Author's Note: I would like to note that this is my first-ever Bleach fanfiction. I would also like to note that my dear friend, LodieandDib4ever, was kind enough to beta this for me despite never having seen or read Bleach. She did a great job!

Also, I do not, nor will I ever write these two as a pairing. That's just all kinds of sick and wrong.

"Ouch."

Ryuken lifts his eyes from the thin, flyspeck type stamped on the page in front of him. It's the tone (curiously calm) more than anything else that's captured his attention; that, and a dull, reflexive sense of responsibility. These are all that drag him out of his study and down the short hallway towards his son's bedroom.

"Ouch."

The door is closed, but not locked. Ryuken pushes it open about two inches, leaning against the frame. His brown eyes remaincool and distant, observing the scene with practiced, habitual disdain.

Uryuu sits cross-legged on his bed, an odd and contradicting image that speaks of both determination and uncertainty. The back of his left hand rests lightly on one knee. His other hand holds a pair of sewing scissors, the blades gleaming dully in the light that filters through the drawn curtains. As Ryuken watches, one of those blades touches, presses, punctures the pale skin that's stretched far too tight over his son's knuckles.

"Ouch."

This is the tone that lured Ryuken to the door in the first place; flat, full of a vague numbness. It's not a voice of surprise, or of pain. It's not a voice that expects to be heard.

Ryuken watches his son's hands, watches as that slim, shining piece of metal is withdrawn and reinserted at the juncture between Uryuu's palm and thumb.

It takes three more minutes, staring at those trembling hands, before Ryuken realizes that his son is doing this intentionally.

He is not shocked; surprised, perhaps, but not horrified. In fact, Ryuken thinks, he's more disgusted than he is anything else.

Fool.

It's not the first time Ryuken has referred to Uryuu as such, and it will not be the last. These displays of incompetence will continue to trigger this reaction for years to come. To carelessly leave the door unlocked…and then, even with Ryuken standing just outside the door, he's either too unawares or too talentless to pick up on his reiatsu. Such a simple thing; it should be automatic, even for one so young.

Ryuken supposes that many parents would be frantic with concern at seeing their children engaging in this sort of behavior. He feels nothing of the sort; the phenomenon of self-harm is nothing new to him. Facts and statistics tick meaninglessly through his brain, mixing with the few uncomfortable thoughts that stretch beyond a textbook page.

Many adolescents experiment with…

Eleven.

These behaviors may include cutting, burning, hair pulling…

Isn't that a bit young?

Self-harm is often used as a coping mechanism…

Why would he feel the need to resort to this?

express emotions such as anger, despair, etc…

I can't understand.

to relieve numbness…

Dear God, don't let him be so foolish as to hit anything major.

to feel alive…

It's nothing, it's nothing. Nothing serious. Just experimental. None of those cuts look deep; they're barely bleeding.

as many as 50% of people who engage in self-harming behaviors commit suicide.

For a moment, Ryuken considers stepping into that room, saying something (anything). He considers grabbing his son's hand and stopping him.

He doesn't.

Instead, Ryuken quietly closes the door, closes his mouth, closes his mind. He climbs into his car, allowing his thoughts to be drowned out by the dry, coughing whine of the engine, and spends hours driving to nowhere. Not speaking. Not thinking.

It's dark when he arrives home. Uryuu is asleep. His door is closed, but still unlocked. Ryuken leaves it that way. He doesn't want to look at him.

He leans on the kitchen table, listening to the silence and refusing to admit that he is still too arrogant, weak, afraid to break it.

Author's Note: Yes, there are two author's notes. Get over it. Anyhow, I feel like this requires some level of explanation. First of all, I'd like to remind everyone to keep in mind that this is Uryuu at eleven years old. I personally can't really see Uryuu as we see him in the actual Bleach series (at 16) engaging in self-harm or cutting. However, I'd say it's plausible that he might have experimented with it at a younger age. I mean, c'mon: his life sucks! He watched his grandfather (the person he was closest to) get ripped to pieces, Ryuken's not much of a father, and so far as I know we've never seen his mother. He's also living with the pressure of being (to his knowledge) the last of a race that was deliberately exterminated. That's pretty sucky.

Another thing: while Ryuken may not be a great father, I don't really think of him as the villain, either. I do think that he cares about Uryuu. I also think that he's got absolutely no idea what he's supposed to do as a parent, and that he tends to take out a lot of his crap on his son. He might be a jerk, but no doubt he's a jerk with an angsty backstory that probably involves whatever happened to Uryuu's mom.

I also don't understand why there's not more writing on the relationship between Uryuu and Ryuuken. In the world of animated angsty father-son relationships, theirs is definitely one of the unhappiest.

Anyhow…hope that you guys enjoyed. Reviews feed my soul like steak with A-1 sauce. Flamers are appreciated; they allow me to barbecue the steak. So please, feel free.