It’s been very touching to me to see the IchiRuki reclaim their love for their favorite pairing in recent days. Fans demanding refunds of WSJ, burning their Bleach merchandise—all that is an inevitable reaction to a bad deal, but the art and joy and transformative art on Tumblr and Pixiv has been awe-inspiring, particularly the “Dance the Snow White” meme.
Inspired by the art meme, this vignette is specifically drawn from the lovely composition by teodoralovesteo
After the war, Ichigo and Rukia did not neglect their training. The Monk Who Calls the Real Name bade them dance in the Royal Realm, and no one but Ichibe was witness to the phenomenon. Right away, without hesitation, Ichigo took Rukia’s hand, and so began the circles of the absolute dream and the darkest desire.
She was tiny but in possession of the deadliest power; his reiatsu erased it for vital moments and it was necessary to lift her by the waist and spin her around in a full circle to keep her alive. In the meantime, his moonless sky was replenished by her white spirit. They danced in the universe’s most elemental spiral.
On their feet, following steps the monk called out to them, Rukia in her ban kai form could only hold at zero for so long, and Ichigo in his perfect Mugetsu was a blackening reiatsu that threatened to burn all the world. The two powers held one another apart, dissipated into one another, came apart and reunited with a rhythm that was the heartbeat of Time Itself.
Breaking tempo, Ichigo spun his partner too fast and dipped her. He laughed, his hands fast around Rukia’s waist.
“Control,” chided the monk.
Rukia’s white ribbons had flown into a flower around the moment. She paused for four seconds, her head fallen back, white hair wavering, arms limp like the stricken swan in a ballet, her ice power a deadly circle spreading past her body.
“Yes,” the monk beamed at Rukia. “All dance is about recovering from falling. All life is about saving grace.”
Ichigo scooped Rukia up and led again, his dark hair billowing like the flame of death that would destroy Rukia’s absolute power to freeze and shatter the world to glittering dust, but the destruction never happened; the death never came; the dance spun and the dancers eyed one another with playfulness.
Their mutual powers never canceled one another out; each supported the other and was made stronger.
Sun needs moon, black repels white, woman loves man. These are ancient beliefs, tired and sometimes untrue. The old ideas had killed civilization after civilization in the Living World and had pitched the Higher Worlds to change and adapt, for even stars and planets can shift their orbits over time. The old monk understood that the universe was dancing towards its own annihilation, that the only way to survive a bad ending was to have old ideas scorched by new ones and for the stars to bloom again in new configurations. To dance, to keep on dancing but not in panic. In balance like this pair.
Look at them. The stars speak a language of white explosions and their Creator hears only darkness but these two have fun when they yin and they yang. Kids today---they play with Good and Evil like costumes they pull out to go to the disco, eh?
To look at a couple like Ichigo and Rukia, one had to wonder if any Creator could tear apart such a bond. Take any other pair of powerful Shinigami. One misstep, one wrong word—these mistakes would weaken the dance or throw partners apart, never to be matched again—but mistakes made Ichigo and Rukia invent new moves; they instinctively knew one another’s spirits.
They had danced like this before; they would dance like this again.
“Enough!” said Ichibe and clapped his hands. Rukia and Ichigo transformed out of their heightened states, but the air around them still crackled with flashes of dark and light, like a stormy night.
“I’ve had enough,” the monk said. “No more dancing lessons. I know more now than I need to know.”
“I thought,” Ichigo put forward, “that the purpose was for us to learn a thing or two, not you.”
“Excuse him,” Rukia said. “Before we are dismissed, are there any instructions? Should we continue to practice on our own?”
“You two are dangerous together,” said the Monk Who Calls the Real Name. “Indestructible.”
Ichigo and Rukia glanced at one another, their eyes smiling but their mouths maintaining decorum.
“Do what you want. Dance or don’t. It’s very beautiful to watch. Indestructible, that’s what you are. Go, make babies or something. Practice kendo for all I care, or Rukia show him some kidou or how to make a marmalade. I’m done.”
And like that, the monk was gone, disappeared to his palace.
Rukia stood there, blushing, even though the air around here was still freezing cold, and a drop of sweat formed on Ichigo’s brow.
“I didn’t know I could dance,” he finally said.
“Neither could I,” she added.
“Did you feel it? The everything of it?” Ichigo’s voice was awed.
“Yes, Ichigo.” Rukia’s blush was fading. Her face was serious. “Let’s do it again. Sometime, not now. Maybe I’m a little tired now.”
“And again,” he said.
“Oh yes,” she said. “It was too wonderful not to do over and over.” She looked across the darkening skies of the Royal Realm. The stars seemed small and insignificant now. She knew of a dance more indestructible than even the heavens. “Tomorrow. Again.”
Ichigo bowed. It was proper to bow after a formal dance. “I’ll see you tomorrow evening, Rukia.”