last chapter here. a very, very long wait for you readers, and I apologize. I was watching some Korean drama serial thing (Witch Yoo-hee) and you know how those clingy drama serials are like. -winks conspirationally-

well. heads up for the cheese.

The Wilderness Is Dangerous

Chapter 10: Young Love

15 July, Sunday

The Satoshi children had finished packing by the time breakfast was ready. Yuzu dished out pancakes, and Ichigo attempted to appear grumpy. Isshin, as usual, tried to stuff a pancake down Ichigo's shirt.

He failed.

Meanwhile, Rukia couldn't figure out why Karin kept mouthing 'score!' and sneaking bright grins at her. It was so…weird. It was as if the kid somehow knew about something.

When the plates were washed, Yuzu and Risako put their little arms around each other and bid farewell to their best cooking partner ever. They would so keep in touch, Risako blurted out in between hearty sobs. Yuzu agreed amidst all their wailing.

Ryouuhei appeared a little embarrassed. He picked up his and his sister's bag, smiling.

"We'll be going now, I guess."

He bowed, and so did a teary-eyed Risako. They pushed open the door and stepped out. Then, they were gone.

---

Ichigo zipped up Rukia's luggage and set it on the floor. She tugged his sleeve, peering up at him.

"Huh?"

"Can we sit at the lake for a while?"

Ichigo put his left hand in his pocket and touched her cheek with the fingers of his right.

"Sure."

---

The lake looked normal, like nothing out of the ordinary had ever happened before, but both of them knew anyway.

They sat down at the spot where they had kept watch just two nights before.

"Ichigo."

He turned to her, half-knowing what she was going to ask seconds before she did. Not just because she had already asked the question before, but also because he himself wanted to know the answer.

"Where do we go from here?"

No questions whether he loved her, or even whether he meant what had happened in the first place. Not that he minded; but it made him realize even more that she knew him so well that she could read him like an open kidou manual.

Ichigo shifted himself so that he was sitting face to face with her.

"Rukia -- you do know that it's going to be hard, staying with me."

She rolled her eyes at him.

"Of course."

He rolled her eyes back, and carried on.

"Soul Society…isn't made for these kinds of things. You should know by now."

Ichigo paused.

"And there's the matter of Byakuya."

Rukia's head didn't snap up indignantly like he expected it to, but she looked at him, slowly. She knew what he meant, and she understood his inhibitions.

"We'll work that out with Nii-sama when the time is right."

"Or I'll just go bankai on him."

She laughed, her mouth stretching smoothly into a crescent of a grin.

"Fool."

He leaned over, unable to resist, and kissed her for a second. When they parted, she narrowed her eyes and hit him half-heartedly.

"Hormonal fool."

Ichigo grinned.

"Right back at you."

Soul Society itself and Byakuya Nii-sama(Niinny, more like it) wasn't much of a problem to Ichigo, anyway. He was strong; and he knew it. He would crumple Byakuya's little pink petals into a ball and throw it away, and he would cut through whoever who stood between him and Rukia.

They all knew that for a fact by now.

But…there was something else that had to be taken care of, that had to be discussed. He swallowed.

"My Hollow."

She nodded slowly, mouth pressed together.

"If it does take over me, Rukia --"

She pressed two fingers to his lips, effectively shutting him up.

"I am confident that you won't lose, Ichigo."

"But-"

She jabbed his side with an elbow, and he yelped.

"Listen to me. I know that there is a possibility that you might lose. But I'm not saying that you will."

Rukia's smile was bitter. The left side of her mouth was curled, and Ichigo knew that she was thinking of Kaien-dono.

"If you lose, Ichigo -- I will not hesitate to run you through with my sword."

He relaxed, obviously relieved, and pulled her close.

"I'll ask Sandal Hat for help."

She grinned into his shoulder.

"You can do that."

---

Isshin watched his son and Rukia-san hug from the window. Both of them had been out in the woods pretty late last night, letting their hormones run free for a bit. Their rather peaky reiatsu had been so hard to ignore.

It was about twelve. They would load up and leave at two in the afternoon.

Isshin had admittedly been a bit hesitant about leaving the two to their own devices; but he figured that he knew his son pretty well. Ichigo wouldn't do anything that was completely out of bounds, and plus, even if he did venture into forbidden territory, Rukia-san knew better. She would deliver the foot of justice to his poor son's, er, manly parts.

Isshin threw himself on the sofa and stretched out; his arms and legs dangling over the cushion covers.

"Ah."

He looked up at the wooden ceiling and grinned widely, thinking of Masaki.

"Young love."

---

They were so wrong for each other, yet so right for each other. Whatever came between them, even as friends, they would break the walls down with equal enthusiasm to get to the other.

If Ichigo was swallowed by his Hollow, Rukia would protect his pride by running her sword through his body. It would definitely hurt her and rend her heart to shreds, but she knew that it was what he wanted her to do. After all, she had sort of brought this upon him, but Ichigo would never hear of it.

When and if it was all over, she would go to find him in Rukongai and kiss him silly.

No matter where she went, no matter who took her away, he would go after her. Ichigo would always be following behind with Zangetsu and his bright orange hair, ready to protect her.

It drove her crazy and made her as mad as hell, but he did it anyway.

When they were together they fought with each other, and when they were apart, they fought for each other. There was no need for textbook romance; Ichigo and Rukia just didn't work that way.

They could be in completely opposite worlds, and they could be sitting right next to each other. It didn't really matter

It was definitely going to be hard, but no matter what the wilderness had in store for them, they knew that so long the other was out there somewhere; neither of them gave a shit.

end.

HOOOO. And yep, the end of The Wilderness Is Dangerous has arrived. I am actually a tad bit sad. I quite liked this story, and I'm actually quite happy about the way it turned out. please do review. I doubt there will be a sequel, but you never know. short chapter, I know. it just ended up like this (:

thanks for reading all the way :D

;redcheese