How You And I Came To Be
Chapter 24: The Connection of Two Worlds
We all just sat there. Rukia played with her fork, I stared down at my plate, and Byakuya stared ahead with an emotionless expression. I wasn't sure what this "lunch date's" purpose was, but whatever it was it wasn't working.
"Well, I have a squad to take care of." I pushed back my chair in an attempt to excuse myself.
"Sit down Kurosaki." Byakuya hissed at my "rude" interruption. I unwillingly did as I was told and continued staring at my plate.
"Don't be an idiot Ichigo." Rukia muttered in annoyance as she plopped a piece of lettuce into her mouth. The silence was unnerving.
Give me a hollow any day over this.
"So, I've asked you here today on behalf of the Kuchiki elders." Byakuya started slowly looking more and more uncomfortable. "They would like to know your marital plans." Both Rukia and I looked at him questioningly unsure of what he was really asking.
"Uhm?" We responded in unison.
Byakuya cleared his throat: "family plans." Our faces turned bright red.
"Oh…. Well… Brother, we don't have any plans like that right now." Rukia answered awkwardly in her most formal voice.
"I see," He answered, with a hint of relief, "I am to inform you that plans such as those are looked upon favorably by the elders." Byakuya's words started to sound less and less convincing. These were clearly the elder's thoughts and not his own.
Don't hold your breath Kuchiki Elders…
"Understood brother, we will take their thoughts into consideration." Rukia stated without hesitation.
"Woah hold on!" I argued back to Rukia's one-sided response. "We aren't going to start popping babies out because these 'high and mighty' elders want us to. That's our decision to make when, or even if, we decide we want to raise a kid!" There was only so much these elders could impose on us. I pushed my chair out readying to storm out if the need arose.
"Kurosaki, I am just relaying a message. I assure you, I do not feel the need to become an uncle." Byakuya's voice was as controlled and calm as normal. I scoffed and stood up.
"Rukia it's time to go." I sighed making my way towards the exit.
"Thank you for the wonderful lunch," She bowed, "You can inform the elders that we understand their expectations." With that she followed me out of the room.
"I can't believe those elders have the nerve to expect us to actually listen to that crap." I said bitterly to Rukia as we walked out of one of squad 6's buildings.
"Ichigo! Try to be a little more respectful! We can at least take their wishes into consideration!" She argued back.
"Why should I?" I yelled.
"Why shouldn't you? That's what's expected of people who are married!" She said sounding more annoyed and a little hurt.
"You don't have to constantly do what's expected of you Rukia!" My anger started to peak, "Do what you want!" I turned to face her with my hands on both her shoulders.
"What if that is what I want!" She yelled, turning away from me.
I stopped for a moment to register what that meant: "Is that what you want?" I said softly, turning her face towards mine.
"I don't know. It's more complicated than that!" I understood that it was complicated, but what I didn't understand is why she felt she couldn't tell me this.
"Rukia, I want you to be happy. If having… uhh… raising… err… doing that will make you happy then that's what I want too." I said, with difficulty, but also sincerity. Rukia's eyes lit up with relief.
"Stop trying to be sentimental dumbass, it doesn't suit you." She said with a smile and a light punch to the arm. I smiled back. "We'll know when the time's right, if that time comes."
"I hope he didn't want these back." I sighed looking at the charred, burnt, ripped, trampled, and bloody stuffed animals we accumulated on the training exercise we were sent out on.
"This exercise is stupid. He didn't even put any effort into it." Ikkaku spat following close behind me.
"Give him a break; he had lunch plans with Captain Kuchiki. That's enough to make anyone brain dead." Everyone in the 6 man group shook their heads in unison. We were currently trekking through the world of the living trying to obtain the last rabbit.
"If we're killing time anyways, let's enjoy ourselves!" Ikkaku suggested. This received a loud cheer from the rest of the group.
"As your lieutenant I cannot condone this," I spoke formally, getting mad glares, "but if you all were to "search" for the remaining objective without me, who am I to stop you?" I winked at the group hoping they caught my meaning.
"Of course." Ikkaku winked back. He then proceeded to lead the men towards town to find some fun.
"Hey! At least try to find the last stupid rabbit! I yelled after them only half kidding. It'd look bad if we failed the first "mission" we were given, even if it was to waste time.
I took this newly found time to search out Tatsuki: my real objective in splitting off from the group. Our relationship had been rocky for the past few months. Being worlds apart put an outrageous amount of strain on us. I wanted it to work out; I really did, but was I healthy for her? Despite what Ichigo tried to explain earlier, I still had my doubts on how far we could really take our relationship.
It only took several minutes to pinpoint Tatsuki's location. She was sitting on a park bench glaring at her phone. My nerves began to control by body making my muscles weaker than normal. Why was I nervous? She was still the same Tatsuki I loved even if we were arguing. I landed beside her; she didn't give as much as a startled jump.
"It's been a while." Tatsuki sighed; her eyes still focused on her phone.
"It's not like I choose when I get to come back." I grumbled while sitting down next to her. She closed her phone to stare at me; her eyes burning with scary intensity.
"Renji, what's up with you lately? There's something distracting you and I demand to know what that is." She stated sternly leaving little room for me to change the topic. I exhaled loudly leaning back on the bench.
"It's nothing… I just… no," I took in a deep breath, "I can't keep running away from this. I just can't help shake the feeling that we can't work." I watched her eyes for any type of reaction—there was sadness reflected back at me. The same sadness that could be seen in my own eyes.
"Why? Is it because I'm a human? Because I'm not a Shinigami?" by the way she spoke, I knew she understood what I meant.
"Don't you want to live a normal human life? I'm not what you call normal if you haven't figured it out." I stated, running a hand down her neck and shoulder. My need to give her comfort overwhelmed the side of me that thought I should stay away from her.
"Who cares if my life is normal? Doesn't it only matter if I'm happy?" Her voice raised becoming more flustered by the conversation. She shifted to a standing position, letting my hand fall off. I cringed at the skin contact being ripped away from me.
"Of course that matters! That's why we're having this argument! You're alive! I'm dead! How can this turn out well?" I argued back becoming slightly more annoyed.
"Then what you're saying is, it'd be better if I was dead?" She asked incredulously.
"No! That's not what I meant—,"
"Do you love me?" She interrupted in a yell. She glared at me with piercing eyes that could stab right through to my soul.
"What?" I questioned, being caught off-guard and still weakened from her impressive stare.
"You heard me, do you love me?" She repeated, relocating her hands onto her hips.
"Tatsuki I—," before I could finish a thunderous roar echoed through the park. Both Tatsuki and I jumped to attention. At that moment several hollows started to converge at the park. I was afraid my reiatsu would attract the weaker hollows that didn't know any better. They were nothing but a menace to me, but were more dangerous for Tatsuki. I quickly jumped into action dragging Zabimaru out of hibernation. There were five hollows surrounding the two of us. My blade easily sliced through three of the five hollows leaving two. My muscles relaxed slightly with the diminished threat. One of the hollows sent a vine looking tentacle at me that I was easily able to reflect in the opposite direction. I grinned at the hollow's failed attempt on my life and sliced through the other hollow who had attempted to ambush my attack on the hollow with the grass tentacles. One left. My movements were swift; I easily impaled the last hollow.
Everything after that moment began to move in slow motion. I remember turning to face Tatsuki, in triumph, but was met with a nightmarish scene. The tentacle that I had reflected had found its target. It wasn't meant for me; it was meant for her. A clear hole was visible through her abdomen and blood was rapidly pouring out of her wound. My head was spinning; my world crashing. Tatsuki herself didn't seem to understand what had happened yet either. She stood still staring down at the gaping hole with confusion.
"Renji I—," She squeaked out, finally able to lift her gaze towards me. Her body started to go limp. I darted forward to catch her before she hit the ground.
"No, no, no, no, no… you're going to be okay Tatsuki. Okay? Don't give up on me. You'll be fine. I'll call Isshin and he'll help you. Yeah, he can save you. He'll know what to do." I rambled on and on trying to get a grip on the situation. I felt tears run down my face that one by one dripped onto Tatsuki's body.
"Renji," her hand came up to wipe the tears out of my eyes, "it's going to be okay." She said weakly while trying her hardest to smile. She was strong—I was not.
"I'm sorry, it's all my fault," I cried pulling her rapidly chilling hand into my own, "I love you Tatsuki. I love you so fucking much. Please don't leave me." I begged rubbing her hand against my cheek. I called Isshin in a panic asking him to save Tatsuki.
It only took Isshin a few minutes to reach the bloody scene. Without explaining what happened to him, he seemed to instinctually know what to do. He looked at Tatsuki's body with worried eyes, yet tended to her with a doctor's experience and knowledge. I watched and waited while he performed healing kido on her shaking body. She was dying.
"Renji… I've stabilized her for now but there's not much more I can do." Isshin sighed with a sorrowful expression etched across his face. I knew what that meant: she wasn't going to make it.
"I have a team here. Can you send them back for me?" I spoke barely above a whisper. My body instinctually moved towards Tatsuki. At some point Isshin had left, but I was so focused on the woman I loved to notice. I kneeled down next to her, letting her head lay on my lap. "It'll be alright. I'm not going anywhere. I'm with you until the end." I talked to her sweetly; if anything I wanted her to have a peaceful death.
"I never doubted it." Tatsuki managed to whisper in obvious pain. A smile lingered on her lips for a few seconds before fading away. She was dead. A faint light engulfed her body before her soul emerged.
"Tatsuki I'm so sorry, I—,"
"Stop apologizing idiot!" Tatsuki, now in spirit form, yelled at me. She glanced down at her bloody body. Her eyes lingered there before turning back to me. "You didn't kill me, a hollow did. I'm d-de-dead." She stumbled over her words. Clearly death wasn't as easy to accept as she thought.
"I can't accept that," I grit my teeth in agony, "But I can't do anything to change what happened. I can at the very least do my job and send you to soul society." I said regrettably.
"Will you be there?" her words were lined in insecurity. I wrapped my arms around her as tightly as I could unwilling to let go.
"I will find you Tatsuki. Have faith in your boyfriend." I gave her a fake laugh trying to lighten her mood. We kissed and embraced for what seemed like hours, but all good things must come to an end. I watched as she faded away as her soul exited this world.
"I will find you."
A/N: Sorry it's so RenjixTatsuki heavy in this chapter. I needed it to be this way for later parts in the story. I knew this was going to happen eventually so I just decided to move this scene up. (Hopefully the ichiruki portion was enough to satisfy you all for now. I'm finally out of haitus so expect more frequent updates from me. (By that I mean I won't be waiting another 3 months to post a chapter.)