He is there, bleeding and dying. I am here, not knowing even who I am. [Memories for Angst_Bingo] Spoilers for the Fullbring Arc.
458. Read it, or you won't understand one bit.
I stared at the blade Tsukishima had just stuck into my shoulder. It didn't hurt, and it did not seem to cause a wound.
"Book of the End?" I murmured, hardly realising I was talking. Tsukishima nodded. He withdrew his sword, and my hands shook uncontrollably as I tried to keep a grip on Ichigo's body in such a way that he wouldn't die.
Then I realised.
I could still remember. Everything I'd been thinking up until Tsukishima stabbing me. That shouldn't happen. Book of the End was supposed to completely rewrite my memory, wasn't it?
There was no time for philosophy and trying to understand why- or if- my memory hadn't changed. I quickly strengthened my grip on Ichigo's limp body, trying not to dislodge the sword. That was supposed to plug the bleeding, right? I looked at Tsukishima, my brain working overtime.
We'd never worked together. That was merely his Book of the End ability.
"You didn't!" I gasped. "You-"
"Did." Tsukishima cocked his head to one side, gently, never dropping his smile. "We were never partners-in-crime... or were we?"
The smile turned wicked, and he walked away. I didn't follow- if I did, both Ichigo and his friend would die.
"Orihime!" I shouted, loud as I could. "Orihime! Please help me!"
I glanced at where Tsukishima had been, fearfully. He was already gone. I tried to remember Ichigo's friend's name- I was sure Ichigo or Chad had mentioned it in passing.
"It's Ichigo!" I tried again. "Please, help me! He's going to die! So will Ishida! Orihime!"
Seconds later, I heard footsteps behind me. I felt hot blood run through my fingers. My hands were shaking too much to stem the steady flow, and I didn't know enough first aid to help.
I turned my head. Ichigo's dad, and a man with a hat- who I vaguely recognised- were there. Orihime and Chad were behind them. Orihime saw the state of Ichigo, still impaled, and ran right over. I let her and Chad take Ichigo's body. I stood on wobbly legs and faced Isshin and Hat-man.
"What happened?" Isshin asked, eyes narrowing.
"Tsukishima." I replied. Then I realised that Isshin probably hadn't heard of him. "He was the leader of the Fullbringers. He's got this ability, it changes your past, and-"
Isshin cut me off by holding up a finger. I could hear Orihime's instructions to Chad.
"Hold the sword steady. When I activate the Shun-Shun Rikka, pull it out, okay?"
"We know who he is," Hat-man said. "Did he use his abilities on you?"
"I, uh, I don't actually know." I said. "Just five minutes ago, Tsukishima cut me and I believed one-hundred-percent that I was Ichigo's enemy and always had been. And then he cut me again, and..." I shugged. "I just don't know."
Hat unsheathed his sword and pointed it at me. Hey, a sword in a cane. If the situation weren't so dire, I'd have smiled.
"Do you consider yourself Ichigo's enemy now?" Hat asked, dangerously.
"No," I said, without hestitation. It was true.
"That's good enough for now." Hat put his sword back into his cane. "Isshin, we need to get Ishida back to the hospital. He's not teribly injured, but coupled with his earlier injuries, it's pretty serious."
"Can't you get ahold of Ryuuken?" Isshin asked.
Ah, Urahara. From what I could recall, he was once a captain in the Soul Society's Twelfth Court Guard Squad. Possibly also the head of the Research Department.
"Afraid not." Urahara turned to me. "Do you have a cell phone?"
"Do you know the number of the Karakura general hospital?"
"Ah. Isshin, your clinic is close enough. We'll just have to get Ryuuken to pick Uryuu up later. He isn't going to die just yet."
With that, it was decided. Orihime would finish healing Ichigo, and we all would go to the Kurosaki clinic to... well, to figure out what to do next.
"Would you like some tea?" One of Ichigo's sisters offered me a mug. I think she had introduced herself as Yuzu.
"Thanks," I said, and took it. She went back to the kitchen area. Orihime, Chad and I were sitting in the living room in awkward silence.
"So, regarding Tsukishima..." Orihime began, haltingly. "I, um, was stabbed. A second time, that is."
"Me too," Chad nodded.
"Yes," I said. "And then you remembered that Tsukishima was your enemy, right?"
Orihime nodded. Chad grunted in agreement.
"I see," Urahara spoke from the doorway, scaring all three of us shitless. "Kugo, when you stabbed Ichigo, was that your real self?"
How could I possibly answer that?
"I don't know," I said eventually. "I know I've been stabbed at least once before by Tsukishima. Probably more, actually. Whether this is the real me or not, Tsukishima has definately planned for this turn of events."
"Okay, then. I think Ichigo is going to be asleep for a while longer, but I think you could probably talk to Ishida." Urahara hesitated for a moment. "Of course, that's assuming he wants to talk to you."
"You guys go first," I told Orihime and Chad. They did.
"Urahara told me about Tsukishima's ability." Ishida said. He was sitting in bed, looking pointedly out of the window. Ichigo was in the bed on the opposite side of the room, unconscious. Isshin was sitting beside him. "It may not have been you who attacked me."
"I remember doing it," I began. Ishida turned to look at me so fast he actually blurred. He began to create a bow, so I quickly finished my sentence. "But I also remember not doing it."
Ishida looked confused. Isshin stayed the same, a serious pokerface plastered over his features.
"What? How is that possible?"
"Dunno. Must be something to do with Tsukishima's ability. I don't know which set of memories is false, or if both are. I don't even know if this is my real personality."
"That's... rough." I got the feeling Ishida was trying to sympathise with me. He wasn't very good at showing sympathy.
"At the moment I feel that you and Ichigo are my comrades- or at least that your enemy is my enemy. I'll fight with you any way I can."
"Are you lying?" Ichigo croaked. I nearly jumped out of my skin- Ishida was as startled as I was.
"Ichigo? You're all right?" Ishida started.
"I'm so, so sorry, Ichigo." I said.
"That wasn't what I asked." Ichigo pushed himslef into a sitting position. His dad was still sitting with a vaguely disinterested look on his face. "I asked if you were lying."
"If I were lying, I wouldn't tell you that, would I?" I rolled my eyes. "Look, I can't prove I'm telling the truth. I don't even know if most of what I'm saying is true or not. But right now, I believe I am on your side."
"I can't trust you." Ichigo said, glaring at me.
"You also can't trust Orihime, Chad, Ishida, the other Fullbringers, your sisters, your schoolfriends... well, you can't trust anybody until Tsukishima is dead and gone. Maybe not even then. It's us or nothing," I reminded him sharply. "Can you even trust yourself?"
He got the point and stayed silent.
"Look," I started trying to soothe him. "We'll do all we can to avoid being stabbed by Tsukishima. We'll do all we can to kill him. We'll do our best to gain reliable information about his strengths and weaknesses. We'll get him."
"You don't know that," Ichigo clenched his fists. "We could all be playing into his hands again!"
"You couldn't know for sure that you hadn't seen Kyouka Suigetsu. You couldn't trust any other shinigami not to attack you, or to help you. You still managed to defeat Aizen." This time, the speaker was Isshin. He put a hand on Ichigo's shoulder. "I trust you. Relax a little. We can defeat Tsukishima."
Ichigo didn't look convinced, but at least he didn't look as though he was going to burst into tears any time soon.
"Your sisters probably want to see you," I said, trying to diffuse the awkward silence. "I'll just go and tell them you're awake. Don't let them see you so sad, okay?"
I left quickly. Karin and Yuzu weren't in their room, so I headed downstairs.
"Karin? Yuzu? Your brother's awake!" I called, just turning into the lounge.
"Really? That's wonderful," somebody said. That silky-smooth voice made my stomach drop. I turned to the dining area to see Karin and Yuzu with Tsukishima, all seated at the table. Orihime was making tea, and Chad was carrying a large pot to the table. Urahara, I was even more dismayed to see, was quite happily taking a seat.
I sprinted back towards the stairs.
"Ichigo, he's here! You guys have to run!" I yelled. I activated my Sword of Scaffold, and sprinted upstairs. "Get out of here! Tsukishima's-"
I spun and barely blocked Tsukishima's blow. How'd he move so fast? I probably knew, and he'd probably blocked the memory so I'd be a crappy opponent. Book of the End was cheating!
"-here!" Tsukishima finished my sentence. "I'm sure your mother taught you to finish your sentences, didn't she?"
He finished the fight, too. I looked down, for the second or third time that day, at the sword sticking bloodlessly through my shirt.