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11 July 2009 @ 01:37 pm
Day 5 - Distance to the Sun  
Title: Day 5 - Distance to the Sun
Fandom: Bleach
Pairing: Kurosaki Ichigo x Kuchiki Rukia
Rating: PG
Theme: #4 - Our distance and that person
Disclaimer: Bleach isn't mine, but if it was I think things would play out similar to this.

Wandering the halls in the aftermath of classes, Ichigo shifted his shoulders slightly to readjust the weight of the plain brown satchel on his back. The extra weight wasn't all that heavy, and despite the added inconvenience of a second strap across his chest it really wasn't much different from carrying his own schoolbooks every day. And it was unquestionably and infinitely better than carrying along Rukia's pale purple Chappy-festooned bag.

The shinigami was conspicuously absent from her normal position at his side, having been called back to Soul Society for the day. He honestly didn't mind it all that much -- at least, not much beyond the usual grating sort of irritation he felt on such days -- but given their new.... relationship, her absence at this point was only serving as fuel for the fires that were already burning.

If he'd had his way about things, those same fires -- that had already fueled ridiculous rumors before there'd been anything there to rumor about -- would have been lit directly beneath a handful of desks in his class. And it was precisely those rumors, and the resultant chaos they'd spawned, which had been the root of his steadfast and stubborn refusal to carry Rukia's bag this morning.

She'd insisted, making a point of reminding him that if he didn't get the notes from class for her that he'd have to spend that much more time reviewing it with her to make sure that she understood and followed each individual concept. Heartless witch. He'd growled back, pointing out -- rather sullenly, which only earned him a bruised shin in the process -- that if she just stayed here instead of running back to Soul Society, then she could just get the damned notes herself because it wasn't as though they had any business acting like they couldn't function if she didn't show up every week or two. Of course, that had worked about as well as trying to drink lead. Which was to say that he'd had to listen to her harp on about how she had to go back, that it was only to make a report, and how he was acting like a spoiled sulking child.

He'd snarled at her then, and grudgingly agreed to gather the requisite notes, angrily muttering that the only reason he was agreeing to do so was so then she couldn't blame him when she didn't study and then failed. Which had, once again, earned him the solid impact of her shoe against his shin. He'd scowled down at her then, only to blink in a mixture of astonishment and dread when she'd reached into the drawer of his desk that she'd designated 'hers' and pulled out a ruffle-edged, purple-hued monstrosity decorated with simpering pink rabbits.

Touching that affrontery to taste was something he adamantly refused, raising arms up in protest as not only his sense of taste, but his manhood itself rebelled against the proximity of the Chappy-printed backpack. Rukia's response to his -- in his opinion -- perfectly reasonable response was to fix him with 'the look' and sternly declare that she wasn't about to tolerate him shoving her belongings into that unorganized mess he called a schoolbag and that because she had misplaced her own, that would have to suffice.

Regardless of what he might have agreed to, he was not about to join the ranks of whipped idiots who stumbled along behind a certain female, toting her crap and making picnic lunches and other such bullshit. Which was exactly the assumption that would be made should anyone see him near that bag without HER arm through the strap. Yet another point he spelled out plainly for her, something she apparently didn't pay any attention to as she shoved it at him again and told him to 'stop being a baby' about it because she couldn't find her normal bag and this was the temporary replacement.

Ichigo personally thought that the matter of her misplaced bag may have had something to do with the fact that she'd thrown it at him last night after they returned from school, likely in retaliation for his earlier behaviour, but he wasn't going to bring that up again. Either way, he was NOT going to carry that bag around, a fact that his raven-haired companion seemed not to comprehend seeing as she'd simply kicked him again, threatened his life if he failed to bring her notes home, and hopped out the window with a passing wave.

And not even a goodbye kiss...

Growling, he crushed down that portion of his brain and reminded himself that as of now, no one could see the atrocious satchel hidden deep inside the bowels of his spare brown messenger bag. That portion of his brain had already gotten him in enough trouble as it was, and right now was not the time to be contemplating the fact that the more often he did it, the more he found he really liked kissing Rukia.

Sighing, he raked a hand through spikey orange hair as he turned to shoot a glare at a couple of girls who passed by as they caught sight of him and whispered amongst themselves. Gritting his teeth at the hushed giggles, he once again reminded himself that -- as much as he might have wanted to -- he really couldn't blame Rukia for what had happened yesterday.

Instead, he could simply do the next-best thing and blame Hirako.

Lost in thought and frustration, he rounded the corner of the hallway only to run right into someone else. Stumbling backwards with a scowl, he opened his mouth to berate whoever it was for not watching where they were going only to have the angry retort trail off as he stared down at the startled face of Inoue Orihime. Stepping back, he shifted his feet slightly, brown eyes skirting away from the girl as she blinked for a moment before looking equally uncomfortable.

That was what he'd been trying to avoid, what he'd been frustratedly turning over in his head all day amidst the normal numbers and equations and facts that comprised a day at school. Their friends, both those who knew the 'truth' of things and those who didn't, had reacted in various ways to his sudden and unexpected kissing of the petite shinigami yesterday, and while most of those reactions had been favourable -- or downright annoying -- it was still proving frustrating to deal with.

Inoue was... different. The copper-haired girl had been there yesterday, he'd known she was there and honestly at the time he hadn't really even considered the effect his actions might have. While he was loath to admit it, at this point it was hard to deny the fact that he didn't often think when he perhaps should. In fact, he'd been so caught up in his own anger and jealousy over the situation that the ramifications of his action hadn't struck him until he'd been halfway down the hall.

To that end, he'd spent the next half hour that qualified as the remainder of the study hall class on the roof of the stairwell, where even those of his friends who knew his penchant for rooftop excursions wouldn't think to look. Ultimately, he'd slunk back downstairs at the bell's tone to make his way back to class, all the while glaring daggers at anyone who looked as though they wanted to say something.

The seat by the window had been empty when he'd returned, a fact that -- like so many others -- he'd pushed from his mind in his hurry to stay focused on anything BUT the way he'd kissed Rukia in front of everyone. And while he'd taken a moment to ponder over Inoue's absence and what could have triggered it, there was little he could do to assauge the thick lump of guilt in his stomach as the mocking voice of his subconscious slyly pointed out that it was his fault.

Glancing back down at the top of the girl's head, he reached up to awkwardly scratch fingers through orange hair. He should say something to her, that much was clear and not simply by virtue of the fact that he'd just bumped right into her. There was a distance there, a gulf of space carefully cultured over the months, a distance that -- by all rights, when he thought about it -- wasn't really fair.

Despite what he knew perfectly well many people tended to assume about him, Kurosaki Ichigo wasn't stupid. Nor was he nearly as dense or oblivious to things around him as he oft pretended to be. He noticed, and not only those things that were blatant or starkly focused around him. He saw the way the girl watched him when she thought he wasn't looking. The way her cheeks pinked slightly when she caught his gaze, or the somewhat hesitant way she spoke to him. It was in the almost nervous, whistful smiles she directed at him, the way her fingers always seemed to find the hem of her shirt or something else to play with whenever he talked to her.

Her feelings were, to a degree, as obvious to him as the distance itself. He noticed them, and promptly turned away and put the blinders back up, taking such a conscious effort to not notice, to not respond or give any sort of indication that he either knew or understood the meanings behind her looks. It wasn't right, and it wasn't fair and it galled him to admit that fact to himself, to admit that the safe gulf of space he'd fostered wasn't for her benefit at all.

It was for his.

Feelings, emotions, those were her domain. They weren't things he understood -- at least, not the way people said he should -- and they weren't things he was comfortable with. That made it easy to argue it off, to feign ignorance whenever anyone else brought it up or commented on it. Kurosaki Ichigo didn't 'get' things like love. Except... he knew that wasn't true, as much as a portion of himself wished it was. That would have made things so much simpler.

He loved Kuchiki Rukia. It didn't matter that he didn't necessarily even like the fact that he did, or that the inner revelation -- he hadn't even said it to her yet -- frankly scared him a hell of a lot more than the thought of what her stick-up-his-ass brother would do if he found out. It just... was.

Inoue Orihime loved him. Or at least, he was relatively certain that she did. And that scared him nearly as much. He'd always liked the girl, even when she'd just been a face with a name, that long-haired girl who was always with Tatsuki. But... he didn't like her that way. And so he'd built up the wall, built up the barriers when he'd realized her regard for him, not to protect her from a broken heart but rather... to protect himself from having to break her heart.

It was just easier that way, easier to pretend and remain safely and assumedly oblivious rather than to face the difficulty and the reality of admitting to her that his heart lay elsewhere. Which also would have led to the exquisitely awkward task of explaining just where that 'elsewhere' was.

But things weren't so simple now, weren't so black and white. The girl standing in front of him, beginning to look confused at his continued silence wasn't simply a face in the crowd. She was his friend. His companion, his nakama. She deserved to know the truth, to have the walls taken down and the distance removed. Hell, she'd risked her life along with the rest of them, risked her life to help him save someone who had taken the place she'd wanted in his heart. He owed her his honesty.

Taking a deep breath, he fixed her with what he hoped was a rather neutral -- even apologetic -- expression, shoving hands deep into his pockets.

"Inoue.... about yesterday..."

She blinked at him for a moment, as though confused, before her face spread into a wide grin and she laughed. Cocking her auburn head to the side, she raised one hand, balling it into a fist before lightly punching it against the crown of her head cheerfully.

"Ohhh! Yesterday. Well see, I was in class and then I just suddenly got thirsty so I left to go to the machine and get a can of juice. But then, I was walking and out the window I saw this bird and I was watching it and then it stole a little kid's icecream cone which made me really want some icecream and then before I knew what had happened I'd walked all the way out of school and down the street and then the bell was ringing and I knew I wouldn't get back in time unless I tried to climb the wall and then I'd probably fall down and hurt myself so I just went to the park instead. Sorryyy, I didn't mean to make everyone worry."

She punctuated the long, rambling explanation -- the lie, he knew it wasn't true, could tell it by the redness rimming the edges of her grey eyes -- with playful punches to her head, as though berating herself for some sort of imagined stupidity. Taking a step back, she laughed, though with the tension in her voice, he could tell it was forced. Resisting the urge to scowl -- that wouldn't help things right now -- he shook his head.

"Inoue... that's not what I-"


She cut him off with a single word, soft in it's pitch yet still conveying a certain sharpness. Blinking, he glanced back down at her, not sure if he'd heard her right. Opening his mouth, he made ready to ask her, to clarify what he'd heard, only to be cut off yet again as she began to speak.

"Please.... don't, Kurosaki-kun. I......"

She stood there for a moment, staring down at the floor with her long hair shielding her face from view. Her shoulders were trembling slightly as she curled her hands into fists at her sides. He couldn't tell if she was crying, but he had a strong suspicion that she was and that only served to make him feel worse. After a moment, she raised her head again, her mouth curved into a wide smile that, like her laughter, was forced. Clasping her hands behind her back, she gave another friendly laugh, this one shaking slightly with suppressed emotions.

"I'm happy for you, and for Kuchiki-san. But it was so mean to surprise all of us like that, and I'm sure it made Kuchiki-san mad as well. And you didn't think at all about poor Asano-san, and Tatsuki-chan was really surprised too. Don't keep any more secrets like that, ok? I mean, if you're really a zombie robot cyborg or something like that it would be so completely scary and weird, but not so much if we already knew. And you should be nicer to Kuchiki-san now, you know!"

Ichigo stood there, half in shock as she laughed and playfully scolded him before readjusting the bag on her back with a nod. It didn't... make sense. He was trying to undo what he'd done, to tear down the walls and barriers and make an overture. To come clean and be honest the way he should have been all along. Still speechless, he watched in dumbfounded shock as she turned and hurried off down the hallway. The distance was still there, as it had been for longer than he liked to admit. Only now.... it was because she had put it there.
(Deleted comment)
Neko-taichoutasogaretaichou on July 20th, 2009 09:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Lol, no I don't think she'd carry one around normally, that's just one for casual times and since she can't find the normal one, it's the next best thing.