Title- Whitewashed Grief
Length- 3k words
Pairing- IchiRuki, slight IchiHime
Time Lapse- Four Days, on and off.
Disclaimer- Does it matter? I'm obviously not a love-hating, Japanese man with a serious case of the blue balls. Proof? Boobs, and this fic.
Warning- THIS FIC IS ICHIRUKI. Not IchiHime cause I hate this pairing and I hate Orihime. So before you people read halfway through this and accuse me of slipping IchiHime into IchiRuki forum read until the end. Please.
Or else he'll notice. He'll notice the turmoil within your heart that no one else can.
True to her minds command, Rukia's smile widened into a fake grin. One that, in his happy daze, Kurosaki Ichigo missed. His happiness for this event was overwhelming, and he smiled right back at her before going to get dressed.
Rukia almost flinched at the grin on his face. The grin that was supposed to only be for her. And now it belonged to Inoue.
Hating herself for her thoughts, Rukia shifted, pulling at her dress disgustedly. It was too… frilly… for her taste, but as a bridesmaid she had to wear it. No standing out for her; no blood red silk dresses that swished around her. That honor was reserved for the bride.
The bride that was going to be wed to Ichigo.
And suddenly, Rukia felt very sick to her stomach.
Rukia headed back out into the main corridor of the church, and allowed herself to be submersed into the crowd. People milled all around her, heading for the chapel. Shinigami and humans alike greeted her, but almost immediately the easy conversation was steered toward the 'perfect' bride and groom- Ichigo and Inoue.
Rukia would leave, using excuses that she had perfected over the years by spending time with Ichigo.
Going with the flow, Rukia was eventually swept into the cavernous chapel. Against her better judgement, she examined the decorations with a keen eye taking in the color and the people. Pure white roses; pure white fabric; pure white rug that Ichigo and his fiance would walk down to meet the priest. It was there that they would stare lovingly into each others eyes, and exchange vows that would bind body and so-
Wooooah there, Rukia cut off her thought process, her face flushing to an ashen white. At least it matched the decorations.
"You okay there? Ya look like yer about ta be sick," Renji said, clasping her shoulder, and causing her to jump as he spun her around to look him in the face. His bright red hair was down from it's usual ponytail, and partially braided. True to the obvious color theme, he was wearing a white tuxedo.
She took a moment to recover before shaking her head, fake smile back in place. "I'm fine. Great actually! I'm so excited for them! Happy day! Happy day!" Rukia continued for a few minutes before it occurred to her that she was babbling.
Renji cocked an eyebrow, not convinced even for a moment. He looked up at the place she had been staring so intently at. The spot where Ichigo and Inoue would be getting married.
"You sure?" he asked, worried. She had looked so sad and disgusted that it would take a fool not to understand her train of thought. Renji knew how much Ichigo meant to Rukia. He knew how much it hurt her to give him away. As much as she tried to fight it, Rukia was the possessive type, and she had claimed Ichigo as hers long ago.
Renji could only imagine how hard it was for her to be here. And the stupid fucking idiot can't even see it, Renji thought angrily, hating his best friend for a moment.
"Where's nii-sama?" Rukia asked, when Renji didn't reply to her reassurance. "He's going to play the piano for them, isn't he?"
"Yeah," Renji said, grinning with pride.
"You know, I give you full permission to court him," Rukia said, giggling when he choked on nothing.
"Wha- What do ya mean?" Renji gasped, shocked.
"I'm not a fool, Renji," Rukia said, glad that- even if it was only for a moment- her mind was off of Ichigo. "I see the looks you give each other."
Renji could only laugh nervously, and scratch at his head. After a moment, he looked down to see that Rukia's unhappy mask was back on. He sighed.
"You know, you're not the only one," he said, grabbing her attention again.
"Only one, what?"
"Only one that thinks that this is a bad idea," Renji said, wondering how Rukia had missed it. "Look at Ishida. Look at his face."
Rukia turned to where he discreetly motioned, finding Ishida Uryuu almost immediately among the crowd. He, unlike everyone else, was wearing black.
The color of a person mourning.
Rukia studied his face, noticing the bags under his eyes; like hers. The usually blue irises were slightly bloodshot, and he looked more tested than usual.
"And look at Ichigo's dad."
Rukia turned to see the man chatting animatedly with his daughters and Urahara. But, untrue to his way of speaking, he wore a frown. Isshin had already expressed his dislike of Inoue and IIchigo being together. He had from the beginning; he just kept it to himself when it came to Ichigo.
"See? You're not alone. This whole set up is wrong," Renji said when she turned back to meet his gaze. "She doesn't belong up there with him, you-"
"Stop Renji," she interrupted him, putting a hand to his chest. "Just stop."
Renji tried to argue, but she stopped him with a slight press of her hand.
Her stomach was whirling again. "It's not me up there, Renji. And it never will be. Ichigo's going to be happy with her. She'll make him happy, and that's all that matters."
"No, that's not all that matters!" Renji exclaimed, resisting the urge to walk back to the dressing room and throttle Ichigo for being a dumbass. "She'll never be able to knock sense into him, or call him an idiot, or bring him back from depression when he's sad. She'll just let him push her around! And before you say Ichigo would never do that, stop and think about it. She'll never tell him he's wrong, and that's bad because when he's wrong it's disastrous wrong. She'll never be able to pick him up when he falls. That's your job, Rukia. He needs you."
"I'll still be his friend, Renji-"
"Don't lie to me. You won't be able to be around them anymore."
Rukia winced, and looked away. "I don't care what you say. It's going to happen, and there's nothing you, or me, or anyone else for that matter!- can do about it."
Before Renji could respond, Rukia was gone, slipping off into the crowd. He debated for a moment about going after her, but decided against it.
She wasn't ready to listen. Yet.
Rukia's heart was pounding, practically drowning out every other sound. She didn't want to see Renji's reason. She wanted to be happy for them. She wanted to feel like she was leaving him in good hands.
I am. I know I am, she thought as she moved to take her place with the rest of the bridesmaids, putting herself on the end. As far away from the marrying couple as possible.
Memories of past events with Ichigo choosing at that moment to make themselves known, she found it hard to converse with the other bridesmaids and Tatsuki (who was the maid of honor), Rukia stood in the corner. She could remember the day Ichigo and Inoue had broke the news to her perfectly.
Rukia released her punch, making her two most protruding knuckles drive into the punching bag. She had been doing this everyday since her two best friends had started dating two months ago. Every. Single. God. Damn. Day.
And it didn't help at all.
She didn't understand why she felt this way; didn't know why she was so angry, and frustrated, and sad, and some other horrifying feeling- all at once. She wasn't human anymore, she wasn't supposed to feel human emotions.
But she did, and she paid all the more for it.
Rukia had asked Ichigo about it once before a month back. Described the emotions and asked him what they meant when put all together. He had paused for a moment, seemingly deep in thought before saying, "It sounds like jealousy. A really bad case of it too."
There had been a pause.
"How do you know?" she had asked, feeling incredibly childish.
"Because I've felt it before." He wouldn't say anything else, only dodging the subject.
She had kicked him.
Her next punch was much harder, but luckily the calluses that had built up on the knuckles protected her from bloodying the punch-bag even more.
She punched again and again (againagaingagainagain) until her knuckles were cracked and bleeding and the bag was stained once again with her blood. Each breath she took was a hiss, and yet she couldn't get rid of the ugly knot sitting in her chest; suffocating her.
"Kuchiki-san!" Urahara's obnoxious and ever loud voice called from waaaaay upstairs, the bang of the trap door opening and the ladder hitting the floor announcing his presence. "You have visitors~"
Rukia didn't respond (she didn't feel the need), as she straightened. She coughed, forcing her face to look less… angry and more natural. Taking a moment to close her eyes and search for the offending reiatsu she immediately recognized Ichigo's boiling barely controlled monster of a spiritual reservoir.
Rukia felt her breath be torn away by the intensity of it. She had been around Ichigo from the moment his spiritual pressure had been released on the world, and as such, she was so keen to it that it barely affected her at all. But this was different, his emotions were a rollercoaster, and he wasn't even trying to keep it down.
The black-haired shinigami quickly kicked the offending punching bag behind one of the many rocks decorating Urahara Kisuke's cavernous basement.
"Rukia!" his voice cried her name, and she lost her breath again. How long had it been since she had had a real conversation with him? A long time, she guessed. She couldn't have real conversations with him anymore, not when Inoue was always right there. But before she could reply in kind she sensed another reiatsu, one that Ichigo's had hidden, and now that she looked at it more closely, she realized that it had taken on the same feeling as Ichigo's.
Rukia blanched, and tried to calm her emotions before they showed through her reiatsu. They had had sex already. She could tell from their reiatsu, the same scent that penetrated through it.
And then Ichigo was standing in front of her and grinning into her face. His grin that was reserved only for her, the one that no one else saw. The one that had appeared after the Winter War. He was in his shinigami robes, Zangetsu hanging on his back.
Sode no Shirayuki, from her place on one of the rocks, let out a distressed trill that only Rukia heard.
She ignored it.
"Yo!" he smirked, the happiness that was so obvious in his face making his eyes light up. It took her breath away more than his raw power ever could. "We had to tell you right away!"
'We.' Not 'I.' It wasn't 'I' anymore. It was always 'we'. Me and Inoue, Inoue and I. Boyfriend and Girlfriend. Lovers.
"Aa, I can tell!" Rukia said, letting her fake-ass smile that he never seemed to notice anymore envelope her face.
"Kuchiki-san!" Inoue called in greeting, finally reaching her. "Ohayo!"
Rukia let out a weak laugh. "Ohayo, Inoue."
Neither seemed to notice her obvious distress, and they linked hands, smiling lovingly at each other. "We have some great news, Kuchiki-san," Inoue gushed, whole face lighting up. Rukia's hands clenched, and she finally noticed (with a good amount of horror) that blood was dripping from her hand onto the dirt floor.
"Rukia, we're getting married," Ichigo said, not looking at her but at Inoue. He hadn't noticed it.
There was a moment of silence where Rukia's brain shut down.
"That's great!" her voice came out strangled and shocked. Neither of the now engaged couple noticed.
"We have to go Rukia. We have to tell Uryuu-kun!" Inoue told her happily before walking off, dragging Ichigo behind her.
"See ya, Rukia!" he yelled. She didn't reply. Her legs were trembling, and her vision was spinning. Everything was spinning.
Urahara caught her before she fell. He let out a tisk, expression pitying. "Poor Kuchiki-san…" he murmured, slowly laying her against a rock.
"They're getting married?" Rukia asked feebly, brain unable to compute what was happening.
"Yes," Urahara said. "They are. Are you okay?" he asked, for once completely serious.
"Er… no, my brain just imploded, I think," she said. "Urahara-san… I think I'm going into shock."
She laughed, bitterly. "That was quick, wasn't it? Two months. You sensed it on them, didn't you? They've mated."
Urahara remained silent, and it was then that Rukia broke.
The old shopkeeper held her as she cried, knowing the pain she was going through.
Rukia let her eyes rest on the carpeted floor, not wanting anybody to see the glimmer of unshed tears. She stayed that way, not noticing as people finally sat down, and Byakuya took his place at the piano.
The music was what brought her back, and she barely kept from gasping when she realized what was happening. She felt even sicker than before, her stomach clenching and unclenching. She shouldn't of ate before this, she should have known better.
The doors creaked open, showing Inoue being escorted by Sado in place of her deceased father. She was wearing a beautiful white dress, frilly like Rukia's.
Murmurs of appreciation and awed looks ran through the crowd, almost making Rukia blanch. She steeled herself, knowing that she had to do this. She had to stay.
Rukia looked over to the alter, and saw, for the first time (in his suit), Ichigo. It was white, and looked amazing on him.
Rukia swallowed as her throat went dry. It was happening. Ichigo was leaving her, just like he had in her nightmares. Leaving her forever, going towards the light at the end of the tunnel without once looking back.
Just like Kaien-dono had.
It was then it hit her. No matter how hard she steeled herself, or how long she had prepared for this day, no matter how many times she had told herself she could do this… she couldn't.
She couldn't stay and watch the person she loved above everything else be given away.
Rukia ran, slipping out the backdoor in the middle of the priest's speech. Six individual pairs of eyes watched her go, all holding varying amounts of pity.
Ichigo didn't even notice, and when the vows were said and the 'I do's' done, all thoughts of the one person who had always been there for him were erased from his mind.
That night, locked in a closet in a room with the number 15 attached to the door, Kuchiki Rukia broke down and cried.
Renji cursed himself and his supposed 'best friend' to every hell in existence. To a fate worse than getting eaten by a hollow, or dying slowly and torturously.
Renji felt like going and dying in a hole. A really big one that if he fell he would break his neck but not die, so he could lie there in pain until a cracked rib punctured his lung and he would suffocate.
He had left her. He had stayed and partied and left her. Byakuya was going to have his hide, literally.
But that didn't matter at the moment because he had left her. "Where the fuck did she go? Think Renji. Think. Not back to Soul Society. She didn't have clearance," he muttered to himself, ignoring the weird looks the humans gave him as he ran down the street. He had a hangover that made migraines look like a tiny headache.
Renji ran through a list of places he thought she might be, thinking hard. Knowing Rukia it would be someplace familiar, that made her feel safe and secure. Loved.
Immediately, Renji knew where she was.
The sound of the closet door being practically ripped off it's hinges woke Rukia from her light slumber. She let out a feeble, shocked squeak as a pair of strong arms reached in, the face of her attacked hidden by the now blinding sunlight.
She stiffened, wanting to lash out- not having the energy to do so.
"Rukia! I am so sorry I left you!"
It was the words she had wanted to hear, but not from the person she wanted to hear them from.
"Re-… Renji?" she asked, voice cracked and tired. She would've burst into tears again, but it seemed she had cried out all the tears she had.
"Yeah. Oh Christ, Rukia. You look like shit."
If she had been the same Rukia she had been the day before, she would've laughed, but now it was different. She was broken.
"Yeah," she said instead, seeing and not caring about the worry that filled Renji's eyes as she hung slack in his grip.
Renji stared at her. If it wasn't for her reiatsu, Renji would've seriously doubted this was the Rukia that he knew and loved. "What?"
"I'm going to Soul Society… and I'm not coming back here ever again." The words were spoken feebly, but they rang true. There was no hesitation, she was completely sure.
"What? R-Rukia, I don't understand," Renji choked, panicked. "You love the Living World. You have to stay-"
"I can't Renji. Not while he's here. I'll… die on the inside. I have to leave, heal. Time will help, Renji."
Renji tried to reason with her, but found that the female shinigami had made up her mind.
Two days later, as Ichigo and Inoue left on their honeymoon in America, Rukia left for Soul Society.
She, unlike them, never came back.
One Year Later
"Honey!" Kurosaki Ichigo called as he pulled another box from the closet he was currently cleaning. "Did we ever watch the Wedding video Karin filmed for us?"
"No!" came her reply, and Ichigo took a moment to examine the DVD case he held in his grip.
Shrugging, he stood, kicking the box back into the closet and walking into the living room. He popped the DVD into the player, and turned on the TV.
Changing the channel, he plopped down on the couch, one foot on top of the coffee table, and pressed the 'play' button.
He smiled as the video went to Karin zooming onto his wife's back and her beautiful, billowing dress. Orihime continued her elegant walk down the aisle, and the camera suddenly shifted from her back to Ichigo's own face. Ichigo nearly laughed at the eager look, shifting forward to get a closer look at the screen. Karin had done a good job, he acknowledged.
Ichigo frowned as the camera zoomed out again, turning away from the sight of the happy couple and landing on… Rukia?
Shock coursing through him, Ichigo paused the video, scrambling from the couch and onto the floor in front of the flatscreen TV.
Ichigo hadn't seen Rukia in a whole year, not even on the occasions he visited Soul Society on orders from Soutaichou.
Eyes widening as he took in his best friend, Kurosaki Ichigo, for the first time in a year and two months, recognized the feelings on Rukia's face. With growing horror, he pressed the play button again, this time slowing down the images as Karin stayed focused on Rukia. He watched as she froze up, eyes wide as she looked at the Ichigo in the video. Almost as if, she hadn't see him ever before. Her eyes then flickered to some place offscreen, probably Orihime. She looked… sad. Unshed tears were welling up in her eyes, and her face was pale. She looked sick, the bags under her eyes practically black. He watched the fake smile that he hadn't noticed falter, replaced by shock and… fear.
Rukia was scared. Terrified. Right before his eyes, tears began running down her face.
Ichigo watched as she turned and ran straight out the door behind her. Ran away from him- ran away from his marriage.
And he hadn't even noticed.
It was then he knew why Renji was refusing to talk to him; why Byakuya, and even Ukitake, were giving him the cold shoulder; why Karin always snapped at Orihime, and yelled at him when they visited.
Why Renji had punched him after his honeymoon.
"Ichigo, baby, what are you watching?" Orihime asked, freezing as she took in the sight of the video paused on Rukia. "Ichigo, what-"
"Did you know about this? Know that she had ran?" Known that she was hurting so much inside? Ichigo asked as he remained on the floor. He didn't turn to look at her.
"What do you mean? Of course not!"
But his wife faltered, voice trembling.
She had known.
Standing, Ichigo turned to face her.
It was the first of many lies, and many fights.
A year later, Kurosaki Ichigo and Inoue Orihime divorced.
She wasn't going to forgive him- Ichigo knew this. It was too much to hope for. He had messed up, and hurt her so badly that she had broken inside.
There was no excuse.
He could only pray that they could become friends again, slowly but surely. He knew now that he loved her. More than he had believed he could love anyone. He could still remember the days where he felt jealous of the bond between Rukia and Renji.
That had been… long ago.
Using the connection that had always been there, Ichigo searched for Rukia like a dying man in a desert searching for water. Nobody in Soul Society knew he was here, nobody could warn Rukia to run away.
No, she wouldn't run away this time.
Using shunpou, and every ounce of concentration he had, he tried to mask his reiatsu as he found Rukia's string of reiatsu and followed in through Soul Society.
Ichigo found her walking down one of the back streets of Soul Society. She was carrying a pack of papers. The steps she took were faltering, and she was skinny. Sickly so.
Her hair was dull, and skin pale.
She looked like she was dying.
At the sight of her, his heart clenched, and suddenly he was in front of her, on hands and knees.
For the first time in fourteen years, Ichigo broke down and cried, tears streaming down his face in torrents. His teeth clenched together, and half apologizes came out in mumbled frenzies.
Rukia stiffened, unable to believe what was going on as a crop of orange hair suddenly appeared in front of her. This human being couldn't be Ichigo.
Ignoring her basic instinct screaming for her to run, she bent over, shocked as tears poured onto the ground. It was Ichigo. Her Ichigo.
Leaning closer, she wondered if this was some cruel dream as the muffled sounds met her ears.
"Rukia… I-I… I'm… so sorry. So sorry. I… didn't… see…. can't believe…. I… didn't-" his words were covered by sobs, but she understood. Reaching out, she pushed her fingers into his soft orange hair, reveling in the spikiness.
In a flash, Ichigo's arms were rapped around her, tears running into her hair as her own tears soaked the front of his shihakusho.
They stayed like that for a long time, neither moving even after the tears stopped.
Yes, they would have to start over again, but for now…
Let me hold you one more time.
Yeah, the ending sucked. I got lazy D:
Dang people, I'm tired and busy and STUPID cause this is one of the most worn out fic ideas EVER.
BUT I DON'T CARE.
I shall update my other fics I promise!
Just give me time!
If there are any mistakes, I'll go back and fix them later. I'm too fucking tired right now.
Thanks for reading.