Disclaimer – I do not own Bleach. Companion to my fanfic Admiration, chapters fourteen and fifteen roughly.
A man walked through the desert, the sand blowing against his sunburned skin as he moved his feet up and down as they slowly got buried, again and again. An injury had caused one of his lungs to collapse and for him to bleed out quite a bit. He was quite surprised to find himself alive and in such clothing, his memories having completely left him.
Well… almost, he remembered his name was Tomo Atsuo, and he remembered a small white haired boy with a sword attached to his back, a violet ribbon tied around its hilt. He remembered the boy's frantic look, in those teal eyes. He also remembered bits and pieces of their conversation.
"…death of comrades is something that one has to get used to…" he remembered telling the boy. He remembered the pain in those two eyes, as if the death he was talking about was his own. Actually… that might have been right. Whatever the case was… he didn't need to have the boy worried about that, but still… the boy had been quite upset.
"I can still have some hope can't I?" came the small boys protest. Atsuo remembered thinking something along the lines of where help would come in this forsaken place. Had he needed to leave the boy alone to go and get the boy help? He couldn't rightly remember, but this thought at times helped him to push onward.
"I'll do a little better then that… Uncle Atsuo," the boy had stated, biting his lip and trying to be strong. How could someone expect so much of a child around the age of a seven to eight year old to be forced to be that strong, to wait somewhere? That was what had happened wasn't it? Too many questions rained through Atsuo's brain, causing him to let out a quick breath.
"You're a good kid… this should belong to you," he vaguely remembered taking something off and handing it to his nephew… the child was his nephew, right? For he had called him Uncle… or was it a child that he had no blood relation to and had come to be like family to him. What was important was to hang onto those few shreds of memories he had left.
"You're going to live, so what need would I for your lieutenants' badge?" came the boys reply, and Atsuo became confused in his mind.
"I thought we were talking about me rescuing you here?" he coughed out, wishing he could think straight. "Or were we talking about me dying… I can't remember."
Atsuo then began to think about the badge, and it clicked into his mind that he must have been a cop of some form or another. What he had handed the boy felt more along the size of a cops badge then that of a military rank identification. He narrowed his eyes, remembering some of the other words the boy had said to him. "But why go against his orders, why!"
"Oh shit…" Atsuo felt like suddenly slapping himself. He had gone against the police chief's orders and gotten him and his nephew in trouble. That thought though made no sense as a police order wouldn't involve family would it. Perhaps he had been protecting the boy and pretending to be his uncle?
The boy had almost cried… no he had cried though, and called him Uncle Atsuo again, hadn't he. The tears weren't streaming down, but there had been a comment about not showing weakness. Atsuo tried remembering more, but with frustration could only go back to the beginning. "…death of comrades is something that one has to get used to…"
"Hello there!" came a sudden voice, and he found himself glancing up and seeing a man dressed in green pinstripe, a woman in orange clothes and a very huge muscular man… wearing an apron of all things. "We felt a disturbance and came out to investigate!"
"I…" Atsuo found himself collapsing forward, only to have the woman catch him as he passed out.
Atsuo sat up, finding himself in a nice cool building. To his utter shock, a man with glasses and a weird beard stuck his face into his. "Urahara… he is awake."
"Ahh… good. I was meaning to ask you some questions shingami," the man with the green pinstriped clothing laughed, clicking a fan open then closed.
"Shingami? What is a shingami?" the man muttered.
"Oh…" the man in green suddenly had a disappointed look on his face. "You don't remember anything. Your name perhaps?"
"Atsuo… Tomo Atsuo," the man stated, realizing that part of the story was coming from misconception. "I believe that I was a lieutenant for the police force."
"Oh kay," the man smiled. "I believe you… do you have a memory that tells you this?"
"I gave my lieutenants' badge to a child with teal eye… oh, and white hair," the man stated.
"You must have been dreaming," the first man stated. "No one I know of has that coloring."
"No… he was my nephew… I think," the man closed his eyes.
"Look… we'll get you settled into a nice police job here and a new life," Unohana stated. "Tessai… look into that for me, will you?"
"What about the kid?" the man asked, concern in his voice.
"We didn't find a kid… just you. This is the first time we've heard about a child. Unfortunately, it has been so long…" Urahara didn't look at him, and instead turned away.
"No… death of comrades is something that one has to get used to…" the man muttered, sighing. "But this person… I know he was like family. I refuse to forget his face, as it is the last thing, other then my name I have to hold onto."
"It is good to hold onto these things," Urahara stated as the man fell back asleep. He then clicked his hand open. "I heard from Yoruichi about Lieutenant Tomo… you supposedly died, so we can't return you there. It would cause problems…"
Author's note - In my story Admiration, Tomo Atsuo is an OC that I created that was the lieutenant before Toshiro, when he was under Isshin's captaincy.