The reason I'm posting this fic is because I've been horrendously busy and I don't know when I'll have time to write fics again - it could be a very long time, for all I know. One other reason is also because I have a paper due soon (like two days kind of soon), and obviously, trying so badly to avoid it naturally led to a plot bunny and hence a means of procrastination. So technically, I never did have time to write this. I'm just so tired and bored of not being able to take a break once in a while, which is why I did >_>
One of my semi-mindfuck fics. I sincerely hope you enjoy XD
NOTE! 17 JAN 2013: Considering the nature of the wrap-up of the events concerning Aizen, I soon realized that I had to update this fic or it could no longer fit into canon. Thus, I have now edited one section of the story. This fic now takes place after Chapter 494, whereupon Kira is struck down by the Vandenreich.
Author: Harmony (Silver Harmony)
Characters/Pairing: Hisagi Shuuhei/Kira Izuru.
Word Count: Approximately 2,726.
Disclaimer: Not mine – otherwise this pairing would be canon.
Notes: Warnings for mentioned character death. And slash, of course. Cross-posted to shuukira, asterisk_plus, bleach_yaoi and kurosaki_clinic.
Feedback: Very much appreciated, as I would like to write much better Bleach fics. Your concrits mean a lot to me, especially when it tells me what you think of the story and what I can do to improve. Please and thank you.
Summary: He knows Abarai doesn’t believe him; Rangiku and Captain Komamura didn’t either, when they’d asked him many days ago.
They sit alongside one another on the grass the way Shuuhei had missed, calm and content and sincere, the sky tinged with the half-light of the sunrise and soft breeze swirling slowly over their hair. It’s been too long already – a few days is already too long – and this is something that Shuuhei doesn’t like experiencing alone; it’s something that he normally wouldn’t do alone. He doesn’t want to think of why he’s missed this. There’s not much point.
Shuuhei is surprised when Kira turns towards him as if he’d read his thoughts, and leans in and tenderly kisses his jawline.
This won’t be the last time we’ll do this, the blond whispers, and Shuuhei could feel him smiling against his skin, along with the heat of his breath, comforting and warm and alive. The dark-haired lieutenant smiles back.
Of course not. What are you talking about? We both came back – we’re both here, aren’t we?
Kira lowers his eyes, and Shuuhei feels the warm hand curling over his, and he doesn’t know – or maybe he doesn’t want to know – why his chest aches a little, seeing the other shinigami’s expression. They’ve both been through so much. They’ve both yearned for peace, more than anything.
Of course, Hisagi-san, Kira answers in that too-soft voice.
Both of them have always appreciated solitude, and they don’t say any more, content with each other’s company in the silence.
They talk constantly in whispers that can be heard, staring with gazes that they don’t bother to hide. Shuuhei has to keep himself from fighting against it every day: he feels the heavy weight of their eyes and inevitable rumor-mongering, something that he can do nothing about but to endure. All he wants to do is to finish his work. But he never gets any peace these days; he’s not sure he’ll ever feel at peace again.
Even Abarai unnecessarily comes all the way to his office to visit one day, laying his broad hand on his shoulder in a gesture that’s supposed to be of comfort but actually offers no comfort at all, looking at him with a poorly-concealed pity that almost bruises the pride of his lieutenancy.
Are you alright, Hisagi-san?
Shuuhei has to suppress the urge to move away from the redhead’s touch – it might seem too savage, especially when he knows that his kouhai means well. But in truth, he just wishes everyone would stop all the whispering and staring and pointing; if there’s anything he needs now, that would be the last.
… I’m fine.
He knows Abarai doesn’t believe him. Rangiku and Captain Komamura didn’t either, when they’d asked him many days ago.
But at least the redhead doesn't say anything else.
The next time Shuuhei drops by at Kira’s home, he brings along a single hand-picked white violet that he had retrieved during his on-field work. The gentle slight upturn of the corners of Kira’s mouth and the faint glimmer of appreciation in his eyes is a reaction worth the trouble of bringing the flower; it’s an expression that’s far too rare on the blond, Shuuhei thinks as he lays the flower down on Kira’s mantelpiece, although he strangely seems to be smiling a little more these days.
Do you like violets? Shuuhei asks.
Kira’s gaze flickers over to the mantelpiece, indiscernible and heavy-lidded. A grave-flower? But it’s beautiful.
Shuuhei already knows what the blond’s expression means; after all, there were very heavy casualties in the mission that they had just returned from. Kira has always been one to worry and mourn. The dark-haired lieutenant feels his own face falling upon seeing the reaction on the other shinigami’s face, grey and sad and respectful; the air in the room had changed so quickly.
Kira takes half a step back to where Shuuhei is standing, and his slender back touches Shuuhei’s chest, and the dark-haired lieutenant hadn’t realized how much he’d needed and yearned for the contact until they were lightly pressed together, just like this.
The flower will wilt if you just leave it like that.
It’s okay, Shuuhei answers, because he thinks it’s right, somehow. If it does, I’ll bring you another one.
Kira’s eyebrows slant, and he smiles very faintly.
… It’s sad, isn’t it.
Shuuhei knows. As much as he can keep himself from thinking about whatever he doesn’t want to think about, his chest is still aching.
He can only be grateful to feel Kira’s reiatsu all around him, in the swirling air, the walls, the ceiling, the floor.
Shuuhei remembers that the week following the betrayal of the three captains was the time when Kira’s heart was the most broken. At that time, the dark-haired lieutenant was almost glad that the traitorous captains were gone; he knew himself to be tender and quiet by nature, but seeing his kouhai overcome with such grief was almost enough to drive him to begrudge. As far as Kira knew, everything he’d ever known had ended. Life, as he knew it, was gone.
Shuuhei also remembers what he did to help soothe Kira’s pain: he took the blond to the grassy clearing where they always sat together to watch the sun rising, and knelt down and pressed his ear to the earth.
We’re still alive, just like everything, he'd said. Come here and listen. Everything’s alive.
Kira did kneel beside him, and pressed his ear to the earth, too, taking in the faintly-stirring spirit particles of everything in his surroundings that held shape, listening to every intertwining stream of soft ambience. The dark-haired shinigami watched in silence. When Kira eventually straightened himself and sat up again, his bottom lip was trembling.
Shuuhei remembers the blond reaching out to him and placing a thin hand flat on his broad chest, as if trying to feel a heartbeat.
They’d retreated into each other and held each other for hours, that day, pressed against each other, counting each other’s heartbeats.
Everyone in Seireitei knows that Shuuhei’s calm, stoic nature is part of what made him so admirable as a lieutenant. He could think rationally and logically where other shinigami would grow frightened or emotional, and he could push himself to continue his duties and obligations where others couldn’t cope. But even then, he is relieved to find out that Captain Hitsugaya hadn’t put him in charge of the memorial for the recent casualties. He is glad that the young captain seemed to understand him, no matter what kind of façade he puts up.
He was looking blankly at the documents on his desk, one empty afternoon, when a small voice draws his attention.
Are you alright, Hisagi-san?
That same question again … he has already grown tired of it. Shuuhei looks up, and there stands Hinamori – she looks at him with timid, sad eyes. Her gaze gives everything away: she still loves Captain Aizen, even after everything; though it isn’t the same, she still bears almost as much love for Captain Aizen as Shuuhei does for Kira. And the thought frustrates him.
No ... you’re not, Hinamori shakes her head slowly, her voice wavering. You’re thinking about things while trying not to, and you’re not fine.
Neither are you, Shuuhei wants to say. But he knows it is a pointless argument, so he doesn’t say anything.
Everyone says you’ve been acting strange ever since the invasion, Hinamori continues shyly, and no one can blame you. But you’re closing in on yourself, which was the same mistake I made. Rangiku-san says that you’re becoming dead inside.
Shuuhei lowers his eyes, and can’t help but think that those are the closest words he’d heard so far to describe what he’s feeling. It isn’t a surprise, he guesses, that this broken and troubled vice-captain would understand him so well.
Hinamori departs and leaves behind an incredibly unsettling feeling; Shuuhei almost wants to open his mouth and call out for Kira, but he’s alone in his office. There’s no way Kira could hear him, let alone come.
They sit together in Shuuhei’s room the night before the memorial ceremony, drowning themselves in sake. This is something else they love doing together; for years, they’ve laughed and shared secrets and passed the hours together while they drank – it’s something they’ve shared together ever since the start of their friendship. Even when there’s no laughter, there’s comfort between them.
And yet, at the same time, even though the dark-haired shinigami can feel his own heartbeat, it still stings.
Remember what you said that day? Kira asks him, as he sits back against Shuuhei’s chest. That we’re still alive, just like everything else?
The dark-haired lieutenant looks at him without saying anything. He's not sure how to answer.
I only wish I could give you consolation somehow, the blond continues, caressing Shuuhei’s hand – soft, slow strokes. Even though I know that I’m probably making things worse.
Hearing this, Shuuhei almost wants to laugh at the irony.
No. You’re the only one who can give me consolation, he answers; he reaches out, turns Kira’s face gently towards him, and kisses him.
This is all he’s ever needed for consolation – Kira’s scent all around him, Kira’s warm breath on him, Kira’s voice calling his name. The blond turns around where he’s sitting between Shuuhei’s knees, and pulls himself even closer. Shuuhei curls an arm around him; he’s always loved these kisses, ardent and needy, and it’s something that he’s always wanted so much that it ached just to think about it. It aches now, when he’s needing this more than anything.
But then Kira’s hands are at his obi, fumbling to untie them, and his fingertips are sliding into the waistband of Shuuhei’s hakama, and Shuuhei’s chest suddenly hurts so much that he stops.
He pulls away.
Kira stares at him; his eyebrows are slanted in surprise and sorrow.
I’m sorry, the dark-haired shinigami says, and lowers his eyes when Kira slowly reaches out and squeezes his hand, because he can’t bear to look at him. I’m so sorry, Kira.
A long silence passes, and Kira lets his hand go. When Shuuhei finally gets the courage to look up, Kira’s no longer there.
It is cloudy when everyone gathers together; nobody wants to be here, especially not Shuuhei, and that is clear enough. All the captains bear dark gazes, the jet black of unavoidable responsibility clouding their eyes. Abarai and Hinamori look thin and miserable. Rangiku had slid her hand into Shuuhei’s and had been clutching at him for the past hour; he can feel her fingers trembling. The sky is grey and everyone has a shadow underneath their eyes – the memorial is difficult on everyone, and not just him. And he knows that.
He had sometimes wished he was shameless enough to be selfish. But it’s his duty – as always, it has something to do with duty – to be here, where nobody wanted to be. As stoic has he seems by nature, everything cuts him deeply; he has never felt such an overwhelming emptiness and hurt as with death.
It’s never easy, being a Death God, when death is all he knows he’ll see.
Rangiku seems to tense up more when several shinigami come hauling a large stone between them; her hand tightens around his when they plant one side firmly into the ground and begin to erect it. Thin, elegant letters carve the names of all the casualties into the smooth surface of the stone. The engraved letters cover most of the stone; there are so many names. Shuuhei’s heart beats loudly in his ears.
He can’t help but look up, slowly, and he spots the name straight away:
Third Division Lieutenant
He takes in a sharp breath, and jerks suddenly away from Rangiku, who looks at him in surprise.
‘No,’ he whispers under his breath, almost inaudibly.
And suddenly, every unwanted memory returns to him, flooding his senses: the agitated rush of panic and horror-stricken shouts filling the air; it was a day of terror in Soul Society, and he'd been so busy hurrying to rally his subordinates and trying to keep things together in his own division that he hadn't even noticed that that comforting stir of soft reiatsu had been abruptly cut from existence until it was announced all through Seireitei for everyone to hear that the blond's spirit energy was gone. And later, when the Quincy rebels had left, Shuuhei found him where he lay; and all the world around him sped by and stopped simultaneously, impossibly, a surge of everything all at once —
‘—No,’ he whispers, and clutches at the fabric of the shihakusho at his chest, where he can feel his own heart pounding. ‘I can’t … I can’t believe it —’
He’s crushed. I saw him carrying a white flower to the empty house yesterday.
I’ve seen him sitting alone on the grass more and more, recently. I’ve seen the two of them; they used to sit there together. Is he pretending that …?
I feel so sorry for the poor thing – he’s isolated himself. I hear he only does his work, or locks himself up in his house and drinks.
He’s been acting strange. Whisper, point, stare. He’s … he’s been behaving as if he thinks his lover’s still alive.
‘Hisagi-san,’ Abarai and Hinamori murmur; they look at him with pain-filled eyes and quivering lips, and he doesn’t want to look at them. Beside him, he can hear Rangiku’s breath shaking, and he has never felt more betrayed, somehow. After all, his own pain is almost unendurable. He’s still alive, just like everything ... everything’s alive. No – everything’s supposed to be alive, and he’s survived this when Kira hadn’t, and he thinks that there’s nothing that can possibly hurt as much as being alive and enduring this.
He turns around and gets out of there, as fast as he can.
He wishes they wouldn’t speak so loud, all of them, where he can hear them. It makes him long for the solitude that he’d always had, those mornings together in the grassy clearing, those dimly-lit nights in the warmth and intimacy of his bedroom. All he has to stare at now is the grey roof of the infirmary; he thinks back to the time he brought the violet to Kira’s house, when he felt Kira’s reiatsu all around him, left behind after years and years of living there – how comforting and simultaneously stinging that had felt. No one but Kira’s ever lived there. He wonders if the violet’s wilted inside that empty house.
‘He’s okay,’ he can hear Isane’s murmurings; she’s trying to keep quiet to avoid upsetting him, he knows, and she’s failing miserably. ‘He’s coping. He’ll be out soon.’
‘It’s been hard on him, hasn’t it?’
‘It’s been the hardest on him,’ Hinamori whispers, and Shuuhei can hear Abarai’s grunt of agreement.
‘At least he’s starting to wake up and live, now,’ the redhead mumbles, without a hint of subtlety, and the dark-haired shinigami strangely wants him to stop speaking just as much as he wants to hear what else he has to say. ‘At least he didn’t end up dying inside, like you thought he would.’
Shuuhei swallows hard, and closes his eyes and thinks to himself: that’s true.
The dark-haired vice-captain turns his head slowly, looking around him in the grassy clearing. Everything he sees looks and feels the same: droplets of dew clinging onto the thin tendrils of grass; the gold-tinged sky, an approaching light from the newly rising sun; the cool breeze swirling at his collarbone; the soil, firm beneath his feet. It’s almost unbelievable that nothing here had changed. Everything in his world had changed – and yet, everything here had stayed the same, exactly as it had been the last time they’d been here.
He sees the grass at his feet swaying in the morning air, and suddenly remembers his own words. It’s as if the breath of life touches everything, and he can see it here, where he had always sat together with Kira.
Shuuhei lowers himself to the ground, onto his knees.
‘Hisagi-san,’ Kira’s suddenly kneeling in front of him with a soft smile, reaching out and pressing his palm against Shuuhei’s heart as if trying to feel his heartbeat, and Shuuhei can almost feel that warm touch against his chest. ‘... Love you, Hisagi-san. I'm right here.’
Shuuhei blinks, and the moment’s suddenly gone, all too quickly. For a fleeting moment, he wonders if he can find Kira’s heartbeat, too.
He bends down, closes his eyes and presses his ear to the earth.