this is a
Comedy Of Errors
No one in this world deserves sadness.
Ironically, this is the reason why more often than not Sado feels sad. Because there is war in the world of the Living, because there is war in the world of the Dead, because people hurt and cry and grieve every single day—and because Sado thinks of reasons for that, wonders why few people are lucky and others not, and cannot find any reason at all.
This is the truth and Sado does not know whether to be happy or even sadder because of this. (He grieves for his hurt friends, he prays for their safety.)
Today, though, is something special. Today Ichigo wakes up and in his eyes is hurt, but Sado always knew that Ichigo is a rather good actor, so it is to be expected that the feelings in his best friend's eyes are well hidden beneath a calmness that doesn't really fit him. Although Kuchiki is usually better at concealing her emotions now she smiles like Ichigo is someone to her, like he is her entire world. Kuchiki should be proud of these strong feelings and Ichigo should be proud to receive these feelings—but again, life isn't easy, loving isn't easy either, above all for these two.
There is this bond between them, indescribable and deep—it is what ties them together and cuts them apart, every single moment.
Kuchiki explains to Ichigo that he has lost his abilities as a Shinigami (has lost his first identity). There is this sad, horrible expression on Ichigo's face but Sado is Sado, so he doesn't say anything.
And then Ichigo asks
(asks, not orders)
(it sounds so terribly wrong): "Can I go outside?"
Their bantering is nothing special, just old routine. It is their eyes that betray them: full of longing and sorrow—and with so much love in them as they joke and tease, softness in their voices as they speak their last words.
This is their cruel truth.
It's almost atrocious—how she smiles and is beautiful—and then, the next moment, how he smiles and is beautiful and hurts.
(Oblivious, some people say, she is, an airhead, can't she see that he doesn't love her?
Can't she see that she's all alone in the world?
Can't she be sad and unhappy like all the normal people out there?)
(Isn't she allowed to be weak sometimes?, she wants to ask, her smile strong, not shedding a tear—but then again, who would want to hear that from happy, cheerful Orihime-chan?)
Orihime can still see Kuchiki-san—but wonders if that will change and if yes, then when?— but she knows that Kurosaki-kun can't and it kills him, right there and then—
(he's never been more beautiful)
—and the moment Kuchiki-san realizes it, there is nothing left of the defenceless, soft, smiling Rukia that belongs to Kurosaki-kun.
Now, she is all steel and snow and dignity.
One moment, Kuchiki-san waves with one hand to Ishida-kun, Sado-kun and her, and the next, she disappears through the Senkaimon.
There is a small ache in Orihime's heart this moment and she wonders if she'll get used to this as well.
So much happened this year. Before, there were a few Hollows here and there, there was studying and studying and more studying and avoiding his father and sometimes looking after Inoue-san and wondering how someone can be so beautiful and even so not knowing it. Then suddenly, one day there is this rash guy with the tons of reiatsu and just changes everything that before was straight and boring and for fuck's sake, easy.
But well, he has gotten used to it by now. At least, Uryuu likes to think that way. At least, Uryuu is not the one with too many hopes and too many dreams (Inoue-san), with too much sadness (Sado-kun), with too many secrets (Kuchiki-san). At least he is not the one who lays in bed as if he was dead (Kurosaki).
"How long has it been again? Since … you know …" Inoue-san never finishes her question, like she does every morning when they sit down next to each other in class.
"Ahahaha, silly me, I just forget it all the time!"
"Two weeks, Inoue-san." Fifteen days, seven hours, around ten minutes. He clicks like clockwork.
In these fifteen days, seven hours, eleven minutes, one would think that things would have changed—nothing has, though. Nothing at all. (Sado watching out of the window, searching for who knows what; Inoue-san as much in love as a girl can be; his classmates acting like nothing happened; Kuchiki-san behaving distant and almost-cold.)
At first Uryuu misdiagnosed everything. He misdiagnosed Inoue-san's—longing—glances towards Kurosaki, misdiagnosed they way Kuchiki-san treated Inoue-san and Kurosaki respectively, and, most notably, he misdiagnosed his own feelings.
Whenever he senses Kuchiki-san glancing at him, it is sympathetic and knowing. This is what makes him angry the most.
"You knew from the beginning, right? That it would end in this disaster." He nearly hates himself for speaking so disrespectfully towards a woman (a woman disguised in a girl's body).
"Ah," she murmurs. She is softer when she is not in Kurosaki's room where her eyes are grim and her posture is rigid. "I could not help it, though. Inoue was in love with Ichigo long before I came and you already like her for a while, too," she states—to her it is not a question. She stands tall and full of mournful pride. "I did not estimate the situation correctly, though. I'm sorry, Ishida." She smiles her usual smile.
A little bit cocky, a little bit well-versed, a little bit practised.
A little bit sad.
Kuchiki Rukia, he thinks, is probably the one he misjudged the most.
When Kurosaki awakes after approximately a month (three weeks, five days and twenty-two hours)—Uryuu forces himself not to be taken aback by the not-change in their dynamics. Inoue-san still gushes and blushes and is so in love that she does not see anything (anyone) that is not Kurosaki. Sado-kun still says nothing even though he has so much to say. Kuchiki-san still smiles and acts aloof. Kurosaki still does not love Inoue-san.
But he—he still loves her.
It just does not change anything at all.
He wishes this was a misdiagnosis as well.
This is what he wanted. This is what he wanted. This. Is. What. He. Wanted.
(Maybe, when he thinks it about five hundred times per hour, then it'll become the truth.)
It's funny how everyone around him has adapted to him and his changes—without even giving one wary glance, without one single worried speech. They just … accept it.
That's it. That's great.
That's what he wanted.
Of course, at first, it was a little weird without seeing any ghost, without feeling the reiatsu of his friends. At first it just felt—incomplete. Like not feeling anything at all anymore. Like having lost the grip on something but not knowing what exactly.
(He feels lost.)
One day, though, he leaves the house and decides that it's enough. Really, he isn't some sissy. He defeated Aizen, he got rid of the hassle called Shinigami; he can concentrate on school and friends … even girls, if he'd ever feel the need to.
He can be a normal teenager again.
(He feels lost.)
(This is something, though, that he can never tell anyone. He doesn't want to burden anyone. He doesn't want pity.)
At night, that's when he has to be strongest, that's when it is the most difficult. At night, he dreams. (He dreams of Rukongai, of the Gotei 13, of Renji and Rangiku-san and Toushiro and Byakuya and everyone else.) But really, dreaming is no problem. Dreaming is remembering old friends and tough fights and hard-earned victories.
It is when he lays awake that the ghosts he fears haunt him. His mother, with her calm eyes and lovely smile; the man who is his father and is a Shinigami, is something entirely different than what he considered him to be; Zangetsu-ossan.
Always, always Rukia.
Sometimes, but only at night, when he feels like he is the only man in the world, he wonders if she sometimes comes to Karakura to look for him—or even for Chado or Ishida or Inoue. It's only at night though, so he never has it in him to ask his friends during daytime.
There are times when he just tries to imagine the exact colour of her eyes—corny as it sounds—and he can remember it in all its vividness: a deep blue that reminds him of a clear, summer night's sky.
Still. Something isn't right. He can't see the emotion, he can't really see her. He remembers her eyes, eyes that always show pride; he remembers her smile, a girl's smile; her smirk, arrogant as hell; her voice, deep and sure and reassuring.
He remembers it all but it isn't enough.
Then he sees his badge, the only reminder left of Soul Society—Rukia, Rukia, Rukia—and smiles, smiles until it hurts.
(Have I ever told you how much I admire you? Have I ever told you that I think you are stronger than me? Can you even imagine how much I love you?)
And in this moment it becomes clear to Kurosaki Ichigo: He will never forget.
Kiyone and Sentarou smile at her with something akin to pity, Ukitake-taichou gives her a warm handshake and a pat on the head, the new recruits lower their voices when she walks by and bow with respect. Word has it that Kuchiki Rukia will get the post as fuku-taichou of the thirteenth Division as soon as all the commotion is settled for she showed great proficiency during Winter War, along with a few other Lieutenants that will replace the empty Captain seats. The search for the next sou-taichou, though, is still proceeding.
This, though, is not what surprises her most. Their reactions are predictable, just as Renji's awkward but well-meant hug is, just as Kyouraku-taichou giving Ukitake-taichou a bottle of saké ("for we are given another beautiful day to live") is, just as everyone launching into work and training and forgetting is.
It is only when Nii-sama enters her room—something that has never happened before—that she is surprised.
"For how long are you going to stay here?"
"Only a few hours, Nii-sama … things are still not settled in the world of the Living." (I will not leave Ichigo alone. Not now.)
He stays silent for a while, but it's not the stifling, uncomfortable kind—not anymore. This one is filled with solace and the sweet smell of tiger lilies (the smell of Hisana-nee-sama, loss, family). Then he nods in acknowledgement. A few minutes later, after he has done whatever he has come here for, he leaves the room with these words: "You are doing fine."
(You are my pride. I believe in you. You are doing fine.)
It's what he doesn't say that almost, almost makes her walls come down, makes her cry—because, really, what did she ever do right?
A few days later.
Ichigo's condition still hasn't changed. Urahara smiles like the madman he is and requests patience—but her home is shattered, her resolve is weak, her eyes hurt from unshed tears and this boy, this stupid, stupid boy just- … just saved the entire world, her world, without thinking about himself for even a second.
Rukia doesn't want to think about when he wakes up; because that means that the last stage of losing his power is reached, because that means that he won't have his Shinigami powers anymore.
Because that means he gave everything for Soul Society and gains less than nothing in return.
"Ah! Kurosaki-kun!" Inoue cries, literally, when he awakes, finally—but her eyes are wide open (there is so much love in them) and her smile is bright, thankful. Human.
Ichigo is an astonishingly good actor—but that's mostly because he doesn't want to be a burden for his friends and his family. This is something she can understand, can relate to. It's easy to see through a masquerade like this. (It's easy because looking at him is, sometimes, like looking in the mirror. It's easy because, maybe, she just knows him that good.) He startles her, though, when he tells that he knew he'd lose his powers.
Rukia wants to shake him, hit him, ask him how he could be so stupid, how he could give up everything. But then she sees his eyes, those human, human eyes—and she understands everything. She sighs and smiles.
How could she be angry with a hero anyway?
"This is farewell, Ichigo." She moves one step closer.
"Seems so." He does too.
Even as they speak she cannot understand what they say. It's natural, easy as breathing—and suddenly they stand so close they could touch.
I'm fading. Right, Ichigo?
"Tell everyone I give them my best."
"… okay." It hurts more than she thought it would. She unclenches her fists.
This is love, she realises.
His smile is wistful and his tone soft: "Bye, Rukia."
(It's not only about you, you know. You … changed my world, too, Ichigo.)
"Give me your sword, Shinigami."
"It's not 'Shinigami'. It's Kuchiki Rukia."
"I am … Kurosaki Ichigo."
Their story begins.
My take on what happened in Chapter 423, in a behind-the-scenes way. Even though it's pretty late for that, I just felt that I couldn't leave the chapter alone. There was so much—everything in it, it made my heart ache. Haww.
Also, please don't forget: English is not my first language. Plus, yay, this is my first Bleach fanfic! :D
Reviews would be deeply and highly and lightly and darkly appreciated :)
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eins - one
zwei - two
drei - three
vier - four
fünf - five