Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach. Is this considered renting it?
Title: Wednesday at the Library
Genre: Romance, AU
Characters: Ichigo, Rukia
Inspiration: Kubo's Library Spread and gift to BA's IchiRuki FC in honor of it's Second birthday and general awesomeness!
Every Wednesday night Kurosaki Ichigo left the dinner table early, picked up his shoulder bag, and took a trip the local community library. Between the hours of 5 and 11, he sat between the tallest stacks of reference books in the quietest area of the building and found solace in his own private haven.
His first venture had been a spur of the moment escape from his father, and his next four visits were for the same reason. Eventually it became habit to get away for at least one night a week and lose himself in the labyrinth of books.
Sometimes he studied, sometimes he slept, sometimes he simply sat and thought. Ichigo wasn't selfish by any means, but the six hours between the shelves were purely his and his alone. He didn't want or need any other reason to spend his time in such a way.
Until after one seemingly mundane Wednesday night, Ichigo began going to the library strictly to see her.
It wasn't love at first sight. Ichigo wasn't fool enough to believe in such a thing. In fact the first moment he saw her sitting in what he'd perceived as his own private section, he'd been ready to physically throw her out. The only reason he hadn't was because as he'd stood there in front of his chair, glaring and fuming, and silently sending threats, she ignored him.
Completely and entirely ignored his whole existence.
Ichigo wasn't sure if she honestly didn't hear him—though he didn't think that to be the case—or if she was even more stubborn than he was, but her absolute refusal to acknowledge his presence shocked him to such a degree that he gave up and silently took a seat in a chair across from her.
That first day of meeting her went by slowly as each hour was dedicated to the anomaly of her arrival in his space. The first of his six hours was spent attempting to ignore her as she did him. Ichigo could admit to being slightly competitive, and if this mystery woman/girl/chair stealer thought she beat him, she would have another thing coming.
Unfortunately for Ichigo, the book he attempted to read might as well have been transparent, because he couldn't see anything past the page except her.
The second of his six hours was spent speculating and observing the female intruder. Staring was admittedly creepy, but if she was ignoring him to this extent then it couldn't be helped.
He had immediately noticed how small she was. She was probably half the size of the chair she was lounging in, whereas his legs always hung over the edges. She was a petite person, but definitely not a child. Her style of clothes, similar to his own, and vibrant but dark hair played into her age as well. She was likely close to his own age as Ichigo could easily imagine her donning a school uniform and fitting right in.
At that thought Ichigo forced himself to look away and pull up his book. The warmth on his face was probably from the heat of the library getting to him.
Ichigo had wanted to be critical in his overall inspection of her, but it seemed more difficult a task as she was unabashedly beautiful. It wasn't shallow or perverted and neither was Ichigo; her attractiveness was simply a fact.
The halfway point in Ichigo's six hours of usually uninterrupted bliss was spent judging her taste in books. Seeing as how he couldn't concentrate on his own, he began squinting to see what novel could be so interesting that she could lose herself completely while a stranger watched her for hours. The jacket was worn and old, most likely a classical. It resembled Shakespeare, which Ichigo was extremely familiar with, but he couldn't make out the title. The heading looked ornate and decorative, but the letters seemed…
Finding himself the perfect mix of confused and curious, Ichigo leaned forward to feign tying his shoe and get a better look at the girl's book. He sneaked a glance—contradictory to his blatant earlier staring—from under his orange bangs and looked closer. It was Shakespeare and it was upside down.
The girl, as if silently aware that his attention was on her book, gave a slight cough, turned the page, and continued to read and ignore everything else.
Ichigo scowled and committed himself further into figuring out the mystery woman who read Shakespeare upside down. He swiftly stood up, hoping his sudden movement would derail her in some way, but she remained immobile and impassive.
As if going to the restroom, Ichigo strode past the girl but not before taking a long look over his shoulder.
It was a manga!
Ichigo almost tripped over a chair, and for the first time in his life, the other library occupants—except her—promptly "shh"d him.
Ichigo gave a feeble wave and a murmur of apology before letting long and silent strides lead him into the bathroom where he gripped the sink and stared at his aghast reflection. He was speechless, horrified, livid, amused, annoyed, and everything in between. Who in the world was this person who could completely disrupt his solitude and peace of mind without saying a word and while reading a shoujo manga under the guise of Shakespeare?!
Whoever this girl was, she had done the impossible and captured Ichigo's interest.
The last three hours on the night Ichigo met her were less grating than the first. Ichigo had accepted that it wasn't really a battle of wills, and even if it had been, he had long been deemed the loser. He returned to his new chair, across from her and his old one and merely took guesses at her name, where she was from, how old she really was, if those glasses were prescribed or not, and when he would see her again.
Oddly, at exactly 11 o'clock, Ichigo's usual time of departure, the girl closed her book, stood up, and left.
She still hadn't looked his way and it infuriated and attracted Ichigo all the more.
The next Wednesday at exactly 5pm, Ichigo walked purposefully to his spot, unconscious of the way his breath held before the rows of bookcases opened up to his seat…
Where she was waiting.
He paused, but unsurprisingly she didn't look up. Ichigo opened his mouth before thinking better of it and closing his lips shut. As he made his way towards the chair opposite her, he glanced down at her book, and smirked at the small manga hiding between the pages of Hamlet.
Every week after that had been the same. Their silent and possibly one-sided meetings were the days Ichigo looked forward to the most. His weekly escape had become his weekly opportunity to see her again and marvel at the new ways she could surprise and intrigue him.
One week she'd received a text and Ichigo was disturbed to see a pink, rabbit shaped cell phone sit in her small hands before she discreetly returned it to her pocket. After that he couldn't stop noticing the rabbit motif on her laces, bag pins, and her watchband, and he vowed to pay more attention to such an obvious obsession.
Another week, instead of hiding her usual manga, the girl let a small sketchbook rest between the pages of an old classic. It took all of Ichigo's willpower not to roll on the floor laughing at her drawings.
On a particularly grey and foggy Wednesday night, Ichigo felt his stomach drop when he had returned from the bathroom to find her gone. The sudden instinct to rush through the stacks and find her made every muscle in his body coil until the sound of a child's sniffling reached his ears.
Ichigo jogged quietly towards the crying until he saw his mystery girl ruffling a small boy's head before grabbing his hand and offering to walk him home to his mother.
Ichigo stayed still as they walked by, stunned by hearing her unexpectedly deep and mature voice for the first time and even more so when she introduced herself to the boy.
After that, Wednesday's couldn't arrive fast enough for Ichigo and he found himself hopelessly dependant on a person he barely knew, but could surely never be without again.
Another seemingly ordinary Wednesday night came around, the late May weather sending more people outdoors than within, but Ichigo welcomed the library more still. His scowl softened and he gave nods to the librarian and other regular readers as they recognized and acknowledged his weekly presence. Following his usual path in the maze of books, Ichigo fought off a grin as he approached his—their, spot amongst the books.
His eyes were already set to land on the back of Rukia's head before he realized she'd switched seats. Ichigo stopped in his tracks, one hand poised on his bag, ready to pull it off his shoulder when a violet gaze met him head on.
After several moments of somersaults in his stomach and palpitations in his heart, Ichigo forced himself to blink at the girl who suddenly, after months of aggravating and alluring behavior, decided to greet him. She smirked at him and the flips and strange heart activity started all over again. Somewhere inside Ichigo was a man groaning about losing again to this woman, but elsewhere Ichigo had expected her to throw him unawares eventually.
Collecting himself, Ichigo summoned up his pride and non-existent experience with women and scratched his head. Lifting his jaw, he gave a small nod and spoke his first words to the person who would be and was perhaps already his first and only love.
"Oi. You're in my seat."
AN: The end! Hehe, different from my usual stuff, but I really love it. I'd love to hear some of your thoughts/critiques/complaints Thank you for reading!