A/N: This is a story my friend wrote, I'm just posting it for her since she doesn't have an account. However reviews will be passed on, so review!
Warning: Character death, be prepared.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.
There are a lot of beautiful things in this world.
Things beyond reach and things overlooked. The saddest thing is when beauty leaves one's grasp because even beauty overlooked is still given the chance everyday to be discovered and cherished.
"SHIMMATA!" Frigid air entered into his lungs through ragged breaths, almost as if shards of ice had begun permanently etching their forms into his flesh. Winter scenery blurred as his sandals tread the snow ridden path with great urgency, petite flakes falling from grace and brushing against the wounds scattered across Ichigo's body. An alabaster sky stretched eternally before them.
When I first came to this world, even my dreams could not create all the wonderful things that manifested before me. I didn't think such a world existed. I remember though, how the rooftop of any building could suddenly become our secret safe haven that allowed us to leave both worlds. It was so endless…That cover of azure that even Soul Society shared.
He had only left her side for a moment when the Arrancar attacked her and suddenly he found himself holding her limp form in his arms. She seemed so strong though. She was always so strong despite the circumstances, her adamant spirit continuously inspiring Ichigo to push even further. Rukia acted so confidently that she could hold her own and even pushed Ichigo out to the side so that he could go save Inoue.
"That wasn't it though, was it? BAKAMONO!" Ichigo's voice seemed to tear his throat as he shouted.
Do you remember when we met, Ichigo? It was in the springtime when everything was just being reborn. The flowers were beautiful.
Rukia knew exactly what was to take place and Ichigo gave her his trust too easily. If he had known…If it had been anyone else, not just Inoue, he would have stayed by Rukia's side even if it cost him his life as well. How could there possibly be anyone else to remain by because a world without the gentle Shinigami would have been a world devoid of beauty. His gaze lowered and he could see and feel the claret colored stain that soaked through Rukia's kimono and pressed against his skin.
It was spring.
It was so damn ironic, Ichigo thought, that they had met when everything was being reborn and now she was dying right in front of him during winter when everything around her died as well.
The flowers were beautiful.
Baka, it wasn't the flowers. It was when she held them in her hands that they became so beautiful. Flowers he saw everyday, but it was the times when Rukia held them so delicately in her hands, sunlight caught in her eyelashes and spilling over her cheeks that he seemed to discover something beautiful about them.
Just a little longer I wanted to stay in this world because I discovered something even more beautiful than the sky, the flowers, or even this whole world. It was the person that made me enjoy these things. Sometimes I wondered how I could possibly love such a bakamono like you. It's fine though. If I'm not able to say this to your face, don't think of me as a coward, Ichigo. There's a time and place for everything and if I couldn't find mine then this is the best I can do for you…Aishiteru. I know you're dense, but I hope you get this much. Aishiteru and…Gomen nasai.
Suddenly, Ichigo slowed as he reached a clearing and stood atop a cliff that overlooked the vast forest. It had been a little over an hour that Ichigo had been sprinting full force, but he still couldn't sense any other forces that could possibly save Rukia. The truth was that within that hour it was already too late, but the truth did not settle well with Ichigo. He continued on and hoped that somehow his strong will could save Rukia just as it had helped him in his battles.
Ichigo lowered to his knees, unable to support the weight any longer as he had been fighting far too long. He cradled Rukia's head in his arms gently, her features pallid enough that she could blend into the ground if dark strands did not frame her face, a single lock shading the area between her eyes. He traced her faded lips, a hue that only signified one thing and a painful mourning filled his heart.
It was twenty minutes ago that he already knew he was holding onto a corpse.
Her skin felt smooth under his touch, looking ethereal like the undeserved gift Ichigo realized Rukia was. His teeth clenched tightly as he finally brushed away the single lock that always fell over her face. An outburst of grief lit a flame in Ichigo and a pained scream erupted through his lips, echoing throughout the area. He buried his face in her neck and kimono as he continued to hold onto her.
It was too late to say any of the things he promised he would after the fight was over. Ichigo never questioned if Rukia would still be with him after the battle because it just became natural for her to be by his side. It was the last few moments before they would finally be thrown into the chaos of war and Ichigo remembered how Rukia had picked out the minutest detail of his Shinigami uniform and scolded him for it. They were about to fight in an apocalyptic war and she started retying his obi just because it was messily done. His natural reaction was to complain and fight like they normally did, but Ichigo stayed silent, the simple tying of an obi became an intimate moment. It was a "good luck" in Ichigo's mind, not the "sayonara" that Rukia tried to communicate.
"Why the flower?" He tried to make small talk, picking out the new addition on his desk as the topic.
"It's just for decoration. I'll take care of it when we come back."
When everything ended he would say it to her. He would say it as loudly as it would take for her to hear it and as many times as she wanted to hear it, "aishiteru, Rukia."
Hours later, teams were dispatched to collect the bodies and treat survivors as the war finally ended. They found Ichigo with his arms still wrapped around the long dead Rukia. He refused to release her from his grip and only stood to walk with her in his arms as if he was a corpse himself.
She adored the sky…It was always out of reach.
She loved the flowers…They were always overlooked.
He loved her…The one he overlooked and the one who became someone he could no longer hold onto.
It had been a full year later and different snow fell onto the same ground.
The seasons could continue to change as would everyone else around him. There would still be lives taken away and new lives brought into the world. Though, it all suddenly stopped making sense to Ichigo. How could anything still have the will to exist when Rukia did not?
He knew already that the memories of the day would cloud his mind. He would remember the last time they touched was when she was fixing his uniform and how the words unspoken became the weight of regret that fell onto him. He towered over her grave, a successful front became the cover for a ruined life and they all knew what it took for Ichigo to even stand in the graveyard.
The visit was only a blur though and almost too suddenly, Ichigo sat at his desk with the lights off and the blinds closed. Already a year later and the lily Rukia had set on his desk was still alive and fully bloomed. Ichigo never inquired about the strange behavior of the plant, but he was thankful for its existence as it was the only thing in his room that was evidence she had ever touched his life. Though, on his anniversary, he started hating the flower that reminded him of who he had lost. It gave him false hope that someday Rukia would be standing on his windowsill with her cheeky grin or that the closet door would suddenly burst open and she would come flying out to give him a kick in the face.
A deep growl emitted from Ichigo's throat before he slammed his hand against the vase, shattering the porcelain against his wall.
"Shimatta…" Ichigo whispered before he looked through his hand at the shards that remained. His muscles tensed and slowly he sat straight in his chair. In the vase that, oddly enough, had not even been filled with water, there was a neatly folded piece of paper.
A/N: When I first read this story i was kind of confused by the ending, so to clear up any confusion, most of the italized words are part of letter Ichigo found in the vase, not just "Sayonara, Ichigo."
And incase anyone didn't know, aishiteru means "I love you" And Yuki no Hana means "snow flower"