Summary: Two repressed teenagers with too much whoop ass powers might be good for each other after all.
Rating: PG-13 for swearing and implied sex
Original Story: Seven by shayheyred
Author's Note: Thanks to jaina for reading this over for coherency!
Another day, another shift of killing Hollows.
Ichigo thinks he's going to get a kink in his shoulder from swinging that sword around, and wouldn't that be fun to explain away; Yuzu would probably fret, and the old man would take this as another chance to give his beloved son a thorough examination and revel in his manliness -
That's usually about the part when Ichigo elbows him in the face.
But it's a good sort of ache, the type of ache Ichigo associates with doing things like helping Chad move into his new apartment, or carting medical supplies to the clinic. So Ichigo sucks up the pain and settles for looking forward to a really hot bath later, if Keigo and Mizuiro don't try to drag him out again. Not that Rukia would be very happy about it, but as far as Ichigo's concerned the world fucking owes him after duping him into being at the beck and call at a tiny girl.
Rukia's staring at her phone and Ichigo really hopes that doesn't mean that there's another Hollow coming. So it's with relief that he notes that she puts away the phone, and the hot bath becomes a really tangible opportunity.
"There are no more Hollows," she declares, and Ichigo nearly sags in relief.
"Finally!" he says, and shoulders his heavy ass sword. There are times when Ichigo finds its weight reassuring, like a baseball bat, but right now he's fucking tired and wants to go home. Even the feel-good rush he gets from helping others has worn off by now. "Where'd you hide my body this time?"
Rukia takes so long to answer that Ichigo starts to wonder if she's lost it (oh hell no). Instead she says, "You did a good job saving those people today."
Ichigo scuffs his foot on the sidewalk. "I guess," he says, and that should cue in that warm feeling of doing something good, because doesn't he want to save a mountainload of people?
The warm feeling doesn't come. Ichigo refuses to admit that what he really wants to save is just one person, but fuck if he knows who.
Ishida likes to plan. There's a comforting reassurance in drawing up the possibilities and eliminating them one by one, like target practice with his bow and arrows. Which is exactly what he's doing now. He's been shooting spiritual pressure into trees, always careful to keep his reiatsu just below the normal reiatsu level of a spiritually dense place like Karakura. Soon he will move on to live Hollows. His fingers are already twitching in anticipation, remembering the feel of the ring and the reiatsu-made string, the strum of energy as he lets fly the arrow towards the eye, just as Sensei taught him.
He's got it all planned out for his challenge against the shinigami. He knows that the shinigami won't miss one Hollow here or there. Sometimes Hollows disappear back to Hueco Mundo, and the shinigami too easily dismiss the occurence, stating it beyond their control. Ishida doesn't need a phone or a hot-tempered shinigami to tell him where the Hollows will appear. He can feel it, like rain before a storm.
It's his advantage that he will exploit to the maximum. Using his superior Quincy abilities, he will intercept the Hollows before the shinigami does. Once, twice, three times... at first he would brush it off as a stray alarm, but as the days go by, he will get more and more frustrated, and more likely to do something rash. No, Ishida knows that he will do something rash.
After all, Ishida's opponent is Kurosaki Ichigo.
Kurosaki Ichigo is the embodiment of rashness. Kurosaki Ichigo has a miserable disposition, ridiculous hair, a cavalier attitude about promptness and a tendency to get into pointless fights on a regular basis. He has two irritating little sisters and an embarrassment of a father who should probably be locked up for child abuse. Kurosaki Ichigo can't remember names or faces and displays the attention span of a gnat. But Ishida is sure, very sure that he will remember this.
He will remember the Quincy who humilated him by doing his job far better than what he could ever aspire to. He would remember Ishida Uryuu.
And that is the point, Ishida thinks, as he aims his arrow. Nothing would please him more.
But no, he cannot just stop there. Kurosaki is the king of denial. He would bury his humilation in the company of his many friends, who flock around him like flies to honey. Ishida refuses to see what they see in Kurosaki, for it is only a distraction. What is far more important is defeating Kurosaki so utterly and totally that even Kurosaki's thick skull is able to process it.
This is why when Kurosaki is at the very brink of humilation, Ishida will give that generous tip to the delicate balance, that impetus - by challenging him. He's seen Kurosaki in his fights, a beautiful blend of instinct and action that doesn't hold back. He's set up a list of reasons that would spur Kurosaki to fight. And he will give Kurosaki reasons to fight him, toss them at his feet until he has no choice but to give. And once Kurosaki starts a fight, he hates to lose.
Ishida can appreciate that; he hates to lose too.
And Ishida will not lose. It is an undeniable fact, like the thickening of reiatsu that surrounds Ishida at this very moment, the slow roil that preceeds the opening of a gateway between worlds. His eyes strain to see the beginning ripples, but there is no need to because his other senses tell him that he is irrevokably right and if he just waits, waits, waits ...
The Hollow makes its appearance, and before it can drag its vile self fully into the human world Ishida lets fly his arrow, like a lightning bolt straight and true through the eye, just as he'd been taught. Then comes the thunder, the death wail of the Hollow as it disintegrates into nothingness.
So too Kurosaki Ichigo will fall. And Ishida will be waiting for that moment.
Ishida's down. Ichigo has defeated him, hasn't he? Made he see how stupid this whole challenge thing was, made him see how many people could get hurt, chased back that stupid oversized Hollow...
Whatever Ichigo wants to say is swallowed back by the look on Ishida's face as he falls to his knees.
"How can I beat him when he's looking like this?" he grumbles to himself. For all that the geek has fixated on defeating him, but it seems like what he's done is save him instead. The feeling that he's going to fly apart at a touch is gone, and though Ishida thinks him an idiot Ichigo has a pretty good idea that it has to do with those shiny arrows Ishida shot into the sky. The freaky geek saved him.
And that means Ichigo can't beat him up for putting everyone in danger. This is one of the times that Ichigo wants to take his own moral code and shove it, but there's a part of him that's impressed by Ishida's bravery.
... he didn't just think that.
Whatever. It doesn't change that fact that Ishida saved him, and now that Ishida's over there looking like a kicked dog Ichigo's stupid moral code compels him to drag himself over and snap him out of it.
"Oi," he says. Ishida doesn't react, still lost in his own thoughts. Ichigo gives in to an impulse he never knew he had, and reaches out to touch Ishida. His cheek is smooth, so unlike Ichigo's sword-roughed hands. This moment will set off a flurry of thoughts Ichigo really doesn't want to think about, especially late at night, but Ichigo doesn't know it yet.
Ishida, however, jerks away and out of his own thoughts. "What - "
"You gonna stare all day?" Ichigo demands. At that, Ishida's dazed look sharpens to something more like his expression when he was shooting down Hollows. It's a good expression, Ichigo idly notes.
"I was going to get up, unlike you Kurosaki," he replies stiffly, and gets up in the same manner. Ichigo's tempted to pummel him again, but his stupid moral code stops him just short. He swallows the insult and does the unthinkable.
"Could use the help," he says as casually as possible, and sticks out his hand. As he does so he knows that by admitting he needs help he's just opened himself to all possible insults, which should be coming just about now -
Ishida reaches out and gives him a hand up. Ichigo can't help grinning, and he practically slaps his hand into Ishida's palm. Ishida winces a little as Ichigo squeezes down on his wounds, but doesn't say anything.
"Guess I have to thank you for that too," says Ichigo, figuring that if he's doing this humbling thing he might as well go the whole way.
Ishida pushes at his glasses. "I make it a habit to help pathetic people," he says, lets go and walks off.
... Ishida really deserves a punch to his geeky face, but hell if Ichigo can be bothered to right now.
Kurosaki has the remarkable ability to look pathetic.
That's what Ishida keeps telling himself as he takes Kurosaki down a familiar street. Kurosaki seems intent to prove that his head is stronger than anything a Hollow can throw at him, because he's bleeding from a head wound again.
"That was my Hollow," Ishida says, looking for anything to distract himself from the fact that he's leading Ichigo down his street, to his place.
"Che. Like you were doing such a good job at it."
"I was doing very well until you messed it up!"
Kurosaki looks pointedly at gash on Ishida's shoulder and Ishida fights the irrational urge to cover it up. "That was an accident!"
"Guess that's common for you." is Kurosaki's snappy retort
Kurosaki has the grace of a lout, but they're at Ishida's apartment and now Ishida can't distract himself anymore. He's going to invite him in, and that prospect both terrifies and excites him. He turns to look at Kurosaki, and is struck by the similarities between this time and that challenge they had that ended with them fighting back to back. Kurosaki had looked at him then with that cocky, too determined look, unwavering despite the blood getting in his eye.
And Ishida knows he will concede again, will be weak again, just like that time.
"My house is up here," he says, and though he does not extend his hand it's all the same anyway. "Let's patch you up."
White is for purity, Ichigo thinks, and Ishida seems determined to encase himself in it. The white of Ishida's bandages match the white clothes, white couch, white walls, white rice-paper window screens. There's no color in the apartment except Ichigo himself and the blue of Ishida's eyes, and they are lowered at the moment.
Ichigo thinks Ishida does this on purpose. Shuts himself away so that no one can touch him, so that no one dares to touch him. Ishida might just be right if it wasn't for the fact that Ichigo wants that white against him, wants to feel that pulse of quick desire under the disguise.
Ishida can keep his white. Ichigo wants what's underneath for himself, and himself alone.
Two pairs of hands, two pairs of lips.
Give and take. Give and take. Give and take.
They don't always meet and they don't always share a bed, but when they do they both think this is more than enough. This is more than enough.
And they're satisfied with it.
Ishida wakes and knows that Ichigo has gone, merely from the fact that there's a lack of shoving limbs. Ichigo never really learnt to keep to his side of the bed. He also knows that Ichigo's gone to train with Urahara. Ichigo's reiatsu trail, though diminished, clearly ends somewhere in that odd shop, and Ishida knows Ichigo too well to not know that Ichigo wouldn't come out until he's ground that shopkeeper's face into the dust.
They're going to save Rukia. Ichigo's far too stubborn to let someone he considers a friend to be taken away and punished for a crime that Ichigo doesn't see as hers. Ishida witnessed it firsthand despite being face down in his own blood on the pavement, and if anything it just increased his dislike of shinigami. Afterwards, Ichigo hadn't talked much, had only held Ishida close despite his protests. He had wanted to shove him off, but Ichigo's injuries and the change in his reiatsu had stopped him. For once, Ichigo had been quiet, and Ishida hadn't liked it.
Then Ichigo got it into his head to save Rukia, and Ishida's not complaining because it brought back the Ichigo he knew, the Ichigo who looks at him with fierce eyes and fights for dominance in bed. Ishida's working towards the same goal, in his own way.
Ishida gets out of bed. It's time to train, and Ishida knows of just the right weapon for this expedition to Soul Society.