Thawing A Heart

Kurosaki Ichigo.

Substitute Shinigami.

Rukia’s violet eyes followed the movements of the young man in as he dragged himself back down the road, way after midnight.
Another late night of hollow hunting, Ichigo? When will you ever give up? Get over the fact that she’s dead? She’s dead. Inoue is dead,

And I couldn’t save her.

She could already hear his answer in her head, and it was like hearing his voice all over again, full of pain, sadness – but mostly anger. Anger at himself. Anger at everyone who had failed. Unjust anger, anger unfit to be borne into a heart as kind as his own – but anger that was there nonetheless. Nobody can control their feelings.

But he suppressed them, pressed a dampener of fierce determination over it. She expected denial, but instead he accepted it with a kind of grace that amazed her. Intrigued her.


As if I wasn’t intrigued enough already.
This is not the time to bring up love.

Already the giddy feeling that always overtook her when she thought of Ichigo was overtaking her. Ichigo’s eyes – strong, amber, burning… like they could see right through her. His arms, wielding Zangetsu, the huge zanpaktou, with such ease. His strong, broad, shoulders. His hair. His …

The list went on, and her imagination started to wander…


She clamped down on the indecent thoughts and stuffed them away in a corner of her brain. She would not be caught dead thinking about Ichigo like that.
My Ichigo… Her subconscious coaxed.

Shut up. She told it irritably.

The door to Ichigo’s room, where she currently resided – sitting on the windowsill – banged open, and the dripping wet boy – no, man – entered, shoulders and head bowed.

Her eyes followed the bright hair that clashed horribly with his current demeanour as he moved around the room. Didn’t fireflies get attracted to his head at night? She mused idly, tracing a finger over the condensation that had gathered at the misty edges of the window.

Absentmindedly she drew a rabbit, then wiped it out with a swift stroke of her arm. If only she could wipe his painful memories all away as well…

“Rukia,” Ichigo’s voice, hoarse from the cold – though something told her that was not all it was – came from behind her. She felt his cold fingers touch her arm lightly. They were so icy they chilled her to the bone.

“Rukia, get off the windowsill. You’ll catch a cold, stupid,” He chided her, this time wrapping his long fingers around her arm and tugging at it.

She stayed put. She was wearing a t-shirt, borrowed from Yuzu, but though the feel of his icy skin on hers sent shivers down her body from the cold, she also sought comfort in his distant, too-cold touch.

Comfort that he didn’t seem ready enough to offer her, she realized all of a sudden, dropping her eyes to the small flakes of snow that had stuck to the outside of the window. After Inoue had been killed in Hueco Mundo, he had gone into a deep state of depression. One thing had plagued Rukia since that day, despite her grief and feeling of loss… she couldn’t help but wonder:

Was his sadness because he loved Orihime-chan, or was it because he had failed?

Would he have become this way if Rukia herself had been the one to die in the world of Aizen?

Or would he have gladly traded her in place of his orange-haired beauty?

“Rukia…” His tone now held impatience. Usually he treated her with a glacial kind of politeness and respect, but she sensed something stirring in him, in his annoyance, that reminded her of the old, hot-tempered Ichigo she knew.

It had been a long day for him. Of course he would be grumpy. She planted her feet against the opposite side of the windowsill where she sat, and didn’t move.
“Get… off…” He grunted, having put his arms around her shoulders and under her legs, which were propped up against the edge of the windowsill, and tried to lift her off. But he was exhausted and she gripped the edge of the sill to keep him from lifting her, and after a while he slumped back down again, thoroughly miffed.

She knew that he never gave up since that incident in Hueco Mundo that had resulted in Inoue’s death, even in small things. He wouldn’t give up in this. He wouldn’t give up in anything.

Not anymore.

He hadn’t even been very prone to giving up before, but now…

Now he would fight till his very last breath, if it came to that.
Even if the fights were just little battles, such as getting Rukia off the damn windowsill.

Now he was trying to pick her up again, and though he kept prying her fingers off the windowsill, she utterly refused. Not until she got to see his old self again. Not till the Ichigo she remembered and revered emerged. She didn’t want to be carried by this cocoon, this impression of Ichigo. Nothing more, nothing less. Just want.

All she wanted was to be selfish for once.

She turned to face him, hoping to catch a glimmer, a glimpse of his old self in those hard amber orbs. And she almost did.

Their eyes met, violet and amber, warm and cold, soft and hard. Their faces were too close, she noted dully, too entranced in his eyes. She could feel his breath on her face…

His breath… on…?

Oh god.

She practically melted in his arms, like putty, releasing the sill immediately, and Ichigo let out the tiniest of smirks, the smallest of sparks lighting up those cold depths of his eyes.

Even though she just knew he was going to dump her on the bed unceremoniously a second later, she couldn’t help but enjoy the moment as he lifted her into his arms. She smiled into his chest, softly.

And then the sheets enfolded her as he dumped her on the bed.

Rukia groaned, but couldn’t help thinking that the invisible burden that seemed to have settled itself on Ichigo’s shoulders lately seemed to look lighter, ever so slightly.

She studied his shoulders as he walked into the bathroom and shut the door.
Yup. Just a bit lighter.