Second Bleach fic although I actually started writing this before the other…never mind. I love Bleach, to the point where I may actually start buying the manga. Now, this is a big deal for me because I live in New Zealand and manga is about 20NZD a pop here and I don't have a job. Lol.
Anyway, my writing style for anime/manga fics is slightly different from my English-based fics. I understand the basics of the Japanese suffixes enough to get through, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
Slowly, Captain Hitsugaya Tōshirō of the tenth protection squad clenched his fist. He would have clenched his teeth as well, except that he was already doing that.
"Taichō" Matsumoto Rangiku, his vice-captain, was standing directly behind him. He could hear the worry in his voice and it just made him more frustrated. "Give up. Please."
"Taichō" There was an almost shrill edge to his vice-captain's voice that he'd seldom heard before. Slowly, he turned to face her, eyes wide with surprise. "She – isn't – here. Now are you going to come with me willingly, or am I going to have to drag you?"
There was no way Matsumoto would be able to drag him anywhere, but that didn't mean she wouldn't try. Tōshirō nodded sharply, unclenching his fists and teeth and sweeping past his subordinate. "Back to the Seireitei then?"
In an instant, Matsumoto was all smiles. "Not yet, taichō I still have shopping to do!" she sang. "I promised Shunsui that I'd bring back another swimsuit for Nanao-chan, seeing as she fed the last one to a Hollow, and I was thinking that Rukia's wardrobe needs a little sprucing up and then Kurosaki-kun will owe me a favour!" She squealed.
Tōshirō sighed, letting his vice-captain's voice wash over him as they walked away from the soccer field.
"Since when were you on first name terms with Kyoraku-san?"
"Ah, the many wonders of sake…"
"Ah, Shirō-chan, you're back," Captain Ukitake remarked softly. His voice was soft, holding none of the good cheer it usually did when he addressed Tōshirō by that deplorable nickname.
"Hitsugaya-taichō," the Captain of the Tenth Division snapped automatically. "And yes, I am back. Obviously." He started to walk away, then stopped, turning back to take in the other Captain's tired form. In a softer voice, he asked, "Ukitake-taichō? You haven't had another attack?"
"Eh? Oh, no, Shirō-chan, nothing like that. I'm just – worried, is all."
Tōshirō nodded. Ukitake's recently promoted vice-captain, Kuchiki Rukia, was Kurosaki Ichigo's lover and shinigami from all over the Seireitei had been making snide comments for weeks. Kurosaki and Ukitake had been good friends for years, since before the war had ended fourteen years ago, and certain bitter soul reapers had automatically linked that friendship with Kurosaki's relationship and drawn entirely the wrong conclusion. Ukitake had been defending his decision ever since he'd announced it.
"If any of the troublemakers are from Tenth Division, Ukitake-taichō, feel free to notify me and I shall issue reprimands accordingly." When I have time, he added mentally.
"Only when you have time, Shirō-chan. I wouldn't want to add undue stress to you. The gossipmongers are quiet, for the time being. Rukia made examples of a few seated officers yesterday, and I'd imagine they're all still feeling the pain. Unohana-taichō also refused them treatment, on the grounds that Fourth Division is overrun."
"But Fourth Division—"
"Is almost empty, yes." Ukitake smiled, but the worry etched in his stance didn't dissipate. "And everyone knows it, so it's rather obvious that Unohana-taichō backs my decision. No, I am worrying about somewhat else."
Tōshirō felt rather uncomfortably that Ukitake was gazing directly into his head. "Most likely you are worrying about things not your concern, Ukitake-taichō," he said quietly, beating a quick retreat.
A sigh. "Most likely, Hitsugaya-taichō."
It was only after Tōshirō was back in his office that he realised what Ukitake had called him.
"Who are you searching for, Hitsugaya-kun?" Hinamori asked softly.
Tōshirō paused, midway through a report that Matsumoto should have been completing. Then he continued, not saying anything.
"Hitsugaya-taichō," he snapped, emphasizing the title.
"I owe Kurosaki Ichigo a favour," he said finally, when the silence between him and his old friend became unbearable.
It was true, he did, but Kurosaki didn't care. He wasn't one to call in old debts, which was odd for a shinigami, especially one of his level. Yes, he owed the other prodigy, but that wasn't the reason he was searching. An older, stronger promise held him to his purpose.
"So…Kurosaki-san asked you to look for someone? In the real world?"
"Something like that."
"Oh." Hinamori mulled that over. "Are you looking for a living human, or a soul?"
Tōshirō signed his name at the end of the report and stared at it. "A soul."
Said silver-haired captain twitched. There was only one person who called his name – given name! – in such an obnoxious tone.
Tōshirō turned around, icy death glare fixed firmly in place as Kurosaki Ichigo skidded to a stop. The shinigami representative merely rolled his eyes, one of which was ringed in purple, and sighed.
"Whatever domestic problems you and Kuchiki Rukia are having are nothing to do with me, Kurosaki," Tōshirō drawled.
The man with the orange hair blinked. "Eh? Oh, this!" He gestured at the black eye. "Nah, Hinamori Momo did this, not Rukia. Rukia usually aims lower." He laughed.
Tōshirō frowned. "Hinamori Momo – this high—" He gestured at a level slightly below his own head, thankful that in recent years he'd grown enough that he didn't have to reach to emphasize his point. "Managed to give you, the man who defeated Aizen and didn't even have to die to do it, a black eye."
Kurosaki laughed again, a little sheepishly this time as he scratched the back of his head. "Yeah, well, like you said, she's tiny. Didn't look like she could do much damage. And I wasn't exactly expecting her to come flying out of nowhere on my first day back in the Seireitei . Before I even saw Rukia."
"What exactly does this have to do with me, Kurosaki," Tōshirō snapped, impatient.
Kurosaki held up his hands in what Tōshirō thought was a slightly condescending manner. "Whoa, Tōshirō, calm down. I just thought you might know something about it, seeing as she came at me screaming about you and debts and lost souls."
Tōshirō stiffened. "Hinamori was a childhood companion. It's been decades and she still hasn't got out of the habit of thinking she has to look after me.
"Maybe 'cos you still need looking after." Kurosaki easily dodged the Tenth Division Captain's kick to his chest. "Nah, Tōshirō, I don't mind you using me as an excuse, but next time warn me, yeah?" He gingerly prodded at his black eye and winced.
Suddenly Tōshirō felt a lot less sure of himself. "I – you knew?"
A sombre air settled over the two as a familiar scowl etched itself on the substitute's face. Kurosaki looked off into the distance. "Yeah. I know you think you owe me something for saving your arse all those years ago. You don't, but if it makes you happy holding onto it like you are, go ahead. 'Cos that's what friends do, right?" Their eyes met, and Tōshirō rather uncomfortably felt that the representative was looking at him and seeing far too much. "They look out for each other. They let them be happy." Kurosaki took a deep breath. "Which is why I gotta say this. Stop looking for her."
Tōshirō felt like he'd been sucker punched in the gut. "Wh-what?"
"Just stop, alright? Look, you have no idea how grateful I am that you're doing this. And yeah, I know you're not doing it for me, so wipe that look off your face. Still, of all the people I'd want out there looking for her, it's you. But seriously, you gotta stop! It's been four years and—"
"And you're feeling guilty."
It was Kurosaki's turn to look surprised. "Eh?"
"You're feeling guilty, because it's only been four years since she died and you stopped looking two years ago," Tōshirō remarked calmly. He understood where Kurosaki was coming from now. He was back in control. "You lost hope, and I'm still going so you're feeling bad about yourself."
The representative's face became curiously blank, and it took Tōshirō a few seconds to realise he'd just made Kurosaki very angry. His reiatsu (as uncontrolled as ever) spiked dangerously even though there was no obvious sign of it on his face.
"Yeah. I gave up. You know why? Because I decided that the found were more important than the lost. I can't know if a Hollow got her, or if she's still in the real world or even if she's wandering around the Rukongai. But I can know when my friends need me, when the Seireitei needs me. When Rukia needs me. I can't sit around hoping to get permission to go out and look, but I can say sorry if she does show up after all."
Tōshirō was silent for a long time. "You…you have all of those people to look out for, people you promised to protect. Me…" He snorted derisively. "The last time I made a promise to protect someone, she died. And I still can't find her."
Kurosaki shrugged. "You think that there's no one else out there who cares, Tōshirō? Then maybe you do deserve to be alone. If you can't see Ran-chan tearing herself apart, if you can't see Jūshirō exhausting himself with worry, if you can't see this—" He gestured at his black eye. "This, that Hinamori Momo gave me, because she was so worried about you. So worried that she didn't even hesitate to take on – how did you put it? – 'the man who defeated Aizen and didn't even have to die to do it'." Kurosaki shook his head. "If you can't see that, the entire Seireitei could hail you a genius and I'd still say you're stupid."
"Ichi…Ichigo!" A sudden shout split the air and Kurosaki stumbled back as a small black blur ploughed into him.
Tōshirō had somehow managed to keep his eyes on the representative's face as this happened, and he was astonished to see the change that came over him. The blankness totally disappeared, and there wasn't a hint of a scowl in the look that replaced it. Kurosaki laughed, lifting Kuchiki Rukia into the air slightly and spinning her around. She laughed with him, playfully hitting him on the shoulder as he set her down before leaning up on her toes to demand a kiss. Kurosaki happily paid up.
This…this was what Kurosaki had meant. I decided that the found were more important than the lost.
Tōshirō was gone before the two lovers broke up.
He had some apologies to make.
Hmm…I was going to make this a one-shot, but I think it'll be a two-shot. You can probably guess who it is Tōshirō's looking for, but I want to proceed as if you don't, 'kay? Lol. Hope you liked, please review!