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07 February 2010 @ 05:02 pm
Day 30 - Full Circle  
Title: Day 30 - Full Circle
Author: tasogaretaichou
Fandom: Bleach
Pairing: IchigoxRukia
Theme: #9 - our own world

"Look, would you just put the stupid scarf on and come with me already?"

He should have known how the evening would go, simply from the fact that it had started with her demanding to know why he was asking her such a thing, and him gritting his teeth and clenching his fists and once more trying to remind himself why he didn't simply reach out and throttle the small shinigami with her frustrating arguing and her damned superior attitude, and... well ok, so there were multiple reasons why, but that was beside the point. Reason aside, he should have known that the simple fact that he had planned something, and actually tried to take the time to make it romantic would have spelled his own imminent doom.

Only, he hadn't known. Or at least, if he had, he'd chosen to ignore that niggling little suspicion in another episode of what Rukia liked to term his 'perpetual moronic stubbornness'. Personally, he thought his girlfriend really had no position to be talking, given that she was equally as stubborn as he was, if not more so. Hell, he wasn't the one who'd been clinging so tightly to the couch she'd nearly raked furrows into it when he tried to physically drag her away from the all-night Chappy marathon because her high-pitched giggling was getting on his nerves and making it so he couldn't sleep.

Either way, he'd dug his heels in and insisted, and finally -- he'd thought he'd have to just carry the midget -- she'd rolled her eyes and muttered something about 'Neanderthal males', which in and of itself was confusing because he was rather certain she had no idea what she was really talking about, and acquiesed to his demand. Wrapping the pale blue patterned scarf around her neck, the black-haired young woman had stood at the door and raised an eyebrow, waiting expectedly for whatever he intended. Silently thanking whatever gods had chosen to listen to him, he'd scowled at her before yanking open the door and stalking out, one large gloved hand wrapping around her smaller one to pull her along after him.

Rukia had remained fairly silent as they'd walked, the shinigami seemingly off in her own little mental world, and that had suited him just fine as it had kept her from asking embarrassing questions that he'd rather have not had to own up to. It was enough that he could feel the faint burn on his cheeks as they walked and his oh-so-helpful subconscious had chided him about so many things. Like the fact that it had been a month since that first day when he'd kissed her without even thinking about it and she'd -- in an act that still rocked the foundations of his world at times -- admitted to him that she'd felt the same way about him. Or how it had taken a couple of weeks, but he was finally comfortable with the label, with the idea of calling her his 'girlfriend', and not just in private where only she could hear. Or even how, though he couldn't help but still feel embarrassed about walking arm-in-arm, she'd stopped beating the hell out of him when he dropped her hand in public -- mostly because he'd stopped dropping it anytime another person walked by.

It had taken awhile, but things had gradually and slowly changed, shifting until he felt not embarrassment and a sense of wishing the floor would swallow him up, but a sense of pride and almost smugness when someone would walk past. A feeling as though somehow he was getting to rub the fact that she was his into the faces of anyone else who looked at her, simply by tightening his grip around her waist or leaning in to drop a quick, light kiss against the top of her head. His subconscious -- or maybe it was the Hollow, it was hard to tell at times -- had scoffed and pointed out that he'd always been something of a possessive git and it wasn't surprising at all that he'd finally realized that a relationship was little more than an excuse to act on that habit. But.... while it was that, there was more to it. Something deeper, and more profound. Something that he'd known all along, even during those early days when he'd been too afraid of it to even face it within his own mind.

Which had been the whole point of the outing, though at this precise moment he was rather sure that someone had been conspiring against him as Rukia's biting voice cut through his thoughts again. Growling, he turned back around to glare at the shorter form of his companion where she sat half-sprawled on the bench, lower lip jutting out in an angry pout, gloved fingers fumbling with the laces to the skates.

"Ok, I GET it, Rukia! We'll go already, just shut up."

She glowered at him for a long moment before shifting her weight on the bench and hoisting one foot into the air, waggling the boot at him like a 3-year old who wanted mom or dad to tie his shoe. Ichigo raised an eyebrow, staring at the small bladed shoe as though he didn't know what it was, earning himself another scowl from Rukia before she shook her foot again.

"Idiot, then get this thing off my foot!"

Had she asked nicely -- or even asked at all -- then he might have actually considered it, seeing as she hadn't worn gloves and her fingers were probably a good deal colder and less nimble than his at this point, but then again Rukia never asked for anything. She just demanded. Or whined and demanded and then beat him until he gave in. Shoving hands into his pockets, he narrowed brown eyes at her.

"Hell no. You put it on, you take it off."

Perhaps it was a childish response -- he didn't really care it if was -- but it was the damned shinigami who'd insisted on being the one to tie her own skates, who'd tossed his rather polite offer to show her how to stand on the ice back in his face. The hell couldn't she just have admitted she didn't know how to skate and let him show her? Ichigo could only assume it had something to do with that damned Kuchiki pride, otherwise she wouldn't have wobbled her way over to the bench after the 4th or 5th time she'd fallen -- he'd tried to give her his hand to steady herself -- and plopped down and stubbornly refused to budge until he agreed to go home.

Rukia sucked in an outraged breath, and he braced himself for another barrage of verbal abuse, this time centering on him and his idiot self and his apparent penchant for watching her struggle and make an idiot of herself. None of which was true, not that he expected that to stop her. They were both so bad about spouting ridiculous accusations and assumptions when they were mad, it was one of the main things that always led to some sort of argument. Growling low under his breath, he clenched a fist around the cold metal railing, his other hand stuck into his pocket and fingering the small circle of silver.

Stamping her foot back onto the ground, Rukia leveled another curse at him before returning to the task of trying to untie her boot. Idiot, it had been HIS idea to come out here, to this frozen patch of water and to suggest that she try walking on it. And not even walking on it like a normal person, but with some kind of strange bladed footwear called ice skates. The shinigami had known he was up to something, Ichigo always was when he was so damned insistent, and it had been more curiosity than anything else that had made her give in to his demands and venture out into the bitter cold. That was another thing, if it was going to be so blasted cold, she didn't understand why it couldn't just up and snow already.

Giving up on the stubborn knot, she stamped her foot against the ice again with a muffled squeal of outrage, watching with some degree of satisfaction as the hard metal curve of the blade chipped a chunk out of the surface before turning her anger back onto her boyfriend.

"What possessed you to think I'd want to come out here in the cold and fall down trying to walk on water in stupid shoes anyway?!"

Her biting words obviously hit their mark as he stiffened before turning and snarling at her, his hands shoved deep into his pockets -- unfair, she hadn't brought her gloves -- as he glowered down at her.

"Because I thought it would be something nice for our anniversary! There, you happy?"

Rukia stopped short, blinking dark eyes up at him in surprise. Did he just say....


Rolling his eyes, the orange-haired teen glanced back down at the girl sitting on the bench, ignoring the flush he knew was faintly staining his cheeks. She'd probably give him hell for it, made-up holidays were HER thing, not his, but that didn't mean he was entirely ignorant of the fact that among all of that stupid girly crap that went along with relationships there was something called a 'one-month anniversary', which -- going by what he'd seen and heard at school and around in his other dealings with girls -- was supposedly a big deal. He'd seen how she'd reacted when he'd given her a blank stare at her insistence on going to the beach 2 weeks ago, and the resultant argument had been enough to convince him to shell out his money on train tickets south to a beach that the winter's chill hadn't quite reached yet. It had been.... nice, and he'd been forced to concede that maybe made-up holidays and celebrations weren't all bad when celebrated by time alone with Rukia.

And this one was supposed to be special, so he'd actually tried to do something about it. Which had blown up in his face, obviously. Kicking one skate absently against the ground, he muttered something under his breath before clearing his throat and glancing sidelong at her.

"Yeah. You know.... one month. I thought that was a big thing to girls, one of those stupid made-up things to celebrate."

Rukia stared, feeling her cheeks warm at the look on his face, the words from his lips. He had.... done this for her? It was almost hard to believe that Kurosaki Ichigo had taken the time to try and plan something special without prompting, without being pushed and dragged and argued into it. She knew he didn't like drawing attention to their relationship, and she'd already come to terms with the fact that it had far less to do with any sort of embarrassment over her and more to do with him simply not being comfortable in the spotlight. Something to do with his 'image' that he was gradually coming to terms with and shedding. It was a slow process, just as it had been a slow process to get him to open up to her, to be comfortable with his own feelings and emotions. Even now, she knew how difficult it was for him to relax his emotional defenses around her, to accept his own feelings and accept that she wasn't going anywhere. It made sense, after losing his mother, the one person he'd truly loved and needed, that any other deep attachment would be difficult, and she'd been patient.

"Ichigo, you...."

Pushing herself unsteadily to her feet, she took a step, forgetting about the cursed metal blades on her boots, arms windmilling with a yelp as she tumbled forward only to be caught in Ichigo's arms as the tall shinigami easily stepped over into the path of her flailing form, preventing yet another rather painful impact with the unforgiving ice. He didn't say anything, simply stood there balanced on his own skates, the firmness of his larger form providing a stability that she could use to steady herself against, carefully gathering her feet beneath her. Rukia swallowed back a flash of guilt -- here she'd been screaming at him and he'd been trying to be sweet -- only to have her attention pulled away as Ichigo carefully took her hand in his and pulled something out of his pocket, slipping the little circle of silver onto her finger. Dumbfounded, she stared at the ring, violet eyes tracing over the small heart with it's sculpted wings wrapping around her finger.

Curling her fingers into the front of his coat, she raised her head to say something, only to notice a small mote of white flutter past her vision, followed by another. Craning her head upwards, the shinigami's eyes widened in an almost childish delight.

"Ichigo.... look! It's snowing!"

She'd gotten quiet at first, and he'd worried that maybe he'd done something wrong, that she didn't like it, that he was going to get hit -- which wouldn't have really surprised him -- or that she was going to call him an idiot sap. Instead, he watched as she glanced upwards and her face lit up. Ichigo's breath caught in his throat against a sudden lump as whatever barrier had been erected in his mind dissolved away like the snowflake that landed on Rukia's outstretched tongue and he tightened his arm around her waist reflexively, pulling her closer and swallowing away the last bit of his nerves.

"I love you."

Everything around her seemed to freeze and her eyes widened in astonishment as she turned her gaze back to his face, taking in those amber-brown eyes staring intently down at her, almost as though awaiting a reaction. Had he... had he really said what she'd just heard? Honestly, she hadn't been holding out hope for it. Not because she didn't know how he felt, but because... she knew how difficult his own feelings were for him, how hard it was for him to even possibly accept to himself how much she meant to him. It would have been cruel and unfair to demand words from him that he wasn't ready to say yet, that he might never be ready to say. She'd contented herself with whispering those same things to him in the still of the night when she lay curled up beside his sleeping form, basking in the warm afterglow, knowing that even if he couldn't speak the words, his actions and touches conveyed the same message.

Swallowing, Rukia felt tears prick the corners of her eyes as she tried to find her voice to answer him, to tell him how much it meant to hear him say such a thing, how long she'd waited for it, how much she loved him in return. Instead, she found herself strangely mute as Ichigo chuckled slightly, the faint ghost of a real smile gracing his features before he leaned down to whisper to her before catching her lips in a kiss.

"I know..."

Sliding her arms around his familiar warmth, everything else seemed to melt away like the snowflakes collecting on their hair and clothes, swept away by the wind while they stood there in the cold, lost in their own little world for mere moments that nonetheless seemed like an eternity before Ichigo pulled back, his hand coming up to cup the back of her neck, pressing her head against his chest as he rested his chin against her black hair, his other hand tracing small circles on her lower back through her coat. Sighing, Rukia closed her eyes for a moment, savoring the closeness before clearing her throat and pulling back to look at him.

"So.... how does this 'skating' thing go again? Maybe... you can help me get the hang of it."

So yes, this is technically the 'last' chapter of 30 Steps Together, but that doesn't mean it's finished, since I'm writing them out of order. The title is a bit of an homage to the first chapter, as is the part at the end. I just thought it was rather fitting to have the roles reversed from Ichigo being unable to confess and Rukia simply smiling and telling him 'I know' to him being the one to tell her the same.
Oh, and for anyone interested, this is Ru's Ring - http://www.peninhand.com/images/WingedHeartRing.jpeg
Psyche: accomplishedaccomplished
nekohooch: ded body rukianekohooch on February 8th, 2010 06:47 am (UTC)

that is all.

Thank you!