AUTHOR NOTE: Just to clear up so confusion, yes, the person that Rukia was thinking about at the beginning of Chapter 2 is KAIEN.

However, since she hit her head pretty badly (Courtesy of herself and Ichigo), she originally forgot all about Kaien. Then she got the memories back, note: ONLY SOME FROM WHEN SHE WAS 6-10. (Re-read Chapter 2!)

Now, because Byakuya is coming back, she needs hurry because she's running out of time to complete her goal. Her goal is still vaguely the same as the start; she's trying to use music as a way to reconnect with the world and solve her mystery about her memories.

And I'll leave Ichigo as Ichigo; you don't have to know everything about him yet, ;)

WOW, that was epically long . . . sorry you had to read that!

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Bleach.

Chapter 5: Playlist No. 4 Track No. 7

"Kurosaki."

Ichigo lifted the book off his face and sunlight poured over his face. He scowled and covered his eyes before sitting up, letting the book drop into his lap. Rukia raised an eyebrow at the book cover.

"Shakespeare, huh?"

Ichigo rolled his eyes and lifted a second book, a gag manga, from inside the Shakespeare book.

"Yeah, he's brilliant."

Rukia was standing on the concrete path that ran through this massive patch of grass that Ichigo was lying on. What she really wanted to do right now was to walk right up to him and grab him by the collar to shake some answers out of him. Yesterday's events still reeled in her mind, but despite the inner turmoil that was raging through her, she attempted to stay calm. There was one goal she had to reach and she wasn't going to let it slip out of her hands, Byakuya or no Byakuya.

At least she vaguely knew who Kaien was now.

But it still hurt, knowing that she would never be able to see him again.

Ichigo had walked away after that and Byakuya had called. Luck sure wasn't going her way.

It was times like this when she wished her sister was still alive. Hisana would have known exactly how she felt right now and would immediately know what to do about it. She closed her eyes and imagined that Hisana was right next to her, telling her and guiding her with her gentle voice.

"Do what you have to do, Rukia."

She swallowed.

"Uh . . . um, play a game with me!"

She blurted out, mentally cursing herself for sounding so stupid.

Ichigo snorted and his scowl grew.

"Who do you think I am?"

Rukia fumbled for words to reply.

"Uh, um, what I meant was-"

"I don't care what you mean or what you want with me. Just stay away. I made a mistake, helping you."

He got up and started walking away, as he did; the bell rang out signifying the end of lunch. As the last chime faded, Rukia became desperate. She ran after him, but with her height, she couldn't catch up to his long strides. She stopped and took a deep breath to yell.

"It's a Music Game! I want to play a Music Game!"

Ichigo froze.

To anybody else, it wouldn't have made sense at all. What did a Music Game mean? What was it about? What were its rules?

And perhaps, what was the reason for playing such a game?

But he was Ichigo. And he knew Kaien.

But she was Rukia. And she knew Kaien.

"Why?"

He whispered.

"Why are you doing this to me? I don't want to play it! I don't want to remember!"

He shouted the last sentence out, his back still facing Rukia.

"Why don't you want to remember? Are you running away, Ichigo? "

She demanded, stepping forward.

Rukia closed her eyes; memories of the lonely nights spent in the cold, empty Kuchiki household swam into view. The many nights where she just cried herself to sleep silently, so Byakuya would not hear her. She had felt so confused and hollow inside. Her memories were missing, something was missing. Every day was the same routine, nothing seemed worth it. Her reason for living; what was it? Was there any point at all?

It might've have been Kaien that had filled her hole; she didn't understand anymore, but she had to know.

"I'm not going to run anymore, not like you, I'm going to find out the truth! I know that you know something; I'll never let you go until I find out!"

Rukia took a breath to steady her nerves.

"Rule No. 1: Once the Game is brought up, the challenger and the challenged must play. There is no withdrawal permitted."

She took a couple steps closer to him. Ichigo still hadn't moved.

"Rule No. 2: The Game must be carried through the whole way. No breaks and no cheats."

Ichigo had curled his hands into fists.

"Rule No. 3: The Game is won-"

"-when a player concedes defeat; there are no ties."

Ichigo cut Rukia off harshly.

"I know. What's your purpose?"

He had turned around but his head was still down.

"We can't play a Music Game like this! There's no judge. There's nothing to play for!"

Rukia's brain racked for a reply to Ichigo's questions. But her mind came up blank. She couldn't just say that the reason that she wanted to do this was because she thought that maybe somehow her memories would return. It didn't make any sense, not even to herself, as she repeated her thoughts; but still she went with it.

"What? No quick snappy reply anymore Kuchiki? Give up already. . "

Ichigo started moving again.

His movement spurred Rukia into action and she leapt forward and grabbed his wrist.

Electricity cackled through their skin and Ichigo was reminded of the time when he had held onto her arm for a bit longer than necessary when she was unconscious. There was something about the rhythms that both of them lived by; it was unbelievably repelling, the way they were so different, yet it drew them both in at the same time. Never before had anything felt so wrong and so right.

Rukia's grip tightened.

"Urahara! We'll get Urahara to be the judge! And there's only one thing I wish to play for!"

Ichigo scoffed and tried to shake her hand off, but to no success.

"And what's that?"

"Information."

"Why would I agree to terms like that? It's only benefitting you."

"I win; I get the information I want. You win; I disappear forever."

Ichigo didn't speak for a while.

Eventually, Rukia's palms grew sweaty and she began to feel quite awkward; but she didn't quite want to let go of Ichigo either. She prayed and prayed that Ichigo would accept.

He had to.

He wouldn't say no . . . would he?


"Fine, we'll start from now."

"Tatsuki-chan . . ."

Orihime murmured softly as she watched her friend unleash her fury on the punching bag inside the dojo. Sweat dripped down the dark haired girl's face as she concentrated on bashing the living daylights out of the poor punching bag; which had done absolutely nothing wrong to her. Orihime turned around and leaned back against the wall, her arms tucked behind her back. Her brown eyes stared down at her shoes as she tried to swallow back tears.

Yesterday's events reeled in her head, moving so fast that they all merged into a large slush of emotions in her head. What did Tatsuki mean? Why was Tatsuki hugging Ichigo? Didn't Tatsuki know that she liked him? But they were childhood friends, so . . .

"Arisawa!"

"Hai?"

"What's wrong with you? Your punches are sloppy! Don't go for strength but precision!"

"Hai."

"Come on, concentrate! You're normally not like this!"

"Hai. I'm sorry."

Orihime sighed.

Everything was so confusing.

"Ah! Inoue-san!"

She looked up suddenly and saw the face of her music teacher; well, saw the hair and the hat of her music teacher. He grinned and opened his fan before waving it back and forth in front of him in a calm and relaxed manner.

"Urahara-sensei . . ."

"Orihime-san! I will need your help for a little while."

"Eh? Me?"

"Yes, yes, come along!"

He walked off, his coat swishing behind him. Orihime was frozen for a while she started moving after him.

"Ah! Wait! What do I have to do?"

Urahara laughed.

"That's easy, just listen and judge."


Rukia smirked at Ichigo.

"You ready?"

"Che, are you ready?"

Ichigo replied.

Rukia pretended to toss her 'long' hair, her smirk never leaving her face.

"For your information, I've had plenty of practice! He always brought me a song to compete against. Sometimes I lost, but most of the time, I won! Though I'm not worried, this is just a practice run."

"You're not the only one."

Rukia whirled around from her chair.

"What do you mean?"

"Do you think I would know the rules of the game without ever playing it before? I knew Kaien since I was-"

He abruptly cut himself off.

Damn.

I almost told her something . . .

"What? Why did you suddenly stop?"

"Just hurry up and go and sing."

He shoved her out of the practice room and locked the door.


"Wonderfully done, Kuchiki-san!"

Rukia nodded.

"Y-yes, that was so good Kuchiki-san."

There was a pause before Rukia spoke again.

"Urahara . . . sensei," she quickly added on, "why is, uh, Inoue . . ."

"Because you can't have me judging everything now can you? That wouldn't be as fun! Now, Inoue-san, what do you think? Out of ten, I think she deserved a nine."

A pleased smile appeared on Rukia face, not full marks, but still do-able.

"Um, well, I think she, um . . . should get . . . a seven and a half . . . maybe an eight."

The atmosphere in the room suddenly changed. Rukia frowned; her eyes were hard as she stared straight into Orihime's light brown ones. An eight would have been fine before, but not now, not when she had to win. She felt a little satisfaction as Orihime flinched away from her piercing stare; but it didn't help improve her mood by much.

"Inoue-san, your reason?"

Orihime looked around nervously and swallowed before she spoke.

"Because, though she hit the notes perfectly and the phrasing was perfect . . . there was something missing."

Missing?

Urahara cocked his head curiously to one side.

"Please explain further."

"Well, it was like, she was singing but she had no strength behind it. Her voice sounds beautiful and she isn't off pitch at all. But . . . I couldn't feel who was singing. Whether it was a sad person or a happy person, it was like it was the singer . . ."

Orihime found the courage to meet Rukia's stare.

"It was like the singer didn't know what she was singing about or singing for."

Urahara nodded.

"Well spoken. I agree with your decision. Please take a seat, Kuchiki-san. Kurosaki-san! Please come in!"

Rukia still hadn't moved from her position when Ichigo entered the room.

"You gonna move or not, midget? How am I supposed to sing with you in my way?"

Ichigo's words spurred Rukia back to life. She moved off the raised platform and went to sit down.

"Oi, shorty, you better listen well, 'cause you're gonna get smashed!"

"Che, I doubt it!"

Urahara waved his fan between the two.

"Maa, maa, calm down. Are you ready Kurosaki-san?"

Ichigo looked at Rukia, who folded her arms and closed her eyes, before answering.

"Of course."

"Very well, round one requires you to choose a song to sing from a theme we give you, right here, right now. No practice. You can choose to interpret it anyway you wish."

Ichigo shrugged as if it was nothing.

"Alright then, your theme phrase is this: one person's dream."

The orange-haired teen barely thought for a minute before speaking.

"I've got one."

"That was quick, are you sure you don't want to reconsider your-"

"Yes, I'm sure."

"Ok then."

Ichigo took a deep breath before starting.

I walk a lonely road,

The only one that I have ever known.

Don't know where it goes,

But it's home to me and I walk alone.

I walk this empty street,

On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

When the city sleeps,

And I'm the only one and I walk alone.

I walk alone . . .

The words and the melody sank deep into Rukia. Her whole life had felt like the exact tone of how Ichigo was singing. His voice was soft but strong; filled with pain but also a longing hope for something better despite knowing that things might never change. How many days did she go at a time, feeling just like that? Abandoned and alone; even with a house and food, to Rukia, it was still was 'home'. The short brief periods of happiness had all but faded into fantasy in her mind, never to be reached out for again.

I walk alone . . .

My shadow's the only one, who walks beside me,

My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating.

Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me,

'Till then. .

I walk alone.

I'm walking down the line,

That divides me somewhere in my mind,

On the borderline,

Of the edge and where I walk alone.

Read between the lines,

What's messed up when everything's alright,

Check my vital signs,

To know I'm still alive and I walk alone.

I walk alone . . .

The days that she had spent until she was finally picked up by Hisana and Byakuya were torture. Having Renji around helped, but not much. It was only when she thought she really couldn't make it anymore, when Kaien appeared and suddenly she was no longer alone. Even moving in with Hisana hadn't separated them. He still appeared constantly when times were tough. But even he in the end disappeared . . .

I walk alone . . .

My shadow's the only one, who walks beside me,

My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating.

Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me,

'Till then . . .

I walk alone . . .

I walk alone . . .

I walk this empty street . . .

On the Boulevard . . .

Of Broken . . .

Dreams . . .

There was silence after Ichigo finished.

"Ten."

To everyone's surprise it was Rukia who spoke.

There was a silence to Rukia's announcement, then Orihime nodded enthusiastically in agreement.

"Yes, ten."

"And I believe that was a ten too. Well congratulations Kurosaki-san, you've won round 1!"

AUTHOR NOTE: omg, this chappie was long!

9 pages on word, around 2,500 words or so! ==' you all better review! :D

Thanks for reading!

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