A/N: Hello, everybody! Right now I am a little unsure of the direction I want 'Healing' to take, although I do fully intend on continuing and finishing it, but until I have a clearer picture of where it's going, I'm going to keep posting other things. This is just a random idea I had one night that I started writing, I love the Kisuke/Ichigo pairing and I wanted to explore it a bit. This story will be more about the relationship between them, however I will most definitely go into why Ichigo lost his powers, though it might be slightly less than canon because I don't very closely follow what's happening in the manga. Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy!
Credit goes to Whitney Houston for her song "I Run To You". I changed part of the lyric to make it make more sense for Ichigo, but the song and rights belong to her.
I know that when you look at me
There's so much that you just don't see
But if you would only take the time
I know in my heart you'd find
[Someone] who's scared sometimes
Who isn't always strong
Ichigo adjusted the strap of his backpack over his shoulder, then stuffed his hands in his pockets as he made his way out of the schoolyard and onto the sidewalk. Fallen cranberry and gold-colored autumn leaves crunched beneath his tennis shoe clad feet and he tucked his nose into the blue and white scarf wound around his neck to ward off the chill of the wind on his face, although the late October sun was still considerably warm on his back. It was like the weather couldn't decide if it was ready to make the transition into fall or not, but it was coming anyway, forcing its way in like a horde of Hollows forcing their way into the world by ripping a hole in the sky.
He sighed quietly to himself, seeing Orihime, Chad and Uryu already standing outside the school in a cluster, watching him approach. No matter where he went, everything reminded him of his time as a substitute shinigami. Everywhere he looked were reminders of Soul Society, Rukia, Byakuya, Renji and all the others. The memories clung in his mind like cobwebs that refused to be swept away no matter how many times you try to sweep them down. And boy, did he try, every single minute of the day.
"Oi, Ichigo, all of us are going down to the noodle shop with Tatsuki and Keigo, want to join us?" Uryuu asked, stepping into the ginger-haired teen's path, the sunlight creating a hard glare on his thin-rimmed glasses that he had to push back up onto the bridge of his nose.
"No, thanks, gotta go home," Ichigo mumbled, not meeting any of their eyes as he passed by, instead staring down at the leaf littered sidewalk. He didn't want to be rude, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to be around his friends as they had all started the journey that would ultimately lead them into the war of the three worlds, fighting side by side to save their friends with whom they no longer had any contact, preserving a city in a dimension they could no longer reach. No, he couldn't be with them now, especially not Uryuu, not when the memory of impaling his friend with Zangetsu was still so strong. The biggest, most stubborn cobweb of them all. He just wanted to be left alone.
"Kurosaki-kun!" Orihime called after him in her concerned feminine voice, no doubt watching him retreat with those wide, tear-filled coffee eyes.
Ichigo clenched his jaw, closing his spiced-chocolate eyes as he willed himself not to turn around and scream at her to just shut up, one more 'Kurosaki-kun' from you and my head is going to explode, then immediately hated himself for thinking such things. The burnt sierra haired girl was a good, loyal friend, a kind and loving spirit, and further more she was head over heels in love with him. She would undoubtedly do just about anything for him, and here he was mentally ripping her to shreds over it. His shoulders slumped even more. You're a real piece of work, Ichigo, he silently berated himself, though he couldn't make himself turn around to apologize to her, either. Instead he picked up his pace to just short of a jog, his breath billowing out in front of him in white puffs and his heart pounding in his ears. Vaguely he became aware that he was going in the opposite direction of his house, but he also was unable to make himself turn around. It was suddenly as if he had no control over his mind or body, his feet moving of their own accord, the light wind seeming to push him along like some large, invisible hand.
He was almost sure he was having another panic attack; they'd been happening more and more frequently lately, so he felt pretty confident in being able to recognize the signs of one coming on. They happened mostly at night after the horrible nightmares that woke him from his sleep, but sometimes they came randomly during the day. All of a sudden a memory would hit him or something would set him off and all at once he couldn't seem to make his lungs drag in air, his skin would break into a cold sweat and he'd start shaking uncontrollably. He didn't even realize that he'd broken into a run, his legs pumping eagerly to carry him away from the others, his breath billowing out from his mouth in gusts of glimmering white in the cold air, his heart pounding loudly in his ears. Where was he going? He didn't know and frankly, didn't really give a shit right now. As long as it was somewhere far, far away.
It didn't occur to him that he was heading in the opposite direction from his house until he finally slowed to a brisk walk, panting and still trembling though a bit more calm now. He glanced around to get his bearings on where exactly he was when his eyes fell on a familiar building just a few feet up ahead on his left.
Ichigo hesitated, glancing behind his shoulder in the direction that would take him back home and considered turning around. He hadn't been in the shoten since before the Winter War, avoided it like the plague, actually, and had no contact at all with Urahara, Tessai or Yorouichi in almost six months. It would be rude just to storm in there uninvited, wouldn't it? Or maybe, would they be happy to see me? I have missed them... But still, I spent so much time there with Rukia, Renji and the others... The memories might be... too much for me right now. No, I should turn around and go home now, Yuzu probably already has dinner cooking and dad will get worried if I don't come home.
But even as he resolved in his mind to go back, his feet seemed to pay him no mind and carried him further down the road, up the pathway and onto the wrap-around porch of the shoten. Ichigo bit into his lip, his muscles feeling like jelly as he contemplated the front shoji, then slowly pushed it open and stepped into the entryway. Suddenly, it all made sense why he'd come here. There was only one person who could help him figure things out now.
He needed to talk to Kisuke Urahara.
Well, there is the introduction. I know it's a bit shorter than my first chapters on the other fics, but the subsequent chapters will be longer. Please leave a review to tell me what you think!