Yes, I'm still working on Take Me Home and Monotony and Routine. I have recently posted an update for TMH and at last check I was at 99 reviews, so please help my hit the big 100 on that story! Also, I'm midway through a new chapter for M&R, but this came to me after reading some of my favourite fics on here.
I am not moving out as I hoped this month, so I will have so much time on my hands it's unreal. So I will have time to update these regularly. I aim to have the next chapter of M&R out tomorrow, and I aim to have another for TMH on Monday at the latest – unless anything comes up. My granddad seems to have mere days left unfortunately, so if I don't meet these deadlines, then I apologise, but some things take priority. Updates will be added as soon as I can.
After this week, my schedule will be TMH on Mondays, M&R on Wednesdays and if I continue it, this will be updated on a Friday each week.
Anyway, enough housekeeping. If this isn't received well by you lot, then I'll go back to working on M&R and TMH; if you do like it, please review and/or favourite and I'll carry it on, between updates for the other two. If you don't fave or review, I'll assume you don't want me to continue and I'll remove it.
I hope that as M&R is only lasting a few more chapters, that I can work on this and TMH more. I know Rukia's New Phone is still on Hiatus, but I will continue that after I finish TMH, which I hope will be mid-summer at the latest, depending on how it all works out.
Anyway, please enjoy.
The sun shone down on his face through the small gap in his curtains, interrupting him from his sleepless slumber. He blinked awake, and sat straight up on his bed. The bags under his eyes showed he little rest he actually got the previous night.
He swung his legs over the side of his bed with little enthusiasm. He stood up, and stretched, clicking and popping as he did so. Lethargically, he walked out of his room and into the shower, taking with him his school uniform. He turned the water heat so that it was lukewarm, neither too hot, nor too cold. He let the water run through his orange hair and over his muscular body, washing himself thoroughly, but with as much energy as he'd put into the rest of his morning routine. As soon as he was clean, he shut the water off, as stepped out of the shower, towel-drying first his hair, then the rest of himself. He stepped into uniform, as proceeded to brush his teeth, and other morning activities that required the use of the bathroom.
As soon as he'd finished in the bathroom, he dragged his feet downstairs, into the kitchen, where Yuzu, the more feminine of his sisters, was cooking breakfast. This morning she was preparing nattō with some rice. He quietly took his place at the table, before receiving the same saddened look from his motherly sister. She dished him up his breakfast and handed it to him.
"Itadakimasu." He spoke lowly, seemingly for the purposes of being polite to his younger sibling. Yuzu merely nodded in response.
He began to eat his meal, slowly. Yuzu's gaze was upon him again, and he felt compelled to speak to fill the silence.
"Where's Oyaji?" He asked between mouthfuls of the nutty, sweet breakfast Yuzu had, like every morning, lovingly prepared.
"Otou-san left early to attend a meeting. He should be back this evening, in time for dinner."
"Ah." He acknowledged her response. "What about Karin?"
"She had football practice."
Merely nodding in response, he laid down his chopsticks.
"You're welcome, Ichi-nii-san," Yuzu offered her brother a smile which he feebly attempted return. He picked up his school bag and left the house. Yuzu sighed as she noted his plate was still half full. Just like every other morning. It's a wonder he hasn't vanished into thin air. At least he eats all of his bento. She began to clear away her brother's plate.
Ichigo, like every morning for the past seventeen months, walked the longest way to school from his home, the Kurosaki clinic. It was no longer a conscious decision, but one that came naturally to him. Walking the other way was almost impossible if he wanted to keep himself in check.
After meandering along his self-imposed diversion to school, like every morning, he met with his group of friends, who were, unfortunately, a constant reminder of all he had lost. However unfortunate the situation was, he was glad for it. It meant everything had been real.
"Ohayo, Kurosaki-kun!" Inoue waved, smiling brightly.
"Ohayo, Inoue." Again, his masculine voice lacked energy.
"Kurosaki." Ishida greeted, accompanied by a nod from Chad. He nodded a barely there nod in response. The members of the group had long given up trying to coax the former war hero from his depression. In their own ways, they knew that they too, would be lost without their powers. Ichigo willingly and knowingly sacrificed everything he had to give to save not one, not two, but three entire dimensions. The rest of the group held a quiet awe for the former shinigami daiko, although each and every day they were reminded of the price he paid.
Orihime pined for Ichigo. Over the weeks that became months and the months that were becoming years, you watched as the man she adored spiralled downward into a deep depression. Nothing she said or did made a difference. She ached for him, wishing her flowers could bring him back the powers he obviously missed. However, when she suggested such a notion to Urahara-san, she was met with his rarely seen serious look.
"Inoue-san, Kurosaki-san is and will be in a fragile state. Giving him back his powers will achieve the opposite of what you desire, I'm afraid. Whilst your flowers are indeed unique, their powers cannot achieve the impossible. Kurosaki-san's Zanpakuto and reiatsu are gone, Inoue. If they are destined to return, they will return of their own accord. Kurosaki Isshin-san is a perfect example of this. Inoue-san, I advise you not to meddle in matters which do not concern you."
She remembered Urahara-san's advice word-for-word, and as much as she despaired at his words, she conceded to his point. He was right. Ichigo wouldn't appreciate help, not from anyone. She knew him well enough to know that he wanted to protect his family and his nakama by his own doing. Everything he gained throughout the war was his own doing, he worked hard to achieve what he needed to, so he could save his family, nakama, and three dimensions. Handing him his powers, almost on a plate would make him feel like he achieved nothing. He wouldn't have got them back by his own doing. Sure if they came back by themselves, it'd be different.
The auburn haired flower wielder sighed as she fell into step with the rest of the group, walking between Ishida and Chad.
Ishida had been carefully monitoring the man he once thought of as his rival. Enduring a war, and fighting together had taught the archer a great deal about the man he now would count among his nakama, not that he'd ever admit this out loud. Ishida could see that Ichigo not only missed his powers, but his friends from the soul society. He himself missed competing for hollows against the former Zanpakuto wielder. Kurosaki was a stubborn man, and the Quincy knew being defenceless and unable to protect his friends had dealt him a major blow. But somehow, he knew that his friend would endure the depression and the sadness over and over to save his friends and family, and in the end, the world. He was proud of what Ichigo had done for the world, proud that even though the past dictated that he and Kurosaki should be enemies, that he'd been counted on upon the war hero to help save the world. Oddly, at the time of Inoue-san's kidnapping, Ichigo hadn't needed to ask Ishida for help. Ishida smiled to himself. How strange it was, having that understanding of each other, knowing that mortal enemies or not, we would fight on the same team, for the same cause. Ishida pushed his glasses up his nose and adjusted his bag strap so it was in a more comfortable position.
Chad was quietly concerned for his comrade in arms, but knew that the man who he fought for had long given up on putting on a brave face for show. He remembered the way Ichigo acted in the few months after the war.
"Ohayo," Ichigo smiled, though Chad saw through it. He said nothing though, merely nodding in response.
"Ohayo, Kurosaki-kun! Did you sleep well?" Inoue smiled widely at Ichigo. Immediately, Chad knew she'd asked the wrong question. If you looked closely, you could see that his skin was lack-lustre, and he had bags under his eyes. His eyes conveyed his apprehension to answer her innocent enough question.
"I slept well, thank you!" Ichigo had tried to smile back, but it looked forced to the half Mexican man.
Yes, that was how Ichigo had been, but slowly, he seemed to give up on everything. He spoke only when spoken to, or when he felt he absolutely had to. Of course, Ishida and Chad had tried to cheer up the former shinigami, but it proved fruitless. Now, Ichigo was lifeless. It appeared to Chad that he had lost his purpose for living.
He looked over his shoulder to see Ichigo walking a few steps behind him, his eyes on the ground. He was like an automaton, and it wasn't just he, Ishida and Inoue to see it. Their other friends, Tatsuki, Keigo and Mizuiro saw it too. Keigo, being the girl obsessed pervert he was insisted his friend's change in demeanour was because "He's not getting any action". Said statement duly earned him a punch from Tatsuki. Mizuiro narrowly missed receiving the same from her after suggesting that they hook him up with someone. He escaped her punishment after simply stating that being with a girl cheered him up when he was sad, and he had hoped the same would be true for Ichigo and Ishida had talked her down.
No-one knew how to help him, and that plagued Ichigo. He knew the efforts that each and every one of his friends had gone to, in a vain attempt to cheer him up, and a part of him felt guilty that he couldn't just be the Ichigo that they used to know. Then again, another part of him felt that they should understand him better, but apparently, no-one understood what exactly it was he needed from his friends to give him his drive and passion for life back.
There used to be someone who could, and would, deal out exactly what he needed to get back on the right track. But she was gone now.
He supposed he should feel proud of himself, achieving what he did, in the short space of time he was given. But he felt used and empty. Not that he'd ever even consider acting any differently; he would never regret giving up his powers to save everyone he cared about, along with Soul Society, Hueco Mundo and the Living World, but he often wished he'd never prayed to be normal and not see ghosts. How naïve I was back then. He fought the urge to chuckle blackly aloud. Sometimes, he wished he didn't have to give up all of his powers to save the world. No-one from the Soul Society had visited him, not that he could see, anyway. He supposed his reiatsu sensitive friends still had some contact with them, seeing as Hollows still needed purifying. He never asked. Truly, he did not want to know. It hurt enough knowing they could still use their powers, let alone knowing that they could talk and see those he could not. He shuddered at the thought that they might have protected him whilst he was unaware. He could not even see Inoue's flowers anymore.
His fists balled up in his pockets.
"Ichigo?" the darker male queried.
"Nothing." He muttered. He vowed to shun any more thoughts of his old way of life until he was alone.
Before Ichigo was aware of it, and lately he felt aware of so little, he was sat at his desk. He focused hard in every lesson, and was even coming second to Ishida in some classes. He had climbed up quickly from twenty-third in his class, due to having nothing else to do at home, apart from study.
Ochi-sensei entered the room and begun her lesson. Ichigo concentrated hard, writing his notes carefully. Writing like this allowed no time for him to think freely, and he was glad for that.
His notes for every lesson were flawless, so much so that on the odd occasion that Ishida or another member of his group from his shinigami days excused themselves from class for a 'personal break' – code for 'sorry, I'm just off slaying some Hollows', they'd ask to borrow his notes. He'd let them without any questions, knowing it was the only way he could thank them for protecting those he no longer could.
All too soon for Ichigo, the bell for break rang out across the campus of Karakura High. He packed away all of his things and stood up. He walked from the classroom, past all of his friends.
Unusual. What has got you today, Kurosaki? You seem wound up. I wonder why? Ishida briefly wondered about Ichigo's departure. Normally, at break time, Ichigo would follow the group like a lost puppy, not adding much to any conversation, just…well, being present.
Everyone still tried to include him in their conversations and the activities they partook in outside of school. Ichigo always declined politely, never giving a reason. But still, they continued to ask.
Ichigo sensed something was off. Like a change was coming. Or am I hoping for that? Am I imagining things? Something made him decide to go and sit on the roof for break – he needed some time alone, to think more than anything else. Upon his ascent of the stairs leading to the roof, he briefly thought about asking Urahara, or even his Oyaji if there was anything he could do to get his powers back.
It was the first time he'd thought about it in a long while. Certainly, in less than two months after the end of the war and he'd lost the last remnants of his power, he'd considered it. He'd more than considered it; he'd thought about it from all angles. Eventually, he concluded that they could do nothing to help him. If his Oyaji had to wait twenty years for his shinigami powers to return, then clearly there was nothing he could do to speed the process along, otherwise he'd have done it for himself.
On the other hand, he felt he understood Zangetsu so much better now. As ironic as it was, his Zanpakuto knew this was how he'd become once Ichigo lost his powers as a shinigami, whereas Ichigo didn't know how Zangetsu would feel once he lost Ichigo. He missed the old guy. Sometimes, when he felt that he or his nakama were being threatened, he'd instinctively reach for the hilt of his Zanpakuto, only to realise he could no longer wield him. He no longer had Zangetsu to turn to in times of need.
He opened the door to the roof, and was greeted by a gentle breeze, a little colder than the sun in the sky would have allowed Ichigo to believe. He walked over to the fence that had been placed around the roof and looked down on the campus. He saw his group of friends sitting in their usual spot, laughing and smiling. It's no different when I'm not there, he thought almost bitterly. There was a time when he mattered. Who'd have thought he was a hero now? He was no-one's hero any more.
He sighed as he recalled why he wanted to come up here in the first place.
Her. Everything boils down to her.
He sat down, leaning against aforementioned fence. Seeing he was alone on the roof, he allowed his true emotions to overwhelm him.
"Rukia," He spoke aloud, if only to himself, "Why? Every little thing reminds me of you! I have to avoid everything in Karakura, because I can't kick myself in the shins like you can! Where are you?" After growing louder and louder, his voice became a whisper as he continued on. "I need you, midget. No-one brings me back around like you can. I don't need my powers back; I just need my best friend around. I'd give you my closet; I'd buy you Chappy everything; I'd let you kick me in the shins and call me Strawberry. I became a shinigami because of you, I went to Soul Society to save you, and when I had to save the world, you were the one I did it for. You made my life worth something. Thank you. If you ever come back to the Living World, please just come visit me in a gigai. I need to know you're okay, midget."
He realised he was talking to the air, a part of him hoping that Rukia was around in shinigami form, able to hear his innermost wishes. He honestly just hoped to be reunited with the bossy midget he once called his best friend. He missed her more than anything. In all honesty, if he could just have her around, he happily live without shinigami powers.
"Kurosaki, that's not true. You know how it'll be, don't you?" Ichigo's eyes darted around before rested on the Quincy who was now approaching him. The orange haired man gaped at Ishida, having been unaware of his presence.
"You were talking out loud. Inoue-san was concerned for you when you left class, so I told her I'd come check on you. You haven't bolted from class like that in a very long time." The archer sat beside him.
Ichigo looked up to the sky, before looking down at the ground. "Ah."
"You really miss her?" Ishida had not been aware of the depth of the other male's affection for the Kuchiki princess, but now it dawned on him. He had seen the way the two had been together. He may call her his best friend, but Ishida thought it was deeper than that.
Ichigo sighed, before inhaling deeply.
Since the end of the war and losing his strength, he became a man of few words, not that he was overly verbose beforehand.
"You know it'll work one of two ways right?"
Ichigo's amber eyes looked up with interest for the first time in more months than the Quincy cared to recall. Ishida continued.
"You'll get your wish, and she'll come back to you, and you'll fight tooth and nail until you get your powers back to what they were, to protect her, or you'll get your powers back, and you'll fight tooth and nail until you can be reunited with Kuchiki-san."
A weak smile spread across Ichigo's face. "I guess."
Ishida grinned at his nakama. The Kurosaki from the war was still in there, but it seemed only Kuchiki-san would coerce that Ichigo back into active existence. He smiled to himself. Kurosaki's rant to himself was the most he'd heard the man speak in a long, long time. He had begun to wonder if the man even knew how to speak anymore, he did it so rarely.