"If the world were destroyed, then there would be no Ichigo. I can't imagine a world without you!"

Don't say that! I know what that means, and you can't!

"Stop, you can't do this!"

You can't! We'll think of something else! Please, please don't do this.

"No, Ichigo, I could never allow you to die instead of me!"

Yes you can! I would do it! I would die a million times for you, and you know it!

"I want you to take me back, and check my family grave."

Of course I will

"I was alive once…"

Of course you were

"Is there a name? My vision is blurred, and I can't see well."

Not even close. But you were alive once, Senna, I believe you.

"Is…Is it there?"

"It's there. Clear as day."

If there is a god, don't you dare let her find out I lied. You know that I'd tear down the heavens just to make her smile.

"I'm so happy."

Keep it together. Don't you make her smile fall.

"I feel warm. Ichigo, will we meet again?"

Damn it. No, pleaseI'm not ready for this

"What are you talking about? Of course we will."

I'll see you every day for the rest of my life, Senna.

...

The rustling of leaves registered in Ichigo's mind. The cool bite of the morning air was dragging him inexorably to consciousness, yet his subconscious was fighting the pull.

'Not yet, please, just let me stay a little longer.'

He didn't know what was real or not, at the moment, but he couldn't leave where he was. The smell of the grass, the feel of the breeze, the weight of Senna on his back—it was something he would never relinquish willingly, though he felt it almost literally slipping away.

Clenching his eyes, Ichigo felt several light scratches—along with the smell of wet earth—finally awaken him. Feeling no weight behind him, he forced his eyes open. Confusion was the dominant feeling, as he found himself lying on…grass? Raising his head, he saw only grass and grey stone.

'Wha—' His thoughts cut off as he turned to look behind him. A large slab of stone rose from the ground, blocking what little of the sun's light had crept over the horizon, yet there was enough light to see an difference in color on the stone of what looked to be…an outline?

Had he fallen asleep against a stone, then fallen to the ground? The evidence would certainly suggest so. Weird. Weirder than even the strangeness that is his day-to-day life. Looking closer, Ichigo was able to make out an engraving within the dry area where he had been leaning.

Kazuo Sato

Manabu Sato

'Sato? Who do I know that's name Sa—'

The line of thought brought him violently back to the dream that had been so vivid, yet that he had been so viciously dragged from. That's how it worked: Ichigo's subconscious would play through the heartbreaking scene over and over, only to add more detail—more excruciating detail—with each pass.

Ichigo remembered coming to the graveyard the evening before. That, and almost every other night he could remember. It had been just over a month since she had died, but not an hour had passed when he had not thought of purple hair and brown eyes.

Sitting back up, once more resting his shoulder against the stone, Ichigo tried to collect himself, taking slow breathes to try and calm his heart and mind against the onslaught of memories that this place dredged up.

This graveyard was such a paradox for him: Torment, in the constant memory of what he had lost, yet his only peace in that the sight of the stone, the smell of the earth, and the touch of the grass all made him feel just a little closer to her.

Senna

How that name, just a simple word, tore at his heart. Never before had Ichigo's life been touched in the way that she had. Her innocent spirit, her indomitable will, and even her very presence had torn past his soul's defenses with all of the subtlety of a hurricane.

He couldn't put a time on exactly when it had happened, but that little force of nature had introduced Ichigo to something that he'd never encountered in such a way: love. He wouldn't lie to himself, he loved—no, damn it, loves—Senna.

The loss still tore at him, a literal throb in his chest with every exchange of air in his lungs. Why? Why did it feel as if his chest would collapse under the pain of her memory? Of course, every line of consolation, as well as tired cliche had been used to try and comfort him.

'Soon, no one will remember anything about Senna. It will be as if she never existed.'

'Time heals all wounds, Ichigo.'

'It's better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.'

Ichigo felt his throat tighten against the barrage of emotion that had been such a raw wound for him ever since she died. He didn't get the luxury of morning grogginess, nor did he get the benefit of the cliches. Gritting his teeth, his fingers ripped into the ground below he as he could not stop the rush of warmth to his eyes or the ragged sob that tore through his chest.

Bullshit. All of those lines were complete and utter bullshit. Did no one understand? Life doesn't work that way! You don't get to say some poignant line, then roll credits. Did they not understand the agony that follows you in every moment?

Ichigo clenched his fists as he remembers his fight to keep himself together. The way his throat tightened when he had been brushing his teeth, almost choking himself in the process, or the way his mind nearly explodes with excitement every time he hears a girl giggle in just the right pitch, only to experience reality crashing down onto his head once more. Hell, just yesterday morning, he had nearly hit his sister as she had tried to shake him awake!

Resting his head against the headstone, Ichigo tried to calm himself. His friends just didn't understand. He didn't want to forget. If this pain was the price of remembering her, he had no choice but to pay it. Senna had been such a brilliant light to his dark world, a safe haven for his tormented soul. How could he ever want to forsake that, to forget it as if it never happened?

She had been so much for him, and had taken so little time to reach into the very deepest parts of his heart and claim them for her own, only for her to sacrifice everything just to protect him. Unable to stem the flow of tears, Ichigo leaned back to try and breathe, if only to have the breath to beg any deity that would hear him to get her back.

'Even for just a momentplease…'

His movement was halted, however, as he felt his back hit something sturdy, but warm. Looking over his shoulder, Ichigo was shocked to see his father in his spirit form sitting with his back to his own. Wiping his eyes quickly and clearing his throat, he took a shaky breath as he prepared for the interrogation that the was expecting.

Honestly, he knew that it was long in coming. Ichigo knew that his behavior as of late had caught the attention of his father, and no matter what he said, he knew the old man wasn't stupid. His lack of attention, as well as his frequent absences from home were going to be noticed sooner or later, but he had hoped to not be found like this.

He couldn't explain it, but he never wanted his family to see him like this. He was the protector, literally 'the one who protects', but that Ichigo was nowhere in sight. This Ichigo, the agonized, heartbroken one who couldn't even breathe well at the moment, was not for others to see. This was his only way to escape and let it out, lest he self destruct in front of them.

Before he could speak, his father's gruff voice whispered, "Rukia told me what happened, just after it did. Son, you don't know how badly I wish I could tell you that it get's better. I wish I could tell you that time heals all wounds, and that you'll feel better soon." Hearing a shaky breath, Ichigo was about to turn fully when Isshin continued.

"I wish I could tell you that the emptiness will be filled, and that the void in your heart restores itself after a while. I wish I could tell you that the memories fade, and that the pain stops…but I can't. It's hell son, losing love, losing life. You go from your heart bursting with all of the love in it, to treading water in a battle against something you can't fight…memory."

"Look, Ichigo, I'm not going to lie and say it's going to be great. All I can tell you is that the pain can dull a little. Just…Just take each day as it comes. Take a deep breath. Try to remember the good stuff. Since we don't get a chance to forget, at least try to get the good ones."

Silence fell once more. Looking over at the slowly rising sun, Ichigo knew that he really had no other choice. Memory, it was the greatest blessing and most horrific curse. Even she had been tormented by the thought of being forgotten. Tears fell once more as the stark, unyielding truth bore down on his consciousness.

He would continue on. No matter the cost to himself, Ichigo would never invalidate her sacrifice in any way. He would live on, a walking tribute to a love that was brief, yet just like Senna herself—real.

In the end, memory—whether good or bad—, it was all that he had.

A/N: I liked the movie, but that ending! This was more or less a stream of consciousness bit that tried to capture how Ichigo would really feel. To me, there was a disconnect between the graveyard scene and him smiling at a ribbon just afterward. Also, with him sacrificing himself so often, its a chance for him to experience what those around him have gone through. Ichigo may be strong as a god, but his humanity is still there, and not all endings are happy. Sometimes, you simply have to find a way to cope with what life gives you, and I wanted to explore that. I hope you enjoyed