Bleach Fan Fiction ❯ Her Blindness ❯ Chapter 1
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Life was funny like that. She didn't know when things had gotten so complex between them.
Perhaps it had been the increasingly drawn-out intervals between their meetings. The prolonged assignments that kept her away.
She wasn't stupid. She was well aware of how the higher ups frowned on her decisions of late. They'd tried to keep it subtle, tried to discreetly restrain her, but she knew it was all a farce. A petty excuse to distance her from the boy. And, as she could see now, perhaps… they had been right. After all, their two worlds were never meant to mesh.
But they'd gone about it all wrong. The scarcity of her time with him had made her treasure it all the more. And, as it were, absence had also made her heart grow oblivious to the changes. So caught up in her own contentment that she had failed to notice when she'd over-stepped the boundaries.
She couldn't believe how blind she'd been.
It was funny how one tended to overlook all the little developments that meant so much in the long run.
She'd failed to notice how for example, even while making sarcastic jibes about her ignorance, the boy's frowning face would loosen and his eyes would crinkle just in the slightest. How his hand would linger for just that much longer in her hair after giving it a mocking ruffle to emphasize his point about her pathetically small stature. How, even when it was obvious that he was exhausted from his day, he would always be there to back her up when she entered his world on one of her assignments. He didn't have to do all those things. And yet he chose to.
It had gone on for two long years. Her with the occasional hollow-hunting visit. And him, always making time to ensure that she emerged safely from each of her encounters.
The box of crayons that he'd given her the year before sat, half-used on his study desk. The very set she'd shown an interest to when they'd entered the art store on one of their get-togethers all those months ago. She would draw with them during her infrequent visits to his room.
He'd casually tossed the colouring set into her surprised hands one day, claiming he'd found it in the storeroom. He told her it was his sister's and she no longer had use for it. She'd been oblivious then too and had taken offense when he'd commented that maybe high-quality drawing materials would help to improve her scraggly pieces of art. She'd been grateful of course. The casing had been too new. The crayons in too good a condition to have simply come from a child's old collection.
The boy rarely bestowed gifts on anyone.
Even still, she'd remained in blissful ignorance. Indeed, it was the little things he did that went unnoticed. But that had been then. Things had changed.
The boy had grown more distant than usual. She started to find it harder and harder to talk casually to him. Most of the time, he simply refused to meet her eyes when she did. At first, she'd passed it off as a phase. A fleeting stage in his adolescent life. She'd ask a question, and he would choose instead to walk on ahead before making his reply. She hadn't realized until now that he'd only done that to hide his face from her.
She might have seen it sooner. She might have seen how much control he'd had to muster to simply be in her presence. But she hadn't. And that made her all the more despicable.
Why? Why had it been apparent to everyone but her?
Take care of him, Kuchiki-san. He needs you…
Nee-san! What on earth could you see in that loser when you have a stud like me??
Keh! Why him? Of all the low-life scum you could have picked…
You have to end all contact with him now, sister. It's distracting you…
Maybe she hadn't seen it coming because she hadn't wanted to.
But it had reached a point where denial was no longer possible. She realized that she had become all too aware him. And the truth had started to creep up on her then. She'd started to notice the lingering glances he would cast her way when he thought she wasn't looking. She saw the underlying emotion that burned in his eyes when he called her stupid for doing something to jeopardize her own safety. His smirking calmness and his cool indifference… he'd absolutely lost them when a rogue hollow had almost torn her arm from her body. There hadn't been enough of the beast left to perform a proper soul burial after he'd been done with it.
It had suddenly become too much.
She didn't want things to change. She didn't want things to become awkward between them. The boy was young. Much too young. And though she would be hard-pressed to admit it to his face, he had become one of the most important people in her life. She didn't want to see him hurt. She couldn't bear to see him hurt. What he wanted... No. What he thought he wanted, it simply wasn't possible. He knew it. And she knew it. But she also knew that he wouldn't care. He never did. In his world, rules were made to be broken by him. He made his own laws. Dictated his own life.
Knowing this, she should have ended their ties there. It would have been the wise choice. But she had chosen instead to continue to stay with him. The boy made her happy. And she couldn't bring her self to pull away from that contentment.
She was selfish in that sense.
And so she had lingered. Torn between her duties as a bringer of death and her relationship with a human boy who had, once upon a time, risked his very existence to keep her alive. Maybe he would eventually tire of her inability to return what he thought he felt toward her. And then she would be able to balance her attachment to both worlds.
And of course….they would always be friends…
She should have realized that good things never came in sets. She would never have been allowed the best of both worlds. If she had known the boy as well as she claimed to, then she would have understood that stubbornness was a trait that both of them shared….
It had been raining out that night.
He had emerged from the shower in his dark home attire to find her perched on his living room couch watching her favourite cartoon show. She supposed he'd been happy to see her, given the fact that she hadn't visited in over a month. But he'd masked his elation with some sort of sarcastic remark about her choice in entertainment as he sat his body down beside her.
She'd rolled her eyes and refused to comment. It had seemed normal enough.
He'd insisted on watching the news. She'd insisted on watching Chappy the Rabbit. And so they'd fought over remote. It had seemed normal enough.
She'd fallen back onto the couch, stretching the arm holding the device out as far as was possible away from his longer grasp as she tried to squirm free. He'd barred her movements by crawling over her and pinning the out-stretched arm down with one hand while the other tried to pry the gadget from her vice-like grip.
So caught up in their struggle, neither had noticed the awkwardness of their position until the storm outside caused the power to go out.
It was then, it the inky darkness of the empty house, that she had become aware of her growing unease. Twin breathing, made heavy by their previous tussle, became the only thing that permeated the silence of the room.
She couldn't see his eyes. But she could feel the quickened rate at which his heart had started beating. And she became afraid.
She wanted to demand that he get off her. And yet her voice wouldn't comply. She felt the coolness of his breaths on her face and the warmth of his torso through the fabric of her clothing. The strength of his grip on her wrist overhead and the intensity of his eyes on her made it harder to breathe.
Air in her throat hitched when she felt him start to lower his head toward hers. She'd clenched her eyes shut then. Hoping beyond hope that it was just a dream. And that her body was not actually responding to its proximity to his.
The kiss was light, hesitant at first. And she would have drawn back in fear, had his free hand not moved to cup the back of her head. She didn't know how long his lips had lingered where they were, but when she felt the moisture of his tongue on her mouth, everything became too much to handle.
She released a shuddering breath, not knowing how long she'd been holding it in. And the boy had seized his opportunity. She couldn't pinpoint exactly when the kiss had gone from an innocent touching of mouths to what it was then. But when his tongue slid past her lips and he forced her head closer to his, she forgot her half-hearted attempt to push him away with her free hand. Instead, its fingers buried themselves into the fabric of his shirt for support.
She knew it was wrong. She knew that she shouldn't have been enjoying it. She knew she should have stopped him. But something in her just… couldn't, wouldn't allow her to do so.
She felt the chill of air on the skin of her legs, made vulnerable to the cold by the uniform that had parted to her mid-thighs during their earlier battle over the television remote. The dark material lay bunched beneath her and she felt the warmth of his hand on her mid-rift. His lips over hers drowned out the sound of her surprised whimper as the caress of his fingers rose higher on her torso. She wondered vaguely when he had released her pinned arm. The remote fell from her grasp when the boy's exploring hand moved higher still……
And just as abruptly, the power had come on again.
The flamboyant tune of Chappy the Rabbit had pierced through the silence and brought her eyes flying open. Oh god… what had she been doing? Things had gotten entirely too far. It had taken all her strength to push the boy off her. She launched herself up and yanked her uniform close over her body.
He seemed just as flustered as she was. His apology had been immediate. He was sorry. He didn't know what came over him. Was she okay? Questions that kept coming. They were too much for her to handle. But what she saw in his eyes had had her almost running from the house…
It had been there, plain as day for her to see. Not watered down by sarcastic playfulness, not guarded by mocking cynicism. The boy hadn't regretted it. Not one bit. And it was then and there, she had become painfully sure. Nothing she could do now, would ever deter him.
She'd tried to remedy her blunder (and it had indeed been a blunder) by attempting to talk some rational sense into him. She'd insisted that everything had been a huge, huge mistake. Told him that he had no idea what he'd been doing. Assured him that whatever he thought he was feeling would pass.
He hadn't taken well to it of course. And had fired back at her. He was well aware of what he'd done. He was capable of understanding the situation. He didn't care what anyone else thought. He wouldn't allow anyone to dictate his decisions in life but him.
She'd scoffed then. The boy was so innocent. She told him so.
But he chose to ignore her comment. His eyes were deadly serious when he caught her by the arm as she turned to leave. Hers had widened as he'd uttered his next daunting words.
Don't go. I...I think I lo…
She'd pulled away from his grip then and shoved him away. Deep breathing helped to calm her frazzled nerves. By the time she looked up again, she'd managed to bring her emotions under control. The boy's hopeful look had nearly broken her cold façade. But she had known what she had to do. For his sake. And hers.
She tried to ignore the poorly masked hurt that had entered his eyes at her rejection. If hurting him meant protecting him then she would do so unwaveringly. Perhaps now he would give up his impossible intentions concerning her. Only then, would she be able to do something she should have done a long, long time ago.
She would walk away from him.
It took only a minute for the pain in his eyes to turn to anger. His fist connected with the wall so hard that it bled. She decided to leave then. Certain that he was now too angry to stop her. Before she exited the house, she allowed her self a last, lingering look at him. In which time, she made sure that every inch of the boy would be etched into her brain. For that would likely be the last time she would ever see him.
And outside, the rain had stopped.
She didn't know when the tears had come. She felt them only as the wind, made colder by the moisture in the air, blew on her face when she'd started running. She couldn't even remember the last time she'd cried. All she knew was that she needed to get as far away from the boy as possible. Yes. Perhaps the higher order had been right in trying to pry her from his company. It would have saved her a whole lot of agony.
She didn't notice when her footsteps had started to be echoed. She didn't realize that she was being followed until she felt his strong grip on her arm. The force with which he swung her around nearly pulled her off her feet. Her fists unconsciously reached to his shirt for support.
She tried to run again when she realized who he was. But the boy's strong grip on her arms wouldn't let her. He yelled at her to stop and listen. But when she wouldn't he resorted to slamming her up against the brick wall behind them.
She'd decided that struggling was futile then. And had tiredly told him to leave her be. Why had he come after her?
He had ignored her once again and reached a calloused thumb up to wipe the tears from her cheeks. He'd called her stupid. Wondered out loud why she would torture herself by doing what she'd done. How long had she planned on running away?
How many times had he told her that always abiding by the rules was unhealthy? Hadn't he urged her, once so long ago, to trust him? Trust him because he would never go back on his word to protect her. Why couldn't she accept that? Why couldn't she accept that he would never let her be? He would never leave her alone.
She'd raised her eyes to his then. And realized that they no longer held the rage that they had contained just a few minutes ago. How could he still want to be near her after all she'd said and done? Indeed, how many times had he ever broken a promise to her, or anyone else for that matter? The answer was strictly none. This was the boy, no, the man who had defied all odds to deliver her from death all those years ago. Her. A woman whom he had known barely two months.
And how had she returned the favour today? By doubting him. By hurting him. She was despicable indeed. Her breath hitched. She could feel the tears reforming again in her eyes. But she angrily blinked them away.
She had been the foolish one. Too caught up in her own fear of falling that she'd failed to notice the safety harness that had always supported her. When everyone and everything had been against them, he'd broken through it all for her sake. He would never let any harm befall those dear to his heart. How could she not have seen that the one she'd been trying to protect hadn't just been him?
She'd done it then and she was doing it now. It was strange, being immortal... To think that she'd always have more time. To have never been able to truly seize a moment for what it was. Maybe he wasn't the immature one. Maybe mortality made him wise.
Grow up, Rukia.
She felt her body being pulled into the boy's strong embrace. She shut her eyes. Would anything quite so good come from dwelling on the consequences? She doubted it. She knew he was right. And she savoured the warmth of his breath in her hair.
I won't let you go…
And perhaps... this was enough. For now, for him... maybe she could push the world aside for that much longer. As she brought her own arms around his waist, she realized that indeed, she had been blind.
Teach me to see...