Ironically, I was first listening to SUPER LOVER when I wrote this. Then it was Burimyu stuff for the most part because Gomoto and Kitamura have such nice voices, so it was inspiring. I fell asleep twice while writing this. |D
Ahem, apologies for rambling. I tend to do that when I'm nervous.
Title: Half a Dozen
Genre: General (begins light heartedly, gets dark over time, then ends pretty... lightly)
Rating: G, for the most part.
Summary: Shuuhei has witnessed half a dozen of Izuru's faces, of which they contradicted one another.
Warning: Blatant spoilers for the Soul Society arc.
Word count: 2952, including notes.
'Since my grades got me in, perhaps I'm more talented.'
Shuuhei had known from the start that Izuru was a confident boy. But that was what he was; a child. As gifted the student was with many academic subjects and field training, the blond carried a childish air, a sign of innocence. He was a genuine person, sincerely wanting to achieve the top scores and results for recognition, unlike the many that chose this path to gain a bigger ego. No, Izuru's goal was simple.
On the other hand, Shuuhei's choice to serve the Gotei 13 had been impulsive. He had worked hard not for glory, but from admiration. That man that had saved him all those years ago when he had been nothing but a frightened pup; Kensei. The reason that he got himself a tattoo and his purpose. He would be like his savior and rescue those in need. As long as he was around, Shuuhei was not about to allow anyone to be victimized.
Yet either were so similar in their own ways. They both posessed much pride and potential. But while Shuuhei took on a more forward approach, Izuru would shy away or start perspiring from anxiety. Never the less, it was evident that the latter was just as determined as the former when it came to their purposes. They were taking a stand for what they believed and had faith in.
So he watched the blond during the courses of his last year as a student, occasionally following the first year from the corner of his eyes as he passed by. Shuuhei silently rooted for Izuru whenever an exam or particularly difficult field training came up, more so than he did with Renji or Momo. Those two were good friends, but the blond was a different case all together. He was a successor, achiever, and a good friend.
Izuru's confidence was strong, but frail when it came to endurance. Shuuhei would be the one to cherish and care for that thin wall of ice.
A budding flower buried in rich soil.
"Ichimaru-fukutaichou visited the academy again."
The silver-haired man had made it a habit to come visiting the school more often ever since the incident concerning huge hollows. It was as if he had had nothing to do back at the 5th Division, such as assisting Aizen as his adjutant.
"Did he? Which class did he drop by this time?"
"He always comes to ours."
It was suspicious. Ichimaru's tendency to constantly wander implied that he was never one to stay attached to one thing or person for a long time. The fact that he constantly came by the same class meant there was something brewing.
"Oh. What does he do there?"
"Nothing. He just stands out and watches us."
All the more disturbing.
"I spoke to him once."
"... About what?"
"Well, it wasn't really a conversation. I greeted him and his smile grew wider."
He wasn't liking where this discussion was going. The tone in Izuru's voice made him nervous and uneasy. Perhaps Ichimaru had done or actually said something, and the blond was hiding it. But he was not one to lie or deceive his elders or superiors, so that was out of the question.
"Ichimaru-fukutaichou tends to ignore everyone."
It was a hopeful pitch.
"Maybe I should go talk to him again next time."
Izuru was feeling smug, no doubt, to be the only one Ichimaru paid attention when he visited. Still, Shuuhei couldn't shake off the suspicious feeling he was slowly nurturing from hearing what the lieutenant had been doing.
Smile some more.
"Hey, Kira. Shouldn't you be studying for the upcoming exam? Abarai was talking about it."
"Ah, I reviewed most of the lessons yesterday. The rest can be done later. Putting that aside, you're graduating soon, am I right? You're a sixth rounder."
"Yeah. I'll be a shinigami once I graduate in a few days."
"Have you been told which division you would be in? Certainly you were given an officer's seat."
"The 9th. I'll be a seated officer, but they haven't told me what rank."
"You're going to be a shinigami in five more years, you know."
"... But what if I fail?"
"Kira. You were the top student of your class the whole year. And you work ernestly to keep it that way. If anything, you're guaranteed a graduation."
"I-if you say so. Thank you very much, Hisagi-senpai. Your words are encouraging."
"Keep it up. Don't stress yourself out, most of us stop being optimistic after a couple years."
'Take it easy and keep smiling. You, Abarai, and Hinamori.'
- - - - - - - - - -
'He said he wouldn't hurt Hinamori-kun.'
The wall was partially cracked and so was the person leaning against it. Shuuhei witnessed the blond in a fetal position, his legs tucked in against his chest with both arms draped around them. His head was buried in the gap, the fringe obstructing the image of his face. There was a low hum as the brooding form slowly rocked back and forth, the broken surface of the wall mercilessly pounding its sharp points through the shihakushou and piercing into skin. The lack of recognition confirmed that he hadn't realized someone had approached him.
"Kira," he started in a low voice as said man's head immediately turned up. As fast as it had raised it resumed its original position after taking in Shuuhei's image.
Without another word he crouched down beside Izuru. He held back a wince when a tiny point from the broken wall poked the back of his arm. They sat side by side for the longest time before the smaller shinigami shifted, his legs slipping out under him, arms dropping to his sides. The pair of large, deep blue eyes stared dilatedly at the boring ground beneath his feet. He seemed to shrink into the wall, resembling a ragged doll that had been tossed aside by a child who didn't take utmost care of his toys. The irony was enough to make Shuuhei blanch at the thought.
He immediately craned his head towards Izuru when the latter's hum grew louder, indicating that he was ready to speak.
"Hinamori-fukutaichou," he rasped, "Hinamori-fukutaichou got hurt."
It was then Shuuhei understood everything.
To him, she was Hinamori. To Izuru, she was Hinamori-kun. Rarely did he use their titles, positions in the Gotei 13, when referring or speaking to them. To call her 'fukutaichou' meant he was distancing himself, choosing to take that aloof approach to the current disaster like he handled all his other problems - problems that were never resolved in the end. And Shuuhei was not about to tolerate such a foolish escape.
"Hinamori is fine. She's resting." It was a white lie. Momo was in critical condition, both in mind and body, but she would live. He decided the blond needed some form of encouragement, not any more down talking.
As if on cue Izuru's eyes narrowed. "No. She's not," he breathed, "Hinamori-fukutai -"
"- Hinamori-kun." Shuuhei corrected, and he silently cheered when his schoolmate turned ever so slightly to stare. It didn't faze him in the least that those narrowed eyes were looking at him in disbelief, he had succeeded.
The dark-haired shinigami locked gazes with the blond. "Kira. She's your friend."
"I'm a horrible friend," he immediately retorted, "I hurt her." Then he launched into a ramble, grumbling that dreadful phrase repeatedly as if it was a chant.
'I hurt her, I hurt her, I hurt her, I killed her.'
Izuru was rocking back and forth again, resuming his initial posture as he gently pushed himself against the wall, oblivious to the pain it produced. Noticing this, Shuuhei extended an arm just behind the other's neck. When the blond froze from the touch he proceeded to move until his arm rested on the other lieutenant's opposite shoulder. Some physical comfort would do, he figured.
"You didn't kill her, it was Him. He was behind it all, not you."
Weakly he shook his head, the movement significantly restricted by Shuuhei's arm. "But I followed their orders. I led Hitsugaya-taichou and Matsumoto-fukutaichou away long enough for them to harm Hinamori-fukutaichou.
I did it."
He felt his heart sink.
The need to please and obey.
A month had passed since the captains' departed, and Izuru had yet to fully rationalize his thoughts. Even though he was trying, things never seemed to learn in his favor, much to his chagrin. On the other hand, he was relieved to find that running a division wasn't as difficult as he found it to be. Needless to say, the work was nearly unbearable and tremendous, but it wasn't as impossible as he initially believed. Izuru was busy most of the days and weeks, as were the other two who had lost their captains. He wasn't alone in this factor.
It was the lack of a pillar that he loathed.
"Hisagi-san," Izuru called, rushing to catch the man's attention as he turned a sharp corner in the 9th Division's hallway, "Ukitake-taichou needs you to fill out these forms."
Said shinigami almost raised a brow when he registered the lack of greeting on Izuru's part. The blond was often overly polite to the point he was encouraged to loosen up more, and this was certainly uncharacteristic of him. Still, he took the papers that were being handed to him with both hands, showing the signs of his natural discipline and respect.
"Hey, Kira..." He offered, reminding the other what he had so begrudgingly forgotten. As he expected, the smaller man jumped when he realized he hadn't given a proper greeting.
When the blond let out a late greeting - while apologizing profusely in the back of his conscience, no doubt – he couldn’t help but smile a bit. It was to reassure and comfort, to help Izuru relax instead of being so stiff like he usually was. With every decade that passed, he had found reading Izuru much easier than before; the influence of his superior. It wasn’t a good thing for either of them, but it was too late to fix that flaw now.
Instead he changed the subject. “You said Ukitake-taichou sent you. He would have had Kotetsu or Kotsubaki come in his stead, so how come you came?”
And Shuuhei learned the hard way he had shifted to the wrong topic. The slight slouch in Izuru’s form disappeared, the figure so straightened he may as well fall backwards from the momentum.
“… I needed orders.”
He blinked. “What?”
“I need someone to tell me what to do. I can’t stand being the leader,” the blond blurted, stepping to the right to deliberately hide behind his fringe, “I can’t lead. I don’t want to be the only one telling everyone what to do in the 3rd Division.”
So apparently he had gone to Ukitake to take on a share of Kotetsu and Kotsubai’s work. For the past month the blond had been a serious work-a-holic, an unhealthy habit of his that resulted in less rest and more frustration. And to bring in additional side jobs meant he was pushing it. But it would be good for him in the long run, to have at least one or two persons that did what he desired for once rather than being overlooked. Ukitake had made the right choice, Shuuhei concluded.
It was obvious Izuru needed someone to talk to. The 9th Division’s lieutenant took it upon himself to fill in that position.
“Why?” He may have been curious, but the ulterior motive behind the question was to allow the other to talk. In the past he had bottled everything up, thus resulting how he was like now; completely unlike his old self.
Before him the shorter shinigami sighed, “I always wanted to please everyone. When He made me his adjutant, I did everything he asked and desired. I spoiled everyone I came across in hopes of making myself feel better. But He left. And left nothing behind.”
You gave him everything, and he departed with everything. He didn’t even reward you with a glance.
There's no meaning behind it.
His eyes snapped open, taking in their current situation; Shuuhei was kneeling before him, his sword lying haphazardly somewhere behind his definite build. Izuru was pressed up against to a supporting pillar of wood behind him, feeling unusually fatigued and out of it. He felt light headed and helpless lying there without a clue as to why.
"Hisagi-san," he breathed, "what happened?" The bigger shinigami sighed in relief. Shuuhei propped himself up before proceeding to provide an answer.
"You passed out."
He blinked in disbelief. "I did?" But Izuru could remember a vague moment when he had suddenly felt dizzy during their daily sparring session in the room from earlier. "I did."
The dark-haired shinigami back tracked, picking up his zanpakutou. He sheathed the blade, moving to the right to retrieve his friend's sword when said person's voice demanded he stop. It had been a soft, almost desperate cry that immediately made Shuuhei freeze. He turned questioningly to the blond, confusion blooming from within. Izuru swallowed, glancing warily at Wabisuke before returning his gaze to Shuuhei.
"You don't have to get her. She won't like it." He had hastily added the second statement, much to Shuuhei's surprise.
"Wabisuke is a woman?"
Then the blond seemed to cringe, as if he had said too much just by revealing the gender of his zanpakutou's projected form. Shuuhei took the act as a confirmation and looked back down at the blade that gleamed on the lonely floor. As experienced he was with his own zanpakutou, he could have sworn he heard a piercing and shrill cry from the weapon. For a split second he wondered if what Izuru had said was true, if Wabisuke would mind if he picked her up, for that scream it faintly emitted signified loneliness and contradicted her master's claim.
When Shuuhei stepped closer to the fallen zanpakutou, he could feel Izuru's piercing glare as his eyes narrowed.
"Aren't you going to pick her up then, Kira?" He reasoned.
The blond complied quickly, forcefully pushing himself off the wall despite his weak state. He approached the sword, bending down and picking up the zanpakutou with utmost care and gentle caress, the most genuine movement Shuuhei had ever witnessed Izuru make.
He contemplated between keeping it to himself or telling Shuuhei; he decided on the latter after some thinking.
"Wabisuke," he started, gaining the other's full and every bit of attention, "is weak. She's egotistical and bold... we clash. I can't bring out her full potential. Because I'm weak, so is she." There was a brief moment of silence before he spoe up again. "I passed out from nausea of remembering; she isn't fine with it.
... Wabisuke is too emotional."
When Izuru was supposedly done, Shuuhei placed a hand on the former's shoulder, gingerly squeezing it lightly to reassure him. "What did you remember?"
The response was immediate and his tone was strangely blank. "Him.
He comes into my head at random intervals. I don't want to see Him. But I have to. The war is in a month, and He still won't leave me be after all these weeks."
"... Then let me help you. Face him with me, Kira. You, me, and Wabisuke." He let his hand slide down Izuru's arm, resting it on the blade's blunt side accordingly to emphasize the point. He could feel the zanpakutou tingling in approval, welcoming his touch and presence.
Notes for the Undeniably Perplexed - I meant to write each section to end up clashing with one another.
One and four - Confident and Confused: Izuru used to be his own pilot with enough ego to fill more than one head. After all the manipulation and constant pressure of being Gin's adjutant, as well as being overshadowed so often, his self esteem is at its worst. Without a captain to guide him, he's lost; and the fact that his leader whose words he followed to the best of his abilities had lied to him concerning Momo's safety. The most significant part of the confusion is that he is convinced that he's at fault for what happened to Momo - he's manipulating himself without realizing it.
Two and five - Complacent and Anxious: As shown in the flashback chapter and episode, Izuru was pleased with his potential and ability in being the top of his class. So much to the point he believed he was more talented than Shuuhei. Anxiety often means the need to please, as he now slaves himself over meeting his captain's needs. And with all his self deprecating, that complacent nature is gone.
Three and six - Energetic and Apathetic: Once filled with life and spirit, he's now considerably aloof. Izuru tends to hide what he feels and live up to his duties over his own personal needs, never questioning what he is ordered to do. This attitude broke him apart from the rest of the group - he does spend time with them, but it isn't the same. Of course, it would affect his zanpakutou by a large measure, considering it's a projection of his soul.
I usually don't write like this (my thought: cue the Yumichika icon to the left), I wonder what came over me. Excuse my use of tenses, I fail at those~ I may as well get a fanart entry done soon since I said I would and all.