|A Darker Kind of Heroism
Author: L.Lawliet13 PM
"Could it be that Aizen lost his powers of his own will? There was nothing but loneliness in his sword. If hs powers were superior from the time he was born, perhaps he was searching all this time for someone he could regard as an equal." Concerned by Ichigo's depression, Urahara has decided to cure him. Or die trying. Urahara x Ichigo.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Angst - Ichigo K. & K. Urahara - Chapters: 6 - Words: 17,636 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 23 - Follows: 49 - Updated: 03-27-13 - Published: 01-24-13 - id: 8940432
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A Darker Kind of Heroism:
As the night wore on, Urahara Kisuke allowed his mind to wonder back four months to the Winter War. That day was firmly scorched into his mind, he would never forget the adrenaline rush; the way everyone had fought so hard and tried to defeat the single greatest threat that had ever been pitted against Soul Society - Aizen Sousuke.
Kurosaki Ichigo had defeated the former Shinigami, thanks to his magnitude of power and willingness to sacrifice everything that made him who he was for the sole purpose of stemming the tide of evil.
In the wake of the battle, when Aizen had been moved to Soul Society to be charged by the new Central 46, he had approached the young orange haired man who had made it possible for the battle to swing their way and not Aizen's; the young man's words were still fresh in his mind even now and the look of utter defeat on his handsome face haunted his dreams.
"Could it be that Aizen lost his powers of his own will? There was nothing but loneliness in his sword. If his powers were superior from the time he was born, perhaps he was searching all this time... For someone he could regard as his equal. Then, ever since the moment he gave up thinking he would ever find such a rival, he's been wishing, somewhere in his heart that he could become a mere Shinigami."
He had always known that Ichigo had the uncanny ability to see into the very soul of his opponents, but the depth of his consideration into Aizen's mind had been a little disturbing at the time. But now, he realised that Ichigo's words had reflected his hopes, he had hoped that perhaps Aizen wasn't as twisted as he had appeared, that there was a shred of goodness in him.
It was a foolish hope in the eyes of those who Aizen had hurt emotionally or physically; yet it showed ever more than Ichigo's heart and soul were pure and free of darkness. At least he had been.
That day, something had changed within the young Substitute Shinigami, aside from his powers being taken from him by his ultimate technique, as he had spoken those mind numbing words a cloak of dark depression had befallen him.
Kisuke had seen its descent and had been utterly hopeless to stop it from enveloping the younger man. Since then, he had rarely seen Ichigo, not that the strawberry had much reason to visit his shop anymore - without his Shinigami powers it wasn't like he was eagerly jumping through Senkaimon to go and rescue Soul Society.
But upon speaking to Ichigo's friends, it appeared more than ever that he was isolating himself consciously from everyone, everyone he had shared his Shinigami life with.
Concern now tempered Kisuke's mind, his reiatsu wavering for a moment before he calmed it again and sighed softly, running a hand through his dark blonde hair; eyes gazing thoughtfully towards where Benihime was rested against the wall in her sword wrack, she was sleeping at the moment, but when she was awake she had been spending her time trying to convince him to intervene and do something about Ichigo's depression. Thought unable to find any reason as to why his Zanpakto should care, he finally reasoned that she was tired of his internal debating and whining.
He glanced at his digital alarm clock which was on the small bedside table beside his round, queen sized bed. Sitting up slowly and rustling the dark green silk sheets, the former Shinigami Taichou got out of bed; stretching his naked form in a long line as the coldness of the air outside of his warm sheets struck him.
Ignoring the obvious chill, the usually comical man strode into his en-suit bathroom and into his two person shower; turning on the water he let out a sigh as it cascaded over his well maintained body and closing his eyes, he tilted his head back and allowed his face to be spattered by the gush of water.
Reaching blindly for his favoured vanilla and musk shampoo, he squeezed a couple of large dollops of the gel into his palm before he lathered it into his hair and scrubbed a little viciously. He sighed, trying to chase away the darkened thoughts of the young orange haired man sat alone in his bedroom in the Kurosaki Household, brooding and feeling cut off.
A sigh broke loose from the former Taichou's lips as he pictured the smouldering dark coffee eyes framed by thick dark lashes and spiky locks of soft looking orange hair. A small pout appeared on his lips as his mind then decided to ruin the image by placing a dead look in those eyes and a detached expression on that face.
Washing himself down before he shut the water off and stepped back out of the shower and dried himself down, holding a large muddy coloured towel around his waist as he padded back into his bedroom.
He perched on the edge of his bed and sighed heavily, letting his wet hair cry onto the flood and dribble down his broad; muscled shoulders and back. Closing his eyes for a moment he contemplated what he should do to stop his mind wandering to the young man who had once been his student.
Drying his hair with a spare towel, Kisuke looked at his clock again, grinding his teeth as he watched the small red numbers tick towards 3am, as they had done every night since the end of the Winter War.
By this time, Ichigo no longer possessed any reiatsu; going to visit him in his current Shinigami form would mean that he could observe the younger man without being detected by anyone, so long as he didn't allow Kurosaki Karin or Isshin to sense his presence. However, if Ichigo needed him, he would then be unable to converse with him. And then there was the option to leave well alone, but then his own suffering would continue to plague his mind and prevent him from sleeping. He could talk to Isshin, but since aiding his son in losing his powers in order to defeat Aizen, Isshin too had been avoiding almost everyone.
Kisuke only knew that he was alright because he continued to annoy Ryuken into telling him; being an old friend to both him and Isshin annoying the white haired Quincy guaranteed that he could dig for information.
Shaking his head, Kisuke knew that the only way to get rid of these concerns was to confront the source directly.
Upon deciding his course of action, he got to his feet and dried himself off; throwing his towels in the wash basket in the corner before he walked over to his wardrobe to get dressed.
Clad in his moss green kosode and hakama, he shrugged on his darker green jacket and picked up his stripped hat; he paused for a moment before setting it on his head and taking Benihime from her stand. He was certain that he wouldn't require the blade but it was better to be safe than dead.
Sliding open his bedroom door, he glanced out; sensing that Yoruichi, Tessai and the kids were still fast asleep - the lucky sods. Hastening towards the exit, he slipped on his heeled wooden clogs and stepped into the spare Gigai he had hung by the front door before he disappeared from the shop.
The Gigai had been an experiment about a month ago; the modifications he had made enabled him to use Shunpo and low level Kidou without going into his Shinigami form. Thus, he was able to Shunpo across Karakura Town towards the Kurosaki Clinic/Household; the former Taichou reached his destination within minutes and found himself stood outside of Ichigo's home.
He concealed his reiatsu as planned before he leapt up onto the slanted rooftop outside of Ichigo's room and slowly peered into the young man's window.
His eyes met the back of Ichigo's head, the young man being sat up with his back rested against the wall under the window. He seemed very still where he sat, his shoulders rising and falling with his slow breathing.
Kisuke tried to remain unaffected by the sight of the young man's bare caramel skin which was well toned over the well defined muscles of his shoulders and biceps. He felt a sigh rise in his throat and his eyes soften slightly, he licked his lips before he lifted a hand and gently tapped on the window.
Ichigo's head snapped around so fast, Kisuke was certain that his whole head was going to roll off across the floor, those deep chestnut eyes widened hugely at the sight of his former sensei and the strawberry slowly knelt up and slid the window open.
"Urahara-san?" he said uncertainly, his pink tongue darting out to moisten his lips.
"Good night Kurosaki-san!" the shop keeper instantly delved into his goofy attitude and grinned hugely at the younger male, "What are you doing to be up this late?! I hope I didn't... Interrupt anything!" he winked suggestively, hoping to provoke a violent response.
"Shut up you pervert." The other muttered without any heat as he turned away from him and slid across on the bed so that the green clad man could enter his room unhindered.
Kisuke faltered at the slightly dead response his insinuation received and he clambered in through the open window, closing it behind him before he slid off his sandals and set his hat down beside him, crossing his legs as he sat on the bed facing Ichigo.
"You look like hell." He said after a moment.
"Thanks a lot." The redhead retorted dispassionately, "Nice to see you too."
He tilted his head, "You could have visited the shop, Kurosaki-san."
"No," he said simply, "Too... Too many memories."
"So you've been cutting yourself off to try and forget the part of your life which you've lost?" the blonde asked.
"What the fuck would you know?" he half spat as he stood up and turned his back on him again, "You don't understand how I'm feeling? No one does and I don't want them to try. I'm not some charity case for you all to throw pity at just because I'm totally weak now!"
Kisuke frowned slightly, "Is that what you really think? That we pity you? Your friends just want to help you Kurosaki-san."
"I don't need any help!" he retorted, turning to face the man, his dark coffee eyes slightly watery, "I don't want any help! I just want to be left alone!"
The blonde frowned heavily and looked at the young man, he stood up slowly and walked towards him, resting his hands on his bare shoulders and ignoring the heat which radiated off his lovely soft skin as he steered him around and pushed his back up against the cupboard door; he pinned him in place and looked deep into his eyes.
"You have spent four whole months alone. Cutting yourself off from your friends and your family. Why don't you stop and consider what this is doing to your sisters, or your father? Do you think that they are happy seeing you shrink into a shell and hiding away?" he demanded.
Ichigo's eyes widened slightly before they welled up fully and he looked away, only to have his chin grasped between Kisuke's thumb and forefinger and was forced to look back into his grey eyes, "S... Stop it. I don't need you to tell me this shit... I know it myself!"
"Then why don't you stop it?" he asked, his tone softer than before.
"I... I can't." He breathed, closing his eyes as a single salty droplet broke free and meandered down his cheek, "When I wake up first thing in the morning... For a moment I don't remember that I'm not a Shinigami anymore. And then when I remember it's like I've been thrown into a bath full of ice water..." The young man looked down, his shoulders shaking slightly, "When I remember... It feels like I'm drowning in something I can't control and it hurts... I wanted to protect everyone and I did that when I stopped Aizen but... I never considered the long term effects of stopping him; now I can't protect anyone anymore and I feel completely useless... I don't care if I'm feeling sorry for myself. I can't face my Mom... Not when I can't even face my friends."
Kisuke closed his eyes for a moment before he pulled the younger man into his arms and held him tightly as he felt him sob silently into his chest, "Ichigo... I know it seems bad at the moment but it will get better with time. Orihime-chan, Sado-kun, and Ishida-kun can take care of things now."
"It's not the point... I'm meant to protect people... It's what I'm meant to do. I couldn't protect my Mom... So I have to protect the others to... To... Make up for my failure."
"Ichigo!" the blonde exclaimed in shock, pulling back and looking down at him, "You never failed! You couldn't save Masaki! You were only a child Ichigo, only a child... How could you have saved her?!"
"If I had realised that the girl down by the river was a Hollow... If I had realised that it was the Grand Fisher, I wouldn't have gone running down there, and she wouldn't have died protecting me!" Ichigo yelled, "It was my fault! I have to make up for it before I can ever face her again!"
Kisuke took a hold of Ichigo's shoulders and shook him slightly, "Ichigo listen to me!" he looked into his eyes, his expression stern, and "It was not your fault. You were a nine year old boy with no knowledge of Hollows or Plus Souls... You could never have seen the difference between a real girl and the Grand Fisher's lure. The only thing that night proves is that Masaki loved you enough to sacrifice herself to save you, and that you are so pure of heart that you would do anything to save anyone, even a total stranger."
The younger man looked up at him, his eyes wide and childlike as he absorbed the older man's words with mistrust and disbelief; looking down slowly as he released a shaking breath. He lifted his hands and pushed Kisuke's away, trembling very slightly.
"Why are you here?" he asked after a moment, his hands still rested on the blonde's forearms where he had pushed them.
"Because... Despite what you might think, I do know what you're going through-" he gave Ichigo a look as it appeared the strawberry was going to interrupt him before he continued, "I lost everything once. I had a home, friends, responsibility, duty, and a position in power. Being promoted to Division Twelve's Taichou was no joke to me, Yoruichi-san had elected me and was vouching for me and despite being terrified of being put in charge of anything other than the Maggot's Nest I wanted to make her proud and show that she had been right to opt for me."
He took a breath and frowned faintly, "I wasn't a very good Taichou at the start, Division Twelve was very untrusting, and they all missed their former Taichou. It was only when a certain Shinigami Taichou sat me down and told me to get on and enjoy it that I realised I was trying too hard to fit into an ideal that I would never achieve. So I decided to be myself, I formed the Research and Technology Bureau and made Division Twelve the scientific centre it still is today. And I was very, very happy. I gained respect for my intelligence and my creations which helped to better Shinigami life. And then Aizen Sousuke destroyed everything I held dear and I had to leave forever." He scowled faintly, an expression unsuited to his usually humorous face, "I lost everything, and I had to start again here, in the World of the Living, in exile. Of course I love the shop and I enjoy the freedom... But my heart still craves the life I had in Soul Society, even though I know I will never get it back, not even now that the truth is known and my name has been cleared. I can never return to Soul Society, and that pains me. You are not the only one who has suffered, and lost a life they adored."
Ichigo stared up at him, his mouth slightly parted as he listened to the other's story; he looked down suddenly and Kisuke sensed guilt within the youth. He sighed softly and pulled him back into his arms, holding him close.
"I'm... Sorry." Ichigo mumbled into his shoulder, "I... I didn't mean to... Seem so selfish..."
"You didn't, you don't." The blonde replied, "I just want you to realise that... Even though you feel isolated and cut off, you aren't. There are people who care and people who understand."
The younger man stayed quiet, his hands gently fisted in the man's green jacket as he allowed himself to be held, finding comfort at the contact which was so different from his Goat-Faced-Father's roundhouse kicks, and different from Yuzu and Karin's sibling embraces. Urahara Kisuke was a man, in every sense of the word; he had Ichigo's respect in bucketfuls and he smelled really... Really nice. The embrace of this man was warm and comforting, but strong and wilful at the same time; it gave Ichigo a sense of the reality he had been so blatantly ignoring and it instilled a sense of peace within the depths of his heart, peace which had long since been scarce and replaced with turmoil and loss. He could only imagine that his inner world was now flooded with the depths of his despair, if Tensa and Shirosaki had still been around they would undoubtedly would have kicked his ass for allowing their world to become so plagued with fear and detriment. But they were no longer around; there was only him and his memories of them. And now there was Urahara-san too, Urahara-san and his warm embrace.
"Why don't you come and stay at the shop with me for a few days? It will give you a chance to get your head on straight and you can do whatever you want while you're there. You can help around the store, you can clean up, we can do a little sparring, or you can sit and drink with Yoruichi-san until you both pass out. It might be the break that you need." Kisuke said suddenly, breaking the silence which had fallen around them.
"Eh?" Ichigo looked up at him, his chin resting on the man's shoulder as he looked at his slate grey eyes, "You'd put up with a hormonal misery just to help me get my head sorted?"
"I have never and will never think of you as a hormonal misery, Ichigo. For a time you were my student, and towards the end you surpassed anything I could have ever taught you; now you are a friend. And I believe in helping my friends and comrades."
"I... I guess it might be nice to... Have a change of scenery." The strawberry thought about it for a moment, "Alright."
Kisuke suddenly flashed his usual wide grin at him, "Great! Come over tomorrow with your stuff and we'll get you a room sorted. Just remember to tell Isshin-san where you're going... The last thing I need is for him to throw a fit about me abducting his only son!"
"Okay, okay I will." He relinquished a small smile and looked at the time, "I should probably get to sleep."
"Yes, you need all the beauty sleep you can get, Kurosaki-san!"
"See you tomorrow, Kurosaki~saannnn!"
With a flash of Shunpo, Ichigo's bedroom was empty once again and the window shut once again; the strawberry sighed slightly and rubbed his arms where the older man's hands had rested on his skin. He walked over to his bed and rolled his eyes as he picked up the blonde haired man's stripped hat, he had left it behind in his haste to escape Ichigo's wrath, the idiot; the young man climbed into bed and pulled the covers up around his throat, falling into a fitful and restless sleep.
Arriving back at the shop, Kisuke felt a little more at peace knowing that by keeping the young man close he could keep a better eye on him and maybe help him get his act together.
As he stepped out of his Gigai and hung it back up, he saw a black cat at in the middle of the hallway waiting for him. He sighed and turned to face his his oldest friend.
"Yoruichi-san... Shouldn't you be fast asleep?" he asked shrewdly.
She flicked her tail in response, "As should you, Kisuke, where have you been?"
"I went to see Kurosaki-san," he answered, knowing he could never successfully lie to this woman, "He is going to stay here for a few days."
"I know what I'm doing, Yoruichi-san. He is in... A bad place at the moment and I want to... I need to help him." He interrupted.
She sighed softly and stood up, licking her paw before she looked back at him, "Alright, but don't blame me if this blows up in your face, alright? I know you care for your former student but... Don't push it too far, ne?"
"Yoruichi-san..." he murmured, "Goodnight."
He walked passed her slowly and went into his room, closing the door behind him and locking it to keep out unwanted guests like the purple haired former Taichou herself. He climbed back into bed after stripping off and rolled over so he had his back to the window.
'Everything will be alright now,' he thought to himself as he began to dip into sleep, 'I can help him get back on his feet... Maybe even to regain his powers... But I won't mention that bit to him just yet; I don't want to give him false hope after all...'
With a yawn, the blonde haired former Taichou closed his eyes and drifted off, thoughts of the strawberry haired male lingering in his mind.