Rukia could hear the gentle pitter-patter of rain against her window. It was now October, and the skies had become grim and ominous over the past couple of days. Slowly her eye lids fluttered open, her body no longer weary. The truth of the matter was that she was tired of sleeping. She turned and looked at the Calendar on the wall, she still couldn't believe it had been a year. She never thought she would make it this long. She looked around the barren room before letting her feet hit against the cold hardwood flooring of her bedroom. She sighed before making her bed.

Her mind wandered as she walked down the halls of the quiet three bedroom home. It was still early, and still very quiet. She opened the door to the Master bath and looked at herself in the mirror as she passed, some of her colour had returned. Slowly she stripped off her warm pyjamas and turned on the shower. Her mind went blank and she went over her routine, letting the gentle heat of the water carry her away.

She towel dried her hair as she stood before the mirror, her eyes focusing on nothing in particular. When she was finished she silently and routinely put on her make up. She talked to herself, a gentle pep talk to get her through the day.

"You aren't doing this for yourself" She whispered, her heart beating softly, "This is all for them."

She slipped into her outfit for the day, ready to take on all life would throw at her. She went back to her room slowly. As she looked out the window she sighed at the dismal atmosphere. She took one last glance before shutting the door on the empty room, the last strips of light landing on the empty bed.

She was strong, her body was strong. It had been six months since the last time she cried. She always told herself that she had to be strong, not only for her sake, but for the sake of her friends and her family.

"You can do this." She muttered, as she opened the door to her daughters' bedroom. Her mind complied and she felt more at ease. "Raikou, Eimie wake up."

The girls stirred gently, before waking. Eimie was her oldest, she sheltered all the burdens of her siblings, taking the role of mother when Rukia couldn't Eimai had turned 18 earlier that year, and Raikou 15. Raikou was the one who cheered up the others, whenever the world seemed grey Raikou would crack a joke.

She left the girls and pushed open the door to her boys' room. Kaji was Raikou's twin brother. He was a rebellious and troublesome boy and was always dragging his siblings into trouble. He looked remarkably like his father with his fiery orange hair and golden brown eyes. He acted like him to. Kai refused to wake up, he was Rukia's genius. He had turned 13 and just transferred to high school a change that often left Rukia to worry about her sons health. Isshin was her youngest, and perhaps the most calm of her five children, he was 10 and often secluded himself from the others to read or practice soccer. He did his chores and kept to himself so that his family would never have to feel his burdens.

She watched one by one as her kids left for school. She sighed as she looked around the empty house. She was alone. She walked towards the door, keeping her head up high.

She sat amongst friends that night, all of them drinking and sharing good memories. Her kids were safely tucked into bed at a friends house. She was out with her dearest friends. Uryuu, Orihime, Chad, Tatsuki, Renji, Yuroichi, Urahara, Isshin, Karin, Yuzu, even her brother.

Their laughed subsided as a heavy sigh fell over the table full of drunken fools.

Renji looked at his best friend with a great sadness in his heart. "Rukia…" He whispered to the woman sitting next to him, "How are you doing?"

She smiled softly, "I'm okay. Its been hard, but I always find a way to get through the day."

Renji sighed in frustration, 'And the nightmares?"
Rukia laughed, "I'm fine.. Really. I haven't had a nightmare for a good five months."

"Can you really stand to be alone?" Renji asked, grabbing her hands, "I know you'll never love me. But if you need me, I'm always here. I'll shoulder the weight Rukia, we all will."

Rukia hung her head and laughed. "Ichigo would punch you right now if he were here. Accuse you of trying to make a move on his wife."

Renji and Rukie burst into laughter that eventually enveloped the entire table, each of them crying themselves into tears.

The night dissipated and Rukia found herself back at home, all alone. A year ago she would walk through the halls. Turning on lights when she entered a room, and keeping them on all night. Even in her bedroom, she would keep the lights on. She would wake from nightmares and find the light comforting, a reminder that the cold and dark abyss of her dreams would not surround her when she awoke. Over time she learned to deal with it, and slowly the lights started getting turned off as a second nature.

Tonight she walked to her bedroom and changed before looking over her room one last time. She shut off the lights and got into bed, facing his empty spot. She used to imagine him everywhere but now he was just the ghost of a memory. She barely even registered most nights that he had once slept beside her.

She yawned heavily before falling into a deep slumber.

"Midget!" Ichigo laughed, rubbing her hair in a playful manner.

"Ichigo," Rukia growled, punching him in the gut, "you're thirty eight, we've been married for 18 years, when are you going to stop doing that."

Ichigho laughed, light line outlining his face as he looked away from the road to look at her. "When you stop being short."

Rukia laughed, putting a hand to her mouth. Suddenly she found herself outside on a battlefield, rain and blood spattered across her clothes and face. Ichigo was stumbling towards him, a stab wound in his side. They had been betrayed by Ichigo's Vice Captain. A war had broken out, a civil war. She and Ichigo fought on the side of soul society and ultimately, he had protected a weaker shinigami and paid the price.

He fell forward, leaning against her.

"I'm sorry to do this to you.." he whispered, placing a kiss against her neck. She shook silently against him, holding back tears. "You told me in confidence about that night. It seems wrong that I'm putting you through this again."

"Don't talk stupid," she whispered, her voice wavering, "Retsu will be here soon."

"Not soon enough," Ichigo muttered, slumping against her, "Tell the kids I'm sorry… I know I promised I'd always come back… but this time…."

Rukia watched as he grabbed her hand. They stood on the top of sokyoku hill, at the very edge. The spot they had fought so many battles, where he had saved her years and years ago.

"Tell Eimei that she can marry Ryoku. Tell the Raikou that I'm sorry I never finished reading that book with her. Kaji… tell him I'm sorry for what happened, that I've been repenting for it ever since. Tell Kai that he reminds me of my mother, that his grandma would be proud." Tears started to fall from his face, as the gash running from his shoulder to his hip began to disintegrate. Tell Isshin that he can always share his burdens with us, that I wish he had." He ran a shaky ran hand along Rukia's face, caressing her skin. His voice was weak and shaky. "Rukia… tell Byakuya that I'm sorry I couldn't keep my promise." He placed a gentle kiss upon her lips, before he seemed to disappear. Rukai reached out her hand as the last of him seemed to fade away.

Rukia shot up, sweat pouring down her face. Her hand out stretched. She sat in her despair and looked at her hands. They had always been his, she was too afraid to start to live again, too afraid to start all over. She missed holding his hand, having him close. That desire and that hunger was always her undoing. Every shield she had put up, any peace she could find.. It always dissipated on the nights she would wake up with him on her mind.

Tears fell from her eyes, as she thought about him. She wiped away the tears as they got to be too much. She could not let go of him, no matter how hard she tried, it was always going to sting. It would be another year maybe more before she would recover again before falling back into a trap. Before she would feel the sting once more. She would always live with the burden of a broken heart, try as hard she could to bandage it, a scar would always remain.

It was October 8th, one year since he had died. In the morning they would visit his grave. She prayed that she would have the strength to carry on, if not for her own sake, or for the sake of her children, then for his.

A/N: so I'm back for a short while hahaha. :) I tried to base this off "My hands" my Leona Lewis... but I feel Like I lacked in capturing the emotion. Tell me what you think. Back in the SADDLE woo ;) feels good.