44. At Peace

There was a calming serenity shining down off the moon. A small breeze kept tune with the ruffling branches and small crested waves of water. This was the feeling of ending the day on a high note, and once again recollecting the day's mistakes, and harboring all the necessities learned. This peaceful nighttime setting was always so calming; it was easy to forget after a small moment how difficult the following day may be.

We both laid our Zanpakutous up against a large maple tree next to the spot we'd decided to sit for our nights break. They crossed each other, and reflected off the moon, causing them alone to look brilliant amongst the many other nighttime tranquilities. Their ribbons blew gracefully and intertwined in one spot to unite. I smiled to myself, hoping he wouldn't notice how I seemed to be overjoyed in the graceful way our Zanpakutous came together. So perfect, so much like the way I wanted us to be.

I sat down beside him underneath the maple tree, staring out across a lake that dazzled under the moonlight. All the plants and trees around it reflected in the water beautifully from the midnight light, as did we. I sighed as I watched our reflection; his thoughts were clearly off in another world until I broke the calming silence. He looked at me and gave me a ridiculous face.

"What's up with you?" He questioned my down attitude, when I should have been happy I lived another day with how overpowered we both had been recently. I should be happy that we got a moment's break. I was happy I was next to him, admiring the world that he matched so wonderfully; but I was also anxious to have him feel the same about me.

"Nothing, why do you always have to think there's something wrong?" I gave him a pouty, annoyed voice, trying to ease up the nerves cringing inside me. He rolled his eyes, and faced towards the sky again.

"Are you alright?" He asked, his voice more calm. This time, I knew he could clearly feel the state of sadness that was overcoming me. He was clueless to my emotions towards him; that was obvious. Though, every once in a while, it felt as though we had a small connection of realization of the feelings we held for each other. I sometimes felt a twinge of love coming off him when we were around each other, but I often wondered if it was just my mind running wild.

"Yes. Just, thinking." This time my voice remained calm as well, we had dropped the usual ludicrous arguing tones we often carried in our usual, pointless remarks. That was us though, we never seemed to be totally serious about each other, aside from the few, rare moments, I could see in his eyes, and hear in his voice that he cared. I just wished I could tell if his care for me differed from the care he seemed to share for the rest of the people close to him. At least I was close… but how close?

I knew if I didn't try to let him know how I really felt, I would lose him. I knew I wouldn't be so lucky to be able to wait until I had gained enough confidence to let him know what was really running through my mind every time I was with him. Tonight seemed so perfect, so welcoming to the idea of trying to show that I had fallen in love with him. Nerves once again arose as I came close to blurting it out in a long, mumbled explanation of how stupid I felt, and how I didn't know why I was saying it; but I withdrew in fear of ruining how close I had gotten. If I burnt this bridge, he would surly turn in the other direction. I observed our reflection again, both of us seemingly lost in a tunnel of thoughts. We had the same expression, and I almost wondered if he was having the same struggle. Once again, my mind consumed me into thinking up conclusions I knew were only hopeful imaginations.

I sighed once again with a deeper breath, preparing one final piece of air that I could breathe around him. That could be my last breath of air in a normal state of mind between us; I could ruin everything. What if I did? We could be in turmoil of living awkward situations every time we were around each other. On the other hand, it could go in my favor. This could be just the thing I need to do to release his feelings; he had to love me a little, right? No one in their right mind risks their lives for someone unless they have some kind of intense relationship arising. The words I wanted to say could bring us together; they could be the very way I could finally be at peace with my heart. Or, they could be what ruins us forever.

"Ichigo…" I tried to remain calm and serious, though around him, I always felt like I was the upper hand, as if he should have been the one confessing something to me.

"Yes?" his eyes remained focused on the sky, his hands placed on the grass behind him so he could look relaxed, and easily drift his eyes to the stars.

I took another breathe, and stared across the lake, instead of the reflection in front of us. I didn't want to see his reaction, I wanted to be able to shut my eyes and endure the worst if needed. I positioned myself, placing my knees to my chest, and my arms wrapped tightly around my legs. My nails dug into my hands as the tension arose between us.

"I don't know how to say this… or why I'm saying this at all, because I'm not even sure of myself at this point, but…" I stopped, wanting to change the ending to something that would sound all right, but not be even close to what I was hoping to say. Now, I felt his eyes on me. I peered down at the reflection to see that he was looking at me now, a blank look on his face. Wonderful, that was inspiring. I turned my attention back to the opposite end of the lake, and realized everything was perfectly still. The trees that were once gently rustling, had settled. There wasn't one ripple on the now clear lake. This was a sign of the world waiting for me to say it, leaving all lights on me now; I was the only one appearing to have life now.

"Well, I don't think I'm thinking clearly tonight… I'll shut up."

"You never shut up, continue."

My eyes remained focused across the lake, and I could now feel pain in my hands from clenching them together so tightly. I hoped for some wind so I didn't feel completely alone on this decision, so he could have something else in his eyesight besides me alone. Some catastrophe would be good. Stupid pager; it couldn't go off when I wanted it to. Didn't anyone like to come here that could interrupt this odd tension I was setting off?

"This isn't me at all… I can't just say it," I tried to make an excuse, and to much of my relief, it worked, sort of.

"No, it isn't you to want to stay quiet. I know that for sure. And, if I'm right, I know what you're getting at," he paused, and I looked in his direction this time, knowing he was looking back up at the sky, "I feel the same way."

My expression must have been a dopey, lost, shocked one that would completely ruin the mood if he saw me gawking, so I hid my face by turning towards the forest to pretend as though something had caught my attention in that direction.

"It took a lot to say that… you could at least give me something in return," his normal voice appeared through the thin layer of seriousness, along with a now relieving expression that was anything but serious. It was him though; it was us.

"Hey, I did a lot to say what I did too."

"You wouldn't have gotten anywhere if it weren't for me, you were rambling like usual."

"Was not!" I stopped myself at that, and dropped our regular brawl, by placing my hands in the lap of my now crossed legs and returning to serenity. I had come out of my tight ball during my animated expressions that were seemingly normal. An odd silence, I knew that was coming.

"So… I guess this is what it feels like to be at peace?" His voice arose in normality, he wasn't afraid to continue. I should have been the one to continue, since I started it. I was lost, but… I understood exactly what he was saying.

"Yes. I suppose it is." For the first time, we both locked our eyes together. He smiled, and stood up, brushing himself free of loose grass and dirt. He put a hand out for me to grab, and I did so, following suit to stand up beside him. We stood close, and still held our hands together, as though forgetting to let go. I noticed it though, but it felt good to be this close to him, and know there was a meaning behind it. I stepped closer, and eventually found myself in his arms.

This night, I found out what it was like to finally give in to my dreams, and pursue them. I realized what it was like to feel love at its fullest; to know what those glimpses I once received were like in full. I also learned what it was like to be at peace with my heart. I found my way to him, I found a settling peace between us.

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