Stepping into the window of the tiny room, she ignored the frown on her roommate's face and entered the closet without a word. She could still feel his glare on the closed closet doors.
After a couple minutes, she stepped out silently, no longer wearing her school uniform but in Yuzu's 'borrowed' pajamas. Ichigo, who seemed to have lost interest in glaring at a closed door, turned towards her in his chair. Putting the pencil – which he had been using for difficult quadratic problems – behind his ear, he crossed his arms and scowled at her.
"What?" she snapped, annoyed by his stare. She turned back towards her closet, reaching in and pulling out her famous sketchbook.
"Where've you been? It's almost one in the morning," he stated, an expectant look taking over his features. His frown seemed to deepen.
"With Inoue," she said, laying herself on her stomach. She began to create her next masterpiece.
Not wanting to pry any further into that subject, he settled on an approving grunt. Turning back to his work, he mumbled, "Good enough," before he replacing it in his schoolbag. He stood up, hearing the odd pop and crack echoing through his body from sitting down too long. He let out a content sigh, directly followed by a large yawn.
"Well, I'm gonna go have a shower," he informed Rukia, who hummed softly as she drew. She nodded slightly, never looking up at him as he retrieved some things he would need. Ichigo glanced at what she was drawing and grinned lightly. A bunny, of course. But he had noticed her artistic skills improving slowly. She was getting better; he had to admit – although he'd rather fight Renji, Byakuya, and Kenpachi all at once without his zanpakutou than tell her that. But he enjoyed teasing her about them still, telling her that a two-year-old could draw better than her. The bruises were worth seeing the angry look on her face every time.
"Make sure to keep low until I get back. I don't know what I'd do if anyone found you in here, especially if it was dad…" he trailed off, shuddering as he closed the door securely behind him as he left.
Her pencils and markers stopped as she listened carefully for the shower downstairs. When she heard the water begin to rush, she quickly crawled her way over to Ichigo's schoolbag. She removed his homework book and placed it in front of her. She looked at the clock. Okay. She had about 15 minutes to get it all copied down.
She removed her own homework book from between the thick pages of her sketchbook. She started to copy down his answers.
She hadn't realized before, but Ichigo had really good handwriting. It was completely different than the other guys she knew. Renji for example. He pressed the pencil roughly on the page making thick, dark lines. She assumed that it had to do with his rough personality. Although Ichigo could be even harsher than Renji, his lines were smooth and controlled. Renji's writing was messy and close to illegible. Some of the letters were unusual and detached, some closer together than others, some had enough space to fit another couple in there. The only ones who she knew that had decent, legible writing were her brother, her captain, and Kaien. And she assumed it was because of their status and responsibilities.
Ichigo on the other hand, his writing was neat and organized. It looked like he actually took time to form each letter instead of only half finishing it and going onto the next. He paid careful attention to his wording and his grammar. It was large lettering, big enough for anyone to read, but that only made it easier to read. She wouldn't say that his writing looked feminine, but it was too neat for someone with his ego and attitude. She'd have to tease him about that later.
Ichigo may not have looked it, with his constant scowling and his rebellious appearance, but he was actually very intelligent – although she would never say that to his face. The school had recently posted midterm marks on the wall in the main hallway. She was in 223rd place out of 562 students. Of course, she had no interest in learning about trivial things like mathematics and science. Those sorts of things didn't matter when you hunt hollows for a living and lay the dead to rest.
Ichigo however, was placed at the 21st slot. She had refused to believe Ichigo had gotten so high without cheating, and she wasn't afraid of accusing him in front of all his friends. Keigo, of course, instantly agreed with her. A punch to the face seemed to change his mind as he began to call Ichigo a nerd before running off.
She wondered how he managed it. How he managed to jumble between schoolwork, studying, hollow hunting and living his own life at the same time. She sometimes wondered if he ever blamed her for taking away his normal teenage life. She sometimes wondered if he ever blamed her, resented her for all she had put him through. She couldn't help but wonder if he ever wished he had never met her.
Distracted from her copying, she sat up and hugged her knees to her chest. Did he blame her? Did he hate her? Did he wish she wasn't there?
She was unaware of the shower stopping beneath her and Ichigo's light footing padding up the stairs. She finally heard him when he was only feet from the doorway. She quickly put his homework back in the bag and looked at her own incomplete work. Only two answers done…
He made his way into the room, skin still moist, shirtless. He wore baggy pants as he closed the door softly behind him. He turned to see Rukia sitting quietly on the ground.
"What's up with you?" he said peering down lightly at her face.
She looked up at him, just noticing his lack of clothing. She didn't mind though. It wasn't the first time he walked into the room without a shirt on.
She sneered at him half-heartedly. He raised an eyebrow at her questioningly.
"Seriously, is there something wrong?" he asked, squatting beside her.
She shook her head and gathered her books without a word. He watched her stand up and head toward the closet. Was she mad at him? Had he done something wrong?
She stepped into the closet without looking back. He looked at the closed doors for a moment before sighing. Turning back, he searched through his drawers for a shirt. Once he found one, he went to bed.
She listened to the rustling of clothes then the springs cry out as weight was put on them. She hadn't paid attention to the large amount of scars Ichigo had before. The littered his back and chest, leaving barely any skin untouched. Some were deeper and more deadly than others. She knew most of them were because of her. She had been the one who got him involved in the soul reaper business.She had been the one who illegally gave him her powers. She had been the one he had almost sacrificed himself to save, over and over. The gallons of blood he shouldn't have shed. It was all because of her. She didn't want to think that he saved her because he wanted to but he felt he had to, felt he owed her.
The things this boy had seen. He was too young, too innocent. He was a child himself, and he had been through just as much as she had. The things she had gone through were hard to deal with in a day to day basis, but she managed. She couldn't imagine what was going through his head. All this boy had been through had aged him far beyond his years. Forced him to grown up far too soon. And it was her fault.
She waited until his breathing evened out before she stepped quietly out of the closet. She walked over to his bed and examined his features. He still wore his usual scowl, even while he slept. She hesitantly reached her hand out and brushed strands of hair that had fallen over his eyes. He needed a haircut.
She let her fingers rest on his forehead before letting her arm swing back to her side. She kneeled next to his sleeping form.
"I'm sorry," she said, looking away from his face. "Everything you've been through, all the pain you've endured, it's all because of me. It's funny," she said with a false laugh, "I – I can't believe I'm going to say this but, I think you would be much happier," she paused, "if you had…never met me."
She looked at her hands, folded tightly together in her lap.
"I wonder," she said looking up, "if you ever blame me for ruining your life. I see those scars, all over your back and your chest, down your arms, and I can't help but blame myself for everything."
She looked back towards his sleeping face. His expression seemed to have softened slightly. She chuckled, "Look at me. I'm talking to a sleeping man, spilling my thoughts and my pain. I wonder what you'd say if you heard me. Knowing you, you'd either agree and tell me to leave, or you would yell at me for being so stupid and make me sleep."
She sighed before standing up. She let one lone tear make its way down her cheek. She watched it shine on her chin in the moonlight. It dripped before she had the chance, landing soundlessly on Ichigo's right eye. It made it's own path down his cheek making him seem like he was crying.
She turned to walk back to the closet but a rough hand grabbed her wrist. She looked back and saw Ichigo staring at her intently.
"Ichi–" she said, surprised. "Were you…?"
"You're wrong," he said, his voice soft.
She looked at him questioningly. "Huh?" was all she managed. She hoped that he had just woken up, had not heard her confessions. She hoped he would tell her to leave, or at least yell at her. Anything. But they sat there in silence, neither of them talking.
Ichigo's scowl deepened.
"You're totally wrong," he stated. "Seems like you don't know me as well as you thought."
Rukia stood there trying to understand his words.
"You want to know what'd I'd say if I'd heard you?" he asked, his grip tightening around her wrist lightly.
Crap. He had heard her.
"Wha…" was all she managed.
"I would tell you to shut up. I would tell you that it wasn't your fault, none of it was. I did everything because I wanted to. I would say that you coming into my life was the best thing that ever happened to me. I wanted to save you. I wanted to save you because you're the one who stopped the rain that fell in my heart for six long years. I wanted to save you because," he hesitated for a moment. "Ahh, hell. What I'm trying to say is…."
Rukia listened to his words intently. Those were the exact words she had dreamed of hearing from him. She had no idea what he was suddenly hesitating for. She watched him search for words, unable to find exactly what he was trying to say. Before she could react, he had pulled her down in the bed next to him.
A light gasp escaped her lips when his arms snaked their way around her waist. She could feel his hot breath on the back of her neck.
"I don't ever want you to cry for me," he whispered. "I want to protect you, even if it mean risking my own life. I don't ever want you to think those things again."
It was a demand she knew that. Normally she'd punch him, tell him not to boss her around. But for some reason she took in those words, believed that he would protect her, like he had been the whole time. She vowed to silently herself and Ichigo that if those thought ever made their way back into her head, she would dismiss them without a second thought.
She melted into his embrace, knowing they would most likely be back to normal the next day. She would lie there for now, in the arms of the man she loved.
"By the way," he said kissing the back of her neck, a shiver making its way slowly down her spine, "that book you've been copying from has all the wrong answers in it," she felt it, his smirk against her skin.
She tried to turn around and punch him but she was stopped short by his lips on her own. She froze unable to respond right away. His lips were soft and gentle. She'd imagined him as a rough sort of kisser. But his lips caressed her own lightly, like a feather. He pulled away before she could react, much to her disappointment.
"Yeah?" she said dreamily, eyes drooping slightly, "well, you write like a girl."
He poked her side lightly and she squirmed slightly. He tightened his hold around her waist pulling her closer, breathing in the scent of strawberry. He watched her eyes close slowly as she fell into a dreamless sleep a smile on her face.
"I love you, Rukia."
My first attempt at something remotely fluffy. How'd you like it? I really enjoyed writing this.