report," she shuffled her papers around. "I need to finish it today. And I believe that was an insult."

I gave a soft laugh. "Maybe Kiyone and Sentaro can help you," I offered. She made a face.

"Those two would just be bickering the entire time. Besides, they're currently in Squad Four, looking after Ukitake." She looked at me with a smirk. "As their Captain, you should know this."

"Yeah, yeah," I crossed my arms. "Substitute Soul Reaper, Visored, Hollow, Fullbringer, Quincy, and now a Captain."

"You may even be a little bit of Arrancar."

The door to my barracks suddenly slid open and a male Soul Reaper ran inside. "Captain Kurosaki!" he yelled.

I smirked. "Ah, Captain Abarai, good to see you."

The red-haired, tattooed man clenched his fists. "Don't be cocky," he growled.

I laughed. "Oh, that's right, you're still a lieutenant."

"It's not my fault Captain Kuchiki won't ever quit…no offense, Rukia."

She waved it off.

"So did Byakuya send you?" I asked.

"Yeah, although I don't know why no Hell Butterflies were sent instead. But all lieutenants are to accompany their captains to the meeting.

"Oh, all right," Rukia pushed the papers away.

I wasn't done tormenting Renji. "So Renji, how hard was it for you to say Captain Kurosaki?"

"Almost as easy as calling you Captain Strawberry."

I froze and Rukia suddenly erupted in laughter. "Captain Strawberry! Oh, Ichigo, can I call you that?"

"No."

"Well, I will anyway!" she declared.

"Have fun with that!" Renji waved. "See you two in a few minutes!"

He disappeared and I growled. "Let's just get to that meeting, all right, Midget?" I asked through clenched teeth.

"Fine," she agreed with a smile on her face and stood up from her chair. As she rose, I noticed her legs shake slightly and her hand brace itself against the desk. She took a wobbly step forward before pitching forward.

"Hey, Rukia!" My arms flashed out to catch her before she could hit. Her eyes were closed and she moaned softly. "Rukia, what's wrong?" I demanded as I swept some of her hair off her forehead and then realized how hot her skin was.

Her eyes blinked open. "I'm…fine. Just dizzy and everything went black."

I stood up with her in my arms. This wasn't a hangover, but something else. "You're not fine, you're burning up."

"I just have a little headache is all."

"I don't think you should go to the meeting." I set her down on her feet hesitantly.

"But I have to. All lieutenants are required."

I placed my hands on her shoulders and stared intently into her violet eyes. "Rukia, as your Captain, I order you to go home and rest."

"I can't, I have my report to finish—"

I cut her off, "I"ll finish it."

"Ichigo…" It was clear Rukia didn't like the idea but I could see her secretly liking the idea of going home.

"Why don't I take you to Squad four to see Unohana?"

She grimaced, "She'll be at the Captain's meeting, Baka."

I rolled his eyes, "Well you're still going."

She took a large breath before continuing, "I don't like the point of going there and taking a bed if someone else may need it more than me."

I sighed before smiling softly, "Oh, Rukia, why are you always thinking of others?"

She smiled weakly, "Maybe because I'm a good person. Now let me go to the meeting. If Nii-sama were to see I wasn't there, he would be disappointed. So I'm going."

"All right, then. Let's get going."

She nodded and we headed down to the meeting.


Rukia's POV

It hurts.

It hurts so bad.

I was desperately trying to stay still from where I was crouched on one knee beside a standing Ichigo as the Head Captain continued his talk. My head and stomach felt horrible and I wanted to cry out. I bit my lip, trying to ignore the pounding in my head and stabbing in my stomach. My legs and arms were shaking against my will and I could just feel Nii-sama's questioning glare on me.

Dammit, I realized, he could probably feel my reiatsu! I hadn't thought of that.

From the side of my vision, I saw Ichigo shift uneasily from foot to foot, clearly not liking the fact that I was here and about to fall over. I tried to be sneaky and lean some of my weight into Ichigo's leg, but he seemed to notice and I could feel him just about to burst and take me home himself. I squeezed my eyes shut as my stomach churned uneasily. I so desperately wanted to lie down. Healing myself with Kido wouldn't work unless I had physical damage. Some cold sense of logic in me knew this wasn't just some hangover. Food poisoning, perhaps? From a half eaten salad? Unlikely. What was it? Why was I feeling so miserable?

"Lieutenant Kuchiki?"

My eyes snapped open and my head thrust up at the sound of my name being addressed from the Head Captain, but the movement caused me to wince.

"Yes, Captain Commander?"

"What have you encountered?"

I balked and searched the ground as if the answer would suddenly present itself there. Encountered? Damn, what was he talking about earlier? I felt all eyes of the captains and lieutenants lock on me.

My mind spun. Encountered…encountered. Did he mean Hollows? I opened my mouth.

"My lieutenant hasn't encountered any," Ichigo blurted out.

I couldn't be certain since I was staring at the ground, but I could sense Kyoraku's eyes harden slightly. "Captain Kurosaki, I asked your lieutenant."

"I…well," I took a deep breath and met the eyes of the Head Captain, "As my Captain said, none."

The Head Captain nodded. "I want everyone to keep an eye out for these sudden Hollow appearances. They have gotten stronger and larger in numbers. Watch yourselves."

"Yes, sir," all the Captains and lieutenants replied evenly.

"Dismissed," Kyoraku announced and the twelve lieutenants stood up from the ground all in one fluid motion. Ichigo grabbed my left arm and helped me to my feet. I felt too weak to stand on my own and my head lolled softly to the side.

"What's really wrong, Rukia?" From my squinted eyes I could just make out Ichigo's worried expression, searching my face. I didn't answer. I couldn't. I felt if I opened my mouth I would cry out and I would not do that in front of the remaining captains and lieutenants. I was not weak. I could handle this. It was nothing!

Ichigo suddenly grasped my wrists tightly and brought them up to his chest level. It was then that I realized I had been falling backward.

"Hey!" he whispered. "I don't like this. I'm taking you home right now."

"Rukia." No. My eyes opened completely as that voice I knew all too well cut into my senses and froze me cold.

Ichigo growled. "She's fine, Byakuya."

I clutched Ichigo's robes and exhaled loudly as the pressure in my head intensified. "I'm sorry."

I didn't have time to see his reaction before I passed out.


My first thought was that I was hot. Too hot, in fact. It felt like I was on fire and there was an intense pounding in my head. My second thought was that I could feel a set of eyes on me. It took quite some effort, but I managed to open my eyes and the first thing to see was Ichigo. He gave a startled yell at seeing me awake.

"Inside voices," I mumbled. He ignored me.

"Way to give me a warning that you would pass out in front of everyone, Rukia!" Ichigo hissed. "I could have actually caught you instead of you rolling to the floor and Byakuya look like he was going to kill me!"

"Well, I'm sorry, I didn't exactly plan for that to happen, Ichigo," I shot back.

"You should have listened to me and came home earlier." It was then that I noticed I was actually at home, and laying in bed. That sneaky bastard. "You have a fever of 102.2," he continued.

"I can feel it," I sighed.

"Why didn't you tell me this morning?"

"I figured it would go away. I didn't know it would get this bad." I squeezed my eyes shut. "Ow." My head still pounded.

"Rukia…" Ichigo sounded lost and a little defeated. I felt him place his cold hand against my forehead and I moaned at the soothing touch.

"Ichigo, I feel…really bad."

"I know, sweetie. Just hang in there. Renji is running to get you some medicine. I would have went, but I didn't want to leave your side."

I opened my eyes, slightly confused. Not only did Ichigo openly call me SWEETIE, but Renji was getting medicine? The pineapple?

"Where exactly is he getting this?"

"In the World of the Living."

I couldn't help but roll my eyes. "He's going to get lost. I'll never get that medicine." A wave of nausea hit me and I shuddered and made a sound that resembled whimpering. Damn, was I that weak?

Ichigo didn't seem to think so. "Shh," he laid down next to me, still in his Captain's haori and wrapped his arms around me and then replaced his hand back in my forehead.

"Sorry," I apologized.

"What for?"

"You're suppose to be at that meeting, not here."

"The meeting ended when you were there. And I'm not about to head back to work on reports. I'm not leaving you. They can do without me."

"Well…okay," I snuggled close to his side and felt a small smile tug at my lips.

"I should probably go and get Unohana, I'm sure she can do something to ease your pain," he offered, sitting up slightly.

I clenched his shirt. "No. Don't go. Stay."

His muscles relaxed and he settled back down. "I'll never leave you, Rukia. Not as long as you want me here. Go back to sleep, you'll feel better soon. I think you just caught some bug, you are never really in a Gigai in the World of the Living, so you aren't immune to all the nasty things in public."

"Fantastic. So will this miracle medicine work?"

"It'll work wonders. It'll kick this flu to the curb!"

"If you say so." I was feeling sleepy and my eye lids closed against my will. I may have been completely sick to my stomach, but I was glad to have Ichigo by my side.


A/N: IT'S FINISHED! Soooo, how was that? Did you like it? Did you love it? It seemed to take forever to write! Well, there you go! Review!