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30 September 2009 @ 04:06 pm
Day 22 - Even Then  
Title: Day 22 - Even Then
Fandom: Bleach
Pairing: IchigoxRukia
Theme: 'ano...'

"Ano, Rukia..... you're ok with this.... right?"

The shinigami in question blinked violet eyes open with a slight yawn as she swiveled to look back over her shoulder at Ichigo's familiar face. His orage brows were furrowed together over amber-brown eyes darkened in what she knew to be the universal sign of 'something on Ichig's mind he didn't want to admit to'. Frowning slightly, she raised an eyebrow before rolling her eyes and resettling herself back against his chest with a shrug of her shoulders.

"Ok with what? With us? Of course I am. Would I be sitting here if I weren't?"

He ground his teeth slightly at her flippant reply, shifting his weight against the tiles to ease the fact that the eave of the house was digging into his shoulderblade. Stupid woman, couldn't she give him a straight answer for once? He tightened his arms unconsciously around her waist, staring down at her diminutive form made all the smaller -- at least, to his eyes -- by his own knees sitting level with her shoulders. It was... nice, when he thought about it. Nice in a way that he'd never even dared to hope it might be, to simply be together like this. To just be Ichigo and Rukia, not the shinigami and the vaizard, not two people from completely different worlds, but just.... a girl and a boy.

Closing his eyes, the orange-haired young man felt the muscles in his neck relax as he tilted his head, the sun-warmed wood of the eave pressing into thick orange hair as his head came to rest against the panelling. They didn't really get much time like this, much time when they could just relax like this. Hell, even when they did relax, it usually only lasted a good 10 minutes tops before the relative peace devolved into bickering arguements. But even that -- in it's strange, quirky way -- was a good thing. A bit of normalcy.

Ichigo didn't know what had prompted him to ask the question in the first place, but regardless of that.... he wanted to know. And he wanted a real answer, not some sarcastic snippet. Growling down at her -- hopefully it wouldn't start a fight, but if it did, oh well -- he jostled the small girl's shoulder.

"Idiot, can't you just answer?"

Turning around in his lap, she fixed him with a glare and dug the hard point of her elbow into his ribs. Oaf, who did he think he was to order her around like that?

"Ichigo, why do you suddenly want to know so bad, anyway? I did answer you, you blockhead!"

He clammed up at her question, staring her down -- albeit a bit unsuccessfully, as she always won their mutual staring contests -- for a few moments before she shrugged her shoulders with an angry huff and turned back around, idly flipping a page of her manga. Well.... why did he want to know, anyway? It sure as hell didn't make sense to him, so why he'd expected it to make sense to her was really out in left field there.

Sighing slightly, he let his mind wander, seeking out the answer to his own question so he could know why her answer was suddenly so important. As though to spite him, no answer seemed immediately forthcoming and so he simply resigned himself to staring out at the clouds as they began to turn a faint sunkissed apricot.

They'd been like that before, he mused, amber eyes softening and expression turning slightly wistful. That same hue, that same puffy softness as they'd hung low in the sky, highlighted by the red-orange ball of the sinking sun. Only at that time, she hadn't been sitting curled up in his lap where she fitted so perfectly. She'd been standing, her back to him as she'd watched the sunset, her slim kimono-clad sillhouette a darkened shadow against the sky's brilliance.

They'd been in Soul Society, in a meadow outside of Shiba Kuukaku's home, and she'd been telling him that she'd decided to stay there. Stay where she belonged, though she hadn't said as much.

He hadn't really understood then, why her words had weighed heavy on his heart, why amidst the acceptance and genuine happiness that he felt at having saved her and freed her TO make this choice there had been a shaft of piercing sadness. A sense of loss and bereavement that he'd chalked up simply to the fact that they'd become so close in such a short span of time and that by making this choice she was severing that.

It had hurt, but it had been bearable, and he had borne it well for what had ultimately been only a short time. She'd walked -- ok, so it had been a kick to the face -- back into his life a mere few weeks later, and he'd put the pain aside. It had become a moot point because she was there again. And even then, he'd chalked it up to simple familiarity.

Until one night. One night, a few months back, when he'd been awakened by something he couldn't place, some miniscule sound that had filtered through his sleeping mind and sought fit to draw it thusly from that same peaceful somnambulism. Blinking into the darkness, he'd allowed his eyes to adjust only to freeze as his ears picked up the familiar soft voice. Slowing his breathing, miming sleep as brown irises searched for and found the small figure curled up on top of his desk, her folded arms resting on her knees, he'd forced those same eyes closed again and simply listened.

Listened as she talked to their annoying stuffed companion who -- strangely enough, given Kon's personality -- simply sat and listened, occasionally offering up a comment that he assumed was meant to be helpful. The scene in and of itself was mind-boggling, and not just for the fact that he would have never in a million years expected Kon of all people to be a sympathetic ear, but because he'd have been equally as disbelieving if someone had suggested to him that Rukia would choose voluntarily to confide in the mod-soul.

Granted, there was always the possiblity that Kon had simply forced his way into a conversation as he usually did, but still. The fact that the petite dark-haired girl hadn't simply stomped on him and ignored him the way she normally did spoke volumes. Focusing all of his attention on his ears, he'd listened to her soft voice, listen as she talked of Soul Society and it's differences from this world. About it's harsh, often sterile nature that she nonetheless loved -- that was a no-brainer, it was her home, of course she'd be fond of it -- and about how different this world was. How bright, colourful. How alive it was.

And then she'd said something that had almost made him lose his charade right there. The shinigami had sighed, a small almost sad sound, the faint brush of fabric against the polished desktop easily painting the picture in his mind as she shifted and tightened her slim arms around her knees. Her voice had changed, taking on an air that was part nostalgia, part regret, as she'd commented how much she would miss this world.

Kon, for his part, had acted as he normally did, letting out a surprised bleat of protest and disbelief before the familiar muffled squeaks indicated she had either stomped on him or simply crammed something in his plush mouth. Another sigh, and she'd continued. No, she wasn't leaving, at least not now. But at some point, some time... she would have to. She couldn't stay here forever, it wasn't where she belonged. One day, she would have to go back. Back to that sterile world of duty and responsiblity, away from the life she'd come to cherish.

There was a part of him that had railed in silent protest, demanding that he get up and shake some sense into the dumb midget and tell her that she was full of shit, that she did belong here and she could stop being an idiot anytime now. But any thoughts at doing that had ended at her next words, spoken softly and heavy with emotion.

"I'm glad Ichigo doesn't know. Or at least... doesn't think about it. I know it'll hurt him when I leave, and.... I think it would just hurt him more if he saw it coming. If he was able to dwell on it."

And with a few sentances, she'd rendered him incapable of doing anything, of even letting her know he'd been listening as she petted Kon on the head with a word of thanks before he heard her slip down off of the desk and make her way towards the door, the light padding of her footsteps against the floor echoing faintly in the room.

He'd waited until the door closed almost silently behind her to open his eyes, staring up at the ceiling and turning her words over in his mind. Sleep had not been forthcoming and by the time his alarm rang in the morning he had only to reach over and turn the button off.

The rest of the day had been spent in semi-brooding silence, glaring at her when she'd rightfully tried to get an answer out of him for why he'd been 'such an ungodly pain in the ass' and snarling something rude back when she'd kicked him in response to his silent treatment. But ultimately, it had made him realize something. That he didn't want her to leave.

Normal enough, in his line of thinking, she was his friend. His nakama. Of course he didn't want her to leave. But now, looking back on those days... it was easier to see. Much easier to see the real reason why he hadn't wanted to think on the idea of her leaving, why it had filled him with a mixture of anger and dread. There was a place for her here, and beyond that.... he'd made a place for her. He'd opened up his heart to her in a way he'd never have really thought himself able to, and she'd willingly stepped in and now they had something else. Something more.

And the possibility of losing that, of losing her.... was more than he knew how to deal with. Not because he wouldn't have followed her, screamed at her, dragged her scrawny little person back to where she belonged, but because one thing stood out in his mind.

He couldn't drag her back if he knew she truly didn't want to come.

Which was why it mattered so much to know, to really know... that she wanted to. That she wanted to be here, that she wanted him. Sighing again, he tightened his arms around her even more, dislodging her from her settled position to pull her tightly against his chest as he buried his face in the top of her head. She let out a startled bleat of protest, squirming in his arms with an irritated look on her face.

"Look Rukia, I just.... need to know, ok?"

She relaxed at his words, sighing as though contemplating all he'd said -- which wasn't much, honestly -- and all that he'd communicated so effectively without saying much -- which was a whole hell of a lot -- before she turned in his embrace. Cocking her head to the side, she reached up and stroked fingers through his thick orange hair before cupping his cheek in her small hand. Leaning up, she pressed her lips to his in a gentle kiss before smiling softly.

"Yes, Ichigo. I'm ok with this."