Disclaimer: When Ganju takes over the soul society.
Dedicated to my adopted nii-chan! Happy birthday! (Belated TT)
Calefaction: 1) The act of warming or heating; the production of heat in a body by the action of fire, or by communication of heat from other bodies.2) A heated state
"Miss. Kuchiki, you are looking exquisite today—"
"—tutor me someday!"
"I would have never thought it that way, so clever—"
"Beautiful as ever—"
She fought back redundant memories as the dawn's first rays poured into the cracks of her closet.
That's right, her closet. Located in Ichigo's bedroom, Kurosaki clinic, Karakura city, mortal realm, and it was preposterously uncomfortable and cold. At least, she thought it was cold. You see, her gigai—though designed mimicked any human's movements, could not feel. She could not feel cold or warmth. Pain however, was inscribed to the false body instantly alerting damage. She was most definitely not ticklish. You can say that Rukia wasn't the most stimulated person.
In fact, she didn't think herself was much of anything. This brings us back to her memories. Before she graduated first in her class, she thought of herself (still do) an outcast. But she wasn't, not really. More like she was placed on a pedestal brought to her by being an adopted member of the Kuchiki clan.
That was when all the compliments starting piling in. All of them, meaningless.
Oh she knew, to her face, they were courteous, respectable, and—above all—gracious. But behind her back, they whispered harsh words, gossiped how she, a street urchin, could possibly be adopted into the ever noble family.
Perhaps she was being cranky and moody. The orange haired male sleeping behind the shut closet doors mentioned it to her once or twice. In fact, said person's breathing seemed to quicken, signaling his awakening.
Curled up in her yellow, stolen—borrowed pajamas, she didn't want to get up or feel the need to. It was a school day, but she had had enough of the disciplinary structure.
So she stared at the wall (which was covered in Chappy the Rabbit posters due to the fact the beige wall was an ugly shade and needed a feminine touch) in silence, listening to the morning squabble between stuff animal and boy, the rustles of Ichigo putting on the horrid, grey uniform, and finally the insistent, loud knock against the closet door.
"Rukia! What's taking you so long?" Came the impatient voiced.
"Go away; I'm not going to school." She paused to think of her duty, "I'll call you if you there's a hollow."
"What do you mean you're not going to school?"
"Exactly what I mean," she added a snide comment, "Or do you need your ears waxed?"
In an earsplitting crack, the full force of the morning light flooded into her small closet as Ichigo snapped open the door. Squinting against the sudden light, she saw the dark shadow place a hand on her forehead.
"Are you sick, or something?" He grumbled crossly.
Irritated, she slapped away the offending hand, "Shinigami don't get sick. Recall the 'I'm-not-human' part."
"You're grouchier than normal."
"It's none of your business. Go to school." She rolled away so her back faced him. The door closed behind her and she heard rustles of cloth against cloth.
The door reopened. "I'm not go—"and received a face full of thick, coloured fabric. While she was examining the articles of clothing, he told her to get dressed quickly.
The former shinigami noted the rustling was Ichigo changing out of his school uniform to wear a black sweater to go with his jeans, and he was now digging through his wardrobe.
"What are you looking for?"
"Mittens," He spared her a casual glance, "Why aren't you dressed yet? We don't have all day!"
"What do you mean by we?"
"Exactly what I mean," he mocked her. "Do you need your ears waxed?"
With a roll of her eyes, she closed the closet door to get changed into the clothing.
"I knew this wasn't a good idea."
It was the middle of the day. They had gotten lost a grand total of five times before they had finally managed their way into the ice rink. Ichigo rented these shoes with blades on the bottom for both of them to wear.
Rukia didn't think they were very safe. But after a long talk, he convinced the seemingly fragile female to 'shove those dainty, little feet into the skates before I rip your Chappy the Rabbit posters!'
Now, they stood with their laces tied securely on the ice, and Rukia unwilling to take another step on the frozen waters.
"You agreed to come here."
"You forced me here!" Screeching back angrily, holding onto the walls for support.
"I didn't know you were this incapable on the ice."
She watched the warm gust of breath escape his sneering mouth and into the cold atmosphere. The mittens on her hands were dull, unneeded ornaments, clinging to her more than her gigai body already was. Aware that her pause was longer than usual, she twisted her body carefully towards the rink entrance.
"Where are you going?" Came the anticipated, sharp reply.
"Giving up, already?"
Charitably snapping back an equally sharp retort, she turned around again, "Teach me, now."
Ichigo was not what they call a patient teacher. Small advances were not in his understanding; Rukia came to understand when he pulled her across the rink by skating backwards.
"Are you crazy?" she shrieked, clutching to his forearms vehemently.
With a roll of his eyes, he consciously tightened his hold, "It's not like I'm going to let you fall."
And with a slower pace, the substitute shinigami showed her how to take baby steps and eventually slide across the ice. Breaking from his hold, she took tentative steps and skated without Ichigo's assistance for all but three paces before stumbling backwards, arms waving comically to regain her loss balance.
Smoothly, the orange haired male skated behind her and held both her hands, safely supporting her. "Klutz, are you trying to hurt yourself?"
"If I don't try, how am I supposed to learn?" She demanded.
"Right, right. No need to get offensive." Ichigo's infamous scowling lips tilted upwards just an insy-tinsy bit. With her gloved hands in his larger ones, he urged her to continue skating, this time he would keep her steady.
"Damn gigai." Rukia cursed, remembering how she so easily flew, jumped, glided, and pranced on the building tops and telephone poles without difficulty.
"You'll get the hang of it." She repressed the shiver and convinced herself it was the defective gigai and not the sensations of a mortal breath in the shell of her ear.
And after a half hour of nonstop, relentless 'training', stubborn Rukia mastered the art of falling on her behind instead of her face.
Gathering up her dignity, she clutched the wall to skate back to the resting area, leaving Ichigo to skate on his own. Without her hindering him, his precise movements were fluid, powerful, and graceful.
She continued to enviously watch, while massaging her poor, abused feet (briefly wondering if she should take out the pain alerts). Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a man giving a woman a cup of brown liquid.
Alarmed, she marched up to him, standing in her empowering height. "We can settle this without the use of poison, I would think."
The pair looked at her oddly; then female glanced at her drink. "Poison?"
"Don't play dumb with me, mister! I'm on to you and your brown beverage!" She glared distastefully up at the male.
"What makes you think I'm poisoning my own wife with hot chocolate?" His face lit up in a red glow. That shade of red could possibly signal a rare species of hallows! Where was Ichigo?!
Speak of the devil, "Sorry, my friend here isn't in her right mind today."
"I am thinking rationally, don't you try to bust him out Ichigo! I caught him giv—"The one-named-after-a-strawberry slapped a callus hand over her mouth, preventing her to dig them into a deeper than the 9 ft gave.
"Yes, she is a foreigner. Not very familiar with chocolate, see." He managed to grunt out, "Very isolated, very absurd people. In fact, I'll go buy some hot chocolate for her."
"You are a very kind man to deal with such people." The father looked at Rukia with disdain.
"Thanks, we'll be off now. Sorry again." Ichigo steered Rukia towards the concession booth, all for getting hot chocolate as soon as possible.
Rukia had finally been able to pry to the too-tight hand from her face, "Why did you let that man go?"
"He wasn't doing anything wrong, Rukia." He purchased two drinks and offered it to the adopted Kuchiki member who was still looking into the crowd for the couple.
"Now you're trying to poison me!" She looked shocked for a moment before coming to her senses, "I'm not alive remember, you can't kill me off!"
"You paranoid freak," he insulted her before taking the first cautious drink.
Deeming it safe enough, she sought out a bench in case her gigai body was allergic to the dirt liquid. Eyeing the two fluffs of white, she closed her eyes and downed half of it.
Ichigo's eyes bugged out and waited for her reaction of the newly brewed, hot chocolate. He watched the girls normally pale cheeks colour itself and the steam of the beverage steam from her mouth when she spoke grudgingly, "This isn't bad."
"Don't you think it's hot?" He asked.
"My fake body doesn't feel heat." Damn human rush of blood, she could feel it pooling around her cheeks. So she dramatized over a modern drink, someone should have told her that brown liquids were edible.
Over the steam of her drink, she stole a glance at Ichigo. He was carefully blowing at his drink, looking suave, nonchalant, and at ease. He's a decent guy, Rukia admitted grudgingly.
After all, he put off school to cheer her up in this odd sport of gliding across frozen water. Just another aspect of him that she liked. For example, he spoke his mind. Most importantly, he spoke freely whether his opinions would offend or flatter. He was honest with himself and wasn't bothered what people thought of him.
The white fluffs in her drink had melted. This brought her back to the memories this morning. The elders and her peers had never treated her like these humans. Never close enough to share secrets like Orihime, never close enough to flirt like Mizuiro, never close enough to share a quiet, companionable silence like Chad, never close enough a friend to insult her drawings.
"You got that look in your eye. What's up?" Never close enough to care.
Great, now there was a burning behind her eyes. "Nothing, don't you have skating to do?"
He unsuspectingly slugged an arm over her petite shoulders, "Alright, spill it. You've been mopping all week and it's really grating on my nerves."
"I'm not mopping." She fought to toss the arm off her shoulders.
The arm didn't go anywhere. "You can't fool me; tell me what's on your mind."
She stayed in stubborn silence.
For about thirty seconds.
"The soul society calls upon my spirit."
"So you have to leave? But you haven't recovered your powers yet!"
"That's the whole point, dimwit."
"I won't let you go."
"I won't, unless you so entirely want to depart from this world." From me. Ichigo was looking at her with those dark eyes. She was sure Soul Searching wasn't a shinigami skill.
He gave her one of those crooked smiles as if the orange-haired boy knew more than she did about her own will. "Whatever you say, Rukia."
With one arm—in a rare show of affection-- the eldest child of the Kurosaki family embraced Rukia around the shoulders. Then awkwardly, he escaped the stunned silence and back to the ice.
The raven haired girl had felt heat seep into her shoulders, and then leave her body bitterly chilled. And knew she, for the first time in a hundred years since she had last walked the earth as mortal, had felt warmth.