You could say that she tensed up a bit out of surprise when Ichigo grabbed her arm, simply to make sure she didn’t flail and nearly fall like he did the first time going through. It was kind, but the grasp lasted longer than it needed to, and when he finally released her, she’d roll her shoulders. His grip was a little tight for some reason, and it made her arm slightly sore. Nothing to worry about, though.
However, when Ichigo responded, she was a bit stumped. Her expression fell nearly just as quickly as he began saying what he did—head lowered, so that whatever face she had wasn’t visible for his eyes. What he said both embarrassed and offended her… She had enough problems? Was that really all that people thought of her? That Ichigo thought of her?
And it wasn’t like Ichigo was just some random guy. He was her friend! Was it so wrong to give her friend a warm place to sleep for the night? Why was he worried what it would look like when there obviously wasn’t—and wouldn’t ever—be anything between them…
"It’s fine…. I’ll call a taxi for you. I don’t know why I didn’t just think of that in the first place… That was…silly of me… Sorry…"
At this point, they were pretty close to her house, so she was pulling out her phone from her bag after searching through it. Once her phone was out, she began to dial the number to call for a taxi cab. Honestly, why hadn’t she just thought of this? It was stupid of her to think she could offer such a thing to Ichigo. Or anyone really…. Inoue’s thumb hovered of the send button, and lingered there as her head filled, and swarmed with various thoughts about what people actually thought of her. How they saw her and what she was doing wrong… Every possible thing… At least that’s what it felt like.
Ichigo frowned, eyes flicking up to catch her downturned face as she walked ahead, not waiting for him. And he didn’t bother keeping up even though it was idiocy to linger out here after everything he’d just said about needing to hurry so he could get home without becoming a permanent part of the landscape.
He took a few quick strides, long legs catching him up to Inoue like she’d never left his side.
“Hey, I didn’t mean anything by that…”
She still wasn’t looking at him. He could feel his heart thumping against the inside of his chest because if there was one person he knew that didn’t deserve to be hurt it was her. And yet here he was. Doing exactly what he worried about most. Hurting her, and not having the slightest clue of how to undo it, because he’d meant what he’d said. He wasn’t going to be the reason her reputation was tarnished.
When she pulled out her phone, he went to shove his hand through his hair.
That’s when he noticed the warm, wetness seeping from his palm. Lifting his hand, he saw the dark, glossy stain pooling in the center. Blood welled from a cut, he hadn’t even felt before slipping over the side of his hand and hitting the snow. There must’ve been something sharp when he’d grabbed the pole to keep from falling.
Blood splattered across his shoe and he closed his fist to keep anymore from escaping. With a snort of self-derision, he pulled his uninjured hand out to scrub at his neck, unsure if he should mention it or just let his dad stitch it up and clean it when he got back to the clinic.