By: WingStockRelyon

Setting: Post winter war

Rated: K+

Description: It was only reasonable for certain things to go along with peace, but in her case, despite the shroud of worries and doubts, it also makes her realize where her heart lie.

"if you want to be here with all your heart, then this is where your heart is…

if your heart is here, then that is your 'reason for being here'"

Shiba Kaien, chapter 268, YouDon't Give in to Death

Things had changed.

All was quiet…still. For this place - the place that once had been the battlefield of the many wars they had fought - had fallen in undeniable tranquility. So evidently, with the unruffled, calm silence of this setting, there was no refuting that things had certainly changed.

And Kuchiki Rukia did not realize something until then.

As she sat on the grassy riverbank, with the icy gust of the night wind caressing her features, it could not help but to be presented with the reality that she did not realize something, indeed.

Her heart- where did it lie now…?

The war had ended and victory deliberately chose to be on their side. Despite the loss (because there's never a real winner in war), everything had been working well. Peace had officially befallen upon them and with that…

…she audibly sighed.

But in actuality, that action did not stem out from relief of any kind, for it was too peaceful for what she might have preferred. Yet, it was preposterous to say that she did not want this peace, for it was the purpose of their battles, the point of it all. It's just that there were some issues one could not address in hasty situations, troubles that arose when one had not the time to actually muse about it.

And these were basically the things she did not like much about it. For peace gave her time, peace forced her to stop and think about those kinds of doubtful thoughts. Peace gave her…uncertainties for what should become. As a soldier of the Soul Society, she was quite conversant to the fact that those kinds of things did not rest solely on her decisions. Of course, the Gotei 13 was there still and it wouldn't be long until they gave the final orders. The last word would be upon their hands, and as expected it would be the final verdict that sure would force change upon them.

At first, she had been calmed about it. To fight something that was certain to happen seemed quite stupid for her taste and being an idiot did not really sit well with her personality. So she faced it, with a level of calmness and silent acceptance that were quite befitting that of a noble, that of a Kuchiki. Still, in the tranquility those scenes had presented, there was an alloy of inexpressible sadness lining her vulnerable heart.

'Cause who would have thought that peace, despite all the positive things the term implies, could also come bearing concealed quandaries?

And it was little by little that she had learned to perceive the appalling changes that such serenity brings…

The problem came out subtlety at first- as a simple sentiment, a feeling that presented itself in a thing she could not quite put a finger on.

And the fact that she did not know when it started did not help at all.

'Cause the anxiousness to stop and think about it for only a few minutes would be swept away by the more important situations they had to face every single day as Shinigamis- Gods of Death who had grave responsibilities of keeping the harmony and balance between every existing world. So to say, it simply was not on the top of her priority list- especially when were multitudes of hollows to carnage, a ton of souls to guide, and a bunch of crazy Shinigami traitors with their Espada army waiting to get their asses kicked.

To blame it on those reasons was only rational for how could she afford to think about…weird emotions- especially when there were other important matters (like world damnation) to give main concern to. How could she afford to think about it when it was clear in the beginning that feelings of love, companionship and friendship were only troublesome, needless things? Emotions were what made their kind weak and should be regarded with no sort of importance or value.

But in every world, change was a steady presence and seemed rather inevitable. Therefore, it was only sensible that some things were a little bit different now from the way it was before.

However, it is not "a little bit", for in actuality, the difference is glaring - the change is…massive. She wished she could have put a better word to describe it, but it was appropriately right.

A lot had changed.

She had changed.

Her world had changed.

She acquired new friends and family.

She had mended broken ties from the past.

She had acquired a completely new outlook and self-value of herself.

But most importantly, she gained the power to protect those she wanted to protect. Those who mutually would've want to fight for her in return.

And though she wouldn't openly admit it, she was finding these changes quite favorable.

The changes that occurred since the night she met Kurosaki Ichigo.

But maybe the root problem lay within Kurosaki Ichigo himself.

'Cause after all, it was he who saved her countless times, roughly changing her fate in the process and being in a kind of pensive mood always lead her to think about him, and the many obvious effects he had on her that she only began to appreciate.

She didn't really expect herself to care so much. So much care had been bestowed upon a mere human, a Shinigami substitute. The thought would've amused her, would've made her question the validity of it all if it wasn't she that landed on the exact predicament.

She had developed deep respect for his feelings, never wanting to trample his heart. Never did she demand answers from past issues that he would like to keep only to himself.

Overwhelming relief was what she felt whenever he came out of a battle, and whether he won or lost, gratitude always graced her for the mere fact that he indeed managed to stay alive.

She had said to him encouraging words- and sometimes gave him a literal smack of sense into his head- to help him gain his resolve and once, she gave him a perfect picture of how she viewed him in her heart. Maybe it was not appropriate for a Shinigami of her status, or maybe it was not enough; but she could berate herself in believing that at least it had been true.

All of those things…things she had willingly done for him, things that she had never imagined doing for someone if she had continued to be left in the confinements of her

solitary world...

It was just like he had said- all she did was simply out of worry for him; it was the case and self-denial seemed pretty silly at these circumstances and to do so would lead her straight to the far-from-pleasant place of nowhere.

And with that, she was clearly past the point of just appreciating the whole normality he brought her for it was what she desired to begin with. It was what she valued deeply, for whenever he was around, her troubles no longer seemed worthy enough to be called troubles in the first place. The assurance in his actions and his confidence made her face the world as if all she had to do was place one foot in front of the other, and in one simple statement, it made her quite at ease. Whenever she was around him, she could drop the unnecessary façade and be herself in every acceptable sense. So then, thinking those thoughts and comparing it to what she felt now, she could positively say that she was truly past that point.

There was this heart that had been born between them and it had continued to grow with every interaction, even in their ridiculous arguments and childish bickering, with every battle they fought and practically with every moment they shared together. Yes, it had grown into something...and even though it is quite surreal, she could not care less for it felt decently real.

An indescribable feeling… it had turned out into something one couldn't easily name since any word seemed inadequate. And even the most innocent attempt to convey it through words would somewhat lessen, or worse, lose its whole meaning.

And in these silent contemplations, she could acknowledge that such feelings exist. It also lead her to accept one simple fact; to live without his constant comfortable presence was a hard feat close to an impossibility.

How it happened was beyond her, but it happened anyway and the fear was on thinking that those things would end in parallel to the peace that had befallen upon their worlds.

Unsteadily, she hugged her knees to her chest and rested her head upon them; with the cool night wind biting against her skin, she slowly closed her eyes.

It seemed that her thoughts accomplished nothing but to make her feelings of dejection worse. Disorder and confusion permeated her senses and left her with nothing. Her own heart had been searching for answers but she had been too tired…too tired to even conjure false hopes to make dealing with these obscurities easier.

A minute passed…

…or two.

She didn't know how much time actually moved forward, for she was in no condition to note particulars; it was only after some time that she had become aware of a presence of someone whom her thoughts belong.

With the sentiments flooding back in her mind, she slowly opened her eyes. And there it-he- was, casually plopped on the ground across the river, looking out towards her direction with an air of silent haughtiness reflected in his bearing.

He was a strong presence with all his hair of orange glory that casually stood out to the blanket of darkness that surrounded them. His lips were set in a thin line; his amber eyes grew intense as they continued to show curious interest and did not even flinch when she almost indifferently met his inquisitive stare.

The only sounds that could be heard are the silent flow of the river between them and the smooth sway of the grass to the caress of the breeze. For a moment, they remained situated like that, ostensibly conveying something to the other as they held each other's gaze. Then there was no word of regard, for none was needed as she suddenly found his form standing in front of her, his eyes seemed to bore into her pale skin.


A casual word slipped out of his lips and she had forced herself not to be besieged by the familiarity of it all.

He had remained calm, like it was a simple word of acknowledgement, a simple form of greeting, but if one looks closely enough, they would have noticed that it meant many different things. In this case, it had been enough to voice his concern.

Gradually, she placed her hands beside her on the grass and raised her head to look at him properly.

"Yo…my butt," came her prompt reply, which made him raise a brow, before his perpetual scowl grew more prominent on his features.

"Hey, are you sleeping out here in the cold? I know you're-"

"I'm not asleep...idiot."

Her retort was automatic, stopping him in mid-rant in a voice devoid of her usual enthusiasm- that enthusiasm given whenever they indulged in those kinds of conversations, and she couldn't continue looking at those penetrating eyes.

And then was his turn to sigh.

Without any amount of uncertainty or manners, he suddenly squat down to her level and peeked at her obsidian, violet eyes. Surprise engulfed her being at his forward behaviour and after feeling the gentle yet consuming seriousness he now possessed, she unsteadily held his stare and wondered if he could read her thoughts. Could he tell just by looking in her eyes the feelings that she wouldn't be able to express in words? She searched his soul through his eyes and something tells her that he could. The flash of different emotions and gentle flickers in his amber irises conveyed a silent understanding present within their depths.

And it was not long until he cast his look on the ground, his eyes hooded by his spiky orange hair. Perhaps he has his own worries too. Perhaps he had also been thinking about the nearing future, and perhaps, he had been afraid for the same reason and belief that she, too, could read his innermost thoughts just by looking at his eyes.

Maybe it had been the way with both of them from the start- to communicate in a way so unique that it didn't require meager words and unnecessary explanations for them to know. No, they would not require such shallow form of communication for them to simply understand.

And realizing that now, he hastily stood up and looked beyond the dark horizon, his back from her and gaining some composure he lost earlier, he managed to speak again.

"Ah! Whatever. Let's go."

To others, it may have sounded harsh, but she knew better than to think it was. It had been one of those actions that served a definite purpose; it was to mask his – ironically enough - obvious concerns. It was to deter everyone from the minute detail that he did care.

But it was she that could see through the mask and that was why she felt that her next question will not be disregarded, instead she knew that it would be treated with such importance that only he could provide for her.

"Where exactly...?"

She couldn't help asking though the question seemed pretty stupid in itself, it sounded stupid even to her so she asked it in a barely audible tone as if it only meant to reach his ears. He became still for a second before he took a step forward and whispered the answer she expected to hear from him.


The answer that he also would like to be permanently etched on her heart.

And then the explanations seemed to be so simple after all...

All of these started at the beginning. It happened because there was really no way to avoid it and it would end when one of them became stupid enough to end it. And the reason why the worlds are forever changing is because it was…inevitable.

And the question of whether she liked him or hated him became so terribly unimportant for she knew she couldn't really hate him still, she didn't know if she liked him indeed. But there were things she could be sure of: she would continue to stay for as long as her heart longed to stay. She wanted to be with him with all her heart, so maybe then it was safe to say that with him, with that mere human- Shinigami substitute, with Kurosaki Ichigo is where her heart lay.

The certainty in these statements is the strength that flowed into her in waves of unadulterated assurance as she followed that one person whom she could infinitely trust her heart with.

elyon's note:

1. The only good thing that came out of the 9-11 terrorism is My Chemical Romance.

2. Folie a Deux gave me a heck of a major writers block for months!

3. I am starting to realize i write...plotless. That means I have a ton of unposted...plotless IR fanfiction. *sigh*

4. My imagination is almost inexistent it's creepy.

5. Special mentions: Ann Kristine and Nica Raquepo belated Happy Birthday to you two and Hikari for a comfortable friendship you share with me.

Thanks to icanreadyoulikeabook for the awesomest beta read!

Tyana, I seriously couldn't thank you enough for helping me fix the epic tenses, grammar and the weirdest descriptions the whole ichiruki community almost found on this lame excuse of a fic. On the other note i think you're super cool though ironically enough i find you a warm person. Thanks a ton my friend. And you rock!

And for you i dedicate a poem. Short and not IR though but i still hope you'll like it.

Droplets rang audibly above...

Singing splatter songs on the ground...

Dark clouds brimming low brought rain—

brought singular, similar feeling like pain.

Seeping cold as melted winter

Missing light and warmth of summer

Heaven pours out stream of tears

Vivid, lucid, bridge of fears