TITLE: Halcyon Days
GENRE: romance/angst, AU
SUMMARY: She watches over him, even from a world beyond. (500+ words)
WARNINGS: character death, confusing dialogue
NOTES: Inspired by a prompt from bleach_contest.
(Of happy endings, Ishida Uryuu is unsure.)
He hums softly, brushing his daughter's hair - a long passionate slide of auburn, the color of falling leaves; a change of the seasons. She begins to sing along with him, her voice gradual and clear. Innocent. Unknowing, unable to comprehend.
They have lived together like this for six years and counting, father and daughter, needing no one else but each other. However, Ishida knows that someday, this will change. Just like the seasons. He is always reminded by the willful curls in her hair, a slight quirk of the lips his acknowledgment.
Endure, my dear, endure.
(Of heaven and of paradise, he is unaware.)
Their home is a checkpoint, a place where circumstances do not exist, where the flow of time has stopped. Kurosaki Ichigo does not need to say so, but he drops by every now and then to visit; Ishida is quite convinced. His daughter, on the other hand, greets his old friend as if she knows him, as if he speaks to her, as if he will not look at her with tired, soulless eyes. She persists and persists and persists some more, until finally one night Ichigo takes her into his arms and trembles, wet splotches against her shoulder. Ishida watches from behind the kitchen counter.
They do not speak of the incident after, his daughter's chatter making up for his friend's silence. But from then on, Ichigo starts to smile, slowly, his eyes glow with a light once robbed from him. And he calls to her with an emotion the younger Ishida is unaccustomed to.
“'Hime, I'm alright. Don't worry.”
It's okay to move on, one step at a time. It's okay to forget.
(Of lingerings, he would rather not entertain the thought.)
“She has a beautiful name,” Kuchiki Rukia breathes, cradling the girl in her arms; Ichigo leans beside them, practically dozing off as well. Ishida has taken to the night sky, a faint touch on his arm rousing him to stare at something which wasn't there – yet perhaps... In such a situation, he feels that he should be frightened. Instead, he shakes his head and lets his fingers trace imaginary imprints, fooling himself into believing. A smile, a giggle, a pair of glimmering eyes, a voice of cheery flower beds and sunlight on a hot summer's day.
“I'm sure Inoue-san is happy,” Yasutora Sado says suddenly, their eyes darting to his still form sitting on the front steps. Ishida closes the door behind him, excusing himself by announcing that he will get them some hot chocolate. But in his heart, he agrees.
How can I not be happy when I have you all by my side?
(And for the old photograph perched atop his desk, he shows nothing but love. This has not changed. Over time, over fear and anxiety.)
He pauses, mug in hand, to caress the edges of her face with a heavy gaze. Another touch leaves his shoulders warm; he tries to reach out. But she flees before he can catch her. All that remains is her fairy dust, unspoken promises of seeing each other again someday. Someday. Somewhere. I love you.
Thank you for loving me, too.
TITLE: Throw Caution to the Wind
CHARACTERS/PAIRING: Nnoitra/Nel, an appearance from Halibel
GENRE: general/romance; AU
SUMMARY: Because if one continues to persist, progress will show in the results. (500+ words)
NOTES: For pentatonikk via the Christmas Exchange (2008) at bleach_contest.
Neliel supposed that it was inevitable. She sighed in exasperation, swirling her teaspoon around, the smell of fresh coffee relaxing but not quite. Her companion, Halibel checked her watch; 9:37, what a disappointment.
“He isn't coming.” The statement hung in the air; tense, relieved, angered, knowing. “You shouldn't have gotten your hopes up.”
I know, was what Nel wanted to reply, eyes burning, fists balled; but instead, she whispered calmly, “Give him a few more minutes.” And Halibel did not make a move to argue for she knew better.
“You should head home, too,” Halibel told her, a hand on Nel's shoulder, a jacket tucked beneath her arm. Nel shook her head, easing it against her palms. Still waiting. Defeated, frustrated, bitterly cold, but still waiting. Halibel took her leave, the swish of snow passing an invitation in the air. Nel resolutely ignored it.
“Idiot,” she muttered. “Idiot.” The clock hanging against the wall chimed 10:45.
He walked in an hour later, black trench coat flying behind him, the crunch of snow at his feet. The table right beside the door was vacant; he'd expected as much.
Asking a waiter to clear it, Nnoitra sat down, fingers sliding against the top, mouth drawn into a thin line. He'd expected, but seeing it for himself felt a bit... different. He wasn't sure how to deal.
“Coffee black,” he muttered, eyes falling; a light pad of footsteps halting at his side.
“So,” a smooth, clear voice intoned. Nnoitra gazed up, met her frown, sighed.
“So,” he repeated, standing, drawing the chair away; allowing her entrance, a seat beside his.
“This is surprising,” she mused, looking away but not quite. “You rarely have very little to say.”
“Well, what do you want me to say?” He threw back, crossed his legs, still managed to look completely masculine yet refined. She held back a chuckle.
Start with an apology, she urged herself to reply; instead, “Tell me about today.”
And he obliged, grudgingly, slowly getting used to it. He obliged.
“I fear for your sanity,” Halibel whispered, tucking the cups away as Nel finished by the sink. “He is uncoordinated, a complete mystery, not good for you at all.”
“Yes, but if I give him a chance, he will surely gift me with one as well,” she grinned, seeing him from the corner of her eye, his breathing even, his chest rising and falling.
“Are you prepared for it?” The question blew her world around, unsettled, and then planted. With a firm grip on her resolve, it planted a tiny glow.
“If I weren't then he wouldn't be here.”
Nel was aware of his arms, slowly, very slowly easing around her. He felt warm when he was supposed to feel cold. He leaned against her, pressing his mouth to her cheek, inhaling her scent, in an animalistic way marking her as his. She shuddered but welcomed and it did not go unrewarded.
“We might spend more time together in the future.” An odd play of words which, in her heart, truly meant, Merry Christmas. And she needed nothing more.
Yes, it's a chance worth taking.