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There are those who believe there is existing life outside of this world. I wasn't one of them. Until one day, I chanced meeting one face to face.
Surprisingly, he searched for something so basic, so human, that we often take for granted—a heart.
And no, it is not the organ that beats in your chest, no, rather it's the feeling that burns inside. That lets you know indeed, honestly, in all honesty that you are alive. That feeling that prevents one from falling into complete indifference.
Chapter 1: Spring
The teacher babbled on as a regular day of school went on, it was almost spring break, Rukia's favorite time of year. She knew how much her older brother loved the spring. She thought of ways to make it extra special for him.
It was going to be the first spring without Hisana. She doodled on the corner of her notebook. Chappi cheered happily next to the Seaweed Ambassador.
How fast. How incredibly fast it had happened. It started so small. The light-headness she suffered. The silly bouts of forgetfulness. Before anyone could come to realize, she laid distroyed on a hospital bed suffering of convulsions... her skin once creamy white; a pale sickly yellow.
And yet Byakuya sat there, day and night holding her hand.
"You will get better," he would say calmly, "It will all end..."
And it did. April 7th. Hisana's eyes closed for the last time, and Byakuya's vitality went with it.
"It is better not to feel," he would say from time to time.
She snapped out of her thoughts. Ichigo looked at her from across where she sat.
"Pay attention, the teacher's gonna notice you spacing out."
"Oh thanks, Ichigo," she smiled softly.
For some reason ever since Hisana's death, he's been very kind, somewhat understanding. The arguments died between them, and if anything, being around him was becoming... awkward.
Everyone even Orihime seem to give them space. The bell ran for lunch and the teacher left. Ichigo stood and picked up his bookbag, slinging it over his shoulder. Passing by Rukia's desk, he saw her doodles, there was an angry teddy bear that wandered the bottom margins of a formula handout. He looked up and saw her chatting with Tatsuki. He picked up the page and folding it, he put it in his pocket.
Walking home from school, Uryuu caught up to him. Chad who always walked with Kurosaki was absent that day.
"I saw that."
"What are you talking about?"
"The paper," Ishida interjected, "Rukia was looking for it, and you were playing dumb. She needs that to study for the exams."
"What's with you?" His glasses glared in the afternoon sun, hiding the perplexed gaze.
"Get off my case will you?"
"Shut it. I don't want to hear it." The Strawberry power-walked placing a gap between them. The wind blew and Ishida stopped, the distance growing between them.
I don't want to hear it. I don't want to see those faces. Those cheesy smiles, assuming shit. Predicting shit. Even if it's so called 'obvious'...
Ichigo stopped. It was at the corner of the crosswalk. He looked back and saw Ishida approach.
"It's almost going to be a year."
Ichigo's eyes widened.
I thought I was the only person who noticed.
"Yeah..." the Strawberry replied.
"What are you planning?"
"I... don't know... but I feel like I need to do something."
"Well count me in."
Ichigo noticed that Uryuu was studing his face.
"What the fuck is wrong with you, Ishida?"
"That's my question, Kurosaki."
"I..." he averted his gaze, "...don't know. But. It's not that."
"Forget it," He crossed the street and Ishida followed.
There was a street filled with blooming sakura and as the petals flew Ichigo's flustered face began to show through. He turned his gaze towards the store windows hoping that the mannequins, posters, and advertisements would clear his mind of those thoughts.
Ishida was tired of it. He wanted the Strawberry to act like his normal self and that things would be normal. Instead of seeing him like this—beating himself up.
Ichigo stopped and pulled out a folded piece of paper from his pocket.
"Instead of following me around, why don't you stop by her house and give this to her?"
The glared lens hid his expression as he took the folded square into his fingers. He didn't take anymore steps, watching as the oranged-haired youth walked home on his own without looking back.
Opening the paper, Ishida saw Rukia's familiar doodles, the teddy bear holding hands with Chappi.
Why is he so afraid of returning her feelings?
No doubt she's waiting for a response...
The four-eyes walked towards the Kuchiki residence. It was pretty average, even though she lived a bit more comfortably in comparison to everybody else in school. He looked about the yard as he stepped prudently towards the door. He lifted his hand to knock but paused before the knuckles hit the surface.
It's awefully quiet. Is she even home? Could it be that she's waiting for Kurosaki? At any rate, I'm getting a feeling that is making me sick to my stomach.
His turned the doorknob instead.
Rukia walked into Byakuya's room, a hidden smile in her face. She planned to spend the day with him. Just the both of them. After all, the sakura are already blooming.
He layed resting in his bed, the covers barely covering his feverish corpse.
"Nii...sama?" The door creaked open. Stepping silently she walked as if silence were a fraigle glass in danger of breaking.
"Nii-sama..." she whispered. Gently she pushed aside the locks of dark silk, "Wake up Nii-sama. It's still early, let's take a walk. Did you get off early from work?"
There was no response.
Her gaze lifted and on his desk next to the bed was a single sheet of paper laid out, perfectly striaght. She patted his forehead, "You feel cold," she whispered, "Very clammy." Her eyes softened, "You're pushing yourself? It's strange to see you like this," she mumbled to herself.
She stood up and walked towards the desk.
Ishida Uryuu walked into the residence uninvited.
The large violet-blue eyes landed on a sheet of paper as it took in the opening lines.
It is better not to feel.
It is better not to have a heart. Not to feel.
Then perhaps, I wouldn't be writing this. Then perhaps, Rukia, you wouldn't be reading this...
Her vision started to waver.
Ishida walked through the dim silent household..
I cannot live through this spring.
I cannot see the sakura continuously bloom without you.
I wish to be like you... To lie cold in the ground like you.
I think... I think it's beginning to affect me.
Why is it so slow? Why is it taking so long?
I died a long time ago.
When they buried you, they buried me.
When they burned you, they did the same to me...
I cannot stand this empty shell.
I cannot stand watching the winter melt away.
It's excruciating the sight of the buds forming on the trees.
And yet they are.
They are blooming without you.
The flowers that have captivated me.
That have always moved me—
Now stab me like one thousand tiny blades, one thousand times.
I couldn't be the brother you needed.
To let myself be swayed by these emotions...
It is better not to feel.
To not be consumed by these feelings.
Rukia, my beloved sister.
Do you remember the last breath she took?
How just then, her fingers slipped out of my hand, how she fell into a place, I couldn't follow?
How at loss I felt,
How nothing was able to console me?
Nothing at all.
I am a miserable human being.
I am consumed by grief.
Nothing could console me.
Not even your gentle smile, your warm touch, the considered gestures—
because they reminded me of her...
Do what you please.
My beloved little sister, I leave everything to you...
Uryuu rushed towards the sound of the scream and found Rukia shaking Byakuya awake.
"Nii-sama! Nii-sama! Nii-sama, your baka!"
His eyes darted towards the desk seeing first the bottle of liquor and several uncapped bottles of sleeping aids and pain killers. Then the letter, then the realization.
Rukia was shaking a dead corpse.
"Nii-sama, you baka! I'm in pain too! I'm suffering too, Nii-sama! You idiot, you selfish bastard! This wasn't supposed to happen. Wake up—oh GOD, this can't be happening! This can't! No, no, no, no—NO! Noooooo..." she wailed and sunk her head in Byakuya's chest.
Ishida's fists clenched. He quickly turned and walked out. He called the ambulance. And then Ichigo.
The formula sheet rested on the carpet floor dropped by accident flipped to the other side. Scribbled on that side in Ichigo's handwriting was his phone number with the message:
A/N: This will be my first fanfiction in which I will write Ulquiorra as a main character. I had started writing this mainly as an Ulqui/Ruki fic, but I've noticed with my notes and plot direction, that it's actually more of a Ichi/Ruki fic. But regardless you will see a lot of both. And the final pairing has not be decided. I will see where this story takes me... Please enjoy, feel free to share your opinions with me in your reviews, they are much appreciated.
- Zerolr -