Hello,

This is my first story posting on the FF website, or any for that matter and I would like to say hi, welcome, I hope you enjoy this one-shot. Please read through and review if you so wish: I am (or should be) old enough to take criticism.

Disclaimer:

I do not own Bleach or make money off this fan made fiction.

Background:

(Because this is a one-shot and not a continued story)

The Spirit King was killed before Ichigo showed up to the rescue and all three dimensions collapsed. As a result the earth is a large desert and resembles Hueco Mundo at night and most people were killed in the initial impact. The survivors fall into three categories of beings both physical and spiritual at the same time: The Living, the Soul Reapers, and the Hollows.

The Living who survived and had little spiritual power remained the same; the living with enough spiritual power were forced into becoming either soul reapers or hollows as their powers became unstable during the collapse and forcefully manifested themselves.

The Soul Reapers already had stable powers and only had to endure the pain of being combined with physical matter. Most soul reapers survived, only the weakest perished. This also means any spirit without sufficient power did not survive.

The Hollows pain increased so even ones that previously could talk may not be capable of it anymore.

The Quincy are dead as the collapse destabilized their powers and without the internal control of soul reapers they could not control the power flowing through them (imagine extremely fast erosion).

STORY: Silver Linings

It was around seven in the morning and a young looking man sat cross-legged as he watched from the edge atop a large white structure to as the sun peaked over the desert landscape and began to climb into the sky. His orange, rebellious, shoulder length hair moved slightly in the wind as a scowl faded from his face as the sound of footsteps approached him. Behind him a young looking woman moved to his side before sitting closely beside him also cross-legged; her hair was black, rebellious, and ran down to the base of her shoulder blades while gently swaying with the wind.

"So today marks the tenth anniversary, eh?" she said while leaning into the man's side.

A gentle smile soon formed on the man's face as he looked upon his companion. "'Morning Tatsuki," he started. "Yeah, it's hard to believe things have changed so much."

The man wrapped his right arm around Tatsuki as she looked from the inner city and drew her focus forward: she saw the quiet streets before they transitioned into crop fields which thinned out before ultimately becoming one with the sands.

"Which part," she asked, "then or now?"

"Both, the past is still fresh in my mind and the present can be so hard to believe."

"I know what you mean." said Tatsuki, "I still remember their faces, like I could walk to the school right now and say 'Hey Orihime, what's up?'." Her tone becoming more somber as she continued.

"I'm sorry."

Tatsuki looked up at the man with disapproval on her face. "Look here Ichigo, I've said this before and I'll say it again: It's not your fault! You didn't kill the soul king and there was nothing you could do to keep Orihime and Chad from losing to their inner-selves."

Ichigo saw at the stern look Tatsuki had given him; they had been through this many times before and he just sighed as he pulled her closer. "You're right Tatsuki; I just wish I could have been there, you know?"

Tatsuki nuzzled further into Ichigo's side, closed her eyes, and inhaled. "I know. If only I hadn't taken two days in Urahara's pit. Then, maybe I could have cheered Orihime on. Those kinds of things really help." she couldn't help her voice cracking up a little toward the end.

"Don't beat yourself up." Said Ichigo, "It took me three days to leave that pit; you did well."

"You've said that before." She sniffled, voice still sounding rough.

Ichigo brought his left hand across and wiped away a tear from Tatsuki's cheek before gently turning her face to meet her eyes. "And I'll say it again." he said as he leaned in and lightly kissed her.

Smiling contentedly Tatsuki opened her eyes and stared into Ichigo's. "And that's one of the many reasons I love you Ichigo, your words mean so much to me." Ichigo just smiled as he listened. "I've never told you this, but it was your words that enabled me to defeat my inner hollow."

"Really?" came a surprised reply.

"Yeah, I was on the verge of losing, wondering if the pain was worth the fight when your voice came through. I can still hear the words now: 'I want you around no matter what.'" Ichigo was about to reply when Tatsuki moved up and sealed his lips for a long and gentle while.

XxX

A few minutes afterwards an exhausted woman with long, light brown hair and brown eyes appeared behind Ichigo and Tatsuki. She appeared to be in her late thirties and currently held her zanpakuto out and to her side pointed downward. It was short and had many rounded bumps at the top of the blade and a barbed edge; and upon closer inspection one would see that the guard was narrow and the grip was grey beneath a copper coloured wrap.

"Please excuse me Captain Kurosaki, Vice-Captain Kurosaki!" She said with slightly laboured breath.

The two leaned back a little and turned their heads around to see her and Tatsuki spoke up.

"Tenth seat Midori, you're in shikai. Is there something wrong?"

"No mam," she replied, "I am simply trying to counter Captain Kurosaki's spiritual pressure so my movement isn't restricted."

"Then let's be quick." said Tatsuki. "What message do you have for us?"

"The last hollow fortress among ruins within 100 spirit miles was taken with no casualties."

With a smile on both Tatsuki's and Ichigo's face Tatsuki relieved her tenth seat of her current duty "That's great news, you can return to your barracks!"

"Yes, Vice-Captain Kurosaki." The tenth seat wanted to leave quickly. "Goodbye Captain Kurosaki, Vice-Captain Kurosaki." And with shunpo she left, though significantly more pale than before.

With a look of concern Tatsuki turned toward Ichigo. "Ichigo, is it really a good idea to attend the memorial?"

"It... should be okay." He replied with slight doubt which quickly transformed into a look of confidence as he added, "Besides, I'll start using Urahara's separation thing."

"You mean that fancy arm brace?" questioned Tatsuki.

"Yeah, it's supposed to draw all the extra spiritual energy I have and use it to start creating an alternate dimension. Something about getting the cycle of life restarted..." It was an interesting thought as to how Urahara was so knowledgeable, but one best left brief to prevent undue time expenditure. "Anyway, it should reduce my spiritual pressure to one of a second-class bankai user."

This caused Tatsuki to have a thought of her own before she looked up to Ichigo with a large grin. "You really do have a lot of energy don't you?" She had learned not to question Urahara's devices years before, it was the last time she really had a headache.

With a grin of his own Ichigo caught Tatsuki in a passionate kiss as he leaned her backwards while still keeping her off the ground. "You're quite the firecracker yourself."

She just smiled and said, "You bet!" Both soon got up and began walking back to their room while the conversation returned to it's original topic. "So, do I get one of those fancy devices?"

"Only if you want, he sent us five."

"Five? Oh, one for every bankai user."

Ichigo put his arm around Tatsuki and pulled her closer. "Yeah," he said, "And that reminds me of another reason to go, I want to see how everyone's doing in person."

XxX

Around two hours later in the second military court building third seat Karin Kurosaki was informally interrogating the seventh seat Heiwa Jōshō. The air was fairly tense as Karin was flaring some of her spiritual pressure unconsciously and Heiwa was unsure as to why he was called in the first place.

"Do you have any idea what you've done!?" Heiwa stared blankly at Karin, still unsure of where this was headed. "You put your responsibility on tenth seat Midori and now she's in the hospital!"

Heiwa's eyes widened in shock but he still didn't know how he fit into this mess. Being quick on his mental feet however, he spoke in the short gap allotted to him. "Excuse me, and I apologize in advance for everything that is my fault, however I do not know of what you speak. I haven't spoken to the Tenth seat since her promotion last year. Nor do I understand the incident to which you refer."

This time it was Karin's eyes that widened before narrowing with disbelief. "No idea... No idea!?" she exclaimed. "How about sending her to deliver a message to Vice-Captain Kurosaki while she was still in the company of Captain Kurosaki! Just because she's a seated officer doesn't mean she can withstand that kind of spiritual pressure!" Pinching the bridge of her nose and taking a few short breaths Karin lowered her voice to normal levels and continued. "She's stable and recovering, but had unstable spirit energy."

"I see." replied Heiwa. "This is my duty, however I was indisposed with the raid on the hollow fortress last night; I have only just returned."

"Thank you, seventh seat Jōshō, would you mind sticking around and calling the others? We will discuss this before I bring it to my brother."

"I will." Almost immediately he began the incantation for the appropriate kido and spoke with the other seated officers and requested their presence – all except Shizukana Midori.

XxX

It was around 11:00 when Ichigo and Tatsuki had finally left their home and entered the next inner-most part of the city: the military ring. Walking through the different stone buildings and practice fields they drew attention from many soul reapers who were seeing their captain in person for the first time in years; some had yet to see him at all. Soon enough others came around and many short yet interesting discussions were had and time was passed until the lunch bell rang it's steady tone four times signalling that food was ready.

"Well that was nice." said Ichigo as the last few soul reapers left for their designated mess halls. "Things seem less somber than last year."

"I think that's because their shut-in of a captain finally showed his face." Tatsuki teased. Ichigo chuckled before she continued. "But compared to last year things actually are more cheerful." She tapped her chin in thought before suddenly brightening up with a large smile. "It might have to do with all the weddings this year."

Now Ichigo was especially interested. "Really, how many?"

"There were ten in the past month alone." she replied in a chipper yet matter-of-fact tone.

"That's good to hear."

"Yeah, it's so nice to see so many couples around, makes the city feel more alive, you know?" Tatsuki grabbed Ichigo's hand and began pulling him in a certain direction. "Come on, I want to show you my office." she said smiling. "It was finally redone last week."

XxX

Upon entering the room it was easy to see the visual relief presented in contrast to the white stone and orange clay tile that made up most of the city. The walls were bamboo-green with cream coloured inlay in the shape of lilies. The floor was made with dark coloured wood and had a matching brown ceiling with a small yet ornate iron lamp hanging down from the centre. There was a large window to the right of the desk with charcoal curtains opened on either side and a comfortable looking chair which matched the-deep red desk. Behind it a couple of equally red chairs sat against the back wall next to a tall page organizer in the same deep-red colour. The only other noticeable details in the room were plain sliding doors on the left side in the same wood as the floor that led to a closet and a few brown wood wall hangers next to them.

"It's nice." said Ichigo. He looked around and took note of the decor before focusing on Tatsuki who stood in front of her desk in anticipation with her hands behind her back and a large smile on her face. He smiled back and with mock jealousy said, "Now we'll have to redo our home."

Tatsuki's face became one of thought before she once again grabbed Ichigo's hand and led him to the chair behind her desk. "Try it out, we'll want a couple of these too."

Ichigo sat down and was surprised at how comfortable the chair really was before Tatsuki then sat down in his lap and cuddled up to him. "I guess we will." he said.

They sat there for a while enjoying the intimacy before Karin knocked on the wall beside the still-open door and looked in with mild amusement. "You might want to close the door before you go any further."

The two were about to tease back when they noticed the now serious look she sported. "Is something wrong?" they asked in unison.

Karin walked in and closed the door behind her before walking closer to the desk and responding. "Yeah, we need to talk about the hierarchy of this city."

By now Tatsuki had taken the extra chairs and had given one to Karin before she sat on the other. "I see." thought Ichigo before he continued. "What happened?"

"Our fourth-seat ordered our tenth-seat to deliver a message. He assumed any seat would be able to counter your spiritual pressure and now our tenth-seat is in the hospital recovering from unstable spirit energy."

The information hit Ichigo in what was now a sore spot: ever since the collapse he and some of the other captains had become more powerful; and control only went so far. "She looked strained, but not that badly. How bad was it?"

"She will be fit for duty in two days."

"That's a relief." said Tatsuki. "But what does that have to do with the hierarchy?"

"I called a meeting with the other seats and we discussed this; and we think the best solution to this is to change things so the higher seats can't give orders to the lower seats without you or Tatsuki being okay with it."

"That would be one way to solve it." spoke Ichigo. "I'll speak with the Captain Commander and suggest it."

"The captain commander?" Asked Karin. "I thought you were in charge of this city."

"I am, but doing something like that needs to be brought to every city. It helps to keep a sense of uniformity. Ever since the captains split up they wanted to prevent any thoughts of division between the cities. We have enough trouble without going to war against each other."

A little surprised, Karin quickly straightened her face as she reminded herself of how responsible Ichigo really was. Thinking back to the initial disaster she remembered how he had been one of the few people not panicking when the world was falling apart. Her father, too, had shown a level head and helped save both her and Yuzu during their own transformations. And the hollows...

"Karin, are you okay?" Ichigo asked.

"Sorry." Karin said; she hadn't been aware of the pained look she let show. "I was just thinking about the past."

"Well today is the day for that." Tatsuki interjected. After a long moment lost in her thoughts Ichigo's stomach growled in sync with hers "Hey Tatsuki, have you had lunch yet?"

Once again with a look of amusement Karin grinned and said, "You two do everything together don't you." her tone was lain thick. And the line would have had so much more of an effect if her stomach hadn't chosen that moment to betray her.

Ichigo and Tatsuki burst out in laughter and got up, both placing an arm around her, and escorted her along with them to the mess hall.

XxX

It was now mid afternoon and Ichigo stood on a stage before a gathering crowd: staring out but also receiving a thousand stares back. He was rarely seen and the noise of the crowd reflected everyone's interest. Using his sharp hearing Ichigo listened in on some of the closer chatter.

"Look, it's the Captain!" some would say.

"So that's what he looks like." Others responded.

"Glad he's on our side" one said in particular.

The comments kept coming and Ichigo smiled in relief because none of it was negative, although he did raise his eyebrow at a few of the more colourful comments. Not long after Tatsuki joined him and the crowd went silent; wrapping his arm around her they stepped up and Ichigo began speaking through a specially prepared kido.

"Hello," he started. "I'm glad to see so many of you could make it out today. I'd personally like to have been around more but that hasn't been possible before today." He gave the crowd a moment to think before continuing. "Ten years ago this day changed all of us: for the worse but also for the better. Most of us lost loved ones and those of great importance to us; and it is for them we mourn. But we are alive. And while the pain is difficult to bear we do so in order to keep our hearts all the more real. We honour those who now precede us.

Ichigo and Tatsuki stepped back and a large bell was slowly rung for the next five minutes. Many in the crowd quietly sobbed as memories of family, friends, respected ones, and other loved ones came flooding to the forefront of their minds: much more clearly than anyone could have prepared for. The bell had that kind of effect.

Eventually the bell stopped and Ichigo dried his tears while waited for Tatsuki to finish lightly sobbing into his chest, her hands now wrapped around him. Turning back towards the crowd, Ichigo took a slow step forward with Tatsuki and picked up where he left off. "While we remember the past and deal with our sorrows we live in the present and realize there is good to be had. Some have found love, others purpose, and others still new friendships. Life may be a greater challenge today but not everything is as black as our starless sky."

The soul reapers left in military fashion leaving the civilians who slowly started to leave for their homes.

"So Tatsuki," Ichigo gently said. "Are you ready to go home?"

The two stood there for a while as Ichigo embraced Tatsuki and began to sway while lightly humming a consoling tune.

"Yeah," She replied. "Let's go."

Author's thoughts:

So, let me know what you think. Are there any spelling, grammatical or diction errors: let me know over PM, I seek to improve myself (Please note I use the Canadian spelling for words: 'colour' is correct).

I'm not sure what else to put here so everyone have a good week.

SomethingAncient – 2015-11-10.