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With a soft pop, small purple-tipped fingers pulled the cap off of the orange marker, setting it aside as she began to carefully fill in the jagged black shape on the paper. Humming softly to herself, Rukia growned at the drawing -- Ichigo-bear didn't have enough of a scowl -- and set down the orange pen in favour of the black, adjusting a few lines until she was satisfied. There, that was better.

The petite shinigami was stretched out on her stomach, clad in a comfortable jersey patterned hoodie dress paired with black footless tights, dark hair pulled up into two short low pigtails while she concentrated on her artwork. Spread out around her -- and across Ichigo's bedroom floor -- were a myriad of papers, photos, and other trinkets. There was a wrapped package or two, Yuzu's rounded script decorating small labels here and there.

Her decorating of the light blue envelope now finished, Rukia sat up and turned it around, studying the front with a critical eye. The familiar name and now-familiar address were printed in neat, pretty characters on the front, kanji looking so much more normal than the blocky English words she had to use to address the entire box as a whole -- she'd practiced, putting it carefully down onto a little card until she got it right -- and she nodded in satisfaction as she set the letter down.

That done, she turned to the other assembled items. There was Sado's letter, the knitted keychain and folded piece of floral stationary from Inoue, Yuzu and Karin's notes, and even a card from Isshin. Not to mention the wrapped box of brownies, two sweaters, and various other odds and ends. She'd taken charge of packing the biweekly 'care package' that went along with her twice-weekly letters, simply because she, among all of them, had the least to do.

Not to mention, it meant she could decorate the box.

Fitting everything into the corrugated cardboard container, she folded the top, taping it in place before she began to do just that, pen flashing across the surface as she decorated it with Chappy and his furry friends, making extra sure she laquered a few of the cartoony strawberry stickers to the outside. There. NOW it was perfect.

Glancing to the side, she curled her feet under her as she scooped up a half-discarded sheet of folded notebook paper, catching the photo that slid out of it. Setting his letter aside, she cradled the thicker card in her hand, lips turning up in a faint smile. Though she'd die before admitting it to anyone else... she couldn't deny she missed him. Since his departure, she'd had the opportunity to spend more time with their other friends -- she and Inoue in particular had grown closer, in fact they'd been painting each other's nails the prior afternoon -- and while that was nice, and she was enjoying the normalcy of it all... she missed him. Missed his constant annoying complaining, his brash overconfidence, even the stupid way he always seemed to get himself hurt. She even missed the arguing.

Sighing slightly, she let painted fingers trail lightly over the smiling -- in the case of the blonde man she could only assume was this 'Matt' person -- faces in the picture, and the familiar -- as ever -- scowling face of Ichigo, looking angry and sullen in a black T-shirt that said something she could decifer as I and NY with a heart between them. Obviously, it must have meant "I love NY", and she remembered hearing him griping about shirts and something called 'tourists'. Smiling again, she set the photo aside before smoothing his letter and refolding it to put it away with the others.

He'd be home soon, and then things would be normal again.
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Swallowtail

November 2010

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