(Three and a half weeks later)
I had left with my two friends vowing to never go back and I know now I truly never will. I can't let this become a pattern. I can't let her return and let my feelings escape again.
The first week I spent in physical pain. I wasn't eating or sleeping knowing what I had lost. Everywhere I went I could see her, hear her, feel her hand in mine. I would think about the night I spent with my arms wrapped around her every time I tried to sleep and I would remember when I promised to always stay by her side when I took a shower or a bath. I'd eat and remember the night we ate hot stew together in silence after she'd cried on my shoulder for an hour.
After a week I started to occupy myself with studying for when we went back to school. This time we had a five week holiday due to some reconstruction going on at the school. This also meant though we had to do a Maths, English and Science project over the holiday and it had better be a good one. I finished all three of mine I that second week.
During the third week I managed to sleep by spending as much time with Yuzu and Karin as possible. They took my mind off her and so I watched chick flicks with them and took them clothes shopping. I took them to the park or anywhere they wanted to go for a whole week and it worked.
It's now half way through the fourth week and I realise this time my feelings didn't get stored away. They stayed open but I just learned to find ways not to think about her and found ways not to wonder if she's visit soon.
"Hello?" I ask answering the house phone while watching how to cook cookies from Yuzu.
"Hey Ichigo." Orihime's voice replied. I spent days in-between studying and family time with Orihime, Chad and Uryuu. They didn't talk about her or how we were together but instead talked about school projects and other random topics they would think of.
"What's up Orihime?" I say in a flat voice. Though I took my mind off her for the whole of those three weeks my mood didn't really lighten up. I still miss her now and nothing will ever change that.
"I was wondering if you wanted to come round to mine for tea." She says with a kind voice. She's been a lot happier since Uryuu plucked up the courage to ask her out two weeks ago. Nearly every day they spent with each other and she was noticeably happier.
"Maybe…" I start.
"Chad and Uryuu are staying for tea and you'll never guess who else is here." She says with a bubbly voice. It's can't be her, she's back too soon, I'm not ready for her yet. I can't cope with seeing her yet…
"Hi Ichigo." Her voice interrupts my thought. My hand starts to shakes and I drop the phone on the floor.
"Ichigo?" Yuzu asks before picking up the phone and asking who's there. Not now, I wasn't ready to hear her voice, one thing I never noticed was though her personality changed her voice stayed the exact same. Yuzu's eyes widen and she looks at me before asking if she can speak to Orihime. Yuzu apologises that I won't be going to hers for tea but makes up the excuse that I promised to help Yuzu cook dinner tonight. Yuzu says goodbye before hanging up the phone and placing it back in the stand where it beeps and begins to charge.
"I need a glass of water." I think aloud and take a glass from the side of the sink and fill it with cold water before gulping it down. I'm not ready to see her now. It still hurts though I know it was only fair. It still feels like a hollow's tore a hole in my chest.
She apologised as soon as I opened the door. I was shocked to see her stood there in her gigai dressed in denim shorts and a plain light blue T-shirt. I let her in and she explained how guilt she felt about me having to look after her like that. I immediately told her Uryuu and Chad were coming for tea and she should stay too. She agreed with a smile but was silent when I asked if she was staying at Ichigo's. She told me she hadn't spoken to him yet and it was after Uryuu and Chad arrived that I called him.
"He's helping Yuzu with diner tonight." I explain knowing too well it's a lie. I put the phone back before pulling the cottage pie out of the oven. Yuzu dropped it off this morning when I told her over the phone how yummy her last one was.
I plate up the cottage pie and then balance the four plates and take them into the dining room. I place all of them down before sitting next to Rukia with Uryuu opposite me and Chad opposite Rukia. While we eat I offer for Rukia to stay at mine while she's here and she agrees after five minutes of persuading. She asks us about our holiday and we ask her about her recovery. Some of the things she says are a little unlike her but I shrug them off. I tell her about me and Uryuu and she beams at us both and comments on how she knew it would happen eventually. It was a nice normal meal but the thing was there was nothing normal about it.
"Bye, I'll see you tomorrow." I tell Uryuu before kissing him gently on the cheek. He turns slightly red before him and Chad leave. I turn around and head into the kitchen where Rukia's happily humming while washing the pots. I never would have picture her doing that it seems like something the other her would… Never mind.
"Thanks again for letting me stay Orihime. But honestly I'll sleep on the couch, I robbed you from your bed for two night right?" She says and I give in and smile.
"If you're sure." I sigh and she nods.
"It's a shame Ichigo couldn't come." She sighs and pauses for a minute with a smile playing on her lips. "I wanted to thank him."
"Well we should go to the park tomorrow. I'll invite Ichigo though Chad's busy. Uryuu can come too." I suggest and she nods smiling at me before she puts the plates on the metal rack to rinse off. I pick up a tea towel and begin drying them as Rukia stacks them up. We clean and dry making brief conversation and neither of us mentions Ichigo again.
I answer the phone yet again to the voice of Orihime asking if I wanted to join her and Uryuu for a day in the park. I looked out of the window at the cold wind blowing madly and told her it wasn't the best weather but she said they were going anyway I wanted to go with them. After a few minutes of talking I agree to come and catch up with the two of them having not seen them since last week. Orihime thanks me and says she'll see me around eleven at the park. I hang up and get changed trying not to think of Rukia.
I pull on my shoes at ten to eleven and call to Yuzu that I'll be back later before leaving and heading towards the park. It is actually quite cold today and it rained last night so not many people are around as I walk down the streets. The idea of going to a park in this weather is actually a little insane but I owe them two big time. They told Chad what had happened and though they never mentioned her they encouraged me to eat and both researched methods to help with sleeping problems. They were a really big help and though are conversations were pointless they did keep my mind off her for a little while.
I walk through the gate and notice Uryuu and Orihime sat on two (of the four) swings side by side. Slowly rocking in the wind. They both smile and wave at me as I arrive and I notice the park is empty apart from one more person. I stop in my tracks and watch as she turns her head to look at me from the bench only a few meters away.
She looks beautiful in dark jeans and a stripy black and grey pull over jacket with a hood. Part of a plain white T-shirt shows at the bottom of the jacket. On her feet are plain black converse with their white laces standing out. Her hair is neat and shiny falling to her shoulders as usual before bangs wave and twist off in different directions. The same thick black strand of hair falls between her deep violet eyes watching me. I begin to turn around to leave unable to cope with seeing her so soon when a voice stops me.
"Ichigo, don't leave." She says and it reminds me so much of when she begged me never to leave her alone. I turn back to face her and unwillingly walk towards the bench slowly before stopping a meter in front of her. She stays sat down but looks up at me with a calm face tinged with a slight sadness.
"I should have known you'd be here." I manage to say.
"I didn't realise you were that set on avoiding me." She replies simply, swinging her legs back and forth.
"I was busy." I lie.
"No you weren't. I know you've finished all your projects and I know you've done nothing but lounge about for the past few days and I know Yuzu made up an excuse so you didn't have to see me." She says in a slightly annoyed tone.
"I was just tired. I've been doing things none stop for the past three weeks." I say which is partly true I just don't mention how I've been doing things none stop to take my mind off her.
"I just wanted to thank you. You helped us once again Ichigo." She chuckles with a small smile. That small smile is so similar to the one she used before she changed back. I really can't cope with her today, my heart aches at the sight of her, it knows too well what it's lost.
"It's ok. I'd better go, this weather is too cold for my liking." I begin.
"Wait Ichigo…" She whispers.
"Say bye to Orihime and Uryuu for me." I say turning my back to her and walking a few steps away.
"But you promised you'd always stay by my side." She calls to me and I freeze on the spot and slowly turn around.
He looks at me with shock in his eyes and I stand up before taking a step towards him. The pain in his eyes when he saw me was too much. I thought he might have got over those few days we spent together but I guess neither of us did.
"Yeah, you'll probably forget everything about the time you were like this." I whisper and look at him. "That's what you told me but you were so wrong."
He blinks away the tears he doesn't want me to notice but I step forward again knowing that he needs to know everything. He needs to know how I remember his smell and I remember how wonderful it felt with his arms wrapped around me.
"You called me Rukia-Chan because I liked it. You let me cry on your shoulder in the rain. You carried me home with you and made sure I was ok. You promised you would never leave me and let me sit outside the bathroom while you were in the bath. You told me you'd protect me and let me sleep next to you in your bed when I was scared. You didn't even flinch when I wrapped my arm around your waist." I tell him. "You allowed yourself to love me thinking I would forget everything but you did it anyway. You allowed yourself to be weak in front of me and you cried when you kissed me on the lips for the first time." I step right in front of him and place my right hand on his chest with tears in my eyes knowing the beating I feel under my palm belongs to me.
"Rukia…" He chokes.
"The last thing you told me was that you loved me then, you love me now and you would always love me whether I remembered that you did or not." I look up into his watering eyes. "But I never got to finish my part…" I pause and feel the tears run down my own cheeks. "I never got to say that Ichigo I will always love you." My left hand reaches up and runs through his hair as his arms wrap around my waist and I stand on my tip toes while gripping onto his jacket (the same one he gave me when I cried in the rain) with my right hand and I he brings his lips to meet mine.
The gently touch of his lips and the salty taste of our tears if too beautifully familiar. He's once again let himself be weak though he spent the past three weeks trying to be strong. His arms tighten around me, pulling me closer to him, it feels so natural to run my fingers through his spiky orange hair.
"Rukia…" He whispers my name so softly when we pull a centimetre a part. I smile and then bury my face into his shoulder and just like the last time he buries his face in my hair.
"You still smell good." I whisper remembering the first we were like this together.
"You always smell good." I told him and he laughed.
"You too." He replied and then gently kissed the top of my head.
"You too." He smiles and I know we were both thinking of the same memory.
I held her for around half an hour. We both let the evidence of tears fade from our faces and we both clung onto each other like we had three weeks before. She pulled away slightly but we still held each other and she explained everything to me. She explains that she could remember Orihime and Tatsuki due to the picture on Orihime's draws. She told me how while in recovery she knew she remembered it all and she knew everyone else did due to the odd slip ups of Byakuya calling her Rukia-Chan. She told me how she didn't grieve for Renji knowing what he did and she told me how she couldn't wait to come back to the world of the living and see me again.
"So you remember everything?" I ask and she nods.
"Every single bit of it Onii-San." She winks and I smile.
"What I don't understand is how you fell in love with me so quickly. You spent a day with me and were already telling me you loved me." I admit and she flushes slightly but smiles.
"Because I realise now that I loved you before that. I had fallen in love with you the day you rescued me from my execution and had never told you but when I lost my memories the strongest part of my heart made me remember that one feeling. That feeling was my love for you." She explains before kissing me quickly on the lips again. She turns slightly red but I just smile and kiss the top of her head while hugging her tightly knowing that just as I said to her before, I will never not want this and that this feeling can never truly be forgotten.