Disclaimer: Nearly forgot to add disclaimer. I mean, why do we even add it? We all know Bleach belongs to the awesome Kubu Tite Sensei! And we're just crazy fans of him. ;D
Spoilers: Chapter 181 (End of Soul Society Arc)
References made to: Chapter 116, Chapter 24 & 25
Ramblings: Ah,my first fanfic! I don't speak much English and neither do the people around me, and I can't remember the last time I read an English book (the horrors O.o)! So please forgive me for being unable to present a piece better than this and ideas on how to make it better is greatly appreciated : ). I got very inspired by Bleach fanfic writers and so just really wanted to write about Rukia and Ichigo. So I did. And I've tried my best.
Oh, and I pick out scenes from the manga and translations of these scenes are done by me, so it might differ from your manga's translation, so don't plummel me if the translation is not to your liking! XD
Please Enjoy! Ichigo x Rukia all the way!
The white tower, stood tall and imposing against the clear, azure sky.
How long has it been since I've left the tower?
She touched her neck, the collar that she had nearly grown accustomed to, no longer there.
She had been imprisoned for seemingly such a long that this freedom now feels almost unreal.
"You shouldn't be running everywhere like that you know. It's not like you've fully recovered," a recognizable, gruff voice came from behind.
She turned to face that familiar spikey orange hair, furrowed brows and intense eyes. She could feel a sort of unease coming over her, the memories of him standing on this same bridge still clearly etched in her mind. His strong build, protective eyes and his body covered in injuries. She could not even begin to describe the relief she had felt when she knew he was still alive, nor could she describe the pain she felt when she thought of what he had to put himself through to save her.
She wanted to walk away, to escape from those eyes, but for some reason or the other, she teetered on her feet and started to fall, but Ichigo's arms swiftly went and steadied her.
"I told you, you shouldn't be running everywhere," Ichigo chided in his usual brusque tone. "The wind's strong here, let's go down."
Rukia's hand touched his arm gently as she shook her head. "I'm fine."
A strange sort of silence fell upon them, her hand resting on his arm that held her shoulder and her face turned away from him. For a moment, time just seemed to freeze there, with only the winds to remind them that time would not wait for them. Perhaps she wanted time to freeze there and then. Because she knew the dam for her tortuous emotions was ready to collapse any moment soon and she needed to hold in these emotions because she had to remain strong for him. Her facade of strength had failed her too many times since she had met him. She did not want it to fail again.
His voice broke the silence. "I'll be leaving in about an hour or so you know."
Her lips quivered slightly. She knew. She wanted to look for him yesterday after she broke the news, but she did not have the courage to. Maybe she wanted him to look for her instead, so that she will not feel that she was the one holding onto all these longing feelings in her heart. Maybe she wanted to pretend that she can actually let go of all these uncertainties that she so desperately wanted to hide. Maybe...
"You're not coming right?" Ichigo said with a hint of resignation in his voice.
"I…" Rukia felt her voice crack.
I want to go back so badly…
I want to go back to staying in that tiny closet of yours…
…to go back to the school filled with your crazy friends
…to go back to that perverted Kon
…to go back to stealing clothes from your little sister
To go back to a time when we were always chasing down Hollows
…a time when we would spend all day in your room doing nothing
…a time when you would insult my drawings
…a time when you and I were always together
The tears were falling now. She could not speak her thoughts out loud because she knew if she did, it would spoil everything. If she said what she was feeling now, she would regret it. Regret it and never be able to let go.
"Please..." Ichigostarted, with an uncostumaryplea in his voice. "Don't cry."
Rukia turned to face him finally and there was an odd look in his eyes.
"It was because I saw you crying, that I couldn't just leave you behind. If you start crying again…" Ichigo stopped in mid-sentence when Rukia suddenly grabbed the front of his kimono.
"You're such an idiot!" She yelled out.
"What? Even till now, this is how you thank me?" Ichigo retorted in annoyance.
"You had to come back to save me! ME! When I told you not to! Look at yourself now! You were injured, your spine was nearly severed, and you now have all these scars… just to save me! I know I've said all these before… but you're just such an idiot! You nearly died… just to save me… and I told you not to… save… me… And did you know how scared I was in that tower, in that stupid tower where I don't have any clue what was happening!"
Rukia was practically choking on her tears as she pressed the top of her forehead against his chest and kept tugging at his kimono as she continued.
"I was so scared… all the time… I didn't know if you were still alive… And then I realized… you were alive… I… I… Then for the past few days, I was also so scared… so scared of facing you… And then yesterday… I don't know how to… how to face you… and I didn't think that… think that…"
…and I didn't think that it was going to hurt so much.
Her small frame was now shaking uncontrollably as she sobbed. Ichigo stared at her for a while, uncertain what he was supposed to do. Then he gently stroked her hair like he was comforting a child.
"I was scared too," Ichigo confessed quietly, "That's why I didn't look for you yesterday after you told me that you were going to stay. That's why…" His voice trailed off, like he no longer knew what he was supposed to say, or like he realized he should not say what he was going to say.
He wanted so badly to just pull her right into his arms. Just so that she would stop crying. He did not save her to make her cry. He did not know that it would be so hard for her. And he did not expect it to be so hard for himself too. And if he held her any closer to himself now…
"I saved you, because I had to somehow return everything that you had given me," Ichigo finally said.
"I didn't give you anything; I stole everything away from you! I took away your normal life and threw you into this whole big mess! It's my entire fault! I… I…" Rukia was looked up, her eyes swollen and red.
Ichigo's usual hard and stoical expression softened.
"You gave me everything," he whispered as he leaned over and kissed the trail that the tears had left behind on her face.
Rukia gasped softly in surprise when she felt Ichigo's lips gently brush against her cheeks. It was an action that was totally unexpected of Ichigo, unexpected especially after how she had led him on, unexpected especially after how cruel she had been to him. Ichigo seemed to have realized how out of character he was being as well, as he quickly pulled back his head and looked away, a myriad of undecipherable emotions in his eyes.
"I just wanted to thank you, that's all." Ichigo seemed to be forcing every single word through his tightened jaws.
Rukia's hands released his clothes, her eyes focused on the ground and her mind trying to erase the almost nostalgic feel of his warmth against her skin.
"I can't go back, Ichigo," she stated, sounding surprisingly calm after her initial outburst. She had to say these for he deserved to hear as much. And if she did not say these words, she knew she would never be able to let go.
Ichigo looked at her now, his eyes telling her that that was what he came here for. To hear an explanation, perhaps any sort of explanation, from her.
"I do not belong in your world. I belong here, in Soul Society. I belong with my brother, Renji, Hanatarou, Captain Ukitake… and everyone else here. My life belongs here, Ichigo. Perhaps finally, my brother will be able to show me what having a family is like. And you've showed me what being alive is like. I've stayed too long in the shadow of the death of Kaien-dono, and now that I've finally learned to step out of that shadow, I have to try living again. So I can't go back with you, Ichigo. I'll just be running away." Her eyes closed gradually as she took a slow, deliberate breath.
Then she opened them again as she released that breath. "And I have to learn to stop running away."
Rukia stopped and they just stared at each other in silence for a while. Then at last, Ichigo gave a small smile and nodded. "Yeah, I guess I understand that."
Ichigo's smile, was always so full of melancholy, a melancholy that she knew not where it begun and she knew not where it would end. She never could read his smile, that unfathomable smile that served to hide his guarded thoughts. Her hand went down to squeeze his hand tightly, hoping that he really, really did understand.
Ichigo went to the side of the bridge and gazed down at the labyrinth that Rukia lived in and would continue living in. He took in a deep breath, wanting to remember everything he had experienced in here, remember everything in this single breath. To remember this world where Rukia belongs. To remember these broken walls, cracked grounds… and this bridge where he finally saw Rukia. To remember the relief he felt. The pain. The confusion. The anger. The joy. The tears. The memories of that night. That very last night he would ever have with her.
He lay down, his arms spread wide open on the floor and his eyes staring at the sky.
"You know, the sky here isn't all that different. In fact, it's probably exactly the same."
Rukia went over to sit beside him. She then lifted his head so that it rested on her lap.
Ichigo frowned and attempted to get off. "What are you doing? It's stupid."
Rukia smacked his head. "Stop moving!"
"I'm saying this is stupid!"
"Just shut up and stay down!" Rukia snapped back as she pressed his adamant head down, forcing him to stay in position.
Reluctantly, Ichigo stopped fidgeting and rested his head on her lap. He was pretending to be annoyed, but truth was, he enjoyed catching the little glimpse of that usual exasperating Rukia he knew. The Rukia who never listened what he had to say. The Rukia who always commanded him to do things the way she wanted them to be done. The Rukia who always got her way.
And he had to admit, lying there like that was an amazingly peaceful feeling. The wind was caressing his face. Her laps were soft behind his head. Her fingers were lightly brushing his hair away from his face. He closed his eyes, wanting to turn this moment into an eternity.
"Thank you for not dying," Rukia said softly.
"It sounds familiar. You said that before, didn't you? After the Grand Fissure fight."
"You were awake?"
"Did you cry that night?"
"In front of your mother's grave. It was raining, I couldn't tell."
"Don't lie, you idiot."
"Don't ask if you think you know the answer!"
"Just answer the question."
"Yeah, I was." Ichigo admitted quietly.
"But I won't have to anymore."
"It has stopped raining."
"Really?" Rukia asked.
- - -
Everyone was gathered at the gate to bid their final farewells. A lot of memories were made, memories that would not be easily forgotten. Ichigo's and Rukia's eyes met. A smile spread across both their faces.
"Ah…" was her reply.
As he headed towards the gate, Rukia called out, "And… thank you, Ichigo!"
He glanced back, smiling.
That's what I should be saying.
Thank you, Rukia.
Then Ichigo and his faithful comrades, disappeared into the gate, returning to the world where they came from.
…seemed to have finally stopped.
Notes: There was probably be a lot of OOC here, but I wanted to show that something in Ichigo changed because of Rukia. Actually, when I was reading chapter 181, I really thought Ichigo was just being really un-Ichigo, so I wanted to reflect his change. And I was crying like crazy when I was writing my own stupid fic so it might have impeded my ability to think properly. Yes, I'm some emotional freak that kept re-reading chapter 181 and kept crying. sweat
Anyway, I think my next chapter will explain some quite obvious things.
Thank you for all who read! ; )