Rukia dreams of flying. She opens her eyes and realises she is.
Trapped in the mortal world, she finds herself returning to the habits of her vagabond youth. She climbs trees, stairs, rooftops, as if the higher she climbs, the further she can leave this alien land behind. Crouched on the school roof, under a hot noon sky, she stares at the horizon and thinks of jumping.
Oh, to feel the wind on her face again.
In these heights, the wind cuts like a knife, slices deep to the bone. Rukia only draws a long, shuddering breath against the cold. Her hands dig deep, past the long, white feathers down into the softer down underneath, curl into tight, desperately careful fists.
"You came back," she murmurs to a mouth full of feathers.
Shirayuki makes a noise deep in her throat, half-caw, half-chuckle. Did she think her so easily lost? she seems to ask.
Rukia doesn't speak.
Far beneath them, plains of snow, rivers of ice.