A little angst, a little negative capability. Current manga timeline (sort of). Rukia and Renji. Short, less than 1000 words. *Sighs*
The Full Moon is A Cold Rose
Disclaimer: Kubo Tite, the author of Bleach, created the characters of Renji and Rukia.
Description: RenRuki, R. “Not meant to be” doesn’t mean shit to Renji.
The night is deep black but faded white in spots. It has a crunchy coarse look, like a discarded shihakushou. The full moon is a cold rose. There are no stars. The sky could be crumpled paper. Renji reaches to break through the stiff peaks but Rukia’s hand catches his wrist, pulls his arm back, readjusts his fingers in the loose grasp he had held, a moment ago, against her face--
“Stay with me.”
He isn’t going anywhere. He had just wanted to see if the sky was really paper.
Isn’t it? There’s something fake and tired about this scene--but it’s too vivid, too heartbreaking to be a dream.
“I remember sleeping on the ground like this,” Rukia says. “We did it all the time when we were children and it didn’t seem like a hardship.”
“The grass isn’t making you itch?”
“No.” Renji folds his nude legs closer to his chest, squeezing Rukia in the process. She’s on his lap. Her head rests on his bicep. She isn’t even touching the grass. She’s nestled inside a futon named Renji, and Renji wills his body temperature to rise to envelop her. “Are you cold?”
She doesn’t answer. She feels slick, and the air meeting sweat on Renji’s own back tickles him. He’s not chilled, though. He’s not dreaming. Is Rukia asleep already? She feels limp, floating through those states of consciousness before real sleep.
He cannot hold her more carefully.
He would not let go, even if he died.
But what if he has died?
Renji wonders if he’s sleeping or dead. There was battle earlier--did he imagine it? One of those hundred stupid Hollow with dead cow skull faces had deflected Zabimaru--Renji had felt a slap across the face with his own blade.
He had opened his eyes--lashes gummy with blood--to see Rukia sheathe her sword and run toward him.
Something had cracked in his head. It wasn’t an ordinary blow. Something had spilled on the Hueco Mundo sand that wasn’t blood. Pieces of his mind? There had been no pain, only a feeling of falling backwards, deeper and deeper into the ground even though he was flat on his back, already defeated.
“Renji, stay with me!”
Her tiny fingers clasping his chin. Her insistent presence pulling him towards her. When had they lost their clothes? How had his body pieced itself together and recovered its dignity and strength? Night had fallen, the Rukongai returning in all its grassy windswept desolate glory. Shouts of children in the distance. Renji’s body entering Rukia’s, their mouths not quite touching as their hands held fast.
Missing someone for years and years must mean that the lonely feeling isn’t so easily gotten rid of. Even when you find her. It still echoes, threatens--
“I’m NOT dreaming!” He says the words aloud and Rukia, in his arms, stirs and laughs.
“That’s what you always say the second before you fall out of a tree.”
“But I’m not dreaming,” he says, hope fading. The sky is fading. The moon turns so clear every crater is outlined. The craters blur again and the moon is a full-petaled rose.
“The situation’s not as bad as it looks.” Rukia’s face is smiling over him. She’s wearing crisp black shihakushou and the Hueco Mundo sky is a blank brightness behind her. “You took out the leader of the Exequias before whacking yourself in the head with your own weapon.”
“I--” He pushes his palms against the ground. Solid ground.
“Don’t get up!” Her hand is on his brow. It was there before he opened his eyes; it was there all his life and holding his body away. She is performing healing kidou. The tips of her fingers are grazing his hairline.
No grass here, just hot sand. Rukia’s body isn’t pressed against his--only her fingertips.
“Ow!” Waves of pain inside his skull. “What are you doing? It didn’t hurt before!”
“It was split in half like a watermelon before!”
“Really?” His hair feels heavy with blood. “Did you--?”
“I’m just holding you together until Captain Unohana gets here.” A smile. A moistness in her eyes--there! She couldn’t help it! “You’re not dead this time, Renji. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Not meant to be.
She’d said that before in another dream. The one he’d suffered over and over since that afternoon he left her standing alone. Alone in her new nobility. Alone surrounded by wealth and privilege and that thing all Rukongai kids envied--a family.
In the dream he could talk to her--a confession spoken in a thick, muted dream river, but a confession that did not waver underwater, did not dissolve in the stream. He told her about his plans to put her brother down. He said, “One day I will be worthy of you. One day….”
In that dream she’d stand, hands folded over her Academy skirt, shaking her head from side to side in grim disapproval. Sunbeams like stars in a running stream of water. Her eyes a little sad. Why?
And in that dream he’d refused to be discouraged by her firm words. “Don’t, Renji. Don’t put yourself through this. We’re not meant to be.”
Rukia’s fingertips burn with an extra charge of concentrated energy against his forehead the moment before they pull away. “You’re here!” she says with great happiness as Captain Unohana kneels beside her, replaces Rukia’s healing touch with her own fingers. The captain’s hands are larger--the energy from them stupefying. Renji feels so tired.
Rukia stands up. Why does she do that? Where does she have to go?
He wants to say stay with me but this is not the dream where he can speak freely.
“It’s okay, Lieutenant Abarai, you can sleep now.” Unohana’s long fingers stroke upwards into his hair, and he falls asleep.
The full moon is a cold rose. There are no stars. The night sky could be crumpled paper. Renji reaches to break through the stiff peaks but Rukia’s hand catches his wrist, pulls his arm back.
“I’m not dreaming,” he tells her. “And not meant to be doesn’t mean shit.”
She laughs. “You always wake up saying the stupidest stuff.” She positions his arms around her.
He won’t let go of her. He won’t let go of her, not even if he dies.
beta credit goes to vayshti . She's a wonderful beta reader.