- Created By emmet849
The quiet buzz of the fluorescent lights harmonized strangely with the irregular rattling of his breathing. An old man now, she never expected him to die like this, alone in a brightly lit hospital room with only herself at his side. This, however, had been his last request. He had refused the pleas of his sisters to allow them to care for him in his final days and to die at home. He had told them it was better to die alone since death was rarely the peaceful slipping into some apneic sleep that people liked to believe it was.
She wore the disguise of an old woman, although she had hardly aged since she had first met him. It had been difficult for her to watch his youth slip away while hers clung to her relentlessly. A tentative hand reached out to smooth his wrinkled brow, her fingers tenderly traveled over each of the ridges easing their tension His lips felt dry and rough against her own as they touched. His kiss was unbearably absent in returning hers for the very first time. Time had always seemed so trivial to her until she had watched it take its toll on him. She had been forced to stand helplessly by as it won its battle with him, leaving her unscathed. In any case, she consoled herself, none of it would matter anymore, soon he would once again be the reckless young man that he had always been in her mind.
Even knowing this, watching the process was nearly more than she could bear to endure. His body, once strong and muscular was now frail and emaciated from disease. The only color to his ashen skin was the tiny blotches of petechia scattered all over him. His eyes were closed and she was thankful that consciousness had left him long ago. “Don’t worry,” she whispered, more for her benefit than his, “this is only a temporary discomfort on the way to near immortality.” His soul would soon leave this earthly vessel forever. In a short while they could finally be together in the same plane of existence without either one of them using the assistance of a gigai or otherwise.
The only thing left was for him was to finally give in and come with her. She knew that he would cling to any tiny speck of life remaining inside him whether he wanted to or not. It was his nature to fight anything that threatened to force him into submission, even if that submission would be a happy release from the suffering he had endured.
The fluid in his lungs was audibly drowning him and she could almost see his heart straining with every laborious contraction. Tears brimmed and over flowed as she continued to watch his body struggle to keep going.
“Ichigo, let go. I’m here to take you to the other side just like I promised.” She whispered as she gently enclosed one of his papery-skinned hands between her own and brushed a kiss against his clammy forehead. “We’ll be together soon.”
His eyes fluttered open at the contact and he stared into her irises as a tear fell onto his cheek.
“Rukia,” He sighed hoarsely as a shaking hand struggled to wipe away the wetness off her cheek.
She helped him bring his palm to her cheek as she smiled at the sudden lucidity. Leave it to Ichigo to leave this last bit of strength for the very end.
His hand paused over her wrinkled skin, “Why do you always come to see me in that stupid hag gigai these days?” He complained.
“You idiot,” she chuckled as she averted her eyes from his age-clouded ones “What would people think if I came here in a younger one?”
“They’d think I was some sort of stud to have a cutie like you coming to see me on my death-bed, especially since they know Karin and Yuzu are the only family I’ve got.” He half-smiled at her.
Rukia smirked down at him. “I’m always cute, even as a hag. Well, hurry it up already, would you? You know I’ve got work to do back at the Soul Society. I don’t have all day to wait for you to kick the bucket.”
His smile widened as his eyes glazed over proudly, “Oh yeah, I forgot. I’m so sorry to keep you from all your important duties, Lieutenant Kuchiki. I’m sure it’s nothing your douche-bag captain can’t handle though.” She winced as he gasped for breath every few words.
“Oh please, you know I spend most of my time fixing all the disasters Renji leaves wherever he goes.”
Ichigo sighed happily as his eyes drifted closed, “Yeah, I know,” he said as he traced her lips with his thumb. “No more tears, okay? If I’d wanted water works for my final moments, I’d have let my sisters come.”
Rukia was thankful that his eyes were closed as new tears brimmed. She tightened her grip on his hand as she crawled over the rails into the bed, laying her head on his shoulder.
“It’s time to go, Ichigo.” She whispered into his ear. “You’ve fought long enough in this life. Come home to me now, please.”
With a final strained sigh, she felt his body go limp. The Ichigo she always remembered arose from his body.
Relief finally swept through her followed by a gentle excitement gradually building. This part, this horrible part was finally over. Without bothering to sit up, she fished a piece of soul candy from her pocket and swallowed.
“There’s my pretty girl.” Ichigo smiled as her soul also took form. He looked down anxiously at her now empty body. “No Chappy?”
“It wouldn’t make much sense to put a replacement soul into a body that’s supposed to be dead, now would it?” She answered as she jumped down to the floor.
“I guess not.” He shrugged as he stood beside her. “Well, let’s do this.”
Rukia nodded solemnly as she unsheathed her sword. Taking his hand in hers she performed the konso that would allow him to travel with her to his new home. Ichigo withdrew his own Zanpakto and opened the door to the Soul Society while grinning down at her before sweeping her into his arms and carrying her across the threshold.
A/N: Thank you very much to my beta for all of her hard work and patience. Much love!
I do no own Bleach or claim any rights to it, the characters, plot, setting, etc.