It was Sunday when he left, obliviously carrying pieces of everyone's heart; everyone's trust
Disclaimer: I dun own bleach… sniff sniff
It was Sunday when he left, obliviously carrying pieces of everyone's heart; everyone's trust. It was Sunday the day he left, and by the next Saturday they'd lost him.
He offered them everything the day before he left. He laughed with them, scowled with them. Did everything he'd always done with the people in Seireitei. Only, he did it all a shade softer. He smiled at Inoue's babbled comments, called Rukia a midget not teasingly, but softly, as if it was the most precious of nicknames. To Ishida, Ichigo offered intelligent conversation; to Chad, peace and silence. To Renji, and Ikkaku, and Zaraki, he offered his blade and his battle spirit like never before. He called Hitsugaya and Byakuya "Taichou" and held still to have his wounds treated by Unohana.
They, in return, smiled at him and buried the seed of unease deep in their hearts. He was happy and relaxed and so they were happy and relaxed. He reiatsu was warm like no one else's and it pulsed gently, wrapping around their forms like a big brother's gruff warmth. By the time they each uncovered their seeds of worry, it was too late.
Saturday night, he left the party they had held. For what purpose the party was, none of them remembered anymore. He left hidden by the dark of midnight, through the Garganta specially prepared for him. All his friends were happy. The last thing he saw of them that day was laughing faces and relaxed expressions of joy.
Sunday morning, his friends hadn't noticed his disappearance yet, too busy with hangovers and extracting themselves out of embarrassing situations.
By noon, they were in panic. Rukia darted from alley to alley, Renji not far behind, calling for his "stupid orange head". Ishida concentrated on finding his reiatsu and spirit ribbon. Inoue followed her guts. Chad did not look for him. Ichigo would not have wanted that, he believed. The captains who cared, demanded to see the Sou-Taichou.
By Sunday afternoon, Kurosaki Ichigo's mission was known to all; A suicide assassination mission to Las Noches; a kamikaze dive into the white fortress in the desert of eternal night.
That night, was stark contrast to the one before, as the people who knew him dealt with it the only way they knew how to. Tenth division chilled and their fuku-taichou joined others in a sake drinking marathon that Hitsugaya did not even begin to protest to. Eleventh division sent wounded after wounded to Fourth division and still Zaraki and his third seat fought on. Renji joined his former division and Byakuya did not stop him, too busy desperately trying to stop his own sense of deja vu. Rukia curled up on her futon, arms wrapped around the large chappy doll Ichigo had grudgingly bought her. The doll was stained with tears. Inoue had no doll, but she had her memories, and she too curled up with them. A few meters away, Ishida and Chad kept a lonely vigil for their friend; though whether they were looking out for Inoue… or Ichigo's shadow, even they didn't know.
Monday morning, the Humans and Quincy left Soul Society quietly. Their undivided loyalty had been to a loudmouthed orange haired boy. Seireitei held close to nothing for them now.
Sixth division was deadly calm that day. Their fuku-taichou and taichou looked drained and exhausted but the division rolled on. Eleventh did not even attempt to be alert, still half empty from the fighting marathon last night. Tenth fared only slightly better in that their Taichou kept up the semblance of normality as best as he could. Still, the mood that day was dull and somber.
Tuesday, all the divisions operated once more though some would often pause in their work and stare out blankly as they were reminded of the boy who had single-handedly saved all of them… and hoped he would survive like he did all the other times.
Wednesday he came back with all the drama that he was renown for, falling out of a Garganta and collapsing outside the open door of a captain's meeting. Stunned yells and cries of relief greeted his battered form, but his words were unclear. "The war has ended." It was a northwest to the north he'd been sent to do. Further questioning was held until he regained consciousness.
That night they found out that, despite Aizen's survival, the war was over. Aizen would not create the key, would not return to Soul Society, would not attack Soul Society or the real world. It was perilous deal, but Ichigo seemed confident Aizen would fulfill it. Ichigo was confident, and so his friends and admirers, numbered hundreds in Seireitei, were confident.
Thursday, Ichigo was punched and slapped and cried on by his friends. He endured it all calmly, tiredly. That day, as he walked around, he repeated a mantra. "I'm fine. It's great to be back. Sorry." Blind in their relief, his friends did not notice his wistful looks to the sky. Stray fingers brushing something on his neck. He didn't laugh that day, not even when Ishida stared at him in all the unkemptness of rushing to Soul Society. He didn't laugh when Matsumoto smothered everyone who didn't want to be smothered in her bosom and pointedly ignored the ones that did want it. Most of all, he only smiled sadly to his two feminine charges, both trying to stifle their own sobs as he hugged them separately, warmly. "I'm fine. It's great to be back. Sorry."
The sky outside Seireitei ripped open on Friday and Espada and Fraccion poured out. The captains and Vice captains and anyone able to move in the crushing reiatsu were there in an instant. Uliquorra, Grimmjow, Neliel, Stark, and the one Fraccion between the three, waited quietly.
Kurosaki Ichigo broke ranks and hit Grimmjow weakly in the shoulder. The teal haired man folded his large body around Ichigo's, now painfully obvious, sixteen year old body and the boy trembled. Uliquorra and Stark took turns stating the terms of the "treaty" between their forces, and the shinigami realized that the suicide mission had indeed been completed.
They cried that day. The ones that, before broke down in private, now broke in public. People dropped to their knees like unsteady dominos. Rukia sobbed in her brother's arms and Renji stood, head bowed, close by; always close by. Ichigo's real world friends clung to each other in shock. The orange haired boy turned to face them, eyes glittering with unshed tears. He bowed, and Seireitei screamed in pain.
Still the stark resemblance did not escape them, the reassuring actions. Someone intuitive had commented later, to the still shocked group, how Ichigo's friends always seemed to be the same. There was an abnormally small girl and a loudmouthed man. Renji wrapped Rukia into a tight hug. There was a quiet solemn man, and the ones that looked down upon them. Byakuya inclined his head in respect and the Soutaichou looked tired and haggard.
Saturday, everyone continued with their lives, as if the courageous fearless boy that had stood up to them all, and in the end sacrificed himself for the exact same people, was still there. His warm touch and rare laughter was gone, but their memories of him stayed. He was a memory to be replayed when things were down, a shadow of a boy that was invincible and yet so human. He was in everyone's hearts, but lost to them all.
Eh… It's been a long time since I wrote anything. Actually, I should be writing a research paper… This came out instead. I hope at least some of you liked it. Please comment?