Characters: Ichigo, Ishida. (But no pairing)
Spoilers : Right up to 423
Summary: Post 423. Ishida tries to make Ichigo feel better. He fails.
Authors Note: I'm pretty much brand new to this fandom. I haven't even read all the manga, but my bad habit of skipping to the end meant I saw the latest happenings and this idea just wouldn't leave me alone. I didn't intend to write fic until I knew the whole story to date and had a better handle on the characters, but hopefully I did okay. Reviews and con-crit very welcome.
It was the end of the day, his first day without his powers. Ichigo sat on the gently sloping grass in the park not too far from his home, one leg stretched out in front of him, the other bent inwards with his hand resting on the knee. He watched as the sun sank slowly into the horizon. It was strange. In some ways the loss of his power was a relief, the lifting of the enormous responsibility that had been placed on his shoulders, but in other ways...
Ichigo glanced up to see Ishida's silhouette against the bright glare of the sun. He squinted up at him and placed a hand over his eyes.
Ishida stood motionless for a few seconds regarding him silently.
Ichigo scowled, “What?”
“Nothing.” The Quincy dropped onto the grass next to him and joined him as he watched the light begin to fade, then as the sun dropped half way behind the opposite hills, Ishida turned to face him, “Are you okay?”
The former substitute Shinigami shrugged and twisted his lips into a close approximation of a smile. “Of course. I mean, it's not the best possible ending, but it could have been a lot worse, right?”
Ishida sat motionless, maintaining eye contact for long enough to make him begin to feel uncomfortable.
“It's fine, Ishida. I'm fine. Never better, actually. So the last thing I need is pity.”
“I have no intention of offering it. But I just wanted to remind you that I understand,” Ishida pushed his glasses a little further up his nose using one finger, they reflected the light of the setting sun for a moment, blocking Ichigo's view of his eyes. When they came back into focus, they were looking downwards, towards his knees. “I lost my powers once. I know what it's like.”
Ichigo continued to watch the sunset as felt his jaw tighten against his will and took a deep, silent breath through his nose. “I'm fine,” he repeated.
“You're infuriating,” Ishida told him. Being Ishida, Ichigo was amused to notice, he didn't sound at all infuriated.
Ichigo smiled, a genuine smile this time. “Good,” he said. “At least I still have the ability to piss you off.”
The Quincy allowed himself one of those rare smiles that occasionally managed to slip through. He quickly smoothed it into a frown. “It felt like I'd lost a part of myself. As though I'd lost one of my senses, or one of my limbs,” his right hand moved across and rested for a moment on top of his left, as though reassuring himself that it was still there. “I'd reach for it, and...” he pushed his glasses up again as he paused, searching for the right words. “I felt helpless,” he admitted. “I could still see the Hollows, but I couldn't do anything to stop them.”
Ichigo sighed. The conversation had regained some semblance of normality for a moment, until the Quincy had dragged the mood back down. “I suppose it's a good thing that I can't see them any more, then,” he said, meaning it sarcastically but realizing at the last moment that perhaps he was right. If he couldn't fight them, wasn't it better not to know they were there? Or would the ability to perceive them have acted as some small consolation. He just didn't know.
He was going to miss Rukia, though, so much. And in a way, he would also miss the spirits that had been a part of his life for as long as he could remember. Without them, and without the ability to sense spirit energy the world suddenly seemed like a very empty place.
“You have almost no spirit energy any more,” Ishida told him suddenly, unexpectedly.
“I know that,” Ichigo snapped. “Isn't that what this whole conversation is about?”
Ishida nodded. “What I mean is that most of the kids in our class have more of a presence than you now. So if a Hollow does happen to attack, you'll be the last one it goes after. Sado, Inoue and I will be able to take care of it before you even realize what's happening.”
Ichigo folded his arms and glared at his friend. “You're really not helping,” he said. “Are you even trying to help, or rub salt in the wound? You're failing at both.”
“I'm trying to be supportive. I'm opening up, sharing. But if you're just going to throw it back in my face, then forget it.” Ishida turned away and glowered across the park in the opposite direction. He turned back slowly in curiosity when he heard a slight change in Ichigo's breathing. His eyes widened in disbelief when he found him laughing.
“You're terrible at this, Uryuu.”
Ishida shrugged, he could hardly deny that. Not given the evidence. “I know. To be honest, I'm only here because Inoue-san told me to. I knew it was a bad idea, but she can be surprisingly convincing,” he frowned and got to his feet. “You probably want to be alone. I'll see you at school when you're fully recovered?”
Ichigo nodded wordlessly and watched as the sun dropped into the ground. He had missed a lot of lessons, it was almost a good thing that he would be able to devote some time to catching up without constantly having to run after Hollows.
Ishida turned and began to walk away, after a few steps, he paused and looked back. “Kurosaki?”
“It's not over,” he said. “Somehow, you're going to get your powers back. I know it.”
Ichigo looked at him for a long moment without comment, then turned away and continued to watch the sky as the bright colors left behind by the setting sun faded to blue, and finally to black.