Summary: Sitting next to him. Breathing in his scent. The slowest drive to insanity… and Ichigo hadn't a clue. One-sided Urahara/Ichigo One-shot

Rated T

Word Count: 1,715

Disclaimer: Shall never own any character use in this fic.

Breathe

The air.

He didn't want to breathe it in.

But his lungs were screaming for oxygen.

His heart, his soul, wanted for him to inhale more. Savor it.

So the torture continued.

His scent was everywhere.

The slowest drive to insanity….

Urahara Kisuke, with all his genius, was for once in his life baffled. He had no idea what to do.

No idea when it came to Kurosaki Ichigo.

He had no words when it came to trying to describe how he felt for the redhead.

It wasn't a crush. It wasn't infatuation. It wasn't curiosity- he'd done the 'experimenting' years ago in his youth. No, he knew what this was.

Kurosaki was just too tempting…

Whenever Ichigo spoke, Kisuke could see and hear nothing else. Nothing else was in the world…

Urahara was well known a lover of knowledge. It was a curse, really. But now he wanted to know everything there was about this boy. What made him smile, his fears, weaknesses, his taste, desires… everything…

It was becoming more difficult to keep up his typical nonchalance around the substitute shinigami. Gone was his wit when he was in his presence anymore. He realized it was as strained as it sounded to his own ears. He was too distracted by keeping the reign on his leash tight enough to breaking point.

Ichigo was becoming suspicious, quicker and more astute than usual to catch on. These days, when Urahara chanced a glance his way, Ichigo looked like he was having a time holding himself back from knocking off his hat, throwing away his fan, and tackling him to the ground to interrogate him on what the hell was up.

Oh Gods… The rest he could take, anything, but the tackling…

He could see that ending badly.

At least on Ichigo's part.

He prided himself on his control. His mind had always overridden his desires. But with each time he laid eyes on the redhead, it wore thinner and thinner. Kisuke's sanity and so-prided control were slipping through his fingers like mere water.

To the point that he'd left Tessai to entertain the teen, Urahara going into hiding to collect himself.

When on earth had it gotten so bad…?

When had his emotions taken the front seat?

The blonde fell back onto the wall with a thud in the dark hallway, leaning against it in a slump as if weak. He reached up to drag off his hat, letting it hang limply at his side. His chest felt so constricted as if he couldn't breathe. He could cringe from how disgusted he was with himself, for being so weak.

The longing was eating away at his soul.

He didn't know how much more of this he could take.

Urahara's gaze went to the ceiling as if it would help him, give him answers. But none was given.

He knew what he wanted. It screamed at him loud and clear every time he saw the strawberry.

To hold Ichigo like each day was his last.

To taste those lips, to see if they tasted as fiery as his spirit.

To bury his nose into that hair and become intoxicated by the scent that was uniquely Ichigo.

To see a kind of smile, so gentle and loving, that was reserved for only him to see.

To hear Ichigo whisper his name. Like a lover.

To lick at the delectable-looking skin on Ichigo's neck, tasting. To leave marks and have the satisfaction that they showed the world Ichigo belonged to only him.

To make love to the teen for an entire night, over and over, showing just how much Ichigo meant to him. To touch, caress, every inch of his body. To memorize every perfect flaw. To learn what he liked and disliked.

To have Ichigo look at him like nothing else mattered in the world.

To be allowed ravage that body every single time he saw Ichigo's bankai. The raw power and determination in Ichigo's eyes every time they sparred took Urahara's breath away. And the shihakusho that flattered every curve, every muscle, every inch of skin, never helped matters, either. Made his body burn. Made him want to scream. To make Ichigo scream.

For Ichigo to just-… So they could be-…

Breathe, Kisuke…

But they couldn't.

If the arrancar or any of their enemies found out, they'd devise a way to use it against them.

If Isshin found out, he'd have his blonde head on a silver platter.

They were both guys. There was the chance Ichigo had a fraction of normality and was straight.

Even if he pursued him, like he so wanted, there was the chance of being turned down and denied. Then the tension would come, the awkwardness. Urahara could do without all that. He'd rather have this suffering than that one.

And Ichigo was only 16. That's what grated on him the most. He had so much life ahead of him. He didn't need to be tied down so soon, and with such an older man. Kisuke had morals, actually, and he wouldn't allow himself to indulge and go after the teen.

Even if it was slowly killing him.

He closed his eyes, taking a calming breath. He'd get through this- had to.

Now he was torn between running back to Ichigo's side and be near him, or stay frozen like a hiding mouse and coward.

Always the decision…

Days passed on. Urahara never said a word about it, never hinting. Days he didn't see Ichigo were as tormenting as the ones he did. A never ending ache, with only one out-of-reach way to sate it.

The fantasies he had every night didn't hold a candle toward helping him.

So fast forward to when Urahara hadn't seen Ichigo in two days. Two very long days. Not to spar or train, not to have a calm cup of tea. Nothing.

The ex-taicho stood on the porch of his shouten, enjoying the gentle breeze of the lovely day. He tried not to think about it, but was confident his favorite redhead would come over this day. A random tune was hummed as he waited, one that reflected his light mood. His hat was in no way askew, the shadows not hiding his eyes, and his fan was tucked neatly into the folds of his samue. In hands was the cane that hid his zanpakuto, keeping him from fidgeting. His body hummed like it was on a sugar-buzz, racing with energy to burn.

It'd been too long since he'd seen Kurosaki. He needed his fix…

Kisuke mentally laughed at himself. Now he was talking about the redhead being the equivalent of a drug. How comical, really…

And there he was, Ichigo coming into view, yards away. Hands were in the pockets of his hip-hugging jeans, his expression in the form of his usual scowl.

The faintest of smile crept onto the blonde's lips.

But then Abarai came jogging up to Ichigo, catching up. His smirk was evident, wide, amused.

Kisuke's happiness faltered. What was Abarai doing with-?

The crimson-haired lieutenant caught the strawberry's hand, in one quick yank pulling Ichigo to a stop and spinning him to face each other. The teen didn't flinch or fight it, merely directing his scowl onto his comrade.

The action had been too… intimate… It put Urahara on edge.

He wasn't about to admit to anyone or even himself that he'd stopped breathing.

They were talking, their words too quiet to reach Kisuke's ears. Abarai still had hold of Kurosaki's hand. The substitute shinigami began to blush, his expression softening. He averted Abarai's gaze as he spoke back.

Abarai tipped Ichigo's head up gently. The blushing got darker, dark as a strawberry itself.

Urahara's eyes widened, frozen in time during the few seconds Abarai leaned in and placed a sweet kiss on the soft lips before him. Ichigo relaxed into it, accepting it completely before backing off, fully intent on his apparently original mission of going to the shouten.

The ex-taicho was stunned.

Complete… utter defeat.

His heart felt like it'd disintegrated in that second, into a pile of the tiniest grains of sand on the floor ready to be blown over by the wind.

Candy-apple eyes were still wide from shock; Kisuke was fully aware they were approaching, but he couldn't manage to wipe the horrified expression off his face (couldn't imagine what it looked like…), couldn't move, couldn't get the air his lungs were begging for-

No. His control crashed back into him, allowing Urahara to at least hide his heartbreak. His hand reached up, shaking, to pull the rim of his hat down, covering his dazed eyes. Same hand then reached into his green samue, bringing out his fan and quickly jerking it open to cover the rest of his face. All before Ichigo was close enough to really get a look at him.

Ichigo didn't need to see… Didn't need to know, now more than ever…

"Good morning, Hat-n-Clogs," the strawberry greeted as he stepped onto the porch.

Kisuke dared not to attempt to choke out a reply.

Kurosaki -thankfully- didn't linger, not waiting for an invitation inside. Abarai came up behind him, nodding at the shouten owner. "Hey."

He couldn't nod back or acknowledge him in any way.

Urahara made sure to keep hidden until both guests were undoubtedly inside. The hand holding the fan fell, fan itself nearly slipping from his fingers. He suddenly felt very weak, heart heavy.

His stormy gaze traveled up to the sky, the innocent, perfect sky, the epitome of clarity.

If only…

Heh. He could name all the 'if only's in the world and combine them, the excuse still wouldn't be good enough.

Maybe it was for the best…?

… No… He knew it would be impossible to trick himself into truly believing that. Not for a while.

Urahara concentrated on taking a deep breath for his poor, oxygen-deprived body.

The faintest whiff of Ichigo's scent, from when he'd passed by…

… He was trying not to think of Abarai at the moment…

'Let no one who loves be unhappy, even love unreturned has its rainbow.' …The quote popped into his head, but he couldn't recall where he'd heard it. It was fitting…

But where was his rainbow?

END

The quote © James M. Barrie.

Written 1/22/09 - 2/15/09, edited 2/28/12