Author's Note: Uhm...hey everyone! Gosh, this is awkward. Since I haven't exactly been updating. But I am now! And I promise with a needle in my eye that I will DEFINITELY update more often.

Disclaimer: Bleach will never belong to me. (*cry cry*)

Chapter 7: One More Meeting

Besides the fact that Ichigo had been found in Soul Society, everything was normal. Besides the captains and Izuru, no one knew about the infamous person that appeared. And they planned to keep it that way. Who knows what would happen if word spread that THE Kurosaki Ichigo was here. Not even Rukia knew that he was in the academy.

In fact, Rukia was already trying hard to forget her feisty friend. No point in crying over a person who doesn't even know your name, she thought.

Renji on the other hand, was having a different problem. Theoretically, the plan he crafted in his mind worked. He would stop Rukia abruptly in the middle of the street, whip out a bouquet of flowers, and ask her out on a dinner date. She would definitely comply, right? But that was, again, all theoretical.

Rukia walked down one of the many white, winding paths in Seireitei, looking very bored. She already finished her paperwork by noon and now had no idea what to do. She thought about having lunch with any of the vice-captains, but all of them were busy. And she wondered why she wasn't busy at all. Captain Ukitake was still reluctant to give her too much work, which was absolutely absurd to her.

Just as she was inwardly cursing at her captain, Renji suddenly appeared in front of her. From behind, Rukia could see her brother walking towards him.

"Oh, Nii-sama."

Renji turned around to see his captain turning around the bend. What?! No! Why, of all times? Renji's suddenly became a lot more nervous, and considered maybe asking Rukia a later time, out of earshot of Captain Kuchiki.

"Renji, did you need something?"

Rukia's voice snapped him out of his panicky trance.

"Huh, wah? Um..." It's now or never, he thought. He presented the flowers to Rukia.

"Will you go on a date with me?" he shouted, louder that he expected to.

Byakuya stopped dead in his tracks after hearing what Renji said. The vice-captain could literally feel the cold air emanating from behind.

Isn't he going to say anything?, he thought.

Byakuya continued walking past them, acting as if he had not just heard his vice-captain ask out his sister.

"Nii-sama," Rukia spoke up. "I-"

Byakuya paused, his back towards them. "What you do is none of my business."

And he left.

Renji chuckled when he was out of earshot.

"I think that's as close of an approval I'm going to get from Captain Kuchiki." He turned back to Rukia. "So, are you up for it?"

All of Rukia's instincts told her that she wasn't exactly ready to start a relationship, but there was no harm in one little dinner date, right?

"Sure," she replied with a smile. "Why not?

Yumi was so excited, she was practically jumping in the air already. She didn't want to hear her senpai's rants on safety and strategy and blah blah blah.

Ichigo could hardly blame her; he was just as enthusiastic. This would be their first excursion to the real world for combat practice on dummy hollows. The sixth years that were supervising them were the best of the best, guaranteed a seated spot in the Gotei 13.

They spoke for a little while longer, and then opened a senkaimon and all of the students stepped through.

"Are you okay now?" Renji asked Rukia tentatively.

"What do you mean?" But Rukia already knew.

"The thing with Ichigo... I mean, you were bawling your eyes out for weeks."

"Of course," she laughed slightly. "It's already been a year."

Renji hesitated for a minute.

"You know, I saw-"

He was about to tell her about seeing Ichigo, but quickly stopped.

"Do you like him?" Renji asked abruptly.

Rukia was taken aback by the question.

"Uhm...well... He is an important friend," Rukia answered carefully.

He relaxed a bit at her answer. So she didn't really like him, Renji thought. He summoned up his courage again and took a deep breath.

"Rukia Kuchiki, please go out with me!"

"Ichigo, look out!" shouted Yumi, as she ran towards the rooftop where her companion was.

Ichigo turned around quickly to see a hollow raise its claws, ready to give a deadly strike. He quickly raised his sword and sliced it cleanly in half. The monster dissolved to reveal a surprised Yumi on the other side.

"Wow, that was fast!" she exclaimed.

"Of course," Ichigo replied with a smirk, "I'm the all-powerful Kurosaki Ichigo."

"Che, don't get too cocky. These are just dummy hollows. The real ones will be much tougher."

"Yeah, yeah whatever you say."

Yumi shook her head. That Ichigo. All confident just because he's the ace in our class. Still, he does look pretty cool with that fierce scowl when he's fighting. She squatted on the rooftop with her hands under her chin, as she looked on at Ichigo hopping to and fro on the buildings, demolishing every hollow that charged at him.

Yup...really handsome...

Rukia had no idea how to reply to Renji's...uhm...proposal. It really should've been an easy decision for her. She'd known Renji for so many years; she helped him in their first encounter, when he escaped with a jug of water; he rescued during her pending execution; they fought alongside each other during Aizen's invasion of Karakura Town. But there was still one guy that made her hesitate. The guy that she'd never thought would make her hesitate.

Maybe it'll work, she thought tentatively. Maybe...I'll give it a try.

Five Years Later

Wow..., Ichigo thought. It's just like when I first got here. Boring speeches, boring people, and someone sleeping on my shoulder and getting drool on my brand new shihakusho. As the top graduate of the Academy, he sat in the front row, right in front the teachers, to receive an award. Meaning he actually had to pay attention to the monotonous mumbling of the speakers.

But this time it was a different uniform. Everyone in the main hall was dressed in the same black shihakusho with a new Zanpakuto attached to their waist.

Finally the last speaker was finished droning on and on about the duties of a member of the Thirteen Court Guard squads, and blah blah blah. Everyone applauded respectfully and stormed out the of the hallway, excited to get their squad assignments.

They rushed and crowded around the bulletin board in the main hallway with the lengthy list of names. It was easy for Ichigo to push his way to the front of the crowd, with his tall and muscular demeanor, and he quickly located his name at the bottom of the list, under the label Squad 13, Captain: Ukitake Jushiro, Vice-Captain: Kuchiki Rukia. Ichigo recognized the bottom name immediately.

"So she was a Vice-Captain," he muttered to himself.

After a minute, Yumi emerged from the jumble of graduates as well, and stood beside Ichigo, scanning her eyes over the paper.

"Ah, I see it!" she said, pointed to her name under the new recruits of Squad 5. "Hmmm, the Captain's name is Hirako Shinji, and the Vice-Captain is Hinamori Momo."

Another student also found his name under Squad 5 and groaned loudly. "Just my luck, getting put in the worst squad ever."

Ichigo and Yumi overheard the exclamation as well.

"Why is it so bad?" she inquired, puzzled.

"Seriously? You don't know?" he looked at her in disbelief. "Cuz of Aizen Sosuke, duh. The previous Squad 5 captain that made a hollow army and tried to destroy basically all of Seireitei? Doesn't ring a bell?

Yumi shook her head, but Ichigo was in deep thought again. Aizen Sosuke, Kuchiki Rukia. A feeling rose up in his mind again, but he still couldn't pinpoint why those names sounded so familiar. Aizen Sosuke...

He closed his eyes, searching his memory. It was so close, he could just reach out his hand and- Suddenly he got a sharp. searing headache, as if his mind was about to split in two. Images flashed through his mind too rapidly for him to comprehend. He grabbed his head and kneeled on the floor, biting his lip to stop from crying out in pain. A clamor rushed through the crowds and they gathered around him.

Yumi rushed to her friend. "Ichigo! What's wrong?"

But the headache stopped as quickly as it came. Ichigo was left with a dull throbbing on the sides of his head and beads of sweat dismissed with a wave of his hand. "I'm fine."

The crowd dispersed when they saw he was steady, but Yumi furrowed her brow.

"Are you sure? You seemed to be in a lot of pain."

"Huh, yeah, sure." Ichigo replied absentmindedly.

"Well, if you're sure."

"Come on, let's go. Can't wait to get to my squad."

"Right. Very excited," Yumi deadpanned. But she dreaded her squad assignment. She knew its history all too well...

After dating for six years, everyone expected Rukia and Renji to get married. Renji especially dreaded the day Captain Kuchiki would bring up the rumors himself. But Byakuya didn't seem to mind that his Vice-Captain and younger sister were so close.

However, Rukia minded. A lot. She found it much more awkward around her boyfriend now. Like, a lot. She had been avoiding him for a week now, since the rumors started floating around. Then she also pondered: What if he actually proposed? Could she accept? She loved Renji very much, as a precious friend. But, in her mind, she knew he wasn't the one. Of course, she didn't know who that one was. Before she could trouble herself over it further, Third-Seat Kiyone stuck her head into the office.

"Vice-Captain, the new recruits are here."

"Okay, thanks Kiyone-san." Rukia took a deep breath to clear her jumbled mind. Right now, she had to put on a stern face for the newly matriculated students.

Ichigo sat on his knees, along with four other recruits, nervously wringing his hands together. He entered the Shinigami Academy to get answers about his lost memories, and to find out more about her. And what luck! He just happened to be assigned to her squad.

The sliding door opened and she walked into the room purposefully. Ichigo noticed her slanted eyebrows and blazing eyes; she was serious.

"Welcome everyone. I'm Kuchiki Rukia, the Vice-Captain of Squad 13. The captain regrets he cannot be..."

Her voice trailed off as she scanned them, finally noticing the face at the end of the line. It was him! Kurosaki Ichigo was in her life. Again.

Argh, Byakuya is soooooo hard to get into character! Anyway, this is probably the last chapter of "intro" and the juicy stuff is gonna start. Look forward to another update in few weeks?

XOXO~~ Give this a review if you like it. ;D