Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. That honor belongs to Tite Kubo. All characters are depicted as legal age.
Warnings: AU-esque, Spoilers for Soul Society Arc, Slashy implications
AN: For DracoQueen22 since she writes so many stories for me. And no, white isn't part of the rainbow, rather all the colors mixed together.
Iridescence: A play of lustrous colors like those of the rainbow.
The first thing Jyuushiro notices, aside from his unnatural resemblance to Kaien, is his name.
Kurosaki Ichigo. Ichigo. Strawberry.
A child's name. Making him think of Yachiru and candy and Shirou-chan when he falls asleep at his desk. Too cute a name for such a strong and passionate person. For a boy who was willing to die to save a girl he barely knew. For someone who literally radiates power. Loyalty and honor. Positively radiant as he stands on top of the Soukyoku cross.
Strawberry. Red. The color of fire. Of strength and power. Of passion.
And perhaps it's not that much of a stretch after all.
'It has to be dyed,' Jyuushiro thinks.
No one has hair like that naturally. Much less someone pure Japanese. It's so audacious. Loud. Bold. Eye catching.
But it suits him. Speaks when he is silent. Draws attention where Ichigo would fade into the background. A sign to the world that this person is different. Special. Truly unique.
It's ironic really. Such an outward declaration of wonder and power.
And Jyuushiro blinks in surprise when Ichigo comes up to him one day, brow furrowed as he tries not to stare.
"Is that your real hair color?"
Seconds are as centuries and minutes like millennia. But it's not terror that Jyuushiro feels. Not fear or hate. A different sort of dread. One born of worry and concern.
Gold on black. A Hollow peering back at him. Mask already formed on his face but disappearing now that the fight is over.
And it's gone just like that. Leaving only a boy-turned-man behind. Just Ichigo gazing at him.
Those eyes simply stare at him beseechingly. Hope mixed with sadness. Anticipated disappointment. Waiting for the words and recriminations. Waiting for rejection. Swallowing heavily as he is approached and looking ready to run.
And when he reaches forward and puts his hand on Ichigo's shoulder, Jyuushiro can feel the boy trembling beneath his fingertips.
Tea with Kisuke-kun is more of a chore than expected. Gaze fixed on the perverted shopkeeper as he repeatedly leans into Ichigo. Watching as the boy rolls his eyes and scoots further away.
The conversation goes on around him, mostly carried by Shunsui and the Karakura gang. And Jyuushiro barely notices Yoruichi smirking at him from across the table, feline face somehow showing smugness.
But something inside of him twists as it takes longer and longer for Ichigo to pull away. Trying his best to rationalize such a thing. Attention fixed as Shunsui not-so-subtly shakes his head.
"Green isn't a good color for you, Jyuu-chan," his best friend whispers. "At least not this shade."
"He was a good friend, you know," Ichigo says, eyes dry but voice low and cracked.
Jyuushiro slowly sits next to him on the porch, staring out at the lake beyond. "That he was," the captain agrees. "A very good friend."
"He didn't deserve to die. Not like that." Ichigo's bandaged hands knot into his robes, fingers straining from the pressure.
"No one does." Jyuushiro gently pries the boy's fingers open when he sees blood start to stain the material.
Ichigo lets him but doesn't pull away afterward. And silence lingers between them for several long moments before his companion speaks again.
"Does it ever get any easier?"
Jyuushiro very softly squeezes his hand. "No. But it gets better."
The war is over. Finished. Complete. Ended.
But all Jyuushiro can see is the ever darkening wound on Ichigo's chest, a shade that would almost be beautiful if it didn't stain his skin. He only notices the boy shake and grit his teeth, poison from the last Vasto Lorde coursing through his veins.
He doesn't see Shunsui standing just to his left. Or Inoue-chan kneeling beside. Or even Rukia breathing heavily across from them.
Just Ichigo as he bleeds. As his flesh darkens to blue and then almost black.
And he only feels the boy's head in his lap as those eyes stare up at him. Begging not to be left alone.
"Yare, yare. You're looking very fine tonight, Ichigo-kun," he hears Shunsui says from out in the hallway. "A special occasion, ne?"
Ichigo's response is grumbled, but Jyuushiro can readily imagine what it is. He rises to his feet and is already heading for the door when his best friend speaks again.
"Borrowing clothes from Byakuya-bo, I see. I think he's the only man I've ever seen wear that particular shade."
Jyuushiro opens the door in enough time to see Ichigo's firm scowl. Hand twitching like he wants nothing more than to take Shunsui's fan and beat him with it. Instead, the boy turns at his appearance, face softening. Only to flush red when Jyuushiro presses a kiss to his cheek.
The white-haired man ushers Ichigo inside and turns to wink at his best friend. Then, he firmly shuts the door in Shunsui's face.
"I look like an idiot," Ichigo grumps, arms crossed over his chest.
Jyuushiro just laughs. "You look like a captain," he corrects and smoothes down the fabric.
"An idiot then." Ichigo fingers his haori with obvious disdain. "I can't believe I agreed to this. I don't know anything about leading a division."
Jyuushiro shakes his head. "You'll learn. It's not so different from leading your friends into battle, I suspect. Only with more paperwork."
Ichigo's frown deepens, but he is quick to follow as his companion heads for the door. "Great. More homework. I thought I was done with that when I graduated from college."
"That I can't really help you with." The older man smiles. "Though the haori is only mandatory at meetings. You really don't have to wear it the rest of the time."
"Small favors," the new captain replied, but there is no heat to it. He simply moves forward as he is beckoned closer. "The things I do for you."
Jyuushiro's grin widens. And he takes Ichigo's hand in his and gently pulls him into the sunlight.